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Brand strategy perspective view

What is brand strategy?

How do businesses and brands remain competitive in the shifting, fast-paced and crowded marketing landscapes of today? Why do some brand names remain popular and attractive to potential customers while others fade into obscurity? What is it that great brands – from Nike and Apple, to Ikea and Coca-Cola – have done to embed themselves into popular culture, consciousness and popularity?

As the saying goes, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ First impressions are undoubtedly extremely important, but so too are second, third, fourth – in fact, all of the touchpoints a brand has with potential customers are critical.

As branding is one of the most critical aspects of any business, developing a comprehensive brand strategy that enables it to succeed should be a key concern for leaders and marketing experts.

What is brand strategy?

Adobe define brand strategy as ‘your brand identity, which differentiates you from your competitors. It involves creating an image or brand message that resonates with customers, builds trust and loyalty, and drives brand recognition.’ It’s the guiding framework that outlines how branding can be developed, communicated and managed over time to achieve a business’ long-term goals and objectives.

Brand strategy is far more than its visual identity – an eye-catching logo, well-known tagline or chosen colour palette. Rather, it’s a combination of both visibility and reputation, encompassing all of the intangible components that drive brand awareness. It signals a company’s core values, and is an expression to marketplaces of everything that a brand represents.

Why is brand strategy important?

Brand strategy is a core component of an organisation’s long-term plan and vision, and shapes how a business is perceived by its target audience and the wider marketplace. It has the potential to significantly influence both customer behaviour and the overall longevity and success of a brand. According to Canva, 59% of shoppers are willing to wait for their preferred brand to restock, and more than 6 in 10 consumers want to shop with brands they feel connected to.

The concept of differentiation is one of the most valuable aspects of any successful brand strategy. Defining and promoting the reasons why a company stands out from the crowd not only allows customers to identify the brand, but to emotionally connect with it. The most successful brand strategies foster loyalty, trust and recognition among customers. Positive experiences, coupled with reliability, consistency and professionalism, boost repeat custom, recommendations and brand advocacy. It communicates the value and quality of a business to others, leading to higher price points and healthier profits.

Additionally, an effective brand strategy helps to attract top talent, scale more quickly, grow market share, streamline marketing efforts, support crisis management, build brand equity, launch new product or service lines, and help define market positioning.

Conversely, where brand image falls in the eyes of consumers – which can happen for a huge variety of reasons – many businesses find it hard to recover.

How do you build a strong brand strategy?

Say you’re launching a new brand – where should you start?

Everything about a brand – from its culture to its content – will suffer in the absence of a unified identity. In order to build your brand strategy, you’ll need to invest time, commitment and effort; but, if you get it right, the potential pay-offs will be worth it.

Brand strategists should consider each of the following elements to build a brand:

  • Brand purpose. Aside from making money, what is the overarching reason for the brand’s existence? What are the brand values, and what is the mission or vision? The purpose of the brand should connect with the aspirations and values of its customers.
  • Brand identity. What aesthetic and symbolic components represent the brand? How do the logo, colour choices, design visuals and typography elements work together? Does the identity accurately convey the brand personality?
  • Target market. What audience is the brand targeting? How can it reach or influence them? Is there market research that provides insights into their behaviors, demographics and psychographics?
  • Brand positioning. How is the brand perceived by the target audience? How does it differ from competitor brands? What are its unique selling points (USPs)?
  • Brand messaging. What is the brand story? What compelling message communicates its values? Does the brand voice (and tone of voice), as well as any slogans or jingles, resonate with its customers?
  • Brand guidelines. Is the branding consistent? Has every brand element – from social media marketing to customer interactions – been considered?
  • Brand experience. How will customers be interacting with the brand? Is the customer’s experience of the brand consistent, positive and engaging?
  • Brand evolution. How might the brand evolve and develop over time? Is it agile enough to adapt to changing customer preferences, market conditions and business objectives?

What is the difference between brand strategy and marketing strategy?

Marketing relies on the foundations that brand has built. Whereas brand strategy focuses on establishing an effective brand that works towards long-term objectives, marketing strategy is concerned with the short-term activities and tactics that help a business to achieve its goals.

While they are separate, they are complementary – and both are required to ensure business success.

Learn how to build and nurture successful brand strategies to increase competitive advantage

Eager to learn the skills to drive brand awareness and emotionally engage customers? Want to discover how branding can be used to win new customers and drive repeat business?

Gain an in-depth, robust understanding of business, leadership and management – with a focus on marketing – with the University of Lincoln’s online MSc Management with Marketing programme.

Are you looking to take the next step in your career, or acquire new skills and tools to advance your current professional practice? Operate at the forefront of fast-paced, complex and evolving global business environments by expanding your expertise across key areas such as consumer behaviour, digital marketing, international marketing and relationship marketing. Your expertise will be reinforced by studying a broad range of business fundamentals, from finance, people management and strategy, to sustainable operations, leadership and change management.