As a small business owner, you already know the value of branding. You understand the need for a visual identity that sets you apart and can identify a good logo when you see one. A brand strategy, on the other hand, is subtler, and it oftentimes gets forgotten in the flurry of color palettes and font pairings that create a brand identity.
But the thing is, all of those pretty colors and carefully chosen fonts don’t mean a thing without a strategy behind them. Before you whip out those Pantone swatches, it’s imperative that you have a strategy in place. Keep reading to find out exactly what that entails and how to create one.
What is a brand strategy?
A brand strategy is an overall game plan for your brand. While it’s nice to have a pretty logo, if there is no rhyme or reason to it, it’s not going to be very effective. Your brand strategy will give direction and meaning to all the visuals of your brand. It will help you identify your position in the marketplace and establish a cohesive story, one that your audience wants to hear.
In his book, All Marketers Are Liars, Seth Godin says, “Stories make it easier to understand the world. Stories are the only way we know to spread an idea.” Whether you’re aware of it or not, your brand is telling a story. Make sure it’s the right one.
Why you need a brand strategy
Think about the most memorable brands you know. Chances are good that they are telling a strong and cohesive story. This is why people choose name brands over generic ones. It’s not just about the product, but about what the brand represents, the lifestyle it promises, the story it tells. If your story resonates with people, they will be loyal customers and your best marketers.
By outlining your story and identifying the building blocks of your business, you can strategically create a roadmap for your brand as a whole. This will manifest itself in your copy, visuals, the way you interact with customers, and of course, in your services or products themselves. Without a strategy as the foundation, your brand will lack purpose and clarity—ultimately, you will be left feeling scattered and confused as you try to build your business.
How to create a brand strategy
To begin creating your brand strategy, be sure to grab my Free Mini Branding Guide. This will walk you through important questions around your business, your audience, and your competition, and will help you take that information and apply it to the visual part of your brand. Once you’ve completed it, use it to fill in the blanks for the following positioning statement.
My brand helps ________________ (your people) by ____________________ (what you do), in a way that _________________ (how you reflect your values and set yourself apart from the competition).
With this positioning statement, you now have a compass to evaluate everything in your business. You can start by using it to develop a brand identity that intentionally reflects the unique characteristics of your business in a way that appeals to the right people.
This process will take time and effort to figure out. It will require doing some research and talking to your ideal client. I promise it’s worth the work, though. Can you have a pretty-looking brand without all the work? Absolutely. Can you have a successful brand without it? Not a chance.
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