Advix Blog

The Basics of Brand Strategy

Product Marketing and branding
Building up a strategic vision for your company and products is a complex multidisciplinary activity that can be done step by step, prioritising the most crucial parts for the moment, but understanding the whole picture can never be neglected. One of the important parts of the product strategy is market positioning and its elder comrade, brand strategy, and today I would like to address the very basics of this subject.

What is a brand strategy?

A brand strategy determines how a business presents itself to the public, including the clients and competitors, and in the end stands out from the competition. Generally, it does not matter much whether you are thinking on the level of a single product, or a bunch of them, or a brand as a whole, meaning either you are developing a unique product branding or a branding derived from an upper-level structure – you will still be working on the same topics, and these topics are in no way limited to creating a logo and choosing brand colours. When we think about brand strategy, we mean, in the first place, the following sequence of considerations:

Identify the audience
For short-term tactics like launches, after a thorough market research, identify the major user or client personas that may be interested in your product and, what is most important, you are most aligned with. You cannot target everyone because if you do, in the end you target nobody – and cannot find the ways to stand out from the competition. However strong the temptation to address the bigger part of the market, start with a smaller segment which is 100% (okay, 90%) aligned with what you offer, get the market share there – and broaden the audience with the development of your product and, more importantly, your value proposition. Despite everything just said, for the long-term strategy always keep in mind the segments you might want to target in the future so that you don’t find yourself in the situation when it is your non-flexible branding that is guiding your company, not you yourself.

Align the values of the audience and the product(s) vision
Hopefully you have your product vision ready, your mission has already been carved in stone, and you know what benefits you will bring to the market; if not, please make a step back and do that. In this step, it is crucial to highlight and maybe rephrase a bit your value proposition for it to align better with the needs of the personas you have chosen. Ask yourself (or better conduct a market research): what is important for your audience? What do they value most? What emotions they expect to feel while using products like yours? In what situations are they likely to turn to your product? What is the perception they strive for – should it be a luxurious lifestyle or hippie freedom? A good idea here will be to invite a focus group to prove your market analysis conclusions correct. Tip: apart from just making sure you are not mistaken, if everything goes well, you will thus create a group of your first loyal ambassadors, as people love being the first to try good things.

Identify key advantages of the product(s) applicable to the audience: material and emotional
Write a list of things your product will bring to the lives of your clients. State them from the customer’s point of view, not your vision. What is the use case? What part of my life will be easier? What will I be grateful to the brand for? Will I feel more cheerful, or calmer, or more insightful, or richer, or more attractive, or .. whatever?

Tip: list not only the pros, but also the cons at the same time. This will help you later to work with objections, for example, in marketing and customer success workflows.

Derive the brand positioning and perception from all the steps above
This step must be the most time-consuming, but actually it means nothing (well, not that radical of course) without all the above. In this part of the brand development you finally get down to the most practical tasks, BUT! With everything you’ve learned before in mind:

  • Stipulate what you offer in one (okay, max 2) sentences like this: [Personas] will choose [my product] to experience [benefits and emotions] because they [personas’ values and beliefs] and place reminder notes all around you and your sales and marketing teams to keep focused on these key messages.
  • Articulate the mood of your brand (or the brand personality) in two words. Is it powerful and mentoring, or neat and easy, or friendly and sympathetic? Take Empowering Nike, for example, with their derived 'Just do it' slogan, or IKEA, which presents itself as Affordable Functionality, and create something similar.
  • Develop the brand identity. Yes, it’s finally time for logos, colours, fonts and visuals. Add here some social media guidelines as well: some templates, keywords to use, etc. Why was it important to wait with it until now? Well, mainly because you don’t want to target toddlers parents with gothic-style fonts and black skulls on your logo selling pink teddy bears, if we want to exaggerate.
  • Develop the tone of voice based on the mood. A good idea will also be to create the editorial policy and messaging guidelines at this point to define the way you address your audience, say, use as many emojis as fit into the message field (bad example), never touch upon political issues, or never ‘send prices in personal messages’, if these are your cases, so it is transparent to everyone who is working with you now and will join in the future.
  • Think of the most important platforms, media and offline sources you should be present on – whether in the form of your own media or mentions. Take care of them being, first of all, the main sources your audience gets information from, and secondly, aligned with your brand mood and tone of voice. On average, it takes 5 to 7 impressions for people to remember a brand – so make it happen.

This list may easily be treated as a checklist for your future strategies.

Why should I think of it at all?

As a new company, or even an established enterprise launching a new product, you might think that brand positioning is not crucial at this stage and you will be able to cope with it later. However, think of the statistics:

  • According to LucidPress’s 2021 Brand Consistency report, 68% of survey respondents reported brand consistency to have contributed to 10% or more of their revenue growth, while presenting a brand consistently across all platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%;
  • 89% of polls participants stay loyal to the brands that share their values;
  • 59% of the respondents prefer to buy new products from the trusted brands.

Circle Research reports, in its turn, that 77% of B2B segment companies say it would be impossible to market without solid branding. In the end, you may have come across those videos that suggest you guess the company by its logo – why not start the journey to be one of those companies right from the beginning?
To wrap up, it is important to mention that brand strategy and product positioning are very flexible but, at the same time, strict subjects. You can think of branding a single product, a product line-up, or a company as a whole. You can experiment with audiences and the tone of voice, positioning, value propositions and selling points, but never step too far away from your initial intentions. You will barely ever find the perfect blend for your success in the first iteration, but you should be very careful with how you change your vision afterwards, because… one serious mistake, and all your efforts just go in vain. In one of the next articles I am going to cover some of these failure cases, so – stay tuned!