A brand strategy is essential no matter the size of your business. Discover tips on building your strategy even if you are starting with a small budget.
Whether your company is big or small, a brand communicates an organization's purpose, values, and personality. Along with the visual marks (your logo, symbols, color palette, etc.), a brand strategy comprises the complete identity, creating a perception in the minds of its employees, investors, and, ultimately, its consumers.
So why is it critical to ensure a brand strategy is in place? Because customers don’t buy products or services – they buy brand stories. How does the product or service make a customer feel? Think about how you feel when you put on that fresh new pair of Nikes. Or when you head to your favorite restaurant – you’re not just purchasing the meal on your plate. You’re purchasing the overall vibe, the service, the ambiance, or rather the experience in totality. A clear brand strategy will allow a company to set the foundation for who they are and the experience they want to serve up to customers. A good brand strategy is a roadmap that can act as a lens through which you view your company. This view gives your customers consistency which builds trust with them.
Branding and Marketing
You may say, "I already have a solid marketing approach," so why is branding critical? We meet with clients who say they have a website, social channels, paid advertising, and an email database, yet no real brand strategy. However, when asked what their unifying approach is, they say it’s a struggle, and they feel as if they’re constantly guessing – trying to throw things at the wall to see what sticks. Let’s fix that!
The brand is strategy. It is the foundation that supports all marketing and sales tactics.
Marketing consists of all the promotional activities to sell products or services, putting the products/services in front of the target audience defined by the brand.
Brand and marketing go hand in hand, but you can think of brand strategy as your foundation – it’s larger than your marketing efforts and provides coherence. Brand remains in your customer’s mind after the marketing tactic has been delivered–no disrespect to marketing. Marketing efforts should also be strategic and integrated to deliver the right message to your intended audience to encourage purchase.
Define the market opportunity. When you started your business, you likely went through the process of identifying the “white space” in the market, or the gap in the market that allows your product or service to satisfy unmet consumer needs. When we think about the market opportunity, we need to consider three main areas to identify the competitive advantage that will set us up for long-term success:
When we look through each of these perspectives, we can see new opportunities and gaps and better understand the whole gamete of options our customer has available to them, which leads us to consider how our products and services can be perceived. Or rather, why should customers choose us among the available options?
Building a customer-centric approach
Today modern brands design for relationships, not just transactions. Often, a company will think about the products or services they’re selling from their point of view. But we really need to think about it from the point of view of the target customer. What you’re selling needs to make a connection with the target audience it was designed for. Creating an audience-first environment provides insights that inform the experience and cultivate the relationship between the brand and the customer. When we listen to what the customer needs and wants, we can better position our offerings to meet those needs and set ourselves apart. A great brand example of a customer-first approach? Southwest Airlines. Southwest has set itself apart in the airline industry by prioritizing customer satisfaction, which informs its operation. This type of prioritization of customer service results in customer loyalty and retention.
Brand Touches All Aspects of Your Business
Branding is vital to all areas of your business. It informs operations, marketing, and even helps define your employee culture. It provides coherence and a lens through which to view business decisions. This, in turn, translates into financial efficiencies as well when your company sits on a unified market approach. You generate less waste through marketing and are better able to target and have a defined space in the market that you have carved out and consistently own.
Whether your company is large or small, a solid brand strategy will positively impact all around. Even with a small budget, you can do a lot to start your brand strategy.
And don't forget. We’re here to help along the way!
About the Author: Lauren Gouvea, CEO of Versa Brand Studios Lauren is lifestyle driven and seeks to find the spark that ignites human connection – the one that will cut through the clutter and create a meaningful relationship with the customer. Her passion and experience inform all her work. With 17 years of results-driven brand, advertising, and integrated marketing experience, she is adept at applying marketing strategies across complex organizations. Honed through managing brand marketing teams for some of the premier resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, she is improvement-minded. She thrives when cultivating creativity, inspiring innovation, and building integrity to create positive change for her clients. With that approach, she and her collaborators produce solutions that grow brands, drive demand, and make positive consumer perceptions for national and global premium clientele across lifestyle, hospitality, travel & tourism, retail, restaurant, and nightlife industries.
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