Have you ever tried to find your way around a new city without a GPS or map to guide you? My guess is that you haven’t. It’s nearly impossible to reach your destination if you have no idea how to get there.
A great brand strategy clearly lays out the path towards the company you’ve always dreamed of. However, getting your business widely recognized and appreciated isn’t always quick or easy. It takes time to create a brand as instantly recognizable as Nike, McDonald’s, or Coca-Cola.
That’s why you need to create a long-term brand strategy before you take any other steps with your business. A solid plan and vision can help guide all of your business decisions, build a loyal customer base, and pay dividends in the long run. Here are a few key steps in developing a brand that will turn heads and command attention.
- Don’t know how to start alone? PivotPath can help!
1. Realize Your Brand’s Mission
Every company in the world exists for a purpose. When entrepreneurs notice something lacking in the world and believe that they can address it with a useful product or service, a business is born.
For example, the founder of the shoe company Toms noticed that a startling number of people in third world countries lacked access to adequate footwear. He created a company which sells a high-quality product, but also donates a large percentage of proceeds to struggling communities around the world.
Before you can bring your product or service to market, you need to understand the fundamental need it fulfills. Does your product help people in your community? Is it eco-friendly? Is it an updated version of an old classic? Telling the story of your product and fostering emotional connection between you and your customers can build your brand faster than you might think.
2. Identify Your Buyer Persona
Your buyer persona, or target audience, is the demographic which you believe will be most interested in your product or service. As you build your brand and start to tell your story, think of the buyer persona as the protagonist in the story. What are the common problems they face? How can your product swoop in and save the day?
For example, let’s say you live on the West coast and want to start a food truck called “Franks ‘n’ Steins,” which sells flavorful bratwursts and cold alcoholic beverages. Would you be more successful selling to people vacationing on a sunny California beach, or to suburban families in rainy Washington? Most likely, your target demographic would be young adults in a livelier atmosphere. At the beach, people spend hours lounging outside and are more likely to get hungry and thirsty. Understanding the specific needs and behaviors of your customers can establish your brand and bring your company closer to success.
3. Research Your Competitors
You’re probably thinking: why would I want to get to know my competitors? Aren’t they trying to win over my customers? The answer is Yes! – which is the reason why it’s so important for you to do your research.
When you visit the web pages, blogs, videos, and email lists of your competition, you’ll get a better overall understanding of the choices your customers are making when they search for your product or service. By carefully studying and comparing this data, you can learn about the areas where you are doing better than your competition and double down on those.
On the other hand, it’s just as important to figure out where exactly you can improve. Figure out what your competition excels at and why. Use this information to your advantage and create a niche for your company. You don’t want to be too similar to everyone else, but still make sure you provide exactly what the customer is looking for.
4. Develop a Unique Style
Ever heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, that is precisely what your customers do every time they visit your website, read your emails, or scroll through your content on social media.
In this digital age, people are always watching and paying attention. One of the most imperative steps in creating a brand strategy is to create a unique look for your company. Eye-catching logos, brand colors, and layout choices can make or break your content, even if it’s extremely helpful or interesting.
Imagine McDonald’s without the golden arches, or Disney World without the iconic castle: it’s nearly impossible. When done correctly, a logo can take on a life of its own and carry a legacy that reaches beyond the company itself.
5. Plan a Multi-Channel Marketing Campaign
All of this marketing jargon might sound overwhelming to newbies, but simply put, a multi-channel marketing campaign utilizes a variety of outlets to share content. Companies of all sizes can benefit from coordinating a strategic calendar of content to regularly share on different channels. This not only engages your audience with your brand, but it educates them on your products and services. Customers will also be kept up to date on the exciting things your company is doing in the community.
Here are just a few examples of channels you can use to reach your audience:
- Social Media
- TV Broadcasts
- Word of Mouth
Multi-channel campaigns are beneficial because there are so many different ways to communicate. Mostly everyone has a phone in their pocket, but they also watch television, listen to the radio, and browse the internet on their laptops.
It’s important to remember that quantity doesn’t always go hand in hand with quality. Just because you can post through a certain channel, doesn’t always mean that you should. Instead, you should be strategic by learning about which channels your audience utilizes most and reach them that way.
For example, let’s say that the typical buyer persona for your product is a preteen or teenager. It would be wise to steer clear of newspapers and radio to target popular social media channels such as Instagram and Twitter.
6. Be Flexible & Consistent
This final step may sound broad, but it’s the most crucial action you can take in crafting the perfect brand strategy. There’s so much competition in the world. You’ve got to be resilient and willing to try out different tactics to reach your idea of success.
When starting a company, it can sometimes be easy to think of it as your brainchild. You’ve brought something new into the world and you want everyone else to love it as much as you do. Unfortunately, that won’t always be the case. Your company could end up growing into something you might not have expected: and that’s okay!
Grow as You Go
Often, the way that customers and competitors interact with your company can be one of the biggest influences in how you decide to shape your brand. Let me give you an example. The globally renowned company, Coca-Cola, was started by a pharmacist who believed the drink he concocted had medicinal properties. However, people started liking the taste of the drink so much that it was fully re-branded into a refreshing soda company. The rest is history.
Don’t be afraid to listen to what your customers are saying. Aligning your niche with their needs will never steer you wrong, even if it isn’t quite what you expected at first.
- Want help branding your business? PivotPath has you covered!
While the business world is ever-changing to meet the dynamic needs of consumers everywhere, business owners can always count on the timeless value of a reliable product with an emotionally charged story. Thinking like your target demographic is a quick, valuable way to evaluate how your brand can better fit the needs of your customers and become a household name. Alternately, it’s important that you as a business owner feel fully invested in the mission behind your company. Building a strong, long-term brand strategy up front can be the difference between failure and success.
Cammie Conn is a Theatre & Performance Studies major at Kennesaw State University, and also studies through the Joel A. Katz Music and Entertainment Business Program. When she’s not practicing creative writing, she can be found playing her guitar, reading voraciously, or jamming to her vinyl collection. Check out her LinkedIn profile here to connect.