Foundations are important. When building a house, constructing a bridge, learning math, or even running 100 miles. I know about running cuz I did that. In fact, anything that you do not want to not fall over or die needs a foundation. Your business is no different. For your business to hold its own in a crowded market it needs a foundation. What's the foundation? Brand Strategy. But wait, you say, what's the difference between branding, brand strategy, and marketing? While the lines can often seem blurry and confusing, these are very distinct but related concepts. It's important to understand the distinction early. I'm here to help with that.
It may be helpful to understand what "brand" is first. Seth Godin (father of permission marketing) says:
"A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer's decision to choose one product or service over another."
So brand is a perception as a whole. It's the wide-angle view of who you are, what you do, who you help, and why it matters. Every company has the opportunity to intentionally create this perception with its audience. And while these perceptions can mutate over time, if a company doesn't set out to create its perception at the start or during a rebrand, it's possible that perception could be hijacked by a well-meaning (or sometimes not so well-meaning) audience. Crafting that perception is branding. This "branding" is strategic and intentional.
Brand Strategy is the first phase of branding. This discovery phase uncovers many aspects of your brand that will be important for promoting and marketing your business later on. It's a foundational step in creating your brand that shouldn't be overlooked as it can dramatically increase your chances for success. Examples of the discoveries unveiled during the Brand Strategy phase could be:
Audience & customer personas
Your business impact & value
Market positioning & differentiator
Company personality & tone of voice
Brand Strategy is the map that helps you build a bridge to your customer. Done right, it instills trust, fosters loyalty, and can create a cohesive community both inside and outside an organization.
The brand personality and voice are key to crafting a creative strategy that will be seen and embraced by the target audience. Building a brand that will resonate with the people it serves is vital. Your visual identity, or more specifically, your logo, brand colors, typography, assets, icons, patterns, design/image styles, and core messaging are developed from the discoveries made during the brand strategy phase. Without the discovery of the rich attributes of the brand, the human personality, or the voice, a brand has no foundation other than the personal preferences of the founder to build a creative strategy. This may lead to a weakened brand presence and the potential for a chaotic and inconsistent marketing strategy. The creative strategy builds on what was established in the discovery of the brand. It provides the visual formula for all your marketing initiatives. It creates consistency and facilitates brand awareness and recognition.
Marketing on the other hand, is the tool that promotes brand perception. These specific methods and tactics build awareness, attract your audience, and ultimately create revenue. Marketing is the deployment of your brand into the market. It's the YouTube ads, the billboards, the radio spots, the affiliates, and influencers. While the platforms and tools will vary, the brand message will be clear and consistent if a clear brand strategy and visual creative strategy were established beforehand. By reviewing the marketing and/or surveying the audience, a company can identify anything that may seem "off-brand" or confusing for the customer. Done right, the brand strategy, creative strategy, and marketing strategy will all align and the brand messaging will be cohesive. Examples of marketing tactics might be:
Social Media Marketing
Pay Per Click Marketing
Without marketing, a brand would never be seen or heard. Without branding, marketing would be unfocused and chaotic. I should also mention that without a solid creative strategy to bridge the two, your brand will be incoherent. If you've ever created a piece of marketing and struggled with writing the messaging or picking the right graphics, you've probably implemented marketing without a brand strategy. Writing copy is a snap if you have access to an established tone of voice. The same is true for creating branded visuals. When I facilitate workshops and create visual identities for my clients I often provide a "Brand Book" to reference to ensure visual consistency in style, color, typography, etc. A good brand identity guide will summarize your Brand Strategy and give you access to the right assets with examples and alternatives. Think of it as your branding "cheat sheet."
Brand Strategy is the foundation and compass for the Marketing Strategy. Marketing is the deployment and promotion of the brand through various channels, tools, and tactics. These processes can serve as a tool for building a strong business if they have been developed with clarity and focus from the beginning. With 9 out of 10 startups failing and 22% of those failures being due to marketing, you can see why investing the time and money upfront to set up a solid brand foundation can make a significant impact on the success rate of a company. You can see why foundations, whether for a bridge, a house, or a brand, are an important factor for success.
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Need a brand strategy but can't afford an agency? My Brand Clarity Workshops help founders and small business owners build their branding and messaging. Reach out. I can help.
(Source: Failory )