As with any strategy, clear thinking helps to drive results. When it comes to building a business with a brand around a company's services and offerings, a well refined strategy is key.
Think of your business strategy as your roadmap - it will help you to determine the path you should take to get to your destination. This understanding of your business helps you to further define and craft your brand.
“Your business strategy can be defined in either several paragraphs or be written as a set of strategic statements. It is a summary of how the company will achieve its goals, meet the expectations of its customers and sustain a competitive advantage in the marketplace” - Fasttrac.org
Likewise, a brand strategy also involves a detailed plan in order to develop a successful brand over a period of time. This involves structuring the brand to achieve the specific goals of the business. While a business strategy is more concerned about financial goals, or distribution plans for products and services, a brand strategy is focused on defining consumer needs, emotions and competitive environments. This is for the purpose of connecting the brand with engaged consumers. You can’t have a brand strategy without first knowing your business objectives.
Aligning Your Brand Strategy with Your Business Objectives
When turning your business strategy into a strong brand strategy you must first consider your overall business objectives. Objectives you might consider would include:
- What is your mission, vision and values, organization and culture?
- What products and services are you offering?
- How do you plan to distribute or sell your goods?
- What is your value proposition?
- Your organizational structure?
- How quickly do you plan on growing?
- How quickly do you need to make money to be profitable?
- What industry do you operate in?
- Who are your competitors?
Being able to confidently respond in all of these areas will help you to craft your brand positioning.
In order to define your brand positioning you should also identify and research your target customers (also known as buyer personas) in order to gain a better understanding of their likes, dislikes, habits and feelings. When all of this information is collected, and your positioning defined, you will be equipped to develop your brand messaging strategy.
“Brand messaging refers to the underlying value proposition conveyed and language used in your content. It’s what makes buyers relate to your brand by inspiring them, persuading them, motivating them, and ultimately making them want to buy your product”. - Pardot.com
Typically crafted in collaboration with your branding and design agency, your name, logo and tagline are developed from the framework of your brand messaging strategy. These attributes are key for informing the design of your website (UX and UI) or business collateral (such as brand guidelines, business cards, presentation templates, or email signatures). With all of these tools in-hand and a strong brand strategy in place, you can start to use the information and begin building your content strategy in order to implement your marketing strategy.
Implement, Track and Adjust
Understanding the trajectory of the growth of your business and tracking business goals is one of the most important steps in the brand development process. In fact, part of building a strong brand strategy is not only implementing the strategy, but tracking and adjusting your tactics over time.
Knowing both your measurable objectives and where the opportunities lie is key. For example if your measurable objective is to build a pipeline of leads for your company via your website you will need access to data which tells you how many visitors you receive, what the visitor to lead ratio is and lastly, what the lead to customer ratio value is. If you are getting large numbers of visitors to your site but they are not converting into leads, then you should revisit your content marketing strategy. Only by monitoring results in the entire process can you be confident that you are on the right track and making the correct adjustments to your strategy.
When defining and implementing your brand strategy, it’s important to ensure there are strategic thinkers on your brand management team who are well versed in marketing research. When it comes to brand strategy, strategic thinking is as valuable as creative talent. Data informs decisions, which informs strategy formulation. That strategy and messaging formulation is the basis for your creative assets. Applied correctly and consistently, a brand strategy with foundations in business strategy will engage consumers with credibility and success.