A brand strategy is the crown jewel of all strategies because it captures the essence of who you are as a business.
The very process of forming a brand strategy helps you define how you see yourself, and how you would like to be seen by the world around you.
If your strategy turns out to be a dry 30 page document that is heavy on theory and light on pragmatic advice and direction, it will bring you very little value. Your brand strategy should be easily implementable and written in clear, down-to-earth language that addresses your unique needs.
Your brand is more than just a representation of your product or service. It is an expansive, evolving entity that originates from your own being, your inner calling, your imagination and your creativity. Gaining a clear understanding of your personal motivations and vision is where you start.
When facilitating a discovery process, we tap into the source of entrepreneurial motivations to bring key brand qualities to the surface. What drove you to start your venture in the first place? Is there value in telling this story? Could it inspire your audience?
Putting commercial ambitions aside, it’s worth asking, ‘what does my brand stand for?’ Personalise it. Imagine it as a personality with its own quirks and habits. How does this personality make you feel? If you were its friend, what values would you celebrate most?
Once your brand personality is established, how does it relate to others within your brand environment - your stakeholders, investors, partners and most importantly your clients/customers?
Applying empathy is an effective way to really understand your audience needs. Get into their shoes. Imagine who they are in real life. What do they do? What daily habits do they have? What makes them happiest? What unique needs or challenges does your business help them address? What channels do your audiences use to find you and interact with you? Most importantly, how can you create the most accessible, enjoyable and beneficial experience that is mutually fulfilling for everyone who interacts with your brand?
What impressions would you like people to take from it? Does it have an attitude? Is it bold and confident, or relaxing and calm? Young or mature? Make your brand relevant. Bring in a human factor. Become personable. Connect.
As the business evolves, it may transpire that reaching your ideal audience will require extensive effort and resources. Primarily, this is because the value system and needs of the two are no longer aligned. Keep checking in on a regular basis and ask yourself the following fundamental questions:
Is my product/service offering relevant to my ideal audience?
If my product/service is no longer relevant to my ideal audience, am I willing to change my initial business idea?
If I am not willing to change my initial business idea, am I willing to target my business to a different target audience and if so, what is that audience?
Authenticity is key when building your brand. If you are genuine about who you are, what you deliver and what matters to you, it will directly resonate with those who care about the same things you do.
When forming your value proposition online, it needs to be accessible to be relatable, even if your preferred communication style is slightly ‘unusual’. It is paramount that your target audience personally connects to the tone and the style of the language you are using.
The next significant stage in brand strategy development is identifying advocates and champions that could help you propel your business forward. After you gain clarity on what you want to do and achieve, start identifying who can play an important role in helping you get there.
Your advocates are often closer than you think and already have emotional buy-in. They can be entrepreneurs and companies that share your values or vision, former clients and colleagues, college friends you have supported in the past or even someone you connected with at a networking event.
Any encounter can be seen as a potential spark for a new long-term connection. Well cultivated business relationships can contribute significantly towards longevity of your brand, through mutual promotion, networks, sales referrals and even valuable industry insights that you may have not been able to avail of otherwise.
In summary, this crown jewel of strategies outlines not only your authentic value but also considers every tangible and intangible touchpoint within your brand environment. The more clarity and awareness you have of your value and your relevance, the more effectively you can express that value in your communication, marketing, sales and operational processes.
The brand experience you are trying to create, regardless of whether it is online or offline should be carefully considered for maximum impact. A practical brand strategy can confidently guide you.