WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START YOUR BRAND STRATEGY
If you’re starting your brand strategy from scratch (or trying to do things the “right” way this time), there are two key pieces of information you need to know before you even. (If you’ve done your business strategy, you hopefully know these already.)
- WHO YOU’RE FOR
Who are you trying to sell to? What do they need/want? How are their needs not being met?
To build a brand strategy that helps you genuinely connect with people, you need to intimately know who your customer is. Knowing who they are and how you’re trying to serve them, what problems you can solve and what your community has in common, can bring real clarity to who you are, how you communicate with them and what you communicate – time spent at this stage will give you a head start when it comes to developing content and advertising campaigns which connect.
HOW TO DO IT
If you don’t know who you’re for, and i mean really know them, use the linked Personas Template and have a go at completing for your customers. Most businesses will have a minimum of 2 and up to 7 dependent upon the complexity of your business.
- WHO YOU’RE COMPETING WITH FOR YOUR PERSONS ATTENTION?
Who shares your space? Who will you be competing with for attention? How might they outshine you? What makes you different now? What could make you different/distinctive?
This is invaluable information to help you identify who you are and who you aren’t, how you fit in or stand out, and how you can communicate your differences through your brand strategy.
Positioning and creating distinction is a very very important area for business growth and I will cover that topic specifically in a future blog.
HOW TO BUILD YOUR BRAND STRATEGY
Follow these steps sequentially (as each builds on the prior), and you’ll end up with a comprehensive brand strategy that helps you share your story impactfully and effectively at every touchpoint.
PART 1: DEFINE YOUR BRAND DNA
Every brand holds a basic set of beliefs that influence everything they do. I call these beliefs your Brand DNA. Knowing what these principles are and why they matter is imperative, as they are a powerful, potent force that can actively support or sabotage your business. When your brand’s beliefs and business are aligned, you can successfully bring people together, cultivate community, and create the future you want. When you have no beliefs, you can easily alienate both employees and customers, damage trust, cripple your culture, and make decisions that derail your long-term goals. Your Brand DNA is comprised of four elements that help you clarify who you are, what you do, and why it matters.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ‘PURPOSE’, ‘VISION’ AND ‘MISSION’?
One of the biggest problems when discussing this topic is that there doesn’t seem to be a commonly accepted set of terms to define ‘purpose’ and how a company then translates that purpose into action. Some use the word Mission when what they are actually describing is Purpose. For the purposes of clarity below is how I define each.
- Purpose: Why do we exist?
- Vision: What does the future look like?
- Mission: What are we here to do? How do we create that future?
- Values: What principles guide our behaviour?
This diagram (from Brand New Purpose) is a great template that I regularly use to present a Brands DNA albeit our definitions differ slightly.
- Purpose is the ‘Why’ you exist: The higher order reason for being for a brand or business than just ‘making a profit’ or ‘driving shareholder value’
- Vision is ‘Where’ of where you want to get to: This is a destination of what you want the brand or business to be in the future (e.g., ‘We want to be the world’s leading provider of X by 2025′).
- Mission(s) are the ‘What’ of you should do to get there: These could be specific initiatives or tactics centred around product development, operational excellence, go-to-market strategies or brand communications. (‘One Purpose: Many Missions’ is a phrase that brings it to life)
- Values are the ‘How’ you would like to behave in order to get there: What is the organisational culture of a company or an organisation? And what are the qualities or behaviours it prizes: for instance, curiosity, inclusivity, diversity of thought etc.
Brand Purpose – Brand Purpose is the foundation stone of Brand DNA and requires a blog all to itself with some step-by-step pointers and worksheets for you to get under the skin of your purpose – I will come back to this and walk you through how to get to your own brand purpose.
However, for now, a great place to start is Simon Sinek’s now infamous Ted Talk, The Golden Circles. Sinek is the author of best-selling novel ‘Start with Why’ and has really crystallised brand purpose and points out that ‘people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’. Knowing the deeper ‘why’ your company or brand exists provides the foundation on which to build everything else.
A winning Brand Purpose tends to be the sweet spot where what the world (your customer) needs, what you as a business are good at and what you are passionate about. Can you think of that sweet spot for your business or future business?
SOME GREAT EXAMPLES OF BRAND PURPOSE:
Crayola: Encouraging children to be creative, and enabling parents to inspire them
Dove: Discovering the value of ‘real’ beauty and improving self-esteem worldwide.
Lynx: To help guys celebrate their individuality and be as attractive as they can be.
Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport.
Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete.
WITH YOUR BRAND DNA DOCUMENTED, THE STRONG FOUNDATION LAYER IS BUILT, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, AND THE NEXT LAYERS OF THE BRAND WILL FLOW FROM HERE!
Next you need to figure out Part 2, your Brand Essence (how to express who you are) and your Brand Messaging (how to talk about who you are). When you distil and document these elements effectively, you can ensure your brand will communicate honestly, authentically, and consistently – This is your Brand Voice
Note: Some brands are tempted to skip straight to designing their visual identity (logo, colours, etc.) once they have their Brand DNA but I would argue that there are a few crucial steps to complete before that. Things like your logo, colours, and typography are vital to your brand, YES, but they are ultimately a visual translation of your brand’s essence and messaging. If you don’t know what you’re trying to communicate, it’s difficult to create a visual identity to embody it. If you have already have created your visual identity before you defined these elements, it’s important that your Brand DNA, messaging, and visual identity align — no matter the order in which you tackle them, so take time to reverse reverse engineer and refine your identity and messaging to align with your Brand DNA.
IN MY NEXT BLOG WE WILL EXPLORE HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR BRAND VOICE.
If you have any questions relating to any aspects of Brand Strategy and how it can better support your business growth goals, Get in Touch!