Why is a brand strategy so important?
When you’re setting up a business, it can be tempting to run before you walk; you want a visual identity and a website because they’re tangible and mean you can sell. However, a brand strategy makes it clear to your audiences that you exist beyond the desire to sell to them.
By making the intangible a little more tangible, it turns the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of what you do into messages and associations that shape how your customers interact with you and shows them you have purpose and passion beyond the quick buck.
Investing in your brand is day one, before you build a site, before you plan a campaign or try to actively sell. This is because before you do that, you have to understand why a person should want to buy from you and then why they’ll tell their friends, share it online and hopefully come back for more.
When we put it like this it sounds like a lot of money leaving your business before getting to the good bit - the money flowing back in. The trade off here is the trust and reputation you build with a good, solid brand will deliver the benefit of repeat, consistent business if executed correctly. People buy generic brands, but they are loyal to great ones.
“There’s more than long-term payoff that goes into costing a brand strategy - it’s about understanding the value of everything that goes into a brand and how that translates into those benefits.”
… But why is a brand strategy so expensive?
Let’s address the elephant in the room - money. Sure, brand strategies are important for getting your brand off the ground, but why are they, for some startups and SMEs, so eye-wateringly costly?
Well, there’s a lot that goes into one.
The creation of a brand requires more than just a quick decision about a logo. It requires the skills of any different experienced professionals to come together properly.
Your brand execution will require the input of brand specialists, content writers, designers, then later developers for your site, social media experts to ensure your brand is conveyed appropriately online, SEO for search engine visibility, technical specialists and more.
When you factor in the access to decades of expertise it will take to work with you, it starts to build a pretty clear picture of why this process is an investment.
It takes a time investment to develop a brand. You need the right fit with your agency and team, you need workshops and meetings to focus your ideas and thoughts, then you need creative time to develop these, review them and finally, apply them to your site and social feeds.
These are essential parts of the process and anyone who says they have a super quick ‘get it within a week’ brand package either doesn't understand what’s involved or is missing out key elements of the process. Naturally there will be exceptions for those agencies with hundreds of staff, but for most, you need to be ready to spend time and some money on getting this process right.
There’s the work it takes to build, define and finalise a brand, then there’s ensuring that none of that hard work gets lost in translation when you release your brand into the world. How you want to be perceived must be considered at every touch point; think email marketing, social media, paid media, PR, and even, in reviews and public feedback (harder to manage, but a good brand will get a much easier ride).
It’s also important to note that applying the brand you’ve so lovingly created can be a little different on social media than your website for example. We spoke in a recent blog about how your values must be consistent but there are ways to bend the rules you’ve created for your brand to ensure you maximise your engagement on social media.
The brand strategy process: what’s included?
To truly understand the value of investing in your brand, you need to understand that this process involves many different points, significant research and competitor analysis and more. So, let’s break down the process and how we do it here at Extreme, so we can demonstrate its value.
From the enquiry stage, we set up a strategy session which is more than a meeting, it’s an interactive, collaborative workshop throughout which you will:
Understand your business and your brand better (yes, really)
Help us understand your business and your brand
Find out what matters to you and what you want your business to ‘say’ to your audiences and customers
Set a framework for your brand and your marketing activity to support its aims moving forward
Elevate all of the above to ensure you’re consistently memorable and drive engagement
Talk about your business - past, present, future, competitors, values as you see them (whether they’ve previously been formalised or not), what you think your customers love about you, where your brand is and where you hope it will go.
Unique selling point(s) - Where we discuss that your great service is not your USP!
Creating your ‘Why’? - Why do you exist beyond selling? What problems are you solving for your customers? Then we will turn this into a guiding statement.
Ideal customers - who are they and what do they care about?
Brand personality - If your brand was a person how would you describe them?
Brand archetype(s) - These are common traits that we as humans are drawn to and your brand likely fits into one main archetype (Joker/Lover/Hero/explorer etc). Through interactive exercises we will gauge your primary archetype. We’ve written more about brand archetypes in another blog post!
Brand appearance and visual identity - Through interactive examples and prompts, we will explore why how you look and the colours you choose, right through to fonts cna influence the interactions with your brand. Take a look at our blog post on visual identity for a bit more of a lowdown.
These sessions and this process overall cover a lot of ground, the people running them have expertise in each specific area of brand building from content and tone creation, through to design and implementation. You’re paying for that value, the lasting impact of the decisions that a collaborative process (benefitting from that experience) will give you and your brand.
“Put simply, a complete brand strategy has the power to transform how you’re perceived as a brand, how engaged your audiences are and how loyal they remain to you. A solid brand delivers the kind of longevity and shareability that can help you weather the toughest storms.”
More brands than ever have access to your audiences through social media and increasing numbers of digital touchpoints, so having a firm handle on what actually differentiates you and show you solve a consumer’s problem is vital to coming out on top.
It’s not a quick fix, but it’s a lasting one.
Not quite sure where to start? Let us help you. Drop our team of experts a message today, email us at [email protected] or give us a call on 01423 396 959.
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Head of Brand & Content
Amy joined in 2014 to set up our Content department. She now heads up a growing Brand and Content team, utilising over 13 years’ experience to deliver brand awareness through targeted, multi-channel copy. As well as engaging content for websites and blogs, Amy delivers PR strategies and tone of voice exploration, helping clients to communicate the purpose and values of their brand with maximum impact.