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  • Writer's pictureAlexander Matambo

How to Develop A Brand Strategy: A Step-By-Step Guide

In the previous article we discussed why a brand strategy is important and how it can benefit a brand. This is the second part of the series, and this article will give a workable roadmap that a business can use to create an effective brand strategy.


i. Develop Your Internal Brand


This is a crucial step as it sets the foundation for the whole strategy. Without a solid foundation, it does not take long for the cracks in the strategy to show.


The internal strategy comprises the brand vision, mission, values and purpose. While the mission tells the customers, employees, and potential investors where the brand is going today, the brand vision and purpose highlight where the brand wants to go tomorrow.


The vision is supposed to be compelling and communicate the brand's core ideology and envisioned future. A strong brand vision is:

  • Easy to identify

  • Easy to understand

  • Short and sweet

  • Developed, believed, and incorporated by top management.

An example of sharing and understanding internal brand values is Spotify in the video below:

ii. Define Your Target Audience


Launching a new brand is a risky endeavour. Understanding the market landscape is crucial in minimising the risk and focusing your marketing efforts most cost-effectively. Therefore, before starting with any branding efforts, it is vital to identify and understand your target audience- the group of people most likely to buy your products or services.

After understanding your customers and specific pain points, you can effectively tailor your brand's offering and content in a way that would most resonate with them. Skipping this step could lead to massive amounts of time and money being wasted.


The most effective ways to identify your target audience are to first for insights by looking at the demographics and preferences of your existing customers and then conduct marketing research for insights on new customer groups. Combining these two is key in identifying new personas and potential customer offerings.


iii. Competitor Analysis


It stands to reason that if a group of people want what you have, there is probably a group of competitors offering them something similar.

A brand needs to understand what its competitors are offering to understand what the customer already has available to them and offer something different.

The benefits of competitor analysis are that it keeps a business, helps them identify priority improvement areas, and most importantly, it helps a company understand the market from the customer's perspective.

Below are a few steps a brand can take to gain the most value out of its competitor analysis:

  1. Commit to conducting competitor analysis regularly to understand the market from the customers' perspective.

  2. Develop a systematic approach to competitor analysis; this way, the brand can run it more quickly and regularly.

  3. Decide on which competitor to include in the analysis.

  4. Decide on the frequency on which to conduct the analyses. This varies by industry, as some have quicker changes in their market trend, e.g. fashion.

  5. Decide what data is valuable to capture. This makes it easier to compare competitors, identify market changes, and consolidate data points into a SWOT diagram.

iv. Brand Positioning


Brand positioning refers to designing a brand's offering and image to occupy a specific place in the target market's minds. When done right, it gives compelling answers to the questions:

  • Who are you?

  • What do you do?

  • Why does it matter?

So in terms of brand strategy, positioning involves creating brand associations that lead to a brand being perceived in a specific way. Therefore, effective positioning can be seen as the extent to which customers perceive a brand to be favourable, different, and credible.

To effectively position your brand, you first need to understand:

  • What your consumers want

  • What your brand's capabilities are

  • How competitors are positioning themselves

Only after doing this, can your brand come up with a solid positioning statement that resonates with consumers, can be delivered by your brand, and sets your brand apart from the competition.


v. Craft Your Brand Personality


Once you've defined the position you want your brand to own in the marketplace, you will have a good understanding of the value that your brand will bring to your audience and the impact you can make on their lives. The next step is communicating that value in a way that resonates with them.


What you say to your audience is important; however, how you say it has a more significant impact on whether the audience will receive the message in the way it was intended.

On a human level, we connect to people through our personalities, or the characteristics we portray, and the same goes for brands. If we see characteristics we are more attracted to, we are more likely to be receptive to the messages being communicated.

Thus, it is crucial to understand who your audience is and the characteristics they are attracted to, and infuse your brand communications with those characteristics to increase the audience reception.

vi. Develop a Messaging Strategy


The brand personality is the "how" behind the message: how you're going to deliver the message and make it resonate. The messaging strategy is the "what" you're going to use: what are you going to say to convince your audience that you have value that will impact their lives? What are you going to say to connect with them?


In summary, brand messaging is a term used to describe the words used by a brand. It encompasses the language and phrasing that appears on

the various brand touchpoints such as social media and its website.


Consistent brand messaging serves to reinforce the brand's values and speak to the audience in a way that builds an emotional connection. A measure of successful messaging would be even without the brand logo; audiences know which brand they are interacting with based on the language they use, the emotions they elicit, or the philosophy they employ.

To effectively execute a brand messaging strategy, messaging guidelines need to be drawn up. Maintaining a consistent voice across all significant brand touchpoints is essential- the website, social media, and other marketing channels.

The messaging guidelines should include:

  • The brand's unique selling point

  • A detailed description and analysis of the brand's target audience

  • Brand values and goals

  • Brand story

  • The tone of voice to be used in marketing copy

  • Any words or phrases that the brand should not use in marketing copy.

vii. Design Visual Identity

This is where we bring all previous strategic steps to life visually through the brand's visual identity. The visual identity is the graphical information and imagery that expresses who a brand is and differentiates them from the competition.

The brand visual identity aims to create a visual impression on the audience, inform the audience about the nature of the brand and the products or services it provides, and unify the different aspects of the brand through consistent visuals. The visual identity includes:

  • Logo

  • Colour palette

  • Typography

  • Imagery style

  • Web design

  • Videos and motion

The following are tips should help a brand with crafting its visual identity:

  1. Overall, brand identity must guide the visual identity, not vice versa. After all, the visual elements are only meant to compliment who the brand is.

  2. Incorporate the fundamental of design to make the visuals more appealing and resonate with the audience. It is probably best to work with a graphic design to iron out the brand's visual expressions.

  3. Tell a compelling story through your visuals. While graphics capture people's attention, stories involve the audience and get them more invested in the brand. They support the underdog, scorn the villain, and cheer on the hero!

  4. Keep it simple. You only have a few seconds to make an impression on your audience, so focus on the key message you want to communicate and centre your visuals around that.

  5. Design your visuals for the medium they will be displayed in. Content meant to appear on an Instagram post will be different from the content that will appear in a newspaper article, and these differences have to be accounted for in the creation stage.

Be sure to optimise your visual assets for the medium or channel on which they will be displayed.


viii. Analyse, Optimise, and Evolve


One of the most significant advantages that modern business owners have today, compared to 10 or 15 years ago, is the level of data they have available to them.


Marketing analytics is the numerical data and statistics generated by a customer’s activity, both offline and online. This data can come from many sources, such as activity on the company’s webpage, engagement on social media, responses from newsletter emails or views on a company video.

Brands can use data to discern patterns such as consumer behaviour, regional preference, campaign contributions to conversions, creative preferences and more.

After identifying the audience patterns, it becomes a case of doing more of what audiences respond to, and less of what they do not engage with, and evolve the content and branding efforts over time.

The following are marketing analytics metrics that can give brands a clear pitch of audience behaviour:

  • Conversion rate

  • Bounce rate

  • Click-through rate (C.R.T.)

  • Keyword analysis

  • New versus Returning visitors

Closing


When all is said and done, branding is more than just a logo. It is about your customers' perceptions and feeling about your business, your products and services, and every touchpoint they have ever experienced.


The roadmap above can help you create an effective brand strategy that will differentiate your business and keep a significant position in your target market's mind.

The success of your business and branding efforts can be summarised into three factors. Can you identify who you are, who you serve, and can you consistently provide value to your audience?


If the answer to these questions is yes, then your brand strategy is strong and will be beneficial in growing your brand over time.

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