Brand Strategy: What it is and why it's crucial
WHY GET BRANDED?
A business’s brand is one of the most important elements of its overall success. It can be the difference between becoming an icon and becoming “just another company.” Your brand is the unique look, feel, and experience that separates your business from the herd and tells its unique story/narrative/personality.
While they are definitely symbiotic, we are always surprised how often our clients confuse their “business” with their “brand”. A business is an organization that markets a product or a service. A brand is the face of that business, conveying its image and personality so that consumers recognize it and make associations with it right away.
When many people think about their brand, they think of their business name and logo. Sure, a catchy name and striking design are essential parts of a good brand, but quality brands have more substance.
CREATING YOUR BRAND STRATEGY
A professional brand combines brand assets, identity, and experience to showcase the purpose of the business and craft a message that will resonate with customers.
The visual elements of a brand, including logo, color palette, fonts, photography, and layout.
How customers perceive a business through a business's name, tagline, website, brochures, business cards, social media, advertisements, and keywords.
The customer’s behavioral response to brand assets, brand identity, products, services, facilities, and customer service.
Together, brand assets, identity and experience create brand strategy, which promotes brand recognition and attracts ideal customers.
Brand Assets + Brand Identity + Brand Experience = Brand Strategy
DO YOU HAVE TO BE CREATIVE TO BRAND YOURSELF?
No. You just need to have clarity!
First, identify who your ideal customer is. Get to know their likes, needs, desires, etc., so you can best attract them through your branding. What is their demographic? Consider things such as gender, marital status, whether or not they have children, their location, their occupation, their income, and their hobbies.
You can even give your ideal customer a name so that when you are making business decisions you can think, “Would Jane still come to yoga if we took away childcare?” Or, “Steve works late most days so he can’t go to a class unless it is after 6, maybe we should offer evening classes.”
Use this customer persona to answer any questions that arise while you develop your brand strategy.
DON’T TOY WITH YOUR LOGOS!
“A friend of a friend’s brother knows how to use Photoshop and did some graphic design in high school…”
We can’t tell you how often we hear some version of this when clients come to us for a brand or rebrand. It drives us crazy. Don’t fall into this trap! Just because your friend’s, friend’s brother is a kick ass painter or photographer doesn’t mean he has any business creating a logo that will be with you for many years to come. Seek out a professional.
But before approaching anyone about a logo design, start by finding three to five logos you love and that stand out to you as iconic. A strong, iconic logo should stick in your mind long enough that you could sketch it on a piece of paper even if you haven’t looked at it in a few days. For example, if we were to say, “Think about Target, Nike, Apple, or Facebook”, you will immediately picture their logo and brand colors.
Looking over the logos you like, think about a few icons or elements you might want incorporated into your logo. You don’t have to be an artist, just do some rough sketches.
Next, start thinking about the colors you want to use in your brand. Do you want to come off as strong, bold, and engaging? Consider bright colors and modern fonts. Prefer a softer, personal, and casual tone? Consider muted tones and script fonts. Look at others’ photography, websites and social media feeds to get an idea of what styles you like.
Once you feel ready to start building your brand, use your research to communicate your branding vision to your designer. Have you gone through all these steps and still feel like you don’t know what you want? That’s okay, it is our job as designers to listen to your ideas, observe industry trends, and bring your brand to life.
STAY STUCK IN THEIR MIND!
Consistency! Consistency is the key to brand strategy. Imagine you are looking for a new gym. You find one online that looks like what you are looking for. The website shows a picture of the gym that has bright white walls and includes a middle-aged couple on the treadmills. So, you decide to try this gym out and when you walk in the lights are dim, the walls are painted black and bright red, and there is loud music on. The main demographic at this gym is male college students and all you can find are weight machines and not the cardio machines you were looking for. That would be confusing, right? You need to be consistent with all your brand visuals and messaging for you to build trust with your clients. Like any successful relationship, building and maintaining trust with your clients is paramount and it is accomplished through consistency.
ECHO YOUR BRAND THROUGHOUT YOUR BUSINESS
Keep it simple. With all the great apps out there right now, it’s easy for anyone to create quick, beautiful collateral material, such as flyers and social media posts. So long as you have the right ingredients, like your brand strategy and good photography, you’ll be off to the races in no time.
Invest in good photography that accurately reflects your brand in a flattering, professional way. Use this photography consistently throughout your marketing materials. Once you have good photography, use Canva. Canva is great for making social media posts, simple flyers, and graphics. If they are bigger projects, save yourself the headache and invest in a graphic designer on an hourly basis.
Welcome to Amari Creative! We are a boutique branding and design studio specializing in inventing and building everlasting brands through stunning design, engaging storytelling, and strategic marketing.
Ali is the one-woman show behind Amari. She is a creative entrepreneur, a mountain dweller, beach vacationer, dog lover, and green chile enthusiast.
Ali loves nothing more than bringing her client's visual narratives to life.
Want to bring your brand to life? Ready to grow your business? Love freebies? Yeah, we thought so! From a brand growth workbook to a design style quiz, our free resources will encourage you to dig deep into the intention behind your brand’s visuals, voice and vision!