When you’re looking at your own brand, it can help to take a step back and look at it from another angle. When I run my brand workshops, I always ask my clients to imagine their company as an option on a supermarket shelf.
If your company was a product, what grocery store would you be in? Are you more of a Walmart or a Whole Foods option?
In which aisle would you be located? On what shelf would you be stacked?
Would you be at eye-level? Knee level? Are you on the top shelf where only those in the know will be able to find you?
What does your packaging look like? Is it cohesive and high quality, or is it plain, bland, and made from cheap materials?
What alternative products stand next to you, above you and below you?
What sort of person is walking up the aisle looking for something just like you?
Can they find you? Do you stand out? Is it obvious that you’re the perfect choice for them?
Are you shouting out from the shelf ‘pick me’ or getting lost in a sea of sameness?
Ok, now think about it like this: Google is your grocery store, your aisle, and your shelf.
Your website is your packaging.
Your brand needs to stand out amongst every other label on the shelf, and you need a strategy to achieve this.
An effective brand strategy provides a central, unifying set of ideas around which all behavior, actions, and communications for your company are aligned. It works across products, services, staff, and everything in between.
The best brand strategies are differentiated and so powerful with their ideal client that they destroy their competition on the shelf. They are easy to talk about and understand – whether you are the CEO of the company or a new employee just on the job. When your company has an effective brand strategy, there’s no other feasible choice on the market for your target customer.
What Is A Brand Strategy?
A brand strategy is a plan of action that you follow to get your company at eye level on the shelf. It can help make you stand out from those crowded aisles and differentiate your products or services from your competitors. It can also be used to switch supermarkets completely if that’s something you’d like to aim for.
Two important questions you must answer (borrowed from the awesome Roger L. Martin):
- Across the potential field available to us, where will we choose to play or not play?
- In our chosen place to play, ho will we choose to win against the competitors there?
Brand strategies help you identify what kind of image you want your customers to see of your business and what sort of feeling you want to be associated with your company when your audience sees your name or logo.
Think about it – when a customer sees your brand, do you want them to think you’re professional? Funny? How about sophisticated? Whatever feeling you want to omit from your business you need to be able to display it in your brand using your brand strategy.
A brand is a collection of all the feelings and thoughts a customer has when they picture your business in their minds or see your label somewhere online. Brand strategies are your key to unlocking how to alter this perception of you and your company until it suits your goals and aspirations.
How To Create A Brand Strategy
Experts tell us that having a good brand can lead to more loyal customers due to a relatable brand identity. As loyal customers begin to look at your business as more of an emotional experience instead of just a lower price point, you know your brand is now one step ahead of your competitors.
The question you’re probably asking yourself now though, is how do you create a brand that really speaks to your audience?
Before you start investing in a new logo or some social media graphics, check out these essential features of a successful brand identity.
1. Define Your Brand’s Purpose
Many of the most successful companies out there have an urge to seek more than ‘just’ financial success and drive themselves to be better than their competitors in every way, not just on how much money they make.
A company’s purpose may be making money (hey, we’ve all got to pay our bills), but for most, it runs a lot deeper than that. What gets you up in the morning to go to work? What’s your ultimate vision for your work?
Making money is important to any business, but your clients and customers will feel more of a connection with a company whose brand wants to achieve more than just a decent paycheck at the end of the day.
2. Consistency is key
As soon as you’ve decided what force is driving your brand forward, you need to stick to it and keep your ideas as consistent as possible.
There isn’t any point in having a brand if you keep changing it every month or so, it’ll only confuse your customers. You need to be consistent and give your customers a familiar experience and identity to relate to. You’re more likely to experience higher brand visibility if you keep your goals and visions consistent for your company.
You might think consistency is a difficult thing to achieve, but it’s easier then you might realize. Consistency within your brand means that you have to critically assess everything you do and ask yourself the right questions. You need to analyze your in-person experiences and your online content and make sure that what you’re putting out there is how you want your company to be portrayed.
A great way to ensure consistency in your brand is to create brand guidelines for your staff and shareholders to follow. Brand guidelines are used to help keep your ultimate goals and aspirations front and center throughout all of your platforms.
Consistency in your brand is essential for reinforcing your core message and your vision to not only your customers but also to your employees.
3. Make emotional connections
People are motivated to buy through emotions – this is one of the main reasons it’s essential to have a deeper purpose behind your business.
If you are able to connect with your audience on a deeper level and understand what they really need from your business, then you can enhance your customer engagement and begin to develop a stronger relationship with them in the long term. The result? Loyal, returning customers.
4. Be the leader your team needs
Your customers are, of course, one of the central factors when it comes to improving your company, but you should never overlook the power that your employees have. Having a united staff force helps your business to thrive.
Whether you’re building your brand from the ground up or rebranding an existing company, your customers and your employees’ insights are essential for success.
When you develop a brand advocacy strategy into your branding, you can create an incredibly powerful image of your company. If multiple people are saying similar (positive) things about your company, then they’re more likely to be believed.
If you can empower your employees to spread positive messages about your brand, you can reinforce your company culture, values, and goals throughout your entire operation.