October 13, 2021

September 30, 2021

Brand Strategy, Your Business's Most Valuable Tool.

Strategy

October 13, 2021

Brand Strategy, Your Business's Most Valuable Tool.

Strategy
Why brand strategy? Running a business can sometimes feel like stumbling around in a dark forest. You don’t know which way to go. You feel directionless, even lost. In the dark forest of business, brand strategy is your compass.

Working with professionals who specialize in brand strategy can give you the tools you need to find footing in the marketplace. A solid brand strategy can help you to identify your ideal customers and connect with them to shine a spotlight on your unique value. One of the most powerful things your brand strategy can do for you is act like a filter to aid you in sifting out the good ideas from the bad.

As certified brand strategists, we have worked with dozens of businesses who wanted to differentiate themselves and own their market. In this blog post, we share some of this information with you and explain what brand strategy is and why it can be the single most important tool for your business. We also explain tools and tactics used and deliverables that are created as a result of the strategy.

October 13, 2021

Brand Strategy, Your Business's Most Valuable Tool.

Strategy
Why brand strategy? Running a business can sometimes feel like stumbling around in a dark forest. You don’t know which way to go. You feel directionless, even lost. In the dark forest of business, brand strategy is your compass.

Working with professionals who specialize in brand strategy can give you the tools you need to find footing in the marketplace. A solid brand strategy can help you to identify your ideal customers and connect with them to shine a spotlight on your unique value. One of the most powerful things your brand strategy can do for you is act like a filter to aid you in sifting out the good ideas from the bad.

As certified brand strategists, we have worked with dozens of businesses who wanted to differentiate themselves and own their market. In this blog post, we share some of this information with you and explain what brand strategy is and why it can be the single most important tool for your business. We also explain tools and tactics used and deliverables that are created as a result of the strategy.

What is brand strategy?

Brand strategy is all about proactively planning your business’s reputation. Put another way, it is establishing how you want to look and act, then making a plan to connect with your ideal customers. In turn, and if you do it right, those ideal customers will make a connection to your brand and say “yes” to your offerings over and over again. This, in short, is how a reputation is proactively managed. And that is what branding is about.

Brand strategy exploration is our first step of the branding process. It is the step at which you dig deep into what your company is all about. It is exploring, not only what you want to do, but how you will do it better and differently than your competitors. It is also about understanding who your customer is, what their goals are and what your value is to them.  

At the end of the strategy phase, you will have a clear plan for internal and external operations. You will have a sharpened focus. Ultimately, brand strategy is a long-term plan to outmaneuver your competitors through differentiation that is authentic to your values and in-line with your goals. The result is that more people will pay a better price for your goods or services again and again.

Brand Strategy Process and Tactics

Our branding process is unique to us. It’s not a template or a plan you will find anywhere else. It was crafted by our team and has been edited based on what we have found works best after more than 100 branding projects. 
Having worked with all types of businesses and organizations to create brand strategies that will best serve them, our process has been created and refined to give our clients the tools they need to outmaneuver their competitors and position them for success. Here are some of the components we use when creating a brand strategy.

Strategy workshop

Put your business under the microscope. Dissect it to find opportunities for success and gain clarity in direction. The strategy workshop is a deep dive where brand strategists fully explore a business, its background, goals, company culture, audience, industry and competition. This is the first step in the branding process that will lay the foundation for everything that will follow. The information gathered here will be used to form the brand strategy, which will guide all subsequent work.  

Customer personas

Get to know your ideal customer. It is common for businesses to say that their ideal customer is “everyone,” but very rarely is that true or cost effective. Customer personas are a tool that helps you to recognize and understand the individuals who make up your target demographic in a very real way. Personas put real-life details to hypothetical people to understand their pain points, goals, expectations and opportunities for delight. It helps businesses put themselves in their customers’ shoes so they can better understand and better serve them.

Surveying

Learn what employees and customers really think. Surveys are a valuable tool for businesses to gain insight into how their customers and employees truly feel. If a brand is a person’s gut reaction to a business or organization then surveys serve as a window to see what that gut reaction is. Once you have this information, you can then make informed decisions about what you need to address as a business and opportunities to improve. Surveys are also great for validating or challenging assumptions you have about your brand’s reputation.

Net Promoter Score

How likely is it people will recommend your brand? The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a one-question measure of your customers’ overall perception of your brand. It asks people how likely they are to recommend you. This data is used to measure customer experience. It is an easy way to get a baseline of your overall brand health. We measure your NPS at the beginning of a brand project then periodically after the brand launch to track the results of your efforts.

Brand Commitment Ladder Score

Are people over the moon for your brand or just luke warm? The Brand Commitment Ladder Score (BCLS) is another way to measure overall brand health and customer satisfaction. In this exercise, customers are asked to grade your business on four ladder rungs: satisfaction, delight, engagement and empowerment. A numerical score is tallied, letting you know how high on the ladder customers rank your business. Brands that empower their customers tend to have better, long-term success than those that don’t. 

Opposition research

By understanding the competitors in your market, you can take a more intentional approach to defining your unique value and outmaneuver those you are competing against. This deep dive also includes taking stock of the marketplace and will provide valuable insight into how to leverage your brand strategy to stand out. 

Customer Matrix

Nothing matters if it doesn’t matter to your customers. The Customer Matrix or Brand Commitment Matrix is a tool that allows businesses to make decisions based on its clients’ identities, wants and values. It acts as a contract between a brand and its customers. It makes a direct connection between who your customers are, what they want and how they belong to why your business exists, what it offers and how it behaves. This serves as a visual check to always remember that a brand is about its customers. 

Goal setting

Make an actionable and achievable step-by-step plan to reach your larger goals. Starting with long-range goals and working backwards to tactics, a plan is made, based on overall strategy, to achieve success. Breaking these goals down into one-year, three- to five-year and 10-year goals, allows businesses to chart a course and create direct actions that will help to set them on a path to success.

Brand Strategy Deliverables

After strategy, we distill our findings down to some tangible deliverables. These provide you with a clear strategy and internal language for understanding your company’s brand. 

Purpose

Purpose is why your business exists aside from making money. It can be aspirational. Unlike your goals, and even mission and vision, your purpose never changes. It lives for the life of your business as your guiding star.

Mission 

This lays out your intentions and explains how you plan to achieve your business’s purpose. What actions will you take to take to reach your purpose? Your mission will give you a clear, actionable intent for your team to rally around.

Vision

Vision is the result of the mission. What does success look like once you accomplish your mission? How do you envision tangible success? Write it down. That’s your vision. Your vision gives you a big-picture goal to shoot for.

Brand pillars

Brand pillars are one of the most useful tools in ensuring that all of your team members are staying on-brand. They act like legs of your brand table. Their job is to keep the brand standing. You can use these to test anything you are doing in brand execution—like an ad, a social media post, company policy—anything that represents your brand both internally and externally. The more pillars being represented, the stronger the touchpoint is in representing your brand.

X Factor

When you know your X Factor, you gain a considerable competitive advantage over your competition. Your X Factor is what sets your business apart from all of its competitors. It is how your business adds intangible value to your product or service. It is unique to your business and different from all of your competitors. Your X Factor is determined by identifying what is meaningful and unique to your company that gives you a competitive edge.

Brand Story

Own your story and give your team a reason to own it too. Your brand story is an internal statement that is the summation of your brand strategy. It is a tool that should be shared with everyone on your team, from the CEO to the newest employee. It should be shared during brand training as a way to educate employees, communicate brand strategy and set expectations for employees.

True line 

This positioning statement communicates your business’s value in an exact, direct way. It can be thought of as the most true thing about your business. True lines can be thought of as internally facing taglines.

Value Proposition

Understand your value and why it matters to your customers. This statement clearly summarizes “what” you do and “why” it matters to your customers. It can be thought of as a promise to be delivered to your customers. It tells them why they would choose you over someone else for a product or service.

Legacy

How will the world remember your brand? This aspirational statement gives you and your brand representatives a long-term goal to aim for and challenges you to think broadly about the big picture.

Onlyness

A strong brand is a clearly defined brand. By zeroing in on what makes your brand strong and unique, it clearly communicates your value to your customers.  

After strategy

Brand strategy is the foundation of everything your business does moving forward. It is your filter when making decisions about the future of the company. You will now have a guide for communicating and deciding what to do in the day-to-day operations. It is an incredibly valuable tool that, when used correctly, will lead your business forward into the next stages of branding and beyond.

We structure all of our brand work on a scaffolding system. This means that strategy is the foundation. After strategy, brand identity is created by building off of the strategy. After that, brand execution tactics are determined based on the previous steps. During the brand accountability stage, these decisions and actions are tested based on the strategy and new goals are set. This ensures that every decision is an intentional one that helps you work towards achieving your business goals. 

This active process is an ongoing one and one that results in strong brands that, through strategy, are successful. As your branding partner, our success is your success, and it all begins with strategy.

If you have questions or are interested in learning more about how brand strategy can help your business, we are happy to chat. Get ahold of us here: https://www.hardybrands.com/contact

want to chat? give shane a ring

We’re always eager to talk branding with interested business owners.

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About Us

Like our work, the Hardy team is an embodiment of the perfect balance of strategy and creative. We’ve cultivated a team of certified brand specialists and strategists, designers, copywriters and marketing professionals who are ferocious about helping you succeed.

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Expertise

 Check out the four key areas of branding that, when they work together, empower you to own your brand, build strong bonds with your customers and crush business goals. 

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