Who are you and what do you do? Which customer niche do you target? Who are your competitors and how do you differentiate from them? By answering these questions, you start building your brand strategy. A branding strategy helps establish the product within the market: a brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating your brand messages; it is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand. In order to deliver messages on your brand, you have to define your brand.
I. Brand structure: a central word, personality (core values, tone of voice), benefits, associations.
Each and every brand, regardless its category, should be concentrated around a word, a central attribute. For example, Volvo – Safety, Toyota Hilux – Invincible, Landcruiser – Indestructible, Ariel – Harmony. This word concentrates the brand, unifies the target audience, it offers a clear and distinctive brand identity.
Personality: the personality of a brand tells us something about the brand profile. It is visible in brand communication, brand stories, brand advertising (for example: Coke is feminine, Marlboro is masculine, Apple is young). Why is developing a personality important? 1. The brand differentiates itself from competitors; 2. It enhances an emotional connection, consumers can relate to it. 3. Consumers are more likely to purchase a brand if its personality is similar to their own. 4. It creates brand equity.
Benefits: real and emotional. Real benefits: what does the consumer get? Does the cleaning product really clean? Does the washing machine wash properly? Emotional benefits: how does the consumer feel after purchasing your product? The positive (hopefully) emotions they experience. The benefits can be established by answering these questions: Why is the brand unique? What would the consumers lose if the brand dissapeared? Is the brand so important that it cannot be replaced by another existing one?
Associations: These occur in the mind of your target audience. What are the most common words related to your brand? The more positive and merrier the associations, the better your brand will be positioned.
II. Brand identity:
- Concept: The word/attribute most commonly associated with your brand. It answers the question “Who/What is the brand?”
- Verbal identity: Is composed of name, tagline, slogan, tonality. It answers the question “How does the brand speak?”
- Visual identity: Is composed of logo, colors, design, graphics, shapes and images used in your brand’s communication. It answers the question “How does the brand look?”
These are the most commonly developed identity elements. The brand identity can also include olfactory identity (scent) and hearing identity (sounds: for example, a unique set of tones can be associated to a brand).
Pricing is part of your brand strategy, Advertising is part of you brand strategy, and so are your distribution channels.
Your brand strategy defines what you stand for, a promise you make, and the personality you convey; it includes your logo, color palette and tagline. But the work does not end here. Your brand lives in every day-to-day interaction you have with your market: website, social media, customer relationship, a customer’s opinion of you versus your competition.
A brand strategy supposes also decision-making for the effective handling of brands in your portfolio. We will discuss this subject in our next article.