By 2020, the average business will allocate 45% of their marketing budget toward online marketing. But without a brand strategy, a large chunk of this budget will be wasted.
It's not enough to throw money at your marketing and see what sticks. As businesses of all sizes realize the importance of content marketing, those without solid brand messaging will be left out in the cold. Read on to learn what a brand strategy is, why it's so important, and how you can create a branding strategy that works for your business.
Ready? Let's get started.
What is a Brand Strategy?
Think of a branding strategy as an action plan. This is what you'll use to differentiate your services, products, and identity from your competitors. This is something you'll use long-term, and it helps you identify the image you want your customers to see, and how you'd like them to think about your business.
Your brand combines your customers' experiences with your company at each touchpoint. Every phone call, social media post, website visit, sales letter, transaction, and impression contributes to your overall brand and reputation.
A brand strategy will lay out exactly how you and your employees will shape and build that brand. It's not just what your company is and aspires to be, but it also incorporates the purpose your company serves for customers, and how you manage to communicate that purpose to the world.
Why is Building a Brand Strategy so Important?
A brand strategy is more than a tag line, a logo, or your company's name. It defines what your business stands for, the promises you make to your prospects and customers, and your company's personality.
One study found that 78% of consumers want the companies they use to address important issues related to social justice.
76% said that they'll refuse to purchase a company's services or products if that company supports an issue that doesn't align with their beliefs. 87% said they would purchase products if a company was advocating for issues they cared about.
Both Millennials and Generation Z prefer brands that stand for a social issue. Generation Z alone influences approximately $4 billion in discretionary spending in the United States alone. For businesses hoping to appeal to these generations, it's important that your brand strategy communicates exactly what you stand for.
That doesn't mean you need to take a political stance, but you may choose to support a particular issue and share this with your customers. For example, a fashion company may only use ethically sourced materials or choose to pay workers a higher wage than the standard. This can be a key part of a brand story, helping convert new customers that are invested in these types of issues.
How to Create a Brand Strategy
Now you can see why a brand strategy is so important, it's time to create your brand strategy. While you may have initially built your brand, your strategy is all about communicating that brand to your prospects and customers.
Here are the steps you need to take to create your brand strategy:
Define Your Brand
Before you create your strategy, you need to know why your brand exists, what it stands for, and why it stands out from your competitors.
Here are some questions to ask:
What key problem does this brand solve?
Who is my buyer persona or ideal customer?
Who are my competitors?
How should my brand make prospects and customers feel?
Why should these people trust this company?
Why was this company created? Why does it matter?
Once you've answered these questions, it's much easier to move onto the next step- getting your messaging right.
Choose the Right Message
Human brains are 'wired for story.' Powerful narratives cause our brains to release dopamine, helping us feel connected to a protagonist or storyteller. This is why storytelling is such a powerful part of marketing- it's easier for consumers to remember a great brand story than cold hard facts and statistics.
That's why a key step in creating a brand strategy is to choose the messaging and story you'd like to convey. This needs to be authentic- customers can smell inauthenticity a mile away. Consider what your company stands for, and look for ways to communicate this. You could do this by creating a video, social media campaign, or a series of content that delves deep into what your brand stands for, and why it's important.
Know Your Target Audience
Your brand strategy will vary depending on who your target audience is, and how they like to interact with businesses both on and offline.
That's why it's so important to know your target audience. This will give you the information you need to successfully communicate your brand story. If you haven't yet created a buyer persona, now's the time to do this. You'll have lots of data at your fingertips and can use social media, website analytics, surveys, market analysis, and more. This will help narrow down your target audience by demographic, interest, and trends.
Once you've developed your brand strategy, you and your team need to always stick to those ideas. That way, both prospects and customers will always know what to expect when interacting with your brand.
To stay consistent, you need to always keep your brand strategy top-of-mind. You and your team can do this by always assessing your marketing activities to see if they fit the image you present to your customers. One way to do do this is to create brand guidelines. This means that employees can check that their emails, social media posts, and interactions with customers are true to brand This will cover everything from how the logo should be used online, to the editorial voice for blog posts.
As you can see, building a brand strategy is crucial for your marketing in 2019. And you already have all the information you need to get started.
If you need some help creating a brand story for your business, get in touch today to learn more.