Let’s consider what a branding strategy is for and whether it is essential in the process.
Let’s start by clearly defining what strategy is in the context of branding and its significance in this process. The term is broad, and its practical application varies from organization to organization. Additionally, both the client and the contractor may have different ideas regarding this point. So, what exactly is strategy?
In every organization, regardless of whether it is a commercial company, a startup or a non-governmental organization, there should be a business strategy, namely a business plan.
This is a key document containing important information such as:
- Market context: Where are we at, what are the market and legal constraints?
- SWOT analysis: The use of this tool is still of value.
- Market segmentation: A thorough analysis of the target group, competition and customer preferences.
- Budget and financial plan: Forecast of profits, losses and investments and allocation of resources.
- Operational plan: Schedule of activities, allocation of resources and responsibility for individual tasks.
In the case of large organizations, this strategy may concern a specific area of activity, for example a company department or a specific project. In smaller organizations, a holistic approach is more justifiable. It is important that the strategy is a plan of action and not just a set of dreams.
Another type of strategy you may come across is a marketing strategy. Most often, it is a specific operational plan based on the marketing budget. It defines target groups, methods of reaching them and, above all, success indicators that will help assess the effectiveness of projects.
Is it possible to operate without these two strategies? The short answer is: yes, you can, but it is ineffective. A business strategy allows you to avoid many mistakes and problems in the future.
However, this time we shall focus on brand strategy. It complements the business strategy and constitutes the basis for building, developing, and maintaining brand experience and customer experience. It is also a key element of the marketing strategy. This is where we define the brand’s values, its vision, and associated emotions. Before we move on to more detailed aspects, let’s specify the items that should be included in the brand strategy.
In short, before starting to design a brand, we must answer the following questions: Who, To Whom, Where, What and How do we want to convey? This is a brand and communication perspective.
WHO We define the brand, its services and products, its unique market features, its essence, resources, and history.
TO WHOM We define the target group and examine their habits and behavior. This is a place where we conduct research or communicate with recipients.
WHERE We analyze the competition and market contact points that allow us to position our brand. We consider the entire customer path, from the first contact with the brand to the point of purchase.
WHAT We look for balance between what our audience would like to hear and what is true about us and our products. Brand messages cannot resemble election promises.
HOW We define the way the brand is expressed, its tone and style. This is the most creative part of the strategy.
What is the difference between a brand strategy and a brief? Strategy is the transformation of a diagnosis of the market situation and research into a brand concept or a big idea. It is a key element of brand design, and also a limitation for the designer, defining what is possible in terms of creativity.
Is a strategy essential? Yes, because it gives you the tools to make smart decisions and maintain enthusiasm in your daily brand work.
If you do not intend to invest heavily in brand strategy, the minimum is a diagnosis of the current situation, business goals and resources such as time and budget. It is also worth considering consultations in key areas.
It is worth gathering information and becoming aware of what you already know and what is missing. You can then decide whether you need a professional brand strategy or consultation. Be prepared for the fact that branding is a never-ending process.
Be bold and focused on brand concepts. This is the heart of the project. The strategy will help you find the connection between your current condition and the desired state.
So, what is the difference between a brand strategy and a thorough brief? To some extent, it is a diagnosis of the market situation, research, and evaluation. That’s true. However, at the heart of the strategy lies creative processing of what we say and how we convey our message. The strategy is a summary of major factors and evaluation of conclusions. It allows us to understand why our efforts matter to our target group. This can also be called a brand concept or a big idea.
In some respects, strategy is the basis of the project. This is a leitmotif and the foundation of brand communication, but at the same time it limits the designer’s creativity.
Is a strategy necessary to build a brand? Definitely yes, because it allows for making wise decisions. Elements such as brand concept, brand mission and brand reason allow you to maintain enthusiasm in your daily work.
What if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on your brand strategy? What is the minimum? What can you do on your own and what should you expect from a consultation?
The absolute minimum is to devise a framework that includes a diagnosis of the current situation, defining business goals and prioritizing activities.
So, you have the current situation – this is the real picture. You need to be realistic and open to the possibility that your product or service needs improvement. It may also be unclear to the target audience. Assessing the competitive landscape is also important. It’s worth listening to customer reviews.
Next, set business expectations. What do you expect from the branding process? Do you want to increase sales or expand into new markets? Clearly define your goals.
Don’t forget about resources – time and budget. Building a full action plan, divided into tasks and defined in time, is the key to success.
Finally, how do you start working on your strategy?
First, gather all the information you can and assess what you already know and what you don’t. This checklist from Leniva Studio can help you with this. After carefully analyzing the situation, you will be able to make a prudent decision whether you need a full brand strategy or just consultation in certain areas.
Second, don’t be afraid of the brand concept. This is the heart of the project. Professionals will help you develop a core idea that includes both the concept and the message house as well as the visual concept.
Third, develop a customer journey to understand what materials need to be created. Prioritize activities and spread the project over time.
Above all else, it’s worth remembering that branding is a never-ending process. Be ready for this challenge.