What is a Brand Strategy?
Your brand strategy forms a north star and guiding principles for your brand’s future. It should align with your business strategy, outline where you want to go, and provide guidance on how you’re going to get there. This strategy is typically set to a long term goal to increase your brand’s identification or presence within the minds of consumers. Within brand strategy you will likely encounter ‘frameworks’, and every agency will include different aspects or terminology such as brand purpose, positioning, vision, mission, values, idea, manifesto, story, or personality.
Some of the Most Successful Brand Strategies
There are many strategies for developing a brand further – here is a few of our recent favourites.
Dollar Shave Club
The Dollar Shave Club is what we’d call an Everyman brand. This is a brand archetype associated with resonating to the everyday, down-to-earth, human being. The Dollar Shave Club identified a key insight that purchasing razors is a ‘grudge purchase’, and that it’s usually an expensive and repetitive endeavor. Modern audiences are acutely aware that razors are over-marketed and over-priced – and so this brand offered a meaningful solution.
Dollar Shave Club’s brand strategy hits all the key notes for their audiences – quality and convenience. They also sit uniquely and separately from the shaving ads we are familiar with, with a personality self described as “fun”, “no-BS”, “relatable”, and “unapologetically truthful”. The brands strategy has created cut-through for the business, as well as carved out a huge share of wallet from its competitors.
HubSpot’s brand strategy is a little less obvious, but once you look into it, it all becomes very clear. The brand’s goal is to be the masters of inbound marketing, and their brand is fully built around providing content that brings users into a website.
From a product perspective, HubSpot’s user-friendly platform is a far easier tool to use than their competitors. As well as this, over time this platform has developed to encompass the full marketing and sales system, offering marketing automation, CRM, sales and services.
When we look at their brand, we see two young graduates identify the shift in how people shop and buy. They recognised how much audiences were able to ignore marketing messages, and founded HubSpot on ‘inbound’. The core idea that people don’t want to be harassed, they want to be helped, has set their trajectory to empower businesses around the world.
Part of HubSpots strategy is to offer valuable content on how to structure, plan, and grow your business commercially. By giving away this information for free, they position themselves as the expert and go-to for audiences seeking council. Through engagement like gated content, they enter audiences into their CRM, showcasing the power of their product. By inbounding, HubSpot builds trust in the brand, and creates relevant access points according to their audiences needs and concerns.
Uber a quintessential ‘Disruptive’ or ‘Challenger’ brand. These brands identified an opportunity in the market, and then go on to change the entire game. We see this through other businesses such as AirBnB and Netflix, where clever businesses identify audience needs and develop progressive and compelling new business models.
To encompass their growing portfolio, Uber needed to reposition itself away from simply a ride-sharing company.
“We reimagine the way the world moves for the better.
Movement is what we do. It’s our lifeblood. It runs through our veins. It’s what gets us out of bed each morning. It pushes us to constantly reimagine how we can move better. For you, For all the places you want to go, For all the things you want to get, For all the ways you want to earn. Across the entire world. In real time. At the incredible speed of now.” About Us, Uber website.
Here you can see a new strategy coming to life. Their decisions can be guided by the goal of reimagining transport, how it can be done better, and how Uber can constantly evolve to be meaningful in our lives.
How to Develop Your Brand Strategy?
Here’s some tips and steps to help you develop your Brand Strategy.
1. Value the process
Honestly, it’s incredibly difficult to develop a brand strategy internally. Each person likely has a different perspective of what the brand should be, and are too close to to be able to see the business objectively. We would always recommend a third party come in to run your brand strategy process, keeping the project unbiased and bringing expert knowledge to the area.
It’s important to note that in brand strategy, the process is equally as important as the output. By going through the process, you create internal alignment and realise the brand together. The role of a strategist is to unlock insights and turn them into an inspiring and consistent framework.
2. Gather insights
When starting the process you need to do your research. This involves desk research on your audiences, competitors, benchmarks, and your industry – as well as more qualitative research into your key stakeholders, staff, and clients. This phase can include reviewing industry journals, surveys, interviews, workshops, and ethnographic research as ride-alongs and general ‘watching’.
Once you’ve gathered research, you will need to turn it into a meaningful findings documents – outlining insights to inform your strategic framework.
3. Create your framework
Here you will be answering the big questions like, why does this brand exist? What change do we want to see in the world, why do people continue to work here, and many more areas of reflection. Through this you will identify what makes your brand unique, and what messages will resonate with your audiences (internal and external). This framework will become the basis of the creative brief for your visual identity, and should live at the front of your brand guidelines.
Your brand may also require a re-naming process, depending on the outcomes of the research and where your brand equity lies.
4. Take people on the journey
Many issues arise when a new brand is launched and the audiences feel caught off-guard or disconnected. It’s incredibly important to take your internal and external people on a journey and make them feel part of the change. As well as engaging ambassadors along the way, you will need to have an internal and external launch campaign which introduces the need for the change, sets expectations, and allows an avenue for people to provide their feedback.
5. Align your visual identity
Once you have set your framework, you will know what your brand’s story and personality is. It’s important that your visual identity supports your strategy, to carry a consistent message across. We would always recommend having a solid brand strategy before creating a visual brand identity. The visual brand is everything from logos and colours to fonts. You can check out our previous article on visual branding here.
6. Messaging and Tone of Voice
You may also wish to include verbal identity within your brand strategy process. This includes optional outputs based on your framework such as a message matrix, communications plan, elevator pitch, or tone of voice document. These are helpful tools for your team to be able to clearly articulate the brand, and have your team singing from the same hymn sheet. This eliminates uneasiness internally, as your team will feel empowered to explain any changes, but also creates consistent storytelling for your brand.
7. Branding is for humans
Though your brand strategy aligns with your business strategy, branding exists in an emotional realm. If you think of your brand as a human being, with dreams, flaws, and contradictions – you can start to create a stronger identity. You wouldn’t describe a friend as ‘customer-centric’, so keep your focus on human characteristics. Even if you are appealing to someone’s logic, or your product is price-focused, there are still graphic and linguistic cues that are used to convey these messages.
Recapping How to Develop a Brand Strategy
Brand strategy is as much about the process as it is about the output. Brand strategy fosters internal alignment and direction towards a shared vision. By having this strong sense of your brand, you will be better able to make decisions for your business such as hiring people that suit your culture, partnering with businesses that provide strategic benefits, and inspiring your business for growth into the future.
We have included some recent examples of brand’s with great strategy, as well as tips for the process. We recommend that your brand strategy is conducted by a strategist and third party, to maintain objectivity and bring creative storytelling to your framework.
Fellow Studio is a branding agency, and we can partner with you through the entire process through to creating a visual identity, your verbal identity, collateral and more. If you’d like to speak to someone about how brand strategy can benefit your business email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8058 1998.