What is Brand Strategy?

By Chris Wadsworth

Published in The Source issue 18

To benefit from a strong brand your business first needs to understand what a brand is and then you need to put a strategy in place to build a brand that works best for you and your marketplace.

Brand promise

In essence your brand is your promise to customers. It lets them know what to expect from your products and services. For your business a brand acts as a guide for business and marketing decisions.

If you’re making promises to your customers then you need to know you’re promising something they want and that you can deliver on your promise. For this reason the brand strategy process is about discovery. It is a chance to explore your capabilities and measure them against your customers’ expectations. It is a chance to find out what your marketplace needs and position yourself to best meet those needs in a way you can achieve and sustain.

Brand values

The core values that your business holds close are a key part of brand strategy and are the values that should drive the business. To determine your brand values you need to know your strengths, look at what makes your business unique and understand the needs of your marketplace. Your business and your marketplace will shape your values but once established your brand values will form the basis of brand strategy and guide your business. A business that knows its brand values and uses them in business decisions will over time be recognised for those values and will benefit from the direction the values have guided them along.

Brand position

Brand strategy is used to position your business in the marketplace. In order to do this you need to understand what your customers want and ensure your brand values align with market needs. Your brand positioning should promote the advantages your business has over the competition and help to define your point of difference in the marketplace. A combination of your business strengths, the advantages you have in the marketplace and a realisation of what your customers want will shape how you position your brand to best suit your business and your customers.

How you communicate your values will affect how your business is perceived. Companies with similar values aren’t necessarily perceived the same way. Your logo, colour palette, typography, graphics, imagery and the text you use all come together to set a tone for your communications that can be used to target your brand to your intended audience.

Building brands

Brands aren’t built overnight; they are long-term strategies that drive business decisions and should be reflected in every aspect of your business. Over time a clear set of values that are communicated consistently will build brand recognition. Customers who aspire to your values and want what you offer will become loyal to your brand – the ultimate goal of brand strategy.

Short-term activities like advertising and marketing help build brand recognition by promoting the business and presenting the brand to the marketplace. Delivering on your brand promises will lead to brand loyalty.

Benefiting from a brand strategy

It is well known that strong brands benefit their owners by improving both the value and quantity of sales. What is less known is the advantage brand strategy provides for the management of a business. Because you can measure business decisions against your brand strategy it is helpful when approaching new opportunities and can act as a reference point if you decide to change the direction your business takes.

Like all long-term strategies a brand needs to adapt as markets change. The benefit for those with a strategy at times of change can be the difference between success and failure.

Posted 31 October 2013

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