Think of a business’s most valuable assets. Its premises? Sure. Stock? Of course. Employees? Definitely. But there’s another one, equally valuable, but nevertheless intangible — its brand. A strong brand isn’t something that’s created overnight. Nor is it something which happens by magic. It has to be built, but it’s something which, in the long run, does a lot of heavy lifting in terms of client loyalty, business growth and, ultimately, the bottom line. So, just how do you go about doing that? Here we’re taking a look at the key elements of brand strategy and some successful examples of when it’s been done right.
What is a brand?
Your brand is the promise that your company delivers to clients about what they’ll get and how they’ll feel when they use your product or service. More simply, it’s everything a client thinks of when they hear your business’s name.
Why is brand strategy important?
Having a clear brand strategy allows you to recognise what your brand is, see why it resonates with clients, and keep your messaging and marketing relevant. It makes sure that your brand is working for your business and, if not, it can put it back on course. A successful brand strategy will create and build loyalty and give you an advantage over competitors.
What are the elements of a successful brand strategy?
Understanding your audience
This is an important first step in any successful brand strategy process. Knowing exactly who your clients are allows you to ensure your values align with theirs and craft relevant messaging that will create an emotional connection with them, even when you’re selling B2B. This step is going to be informed by market and customer research. Because both the market and your clients’ expectations are constantly evolving, the elements of your brand strategy will need both flexibility and futureproofing built-in.
Brand promise is everything the client can expect from dealing with your business or product. It can be further distilled to “what you do and for whom”. Take Airbnb for example — its brand promise involves enabling travellers to experience a sense of “community” and “belonging” when they’re away. Promise is nothing, however, without the ability to deliver on it every single time. The surest way to destroy client loyalty is by failing to deliver on brand promise, whether that’s through an unreliable product or underwhelming service.
Successfully communicating a strong set of values can be hugely beneficial to how people perceive your brand. But what are values in this sense? They’re the principles that guide all of the brand’s actions, essentially the mission that businesses set-out to achieve, whether that’s to be class-leading experts or a trusted, safe pair of hands. But, as ever, the old maxim “show, don’t tell” applies. One really effective way of illustrating your brand’s values is through storytelling — just look at Microsoft’s Story Labs or Success Stories from Salesforce. They’re all about things like improving the world through technology or empowering small businesses. The sense that clients are participating in something that’s altering society for the better is a strong creator of loyalty.
Apple, as Simon Sinek pointed-out, has long been a master of allowing its brand values to guide its marketing strategy with the result that its customers “believe in” the brand. Steve Jobs’ original mission to make “tools for the mind that advance humankind” has, over time been superseded by the company’s 2019 mission statement which involves designing “the best personal computers in the world”, leading “the digital music revolution” and “defining the future of mobile media”. While it might not seem as outwardly philanthropic as the company’s original goal, it’s still using its “why?” to position itself (and its customers) at the forefront of the technological vanguard.
The lesson in that is that allowing a strong ethos (world-changing or not) to direct a firm’s decision-making, and communicating those values to stakeholders, can really differentiate it from its competitors in clients’ eyes.
Again, this is something that will depend on who your target clients are. If your business is well-established company with an older client-base and a reputation for dependability, the “voice” you use in your messaging probably won’t be light and zany. It’ll be serious and reassuring. Whatever your company’s personality though, your brand voice and identity need to be totally consistent.
But, just as 55% of face-to-face communication is made up of body language, the words only make up part of your brand’s voice. The voice you use to communicate your promise and values needs to reflected in all of the business’s branding from logos to typography to colour palettes. As we’ve said in other posts this can be one of the most far-reaching aspects of any rebrand or brand refresh as it stretches down as far as headed notepaper, branded pens and email signatures. Even such apparently small things affect clients’ feelings towards your business, and because, in many respects, technology has superseded salespeople, the importance of being able to effectively communicate your brand’s story via different touchpoints like the business’s website and B2B advertising is critical.
As such, you need to be sure you get it right, and one way to do that is to let a branding expert take care of it.
By this point, a business should be able to commit to a statement along the following lines:
“For [target clients], [company name] is the [market definition] that delivers [brand promise] because only [company name] is [reason to believe]”.
Take Amazon’s positioning statement from back in 2001:
“For World Wide Web users who enjoy books, Amazon.com is a retail bookseller that provides instant access to over one million books. Unlike traditional book retailers, Amazon.com provides a combination of extraordinary convenience, low prices, and comprehensive selection.”
Positioning is the action taken at the culmination of everything else in the brand strategy. You know who your clients are and what they think of your business. The business knows who it is, what it does, what it stands for and how to communicate that. It also knows what its competitors are saying and doing. The next step involves leveraging both marketing and client experience so that its brand either establishes itself in the marketplace (and clients’ consciousness), continues holding its strong position or else improves on it.
The KPIs you’ll be looking at to determine whether your covering all the elements of brand strategy has been truly successful or not will ultimately be sales growth and brand recognition among clients.
Examples of successful brand strategies
Dusted repositioned and rebranded the Innovation Group to reflect a shift in its business strategy. The insuretech company transitioned from a services-led business into a technology platform, Gateway, aimed at reinventing the insurance claims industry.
Our brand strategy and design language were all about giving visual form to the idea of “progressive”, one of the company’s core values and a key part of its renewed brand promise. The strapline “Move forwards” was another reinforcing element highlighting how Gateway strove to help both companies and consumers move forward with their business and lives through efficiency and simplicity.
We successfully delivered the company’s rebrand as well as website redevelopment, not only ensuring an unparalleled user experience but also to place Gateway at the cutting edge within the market. The renewed visuals also helped to position the company as a leader through innovation, a clear application of all the key elements of a brand strategy.
Our rebrand of Gamma, a leading provider of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), repositioned them as the shining light in European UCaaS services. Though successful in the UK and Dutch markets, Gamma needed to adopt a digital-first approach to stay relevant and ahead of its competition. That’s where we stepped-in, applying the key elements of brand strategy to make sure that the transition was a success.
What we realised early-on in creating Gamma’s brand strategy was that the people delivering the services were the brand’s real assets. Of course the services were great, but it was how Gamma’s staff worked with clients that really made the company stand-out. Also, to truly make a digital transformation work, you need to embrace a digital-first approach across all the brand’s touchpoints.
As such, our strategy and design for communicating everything Gamma stood for emphasised a combination of digital-first with human-centred benefit-driven messaging pitched at clients in the employer brand and investor community.
So, was it successful? Well, following a six-month qualitative brand valuation and effectiveness review with Dynata, we noted an impressive 51% increase in product landing page visits. That just goes to show how effective understanding all of the elements of brand strategy, can really be.
Talk to Dusted about your branding strategy
Dusted are experts when it comes to branding and producing strategies that deliver results. We have an acute understanding of the kind of design that positions your business where it needs to be in clients’ minds.
Get in touch if you want help defining the brand strategy for your business.