Build a Brand Strategy That Sets You Apart and Gets Results
Did you know that 90% of consumers expect a consistent experience across all marketing platforms? A brand strategy makes sure that will happen.
The term brand strategy refers to “a detailed plan for developing and marketing a brand”.
Now, that sounds a lot more complicated than creating a logo and choosing a color palette, doesn’t it?
A brand strategy is like a compass for your business. It keeps you focused on the activities that will have the biggest impact on your business’s growth. It also simplifies the decision-making process.
If something doesn’t align with your brand’s purpose, mission, or goals, then it’s best to avoid it.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- the components of a brand strategy
- how to create a brand strategy for your small business
- how to measure success
Components of a Brand Strategy
To build a brand strategy, we start by analyzing the “forces” that affect your company. These factors strengthen or weaken your business’s ability to compete in the market.
Porter’s Five Forces provides a framework for this step. By exploring each force, we get a clear picture of how competitive your business is. It also makes it easier to build on what you do well and offset what you don’t.
Let’s break down each of the forces and how they affect your business.
A “big picture” perspective of your industry gives you a better idea of who and what you’re up against. Compare your strengths and weaknesses with competitors. Be sure to include pricing, value (stated or implied), and product benefits.
You can’t know how to compete until you know what you’re up against.
Of the 400,000 new businesses that start each year, many will be new competitors in your industry. Some of these newcomers will directly affect your business. Take note of what new offers they’re bringing to the marketplace.
You may rely on vendors or other partners to provide products and services. These can have a significant impact on your brand’s well-being.
For example, how much they charge will affect your profit margins. Likewise, they can make it easier for you to deliver, or more difficult.
If you find yourself at the mercy of suppliers, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship with them.
If your business didn’t exist, what would your customers replace you with?
The answer: a substitute.
Alternatives to your product or service aren’t limited to competitors. Substitutes offer similar benefits to yours but aren’t identical. They can also make it difficult for consumers to see how your offers are different.
For instance, web designers are now competing with social media platforms. Businesses give up control of the content they post on social media. But many of them still use these channels instead of a website.
So, while social media platforms aren’t the same, they serve as substitutes.
Finally, buyers (aka, customers) have a major influence on your brand. Consumers have more power over businesses than ever and they know it. Business owners must understand and adjust to their audience’s changing needs and wants.
Other Components of a Brand Strategy
Besides the forces above, there are other factors to consider as you develop a brand strategy. These features work together to create the brand people see and experience.
Position describes how people perceive your business in the marketplace. Some examples of business positions are:
- value brand: least-expensive option and easy to replace
- mid-range price, perceived as an acceptable trade-off between price and quality
- unconventional, bold, and unique, usually mid-range or premium
- distinctive brand: the most expensive choice, but offers the most customization
How your customers see your business will determine whether they buy from you. The more intentional you are about this process, the stronger your brand will be.
Consider the following as you develop your brand’s position:
- Who are your ideal customers?
- Who are your major competitors?
- How do you want your brand to make people feel?
- What words do you want people to think of when you come to mind?
Are you doing what it takes to build the brand reputation you want?
Target Customer Segment
Your target customer segment is the group of people your product or service is designed to help.
Building a strong connection with your target audience is critical. To do that, you must understand their problems and how those problems make them feel.
Speak to them in words they use and show them you understand their point-of-view. Stay away from industry jargon and slang. To do this well takes time, feedback, and a genuine interest in the people you serve.
You can learn more about your target audience by researching the following:
- Physical description
- Whether they’re married or single and have children
- Level of education
- Their interests
- Current occupation
- Details of their typical day
- Their skills and talents
- Their biggest challenges
- How they measure success
- Where they get their information from
- Where they shop
- What expectations they have for the products they buy
Understanding your customer to this degree will help you uncover valuable information. It will show you how to better serve them and connect with them in ways your competitors never will.
Have you ever bought something and enjoyed the process from start to finish?
Maybe the salesperson was friendly and took plenty of time to talk with you. Perhaps the company offered free delivery or resolved problems quickly.
Your opinion of a company before, during, and after a sale is called the customer experience. To build a brand strategy that works, you must account for prospects in each stage of the buying process.
Some will be ready to buy now, but the majority of them won’t. For this reason, you’ll need to stay top-of-mind until they’re ready to buy.
A brand strategy will help you develop this experience from beginning to end. This customer experience process is illustrated in the image below:
Defining the Success of a Brand Strategy
You can build a brand strategy, but it will be useless if you aren’t able to measure success. While some benefits are visible (tangible) and easy to see, others are not (intangible).
Some tangible benefits of a brand strategy:
- Uniqueness of your business is obvious to target customers
- Promotes customer retention, which makes it less likely that they will buy elsewhere
- Helps cultivate a connection with target customers that increases conversion rates
- Reduces price pressure, which means you’ll spend less time overcoming price objections
- Reduces waste of resources and strengthens relationships between the business owner and employees
Intangible benefits are much harder to measure but are as valuable as tangible ones.
Some examples of intangible benefits:
- Proactive in creating the business’s personality and reputation
- Helps people develop brand recall—they will think of your business when the time comes to buy what you sell
- Helps you to establish brand signals. People use these as indicators before purchasing (Do they know, like, and trust you?)
- Extends the life expectancy of your business
- Creates a perception of high value and quality
Over time, many of these intangibles will become tangible.
Now that you know how to build a brand strategy, it’s time to get started. If you need help, email me at [email protected].
Until next time,
Click here if you want to build a brand strategy that will transform your business.
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