It seems like a simple statement; Brand Strategy Comes Before Any Marketing, yet few follow this simple rule.
“Our Facebook page has little engagement.”
“Or PR team isn’t getting us the results we expected.”
“Social media don’t work for my business.”
“My print ads don’t give me a return on my investment.”
We hear these and similar statements often when people we meet explain their marketing efforts to us.
Many business owners are looking for a magic pill that cures the ailment and wonder why individual, one-off campaigns and tactics don’t deliver the goods. The harsh reality is that not only is there no single magic pill, but there is only one prescription for a business looking to grow, and that is to start with a brand strategy.
Building a brand strategy is the foundational work that inspires and informs every subsequent activity in business from hiring to product development, marketing, sales, and more. We wouldn’t build a house without a secure foundation, yet business owners often develop their walls without a thought given to the quicksand they’re building on. Rather than hoping for the individual campaigns to create your strategy (hint: that never works), the only proven way to business growth is by starting with the plan. Where I come from, we like to say that you need the map BEFORE you enter the woods. Business is no different.
While a brand strategy for a company can run to 100 pages or more (it can also start on the back of a napkin), I’ll do my best to summarize its most important points here.
Key Elements of a Brand Strategy
A brand strategy (regardless of the company or industry) always follows the same rules and intention. It is the how, what, when, and to whom you plan on communicating your product or service, aligned with your brand’s overall goals.
- It should start with your own beliefs: “As a company, we believe that x, y, z…..”.
- It should contain your values. Those values will normally stem from your beliefs.
- To truly allow your organization to execute with precision on your beliefs and reach your goals, the brand strategy must contain your Unified Vision, which is a vision for the next, 5, 10, 20 years of your company in terms of company goals aligned with your previously stated beliefs.
- Next, you’ll want to list your differentiators. What truly sets you apart from your competition? Can you prove that you are truly unique in these areas?
- Finally, define your target audience. What does your ideal customer resemble? What is their demographic? What do they read? Where do they live? The more customer insights you can glean, the greater the chances of success.
These are the key areas of building a brand strategy. Once you have completed such an exercise in your company, the output should be a document that is signed off on by leadership and then shared internally as the proper direction and positioning document of the company. Companies that scale efficiently follow their brand strategy with dedication. While it can’t predict every direction your business may take, it should inform decision making in every area of the business such as HR, PR, marketing, sales, etc. Now you’ll have a much better chance of success with PR, social media campaigns, print media, and more because you have aligned your goals, you defined your audience, and your strategy is clear.