If you think a fancy logo and cool tagline are what matter most when building a brand strategy, you might be in for a bit of a rude awakening. While design is important, a brand strategy is as much about consumer needs and competitive environments in your industry as it is about visuals.
So what is a brand strategy? It refers to a company’s long-term goals and objectives that will contribute to its success as a strong brand. A successful brand strategy takes both customers and competitors into consideration when choosing what goals and objectives should be a priority. Your strategy also needs to reflect your unique brand identity, which is essentially how your company represents itself to the public.
To help you get started, we’ve put together five easy-to-implement tips to get your brand strategy off the ground.
1. Highlight Your Brand’s Core Values
Every recognizable brand in the world has its own set of core values. These beliefs drive your company culture, whether you’re a small business or a billion-dollar enterprise. And they should be a key part of your brand strategy.
Why? Because most people evaluate brands based on the ideals they support. A whopping 77% of consumers make purchases from brands that share the same values as them.
Figure out what core values you want your brand to represent. Is creating an unforgettable customer experience at the top of your list? Are you looking to make a positive impact on the environment? Whatever your values, relay them throughout your brand assets to build a consistent company image.
Starbucks shows their brand’s core values through a mission statement on their site.
Share your brand’s core values on your website, social media channels, and other brand platforms. Make sure those values are clear and concise so that people reading them aren’t confused about your brand positioning.
Your core values need to serve as a differentiator used by new customers to choose your brand above others. It’s about making your brand name synonymous with values that will resonate with your target market for years to come.
2. Be Honest
There’s a reason people say honesty is the best policy. In a world dominated by near-instant access to information, people value authenticity and transparency more than ever. In fact, 94% of consumers said they’re more likely to be loyal to a brand that is transparent.
If a brand messes up, customers want to see that company own up to their mistake. They also want to know the brand is being run by real people with real feelings and emotions. This is particularly important if you are a new brand with a new product or service and are still figuring out your marketing strategy. If you sweep customer complaints under the rug, you’ll lose customers’ trust.
Take Nike, for example. The footwear and apparel titan created a Twitter account to handle all kinds of customer inquiries. See how the Team Nike Twitter account handled a challenging customer situation by being honest about their repair options and offering help:
Sorry to hear about your jacket, Simon! While we don’t have a repair service, we can check out some options. To start, when and where did you purchase the jacket? If you got it on https://t.co/lSikKxu7yv, DM us your order number and Nike Member email. https://t.co/dsJjx1OYXB
— Team Nike (@teamnike) August 19, 2020
Addressing frustrated customers via social media or online reviews is a great way to own up to a mistake while showing off a little brand personality in the process. Every customer wants to be heard. Acknowledging their feedback shows them that your brand is open about its flaws and wants to make things right.
3. Reward Loyal Customers
A brand is only as strong as its community, especially in the age of social media and user-generated content. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you reward customers who ride or die for your brand.
And today’s customers today expect to be recognized for their efforts. According to the 2019 Loyalty Barometer: What Consumers Think of Loyalty & Reward Programs data report, 75% of consumers want a reward in exchange for filling out a survey or watching a brand video.
Consider offering extra incentives, such as a discount or gift card for new customers or those who have spent a significant amount of money on your products or services. You can even create a rewards program to incorporate into your marketing efforts or business strategy. Something as simple as designing a pop-up with your rewards program when customers enter your website can be a great starting point.
Most importantly, make sure that your reward is something your target audience will genuinely appreciate. Nobody wants to go home with a gift basket full of useless items.
Sephora has built a very successful rewards program that is divided into three different tiers — each offering varying levels of savings and bonus beauty products, depending on what a customer spends:
The best customers aren’t the ones who just make a purchase — they’re the ones who champion the brand. They’ll leave positive online reviews and social media comments and be the first to tell their friends or family members to use your product. Treat them right with rewards, and they’ll spread the word about your business and help you build brand affinity.
4. Keep a Close Eye on Your Competition
You don’t want your business to be a replica of another company — but that doesn’t mean you should ignore competitors’ branding.
Most industries have changing competitive landscapes. Whatever the number of competitors in your industry, make sure you’re always keeping an eye on their brand’s value proposition and how they’re interacting with customers over time. Stay up to speed on your competitors’ branding touchpoints so you know how to create a unique brand image.
There are a couple of easy ways to “stalk” your competitors that involve minimal work. Follow competitors on social media, and pay attention to customer interactions where someone leaves a conversation on a positive note. Take note of any significant changes to competitors’ brand messaging on their websites (e.g., logos, colors, mission statements, even blog posts) and social media channels as well.
If you want to dig deep and get the real scoop on your competitors, consider using Alexa to run a competitive analysis and compare your share of voice and website traffic statistics against competitors. Using our Content Exploration tool, you can compare a site’s average social media engagement with that of competitors, and dive deeper into competitors’ most highly engaged-with topics to find areas of opportunity.
Using Alexa can give you a better understanding of how your competitors are performing online and how big their brand is within your industry. From there, you can make adjustments to your brand strategy and marketing plan based on gaps that your competitors aren’t filling.
5. Stay Consistent by Any Means
Everything you do on behalf of your brand — from your messaging to your logo colors — needs to be cohesive across the board. Brand consistency helps customers distinguish your brand from others and recognize it at a glance.
The most important piece of building brand consistency is setting a universal set of brand guidelines. These rules should explain your brand’s tone, colors, fonts, and other design assets to employees. Spotify, for example, has put together a page on their website dedicated specifically to all their corporate branding guidelines.
To compile these guidelines, consider using brand management software, such as Frontify. This tool keeps your brand guidelines and assets all in one place, so they’re easy for employees to access.
Don’t Forget to be Flexible with Your Brand Strategy
Your brand isn’t static — it’s going to evolve over time as your customers and industry change. Regularly revisit your brand strategy with your company’s marketing and leadership teams. Together, the group can determine what adjustments need to happen based on the current market landscape.
Content is a major part of building a powerful brand, so you need to stay on top of your content performance across different channels, like SEO, social media, and paid search. Give our 14-day free trial a shot to conduct target audience and competitive analysis so you know where your brand stands.