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What Is Brand Strategy and Why Do I Need to Invest in It?

Posted: Wednesday September 29, 2021 by effinlazy

In today’s information age, consumers aren’t just looking for superior products and services at a good price. They’re looking for brands whose values align with their own.

They want authenticity and transparency from the businesses they choose to support, which is why – to truly compete in today’s market – you need to be able to clearly articulate who you are as a brand, what you stand for, and why your target market should even care.

Enter: Your Brand Strategy.

Now, if you don’t quite understand what a Brand Strategy is, don’t panic. In this post I’ll explain what Brand Strategy means, why it’s important, and how to get started on yours.

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But first, to understand what a brand strategy is, we need to understand what ‘brand’ really means.

What is a Brand?

When someone mentions ‘branding’, most people automatically think: ‘logos, web design, type fonts, colour palettes.’ While these things are important, they’re just one part of the vast and complex framework that is your brand.

If we try to break it down, your brand is your why – why you started your business and what you plan to do with it. It’s your culture, values and beliefs. Your attitude. The way you create and operate day-to-day. It’s the way you treat your staff and customers. How you handle publicity and make up for mistakes made. It’s the value you have to offer everyone who comes into contact with your business.

All these things combined create the story people tell about you. And that story is your brand.

. . . .

So, now I know what a Brand is – what’s a Brand Strategy?

Whether we like it or not, we all have a brand.

As individuals, we present in a way that triggers thoughts and feelings in other people. Sometimes, we’re completely true to ourselves, unfiltered. Other times, we have an idea about how we would like people to perceive us, and we act in accordance with that idea.

Your Brand Strategy works in a similar way…

Whether your business is one day old or one hundred years old, it has a brand. It has a why, who, what, how, when and where, by default. Everything from your earliest ideas for the business, to how you operate and communicate make up that pre-existing, default brand.

Working on your brand strategy simply means getting intentional about all your brand elements, to create a consistent holistic experience for all your stakeholders (customers, audiences, suppliers, etc).

It’s about consciously directing the composite parts, to influence the way people think and feel about your business. Most importantly, it’s about making sure your personality, values and mission are aligned with the wants, needs, and values of your target customers.

. . . .

Among other things, a well-defined brand strategy will help you:

  • Stand out above the competition – beyond pricing and features – to attract a core audience of brand loyalists.
  • Remove guesswork from the sales, marketing and communications strategy – making sure your brand is easily recognisable at every interaction (e.g., If we took away your logo, customers still know who they’re dealing with).
  • Remain consistent and resilient – even during tough periods – by having a clear set of common goals for everyone in your business to work towards.
  • Ensure that when you do need to grow or pivot, you’re doing it in a way that clearly aligns with your values and connects with your customers.

Where do I start?

If you want to make these benefits available to your business but don’t know where to start with formulating your own Brand Strategy, I recommend you begin by understanding your brand’s:

  • WHY (you exist. Your purpose)
  • WHO (you are and who you want to serve)
  • WHAT (value you have to offer your target audience)
  • HOW (you plan to deliver that value – your services, products and features)

The above factors help to establish your brand voice and frames how you want to be perceived by your audience. Like a roadmap towards the business, clients and income of your dreams, this part of your brand strategy should guide every decision you make going forward…

WHY

Your why is the bedrock of your brand. It’s arguably your most powerful asset, internally and externally…

In a nutshell, your ‘why’ is the reason you started your business – it’s your values, purpose, and mission. It’s what keeps you motivated when times get tough, and helps you make important decisions when the market forces you to switch things up.

Your why is also one of the most important parts of your brand from a customer’s perspective…

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

Business philosopher, Simon Sinek argues that when buying a product or service, consumers want to know they’re supporting a business whose ultimate mission is in alignment with their own values. His theory – adopted by millions of sales, marketing and branding professionals globally – is that people will choose your products or services if they resonate with your brands’ why.

This is why, despite being technically inferior to other products on the market, Apple’s iPhone has a cult-like following. It’s why many people choose Pepsi over Coca-Cola, or TOMS shoes over Nikes.

Ultimately, your why has a huge influence over your brand’s direction and business success, so it pays to know exactly what that why is.

WHO

Sales is all about knowing your customer.

Why? Because the more your customer feels seen, heard and understood by your brand, the more willing they are to buy from you. So, if you can speak to your customers’ deepest desires better than your competitors can, people will buy from you, regardless of price, convenience or other factors.

To reach this point of total customer loyalty, you need to do some research and really get under the hood of your target market.

(My email course – The EffinLazy Brand Builder – shares details of how to spot and cater to your perfect customer, and it all starts with building detailed customer personas).

Here are some great ways to get inside your target market’s head:

  • 1-1 interviews (or informal chats)
  • Focus-groups
  • Surveys (Typeform, SurveyMonkey, Google Forms)
  • Social media (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest)
  • Forums (Reddit, Quora, Slack)
  • Review sites (Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor)

Conducting in-depth customer research using a variety of these methods will give you a clear and comprehensive overview of your customers’ preferences, pain-points, life circumstances, challenges, desires, and dialect – all of which you can build into your offering and communications, to strengthen the affinity between your brand and customers.

WHAT

It’s near-impossible to sell anything without knowing – and being able to clearly articulate – the value that thing gives to your customer.

For example, many brands lead their sales and marketing with features:

  • “We sell Superfast Broadband
  • “We use cutting-edge VR technology
  • “Our mp3 player boasts a 5GB hard-drive, 2-inch LCD screen, simultaneous charging and high-speed music synchronization capabilities

This is a mistake.

Why?

Because people don’t buy features. They buy benefits…

When considering any product or service, consumers constantly ask themselves, “What’s in this for me?”. They’re looking for the value your stuff has to offer – the end-result – their lives improved after purchase. So, for your sales and marketing messages to be effective, you need to spell the benefit out for them:

  • “We sell Superfast Broadband” (Benefit: Uninterrupted streaming)
  • “Cutting-edge VR technology” (Benefit: Escape, immersion)
  • “Our mp3 player boasts a 5GB hard-drive, 2-inch LCD screen, simultaneous charging and high-speed music synchronization capabilities” (Benefit: Freedom of choice, accessibility)

Let’s try rewriting the examples above but this time, by leading with benefits instead of features. Which version do you think customers would find more compelling?

  • “Your favourite shows, uninterrupted.”
  • “The most immersive experience yet.”
  • “1,000 songs, in your pocket.”

Understanding the value your products or services have to offer, and incorporating that into your sales and marketing messages allows you to cut through the noise, straight to your customers’ deepest desires.

HOW

Your how is the way in which you deliver the benefits discussed above. In other words, it’s your physical products, services and features:

  • We sell Superfast Broadband
  • We use cutting-edge VR technology
  • 5GB hard-drive, 2-inch LCD screen, simultaneous charging and high-speed music synchronization capabilities

Your how is important because, although people are initially compelled to buy with their hearts, it’s often their brains which carry out the purchase (or cart abandonment). So, your how doesn’t speak to your customers’ wants and needs, but it does make your promises more believable and helps your customers to rationalise their purchase decisions.

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Conclusion

In a time where consumers can learn anything they want about a brand with just a few clicks – where they demand authenticity from businesses and values they can align themselves with – it’s more important than ever to consistently demonstrate who you are, what you stand for, and the true value you have to offer as a brand.

The way to do that is by creating a clear brand strategy – to help guide your business-building decisions and actions moving forward.

Hopefully this blog has shed some light on where to start. But if you find yourself getting stuck, or if you want more clarity and confidence in building your brand strategy, and using it to your advantage, book a call here.