“We value integrity, professionalism, hard work, and honesty…” said every corporate brand ever as they worked to create a brand strategy. The issue with most corporate brands is that they are out of touch with their audience. In fact, most of their choices are made based on data, graphs, and pie charts. Take this information, and you’ll hear comments such as, “Our customers value transparency and ethical people.” No kidding!? It literally sounds like a robot trying to machine learn itself into how to interact with people in business.
I had this conversation with one of my clients today – the moment you say you are something, you immediately are not that thing. (Regina George’s mom, anyone?) Instead of being told you are honest, I’d rather you just show me you are honest. Show, don’t tell.
Brand development has been made to be way more complicated than it ever should have been. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not easy curating your brand, but it isn’t complicated.
Understanding Brand Strategy
A brand strategy is a marketing strategy that has the sole purpose of putting into words and visual form how your brand will be presented to the market. How it’s perceived is another thing – but perception is everything.
Effective branding strategies know that they are only as effective as they are perceived. If you miss the mark, then you need to pivot. Let’s examine the Fairlife brand strategy and how their example shows that branding is as fragile as a house of cards.
Fairlife Branding Strategy
Most people know who Fairlife is – if not, you probably live under a rock, and I envy you. Fairlife is mostly known for their delicious high-protein shakes with the incredibly cute cow staring you in the face.
With thick lines, whimsical typefaces, and pictures of happy-healthy children drinking their milk, it’s clear they knew in order to succeed in a market of commodities, the brand positioning had to reflect that of being the most wholesome milk you could buy.
In fact, their mission statement is literally, “By harnessing the power of curiosity and innovation, we can strive for more than delicious dairy—we can work to make the world a better place.”
Their product and brand strategy is heavy on being healthy and smart. Every single one of the marketing campaigns were made to emphasize and curate the perception that they embodied their values.
However, a video surfaced in 2020 about the treatment of their dairy cows. Overnight, they went from a brand that was trusted for wanting to make the world a better place to a brand that has been struggling to maintain a trusted reputation since.
What Fairlife forgot – or perhaps never knew – is that the business does not own the brand. It is the consumer and the market that owns the brand. The business can only curate the message of their brand, and it is in their best interest that they do everything to maintain the integrity of their brand.
One slip up, and your curated brand can go tumbling down like a house of cards.
Brand Strategy Vs. Marketing Strategy
Brand strategy is technically a part of a marketing strategy – but they do have their differences.
As we’ve rattled on about now, your brand strategy is how you present yourself or your business. Much of this is reliant on your brand identity – which incorporates your tone of voice, products or services you offer, typefaces and other visual elements, and so on. The branding process relies heavily on brand design and strategy.
Marketing strategy is simply the way you go about putting your brand out into the world. Strategic brand development will help focus on what your marketing strategy may look like and what branding tactics will be utilized to put your brand out to market. Marketing strategy may include tactics such as:
- Logo design
- Logo strategy
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Brand recognition tactics
- Email marketing
- Web Design & development
Elements of Brand Strategy
Since we’re focused on brand strategy today, we’re going to dive into the parts that actually go into brand strategy design and the brand development process.
Purpose and Mission
Every brand has a purpose. Dollar Shave Club wants you to look, feel, and smell your best. Alex Medvick believes wedding photography ripples into tomorrow. Your purpose is the reason why you are doing what you are doing. For B.Human, our purpose is to make marketing human because so many other agencies are focused on marketing to algorithms rather than people.
Your vision is your worldview if people were to use your product or service. Hope Ignites Life, a nonprofit organization, believes that their customers want artisan products with a story and a purpose – to help impoverished women around the world. With every product they sell, they bring another woman out of the dark depths of women trafficking.
In your vision, it’s important to list out your target audience. These are the people you want to serve. On a macro level, a wedding photographer wants to serve couples who are getting married. At a micro level, an eloping photographer in Colorado wants to serve an adventurous couple who wants to hike for two days to get married on a mountain top with their 3 dogs present in a non-traditional dress.
A targeted audience can massively affect your brand strategy and development.
The values you define in your brand strategy cannot be bent – the second you bend what you value, you break your brand. Look back to the Fairlife example. The perceived brand was once that of conscious health choices, but the videos of animal abuse took away that perception of consciousness from them.
A company who totes honesty and transparency should do everything in their power to be transparent in all they do. For example: A nonprofit organization could have a yearly or quarterly report to list where every dollar went, or a bank could be transparent about a data breach.
Truthfully, I hate using the term brand positioning. It’s a little corporate for my taste. This is essentially defining the question, “why me?”
Do you want to be seen as the authority? Perhaps you have the greatest customer experience – not because you have the systems, but because you have the best connections. Desert Rose Carpet Cleaning in Little Rock, Arkansas is the most certified carpet cleaning service in Arkansas – meaning they’re the most certified.
Personality / Archetype
Truthfully, this is my favorite part of a brand development strategy. Defining your archetype. Your Archetype is what will carry your voice and tone and is the feeling of your brand. There are 12 key archetypes:
- The Rebel
- The Magician
- The Hero
- The Lover
- The Jester
- The Everyman
- The Caregiver
- The Ruler
- The Creator
- The Innocent
- The Sage
- The Explorer
Voice and Tone
I’m not sure about you, but I love Jimmy Johns. They’re not fast food, but they’re freaky fast. Nothing about their brand is serious – in fact, if I had to define their archetype, it’s likely the everyman. Using words such as “freaky” and “faster” in their brand…it’s clear they value speed. They communicate this with short, to the point verbiage and even their commercials are fast.
Of course, communication is 50% the words you say and 50% how you say it. It’s like in Little Sheldon when his brother and sister are trying to figure out whether or not this is a sentence…
“Most people in America.”
If you just say, “Most people in America,” it is not a sentence. But when you add the question, “Who all drives trucks?” it suddenly becomes an acceptable answer if you are in the heart of Texas.
Your brand identity is all aspects of the brand you are curating wrapped up into elements that can be sensed. This includes your logo design, typefaces, fonts, textures, colors, line thickness, website, smell, sounds, feelings…
In order to maintain brand consistency, it’s important that you develop branding guidelines that will help you and others in your business maintain brand integrity. Again, the brand you are curating is fragile – protect it at all costs.
Developing Your Brand Strategy
Whether you are a large or small business, any strong brand will develop a marketing strategy that parallels the brand strategy they are curating. Sometimes, however, we can be so in the weeds of our brand that we struggle to objectively see it as it is. Brand marketing 101 says that people will buy from who they know, like, and trust. If we’re not careful, we can get too deep into the weeds of what we want to develop that we forget to include our audiences in the growth process.
We do not own our brands – everyone else does. So it’s important to curate brands that match the way we want to be perceived. Look – I’m writing this blog to help you along, but it’s important to point out I’m not just writing this for kicks and giggles.
A part of the B.Human marketing strategy is to write informational blogs about what people are looking for and answer those questions. At the same time, we’re not gatekeepers. We’d love to be a part of your brand strategy development, but not everyone is ready for that. So, here’s option two.
Download our “Creating a Brand Strategy” template. No email or phone required. We trust if you want to work with us, you’ll come back. And if not, that’s fine. You owe us nothing.
Creating a Brand Strategy
Get the full insight of developing a brand + see our own brand guide we’ve developed for ourselves. You can follow our template to develop your own brand strategy.