Successful brands maximise excitement and minimise the risk to buy. But how do they achieve this? They have an underlying long-term vision and plan in place to keep them focussed – a brand strategy.
Brand strategy is a long-term plan to outmanoeuvre your competitors. Compared to business strategy, brand strategy looks at your company from your customers’ point of view. It inspires actions and behaviours that affect every single department and person within your company. The purpose is to make sure your customers enjoy the best possible experience.
The ultimate goal of a brand is to get more people to buy more products, for more money, for longer. Essentially, successful brands maximise the excitement and minimise the risk to buy.
A brand strategy helps you achieve this by:
- Clearly positioning and differentiating your business
- Defining and reaching the right customer
- Developing a culture that aligns all stakeholders
- Crafting clear messaging and distinctive creative
- Encouraging you to say ‘no’
1. Positioning and differentiating your business
As brands vye for consumer attention, we are surrounded by clutter and noise. To help consumers decide, brands need to be different – they need to stand out to get noticed and compete in a category in which they can win. They need a big idea that customers can identify with.
A focussed brand strategy helps you to differentiate your products or services within a current or new industry category to stay ahead of your competition. By defining and highlighting how you differ from your competitors, you can dominate, defend and grow your market sector.
As an example, let’s look at green energy provider Bulb. They set out to revolutionise the energy industry by selling sustainable energy through simple pricing, and so positioned themselves at the complete polar opposite of the energy market. No ‘dirty energy’ or complex confusing tariffs, which consumers experience from big corporate suppliers.
2. Defining and reaching the right customer
Building your brand is a two-way street and to achieve this you need to know exactly who your customers are. With the rise of digitalisation, there has been a significant powershift between companies and customers. Customers now have the means and opportunity to voice and share their opinion on brand experiences. Your customers can make or break a brand.
Brand strategy helps you to define your customer and to put them and their needs first. Strategy enables you to create a space for your customers to enjoy and to identify with. Your brand is determined by what your customers say it is, so being authentic, truthful and empathetic is the basic rule of audience engagement.
Energy provider Bulb listen to consumers carefully. The give environmentally conscious people the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint through affordable green energy. They attract like-minded people who value the health of our planet and put customers in control to do their bit. They are the fastest growing energy company, with a third of all new sign-ups coming from referrals.
3. Developing an aligned internal culture
Brand culture and values are born out of a shared purpose – your brand’s reason for being (beyond making a profit). For most brands this is the reason for their inception – a desire to meet unmet needs. For internal stakeholders, the brand purpose is the driving force and source of energy for commitment and dedication to their role.
Strategy aligns internal stakeholders and attracts new talent and business partners who identify with your ethos. Purposeful behaviour ultimately resonates with your audience. You could call it, branding from the ‘inside out’. Happy employees, happy customers.
What Bulb does best, is it prioritises customer service and speaks its ‘members’ language. No jargon. Just plain, clear and engaging communication that makes you feel part of their community. In fact, I look forward to receiving their customer service emails and impact reports. They are not just fun and insightful, but also beautifully designed, which brings us to the next benefit of brand strategy…
4. Crafting a clear message and distinctive creative
Brand strategy provides a clear creative brief for your brand identity and storytelling. Design translates your strategy into multisensory assets and touchpoints that add value to your brand – starting with your name, logo, colours, typography, tone of voice, style of imagery, retail environments, packaging, stationery, marketing literature, website, and so on.
What’s more, a clear brand strategy will also remove subjectivity. Rather than being driven by personal taste, strategy dictates the direction for brand design. Knowing what story to tell and who to address it to will guarantee clear, concise and coherent creative content across all your communications channels and brand spaces. This enables your brand can be perceived by your audience as intended.
Bulb is different and brilliantly shows this through clever design and storytelling. They defy the established corporate look of the big energy providers and avoid the standard visual clichés of green, sustainable brands. Their brand identity is vibrant, positive, dynamic and engaging. And their fun and humorous storytelling describes the benefits of Bulb membership:
5. Having the courage to say ‘No’
Any decision you make will either advance and strengthen or weaken and damage your brand. A good brand strategy draws clear boundaries to help you stay focussed and gives you the courage to say ‘no’ to anything outside of this. It is a long-term decision-making tool that prevents you from creating a brand that is too complex or confusing to understand.
Whether it is product or service development, hiring new talent, collaborating with partners, choosing suppliers, designing touch points, creating marketing campaigns or allocating investments and resources, brand strategy empowers you to choose wisely to keep your brand focussed and aligned.
Markets change and so do consumer expectations and behaviour. No brand can stand still. They must continuously evolve, which means that their strategy dates over time. Make sure you keep on top of it by reviewing and updating it at regular intervals to stay ahead of your competitors.
If you’re unsure where to start, we can help. We’d be happy to help you and your team redefine your strategy in an interactive workshop. Simply get in touch to find out more.