[The Top 10 Must Have’s]

It’s easy to get sucked into researching techniques and strategies for a brand to follow and come out the other side more confused than when you went in.

You read a couple of articles and you start to get the picture, but then you read a couple more which completely contradicts the first two and then you’re left back at square one.

In this article, I define the Ten Critical Elements Every Brand Strategy Must have… so you don’t have to wonder anymore.

It’s easy to get sucked into researching techniques and strategies for a brand to follow and come out the other side more confused than when you went in.

You read a couple of articles and you start to get the picture, but then you read a couple more which completely contradicts the first two and then you’re left back at square one.

In this article, I define the Ten Critical Elements Every Brand Strategy Must have… so you don’t have to wonder anymore.

A Unique Brand Is Creative

The world of strategic branding is full of… well… crap is one way of putting it.

I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read that have contradicted common sense let alone best practices.

But that’s that thing. 

Best practices are not what makes you stand out.

If you’re building a brand then simply doing what everyone else is doing isn’t going to work.

Instead, knowing the key elements you need to build provides guidence as well as a creative environment to build a unique brand.

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Brand Strategy Element #1:
Internal Branding

Internal branding is overlooked by 95% of brand builders out there.

The terms



Mission and


have been lumped together as though they’re an inconvenience.

Like a single task of a handful of statements that need to be drawn up to get it over and done with.

Most will go looking for statement templates, pop in their relevant details [Here], [Here], [Here] and [Here] and boom…

Internal brand check…. What’s next??

Your internal brand should be the driver of your entire brand strategy and communication and should dictate how it behaves and where it’s going.

Brand purpose is a fundamental pillar in-and-of-itself.

If something so significant is developed as a handful of template statements, the brand sets out on its journey with no compass.

Your internal brand consists of 4 key elements that each play a significant role:

Your Purpose (The belief of your brand)

Your Vision (The ambition of your brand)

Your Mission (The commitments of your brand)

Your Values (The behaviour of your brand)

When you approach your internal brand, remember its significance and think of your brand as a living entity.

How we’re made up internally shapes everything in our lives.

Your brand is the same so develop your internal brand with that weight of importance.

Brand Strategy Element #2:
Audience Persona

Like your internal brand, there are plenty of templates to help you to find who your audience is.

Like this one from Hubspot.

Most will provide you with a section for demographics and some will provide you a section with psychographics.

Demographics are essentially a categorisation tool that allows you to define the broadest group of who your audience is.

Detail such as:



Marital Status

Geo Location

Job Title

Income etc

Rather than help you define who your audience is, this helps you to eliminate the large portion of the population you’re not targeting.

Your psychographics goes into a bit more detail.

By drilling down into your broad audience (defined by their demographics) you can uncover the personality traits and behaviours of the group, bringing them into clearer focus.

Here you’ll find behaviours such as

Preferred music




The car they drive

The food they like

How they spend their weekend etc

Both your psychographics and demographics are an important part of defining who your audience is, but you’re still left without a lot of details at this point.

If you were an ice sculptor, you’d be able to make out the shape of what you’re aiming for, but the lack of detail would leave a lot to imagination.

An effective Audience Persona is full of detail.

This doesn’t mean that you need to get granular into every aspect of their lives.

It’s not really important if they prefer their eggs scrambled or sunny side up (unless of course you’re serving eggs).

The detail of an effective audience avatar revolves around the problems they have in their lives.

More specifically, the problems they have that you can help them with.

When you define specifically, these problems and the emotions tied to those problems, you have an effective tool.

This is a tool you can refer to in order to better resonate with your audience at every and any touch point.

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Brand Strategy Element #3:
Competitive Profile

Analysing your competitors can be quickly defined as a task to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your opposition in order to defeat them.

This approach though, takes the focus off of the centrepiece of your brand, which is your audience.

Your competitors will likely already reside in the mind of your audience somewhere.

If they don’t then they’re not the competitors you should be analysing because to the people you’re trying to reach, they don’t exist.

Competitive analysis is an exercise that’s most effective when it’s conducted from the audience’s perspective.

By stepping into the shoes of your audience, you need to ask the following questions:

What options do I have in the market?

Which options suit me best? Why?

Which options suit me least? Why

If I could have another option, what would I add or take away? Why?

The perspective of these questions if applied throughout your competitive analysis will give you an acute insight into how to differentiate your brand from the rest.

Brand Strategy Element #4:
Differentiation Strategy

A common misconception around trying to find a differentiator and develop a differentiation strategy is that you need to be revolutionary.

Certainly, if you develop a new product as Nestle did with Nespresso,

offer a new technology like Tesla did with their electric roadster

then you’ve landed on the holy grail of positioning.

Chances are however; the brand you’re building is not revolutionary and the products and services you offer are actually quite similar to your competitors (who are noisy and plentiful).

Whether what you have is revolutionary or not is beside the point.

As a brand fighting for a place in the mind of your audience, you must use whatever means you have at your disposal, to differentiate yourself in the mind of your audience from your competitors.

This is where creativity in branding goes far beyond a clever logo and it’s also where an understanding of your customer and their problems are imperative.

The truth is, you don’t need to be revolutionary to stand out.

But you do need to know your audience and their problems intimately to then find an angle they will deem valuable.

An angle that none of your competitors are already using.

This can be as simple as differentiating through messaging as Avis did when thy told their audience “We’re Only Number 2, That’s Why We Try Harder”.

Their difference was that they tried harder and the perceived value of their prospects was that they would be looked after more at Avis than with their competitors, Hertz.

The Dollar Shave club wasn’t revolutionary either.

They created quality blades for a reasonable price and pointed the finger at their biggest competitor, Gillette, for their unreasonable price and unnecessary features.

They leveraged the success of their competitors by taking an “against position”.

Is there anything your competitors are doing that doesn’t sit well with your audience?

If so, how can you point the finger at it in your positioning?

Brand Strategy Element #5:
Human Persona

The Human Brand Persona is a relatively new concept in Branding in that only a select few brands use it effectively.

Brands and consumers have an entirely different relationship than they once did.

The dialogue is two-way and transparent and brands have evolved into living entities with personalities and opinions.

In some cases, having opinions on topics such as politics and social debates) is forced upon them by their new bosses (The Millennial’s & Gen-Z’s) who want to know where they stand.

Today’s buyers expect their brands to “behave” a certain way, “believe” certain things and “speak to them” in a way that suits their own personality.

This has forced brands to adapt and take on more and more human traits resulting in brands with Human Personas.

Archetypes, which is a scientific concept dating back to Greek Mythology, allow us to categorise all personalities into 12 distinct personality types.