“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Old Ben was a pretty savvy businessman, starting the most popular newspaper of his day at the ripe old age of 23.
And in a day when many business owners worked right up to the bitter end, Franklin was wealthy enough to retire at 43 – precisely 20 years after he started. All before that famous kite thing came along (Ben’s kite thing, not our company).
It’s a good bet he never failed to plan.
And it’s also a good bet that if you don’t have a brilliant brand strategy behind your business, you’re planning to fail.
Your brand strategy is a plan for reaching your business’s long term goals — the big picture, if you will — for where you want your brand to go and how you want it to grow. It’s how you’ll get from Point A today to a future Point B.
Every successful brand, whether shiny new or trusty veteran, needs a solid brand strategy to make sure they’re moving in the right direction, toward the right outcomes.
We’re going to look at the five elements of a strong brand strategy and how they all fit together to guide and grow your business, including:
Ready? Let’s make old Ben proud.
While we’re not very fond of rules here at Red Kite, when it comes to creating your brand strategy, there are a few guidelines to follow. These will make sure you build a strong and unique brand.
Now that we have those guidelines out of the way, let’s look at the moving parts of a brand strategy and what they do.
The four elements of your brand’s definition characterise who you are, what you want, why you do it, and how. And since it’s internal, it’s for you and your people (all your people, not just marketing).
Yes, we know; you want to make money. Other than that, though, why do you do what you do? What’s the justification for your company?
What do you see when you look ahead 2, 5, or 10 years? How much do you want to grow? Does it include adding a new product line or service offering? Think long term. Think someday. And remember, be bold and risky. Fly your kite in that storm.
No, this is not your mission statement, although having one of those greatly helps in the overall scheme of things. This mission, should you choose to accept it, is the steps you will take daily, weekly, monthly, to reach that vision you just defined.
What really matters? What values, ethics, and principles matter most to you as a brand?
As you can imagine, figuring all of this out brings clarity to your brand strategy. It inspires everyone on your team and gives them the strong foundation they need to see your brand strategy succeed.
Knowing who you serve and who you’re up against for their business is vital to your brand strategy.
Remember: branding strategy depends on knowing who is out there just as much as knowing who you are inside.
There are three questions you should ask yourself:
Specifically defining both your customers and potential customers guides nearly all of your marketing efforts.
You not only need to know who they are but how they are doing. What do they excel at? What do they fail at?
You can often defeat them by merely doing well at whatever it is they don’t.
Again, knowing your competitors helps with your marketing strategy and your overall brand strategy.
Lastly, you need to know your market. What gaps are there? What can you do differently or additionally to help fill them? Meeting an unfilled need is often the secret to success.
If creating an internal brand definition clarifies everything for everyone inside, determining these elements gives you some vital specific information about what’s going on outside your business.
This portion of creating a brand strategy can be fun. Here’s how:
Think of your brand as a person.
New brand on the block, or old and wise? What kind of clothes do you wear? What sort of things do you like to do? Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Cat person or dog lover? City or country? Thai takeaway or pizza?
Who’s your favourite band or singer? What do you sing in the shower?
Your brand persona is the human face you put on your brand.
Who do you want to be? What voice is singing your song?
Speaking of voice, what are you saying to your crowd?
Your brand’s messages, your story and how you tell it, are almost as important to your customers and potential customers as your marketing visuals. Messaging is a vital part of any strategy. Brand stories and brand voices encourage engagement and conversation with your customer.
They can also create customer loyalty. Your people make those emotional attachments through your story. Those attachments become bonds that they are loath to break, creating a crowd of loyal, raving fans.
Everything from your keywords for search engines to your tagline and motto to your brand name sends a marketing message about your brand.
Even more critical than the messages you send are the signals you use to send them. Your branding strategy would be a colourless, nearly lifeless form without them. Messaging engages. Visuals attract.
You have to catch their eye before you can strike up a conversation.
And there are so many ways to catch their eye that you can use in your strategy. Brand strategic visuals include:
These are the elements that make you instantly recognisable and stand out from the crowd. Your marketing and your brand strategy would be nearly pointless without them.
And that’s where we come in.
Here at Red Kite, we flourish on brand identity and brand design. We hold a workshop with every new client at the beginning of their project just to gather all this vital information. We use it internally to guide our design team’s decisions.
We then create a brand style guide, which you can use to keep all current and future branding consistent. It’s your roadmap to your brand’s future. Your plan to keep failure away.
Contact us today to set up your first project. Ben would be thrilled.
Chris brings over a decade of industry experience to Red Kite working at design agencies in both the UK and Australia. Over the years he has accumulated a wealth of graphic design, strategic identity design and marketing experience. Chris is a hugely passionate identity designer endeavouring to offer the highest quality branding and logo design Brisbane and Australia wide. Chat to Chris about your branding.