As a marketing agency, we get asked all the time to design logos and to design websites (obviously!). This tactical implementation of a client’s brand is extremely fun for us! We love helping people and enjoy impacting their business in positive ways. Many times potential clients will come to us and have a decent idea already of what they want their logo or their website to look like. Each one of them have their seemingly “good” reasons - like a look and feel they’ve seen that moves them in a way that they want their business to elicit the same inspiration or emotion.
Of course these are important aspects of brand strategy! But the questions to consider are:
How do you know that what you have in mind is what your target audience, users, or customers want to see?
Will these visuals or brand messages help to invite your audience into a narrative that convinces them that your business is the right fit?
It’s a difficult perspective, but it is true! Designing, writing, and building for your audience is not necessarily what’s good for your concept of a logo or redesign of your website.
Digital Division's Brand Strategy Services
At Digital Division, our expert brand strategists and designers want to meet your potential customers where they are at. A solid brand strategy will help us in the design process to reach your audience to the fullest potential.
Brand strategy is so important as a foundation for any new marketing or business initiative. If your personal design preference is that you like “A” but your potential customers like “B,” then you’ve probably missed the mark. You’re not going to be attracting the amount of people that you want or the right kinds of people. But with a solid brand strategy as the foundation for the design of your logo, layout of your website, or creation of a social media campaign, you could have extremely positive results for your marketing initiatives.
Your brand is owned by your customers and while you can’t control the way people feel about you, you can influence it as much as possible. That is what brand strategy is. Let’s count down the biggest reasons why we feel that your business needs a brand strategy:
#7 - Determine the culture and personality of your business.
If your brand was a person, who would he/she be? Brand strategy is sometimes like a personality test for your business. Think about the relationships you have. The ones you chose are probably because you like those people. The same can be true when matching brands with audiences. People hang out with people they like, think the same way, or are involved in the same interests and activities. We’ll get into this more in a bit, but you can’t be that for everyone. Your brand belongs to a certain tribe or group of people. In marketing, this is often referred to as Psychographics.
# 6 - Know your Competitors and how you’re different.
This is one of the most important aspects of branding. Being better than your competition is important, but sometimes that’s just not possible. We understand that. Thankfully what is more important is being different from your competitors. To say it again, being better than your competition is not as important as being different from your competition.
We all probably have certain gut feelings when we think about Target vs Walmart, Levi vs Wrangler, Coke vs Pepsi, or Apple vs Microsoft. What makes these brands different from each other? Why do you like one more than the other? These brands have positioned themselves as much as possible to be different from each other, even if they are in the same business category or market. It’s important for you to likewise position yourself as different from your competitors.
#5 - Brand Strategy reduces subjective opinions.
Gone are the days of “I don’t like this,” or “I do like this,” or “my favorite color is green.” We are looking for more objective business results now. Sometimes they can be measured, sometimes they can’t. The main priority is that we are designing for your target audience. What we should be asking is:
“Will our potential customers relate to this?,” or
“Will our sales go up because the packaging on our product was designed this way?,” or
“Will our click rate go up because we placed this call to action button here on the website?”
When you are working towards aligning your brand to your audience, subjective opinion is reduced across the team of stakeholders.
#4 - Influence how your audience will feel about you.
We talked about how “brand” is a person’s gut feeling about your organization. You can’t control it, but you can influence it. Brand strategy is like a roadmap as to how you want to get into the minds of your users and potential customers, using the right channels, visual designs, messaging, or even audio design.
An issue to address is that good brand strategy is not manipulation either. You are trying to determine if your potential customer is a good fit for your product, service, or business. You are not trying to convince people to buy stuff they don’t need. If you truly believe in your product, and you are proud of what you do for people, why would you not want to shout from a rooftop for people to come get what you offer. Share why you think your product is special, or how it will improve your user’s lives in some way. Share your values with your audience. Simon Senek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it, and what you do simply proves what you believe.”
#3 - Determine who your Audience really is.
Who do you champion?
Up to this point we’ve touched briefly on targeting the right audience. Let’s talk more about why this is important. Seth Godin says “Everyone is not your customer.” It is impossibly difficult to be all things to everyone. Niching down in your expertise so that a specific group of people need you, is vitally important.
There are huge organizations out there that have tapped into a wide range of industries and audiences. For us however it is important to focus on what we are good at and talk to the people who really care about what we do and actually need our product or service.
Speaking directly to your right audience, or your “tribe,” is going to be far more effective in your endeavors than casting a wide net and hoping someone will take the bait. What are the “psychographics”? Where do the people who need you hang out? Also what are the sort of compelling events or problems in their lives that would make them start searching for a solution that you are perfect for solving.
When you write copy for your website, craft an elevator pitch, tweet to the masses on social media, or produce a radio comercial, what kind of language are you using? Is it the same way that your target audience speaks? Have you considered if the channels mentioned are even the right ones for your marketing purposes? Or does your audience hang out somewhere else? All of these things can be hashed out in a brand strategy session.
#2 - Gives your team a clear direction.
Having brand strategy sessions at the beginning of your marketing initiatives is a great way to get your team aligned. It’s a way to focus stakeholders to a common goal. This will give every one who’s in an executing role a clear direction, such as designers, copywriters, and social media managers. Also this will ensure that those in customer facing positions are on the same page. The voice and tone of your brand gets unified across the whole organization.
One of the best deliverables after a brand strategy engagement is a Brand Standards Manual or Style Guide. This is used as the bible going forward for your company’s brand. Teams can refer to this document to keep things unified, like the voice and tone, and the look and feel. Everything that goes out the door in a customer facing position will align with the brand manual.
#1 - Brand Strategy saves you Time and Money
Saving the best for last! A sound brand strategy will save you time and money in the long run. We understand what it’s like to have your wheels spinning, unsure of why your marketing efforts are inefficient or not working. Instead of just experimenting and sending things out the door hoping for the best effort we suggest spending the time, energy, and money up front in a brand strategy session that will help in determining all the other points that have been made in this blog post. Doing it now, at the beginning rather than later will save you time and money - as well as a lot of confusion and chaotic campaigns.
Brand Today for the Brightest Tomorrow with Digital Division
Sitting down and strategizing with all stakeholders at the beginning will help you think through your brand, and solve issues now instead of when they arise later down the road.
Those are 7 reasons why we feel like Brand Strategy is vitally important for your business. Before designing a logo or crafting the layout of a website Digital Division recommends determining direction, bringing alignment, and putting yourself in the customers’ shoes.
Digital Division has several frameworks and exercises that can be helpful in cultivating an effective brand. Let us help walk you through a discussion on how to create a high performance brand, that bolsters success and return on investment!