Building a Brand Strategy
Let's start with what exactly a brand entails. One of the most common misconceptions is that a brand is a company's logo, name, website, product, etc. Wrong! A brand is what people think of when they see or hear a company's name; it is something intangible. So, you may ask, "How can a company manage a perception?". The first step is to build a steadfast brand strategy. Our branding agency is here to walk you through the process.
The main goal of a brand is to create a connection with customers. The best branding approach takes into account competitors, customers' needs, and business goals. Understanding the "What", "Why", “Who”, and “Where" of your strategy will help you deliver an effective brand that will make a positive and lasting impression on your viewers.
The first step of the brand strategy is to design an impactful brand promise. If compelling, a brand promise can create a focused direction for a company's team to follow, as well as establish a high emotional reward for their customers. In a succinct phrase or sentence, the brand promise needs to answer what value the company can offer to its patrons. For example, Nike promises "to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” Nike is telling their consumers that their company strives to do more than just sell quality products, they insist that they create each product with a bigger, more revolutionary picture in mind: the consumer.
The brand purpose distinguishes a company from their contenders if done correctly. It is more specific, yet less discernible than the brand promise. Think of the brand purpose as WHY a company exists, other than to make money of course. Usually, a brand purpose will connect a company's products and customers to some "greater good". P&G CMO Jim Stengel, came up with five categories of human values that a brand purpose can speak to:
Enabling emotional connection
Tesla's original brand purpose was, "to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transport." In one brief statement, Tesla communicates that their company strives to produce vehicles that minimize damage to the environment —their ultimate purpose for being.
A brand purpose isn't something palpable, but it is an influential element that gets employees and customers excited and connected while working for the company.
If the brand purpose explains why a company exists, then the brand vision describes WHAT they want to be in the future. It promotes growth, outlines direction and goals, and helps visualize success. A key question that companies need to ask themselves when forming a brand vision is: What are our goals? A brand vision needs to be both impressive and achievable. Amazon has a great brand vision, which is "to be the Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online." Definitely impressive, and judging by their progress, definitely achievable.
The brand vision describes where the company wants to go, but the brand mission devises HOW it's going to happen. This step of the process is a clear plan of action that will help companies attain their branding and business goals. Let's go back to Amazon's vision statement. They envision a company revolving around their customers with the hope that, one day in the future, their consumers will be able to find anything they want to buy on their platform. Now, how are they going to do that? Amazon's brand mission states that they "strive to offer customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience." Amazon clearly affirms that in order for their vision to come true, they will need to focus on prices, selection, and convenience to get there.
A brand position is the portion of the brand strategy that speaks directly to target customers. It builds upon the brand purpose by describing WHO the company's customers are, the unique service or benefit that will be provided, and reasons why customers would believe them. Here at Keenability, when constructing a brand position, we like to ask ourselves,"Who is our target audience and what are they seeking?" Volvo's brand position is an excellent example of the answer to these questions: "For upscale American families, Volvo is the family automobile that offers maximum safety." Notice how Volvo’s position doesn’t explicitly say that they make cars, they focus on what makes their cars different from every other car on the road. In their case, it’s the level of safety guaranteed. Volvo keeps it simple and straight to the point. Often times, brand positions can get too wordy or confusing. It is best to stick to the old-fashioned KISS model.
It is important to define clear brand values. While technology, company executives, target audiences, etc. may change over the years, brand values should not. In a time where people crave a connection to a company's brand, creating strong and consistent values will help foster that sense of trust between the company and consumers. The first step in creating brand values is to look at what the company stands for and understand what promises are made to customers. Does the company produce quality results? Does it strive to make a difference in the community? Is employee satisfaction important? These are just a few examples of questions that need to be asked. Apple’s brand values include enthusiasm, creativity, simplicity, market contribution, excellence, and courage to change —which is reflected in every one of their products.
A company's voice is just one attributing factor to how people describe them. It is an extension of the brand mission and values. The brand voice is conveyed in the tone of communication and style of writing in every single interaction with the consumer; it is basically the company's personality. The “personality” should be engaging, purposeful, inspiring, and most importantly, it must differentiate the company from other competitors. For example, one of the most distinguishable brands around, Coca-Cola, is well known for its "positively happy" voice. Coke has gone through multiple rebrands, yet its voice has stayed consistent. If a brand claims to be professional, yet they use slang terms and improper wording, they are not staying true to their brand voice. It is alright for a brand to be bold and loud, but never to describe itself in a false manner, which will ultimately hurt the reputation of a company.
Here at Keenability, we are the branding experts. With ample knowledge and years of experience, we offer you the opportunity to enhance your brand so that your company will be distinguishable. Ask yourself, "Is it time for a re-brand?”. If you would like to learn more about branding, give us a call. We are more than happy to help!