Brand strategy is a significant part of any business’s marketing plan. When deciding what products to sell, a company needs to develop an action plan to promote each product separately and think about what kind of an overall image all its products and services would create in the minds of consumers.
In this article, we will discuss different ways or steps to be taken to effectively develop a brand. But before that, let’s define brand strategy.
What is Brand Strategy?
Brand strategy or branding strategy is an action plan that a business comes up with to successfully develop its brand. The purpose of developing a brand strategy is to achieve specific goals.
Good branding is done by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and understanding their perspectives, emotions, and needs. If this is done correctly, a business can identify what exactly its potential customers are looking for and offer solutions in a way that compels customers to buy.
A well-defined brand strategy impacts all aspects of a business, from finance to marketing, from IT to human resource management, and from production to delivery of products or services. The best time to plan a branding strategy is at the very beginning of a business. Businesses that decide to build a brand from the start are the ones that succeed in it the most. The brand strategy influences what marketing tactics will be used, what kind of marketing campaigns will be run, which marketing media will be used to deliver those campaigns, and how the effectiveness of all these marketing efforts will be measured.
Strategic branding efforts are usually focused on long-term business objectives and are therefore decided upon with the budget. For instance, if you want to penetrate a new market, your budget would be based upon the culture, taste, demand, market gap, and trends of that particular market. On the other hand, if you are looking to take over some part of the market share from an industry leader, your goal definition would be entirely different, and your branding strategy will be geared towards that.
Keeping the ‘why’ in mind is thus very important when you’re developing your brand strategy while at the same time leaving scope for flexibility in case your process needs to be altered to adjust to the changing market trends. An excellent way to build your branding strategy is, to begin with your brand story or a brief introduction about your products/services.
Image taken from Strikingly user’s website
Now let’s look into the 8 steps of developing a brand strategy.
The 8 Steps of Developing a Brand Strategy
A brand strategy is not a one-step process. It requires a sequence of events to occur, and then only your branding is complete and meaningful. Here are the steps that make a branding strategy effective.
1. Consider the Overall Business Strategy
Brand strategy is actually part of the overall business plan. In other words, the business strategy builds the context for the brand strategy. The following questions need to be kept in mind as they play a significant role in the branding of a business.
- What’s the vision and mission of the business?
- What kind of market is the business targeting?
- To what extent is the business expected to grow organically?
- How much budget do you have for your marketing campaigns?
- How flexible can your business be towards the changing market trends?
2. Define Your Target Market
A business must operate in a specific niche and target a well-defined segment of the market to successfully sell its products. If a company plans to target ‘everybody’, it will probably not sell to anybody. Each market segment has specific needs and trends that need to be focused on for penetrating it.
If a business targets a small niche, its marketing efforts would be more specific, so it would be the brand strategy. If a business plans to penetrate a broader market segment, its marketing campaigns and branding efforts would also be more diverse.
Once you have defined your target market, it is easier for you to develop a more precise branding strategy that fits well into it.
3. Conduct Market Research
Now that you know who you want to sell to, you need to figure out what your potential customers need. This is when market research comes in. Few ways of doing market research are as follows.
- Conduct surveys and ask direct questions from your prospects.
- Observe market trends by looking into open-source market statistics.
- Carry out focus groups to get open-ended questions answered by potential customers.
- Offer test products or free samples of your product, and get honest feedback from customers.
- Conduct competitor analysis to discover market gaps and compare your pricing with that of your product substitutes.
Market research gives you a heads up to proceed with your marketing campaigns. If your research shows, for instance, that customers like your product but are not willing to pay the price that you’re selling it at, then you need to reconsider your pricing strategy. Your customers are probably putting a lower perceived value on your product than you expected. This means your product has common brand equity, so you might want to revisit your branding strategy. On the other hand, if your customers are constantly complaining about your product’s quality, you need to firm up your quality control policy. A good brand strategy can only be developed if all these factors are kept under consideration.
4. Create Your Positioning Statement
Now you are ready to determine the brand positioning (or market positioning) of your business. Your positioning is the unique way in which your business and your product are different from your competitors. Why should your customers choose your brand over other brands? What unique feature or perspective are you selling that would compel your customers to buy from you? These questions need to be answered to develop a good positioning statement, which is presented to customers as part of your brand strategy.
A good positioning statement is grounded in practicality and reality. Do not promise something that you cannot deliver. Position your brand in a way that enables you to show what you commit to providing. For this, you need to make sure you have the available resources to fulfill your commitment.
Effective product positioning also has an aspirational element in it. This means it’s good if it is a bit challenging, so you have to strive to achieve it. Don’t make it so easy on yourself that you don’t even feel the need to improve your branding. Like mentioned earlier, a brand strategy needs to have the flexibility to constantly improve and adapt to the changing consumer needs.
5. Choose Your Communication Channels
Your channels of communication are the marketing media that you choose to use to promote your products. These days, most businesses use more digital media than the conventional means of advertising. Google Ads are more common than billboard advertisements, and social media marketing is more effective than television ads. When you pay Google to run Google Ads, companies whose articles or videos your ads are played make money via Google Adsense. Hence, Google advertising is a win-win for all businesses.
Nevertheless, it depends on the business and the type of products it plans to sell for determining precisely what communication channels are chosen for its brand strategy.
6. Create the Name, Logo, and Tagline
We are now moving towards the more action-oriented steps. Once everything mentioned above is decided, you need to start preparing the material stuff used in your advertisements and branding. This stuff includes your brand name, brand logo, and the tagline or slogan to be used in all your brand ads.
Image taken from Strikingly user’s website
There are many professional logo designers available these days. Most freelance designers can do the job at cheaper rates, as compared to a full-time employee. There are even several website logo makers available as tools or plugins that you can use for free. Considering your branding budget, decide who you want to go with and get your brand logo designed. Your logo and tagline go a long way in creating your brand image.
7. Build Your Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is the most effective contemporary means of branding for almost all kinds of businesses. Many companies start their own blog and publish articles on them. The blog is often linked to its official website, which helps to enhance the search rankings of the brand’s overall online presence.
Writing articles to promote your products through direct marketing and discuss the trends in the industry you are operating in helps you establish yourself as an expert in your field.
An example of a good blog is the Strikingly blog, where we spread knowledge about web development and web design and promote our users’ websites in our articles.
8. Develop Your Website
A significant part of your brand strategy is to develop an online presence for your brand, and the most necessary form of your brand’s online presence would be your official website. It is straightforward to build and launch a website these days if you do so with the help of a website builder like Strikingly.
Image taken from Strikingly
Strikingly is a website builder that enables you to develop a website in just a few hours and get it up and running without writing a single line of code. The drag-and-drop feature of Strikingly editor allows you to insert different elements into your web pages (e.g., text, images, embedded videos) and edit them easily any time you like. Your web design can be selected from a variety of website templates available at Strikingly.
Image taken from Strikingly
If you go through these steps for developing a brand strategy, you will be able to run your business smoothly and get a good return on your marketing efforts. If you are running successful marketing campaigns leading to conversions and sales, know that your brand strategy is excellent and valuable. But don’t forget! You would still need to be flexible enough to amend your system if the market trends and demands seem to change at any point in time.