Are you familiar with the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” Much like beauty, a brand is in the eye of the beholder, too. However, a brand isn’t just about looks – it’s much more than that. One of the biggest misconceptions about branding is that a brand is just a logo, color palette, or tagline, all of which are a brand’s visual identity. Today, we’re diving into what a brand is, how it differs from its visual identity, and the components of an effective brand strategy.
What is a Brand and How Does it Differ From its Visual Identity?
If a brand isn’t just about a company’s logo or colors, then what is it? In the words of Jeff Bezos, “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Essentially, a brand is a person’s perception of your product or service. A large part of your success as a business owner comes from your customers — what they think and how they feel about your brand and whether it resonates with them and their goals.
A brand has the power to develop personal and deep relationships with customers that often transcend the product or service themselves. Take a moment to think about your favorite brand. What is it about that brand that makes you happy and keeps you coming back for more?
Let’s take Coca-Cola as an example. Coca-Cola has gained worldwide recognition and is the number one most recognized brand in the world according to the 2012 Interbrand Report. Though the brand’s visual identity is recognizable anywhere in the world, the reason for its success is due to the company’s overarching brand strategy – everything from the brand’s purpose, mission, vision, and values, to understanding its weaknesses, opportunities, and where it sits in relation to competitors.
Coca-Cola does a great job at putting an emphasis on brand over product with their simple and consistent message of selling “happiness” in a bottle. Their multi-national “Share a Coke” campaign personalized and localized the brand, helping customers feel like they were seen by the global brand, all while strengthening friendships and communities. Their brand allows the company to create products that vary from country to country because the experiences they are selling – happiness and friendship – are universally shared and understood.
So, how does Coca-Cola effectively create a brand that garners billions of loyal customers? It’s all about investing in a solid and effective brand strategy.
What is Brand Strategy?
Your brand strategy sums up why your business exists beyond making money. It clearly defines who you are, who your customers are, what sets you apart from the competition, and how you want your customers to perceive you.
As the saying goes, people don’t buy products, they buy solutions to their problems. Your brand strategy should encapsulate the problems you are trying to solve in a way that will resonate with your target audience. And remember, not everyone in the world is your audience. Your brand strategy will help you understand exactly who your audience is, how your product or service can benefit them, and how to communicate that value to them.
If you place your focus solely on selling your product or service without showing your audience exactly how it can benefit them, you may be at risk of losing them to your competitors.
Components of an Effective Brand Strategy
So, how does a company go about developing this seemingly magical strategy that allows them to successfully build their business and gain a loyal following with ease? Here is a high-level breakdown of the areas our brand strategy firm covers while developing a client’s brand strategy.
During this phase, we help you look inward at the business to develop the brand foundation, which is crucial, as your brand foundation helps feed the strategy. We work collaboratively to develop the mission, vision, values, and guiding principles, and help you understand how these can impact all areas of operations including marketing, hiring, and company culture.
Looking Outward and Understanding Customers
Remember the importance of understanding who your audience is? During this phase, our team develops 3-4 customer personas, which are developed based on survey data and research of your current customers. Each persona is a semi-fictional archetype that represents the key traits of a large segment of your audience. Each persona will help you understand the challenges and needs of each type of target in your audience, how your product or service can solve those problems, what questions they may have, and how to best communicate with them.
This phase also includes a thorough competitor analysis, which will help you understand and identify growth opportunities in the market to develop a full growth strategy. From the analysis, we also help develop your overarching brand statement, a brand value proposition, unique selling point, tagline, and elevator pitch.
In this final phase, we use everything covered in earlier steps to solidify your growth strategy, how you will stay committed to it, and define the marketing messaging and tactics that are going to support the execution and success of the growth strategy.
Our team will also review your current visual assets, including your logo suite, color palette, and fonts to determine if changes are needed based on your new brand strategy. Or our team can work with you to develop your new visual assets if you don’t already have them. Notice that your visual identity is one of the final steps in our process? It’s important to solidify your brand strategy first, as it feeds every other aspect of your business to create cohesion.
Lastly, we take everything from this process and create a digital and printed Brand Playbook for your team with recommendations on how to utilize the book and how to integrate the information into your business and company culture.
Developing a brand strategy from scratch can be a heavy lift, but our team is here to tackle the hard work for you! Reach out to book a free consultation to learn more about our process and to see if brand strategy is the next best step for your business!
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