I'm a branding expert and graphic designer based in Brooklyn, New York. Need help with branding?—Just Get in touch
Welcome to my new crash course on brand strategy—In just 10 minutes, you'll learn the basics of creating a strong brand strategy.
In this article, I share my 9-step strategy framework that I use with my clients.
Whether you're a small business owner or a marketing professional, this crash course will give you the tools you need to develop a successful brand strategy.
PS. You can also consume this content in video form on my YouTube channel.
Having a strategy is a must these days, especially if you want to stand out and succeed in today's competitive market.
What is a brand strategy? (and what is not?)
Brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific business goals—David Aaker.
It describes how to create and maintain a desired brand image in order to achieve specific business goals.
It's important to note that your strategy is not the logo or tagline, that's an afterthought.
Your strategy could be written on just one page—with fundamentals covered: like brand purpose, vision, values, positioning, personality, and more.
Whether you're a small business owner, marketer, or startup founder, this guide will give you a quick overview of how to develop a brand strategy.
PS. Keep in mind that this is just a quick overview of the process, but if you want to learn more—check out my free brand strategy guide (you’ll find there more info).
Let's get started!
Whether you're looking to host an in-person workshop or a virtual one, my framework makes it easy to get started.
One of the great things about my framework is that it's highly versatile.
You can run your workshop in a traditional, in-person setting, or you can do it online via a platform like Zoom.
The exercises in my framework can be easily drawn on a whiteboard, filled out on a computer using presentation software, or even printed out and completed by hand.
My worksheets are available in a variety of file formats to suit your needs.
If you're looking for something that can be edited and customized, you can choose from Adobe files like AI, PSD, and INDD.
And if you want to use presentation software, you can choose from PPT, Keynote, Google Slides, or even Canva.
Ready to get started?—Check out my worksheets and start planning your workshop today!
The brand strategy framework is divided into three sections: Brand Core, Brand Positioning, and Brand Persona.
In each section, there are three exercises.
For example, under Brand Core, we have Brand Purpose, Vision, and Values.
I will give you an overview of each exercise and then provide you with examples of what a great brand purpose, vision, value, and more can look like.
From there, craft powerful statements that encapsulate the core purpose and vision of your brand—along with any important values and other key elements.
The first exercise in the framework is Brand Purpose.
I always advocate the importance of a strong brand purpose when developing a brand strategy.
Check the following pieces of advice from Simon Sinek, which may motivate you to innovate, and modify your business operations to achieve superior outcomes.
It helps align the company's goals with the needs and purpose of its customers and employees, and it can inspire loyalty and advocacy.
What’s the greater good behind your work?
It is best to understand the purpose of the business and communicate it to motivate personnel and create a bond with the customer base.
A brand purpose is also an important differentiator in today's market as consumers are increasingly looking to support brands that align with them.
A great example here would be Tesla’s brand purpose statement:
"To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy.”
I always encourage my clients to identify their brand purpose and to make sure it is meaningful, relevant, and authentic to their target audience.
*Check out my other article for more examples of purpose statements.
Having a brand purpose is not only good for the business but also good for society and the planet.
Having a strong brand purpose can help your brand to establish a deeper connection with your audience.
You can think about it as the reason you exist—why do you do what you do beyond making money?
A strong brand purpose will give your customers something to rally behind and share.
The second exercise is Brand Vision—this is all about coming up with a statement that describes what you want to be in the future.
“A vision is a vivid idealized description of a desired outcome that inspires and helps you create a mental picture of your target.”—John C. Maxwell.
Have a clear idea of where you want to go, and how you plan to get there.
Here we want to influence long-term business decisions to ensure that your brand is navigated thoroughly.
Where is your brand heading?
If you're trying to figure out why you're doing something, then your vision is where you want to go.
Creating a rough map of where your brand is heading is an opportunity to envision ambitious goals.
A great example here would be the Mcdonald’s brand vision:
The world’s best quick-service restaurant .
This vision serves as the force for developing and creating products and services, and more.
*Check out my other article for more examples of vision statements.
As a brand strategist, I am convinced that a well-defined brand vision is essential for any successful business.
I always emphasize the importance of having a clear set of Brand Values.
These values provide a roadmap for all business decisions, and they act as a signal to customers and employees.
“Core values are not just a list of nice-sounding words on a page or plaque on the wall.”—Denise Lee Yohn.
Define your brand values and create a culture and driving force for what to stand for in the world.
What are your guiding principles?
Provide guiding principles and philosophies to help you with direction for the brand.
When you talk to people in a way that they understand, it can help create strong relationships and make them more likely to stick with you.
Here, you need to create some values or philosophies that will guide your business.
YouTube's brand values serve as a great, original example:
Freedom of expression, freedom of information, freedom of opportunity, freedom to belong.
I always encourage my clients to take the time to truly define their values and make sure they align with their principles.
It is essential to not only develop, but also consistently embody, our brand values in all of our actions.
A strong set of brand values can be the difference between a successful brand and a mediocre one.
The next exercise is Target Audience, which is the first exercise in the second section.
It's best to know who you are trying to reach, what their needs, and desires are, and what motivates them to take action.
“The more specific you get with your target audience, the more you’ll be able to connect with them.”—Donald Miller
And we have to understand your audience well so that we can address their problems and needs with relevant solutions.
So, what’s your primary customer?
Without a clear understanding of your target audience, it's impossible to create a message that will resonate with them.
Here, you need to know your target audience, demographics, and psychographics, in order to be able to resonate with them.
The more specific you get with your audience, the better you'll be able to connect with them.
Once you have a deep understanding of your target audience, it's much easier to create a strategy that speaks directly to them.
By focusing on a specific target audience, you can create a clear message that will resonate with them and increase conversions.
Market analysis the 5th on the list is the process of identifying opportunities and positioning your brand among competitors.
“Positioning is not what you do, positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.”—Al Ries
Here we’re going to look for gaps in the market to find your differentiator—how you can stand out and stand for something.
Who are your direct competitors?
Knowing your competition and understanding the current market trends and conditions is crucial to creating a brand that stands out.
One way to do this is by plotting competitors on a grid and identifying the unique benefit that your brand offers to customers.
It's important to remember that positioning isn't just about the product itself.
It's also about how it appears in the customer's mind.
I advise my clients to conduct research on their competitors.
Assess their strengths and weaknesses, and recognize any unmet needs in the market that their brand can address.
It is essential to comprehend the market in order to discern what makes your brand distinct from its rivals and how to place it in the market.
The next exercise is about Awareness Goals.
“Awareness is the first step in the customer’s journey to purchase.”—Philip Kotler
It's all about figuring out how to get people to know about your brand and pay attention to it.
These goals should be specific, measurable, and achievable, and they should align with the overall awareness of the brand.
How customers will find about you?
Here, we’re going to brainstorm and prioritize how customers can learn about your brand.
So basically we’re going to list all the marketing initiatives you can take.
The goal of this exercise is to figure out how we can get people to find and recognize you.
This is NOT an advertising plan, but we need to do this activity to gain understanding and figure out what needs to be done.
I always encourage my clients to set both short-term and long-term awareness goals and to track progress against them regularly.
This can help to identify what's working and what's not and make adjustments as needed.
Another important aspect of building a strong brand is developing a strong brand personality.
“Brand archetypes are universal patterns of human behavior that are deeply ingrained in our psyche.”—Carol Pearson
A brand personality is like a business's own special fingerprint.
We’re going to develop your brand persona, which includes your brand personality, tone of voice, and tagline.
It helps the business stand out from everyone else and makes people feel something when they see it.
Here, we’re going to focus on making a human connection with your audience.
The best way to do this is by using archetypes, which are universal patterns of human behavior that are deeply integrated into our psyche.
A great example of this is Harley Davidson, which uses the Outlaw archetype to convey freedom, breaking the rules, and being a rebel in their messaging.
Companies should be intentional in creating a unique brand identity by considering their values, tone of voice, and behavior.
Doing this will help to build trust and loyalty from customers, leading to long-term success.
In short: developing your brand's character makes them unforgettable.
In addition to brand personality, it's also important to develop a compelling tone of voice for your brand.
“Your brand voice is the personality, tone, and language that you use when communicating with your customers.”—Neil Patel
The words we use to communicate make up our 'brand voice,' which contributes greatly to how people receive us and perceive our identity.
Your voice, whether it's verbal or written, is an expression of your personality.
How do you want to sound to others?
Make sure that the way you talk and write, stays the same no matter what channel you're using.
Here, we’re going to define your tone of voice to set guidelines for how you want to sound to your target audience.
Some examples of this include MailChimp's straightforward but dry humor tone, and Starbucks' simple and functional tone.
Without this consistency in speech, customers will pick up on blurred messages or false pretenses—never engaging with us as intended!
Working alongside my clients is my favorite part;
Collaborating together so that their personality shines through accordingly and authentically for each segment they're speaking towards.
Whether it be something formal, humorous, or serious always based on values uniquely tailored for them.
The last exercise discussed is developing a powerful and memorable tagline or slogan.
“A brand slogan is the single most important expression of your brand.”—David Ogilvy
A tagline or slogan is a short phrase that sums up what a brand is all about.
It's more than just catchy words—crafting the perfect tagline involves aligning it with what your brand stands for, as well as testing its memorability among target audiences.
Developing a strong and memorable tagline or slogan is essential to any successful brand strategy.
This should be a brief expression of your brand story and should stick with customers forever.
Some of the best examples of brand slogans or taglines include "Just do it," "Think different," and "I'm loving it."
After all, an unforgettable phrase has the power to turn heads and become part of a company’s identity.
With so much riding on one sentence, don't take creating your next great tagline lightly.
Make sure you do it correctly by following the advice of experts who know how important these few words can be for creating long-term success.
In conclusion, building a strong brand requires getting everyone on the same page.
By defining those 9 elements of brand strategy, you will gain clarity on how to build and maintain a strong brand.
Developing a brand strategy is crucial to the success of your business.
My framework is designed to be easy to use and comes in different file formats.
You can run the exercises either in person or online via Zoom.
The ultimate outcome is your brand strategy written on one page, which then can be used for developing visual and verbal identity.
Looking to hire an expert?—Schedule a free call and let’s discuss your project.
I'm a branding expert and graphic designer based in NY. I specialize in the development of brands: brand strategy, identity & web design. Need help with your project?—Get in touch