Your brand is more than just your name, logo, tagline, website, and the color palettes you use. While these elements are crucial to your brand’s identity, branding isn’t all about how people perceive you. The deeper essence of your brand lies in the overall experience of your customers from using your products/services and in dealing with your company.
Many business owners, especially those who are just starting out, sometimes make the mistake of launching a company without a clear-cut strategy for their branding. Without a brand strategy, you run the risk of confusing your customers about who you are, what you offer, and what you stand for — all of which compounds to a negative customer experience.
A well-defined and cohesive brand strategy can help you grasp the direction of your marketing strategy and provide you clear guidelines as to how you would communicate with your target market(s). Here are tips on how to develop an effective brand strategy.
1. Define your overall business strategy and purpose
A good place to start before delving into the process is to define your overall business strategy and purpose. Knowing why your business exists in the first place sets the tone and context of your brand strategy and your brand positioning.
Ultimately, what else do you want to achieve with your business other than making a profit? What difference do you want to impart to the world in the long run? What is your mission and vision and the values you uphold as a company?
Coca-Cola, for example, has a mission of “refreshing the world and inspiring moments of optimism and happiness.” They are not there just to sell beverages. Their purpose as a company serves as a guiding standard on how they go out to deliver and accomplish their goals.
2. Identify and get to know your target market
Identifying your target market is one of the most basic and most important aspects in developing a strategy of any sort for your business. A clearly defined target market helps you narrow down your focus and determine what kind of approach works well for them.
What age group does your target market belong to? What gender? What geographic location do they live in? What languages do they speak? What is their socioeconomic status? Be as specific as possible. Once you’ve identified your target market, get to know them better by investing time and resources to do market research.
Mercedes-Benz, for instance, known for its luxury cars, appeals to the higher-class market. However, with continuing research and marketing segmentation, they’ve developed new product lines that are more affordable to Millennials and the Generation X (early twenties to early forties). This effort also led them to create a new brand strategy influencing the younger generations.
3. Maintain consistent brand messaging
Consistency is essential to an effective brand strategy. This means that every marketing effort you do should align with your brand message. Having a consistent brand message contributes to brand recognition. The more that people recognize your brand, the better the chances you have in fostering customer loyalty and goodwill.
As mentioned, your company’s purpose sets the context for your branding. Formulate your brand message based on your mission and vision. For example, Pampers’ purpose is to foster a happy and healthy development for every baby. Every image they post, every marketing copy they write, and how they present the visuals in their website and social media accounts all center on this message.
To help reinforce brand consistency, consider having a brand style guide in place. This encompasses all the details of your brand strategy, including the tone of voice you use, the color scheme, and more.
A winning brand strategy wouldn’t be as effective if it isn’t implemented and evaluated well. The key to an effective brand is to continually seek ways to improve and be flexible enough to change when needed.
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