Why Brand Strategy Matters with guest author Michelle Douglas, Ladder Strategy
If you are a business owner, I want you to start thinking about your brand right now.
What came to your mind….
Most likely it was your logo, followed by your product, maybe your name, and then your website. But your brand is not just these things, it’s all of this and much more. It’s the feelings someone has when they use your product or see your logo and the pride they feel when they’ve gifted or recommended a product or service you’ve created.
Every time a person uses your product or service, your brand either gets stronger or weaker.
Often times, business owners have a narrow view, looking singularly at just their product line, logo or website, instead of always looking at the holistic collection of these things. This is where brand strategy comes in to provide motivation and direction to all that you do.
It’s the process of determining your reason for existence, why you are unique, how to communicate it consistently and where you are willing to adapt or be stringent.
Strategy can feel like a big, confusing, multi-meaning word, and it is, brand strategy encompasses a lot of things. But here are four key components that live within brand strategy and why they are relevant to your identity:
At the core of your business or on the very first day you started this thing, there was an unmet need you saw, a problem you wanted to solve or a difference you felt called to make. This “why” is your reason for being and your purpose that can be communicated through your product, your messaging and your brand identity.
Think about how much more powerful brands are when the meaning is woven into the visual story. Having a thoughtful response to what your logo represents or why you chose a company name is so much more compelling than saying “oh we came up with this just a few minutes before submitting our application.”
It’s highly like you are not the only person doing or selling your product/service. If you are, bravo! So how are you different and how can you position yourself in your clients’ minds? Your positioning answers why you are unique, and it’s an important part of brand strategy that allows you to determine what is ownable and then go out and totally own it, both visually and verbally.
Consistency might as well be synonymous with the word brand. Showing up in a way that people can recognize you over and over again is what it means to have a brand.
Consistency is important and not just from a visual standpoint. What you say and how you say it is just as important as how you look. A vital piece of a brand strategy includes deciding who you are and then creating visual and verbal brand guidelines that serve as a gut check and a guardrail for how you look and what you sound like. These guidelines are used every single time you act or speak on behalf of your brand.
As with everything else in life, you’ll be required to make decisions, plans and sacrifices for your brand and in today’s marketplace, adapting to insights and user behaviors can be vital to growth. Knowing your brand vision and values allows you to plan for your own success and make decisions that give your brand room to grow and give you a guide for understanding where you can adapt or where you just can’t compromise.
One example of this growth pertaining to identity would be thinking beyond your first product and making visual communication decisions that could fit an entire line and many product names, even though you only have one. Another example of the flexibility you need to plan for might include how to know when to turn down a partnership, even though it might mean money, because it doesn’t align with your values.
As a business owner, selling a product or service, you should always be able to confidently share the information below:
1. Why you exist
2. How you are different from the competition
3. Why your business looks and sounds the way it does.
4. Who you are looking for as ideal clients or partners
If any of these areas brought up questions or concerns, then it’s possible you need to dig in and do some strategic brand work, either on your own or with the support of a partner.