A Framework for Creating A Smart Brand Strategy
A brand is so much more than a logo.
It's what makes you unique and how you communicate that to prospects, customers, and employees to inspire them to take action.
We've developed a Brand Strategy Framework to drive marketing, sales, recruiting, and raising capital.
A smart Brand Strategy is central to an overall growth strategy and should deliver tangible results to the bottom line.
- Increase the efficiency and return of our marketing and sales.
- Create instant affinity and desire with our target audiences.
- Get our team, investors, and partners all on the same page.
- Build consistency while still providing a framework for evolution.
In our opinion, the greatest return on investment for building a brand framework is frictionless sales. That when you target the right people with the right message and then clearly articulate your value, it drives significantly more efficient customer acquisition.
Before you dive in, check out some of our shows on What Is A Brand Strategy.
Brand Strategy Increases The Efficiency and Return of Marketing & Sales
For most companies, generating leads through marketing and closing deals in the sales process is a constant battle.
What often eludes business leaders is how to drive change in lead generation and closing sales whether they are doing it themselves or have full teams supporting them. Most companies look at the same tactics to increase leads and sales:
Improve ad targeting to reach the right audiences.
Invest more in advertising or organic.
Train the sales team.
Invest more in advertising or organic.
...what we miss though is the strategic foundation that drives marketing and sales: Brand Strategy.
So, you are probably asking, why does brand strategy impact marketing and sales so much?
First, a solid Brand Framework defines our best, narrow, focused target audiences based on logical business evaluation and not gut instinct.
Your best audiences can be determined through a strategic methodology evaluating market opportunity, demand, competition, specialization, and experience.
A marketing team that can penetrate a specific audience deeply and produce tactics personalized to their drivers will be much more highly effective. In addition, sales teams can develop familiarity with the pains, challenges, and buying factors of a narrow audience to increase close rates.
Beyond being more effective, marketing teams can be efficient with spend and time to focus their efforts on the best prospects while also helping sales be more efficient by sending more qualified opportunities.
Second, Brand Strategy is all about defining your true differentiation and value in the marketplace.
One of the most important tactics in marketing and sales is to be able to clearly articulate your why, how, and what.
Whether a B2B brand or B2C consumer product, people looking to buy want to know why you are different and how you will solve their driver.
The best Brand Strategy framework leverages a target audiences buying factors to clearly define who they are, what they do, why they do it, and what makes them absolutely unique compared to others.
A marketing and sales team armed with this information ( and not just fluff ) will be significantly more effective.
Last, a Brand Strategy outlines our key messages as well as our look, feel, and sound.
To arm your marketing and sales teams with consistent and strategically developed messages. A Brand Strategy takes the key elements of who we are and why we are different and creates a series of effective statements to be utilized by people across the organization.
In conjunction, our Brand strategy defines our persona, tone, language, and purpose to provide guide rails to how we sound and look to all audiences. This consistency helps drive home our key messages and gives the organization or product a more sophisticated appearance that increases buyer confidence.
While we can improve our ad spend, try different marketing channels, train sales people, or any number of other tactics to increase top line revenue, it is brand strategy that determines the strength of everything we do.
This makes having a powerful brand Strategy framework the core to helping our marketing and sales teams be both more efficient and significantly more effective in their efforts.
"People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic."
Brand Strategy creates instant affinity and desire with our target audiences.
Attention spans are short. We have limited time to create a connection that is strong enough to drive action.
This is where Brand Strategy comes in to quickly connect with our audience across all of our channels from advertising and social media to your website and sales process.
As we have mentioned in Part 1, the framework of a Brand Strategy includes defining a narrow target market and clearly articulating the who, why and how of our company or products.
Within those Brand Strategy elements, our audience should be expanded into more detailed Personas that outline the drivers, motivations, buying factors, and other details about our target audiences.
When we leverage motivations and buying factors to determine our brand and messaging, our marketing and sales will resonate more with our audience. This is why understanding our target audiences extremely well is so important.
Throughout marketing and sales tactics we can see the benefit of having defined these attributes of our audience and leveraging them to build our messaging. Just consider:
- Ads - When we speak to the highest priority pains, challenges, and motivations of our target audience not only does it catch their attention but they will instantly feel that you better understand them.
- Website - By using pains and challenges again, we can create content that our audience is actually looking for on a daily basis to not just increase search rank but deliver our authority on solving the problem.
- Nurturing & Sales - Knowing a prospects buying factors - what they consider and compare before making a purchase we can create messaging in both marketing and sales that directly provides purpose and proof around what a buyer needs/wants to know.
The biggest mistake that companies make is using confirmation bias - guessing about their audience and message using arbitrary factors to back up their thinking - to build their marketing and sales tactics.
It is important in developing a Brand Strategy framework that we are objective and utilize a logical process to determine what will strategically achieve objectives rather then guesses and gut instincts.
"Everyone is not your customer."
Brand Strategy gets our team, investors, and partners all on the same page.
When teams work together - aligned towards common objectives, the speed and effeciency of achieving those objectives skyrockets.
Sure, we can all get in a room and talk. The businesses' visionary will try to recite the ideas that have been spinning around their head and even draw some cool mind maps on a whiteboard.
The challenge is that this often leaves a gap. We have called it "The Vision Gap" and it is when leaders struggle to clearly articulate and inspire their team, partners, customers, or investors.
The great part of defining a clear Brand Strategy is that it provides everyone a concrete and shared vision for who we target, how we talk about ourselves, and what we look and sound like.
"In any team sport, the best teams have consistency and chemistry."
Brand Strategy builds consistency while still providing a framework for evolution.
Complex organizations struggle to require consistency as marketing, sales, and customer service teams move fast to deliver.
It happens all the time. People ride off the reservation, doing their own things, and creating their own materials or solutions that represent our businesses. The challenge is, do those messages and visuals properly represent our growth strategy and brand.
There are three main reasons we really care about brand consistency:
- Building a positive and professional appearance for our business. When we present consistent visuals and messages, our audiences sense a greater level of sophistication and we build positive equity with each touch.
- Maintaining our strategic focus. If a brand message and identity has been created intelligently based on business objectives, we want to sure it is as effective as possible and not diluted by our team straying from our plan.
- Recognition. Consistency builds a mental framework for prospects and consumers so that when they see certain colors, fonts, or hear certain messages it is quickly recognized.
First, we have to go through the process of strategizing and defining our brand, but then must be documented in a way that helps our team stay consistent. Some of the documents that are key:
- A Brand & Identity Guide. This is not just how big our logo should be. This guide outlines our target audiences, messages, voice, and more. A perfect tool for every employee to have.
- eMail Templates. Create templates for marketing, sales, and customer service that match our visual and messaging strategies.
- Training. Yes, a brand and message should be an education topic that is brought to the team on a regular basis so that everyone is saying the same things about our business.
Lastly, a brand framework is a structure that can be logically evaluated and improved based on organizational objective changes or feedback.
The Framework for Brand Strategy
Our framework is complex, but here are the key elements that help you build an impactful brand strategy.
The first part of a brand strategy is your audience. You cannot create a unique position or messaging that resonates if you do not truly understand your audience. Most companies skip this step or go off of assumptions to then create a misaligned brand strategy that isn't as effective as it should be.
You cannot be everything to everyone. Prioritizing your audiences and even defining who you don't want to work with is the first step in creating a more effective brand strategy.
The more narrow your audiences, they more your messaging can be specific to their needs and resonate. Audience-focused messaging also increases their confidence that you are the right fit for their pain or need.
A persona is just a detailed exploration of individuals within your prioritized audience. Personas lay the groundwork for you to know what to say and how to look to most resonate with your audiences.
A persona must include buying factors ( what people evaluate to make a decision ), pains ( what challenges they face ), motivations, channels and other key factors.
The next piece of the puzzle is really defining what makes you unique in the marketplace. Most companies don't dig very deep and therefore have weak positions.
A great example is defining "support" or "customer service" as a unique value proposition. I promise that every one of your competitors says the same exact thing. This does not always mean "support" cannot be a value proposition, but it must be extrapolated to distinctly separate you from all other competitors in the market.
We define these as 3 - 4 key points that very clearly separate you from other options in the market.
To create value propositions, you need to look at your audience buying factors and then compare how you rank on them with competitors to find the greatest delta.
This is one of the most important steps in a great brand strategy framework and must be done with dilligence and no bias.
Proof & Aspirations
A powerful value proposition is only as successful when you can prove it concretely. For each value proposition, it is imperative to document the exact proof of how you meet that value and are head & shoulders above other options in the market.
Aspirations are how you will create a future strategy and tactics to strengthen your position for that value proposition. You have to have a plan to widen the gap further and ensure you stay unique.
Once you have really dug deep and found a core structure that no other company in the world can compete with, it is time to articulate that in a way that your audience will understand.
Your value propositions, proof & aspirations are internal guides to be used to build messaging.
Flag In the Ground
One of the first messages to define is a flag in the ground that is a passionate statement of why your exist and do what you do.
It often starts with "we believe" and should evoke an emotion in your team, customers and prospects. This is a rally cry and a reason that you get up in the morning. It should feel confident and fill you excitement.
A solid flag in the ground is a great tool to use to articulate what should get customers excited.
A short identifier is a 3 to 5 word statement that easily describes who you are. The most important thing to understand about a short identifier is that it's often used as a label to put you in a bucket.
No matter what, the reality is that humans like to group things. You are a "Brand Agency", a "Web Design Firm", or "Project Management Software". One way or another, your audience will try to bucket you.
Strategically you can fit in a bucket or try to create your own - both have challenges.
All of these elements of the framework have led to the messaging that serves as the foundation for more messages that are build out in advertising, web, and sales.
We have all heard of an elevator pitch, but the important thing is to ensure that it is built upon your value propositions and flag in the ground.
Your have 7 seconds to explain what you do and why you. Often your elevator pitch is more focused on the what allowing you to follow up with other statements that articulate how you do it.
Your elevator pitch is a key part of the brand strategy framework to get right and use often.
A positioning statement differs from an elevator pitch as it is what we use to discuss HOW you deliver on the why ( flag in the ground ) and the what ( short identifier and elevator pitch ).
A positioning statement utilizes value propositions to hammer home how you will execute every day in a unique manner from your competitors.
Often this statement follows an elevator pitch to provide the proof for what you say you do.
Finally, we utilize our messaging to build visuals that will support and represent our brand strategy.
Your brand voice defines what you look, sound and feel like as a company. brand voice is mostly about trying to build consistency across the organization so that the market starts to become familiar with your brand.
Voice includes a Persona, Tone, Language and Purpose that are defined through words that everyone on the team knows.
The last part of our brand Strategy Framework is the identity which includes colors, fonts, logos and graphics.
Most people think that a brand is just this - the logo of a company but hopefully you have now learned it is so much more.
The key aspect here is that your identity reflect your unique position in the marketplace.