The term ‘brand strategy’ has blown up in a big big way over the last few years, so I’m sure it doesn’t sound foreign when I tell you that you should have a brand strategy in place to guide your design and marketing efforts.
But, what does it actually mean? What does having a brand strategy look like, in a very real tangible way? And how do you even start implementing this strategy, after you’ve figured out how to piece it together?
As when anything becomes trendy, you’ll see a few different definitions for brand strategy from many brand strategists and designers, depending on their own unique process and the clients they work with.
That’s why I want to give you a no-nonsense and easy-to-follow guide to the foundational questions your brand strategy should be answering. This can be super helpful when your business is fairly new, you’re testing out ideas for business or you fancy diy-ing your visual brand and marketing strategies.
Diving into these questions will help you cultivate intimacy with yourself, your wants and desires within your business and with who you want to work with. If you want to know more about why I believe intimacy belongs in business you should read this post.
Or, specifically what kind of future do I want and how does my business, my work and my skill set make that future more real? What kind of future do you want for the people you work with?
Knowing your vision allows you to align your actions, offers and marketing to your goals for yourself and your people. It provides direction for your business and allows for aspirations.
Complete this sentence: “The future I want is one where…”
Take into consideration what you want to accomplish with your business, what effect you want to have on your people, your industry and your community, what the overarching goal of your business is, and what direction you want to take it in.
If you’ve read anything on my blog, you probably know that I believe connecting with other humans through values and brand experiences is way more meaningful than niching yourself into a corner using demographics and industry.
Getting to know who you want to work with intimately allows you to engage them in a human-first way, create brand experiences that delight them and get clarity around and the emotional benefits they value/want more of.
Consider who you want to work with, what they value in their lives or business and why they want to hire support for what you specialise in. Then refine your brand message, marketing and content to reflect those.
Want more hand-help guidance in understanding who your ‘dream client’ is? I’ve got a workshop where I walk you through a unique approach to understanding your people in the ways that actually make a difference. Watch it here.
You probably know what your clients get in a tangible way when hiring you (functional benefits), but it’s valuable diving into the often overlooked emotional benefits.
These are the results they experience that sit alongside those tangible or measurable benefits. Results that perhaps fall on the spectrum of what you do (copywriting/photography/coaching) that are influenced by your unique lived experience, your purpose and values.
Knowing what emotional benefits your clients get when working with you means you’re able to leverage how you do things differently in your brand messaging. You get to move from having a lost-in-the-crowd brand story to saying “hey, this is what really sets me apart in my industry”.
Consider the experience of working with you: what do your clients get that perhaps they don’t realise they’re paying for? What forms part of your process that is unique to how you do things? How do you support them in an emotional way?
What and how do your clients or customers feel and experience when working with you/purchasing from you? What changes in their perspective during this time? How do you meet their emotional needs?
This one could be a bit abstract, so I’ll give you a quick example. My client sells all-natural bath and body products.
The functional benefits are
The emotional benefits are
This one is directly linked to those benefits and we want to shift the focus from what you do to how you do it differently. It blends your emotional benefits (or what people experience as a result of working with you) with how you do things differently and can take you from being a business that provides a service to being a business that specialises in a specific result.
By understanding the result you specialise in you can refine your brand messaging and marketing efforts to place more value on that and clearly communicate what makes you different in your industry.
Want more guidance figuring out how you do things differently? Read this post and grab the free worksheet to help you understand what your unique selling point is.
Looking at your list of functional and emotional benefits, and considering who you want to work with, what result do you specialise in?
What combination makes it unique, why is its uniqueness valuable to your clients and how can you place more emphasis on it in your messaging and marketing?
The tone of your brand is how people perceive, feel and experience it, emotionally.
Knowing what tone you want to have as a business, and ensuring it’s linked to your vision and aligned with your people, means you have a guide when you’re writing or creating for and communicating with them. You have clarity around how you want them to feel, so you can ensure anything you publish meets it. You also have guidance when diy-ing your visual branding, knowing it has to embody a specific tone.
Need a colour palette but feel overwhelmed with so. many. options? I’ve got 24 free palettes with a list of keywords that speak to the brand tone they’d be well suited to. Get them here.
How do you want your people to feel when interacting with you? What do you want your brand to emotionally communicate to them?
Aim for 3-6 words that could describe the tone of your brand.
You can think of this as your brand values. But that term always feels so bland and overused to me, because as business owners whose business is likely born out of personal experience or a personal season of change, it’s more than brand values. This is what you believe, in- and outside of business.
Getting intimate with this core part of yourself and your business reinforces what makes you you! It also gives more depth to those emotional benefits, too, since they're a direct window into you, your experiences, your values and your purpose.
Think about what attributes, philosophies and ideas are really important to you? Why do they feel important? What governs your life, decision making and relationships, and how does it govern them? How is that governance experienced?
Those are what you believe and the values that drive what, how and why you do business the way that you do.
Keep them handy in a Google Doc or journal so you can reference them when creating or writing content, developing your offers or building up a marketing strategy.
If you want support in creating a brand strategy, or you want something more comprehensive to help you get more fab clients, I’d love to partner with you! We can either co-create it in a Strategy Intensive or you can join the group brand strategy programme The Collective.
Or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat about your vision, what you do and who you do it for and I’ll help you decide what would be the best fit for where you are and what you want.
If you’re filled with ambition and purpose and looking for branding and business support that helps you achieve your vision, you’re in the right place.
I’m a brand and website designer with an approach centred on intimacy, so you’ll see that word a lot here.
I’m also a red wine enthusiast, amateur vegetable gardener, mom to an adventurous 5 year old, whippet lover with a thing for ginger cats and Cape Town local who loves the ocean.