This article is part three of three, a series we’ve written to help you keep your brand alive and thriving during this challenging coronavirus lockdown. In part one, we recommended actions to protect your brand. In part two, we suggested ways to adapt and stay relevant. Here we focus on the future success of your brand.
The coronavirus lockdown is very restrictive for many businesses but has simultaneously given some of us more time than we’re used to having for reflecting, thinking and planning for the future.
This period of social-distancing might be the only opportunity that you get to define your brand strategy and, therefore, a guide for the future success of your marketing efforts. We’ve collated some of the key points from the brand strategy process that we use to help our clients, so that you can get started right here, right now.
What is a Brand Strategy?
We’ve learned that it’s vital to define what we mean by ‘brand strategy’ before we begin creating one. A brand strategy is a set of choices that you make about your brand marketing; all made to help you achieve your business goals.
In other words; you’re looking at your business goals, then deciding how your brand marketing can help you to achieve them.
The result should be a set of statements that provide practical guidance, whether you’re deciding which advertising medium to use, inducting a new employee or asking a designer to create a new logo.
What Would be a Win?
Your brand is a business asset, and your strategy will be the way you use that asset. The missing piece is the goal.
Without a clear business goal, you won’t know how to use your brand because you won’t know why you’re using it. With a clear objective, you can much more easily and confidently decide things such as where you want your brand to be seen, what to communicate and how.
Identify your goal before you draft your brand strategy to help you decide how each part can help.
The Brand Strategy Questions
Now that we’ve clarified what a brand strategy is and you know what you want yours to achieve, it’s time to lay the foundations.
Of the many questions that we ask in our guided workshops, we’ve seen how these few can profoundly change our client’s perspectives about brand marketing and jump-start the kind of strategic thinking that generates significant returns.
Grab a pen and pad; it’s time to draft a brand strategy.
Who is your target audience?
Small to medium businesses won’t have the budget for the kind of mass-marketing used by the most successful brands. With fewer resources, a better strategy is usually to focus your investments of time and money wherever you think you’re most likely to achieve a return. You can then build upon that success by increasing the size of your target audience, again and again.
Try to identify customers who already want to buy from you and simply need to know that you exist. Note down what you know about these customers, and keep adding to that list as you develop your strategy.
What does your audience want?
Your brand and your marketing campaigns will only get attention when they clearly and quickly address something that your customers want.
For example, few people know what mesh Wi-Fi means, but many people are frustrated by a poor Internet connection in some rooms of their home or office.
Note down everything you can think of that your customers want – in their words. Think about the problems they have and the difficulties they experience when trying to get a solution.
For example, many people want strong Wi-Fi in every room, but technical jargon and higher prices could put them off.
What value do your competitors offer that audience?
The purpose of this question is to identify ways that your brand can be distinctive.
For example, comparethemarket.com, confused.com and moneysupermarket.com all offer the same core service, but Money Super Market is offering “Small steps towards Money Calm.” This message is a different way of expressing their value that’s highly relevant to the current lockdown.
For each competitor, note what their brand is communicating in these areas:
Your awareness of the current landscape will help you to answer the next question.
What is the value that you offer that audience?
Now consider those same three areas for your brand. Remember your goal, your audience and their motivations. How can your brand communicate that you offer what they want, that you make it easy to get and that you have values beyond making lots of money?
List as many ideas as you can. Then pick out the ideas that make you stand out from your competition and feel like they fit together well.
From Strategy to Action
So, what next? How can you move from strategy to plans to practical actions?
Firstly, you’ll need to write up the ‘what’ part of your strategy so that you can refer to it and share it with whomever you choose to help you achieve it.
Start with your business goal. Then summarise how you’re going to achieve it by reaching an audience, meeting their needs, removing obstacles and standing out from your competition.
Secondly, you need to start building or adapting your marketing assets; the ‘how’ part of your strategy. Here are the two that we feel should be your top priorities.
The core purpose of a brand identity is to be identifiable. Your potential customers find it very easy to identify your colours, fonts, imagery and language.
Use your strategy summary to help your designers and copywriters create the visuals, voice and tone that you need to express your unique and attractive brand identity.
There are many ways to get your message to your audience. Some will produce better results for your brand than others.
Here are five areas, with examples, for you to consider, research and discuss with your team:
Focus and Flexibility
As vital as it is, we all know that strategy usually sinks to the bottom our thoughts when we’re also responsible for cash flow, customer service and coffee runs. We also know that few plans survive the first contact with reality. That’s why we have one final suggestion for you to take away:
Treat your strategy as a daily tool. Don’t file and forget. Read it, share it, discuss it and update it.
Your brand strategy can grow into a long-term asset that helps you to produce fantastic returns, but only if you align your decisions to it, align your team to it and stay willing to adapt it as the results come in.
If you need some help with your brand strategy, contact us.
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