Coca Cola! Just hearing those words makes you want the cool, refreshing taste of the well-known soft drink trickling down your throat. But, how does just reading the words of the company induce this feeling?
When you are starting your business, one of the first issues you will probably face is how to make people aware of your existence. This is because people need to know about your business to purchase the goods or services that are on offer. One such way to increase market exposure is through the creation of a brand. The brand will be your mark to the world and it will signify the products or services which you provide. To successfully communicate to the world that your brand exists, you will need to develop a brand strategy. Let’s look at what a brand strategy really means.
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What is Brand Strategy – Definition
Creating a successful brand strategy is essentially about conveying the vital facts about your company to your target audience. However, beyond this, a company (and its brand strategy) should seek to stand out in a market filled with hundreds, if not thousands of other brands. This requires a number of elements. While most people usually focus on the visual side of things, there is a lot more to brand strategizing than meets the eye.
The first thing to know about a brand strategy is that it is a long-term endeavor with specific goals and outcomes which need to be met. These goals and outcomes need to focus on three aspects of a potential business, and its brand.
- Firstly, the consumer needs – and how best a company can meet those needs.
- Secondly, emotions attached to offered goods and services – these inform how a market place will approach purchasing a company’s wares.
- Finally, what the state of the market place is, and what competitors are currently situated in the market.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of defining a brand strategy and the elements needed to do that, let’s think about a contemporary example of a truly successful brand strategy.
Examples of Brand Strategy
One of the most popular brands in sports footwear and apparel industry is Nike. The Nike Swoosh has become ubiquitous with various iterations of shoes being produced from their factories. This simple check mark has a famous story, originally designed by a student, Carolyn Davis in 1971. From those simple beginnings, the swoosh has transformed into a worldwide brand indicator, symbolizing speed, fluidity and style.
However, Nike is much more than just the swoosh, the company sells a lifestyle in many respects and target athletes and people with active lifestyle. The iconic tagline ‘Just Do It’ is empowering in many respects, but people also know that those three words are inherently tied to Nike. However, they have managed to build a brand much bigger than just the swoosh and three words, they are a global brand with revenue into the tens of billions.
It has built global communities through social media, sought to empower their audience and most importantly, become an iconic brand.
Elements of Brand Strategy
A company who is looking to enter the market place needs to draw up their brand strategy as a long-term planning guide to how they are going to grow. While this does not explicitly deal with the financials of growth, social growth is equally important to a company and in many ways, precedes financial success. To this end, defining a brand strategy is of major importance.
Firstly, a company will need to identify what they do, and where they operate within the broader market. It is recognizing the things which sets a company apart from its competitors while also being cognizant of its pitfalls. This is called brand positioning. Through this, a brand immediately sets itself up to claim a space within the market through stating what it offers and why it is a better choice than the competitors.
This works into what is called brand differentiation. As per the name, it reasons as to why one company is different from another company offering the same, or similar, goods or services. This is done through identifying what factors of your company sets it apart from the competitors. Typically, the key identification of brand differentiation is in their value propositions.
Brand promise or a company’s value propositions are those factors which could influence a customer to make the switch from one brand to another. This phase is usually done in the brand positioning stage, but it is helpful to look at this as a completely separate part of creating a brand strategy.
As part of brand differentiation, you will begin to build up what can be considered the identity or personality of your brand. At this stage, it is helpful to start thinking about visual cues as well as auditory cues. This is where a company starts to think about the tone of voice which it employs, and images which it wants to convey to the world, and more importantly, potential clients.
A brand’s personality is imperative in understanding who their target audience is going to be, as well as understanding why their target audience would want to consume their product. This will define what is known as a value proposition, or in layman’s terms, what makes you attractive to your customers. This goes back to the initial stages of strategizing for one’s brand as it plays a great deal into a company’s brand positioning.
We hope this has been a helpful guide to understanding one of the most talked about parts of commerce in today’s society. This ever-changing and highly contested scene is one which could make or break a company. So if you are looking to kick-start your company’s path to success, start envisioning how you will build a brand strategy.