Branding…this abstract, emotionally-driven marketing concept is enough to strike fear in the hearts of even the bravest business owner. But it’s more – MUCH more – than just a buzzword or fleeting trend, and we’re here to break down the building blocks of branding to help your business stand out and thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
So…what do we mean when we say “brand” – and what is a brand strategy?
Your brand is how the world sees your business. The right brand gives your audience a way to connect with you, and a way for them to self-identify. As human beings, we gravitate socially and emotionally towards people who we want to be like, and customers are the same with the businesses they support: they buy from brands that represent their ideal selves.
In other words, your brand is your business’ personality: your voice, your purpose, and core values.
Your brand strategy is how you communicate your personality and tell your story, letting customers know that you understand them and their needs, and attracting them to your business.
How is a brand strategy different from a marketing strategy?
Often, business owners confuse or combine the two, but the truth is, they’re actually different!
A strong brand strategy is a driver for your marketing strategy. Your brand cultivates an audience predisposed to buying your product or service, based on the effectiveness of the way you communicate that brand, and this supports your marketing strategy.
Branding is a PULL – you’re capturing an audience’s attention by introducing them to your business’ personality
Marketing is a PUSH – actively promoting and selling a product or service.
Your marketing strategy should activate the audience that your brand strategy engaged, putting the right product/service in the right place, at the right price, and at the right time.
Another key difference between brand strategy and marketing strategy is their evolution – or lack thereof!
Your brand strategy should largely stay the same over time. In order to build trust and equity in your brand, you don’t want to constantly be changing your “personality”, or your customers will feel they don’t know you, and don’t know what to expect from you. Any adjustments to your brand should be made slowly, carefully, and in consultation with your marketing team.
Unlike your brand strategy, your marketing strategy SHOULD actively evolve over time – adjusting to things like campaign performance, market trends, finances, world events, competitor actions, etc.
How does your brand strategy relate to your business strategy?
Your business strategy is the foundation – an internal overview of your vision, mission, services, and goals. It covers your organizational structure, industry and market structure, product portfolio, business model, cost structure, partnerships, and all the tactical elements that a business needs to succeed.
Your brand strategy breathes life into your business strategy and turns it into a living, breathing representation of your company.
How do these three strategies work together?
Think of your business strategy as the body, your brand as the mind, and your marketing strategy as your movements & actions. None of these elements can function effectively without the others – you need a brand strategy that matches and reflects your business strategy, and a marketing strategy to take those two in the right direction and towards the right audience..
Is branding different for products versus services?
Yes! Although there is crossover and similarities, your brand strategy will likely look a little different if you’re selling services versus a product, and vice-versa.
With services, your brand strategy should emphasize storytelling, and provide examples of your services and the experience a customer will have working with your team, while also sharing reviews, results, and testimonials.
A brand strategy focused on a product will be much more visual, since you can show the product itself! You’ll want to highlight the product presentation and how you want your audience to feel when they use it.
How will I know my brand is successful?
Because branding is driven by an emotional connection your audience has with your business, it can often be hard to quantify – but not impossible! If you’re trying to measure your success, you can lean on these three metrics
- Interaction: are they clicking on your links, opening your emails, or otherwise taking action?
- Engagement: are they responding to your content by liking, commenting, or messaging?
- Participation: are they showing up to your events or store? Are they buying? Are they sharing you with their friends and family?
Brand recognition – not direct conversions! – is the real indicator of a successful brand strategy.
You might have a powerful business plan and marketing strategy, but if people don’t recognize your brand, engage with your content, and connect with you emotionally, they aren’t going to buy from you.
Similarly, the most finely-tuned brand in the world can’t be successful if the content is being shared ineffectively, or if the buyer journey is difficult or too complicated for the customer.
The top 5 tips & questions to consider for building or enhancing your brand
No matter where you are in the branding journey – whether you’re starting from scratch or you have an existing brand – there’s never a wrong time to use these suggestions! If you do have an existing brand, you might find that your brand isn’t as clear or concise as you’d like it to be, once you consider these tips!
Remember that your brand is your business’ personality. If your business was a person, who would they be? What would they be like? How would they act? What types of people would they connect with?
At the end of the day, your brand should attract the kinds of people who would purchase your product or services.
- The strongest and most authentic brands are extensions of the people behind the curtain – that’s you, and your team!
- What is your why? People connect with passion, excitement, and joy. Why do you do what you do? Why do you provide the services or sell the products you do?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What does your brand voice sound like?
- What are some keywords you would use to describe your brand
Are there any branding pitfalls to avoid?
Remember: you can’t do it all or be it all. Authenticity comes from knowing who you are, AND who are you not. Your brand should be fine-tuned and specific.
Don’t be afraid to say: this is not our brand and this is not who we are.
Last but not least….what’s the secret to getting your brand right?
It’s simple but it’s real: you must be true to yourself and your business.
The best thing your brand can be is authentic. When you’re creating your brand strategy, be prepared for your brand to surprise you, and that’s okay! That’s the heart and soul of your business making itself clear to you. That’s how you find your authentic brand.
For an even deeper dive into the building blocks of branding, including a Q&A full of answers to questions you’ve always wanted to ask, be sure and watch our Business Growth Series webinar on branding, and all the past BGS webinars. Register today for access to our the rest of our upcoming LIVE trainings – and if you need more immediate help, with brand strategy, marketing strategy, business strategy, or all three, reach out today to connect with our team.