Have you ever wondered too much about your brand strategy process? Even I took quite some time to figure out the perfect technique for brand strategy. God knows how many months of research, practice, and trial and error I’ve made to develop my signature strategy process. Today, I will give you a look inside our signature strategy process. This process is ever-changing for me, and I’m continually expanding and trying to make it the best that I can for my clients.
These are the top five steps we focus on when crafting an intentional brand strategy for our clients, and you can steal this peak of my outline and some of the questions that I ask so you can get an idea and start on your brand strategy today.
Phase One: Brand Foundation
Purpose, Mission, Vision
My clients are my true asset, and I’ve always promised never to disappoint them. I’m sure it’s the same for you as well! Hence, I use a proven technique to start the brand strategy process – the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek.
When defining and communicating the “why” behind your business idea, I like to follow Sinek’s advice and start with “Why?”. “Consumers don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” I, among many, like to refer to this “Golden Circle.” It makes things simple and to the point by asking the main big questions about everything: Here’s how you can use it.
The foundation of a brand revolves around the above questions. They must be clear about their products and services. Next, how they will project their offerings to the mass audience, and then there’s the most significant bit: The why.
As a brand strategist, it’s essential to help a brand realize why they are doing something. Are they solving a problem through what they offer or giving people a source of entertainment? What is their ultimate objective?
I have gathered some questions I personally use to get the conversation started or to go deeper to find the purpose, vision, and mission. Then, it’s up to you to see what’s relevant and essential to your client. And don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions to make sure you and the client are on the same page.
When starting a strategy session, knowing what questions to ask is a common problem. We fear that asking questions makes us appear stupid or unprepared, but the client is always the one who has the answers in sessions and asking them the RIGHT questions is how we find them.
So getting to know the brand’s foundation should always be the first step. Otherwise, the entire strategy could end up as a disaster.
Phase Two: Brand Personality
The Brand as a Person
What makes a brand’s personality? As people have their own characteristics, so does a brand. You know, how one person could be an energy booster, while the other could come off as an energy drainer. So it’s the same with brands.
As a brand strategist, I realized that a brand also needs to feel like a human being. Confused? Don’t be! It simply means that a brand should connect with its audience as much as possible and in the easiest manner.
When your brand personality shines through in everything you do, your audience will connect with your brand and build a strong relationship. This is how brands are built. Every element of your branding should reflect your brand’s personality. It is important to gain alignment and agreement on the direction, values, look and feel of the brand in between.
Ask yourself or your client: ”How would you describe your own brand personality if you were only allowed to use images? Use Pinterest, or another image library or magazine of choice, to try to visualize your brand. What words and feelings come to mind as you do this?
A clear persona will help you determine the brand’s tone of voice as well as look and feel since you can imagine the brand as a real person. This will help unify the messaging stay on brand.
After you got all the information it’s time to distill all of the information into a tangible character in order to humanize the brand and expand the brand personality beyond words.
Phase Three: Target Audience
Who are we talking to?
Brands can have a difficult time finding the right market for themselves. One of the most important (and challenging) parts of the strategy process is finding the right market for themselves.
Most people refuse to niche down. But niching down is your most significant competitive advantage, and it is one of the best and fastest ways to create brand awareness and position your brand as number one in your field. Because when you talk to everyone, you in fact talk to no one.
The most essential step is understanding that the audience is not one group. A brand is at its best when it includes multiple types of people out there.
I help my client to understand the difference between:
- Primary and secondary customers: The primary customers comprise people who currently subscribe to a brand’s products and services.
- Audience and customer: An audience includes everyone that could become potential customers.
Defining The Target
What does our current customer base look like?
What do we know about them?
What are some essential characteristics?
What do they dream of?
I make sure that clients know about the above so they can make the most out of their current standing and achieve future goals as much as possible. And then we categorize this group of audience we come up with.
Every brand has 2-3 stereotypical groups of customers. WE WANT TO KNOW WHICH ONES TO TARGET AND WHICH ONES TO KEEP IN MIND.
JEEP: ADVENTURERERS, TEENGAGERS, PROFESSIONALS
APPLE: CREATIVES, TRENDY MILLENNIALS, PARENTS OF TEENAGERS
MICROSOFT: CORPORATE BUSINESSES, SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS
After we all have this information, we will research a lot about these people to understand better and resonates with them more, and create a buyer persona.
Here are some helpful questions you can use to build your target audience persona.
Once you’ve uncovered your ideal client’s biggest pain points and created your ideal client profile, you’ll have a powerful tool ready to use going forward.
Phase Four: Gap & Competitor Analysis
And as far as the audience is concerned, we must remember that people have a lot of choices. Having a communication gap between the brand and the prospective consumers or audience is highly likely.
And so, I always think about three factors:
- Brand gap: How people perceive the brand. This is where I compare the brand’s position versus how they want to be perceived by their ideal customers. So, the current client perspective of the brand plays a key role in coming up with a top-notch strategy. I focus on what the customers say about the brand and connect it with business goals and tactics.
- Opportunity gap: Identify opportunities to satisfy unmet problems and needs. I think about how to build a connection with the customer’s mind. What would make the brand stand out that customers choose over other competitors? The products and services need to be up to the mark to impact the target audience.
Some questions to help you identify this gap:
• What are some unused touchpoints where we can interact with the customer’s minds?
• How can our product/service facilitate the customer’s struggles throughout the day?
• In which cases do the customers choose a competitive brand/different solution, and how can we become the natural choice instead?
- Market gap: And then there’s the market gap which is all about competitors. I analyze all the customers’ brands and then take down key competitor points. What makes others different, and how could your client disrupt the market by making their products and services unique?
How does the brand hold up compared to other brands? How are your competitors currently fulfilling the customer’s needs/solving their problems, and how can you fulfill the customers’ needs better, more innovative way? Are there other problems you can solve that your competitors aren’t?
Here’s one of example on how we present the competitor analysis to our clients
Finally, I create a positioning statement to help my client understand everything clearly.
- Positioning Statement: Help the brand develop a statement that focuses on its position in the market. It’s to determine that a tiny area where other brands are not giving as much – could turn around the entire story for the client.
Here’s what the statement could look like:” For … (definition of targeted consumers). [Brand name] is … (description of competitive set and subject category) Which gives the most … (promise or consumer benefit) Because of … (reason to believe)”
Once we have gathered all this information, it’s time to analyze it to see what actions need to be taken moving forward and what efforts to focus our strategy on.
Phase Five: Brand Roadmap
The last step is, by far, the most important. A brand needs to have all the above steps summarized in a very swift and straightforward manner. Once everything is laid out, I make a roadmap of all the above and help a client understand all that they need to do.
The roadmap is the final deliverable given to the client once the strategic work is done. It functions as a written plan that summarizes all the work done thus far, the insights gathered and suggested action steps moving forward. This is when we go from A to B to the specific steps needed to achieve that.
Here is what the client gets out of my brand strategy process:
- Brand foundation: Vision, Purpose, Mission
- Brand personality: Getting the brand’s motto across in the form of meaningful words and images.
- Target audience: Communication is key to converting all types of target audiences into customers.
- Gap analysis: Analyzing competitors’ performance and ruling out everything that could damage the brand in the long run.
- Roadmap: Summarize everything up to develop business tactics and plans.
You can check our exclusive brand strategy and creative direction template to guide you on your strategy process and confidently present it to your client.
How do you go about your brand strategy process, and what do you think of mine? Give me your feedback; I’d love to know what you think!