There’s a common misconception that all that is needed to begin to market a business is a logo. However, a logo doesn’t make a brand live and breathe – without a branding strategy, it’s just a graphic. But, what is a branding strategy and how does it come into play? What about brand assets and the guidelines that make up the brand? While we’ve previously discussed The Importance of Brand Guidelines on The Launchpad Blog, successfully marketing any brand requires an understanding of what a branding strategy is and how it’s used to create a customer journey. Today on The Launchpad Blog, we’re answering these questions and more.
The Importance of Brand Guidelines
Before we dive into branding strategies, it’s important to understand the importance of brand guidelines. You can read our full article on this topic, but brand guidelines are essentially a framework, or a set of instructions for how to use the brand’s assets in any marketing materials. The brand assets included in the brand guidelines include but are not limited to:
- Primary Logo
- Logo Variations (submarks & alternate versions)
- Brand colors
- Brand fonts
- Brand imagery & inspiration
- Brand tone
- Mission statement
What is a branding strategy?
Effectively and consistently marketing a brand requires a strategic approach to the use of the brand’s assets – this is the purpose that the brand guidelines serve. Brand guidelines ensure anytime assets are used, they are used in a manner that doesn’t tarnish the brand’s image. That is to say, these brand guidelines provide a framework for effective messaging, tone, consistency, and more.
While the brand guidelines and brand assets are a part of the branding strategy, there’s more to it than just “following the framework.” A comprehensive branding strategy strategically considers the kinds of interactions that you want to have with your customers. So, while brand guidelines might tell you what color codes or fonts to use – or even a general tone – the branding strategy really considers how you market and why. For many brands, this means considering additional elements above and beyond the brand guidelines & assets, including but not limited to:
- Brand messaging & tone – How do you address / speak to / interact with your customers?
- Brand personality – What conclusion can people draw about your brand’s personality / image from it’s messaging and tone? What kind of “brand persona” or character is being created by your interactions with your audience?
- Brand values – What beliefs and values do you share with your audience that might help them align with your brand? This often comes in the form of a brand purpose and/or mission & vision statements
- Brand recognition and loyalty – How do you encourage your customers to share their experience with others? What kinds of strategies are in place to continue to increase recognition and your existing customer base? This very often involves a loyalty/rewards program that incentivizes people to share positive experiences and also rewards them for continuing to do business with your brand
- Miscellaneous brand assets / “Swag” / Apparel & Decor – Above and beyond your brand basics, what kinds of assets do you market the brand and get the word out with? An important miscellaneous brand asset would be branded email addresses, so that any email interactions your employees have with others display the brand name every time they’re contacted. You might also consider the common strategy of building free t-shirts, pens, water bottles, or other items into the business model. Free is free, and the vast majority of people will use something if it’s given to them for free. For example, we at New Moon Strategy use a project management software called ClickUp. While we wouldn’t go out of our way to buy a shirt from them, our COO actually won one, and loves to wear it. Everytime she wears it – that’s added exposure for ClickUp. This is just one of many ways brands build exposure channels.
- Define the How & Why – Though this was already mentioned, a successful branding strategy demands a genuine understanding of the brand’s how & why. Meaning, how do you market your brand to your audience, and why do you do so in that way? For New Moon Strategy, we’re passionate about health & wellness, so we work with health & wellness brands. Ethics & wellbeing are of utmost importance, as these are topics that are of importance for our audience. So, our branding strategy relies heavily on our how & why, and we use that how & why to align our own values & services with our audience’s values & needs.
Intended Result or Outcome
Now that we’ve discussed some of the core components that go into a branding strategy, let’s talk more about the intended result or outcome. A solid branding strategy really isn’t just about closing more sales – it’s about creating an experience that people won’t forget. So, there are typically a lot of smaller objectives that go into the branding strategy to create that experience:
- Education – Any good branding strategy seeks to educate the audience on a number of topics. This might be why your product or service is superior, or facts about your industry that your audience might not know. For many of our clients, the education they provide (through their branding & social media strategy) is about common practices that might be harmful to our health, and providing the audience with a healthier alternative.
- Brand Recognition – Recognition is certainly a part of a branding strategy, but it’s more about the personal level. Brand recognition is much more than someone recognizing your brand’s logo, or knowing the brand’s name. Brand recognition is about creating a deeper connection with your audience – encouraging them to connect on a personal, more meaningful level. Not only does this create a more successful branding strategy, but it also creates more loyal customers.
- Preference – Recognition also ties in with preference, meaning the smaller objective is to show the audience why your product or service should be their preference for their specific needs.
- Value – Perceived brand value plays an integral role in the decision-making process. In general, most brands aren’t closing sales or implementing a successful branding strategy by convincing their audience that their product isn’t high-quality. People want to feel like they’re receiving value and getting their money’s worth. A branding strategy as an experience provides more of this value. If a customer purchases a product or service from you, how are you ensuring that they see the value in it?
- Safety & Security – Perceived value of the brand closely relates to the safety & security that customers look for when making a purchasing decision as well, meaning people really only feel like they got value when they have a pleasant experience. So, you’ll often see brands offering a warranty of some sort, or a money-back guarantee, free replacements, etc. This contributes significant value to the customer journey and their experience with your brand.
- Alignment – Last, people want to do business with brands that they align with. They want to feel that they are supporting something greater than themselves and contributing to positivity in our world. This is an especially important topic in the world today, as we’re seeing the rise of sustainable farming & green initiatives popping up all over the globe. Chances are, you were – at one point or another – a lot like your customers. Many people selling products today are selling products to solve a problem that they had in the past, and so they created a product to share their solution with others. Aligning your brand with your audience will create a more positive experience for both the customer and the brand.
- Collaboration – Alignment also opens the doorway to collaborations. So for example, a company that makes non-toxic cleaning products would likely collaborate well with other health-conscious companies, such as food made from clean ingredients. Collaboration is an important way that brands grow and tap into each other’s networks & existing customer bases.
Implementing a branding strategy by utilizing brand assets, brand guidelines, and focusing on these smaller objectives creates an entity that resonates with customers and the target audience. This entity has a life of its own – a personality, a voice, values, and a mission. These elements are what hooks the audience and persuades them to do business with your brand. But these elements become even more powerful when combined with a branding strategy that ensures the brand’s continued growth.
Interested in developing a branding strategy for your business? Contact New Moon Strategy today!