Brand: it’s your strategy, ‘beyond the superficial’.
Your brand is far more than just a logo, a name, a tagline or even a clever slogan. There needs to Be more substance to your brand in today’s world than just the superficial. All style and no substance no longer makes for an effective brand. And your customers know it.
Engaging with a graphic designer or hiring a creative agency to design your logo, or appointing a marketing consultant to develop a tagline or slogan will only get you so far when it comes to business growth. Successful businesses that are serious about growth… think beyond these tangible and superficial elements to reach the core of their identity – this is where true brand strategy is developed and brilliant brands are born.
‘Beyond the superficial’, your brand blueprint for growth needs a strategy and a purpose – otherwise your brand has no staying power, no ‘sticky factor’ and no ‘resonance’ in your customers’ hearts and minds.
Your ‘visual brand elements’ i.e. your logo, colour palette, graphic elements and slogan are visual representations and creative elements that convey or express your brand but they only scratch the surface of your brand. They don’t get near the heart of the matter. Here’s a useful metaphor: think of your logo as the tip of a ‘brand iceberg’. The tip is only visible to viewers above the icy waters yet we know there’s a lot more below the surface. Everything else; your brand values; strategy; purpose; vision and mission lie unseen and intangible. Your logo is therefore the visual reflection of the customer experience and expectation that helps your customer identify your business ‘amongst the crowd’ or to extend the analogy – amongst the ice pack.
While the superficial elements do form a working part of your brand strategy to visually attract your ideal customer, they do not in fact encapsulate the whole of your ‘brand’. With brand, in this case, seeing isn’t believing – strategy includes far broader thinking and far deeper meaning than just the visuals.
‘Brand’ today has evolved beyond a single, distinguishable ‘mark of ownership’ to become the entire experience your prospects and customers have with your company, employees, product or service. This ‘experience’ however, can lead to a positive or negative perception depending on how effectively you manage your brand – which is where your strategy plays a crucial part in the experience and the wider business strategy.
This point needs to be repeated; build your brand and determine your strategy first before marketing your business. Too many businesses jump straight into the marketing tactics before defining who they are or why they’re even in business. That thinking will only get you so far. Don’t get caught on the unending (and exhausting) merry-go-round of ‘business as usual’. Instead, Be smart and define your identity and business purpose first. It’ll pay dividends by giving you direction and focus in return.
Other benefits of building a brand strategy?
A growing personal confidence in your own identity (discover who you really are), a certainty in your offering and brand positioning, a distinct and insightful understanding of your ideal customer and a laser-focused clarity about the connection between your brand and your customer.
A goal of brand strategy is to evoke a specific feeling (or feelings) in your customer when they engage with your business. Tapping into these desired customer-emotions is a strategic move to compel an action or a ‘call to action’ to stand out from the crowd. Aligned to your brand values, emotive branding is a powerful strategy to ‘trigger’ customers into an emotional response as a first step to build an enduring relationship, however its worth mentioning that this step requires both introspection on your part and insights and empathy for your customer.
Brand strategy is focused on how you can create an emotional connection – i.e. get your brand ‘in sync’ with your customer using emotive branding techniques.
So ask yourself: how do you want your customers to feel after they’ve engaged with your product or services? Is your current customer experience aligned to create those desired feelings? If it’s not, then that’s your brand.
Brand strategy defines what you stand for, the ‘brand promise’ you make to your ideal customers, and the personality you communicate to your target market. Remember, people buy personality, not products! In this way, brand strategy is directly connected to your consumers’ needs, emotions, and the competitive environment.
Your strategy appears in the images you choose to project your brand, in the online messages you send through your marketing campaigns, in the way your employees are trained to interact and behave with your customers, and the acid test – your customer’s opinion of your brand compared to your competition. Clearly your logo alone cannot effectively communicate all of these areas, nor is it meant to. It’s an identifier – a visual message for customer recognition.
In in simplest form though, an effective brand strategy is a series of steps that helps you communicate more effectively with your desired market. And in an often chaotic and uncertain world, ‘simple’ is often the desired result with customers today!
Be your brand.
I hope you learned something new, insightful or useful from this blog.
As The Brand Entrepreneur, I believe in helping businesses build a ‘brand blueprint’ for business growth.
I do this through a series of brand workshops designed to educate businesses to identify their identity, visualise their vision and manifest their brand mission. ’Successful brands in the future care about customers, not branding. I believe that future is now’. I’m passionate about helping businesses create unique brand stories & design assets that help brands get ‘in sync’ and connected to customers for business growth.
Jamie Thomas – The Brand Entrepreneur