What is a Brand Strategy process? We have a methodology for coming up with a Brand Strategy. I like to use three words, which helps to make it easier for people to understand. They are:
In the organize phase, there are three core questions to focus on.
These ideas can be hard data from market research, but can also include harder-to-measure thoughts about the marketplace and the customer.
- Who are your target audiences?
- What are the problems you solve for them?
- Why should they listen to you, follow you, or buy from you?
Your Brand Strategy could answer these questions by:
- Creating a customer avatar
- Using market data to uncover common customer pain points in the industry
- Developing a unique selling proposition with your team
Once you have a clear understanding of the answer to these questions, use them to help define your Brand Purpose statement. Similar to a mission statement, your Brand Purpose statement articulates WHY your brand exists.
Simon Sinek, author of the book Start With Why, says that “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” He goes on to say that the companies who inspire people, as opposed to manipulate them, are the ones who perpetually achieve remarkable business success.
Our brand theory is consistent with this philosophy.
A brand should have a clear WHY — a Brand Purpose — so that it can not only attract, but inspire and engage loyal fans and raving customers. And this “WHY” should be a core Brand Strategy component.
Consider the following Brand Purpose examples from these big companies:
Amazon = To offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience.
Patagonia = To build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
The second step is to simplify your brand into a core Brand Promise.
A Brand Promise frames how you talk about your business in terms that are meaningful to your target audiences.
We recommend articulating your Brand Promise in two or three words (five words maximum).
The reason? Memorability is key in branding. When your Brand Promise is short and concise it’s easy to remember.
Think of Harley Davidson. Their Brand Promise is “Freedom on the open road.”
And so when you simplify your Brand Strategy into a core Brand Promise, you want to make sure that it fulfills on three criteria:
- Credible: Your Brand Promise has to be something you can support with evidence or proof. You don’t want to claim something that has no substance or that is difficult to prove. You must have the expertise, experience, or credentials to deliver on a Brand Promise.
- Relevant: Your Brand Promise must be relevant to your target audiences. Being relevant requires a deeper look into your target audiences. Look at the problems you solve for them and see if there’s an overarching problem or a theme to ALL the problems that you solve.
- Unique: The first criteria focuses on looking within you and inside the company. The second criteria focuses on looking at your target audiences and what will make them love you. The third criteria is looking at your competitors and the industry in which your brand exists and finding out what makes you unique in the competitive landscape. You want to be unique and different, so your customers can distinguish you in a crowd. As entrepreneur Barbara Corcoran says, “If you don’t have big breasts, put ribbons on your pigtails.”
The best Branding Strategy is boiled down to a simple message. Apple’s “Think Different” brand promise was the result of hours of deliberation and millions of dollars worth of strategy and branding work.
But most customers don’t think about the many technical differences between Apple and their competitors. They trust that Apple devices will solve their problems and look good while doing it.
The next step of your Brand Strategy process is to take your Brand Purpose and Brand Promise and amplify them into the marketplace. A simple Brand Strategy framework to guide where you amplify is to think in terms of:
- Visual = the look and feel of the brand, from logos, colors, photography, imagery.
- Verbal = the language of the brand words and tone.
- Experiential = the experience your brand creates for your prospects and customers.
Your brand message should be consistent in whatever channels you use to amplify. Changes in messaging are confusing for customers, and can also allow distrust to take hold.
Deciding which channels you use to amplify is important. You need to understand how your target market interacts with these channels – or whether they use them at all.
And finally, don’t forget that how your customer interacts with your brand directly (through “touchpoints” is also essential. Your Brand Strategy extends from advertising to customer service and your website.
Think of our “Organize, Simplify, Amplify” methodology as a framework to help you understand the flow and the process to build your brand.