Discover the questions you need to start building your brand strategy today.

We are often asked, “Do I need a brand strategy?” The answer is always yes, because having a brand strategy is key to positioning your company in the marketplace. No matter how long you have been in business, it is always good to assess whether your brand strategy and identity accurately reflects the work you do and how you want to be perceived.

Think of it like this, do you want to be generic store Cola, or do you want to be Coca-Cola? Neither answer is wrong, but your answer informs part of your story and how you share that story. That same answer also determines pricing, packaging, and the product or service you provide, while simultaneously establishing your audience, demographics, and what marketing tactics make the most sense for you to pursue. For purposes of this article, your business is your brand, regardless of whether that business is service-based or product-based, or one employee versus 50 employees. While the term brand and branding are used frequently, they are also commonly misinterpreted as only a company’s name, logo or product (though these are visual representations of a brand).

Ultimately, your brand is defined by the culmination of experiences and touchpoints individuals have with your organization (including employees, consumers, clients, vendors, greater public, etc.). Are you intentionally creating a consistent and cohesive experience across those interactions? When you are busy fighting fires or constantly being reactive, there is a natural tendency to dive right into tactics rather than strategy. Yes, strategy takes more time and deep thinking, but the long-term payoff is greater. If you only focus on tactics without any concrete goal in mind, how will you ever get there? Further, you will waste money on these short-term initiatives because there is no defined strategy. That approach hinders your business growth and success.

A practical example of this is deciding you want to leverage direct mail to promote your company. That could be an excellent marketing tactic, but only if it meets your goals and objectives. Let’s say the direct mailer garners lots of new inquiries, but if those inquiries don’t convert into viable business leads and sales, it’s a waste of money.

A company’s branding is what can command higher rates and shape public perception. Think about Tiffany & Co. as an example. Assume you are shopping for a diamond engagement ring and all the specs are identical (cut, color, clarity, and materials). For illustrative purposes, let’s say that ring costs $12,000 at a local jeweler, but can fetch upward of $35,000 at Tiffany. Why? Because of the cachet, appeal, and Tiffany-blue box their brand creates (and in case you were wondering, yes, that box is trademarked). A Tiffany ring is not necessarily inherently better (remember, same materials, same specs), but it has the appearance of being better and perhaps more exclusive, due to the branding, therefore creating the ability to charge more for essentially the same product.

It’s the same analogy with Coca-Cola and store brand Cola. While these are product examples, this principle applies to businesses that offer services too. Your brand strategy and story will be what differentiates you in a crowded sea of competition.

So, does that mean you can charge triple what your competitors charge? Not necessarily. First, you need to define your brand strategy, which means being clear on your business goals. Here are some questions you can explore to start this process.

+ What is my company’s purpose? What is our why?
+ What do we want to be known for?
+ What are our values?
+ How do we want others to perceive us (customers, competitors, public, etc.)?
+ How are we currently perceived?
+ What makes us different than our competition?
+ Who is our key target audience(s)? 

Use these questions to do some soul-searching. In many cases, this process either affirms the path you are on, or shows you opportunities for realignment. This is your first step in creating a consistent and cohesive brand experience for your business.

If you want to develop a brand strategy, or better understand how your business is perceived, reach out to Spark + Buzz Communications for a free consultation. This article first appeared as a guest blog for the Clarksburg Chamber of Commerce.

Spark + Buzz Communications is a woman-owned strategic communications consultancy helping brands tell their story to inspire audiences and galvanize growth, leveraging a variety of creative and integrated branding, marketing, and public relations solutions.