The Ultimate Brand Strategy Framework

Building a brand strategy framework takes finesse and balance, which is why this image of an orange sphere balanced atop a teal prism is a fitting metaphor for the skill required in assembling a brand strategy.
Building a brand strategy framework takes finesse and balance, which is why this image of an orange sphere balanced atop a teal prism is a fitting metaphor for the skill required in assembling a brand strategy.

A brand is so much more than a logo, a cool color palette, mission statement, social media, and a tagline. Likewise, a branding strategy is more than plastering your branded materials over everything you make and do.

As with any type of strategy, a brand strategy requires intentional and conscious thought about the who, what, where, when, why, and how behind your brand.

It’s about finding the right opportunities to get in front of your ideal audience. It’s also about saying no to opportunities that won’t help you present your brand in the best possible light.

All of the above is more easily accomplished with a brand strategy framework – a roadmap of sorts that helps you connect all the moving parts of your marketing strategy with your branding goals.

Here’s why brand strategy matters and how you can use our framework to create one of your own.

Table of Contents:

What Is a Branding Strategy and Why Is It Important?

First things first: We define a brand as a collection of visual elements, values, feelings, and characteristics you want people to associate with your name and products. Your brand identity encompasses your visual identity as well as your value proposition To achieve branding goals, companies focus on branding strategies to guide their efforts.

A brand strategy is simply the plan to create, grow, and support a brand. With a plan, you have clarity over the goals you want to accomplish.

Your branding strategy approach can include developing visuals like a logo, colors, and typography. But it should also include intangibles, such as how you want your customers to feel about your brand or products, brand growth strategies, and the overall impact you want to make in the marketplace.

Branding is an essential part of every marketing strategy. It gives your consumer audience insight into who you are beyond a corporate name.

As a marketer, the ultimate brand strategy impact is seeing proof that you’re achieving brand growth and growing your customer base.

How to Create a Brand

Learning how to build your brand strategically takes the opposite approach of brand development strategies based on gut instinct or personal preference. Rather, it requires asking questions and collecting data. It means testing ideas with consumers and considering your brand from multiple angles.

When creating a brand identity,  you’ll want to leave no stone unturned. Let’s look at where you should focus your efforts:

Brand Definition

One of the fundamental steps of how to start a brand is to settle on your brand definition.

When you think of H&M, you’re likely to think of inexpensive, fashion-forward clothing. When Chips Ahoy! comes to mind, you might envision happy dancing cookies.

Chips Ahoy! “Drip” Commercial

Even CEOs and solopreneurs have brands. This is known as a personal brand, where the person is synonymous with their company, product, or service. Think Elon Musk and Gary Vee, for example.

Every brand has a definition. This is the way you want others to think of you. Put on paper how you define your brand, then build your brand values, brand voice, brand mission, and other brand guidelines around it.

Target Audience

No successful brand strategy is without an audience. Consider the people you want to buy from you. What do these potential customers value? What will make them interested in your brand? Having accurate consumer insights will help you build a brand that resonates with your consumers.

For example, The Honest Company targets parents who want healthier and safer personal care products for their babies (and themselves). The company uses messaging that will capture the attention of this niche rather than trying to appeal to the masses.

Part of knowing how to create a brand means aligning your audience’s values with your own, not the other way around. Start with your audience, then work backward from there.

Unique Selling Proposition

There’s an old saying that if there are two of something, one is usually not needed. The same applies to branding.

Brands that are clearly getting it right are often looked upon as examples to follow. But this doesn’t mean you should copy them outright. What works for another brand might not work for your brand.

Instead, brands need to figure out what will make them stand out from other brands in their space. This is called a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), or sometimes referred to as your market positioning statement.

This is essentially your reason for existing. What is it that you offer that your competitors don’t? Why should people do business with you?

Branding reinforces your USP to the point where people see the value you offer without question. It creates a cohesive image of your company and makes it easier to associate your name with what you do from the customer's first impression to conversion and beyond.

Brand Messaging

In the brand-building process, your brand message is the vehicle in which you share your brand with your target market. It’s the collection of words, visuals, and content that supports all of your intangible branding elements.

Ask yourself: how will you communicate your brand definition, values, and purpose with others?

A simple example of this is Subway’s tagline: Eat Fresh. Just two words imply that the food is made fresh and uses fresh ingredients.

Another example is Levi’s jeans tagline: Quality never goes out of style. Its brand story has been around for more than 130 years, and the brand's commitment to quality and innovation has never changed. The brand evolves its messaging over time, though. It’s a straightforward way for a long-standing brand to appeal to a new generation's perception without having to go through a total rebrand.

Effective brand recognition is all about embodying your brand in a way that helps your customers connect who you are to what you do.

You'll want to be monitoring how your brand is perceived by customers and how your message is received by using a brand management solution like Meltwater.

Relevant Values and Behaviors

Your brand marketing isn’t just about looks. It’s also about function and personality.

A great example is cleaning products provider Grove.co.It appeals to an audience that wants eco-friendly products and convenient shipping. The company built its entire brand around emotional benefits, such as sustainability. You can see proof of this in the brand-name goods the company sells along with efforts like planting 1 million trees by 2022 and going 100% plastic neutral.

Remember, every action and behavior work together to shape your brand. When you prioritize activities that align with your brand, your brand definition becomes much clearer.

Visual Brand Identification

Good branding is seen and heard. This is where the most well-known elements of branding come into play: your logo, colors, typography, and other imagery.

While these elements will be among the first things your audience sees, they’re usually one of the last pieces of your brand development strategies.

It starts with creating the heart and soul of the brand, then working outward. Your visuals should match what your brand means on the inside.

PR and Marketing Opportunities

Part of developing a brand strategy includes the ways in which you spread brand awareness. Many companies choose to use professional PR opportunities to earn social proof and create a buzz about a rebrand, new product, or viral social media post, for example.

Doing so can increase audience attention, of course. But PR or marketing efforts should also make sense to your brand. For example, having a fishing blog post about your new brand launch at Sephora likely isn’t going to get noticed by the right audience. Co-branding opportunities between two brands that don't share an audience usually don't gain traction.

3 Brand Strategy Examples in Action

Now that you know more about the role of strategic brand management, let’s look at some brand strategy examples from companies who are getting it right.

Dollar Shave Club

A quintessential example of brand positioning done well, e-commerce company Dollar Shave Club (DSC) turned the razor industry on its head when it launched cheap, high-quality razor subscriptions.

DollarShaveClub.com - Our Blades Are F***ing Great

Until DSC, many consumers believed that razors were just expensive to make. As it turns out, they’re expensive because they’re prone to theft. Plus, with very few competitors, razor companies can charge a higher price. 

For its business strategy, the razor disruptor chose to leverage all the downsides of the industry to its benefit. Innovation like this is what supercharges brand-building effectiveness.

DSC is a market differentiator in two key ways: cost-effective prices and great quality. The brand is also adding convenience into the mix by shipping razors to their customers’ doors on a recurring basis.

Trader Joe’s

Boutique grocery store Trader Joe’s broke the mold by offering high-quality organic foods at affordable prices. Though its brand positioning is very much like Whole Foods in scrutinizing ingredient quality, Trader Joe’s stands out with its funky original store artwork, significantly lower prices, and oddball selection of exotic goods.

Its target customer is someone who values variety, low prices, and foods they can trust. With such a unique product offering, every customer has the potential to become an influencer for the brand. 

Shopping there is more akin to a treasure hunt than grocery shopping. Plus, Trader Joe’s upholds its brand image of being a store you can trust by offering consumers samples of almost any product in the store before they buy it.

As an added bonus, Trader Joe's is a great example of corporate branding that isn't boring. Its brand personality appears in everything it does, which helps to build brand equity. The company has a small business look and feel in its stores, coupled with the consistency, content marketing, and word-of-mouth advertising of a well-defined corporation.

Airbnb

Another major industry disruptor, Airbnb does what hotels have always attempted to do but never quite could: create a high-end experience that feels like home away from home.

The company extended the possibilities of short-term rentals by allowing property owners to take part in the industry. It was a direct thumbing-the-nose at overpriced, impersonal hotels.

The brand’s positioning attracts travelers that appreciate different lodging options, want a more homelike experience, and like to save money in the process. The brand is competing on customer experience and ever-changing travel patterns to differentiate itself.

I Will Always Love You | Made possible by Hosts | Airbnb

Use a Brand Strategy Template

There’s a lot of work that goes into building a branding strategy. That’s why we advise using a brand strategy template. It helps you start your branding on a strong footing and lets you tweak it to your needs.

Feel free to take the steps outlined above as a brand strategy template and adapt them for your business.

Ready to develop a strong brand? Let’s talk today!

Loading...