A company's brand is its defining image, permeating through all internal and customer-facing aspects of the business. For this reason, creating a compelling and consistent brand strategy can be among the most complex challenges a growing business faces.
It's vital that you take the time to implement one, though. After all, your brand is essentially your company's identity; it represents how you will be perceived by customers, suppliers, partners, associates and employees. It also has an impact on how they will feel about your products, your services and, indeed, your principles.
When done correctly, the benefits are tenfold, too. It encourages your customers to be loyal and, by extension, attracts additional customers; employees, meanwhile, will be more likely to buy into your company's goals, while partners will be more willing to engage in a long-term cooperation. All of this means more sales, more significant growth potential and a more sustainable business going forward.
So, how can you build a brand strategy that is right for your business?
Creating a Brand Strategy
When putting together your brand strategy, there are a few key points that you need to follow:
1. Define your Vision and Values
Start by asking yourself what the objectives of your business are. Do you aim to solve a particular set of problems, make consumers' lives better, or simplify complex processes? Your business's real purpose should be rooted in its value-add benefit to clients or consumers - rather than a desire to sell - and this should ultimately comprise the core of your brand strategy.
According to LinkedIn, 85% of purpose-driven companies show consistent business growth, indicating just how impactful this approach is on achieving success.
2. Add a Personal Touch
The tendency of consumers to make decisions based on emotion has been well-documented. Adopting a personal approach in your branding will allow customers to more easily connect with your business and add to the recognition status of your brand, allowing you to gain more attention and drive loyalty.
You can do this by focusing on emotional triggers in your visual and written communications, connecting with customers on emotive concepts such as home, love, family, aspirations, needs and desires (Nike and Apple are good examples of companies who do this successfully). Identifying your target audience will also support your selection of the most effective triggers for your business.
3. Be Consistent
To convey your brand's image effectively, you must remain consistent in its implementation and adoption within your internal company culture, as well as throughout all touchpoints with consumers. From online advertising to in-store interactions, complaints and customer support, to order and delivery, there are many bases to cover here.
If done well, the repetition of imagery and messaging will safeguard your company's identity, and reiterate your core objectives over time. The aim is always to make your brand memorable and recognisable through consistent delivery.
4. Launch your Brand From the Inside Out
As well as being externally consumed, your brand's principles should be understood, accepted and admired from the inside, too. Not only will this authenticate your brand as a whole, but empower employees to deliver services and support to customers with the levels of consistency required.
Your company's main objectives will be the most significant driver of employee engagement by inspiring team members to be driven by your purpose. LinkedIn notes that 73% of purpose-driven people are satisfied with their jobs, leading to higher workforce productivity and more positive business outcomes. Employees who are motivated by their company's purpose are also 47% more likely to be promoters of their employers.
5. Remember That Communication Is Key
Now that you have constructed the basis of your brand strategy, articulating it is paramount. From creating awareness to driving demand generation, initiating lead generation and retaining customer loyalty, you will be required to adopt various tactics to ensure your brand messages are being delivered and consumed by your target audience.
Visual design will take centre stage as you begin to develop your imagery, cultivating an aesthetic that represents your brand's pillars. Use your logo, colour scheme and style guide to replicate your company's look and feel throughout your digital presence - across your website, landing pages, social media accounts and more.
Next, verbal branding should be used to convey the right messaging to your audience. Choosing the correct vocabulary will reinforce the central vision of your company, forming a robust verbal identity.
6. Reward Customer Loyalty
A loyalty programme is an excellent addition to a comprehensive brand strategy. While making your brand attractive and emotionally appealing to customers is essential throughout your business's journey, ensuring the retention of customers already captured should not be overlooked. After all, your clientele ultimately holds the key to your long-term success and further business development.
Reward customers for repeated purchases, referring additional clients or following specific calls to action either online or in-store. Ensure that these rewards are delivered seamlessly, enhance customer experience, boost satisfaction and benefit external brand perception.
Your loyalty scheme should incorporate the same purpose as your brand's core and offer value while keeping its visual branding and communication consistent with your already-established identity.
7. Introduce Brand Advocacy
Advocacy is the promotion of a brand and its message by internal or external stakeholders to their network of contacts. Advocacy supports a company's growth and dramatically influences its perception to potential customers. Employees, management and consumers can all be brand ambassadors, utilising online tools to effectively share the necessary messaging in today's digitally connected world.
This 'word-of-mouth' marketing is incredibly valuable in supporting your corporate communication and marketing strategy. Reports show that the opinion of consumers or employees regarding a brand are more authentic and reliable than communications from the brand directly. For instance, according to research from Smarp, just 33% of consumers trust brand communications, whereas 90% trust recommendations from people they know.
To inspire advocacy among your employees, set up an internal initiative to allow them to share content related to your brand online across social media networks. You can even incentivise your workforce by adding gamification elements to this programme, with rewards for the most active advocates.
Similarly, existing and loyal customers can be incentivised to share testimonials, opinions and content around your brand either via a loyalty scheme feature, or marketing promotions and competitions. Persuading customers to engage in this way is easier than you think, too, as 41% of consumers that trust a company will share positive opinions of that company online, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer.
8. Evaluate and Re-evaluate
Yes, consistency is important to the ongoing success of a brand's strategy. However, don't let this stand in the way of managing necessary change. With international and local markets continually evolving, adaptations to your image and implementation strategy will be both inevitable and essential to continue driving growth and competitive displacement in a developing landscape.
Start by monitoring industry trends. Watch what your competitors are doing to take advantage of these, and evaluate whether your current strategy is adequately capturing the new opportunities created by recent changes. Stay up to date on new tools, platforms and processes which could support your ongoing activities or optimise their effectiveness. Tailor your messaging to meet customers' evolving needs and meeting changing expectations.
With such a significant task at hand, you should take time to define your brand and its purpose, and build a comprehensive brand strategy around it. Compiling and implementing your company's imagery and messaging will require careful consideration and ongoing commitment, with additional support needed from both customers and employees.
Remember: this process will profoundly impact your business moving forward, so invest the time in consistently monitoring its effectiveness, your brand's external perception and evaluating potential development opportunities.
What brand strategy tips would you give? Join the discussion below.