You surely know the situation when a person (or even you) is willing to pay more for a product from a particular brand than for the same item from another seller. A well-known clothing brand Lacoste is a good example. People pay $60-100 for a polo festooned with the Lacoste alligator, while a similar polo can be purchased twice or even trice cheaper. Many customers are ready to pay extra because they associate Lacoste with prestige and sophistication.
In your opinion, how hard did such brands work to make it all happen? What steps did they follow? Perhaps, they had some strategy? Let’s dive deeper into this in this blog post.
What is a brand, and why the concept is important?
In a recent article, we already mentioned that a brand is more than a logo, color palette, and brand name. It’s the entire experience people have with a company, blogger, product, or service.
The right, well-thought-out concept can improve brand recognition, make a business more competitive, create trust with customers, support advertising.
What is a branding strategy?
A brand strategy is a plan utilized by a business to achieve a particular image of itself in the minds of prospects and customers. When a business or an individual has created and executed a cohesive brand strategy, people know a lot about the company and its mission.
Do you need a brand strategy?
No matter if you own a well-established big company or a small business, you definitely will benefit from a carefully created brand strategy.
When you have a cohesive brand strategy, you can communicate with your customers more clearly. The more clear and consistent your messaging is, the more chances you have to attract and maintain loyal customers.
In addition, it provides a focus for your employees. A clear brand vision helps make sure every team member is working towards the same objectives.
Now that you understand why you need a branding strategy, it’s time to start building one. Below are the most important steps in this process. Keep in mind that failing at one of these stages can be critical to you and your brand. So let’s see what these steps are.
1. Find a dream team
It’s not easy to build a brand strategy alone. Ideally, you need to have a strong team to create, revise, and bring that strategy to life. You will need a brand shepherd, marketing lead, communication specialist, someone who creates brand culture, creative teammates, etc. One person can cover several roles, but everyone must know their responsibilities.
2. Research, research, research
If you want to be successful, it’s important to know the situation on the market, learn about customers and competitors. Many skip this step, assuming they already know everything. However, it’s better to spend a month on deep analysis than to do the wrong business the whole life.
Does it really work?
For example, after researching people’s preferences in global fashion brands, Nike decided to put an emphasis on fashion trends, infusing them in its sportswear.
- Learn your customers…
Who are your ideal customers? What are their hobbies? How do they spend their evenings and what kind of movies do they watch? All this will help you find points of contact with your target audience and work out a positive brand reputation.
- ...And your competitors
Find and analyze your direct competitors. See how they interact with customers. Ideally, you need to understand what makes your brand different.
3. Understand your brand
Imagine that your brand is a person with a distinct personality. Describe this person, then think about how you can translate this personality in everything you do and create.
Write your brand vision, mission, values, and story. Then use this brand messaging throughout your company materials and while communicating with your audience.
4. Design your brand
When it comes to design, keep in mind that it is an important tool in a brand development strategy, but not the main goal. Ideally, it would be best if you created value for the consumer first, and only then choose how to paint the logo: green or red.
Those who don’t know how to build a brand from scratch, often make this common mistake: they start from creating things like a logo, colors, and typography. However, these elements are a visual translation of your brand’s essence. If you aren’t quite sure what you’re trying to communicate, it will not be easy for you to create a visual identity and embody it.
So, be sure to get through all the essential steps we mentioned earlier first.
A good logo should be memorable. How do you achieve this? Research shows that the most memorable logos are the simplest ones.
Colors are extremely powerful in helping people decide whether or not they want to engage. For example, you might know that red is associated with danger and energy at the same time. Green fits well for those brands that promote nature, prestige, and wealth. White is perfect for businesses that aim to be associated with purity, simplicity, innocence, and minimalism. However, keep in mind that colors can have additional meanings and associations. So, take the time to learn more about color psychology, analyze color palettes of well-known brands. And consider your competitors so you don’t look the same.
When choosing the font, make sure it is unique & memorable. It also should communicate your brand personality and work on every platform.
- Pictures and photos
Images are now more important than ever. Whether you use real photos, drawings, or a combination of both, everything should align with your brand.
5. Align everything in a brand book
Create a guide centered around your brand identity and voice to help everyone in your company know exactly how to communicate your brand.
Things you shouldn’t miss out in your branding strategy
To complete the full brand strategy process successfully, you need to remember about:
- Being consistent
Make your colors, photos, texts, tone of voice, etc. fit your brand and be consistent. For example, it would be inappropriate if you create a bright pink logo for something business-oriented.
- Adding some emotions
Your audience is human beings that recognize emotions in others and to feel the same feelings as others. Adding some emotions will help you connect with your potential customers easier.
- Staying ready for changes
Some things may change, like new social media emerging or competitors creating something new. Make sure your brand is able to keep up.
- Involving everyone
Every employee should know that they affect the brand. Make sure everyone in the team knows how to communicate your brand.
- Thinking about customers
Don’t make money your main focus. Good brands are known for being able to make customers’ lives easier and happier.
Remember about healthy competition. Look at Pepsi and Coca-Cola, for example. They always compete, which creates an opportunity for new ads and increases brand awareness.
Building a brand. Learn from professionals.
- Apple’s design
Undoubtedly, Apple is one of the most successful brands of our time. Kids, youth, and even your granny have heard of Apple and associate it with premium quality.
When it comes to the design of Apple stores, they maintain the same look in all locations. All are clean and bright. Their website content matches the brand concept and is carefully localized to please international audiences.
- Coca-Cola’s consistency
There is no way that we can miss Coca-Cola. These giants are continuously showing us how consistency can keep one and the same drink on the throne for such a long time.
Over the years, they promote the same sustainable and versatile values, such as optimism, happiness, family, and friends.
- Starbucks’ atmosphere
When we go to Starbucks, we don’t just take coffee and go. We enjoy the atmosphere. While coffee plays the main role, the design of Starbucks is meant to make customers comfortable. Most stores have not only hard-backed chairs around the tables but also upholstered chairs and sofas. On top of that, visitors can plug in their laptops for comfortable work. It’s also a perfect place for those who like reading and games. Many Starbucks stores have specially equipped areas that enable customers to settle in and hang out with friends.
- Ikea’s simplicity
IKEA is all about being ourselves and staying close to reality. When you see a photograph of an IKEA kitchen, you know it’s an IKEA kitchen because it’s simple. All their products are simple in design but still visually appealing. If you go to the IKEA website, you’ll see it’s simple. Social media are simple too. Still have doubts about their emails?
- Airbnb’s care
While most hospitality services focus on selling rooms, Airbnb is trying to be different by providing their guests with a “home away from home” experience.
It’s no surprise that when you check Airbnb’s social media accounts, you see lots of photographs of cozy apartments and happy people having fun or relaxing in these houses. They also produce useful blog content that pushes the message further.
- Uber’s convenience
Instead of chasing down a cab on the street, Uber made it possible for us to get a ride from any location. Just a few taps and your taxi arrives within minutes. Because you link your credit card to the Uber app, you don’t need any cash. People love Uber for convenience.
In their content and messaging, Uber continuously highlights how annoying it might be to take a traditional taxi and points out how Uber taxi is superior.
- Nike’s inspiration
“Just do it!” says Nike. This simple slogan inspires customers all over the world. Almost every Nike campaign is designed to inspire — to tell people that they can do anything if they just try. On top of that, Nike developed great work out apps and engaged many influencers to build an emotional connection and inspire their audience.
What makes Coca-Cola, IKEA, Starbucks, Nike, Lacoste, etc. iconic brands? How are they so well known that customers around the world instantly recognize them? A big part of the answer is found in their branding strategies. We hope that this article will help you understand the components of a successful brand strategy and learn how to create one.