Brand Strategy Essentials

A brand strategy can be defined as a plan of action to influence and anticipate certain events in order to achieve a set goal.

Without a clear strategic plan, it is unlikely that the actions taken by the company will effectively contribute to the accomplishment and success of its mission.

Defining a brand strategy

The purpose is not to establish a single direction but rather to define a personality. Like people, brands have personality traits and characteristics that can be observed and noticed in everything a person or a brand does. Companies must represent, defend their beliefs to be able to stand out.

© 2013 Simon Sinek, Inc.

The golden circle will help build a forceful speech, distinct narrative that inspires and brings people together around the brand and its personality..

Tip: Communicate your ideas from the inside out.

Brand personality: checklist

  • The big idea (purpose)
  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Brand values
  • Behavior
  • Promise
  • Uniqueness
  • Target audience
  • Competitors
  • Brand architecture
  • Storytelling

The big idea

It’s your brand’s purpose. What is your reason for being? What do you believe in?

Beyond making a profit, what is the main purpose of your company? What is your goal, beyond selling a product or service?

Your brand’s purpose should indicate what its founder(s) envisions as a course of action throughout the whole development of the project; its ambition and purpose in terms of growth, values, and societal contribution.

As individuals, we are drawn to companies in which we recognise common beliefs.

With a well-defined purpose, there is an unspoken commitment between the people involved in the project and the project itself. They invest a part of themselves in it and make it part of their own development.

Mission

How do you do this? How will you achieve your purpose?

A brand mission statement communicates a brand’s purpose, its objectives, and what impact it wants to have on consumers, employees as well as society. While the purpose of your project may be abstract, the mission should be concrete and action-oriented to give a clear idea of what the company does.

Tip: Keep the mission open, otherwise it could limit your company’s possibilities and what it can do in the future.

Vision

What is your goal?

Once you have your mission, you can formulate the vision. The vision is usually a rough roadmap stated in a single sentence or short paragraph. It should not include specific milestones or revenue goals, instead, it expresses a long-term goal or a desirable state and represents the ideal image of your company.

Your vision can be adjusted as needed to reflect change and company growth. Set goals should not exceed five to ten years in the future.

Tip: The vision must be stated in a way that is simple and understandable, but also capable of evoking emotion.

Brand values

What values would you like to adopt to grow your business?

Values define the attitudes and beliefs of your brand and the codes by which the brand will live. They should be reflected in everything you say and do.

Tip: Brand values should always be

  • Memorable
  • Actionable
  • Well defined
  • Unique
  • Timeless
The list is endless but here are a few examples of brand values.

Behavior

What are your personality traits? How do you behave?

A brand’s behavior is how the brand reaches out to people as well as how it interacts and responds back to real customers. It’s the experiences created to respond to user needs and desires each time he/she is in contact with the brand through different channels.

Tip: Consumer centricity is key.

Promise

Every brand has a promise. What can you promise today?

A brand promise is not a public statement. It is the value or experience customers can expect from your brand, product, or service each time they interact with it. Fulfilling the brand promise is essential in maintaining a strong brand in the mind of customers and employees.

If you don’t deliver on your brand promise, you risk losing trust, credibility, and loyalty.

Tip: A brand promise should be

  • Simple
  • Believable
  • Unique
  • Memorable
  • Inspiring

Uniqueness

What makes you unique in your market?

Questions to ask yourself and employees: What is our added value? What are the fundamental qualities of our project? What makes us different from others?

Target audience

Who are you addressing?

Every brand is supported by a community of people. Not only people inside the company, but also partners, suppliers, investors, customers, non-customers, and even competitors. You need to know them in order to deliver more tailored messaging for stronger connections.

Tip: There are 4 types of audience segmentation:

  • Demographic: age, gender, socio-economic group, location
  • Behavioral: What are they doing? How loyal are they? How often do they use your brand?
  • Psychographic: Personalities, lifestyles, and attitudes
  • Motivational: Why do they do what they do? Why do they love what they love? Why do they want what they want?

Competitors

Who are your competitors?

Rather than trying to please everyone and risk pleasing no one, create inspiration.

Who are your direct and indirect competitors? What is your market share? Is there a competitor you admire?

Brand architecture

There are many possibilities for creating a brand architecture. Here are 4 main examples.

Branded house

Creates a single powerful brand image and increases awareness of a brand in a specific industry. As your company and brand may grow and adapt to changes it also allows the option to add new sub-brands but can be difficult if the brand offers distinct services to different target audiences.

Endorsed brand

Allows a brand to be attractive in different industries while maintaining loyalty and trust. It also gives room for new sub-brands endorsed by a trusted company but brand management needs to be effective in order to avoid confusion between endorsed brands.

Free-standing

Allows sub-brands to target various markets separately from the parent brand and to each have their own tone of voice to speak exclusively to their audience.

Hybrid

Allows for a custom-made approach. It is a combination of several types of brand architecture.

Storytelling

What is the story you are telling?

Storytelling is a narrative that will help you start a conversation between your brand and your audience. It’s a conversation that will invite your audience to connect with your brand.

It will allow your story to evolve consistently over time while allowing your audience to influence its evolution.

Once the foundations of the brand are built, scaling is often the next step.

Always make sure you:

  • Stay relevant
  • Adapt to the market needs
  • Plant the seeds by creating a story that sticks to people
  • Create emotions, people remember stories and how you made them feel, not data
  • The brand story needs to stay consistent throughout the whole process: creation, traction, scale

Good luck if you are currently defining your brand strategy! Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Brand Coach & Strategist www.charlottebouillot.com