Would you believe me if I told you that the most important part of a brand isn’t having a nice looking logo, but rather a clearly defined brand strategy? Sure, an aesthetically pleasing logo is great and all, but if you haven’t figured out who to make it look good for and why they’ll be attracted to it (among a slew of other things, which we’ll get into below), then you’re wasting both time and resources by taking stabs in the dark- and in the meantime, having your dream clients pass you by.
This is where brand strategy comes in. But before we dig into what brand strategy is and why you need one, let’s clarify what a brand is first.
What is a brand?
Your brand is so much more than just a logo. It’s every single touchpoint that a client has with your brand, from the colors used on your website to the style of imagery you post on your Instagram feed. It’s the way you speak to your clients and the feeling people get when they think about or experience your brand.
Okay, so what is brand strategy?
Brand strategy is the basis for all of the above, and that’s why it’s such an integral part of the design process. It’s essentially the guide for how you’ll market (and in turn, grow) your brand, which is why you want to have all aspects of your brand strategy clearly defined from the get-go. It ensures that every single aspect of your brand is cohesive, which is so important when you’re trying to stand out and make a name for yourself.
Key components of a solid brand strategy
Purpose + Mission
What is the “why” behind your brand? Why are you in business doing what you’re doing? Having a clear brand purpose in mind can help guide a lot of the decisions you make in your business and how you market it.
Your brand purpose can also serve as a guide to form a short mission statement/elevator pitch that you use to convey what you do, who you help and how you help them. Be authentic and true to your brand- you want to stand out from your competitors, not blend in with them. It’s best to revisit the creation of this once you’ve worked through the rest of the brand strategy.
What does your brand value? Defining your values will help you connect with your target audience on a deeper level, as well as differentiate you from your competition. Perhaps you’re a small organic farm who values family and health, or you’re an elopement photographer who values love and adventure. Whatever your values may be, they’re an important part of your brand that’ll help you connect more meaningfully with your ideal client.
Target Audience/Ideal Client
Determining your target audience is one of the most important parts of brand strategy. You need to know exactly who you’re speaking to in order to know what to say to them. Knowing their demographics (age, gender, income level), their values, their “why” for seeking out what you offer (sometime referred to as pain points) and their hesitations/fears will make an enormous impact on how you go about successfully marketing to them. The more you know about the exact type of person you want to work with/sell to, the more you can tailor your brand and business to potentially convert them into a paying customer.
Defining a brand voice will help say you the right thing in the right way to your target audience. If your brand is high-end and luxurious, it’s voice may be more formal, minimal or poetic. If your brand is more casual and fun, it’s voice may be friendly and conversational, or even a bit humorous. Knowing how to speak to your target audience will help keep your messaging consistent.
Competition + What Sets You Apart
Identifying your competition is important because it allows you to analyze both what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong, AKA where you should be aiming to position your brand in the market. Use this information to figure out how you can differentiate from your competitors and set your brand apart in a way that will appeal specifically to your target audience. Beyond that, don’t spend too much time focusing on what competing brands are doing as every business is different and what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. You want to stand out from the crowd, not blend in with it!
Having a super clear brand strategy set in place before diving into the visual identity (the logo, patterns, typography, etc) allows for so much more intention behind the choices that are made during the design process. This ensures that your branding not only looks the part, but also attracts the people you want to work with/sell to (whilst simultaneously turning away you don’t).