Let's get real, folks. When was the last time you remembered a bland story, a boring person, or tasteless food? Exactly. You only remember the things that make you feel something, and that's where brand strategy comes in. We're not talking about just your logo or your website, we're talking about the whole shebang, from your catchy slogans to your social media presence.
Now, let's be clear, brand strategy isn't rocket science (unless you're Tony Stark, in which case, props to you). But it can be a bit confusing. It's like trying to measure the weight of a unicorn, you can't exactly put it on a scale. It's all about the experience, the feelings, and the vibes your brand gives off.
But fear not, dear reader, creating a brand strategy is like following a compass (or your iPhone compass, if you're feeling tech-savvy). Without it, you might end up lost in the Bermuda Triangle of business. Your brand strategy should guide your decisions and serve as a point of reference for success and failure.
So, how do you create a killer brand strategy? Well, it's not as hard as learning to speak Groot (I am Groot, amirite?). Here are a few steps you can follow to build a brand strategy that'll make your competitors quiver in their boots:
Step 1: Get to know yourself (not in a weird way, Deadpool style)
Step 2: Research and analyze your target market (but don't be creepy)
Step 3: Define your competitive positioning (in a non-violent way, please)
Step 4: Develop your authentic brand voice (just don't use your superhero alter ego voice)
Step 5: Create a visual identity that'll make heads turn (and eyes pop)
And if you're still feeling lost, don't worry, we've got your back.
Let’s dive deeper
First things first, know who you are and what you stand for. In this cutthroat world of business, you don't want to have an identity crisis. Otherwise, you might end up like a chameleon on a disco ball - completely lost in the crowd. So, before you start dreaming up your brand colors and catchy slogans, take a moment to reflect on your purpose. As Simon Sinek, the ultimate hype man, once said, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." Once you figure out your "why", you'll be one step closer to being the Beyoncé of your industry.
And speaking of Queen Bey, defining your values is crucial to your success. Consumers are looking for authenticity, and they want to support brands that share their beliefs. So, think of your values as your moral compass - but without the boring geography lesson. Whether it's sustainability, inclusivity, or a love for fluffy kittens, make sure your values are clear and that you actually practice what you preach. Don't be that person who says they're vegan but eats bacon on the weekends.
Now, let's talk about your mission and vision statements. These are like the Batman and Robin of your brand identity. Your vision statement is like the Batmobile - it gets you where you need to go and looks cool doing it. In a few sentences, you'll outline your long-term goals and the impact you want to make on the world. Your mission statement, on the other hand, is like your trusty utility belt - it's packed with purpose and values. It's your roadmap for success, and it should be short, sweet, and … dare we say… inspiring.
In a nutshell
Why do you exist? The answer is your brand purpose.
How will your brand behave? Defining your values early on will guide your actions.
Where do you want to go? The answer will constitute your vision statement.
How do you plan to get there? Your mission statement will pave the way.
Now more than ever, consumers seek authenticity and choose brands that uphold similar beliefs. Brand values are an integral part of your strategy, as they will dictate how your business will behave. Think of your core values like a moral code, which guides your social and ethical practices. To use the same gift box example, some values might include: sustainability and ethical sourcing, inclusivity and diversity, community, peacefulness and elegance.
Keep in mind though that not all values have to be socially or environmentally focused. They just need to precisely define the guiding principles you’ll apply throughout the way you do business. However, simply outlining your beliefs is not enough, you must actually practice what you preach to maintain your integrity.
Lets get a little more granular - like Ant Man on a mission.
Mission and vision statement
Mission and vision statements are often used interchangeably. They actually differ and each serves a unique role in shaping your brand identity.
Vision statement: In a few sentences or a concise paragraph, a vision statement outlines the goals of your business. It clearly explains both what you are trying to achieve, and represents the infrastructure for future goals and where they will take you.
Try to envision where you want your brand to go and map out your long-term steps to get there. Be mindful that your vision is not set in stone and can evolve over time. In fact, a good vision statement should grow with your brand and be reviewed periodically.
On a deeper level, your vision statement should also try to recognize the impact your brand will have in the community, in the marketplace, and in the world.
Mission statement: In a nutshell, your mission statement is an amalgamation of your purpose and values in one definitive place, all wrapped up with a shiny bow. It will serve as a roadmap for you, your audience, employees, stakeholders, partners, influencers and anyone else that will interact with your brand.
You want to keep it to just a few condensed sentences and proudly present it to anyone who encounters your business, so they instantly know who you are.
2. Know Your Audience Like Deadpool Knows His Guns.
As the wise branding guru, Marty Neumeier once said, "Brand is not what you say it is. It's what they say it is." In other words, your customers hold all the power. So, you can have the fanciest brand in the world, but without a loyal following, it's about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
To win over your audience, you need to know them inside and out. Take Airbnb, for example. They cater to budget-conscious travelers who want a local experience, not just a run-of-the-mill hotel. They know their audience so well, they practically finish each other's sentences! And that's why they're so successful.
If you want to be like Airbnb (who wouldn't?), you need to dig deep into what makes your customers tick. What motivates them? Who are their role models? What grinds their gears? What are they used to paying? What will make them choose you over anybody else? By doing some good old-fashioned market research, you can segment your audience based on similarities like age, gender, location, and behavior. It's like creating a fictional character, but one that actually buys your stuff!
Don’t just stop there: By digging deeper with market research and analyzing your audience, you can then create subgroups or segments based on shared characteristics. Known as market segmentation, this process categorizes your audience based on similarities ranging from geographic location to age, gender, decisions and behaviors. Altogether, this helps you create your typical buyer persona.
So, folks, don't be a chocolate teapot. Get to know your audience, and they'll help shape your brand's success.
. Competition isn’t a bad thing… necessarily
Competition can be a real drag, but it's not all bad. In fact, spying on your rivals can be a great way to figure out where you stand in the market and in your customers' hearts (aww, how cute).
So what's so special about your brand? What sets you apart from the competition? You need to find your USP (that's marketing lingo for Unique Selling Point, FYI), and just saying you're the best isn't gonna cut it. You gotta prove it with some fancy strategic analysis.
That's where the SWOT analysis comes in - it's all about identifying your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. But if you wanna get really fancy, try some perceptual mapping. It's like playing connect the dots with your competitors' strengths and weaknesses, and can help you find your sweet spot in the market.
Once you've got all that figured out, it's time to craft a brand positioning statement. This is like a secret message just for you and your team, summarizing what your brand is all about, who you're targeting, and why you're the coolest kid on the block. It's like a mission statement, but with a little more sass.
4. Tell Your Story
Listen up, folks! If you want to win over your customers, you gotta tell 'em a good story. And not just any story, but one that's honest, attention-grabbing, curious-inducing, and emotional. Basically, you wanna make 'em laugh, cry, or at least raise an eyebrow. You want them to be attracted to you.
But here's the thing, you can't just blabber on like a politician. You gotta find your own voice, baby! What kind of vibe do you wanna give off? Are you serious and sophisticated or playful and quirky? Whatever it is, make sure it's consistent, recognizable, and easy to talk with.
Now, don't be a one-trick pony. You gotta adapt your tone to each situation, like talking to your little cousin. If you drone on like a robot, you're gonna lose 'em. So, be aware of your audience and adjust accordingly. And don't forget the platform you're on! No one wants to see a dissertation on Twitter, so keep it short and sweet.
For example, take our buddy, Deadpool: Deadpool's tone of voice can be described as sarcastic, irreverent, and humorous. He often breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience, making pop culture references and wisecracks. His tone can be both mocking and self-deprecating, and he frequently uses vulgar language and crude humor. Overall, Deadpool's voice is characterized by a playful irreverence and a tendency to push boundaries and break conventions. No matter what you think of it, it is undeniably his own voice.
Own your visual identity. Create a brand book. Differentiate yourself from the pack. When you see Wonder Woman, you know she’s Wonder Woman. You never get confused and think She’s Captain Marvel.
This doesn't end here… Get ready to polish your strategy like a shiny new car once you get some feedback and suss out the market. As your brand blossoms like a flower in springtime, double-checking your strategy will make everything crystal clear, purposeful, and as long-lasting as a Twinkie in a nuclear apocalypse. A killer brand strategy should stand up to the test of time and keep you looking fresh and fly for years to come