As a brand and marketing consultant many people have asked me what I do, indeed what a brand actually is and getting to the heart of it, why would anyone need a brand strategy given how much else there is to worry about as a business leader or owner!
Over the coming series of blogs I hope to answer some of these questions, help to explain to you how powerful investing some time into defining your brand can be for your business and importantly how you can, through some simple exercises that I will share, try to distil down what your brand DNA is.
WHAT IS A BRAND?
There are a million definitions of a “brand.” Often, when people talk about a “brand,” they’re referring to the physical mark (or logo) imprinted on something to identify the business that manufactured it. But a brand is so much more than a physical mark – think of the mark or the logo as the tip of the iceberg. Brands are emotional, strengthened or weakened through every interaction with that brand or business.
Jeff Bezos defines a brand as ‘What people say about you when you are not in the room’
Marty Neumeier, author and speaker on all things brand, defines brand by first laying out what a brand is not: “A brand is not a logo. A brand is not an identity. A brand is not a product.” Neumeier goes on to say that “a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organisation.”
So, it’s the sum of the parts, and if your brand is people’s perceptions and it is personal to the customer or consumer, then every interaction that you have with that person is influencing their perceptions of your brand. Makes you think how important every single touchpoint is from how you come across in emails, to your returns policy, to who you associate with. So much more than a logo, right?
I define brand as what people think, feel, and say about your business.
It is the sum of 4 key parts:
- The overall impact of what you are on the inside, your BRAND DNA
- How you talk and what you talk about – BRAND VOICE & BRAND MESSAGING
- How you look on the outside, your BRAND IDENTITY
- How you show up and engage with the world, your BRAND COMMUNICATIONS both from a marketing perspective, the bit most people focus on, but also all of the touchpoints you have with your customer in their journey with you.
Most people focus on numbers 2 & 3 without every thinking about their foundations and brand DNA which should, to be authentic and consistent, guide everything else.
WHAT IS A BRAND STRATEGY?
As branding guru Marty Neumeier says, a brand strategy is “a plan for the systematic development of brand in alignment with a business strategy.” A brand strategy is not a stand alone nice to have piece of work. It is entirely designed to deliver your business goals, so must be considered in parallel.
A brand strategy helps you understand who you are and acts as a blueprint to help you communicate it.
Our brand strategy and brand building process is broken into four distinct parts. We guide you from your Brand DNA (the core of your brand) to the articulation of your Brand Messaging (how you talk about who you are), to your Brand Identity (the visual expression of your brand). By the end, you’ll have a full brand strategy, summed up in fresh brand guidelines to help you bring your brand to life. We then also help many businesses with how they show up and engage in the world and reach and connect with authenticity with ‘their people’ via Brand Communications.
WHY DO I NEED A BRAND STRATEGY?
When you don’t know who you are, why you exist, what you believe in, or what you’re trying to achieve, your business suffers. From customer communication issues to employee retention, a lack of brand strategy causes problems at every level of an organisation.
Having worked with many, many large and small businesses over the last two decades, I’ve learned to spot the tell-tale signs of a brand in either crisis or a bit lost at sea, often caused by a lack of strategy.
When you have no brand strategy…
- You don’t understand your purpose, vision, mission, or values, so you make marketing and business decisions that don’t reflect them.
- You don’t have a documented marketing plan, but you hope that whatever you’re doing will work.
- Your team is fractured by disunity, confusion, a real lack of direction, making it hard for employees to feel engaged and interested.
- You don’t have cohesive brand messaging, so your content tends to be inconsistent at best, and contradictory at worst. As a result, it’s difficult to attract people who share your values (customers, employees, etc.).
- You can’t clearly articulate your brand, and as a result, you can’t carve out a discernible position in the market.
In short, without a brand strategy, you don’t know who you are or where you are going.
BRAND STRATEGY WILL HELP GIVE YOU CLARITY AND HELP YOU TO:
- Understand who you truly are and use your beliefs and values to guide your decisions in ways that are better for you, your team, your business, and the future.
- Communicate your brand consistently and effectively through every piece of content you make. This helps build brand awareness, meaning and trust.
- Attract and keep the right customers, your tribe, who will stay loyal, which builds long term brand value.
- Position your brand in a way that helps you compete now—and tomorrow. What value is there in being vanilla and blending in?