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7 Steps to build your small business’s brand strategy

Competition in the digital age is fierce, and today’s consumers demand authenticity. They expect businesses to have similar principles and values they’re able to align themselves with.

The only way of ensuring a competitive edge ultimately comes down to distinguishing yourself from every other business in your industry. More than just a unique identifier, your company needs to be instantly recognisable. You need to do more than just make your mark if you want the chance to succeed. That means you need a brand.

What Is A Brand?

The answer to this question is pretty simple. Your brand is everything.

A brand is so much more than just a unique business name, a killer company logo, a clever tagline, or a well-written mission statement. It’s more like the personality of a company. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when consumers think of a company, see its logo, hear its name, or buy its product. And as an external reflection of everything, a brand is the most valuable and intangible reputational asset of any business.

The greatest brands make consumers feel something. They evoke emotion through marketing and advertising channels, or with good old-fashioned customer service, enough for them to form an attachment. Not only does it capture everything a company represents and what they stand for, but a good brand eliminates needing to compete with the rest of the herd on price alone. If everything else is equal, whoever has the strongest branding will typically win the most sales, even when they’re more expensive.

Not only is it vital in generating recognition to attract new interest, but it also helps encourage loyalty from existing customers as well. Therefore, with powerful and recognisable branding, businesses can create a tangible advantage over the competition. But creating a brand that’s truly timeless isn’t easy, otherwise every new start-up would be doing it. You need a brand strategy.

What Is A Brand Strategy?

It’s all but impossible to create a unique and recognisable brand without first establishing an overarching plan of attack. While creative elements like your logo is an integral for any brand, a successful branding strategy also incorporates other intangible components which drives consumer awareness, objectivity, and opinion over time. It’s a well-defined, long-term, and fluid approach to consumer identification and ultimately their preference for your products over your competitors.

Not only does it encompass the company mission, purpose, values, and promises, but brand strategy also explains how these elements are communicated to consumers. Which should be designed for maximum competitive advantage. And it identifies the reason you’re in business, other than to make a profit. Therefore, your brand strategy should tell your story and provide an experience to consumers. Which is crucial because you should always be able to clearly define all aspects of your brand to consumers.

As your brand strategy also helps customers remember your products or services, they’ll often have an increased feeling of confidence that your brand will suit their needs. In fact, the greatest brand strategies are directly connected to the needs and emotions of consumers, as well as having an understanding of the competitive environment. They genuinely understand the wants, needs, likes, dislikes, and desires of their target audience. And because they know what gets their target audience motivated, they’re also much more likely to talk to others about it.

By defining your brand strategy, it allows you to create a solid foundation to build up your brand. Just remember to keep in mind that brand strategies and brands themselves aren’t set-in-stone. Brands often tend to grow and evolve with the business, so they can and should always be fluid. And based on the success of your strategic execution, branding often necessitates revisiting from time to time.

Why Do You Need A Brand Strategy?

Typically the most effective way of building a brand, this strategy provides traction and increases positioning within a highly competitive market. By setting benchmarks to measure progress, a brand strategy allows you to make informed decisions regarding the marketing and development of your business. Without one, there’s way to accurately determine whether your company is expanding effectively or not.

Here are the top 8 reasons why you need a brand strategy:

  • Improve Recognition
  • Create Trust
  • Support Advertising
  • Expand Market Share
  • Build Financial Value
  • Inspire Employees
  • Maximise Relevance
  • Generate Custom

And in today’s over-crowded market, consumers have more options than ever before, so building a trustworthy brand is even more important. With trusted brand recognition and familiarity, any company has a viable differentiator between them and the competition. So if you want to develop a high performing business with a decent ROI that stands out and captures people’s attention, you need to think strategically about learning how to build your brand strategy.

How To Build Your Brand Strategy

The most effective way of developing a successful brand strategy is by starting at the beginning. With that in mind, here’s the complete process for constructing a solid brand strategy from the ground up.

1. Develop Your Foundations

And just like it’s impossible to build on sand without laying down a solid foundation, cracks will start to form in your brand without a strong foundation. Start with your company culture and your brand’s core beliefs. These inform everything about your business and are the most unlikely to change over time.

  • Purpose
  • Values
  • Mission
  • Vision

2. Identify Your Target Market

Beyond simple demographics, your target market should be based on buyer personas as a representation of real individuals. What they like, where they live, how they work, their hopes, dreams, and desires. And the more vividly your target market is defined, the more effective your brand’s connection will be with them.

3. Study Your Competition

Without a well-defined strategy, your brand will lack a unique and identifiable purpose. There’s no point in simply replicating brands which already exist in the marketplace because you’re not offering anything consumers can’t get elsewhere. But by studying your rivals, you can understand their shortcomings, brand differently and get ahead of the competition.

4. Develop Your Identity

Consumers in the digital age expect personal experiences which are tailored for their specific needs and backed up by genuine interaction with brands. You need to make a concerted effort to reinforce your brand identity in order for it to become influential with your audience. As such, all messaging needs to be associated with your brand’s identity and developed consistently across all contact points.

5. Integrate Your Brand

Your brand needs to be visibly integrated in all tangible aspects of your business. This means using the style guide of your brand on everything, from websites to social media pages, business cards to advertising, and all of your product packaging. By creating visual uniformity with your brand, the visual consistency everywhere adds trust and ensures recognition from other companies.

6. Spread Your Message

People are going to talk about your brand. Instead of worrying about positive or negative discussions, take control in order to spread the message of your brand. This means providing exemplary customer service and offering employees a supportive work environment. By getting involved this way, it allows you to build your brand reputation by ensuring consumers and employees advocate for your brand in their conversations.

7. Track Your Strategy

Once your brand strategy has been put in motion and is noticeably influencing customer decisions, keeping track and monitoring brand performance is essential. In order to ensure your strategy is consistently effective, choose metrics which allow measurement of brand awareness and audience value. There are a few ways you can do this, including checking your social media reach, tracking mentions with Google Trends, tracking your brand using methods similar to Google Analytics, and asking consumers to complete online or offline surveys.

If you want to beat your competition, you need a distinct branding strategy so that consumers will always recognise your brand over theirs. And if you build it (the right brand strategy for your company), they will come (your target market will purchase from you).

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