The importance of brand strategy

We were recently invited to talk at the Northern Design Centre. It was part of a Rise and Design event looking at the importance of branding. As a brand and communications agency, naturally we were happy to share our thoughts. Given that branding is such a broad subject, it can be hard to know where to start, or what area to cover. So we decided to start at the beginning, with the basis of any great brand, it's strategy. And in this post, we want to give you an insight into what we covered...

When people talk about brand, usually they're referring to the visual parts. They think about their logo, the colours they use or their typefaces. But actually your brand is so much more than that. It's also how you sound, and how your employees answer the phone. It's what sort of experience you offer and how you relate to customers. You could say your brand is your company's personality.

Branding is what makes people choose one company over another. Even when the products they offer are identical. Bottled still water is a great example of this. To look at, to taste and it's price, are often almost identical. So why does what's on the bottle influence the buying decision we make? Put simply, it's because brands make us feel something. We become attached to brands because of the way they make us feel. Whether that's how they make us feel about ourselves, or the impression they give of us to other people.

Why does the bottle influence our buying decision?

When it comes to attracting and keeping customers, it's obvious that brand is important. But your brand is more than just what you say your company is or how it sounds or looks. As we tell our clients, your brand is based on perception and reputation. That is how people perceive your brand and the impression they get of your company. As well as the reputation you build based on the experience your customers have. Which is why brand strategy is so key. Because brand strategy is your plan of how to make sure your customers perceive your brand in the right way.

Getting a brand strategy together is usually the first thing we do for new clients. It's also about creating a plan and knowing where you want to be in the next future. Sometimes it means going back to why you started out in the first place. Because then you can get to the heart of what you do and why, to get the fundamentals right. And it doesn't have to be a big jargon filled document, in fact it should be the opposite. We like to keep this as simple as possible for our clients. But by taking a step back to think about your strategy, you can start to build a strong brand. And a good strategy will inform everything you do. Whether it's how your website looks, the tone of voice that you use, or advertising and marketing campaigns you produce.

It all starts with finding your purpose

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The White T-Shirt Co's purpose is to create the perfect t-shirt without compromise to style, quality or ethics. These values are an inherent part of the brand identity.

When we're taking clients through a brand development project, we start by defining their purpose. All great brands have a strong sense of purpose. They understand what's driving the business and what they're setting out to achieve. Defining your brand's purpose is about defining what you stand for. As well as thinking about what value you add. And it's a powerful thing, if its harnessed to create your brand strategy. It can create an ethos for employees to get behind and for your customers to buy into.

In most cases your brand purpose should be succinct. Even just a sentence that explains what you do and what your brand stands for. And it should be simple enough to be understood by anyone. Whether that's key stakeholders, potential investors or your grandma.

Take The White T-Shirt Co for instance

One of our clients, The White T-Shirt Co is an ethical, environmentally-friendly clothing designer and manufacturer. They produce simple t-shirts made from 100% organic cotton. But what sets them apart is their commitment to their ethical and environmental values. And those values are an inherent part of their brand identity. The White T-Shirt Co's purpose is simple. To create the perfect t-shirt without compromise to style, quality or ethics.

Discovering your brand's purpose can often be trickier than you think. And it's even harder to keep it to a short, simple sentence. So to help you make a start on defining your purpose yourself, start with the simple questions below. Hopefully these can help you on your way to creating your brand strategy.

  1. What is your business trying to achieve?
  2. What value do you add?
  3. Can you sum up what you do and why in a sentence?
  4. Would your purpose be as easily understood by a stakeholder as it would your grandma?

We believe strongly in the importance of brand strategy, and we're always keen to help businesses develop and implement their own. So much so we have a developed a 1-to-1 workshop which we offer completely free. If you'd like some free professional advice get in touch to arrange your workshop or call 0191 603 0033.

Written by:

Nick Johnson

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