A brand strategy is necessary for all businesses.
Your product and service need to be solving a problem that is unique, different from the competition. True, it takes more work to develop a unique brand position especially with today’s complex business environment and digital world. It can be challenging to understand where to start when it comes to determining what will be your brand strategy.
The purpose of this post is to present a template for a brand strategy, which will be broken down into three manageable parts.
The first section of the brand strategy formula is brand positioning. I’m sure you’ll agree that every type of business needs a unique brand position because it will directly affect sales. Recent research has shown that premium brands can command at least a 25 % to 30% higher price than value brands.
Brand positioning answers the question “what are you?” and “who are you for?” It showcases your differentiation in your marketplace. It’s what makes your company unique, sets your products and services apart from the crowd and defines a clear, relevant message for your intended audience.
So, how do we discover the brand positioning for your product or service?
There are three steps to finding the best positioning for your business. And, the positioning framework includes the following three stages:
- List your positioning options
- Flush out the pros of each option
- Select the best positioning option for your business
1. List of Options
Let’s say you are a sports beverage product and want to stand out in the crowded shelf – you’ll need to start with a compelling positioning. Start by listing all the desires and needs your intended target audience to expect to receive from drinking your beverage.
Your target audience expects some advantages from this type of drink, from electrolytes, higher levels of carbohydrates, hydration to taste. List these benefits that your brand will provide.
2. Flush out the pros of each option
Next, look at your direct competition, other sports beverage companies. Are you in direct competition with any of them, Gatorade being the market leader. Can you clearly state their position in the marketplace?
Make a list of your competitor’s brand position. Then compare with the wants and needs of your target audience. Which wants and needs are not being met by the competition?
3. Select the best positioning option for your business
As you compare, your list might include all the same benefits as Gatorade without the calories and sugar content. Bingo! You got your brand positioning.
This positioning option as the “healthy Gatorade choice” was also in-line with economic and cultural trends of the mass consumer who wants healthy options. Soda sales are on the decline, but healthy drink options like bottled water are on the rise in popularity.
On PowerAde, after going through this positioning framework process, they selected their best positioning for a new beverage that the product was able to compete successfully against Gatorade.
Now that you have your ‘best positioning’ – how do you showcase this strong differentiator to your target audience? How do you get through the clutter? How will you reach your intended audience and let them know of your healthy Gatorade choice?
We’ll use visuals and messaging.
- Visually: From the website, product packaging, logo, select images, all these assets will help to create the look and feel of your brand position.
- Message: Develop a clear statement or actionable phrase that communicates your positioning.
As you can see, taking the time to develop a Brand Strategy Formula is not just for start-ups or new products or services. I have helped companies that have been in business for decades to redefine their brand positioning so that they continue to be unique for their targeted audience as well as gain stronger competitor advantages in their specific competitive landscape.
Before we move to part 2, what we discussed was a basic framework you can use to help you determine the unique brand positioning, which will help your business stand apart in a crowded marketplace.
Now that we’ve covered what, who and why our next move in brand development strategy is implementation. Implementation is essential as it will make our brand come alive, it answers “where” and “how” during the development of your brand.
And, for this section, we will focus on implementing the visual and the message.
- The Visual: Includes the design and feel of your website, product packaging, logo, specific images and photos as well as communication tools, such as flyers, posters, business cards and even t-shirts and other clothing for staff.
- The Message: Messaging includes the tagline, slogans, copy for flyers, adverts, brochures as well as web content and social media.
Let’s look at an example of a company that brought its brand to life using visual branding and messaging.
Zulily is an online e-commerce site dedicated to moms.
Their brand positioning, the online deal site for moms, is created visually through images and the copy on their website. They visually showcase their positioning by using images of who moms shop for, the use of warm yet bright colours and welcoming font types.
Their slogan – Daily deals for moms, babies, and kids – is simple, likable and easy to remember, which I’ll expand on later in this post. Zulily’s simple slogan helps to solidify its brand positioning, and as I stated in my previous post, positioning is your product or services main differentiator where premium brands can command at least a 25 % to 30% higher price than value brands.
Let’s take a look at brand messaging a little deeper. Messaging is the verbal showcase of your brand. Messaging should communicate to the world what you are, who you are for, what makes your business unique, why customers should choose to buy your product or service, and how they can buy.
Brand messaging can be daunting to develop.
As I mentioned above, brand messaging includes the tagline, slogan as well as copywriting. In truth, not only is there is a lot of work before copywriting can begin, but it also requires a specific style of writing and unique content that relates to your brand. And, there needs to be the foundation for copywriting before we begin to develop brand messaging.
The copywriting foundation includes these three steps:
- Break down your brand: Break down your brand structure to ensure that messaging reflects the brand, main benefits attributes, and unique positioning.
- Messaging framework: This is to make sure that the messaging is in keeping with your overall marketing goals, objectives and follows the rules common to the messaging structure. One rule is that at least one messaging property should be descriptive of your positioning, at least one likable, and at least one easy to remember.
- Bring it all together: Use the brand breakdown together with the messaging framework to develop your messaging properties (the copy): The Brand outline, messaging matrix and messaging framework are the road map of your brand. A brand roadmap that will also ensure that the copywriting is articulating your brand positioning consistently and adequately.
Brand’s True Mission
The real mission of brand messaging boils down to a coined term by American advertising and sales pioneer Elmo Lewis in 1898 that describes how smart marketing communications should:
- Create awareness so that your target audience notices your brand, the “Who.”
- Develops an interest for your brand, the “That.”
- Turns the interest into a desire to have the product or service, the “Which.”
- Finally, the desire leads to action – the purchase of your product or service.
The right and relevant Brand Messaging is incredibly powerful. You need to make your unique brand positioning come alive through visual brand identity, a simple and clear message backed by unique copywriting that turns the desire for action.
Brand messaging creates awareness, which turns into a desire that leads to action. The reason why we feel and relate to certain adjectives when we hear different brand names is not by chance. It is a deliberate message directed at you. It has been strategically planned by premium brands to do so through consistent brand identity and messaging year over year.
You now have developed your unique brand positioning, brand look, brand feel and brand messaging. How will you get this brand out into the world? It starts with the Marketing Plan.
Brand Strategy | Marketing Plan
I talked about brand positioning, highlighted a simple framework to help you determine your business’s unique brand positioning and the implementation; which answers “where” and “what” during the development of your brand.
For our last installment in our Brand Strategy Template, we discuss the “when” and “how” that can be the basis of your GO-TO MARKETING PLAN.
Go-To Marketing Plan
Today, there are many channels to chose, and selecting which ones to invest can be daunting. Now that you have a clearly defined brand message, your next step is to design a tactical plan.
Where & How
For digital marketing, your first step is to know where your target audience lives. For example, if you’re interested in advertising on LinkedIn, you should first learn all you can about this platform. How the technology works, who is on the platform and how people use it before investing digital advertising dollars.
Even though trade shows can be expensive, this tactic is a good investment for B2B companies. When you’re product needs to be seen, you need to build relationships, have a long sales cycle – trade shows are a viable option.
Develop a yearly budget. Test out the different channels, which are within your budget, keep track of the conversion numbers.
The best go-to-market plan includes off and online tactics, an integrated marketing communications program based on the company’s goals and vision. Decide where and how you will compete, why is your brand relevant and how to win – questions that need to be answered in your marketing plan.
Taking the time to develop a God-T0-Market Plan will help a company to identify the right target customers. Brand positioning will design value propositions tailored to those customers’ needs and the company’s strengths.