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.
A brand strategy is “a detailed plan for developing and marketing a brand”.
A brand strategy is like a compass for your business. It keeps you focused on the activities that will make 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, start by analyzing the “forces” that affect your company. These factors strengthen or weaken your business’s ability to compete.
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 leverage your strengths to offset your weaknesses.
Let’s break down each of the forces and how they affect your business.
You can’t know how to compete until you know what you’re up against. Comparing your business to competitors will help you make a solid assessment.
If you run an online business, you probably have thousands of competitors. It may not be possible to compare your business to every one of them.
Fortunately, you don’t have to. You only need to a small number of comparable businesses to get a good idea of where you stand. And thanks to Google, you have access to as many as you need.
Type in keyword phrases that best relate to what you do and note competitors that come up in the search results. Study their websites, social media profiles, and anything else you can find on them.
Be sure to look at prices, benefit claims, positioning statements. Take note of any details they’re leveraging to attract customers. The more thorough you are in this step, the more competitive you’ll be.
Of the 600,000 new businesses that start each year, many will become new competitors. Some of these newcomers will directly affect your sales. What new offers and promises are they bringing to the marketplace?
To do business, you may rely on third-party vendors or other partners. These can have a significant impact on your brand’s well-being.
For example, how a supplier or contractor charges will affect your profit margin. Likewise, they can make it easier or more difficult for you to deliver.
If you’re at their mercy, it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship or find alternatives. Depending on them too much gives them more power over you. The weaker your position is, the less control you have over quality, cost, and service.
If your business didn’t exist, how would customers find a replacement for your product or service?
The answer: they would find 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 can be a substitute for websites.
Finally, buyers (your customers) have a major influence on your brand. Consumers have more power than ever and they know it. Business owners must adjust to their audience’s changing needs and wants.
But this is easier said than done.
That’s why it’s so important to stay in touch with them. Many businesses become complacent and start ignoring the people they serve. Remain diligent in soliciting feedback and pay attention to their complaints and suggestions.
Other Components of a Brand Strategy
Besides the forces above, there are other factors to consider as you build a brand strategy. All components work together to create the brand people see and experience.
Position describes how people perceive your business in the marketplace compared to competitors. Some examples of business positions are:
- Price-based or Value Brand. These brands are usually the least-expensive options and are easy to replace
- Service-based Brand. Leverages customer service with an emphasis on quality support. This position also justifies higher prices.
- Convenience-based Brand. Prioritizes ease-of-use and availability.
- Distinctive brand. These brands are often the most expensive choice, the premium brands. They also offer the most customization, innovation, and highest perceived quality.
Customers have unique preferences and values when choosing which brand they buy from. This is why it’s so important to choose a position that aligns with the type of customers you want. 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 and what type of audience do they target?
- Have any of your competitors overlooked a position that would be profitable?
Target Customer Segment
Your target customer segment is the group of people your product or service helps most. The more value you product or service has in the eyes of your audience, the more you can charge for it.
This is why it’s so important to choose the right target customer segment.
Building a strong connection with your audience is critical. To do that, you must understand their problems and how those problems make them feel. Only then can you position your product or service as the solution.
When communicating, use the same words they do and stay away from slang or industry terms. Show them you understand their point-of-view. 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
- What sources of information they use
- Where they shop
- What expectations they have for the products they buy
Have you ever bought something and enjoyed the buying 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 a positive experience from beginning to end. This process is illustrated in the image below:
How to Determine If Your Brand Strategy Is Working
You can build a brand strategy, but it will be useless if you aren’t able to measure success. While some benefits are direct (tangible) and easy to see, others are not (intangible).
Here are some tangible benefits of a brand strategy:
- Your business appears to be more unique, different.
- It promotes customer retention. This makes it easier to develop residual revenue.
- A brand strategy helps you build a a business that is less transactional and more relational.
- Brand positioning can reduce price pressure. This means you’ll spend less time overcoming price objections.
- It reduces waste of resources and leads to better business decisions.
Intangible benefits are much harder to measure but are as valuable as tangible ones.
Some examples of intangible benefits:
- A brand strategy helps you create the business’s persona and reputation.
- Customers become more comfortable with you, which lowers the trust barrier.
- It helps you connect with target customers using brand signals. These are indicators people use when deciding who to buy from. (i.e., do they know, like, and trust you?)
- A brand strategy extends the life expectancy of your business.
- It helps you create more perceived value for your products and services. The more value consumers think you offer, the more money they’re willing to pay for it.
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,
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