How To Create A Brand Strategy

[14-Step Roadmap]

If you want to know how to create a brand strategy & build brands that go beyond aesthetics then you’ve come to the right place.

Now don’t worry.

I’m not about to unleash “A brand is not a logo” speech on you. (You don’t deserve that monotony).

You want actionable steps you can take to build brands through strategy, am I right?

Well, that’s what you’re getting in this article so let’s not flaff about and get stuck in.

How To Create A Brand Strategy header
How To Create A Brand Strategy header

If you want to know how to create a brand strategy & build brands that go beyond aesthetics then you’ve come to the right place.

Now don’t worry.

I’m not about to unleash “A brand is not a logo” speech on you. (You don’t deserve that monotony).

You want actionable steps you can take to build brands through strategy, am I right?

Well, that’s what you’re getting in this article so let’s not flaff about and get stuck in.

How To Create A Brand Strategy
[The Video Breakdown]

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What Is Brand Strategy?

How To Create A Brand Strategy plan

So, let’s clear up the basics before we go on.

When you build a brand, for yourself or a client, you’re building an entity to connect a business with an audience.

Try as you might, no shiny brand identity or logo will get the job done.

In order to make that connection, you need to first understand what that audience wants.

Then you need to devise a plan to not just tell them you have what they want, but show them why its different and the value it will bring them in a way that makes them feel connected.

This plan is the brand strategy and every business needs one.

Why Is Brand Strategy So Important?

How To Create A Brand Strategy coach

Well, this is straight forward given the previous section.

If you have plans to promote your products or services in order to grow your business, then you’re going to want to give yourself the best possible chance to be successful.

Every professional sports team on the planet takes the time to work on their techniques, understand their opponents, look for weaknesses and then devise a strategy to beat the competition.

Why do all professional teams do this? Because it’s a proven formula for success.

Does it mean that every team with a strategy wins?

No but every successful team has a strategy.

If you want your brand to be successful, it needs one too.

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How To Create A Brand Strategy
[In 14 Easy Steps]

How To Create A Brand Strategy guide

Now that you know your brand needs a strategy, you just need to whip one up and head out on the success train right?

Not quite.

You see strategy is an art form, just like any other art form takes some time to learn and more time to master.

But there is a roadmap for success which has been laid bare by the most successful and most loved brands in the world.

If you follow this formula, you’ll know the path and you’ll simply need to work on mastering it.

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Step #1
Develop Your Internal Brand

How To Create A Brand Strategy develop

The very first step sets in place solid foundations for the rest of the brand.

Even those who believe in the idea of strategy, often skim past this section or overlook it completely.

But you can’t build a house on sand and if you don’t take the time to build a solid foundation for your brand, it won’t take long for cracks to appear.

Your internal brand starts with “Why” and defines the internal “Who” of the brand.

It includes

Purpose

Vision

Mission

Values

These elements must be defined with direct contribution from the brand leaders as they represent the beliefs, commitments and behaviours of the brand all of which are driven by the leaders.

Step #2
Define Your Target Audience

How To Create A Brand Strategy audience

In order for your business to survive and then thrive, it must have something of value that a certain group of people want.

This group of people is the brand’s target audience.

The more vividly this group of people is defined, the better you can understand them and ultimately connect with them.

Starting with their psychographics and demographics, you can carve out a silhouette of their circumstances and behaviours though you need to take the time to dig deeper in order to truly understand them.

Emotions are the key to successful branding and understanding their challenges and pain-points are the key to unlocking those emotions.

Step #3
Map The Competitive Landscape

How To Create A Brand Strategy map

A critical task in any strategy is to understand the hurdles to success.

One of the most obvious hurdles for any brand are the other brands that exist in the market that are competing for the same audience.

Your brand needs to stand apart from these competitors as the brand of choice.

To be successful in standing out, you must first understand what your competitors are doing, then do things differently to them.

If you simply replicate what’s already in the market, you’re not giving your audience anything new. Therefore, you’re simply contributing to market noise.

Step #4
Uncover Your Positioning Strategy

How To Create A Brand Strategy vantage

When you know your audience and what they want and you know your competitors and what they offer, you have a clear map of your market landscape.

This map is a tool you can use to identify gaps and opportunities for your brand to take advantage of.

What do your audience want that they’re not getting from your competitors?

What do they want more of?

What do they want less of?

Where do they want an alternative or a better way of doing things?

How can you do things better?

Can you save them time?

Can you save them money?

Can you save them stress?

Answering these questions open up possibilities for you to position your brand as an alternative or better version of the competition, ultimately giving your audience a justifiable reason to pick your brand over theirs.

Step #5
Shape Your Brand Personality

How To Create A Brand Strategy mould

Once you’ve defined the position you want to take in the market, you need to begin devising a strategy of convincing them that you provide more value, a better experience or a more convenient solution than your competitors.

How you define your difference will be key in developing your communication but “How” you communicate will play a vital role in whether or not that message is well received.

As humans, we all connect with other humans through personality and the characteristics we display.

As we’re all different we all display a variation of characteristics and we decide subconsciously whether or not we like them based on their characteristics.

We connect with brands in exactly the same way.

If you can identify the characteristics that your audience are most attracted to and develop a brand personality to connect through those characteristics, your brand messages are far more potent.

Step #6
Identify Your Tone Of Voice

How To Create A Brand Strategy happy

Much like the uniqueness of your personality, how you speak is also unique to you.

And like your personality, your tone of voice sends out signals, which carry the characteristics you display.

When we hear a tone of voice that displays characteristics we’re more attracted to, we’re far more likely to listen to what they have to say.

Once you’ve identified a personality which is most aligned to attracting your market audience, you must then enhance the believability of that personality with a tone of voice to match.

This doesn’t mean you need to record audio to capture that tone (though this is a technique you can use), but identifying the characteristics you specifically want your brand’s tone of voice to carry will go a long way to delivering your brand message, as it’s intended.

Step #7
Develop Your Messaging Strategy

How To Create A Brand Strategy concept

Through your personality and tone of voice, you’ve defined “How” you’re going to deliver your brand message.

Now, you need to define exactly “what” message you want your audience to receive.

It’s critical that you quickly satisfy the burning subconscious decision we all have when we’re confronted with something new; that is;

“What’s in it for me?”

This will tie in directly to the position you defined in an earlier step.

The end goal of your message is to shape the perceptions of your brand in your audience’s mind.

Defining what you want your audience to understand about your brand will go a long way to deciding whether or not your brand will be successful in earning that position in their mind.

Step #8
Craft Your Brand Story

How To Create A Brand Strategy story

We’re all fascinated by story but why is this?

It’s because we’re pre-programmed to listen to stories as it want to primary source of knowledge transformation from one generation to the next for millions of years.

Throughout these years our DNA has evolved to raise our attention levels when we hear a story as traditionally, stories have been a vital source of information to assist in survival.

This instinct within us is more alive than ever before as our brains work overtime to filter out unnecessary information.

If you can wrap your messaging up in a story or a series of stories to help your audience to understand why your brand is valuable to them, their biological makeup means they’ll instinctively be more attentive to what you have to say.

Step #9
Develop Your Name & Tagline

How To Create A Brand Strategy letters

This step might seem out of place so far along in the brand development process.

But both the name and the tagline are simply forms of brand communication.

Yes, they play a vital role in your audience remembering your brand and recalling why it’s important which is precisely why the brand name and tagline are developed so late in the game.

At this stage you’re clear on what your audience wants, why you’re different, the value you offer, the characteristics you want to display and the message you want to deliver.

It’s obvious then that a name and tagline developed with this information is far more likely to act as a strategic branding tool than if they were developed before.

Step #10
Design Your Identity

How To Create A Brand Strategy draw

This is where the term “a brand is not a logo” really has some context.

At the point you design your visual brand, you have already developed 90% of the entire brand.

This doesn’t mean that the brand identity and the logo is not important.

On the contrary;

a brand identity and logo that can be developed with such strategic insights is far more likely to appeal to who the audience is and the characteristics they’re attracted to.

Your brand identity includes:

Logo

Colour Palette

Typography

Images Style

Iconography

Graphics

Whether you’re designing this identify yourself or simply managing the process, it’s imperative that your design team is armed with this strategic knowledge for design direction.

Step #11
Craft Your Brand Collateral

How To Create A Brand Strategy magazines

The brand identity, laced with it’s strategic insights should pave the way for a consistent suit of brand collateral which may cross digital and physical products.

This collateral is the first blank canvas for both your strategy and identify.

Logo

Message

Colour palette

Position

Typography

Story

Image Style

Personality

Iconography

Purpose

 They all make their debut in the brand collateral development, which can include

Website

Social Media Pages

Brochures

Business Cards

Flyers

Shopfront

Posters

Stationary

Point of Sale

Car Wraps

Promotional Items

The brand collateral development is the dressing room for the brand’s opening performance.

Step #12
Define Your Brand Awareness Strategy

How To Create A Brand Strategy social

Your target audience development sets the groundwork for your marketing strategy and the brand awareness strategy is the first campaign.

At this stage you already have a crystal clear picture on who your audience is including what they like where they congregate (eg forums, magazine sites, meetups, social platforms and groups etc).

These congregations are key in developing your brand awareness strategy.

Identifying where your audience congregates however is only half of the battle.

You need to identify the potential effectiveness of each of these congregations, prioritise your efforts in based on this potential and then develop the messages for each direction.

In other words, you need to know where they’ll be most open to your branding messages and develop the most appropriate messages for that environment.

Either way, it’s important to set expectations and define what success looks like before launch.

Step #13
Launch Your Brand

How To Create A Brand Strategy offense

Once you have all of your collateral, a plan of attack and branded messages at the ready, it’s time to launch.

Depending on whether or not you have a budget (and the size of that budget) will determine how quickly you make an impact and raise the level of awareness of your brand.

If you don’t have much of a budget at all, then much of your work will be through guerrilla tactics and hard work (such as visiting forums and groups to answer questions and contribute to conversations).

If you do have a budget, you need to quickly keep control of spend and ensure your spend is moving the needle.

Step #14
Analyse, Optimise & Evolve

How To Create A Brand Strategy chess

Whether this is you or someone you’ve brought in to help you, you need to have a firm grasp on your analytics to understand what’s working and what’s not so you can pivot, optimise and improve.

Before the digital revolution, advertising was reserved for big brands with big budgets and even then, there were no analytics to make strategic decisions if something wasn’t working.

Today, even a small business owner with five dollars can get their message in front of a highly targeted audience.

The key is in understanding the tools and knowing how to leverage them.

Luckily, they’re available to everyone and it’s your job to understand how to use them effectively.

Conclusion

If you’re building a brand and you’ve made it to the end of this article, then you’ll know now that a logo on its own is no longer an option.

A brand is a strategic entity with many moving parts you need to understand.

Luckily for you, 90% of your competitors don’t understand them.

So make that advantage count, follow this roadmap and build a strategic brand.

Are you building a brand and if so, which of these steps will you implement first?

Let me know in the comments below.