Let’s say you’ve come to the difficult realization that your brand – if you can even call it that – is quite frankly all over the place. Or maybe worse, you have a defined brand but you find that it just doesn’t match who you really are and what you really do.
Before you know which shade of green to use for your logo, or what tone to use when engaging with people on Twitter, you need to take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture.
What is brand strategy?
Brand strategy is a plan that includes specific, long-term goals that can be achieved with developing a successful brand – the combined components of your company’s character that make it identifiable.
(We’ll get into that in a moment.)
A clearly defined and implemented brand strategy affects all aspects of a company and is directly linked to the needs, emotions and competitive environment of consumers.
First, let’s remove the biggest misconception about branding strategy: your brand is not your product, logo, website, or name.
In fact, your brand is a lot more than that – it’s the stuff that feels intangible. But it’s this elusive feeling that separates powerful and mediocre brands.
To help you contain what many marketers see as art rather than science, we’ve broken down seven key components of a comprehensive branding strategy that will help your business last.
7 components for a comprehensive brand strategy
“Every brand makes a promise. But in a market where consumer confidence is low and household vigilance is high, it’s not just a promise that separates one brand from another, but has a purpose,” explains Allen Adamson , North America region chairman for brand consulting and design firm Landor Associates.
While you need to understand what your business is promising in defining your brand positioning, understanding why you wake up and go to work every day is more important. In other words, your purpose is more specific as it acts as a differentiator between you and your competitors.
How can you define the purpose of your company? According to Business Strategy Insider, the purpose can be viewed in two ways:
- Functional: This concept focuses on evaluating success for immediate and economic reasons – i.e. H. The purpose of business is to make money.
- Intentionally: This concept focuses on success as it relates to the ability to make money and do good in the world.
While making money is important for almost every business, we admire brands like IKEA that emphasize their willingness to achieve more than just profitability:
IKEA’s vision is not just to sell furniture, but to “create a better everyday life”. This approach appeals to potential customers as it demonstrates their commitment to creating value beyond the point of sale.
Follow this example as you define the purpose of your business. While making money is a priority, just working under this term does little to set your brand apart from others in your industry.
Our advice? Dig a little deeper. When in need of inspiration, check out the brands you admire and see how they phrase their mission and vision.
The key to consistency is not to talk about things unrelated to or enhancing your brand. Added a new photo to your company’s Facebook page? What does this mean for your company? Does it align with your message or was it just something funny that would honestly confuse your audience?
To give your brand a platform to stand on, you need to make sure that all of your messages are cohesive. Ultimately, consistency contributes to brand awareness, which drives customer loyalty. (No pressure right?)
Let’s look at Coca-Cola to see a great example of consistency. With a commitment to consistency, every element of brand marketing works in harmony. This has helped it become one of the most famous brands in the world.
Even on the surface of his social media accounts, for example, the seamlessness of his brand is very evident:
Consider the benefits of creating a style guide to avoid having potential clients struggle to put the unrelated parts of your business together. A style guide can encompass anything from the tone of voice you use to the color scheme you use to the positioning of certain products or services.
If you take the time to define and agree these considerations, your brand as a whole will benefit.
Customers are not always rational.
How else do you explain the person who paid thousands of dollars more for a Harley instead of buying another cheaper, equally well-made bike? Somewhere in there was an emotional voice that whispered, “Buy a Harley.”
Harley Davidson uses emotional branding by creating a community around its brand. HOG – Harley Owners Group – started to connect their customers with their brand (and with each other).
By allowing customers to feel part of a larger group that has grown closer together than just a group of motorcyclists, Harley Davidson can position itself as an obvious choice for someone looking to buy a bike.
Why? People have an innate desire to build relationships. Research by psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary best describes this need in their “Belonging Hypothesis,” which states: “People have a fundamental psychological need to feel closely connected to others and to have caring, loving bonds from close relationships an essential part of this are human behavior. “
Not to mention that belonging – the need for love, affection, and participation in groups – falls right in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which aims to categorize diverse human needs.
Learn the lesson? Find a way to connect with your customers on a deeper, more emotional level. Will you give them rest? Do you feel like you are part of the family? Do you make life easier? Use such emotional triggers to strengthen your relationship and build loyalty.
In this fast-changing world, marketers need to be flexible to stay relevant. On the plus side, this allows you to be creative with your campaigns.
You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, how am I supposed to be consistent and flexible at the same time?”
Good question. While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility allows you to make adjustments that generate interest and differentiate your approach from that of your competition.
In other words, “Effective identity programs require enough consistency to be identifiable, but enough variation to keep things fresh and human,” said Kevin Budelmann, president of Peopledesign.
A good example of this type of strategic balance is Old Spice. Nowadays, Old Spice is one of the best examples of successful marketing across the board. Until recently, wearing Old Spice was an unspoken requirement for dads everywhere. Today it is one of the most popular brands for men of all ages.
The secret? Flexibility.
Knowing that it had to do something to secure its place in the market, Old Spice teamed up with Wieden + Kennedy to position its brand for a new customer base.
Source: Works Design Group
Between new commercials, a new website, new packaging and new product names, Old Spice managed to grab the attention of a new, younger generation by making strategic improvements to its already strong brand.
So if your old tactic doesn’t work anymore, don’t be afraid to change. Just because it worked in the past doesn’t mean it works now.
Take the opportunity to engage your followers in new ways. Are there some out-of-the-box partnerships your brand can create? Are there any attributes about your product that you never highlighted? Use these to connect with new customers and remind your old customers why they love you.
5) Employee participation
As mentioned earlier, building a sense of consistency is essential if you want to build brand awareness. A style guide can help you achieve a cohesive digital experience. However, it is just as important that your employees are familiar with the way in which they should communicate with customers and represent the brand.
If your brand is playful and bubbly from Twitter engagements, it wouldn’t make sense for a customer to call and connect with a grumpy, monotonous rep, right?
Keep in mind Zappos’ approach to avoid this type of mismatched experience.
If you’ve ever been in touch with a Zappos customer service representative you will know what I’m talking about. If not, check out this SlideShare which lists some of the most inspiring customer support stories out there.
Zappos is so committed to ensuring that not just its brand but all brands stay consistent across digital and human interactions that they have devoted an entire department to the cause called Zappos Insights.
Come to us and learn about the Zappos WOW approach to customer service! Learn more about the Zappos School of WOW: https://t.co/g3tU4179q9 pic.twitter.com/eRkpcfYAKD
– Zappos Insights (@ZapposInsights) August 21, 2017
By holding all Zappos employees to its core values and helping other companies implement the same approach, Zappos has built a reputation for providing solid, helpful and human customer service.
If you already have people who love you, your company, and your brand, don’t just sit there. Reward her for that love.
These customers went out of their way to write about you, tell their friends about you, and act as your brand ambassadors. If you cultivate the loyalty of these people early on, you will get more returning customers – and more profit for your company.
Sometimes just a thank you is enough. In other cases it is better to go beyond that. Write them a personalized letter. Sent them a special booty. Ask them to write a review and have them featured on your website. (Or all of the above!)
When we reached 15,000 customers here at HubSpot, we wanted to say thank you very much and stay true to our brand. That is why we threw 15,000 orange table tennis balls from our balcony on the fourth floor and thanked us warmly metal balloons:
And while it may have seemed a bit unusual to some people, the gesture made perfect sense to those who know our brand.
Loyalty is an important part of any branding strategy, especially if you want to support your sales organization. Ultimately, highlighting a positive relationship between you and your existing customers sets the tone of what potential customers can expect when they decide to do business with you.
7) Competitive Awareness
Challenge the competition to improve your own strategy and add more value to your overall brand. You’re in the same business and following the same customers, right? So watch what they do.
Do some of your tactics work? Do some fail? Adjust your brand positioning based on their experience to improve your business.
A great example of how you can improve your brand by learning from your competitors is Pizza Hut:
@ TheRealElysium you know our voice. ^ AB
– Pizza Hut (@pizzahut) March 20, 2016
When a pizza lover asked this question to their Twitter follower, Pizza Hut didn’t skip a beat and playfully responded within minutes before Domino had a chance to comment.
When Domino’s keeps an eye on its competitors, they know they need to act quickly the next time this situation arises.
For HubSpot customers, the Social Monitoring app makes it easy to keep track of your competitor’s social mentions. Read this article to learn more about setting up custom social streams.
And while staying in tune with your competitors’ strategies is important if you want to improve your brand, don’t let them dictate every step you take.
Sure, you’re likely selling a similar product or service to many other companies, but you’re in business because your brand is unique. If you harp every time your competitor moves, you lose that differentiation.