7 Steps to a Killer Branding Strategy
A well-crafted branding strategy is the difference between delivering powerful positive brand equity or finding yourself as the tragic captain at the helm of a sinking brand ship. The truth is nobody wants to drown alone in a soggy metaphor, so our simple guide to 7 steps to a killer branding strategy is here to throw you a lifeline.
Why is branding so important?
Branding is about understanding and being true to your own identity. It’s recognising how you want your business to operate, and then embedding that culture at every level of your delivery.
We’re not just talking pretty logos or the heading at the top of your business stationery. Branding frames your organisation at the most fundamental level, from customer interactions to the look and feel of your bricks and mortar premises.
Put simply – branding isn’t a part of your business, it is your business. That means if you want your business to succeed, you need to develop successful branding to go with it.
Building your branding strategy
Brand equity is built on who you are, how you act, and what you deliver. While branding inherently includes elements of organic development, it’s also essential you sit down and build the right strategy to frame that journey.
1 – Define who you are
The first step on your branding journey is understanding who you are. Are you a quirky young brand that likes to sip moccachinos while delivering innovation from beanbags, or a suited-and-booted corporate powerhouse who delivers professional excellence at every turn?
Understanding who you are and how you act is the foundation of your business. What do you sell? How do you sell it? How does your team work together? What are your goals? How do you define success? There are an endless number of questions you can ask yourself, but ultimately defining who you are is where it all begins for your brand.
2 – Embed your culture
Just because you’ve defined the ideal of your business, doesn’t mean that everyone is on board. Executive buy-in is an essential place to start, making sure the people who make big decisions for
your business do so with an informed understanding of your brand identity. That top-down approach means everyone is working to the same aims and from the same understanding.
Equally important is that you communicate and embrace employees at every level of your organisation into your business identity. They’re going to be responsible for delivering on your key business goals, which means ensuring that you embed the culture that recognises and represents those goals will be key.
3 – Comprehend the competition
Understanding the competition isn’t just about identifying what’s different, it’s also about recognising the similarities. There’s nothing wrong with sharing elements of your culture with a rival, in some ways that shows a culture that works within the space you operate. It probably also shows you’re working in a way that employees in your space are comfortable with.
What is essential however is teasing out those unique differences that set you apart from an outside perspective. That’s how you can pick out the unique selling points that make you stand out with your audience, and which you can leverage to present your brand over others.
4 – Understand your audience
It’s not just about you after all. Understanding your audience is an important part of building your own brand strategy. If you’re the quirky beanbag people as part of a trendy marketing agency, that’s likely not a bad way to go. If you’re working for the Attorney General, it probably doesn’t quite suit the aesthetic.
Understanding your audience isn’t just about recognising the atmosphere you need to convey, it’s about finding out how your brand can help best meet the needs of your potential customers. Undertake exercises to engage with your audience, maybe create example marketing personas, and help build an idea of how to communicate with them, how to meet their needs, what kind of products or services they’re interested, what kind of company attitudes resonate with them etc…
5 – Amplify your story
Once you’ve got an idea of your audience, you should have an idea of the communication channels that best suit your business. Your brand image is a hugely powerful story to tell, so be sure and leverage your understanding to amplify that story through positive interactions on the most relevant channels.
If you’re a quirky cupcake company, a platform like Instagram will form a core part of your branding strategy. It’s a way to display a visually powerful part of your brand image. If you’re part of a high-powered business analytics company, LinkedIn will provide an exceptional tool to position your brand as a thought leader on essential topics. These are the kind of opportunities to amplify your brand that you need to consider and take advantage of.
6 – Consistently deliver
Branding isn’t just about instant excitement, it’s about consistency. Make sure important collateral such as marketing materials reflect a consistency of design, creating a recognisable image that resonates with your audience.
But consistency isn’t just how you look, it’s how you deliver. Offer a consistently positive customer service, be consistent in your products, consistent in your delivery. If branding is the foundation of your business, then consistency provides the pillars which ensure it stays standing.
7 – Embrace evolution
No brand lives in isolation. The marketplace is constantly evolving, which means your branding strategy needs to be able to adapt. We’re not talking about a fundamental rewrite of your entire business DNA, but evolving to communicate on new marketing channels, rebranding to a logo which resonates with your changing audience, or even just adapting to feedback from your employees.
These 7 simple steps highlight areas to consider in building the foundations for a successful brand. It’s about understanding your own identity, and leveraging that identity to deliver positive returns for your business. That’s the true power of an effective branding strategy.