Brand Strategy Playbook

Brand Strategy Playbook How-To Guide

How to Realize Your Brand’s Value

A brand is a high-value business asset. Numerous reports from sources such as The Economist and McKinsey & Company show that companies with more valued brands do better in sales, market share and stock performance.

However, most companies fail to fully realize their brand’s value.

The good news is that getting into the driver’s seat is well within reach of any size company in any market, and it requires one thing: a well-conceived brand strategy.

Learn more about the high-value impact of leading with brand strategy

What Is Brand Strategy?

To understand brand strategy, you first need to understand what a brand and branding is.

  • A brand is a perception that exists in the minds of its audiences.
  • Branding is the process of putting a company in control of shaping its desired perception.

Brand strategy is the plan for your brand that ensures your company reaches the point of alignment between your desired and actual brand perception, between customer expectations and the actual experience.

Simply put, your company’s brand strategy puts you in control of your brand and serves as the guiding force behind:

  • Defining your brand
  • Developing your brand
  • Activating your brand
  • Managing your brand

In other words, the brand strategy process and subsequent action plan provide all the information, directives and mandates needed for brand development, activation and management.

When well executed, a smart and effective brand strategy translates into higher visibility, credibility and trust; increased customer and employee loyalty; and, ultimately, higher brand value.

Brand Strategy Playbook: Your How-To Guide

Now that you know what a brand strategy is, how do you go about developing the plan for taking control of your company’s brand?

Follow the guidelines below to develop an effective brand strategy and to successfully deploy it at your company.

1. Gather Information for Clarity

Brand strategy is built on insight about your company’s unique strengths; its place among competitors; emerging markets and industry trends; and a deep understanding of its customers – who they are, how they perceive your company and what they think, feel, need and want.

This information is the backbone of your brand strategy because it provides a clear picture of the environment in which your company competes and enables you to tell a more compelling story of how your company is different.

Gathering information in the following areas will help you gain the clarity and insight you need:

  • External environment, challenges and opportunities
  • Unique company strengths, weaknesses and differentiators
  • Business and marketing goals and priorities
  • Competitive landscape
  • Target audiences

Only with this high level of clarity can you begin to develop your brand strategy, starting with defining your brand.

2. Use the Insight to Define Your Brand

Informed by insights gained from the information you’ve gathered, articulate your company’s brand by developing its brand platform.

A brand platform is a set of defining elements that, together, fully articulate your brand. Your company’s brand platform spells out its:

  • Brand Purpose: The larger impact your company wants to have in the world; the reason it exists beyond delivering its products or services.
  • Brand Position: Your company’s strategic position within its competitive set.
  • Brand Promise: What your company promises to deliver. The execution of the brand’s strategic position, the brand promise defines the space a company wants to own in its customers’ minds.
  • Brand Essence: The heart and soul of your company; its internal rallying cry.
  • Value Proposition: The tangible outcomes of your company’s offerings.
  • Brand Values: The values that your company must honor in order to cement its position, deliver on its promise, stay true to its essence, guarantee its value proposition and express its personality.
  • Brand Personality: A set of unique qualities that defines your brand’s point of view, its tone of voice and the design and copy style for your company’s marketing communications.

3. Make Your Brand Real

Next, you must translate the brand platform into marketing materials and touchpoints through which your audiences will experience the brand.

  • Brand identity: visual and verbal identity including name, logo, tagline, visual systems and more
  • Brand touchpoints: print and digital communications, sales and marketing programs, physical and virtual environments and more
  • Brand experiences: customer and employee experience

At this point your company’s brand strategy moves from conceptual to tangible – to something that engages your various audiences with your brand.

In short, your brand starts to take shape and establish presence in the world. The question is what will it do once it’s out there?

4. Activate and Manage Your Brand

Brand strategy not only guides how you choose to define your brand.

It not only informs tactical tools that enable your audiences to experience your brand.

It also masterminds what you do next:

In total, brand strategy guides all the how’s, what’s, where’s and when’s of your marketing communications – internal and external.

Learn more about The High-Value Impact of Leading with Brand Strategy

Now, let’s be clear. Brand strategy is not a marketing plan. But a marketing plan must be led by your brand strategy. In fact, your marketing plan is really the tactical execution of your company’s brand strategy.

By prioritizing brand strategy, you’ll be making intentional decisions about your brand that such a high-value business asset deserves.

After all, a brand is your company’s reputation, and it is reputation on which today’s companies live or die – which makes investing in a thoughtful, well-conceived and effective brand strategy all the more worth the effort.

At Substance151, we help companies develop and execute strong brand strategies, resulting in stand-out brands that build equity and strengthen reputation. Contact us and let’s discuss how we can help you build your brand and your brand strategy playbook to become a competition-crushing force.

Your Brand Toolbox

Building a strong brand is anything but easy. To assist you with the entire process – from conducting your brand audit through rebranding, we’ve developed this Brand Toolbox.