How to achieve a successful branding strategy: Key elements to turn your brand into a “lovemark”.
We keep hearing about branding or brand design both in the media and at work. But, what is branding? In this article, we will explain what it is and what the elements are to make your branding strategy a successful one.
Globalisation has increased the importance of branding in any marketing strategy due to the worldwide increase in competition between brands. Thus, branding has become a fundamental pillar when it comes to achieving specific objectives.
A branding strategy is a long-term plan aimed at developing a strong brand. It involves the positioning of the brand, its corporate identity and those visual elements that differentiate it from its competitors. Its ultimate goal is always to be relevant to the audience.
It’s a priority for a brand to be pertinent to and connect with its audience through an emotional bond. Once this is accomplished, it will ensure customer loyalty beyond any other features such as price or accessibility. But how is this achieved?
Table of content
- What is branding and what is a branding strategy?
- What steps do you have to follow to build a successful branding strategy?
- 2.1 Define the mission of your brand
- 2.2 Know your potential audience or buyer persona
- 2.3 Establish your Corporate Identity Profile
- 2.4 Develop the visual elements of your branding strategy
- 2.5 Position your brand
- 2.6 Differentiate yourself from the competition
1. What is branding and what is a branding strategy?
Nowadays, a consumer is exposed to a daily bombardment of a large number of brands. Both through offline and online marketing. The fact that a consumer retains one rather than another and keeps it in his/her mind is the goal that any company pursues. However, achieving this is not easy. First, a branding and positioning strategy must be defined. The aim is to ensure that the brand represents value for consumers. It is not just about selling a product or service, but an experience or a way of life to the consumer.
Therefore, when we talk about branding, we talk about the making of the brand, oriented to its attributes and values, those by which will allow it to be identified and differentiated from its competition. Likewise, we see that branding encompasses the part of the brand that refers to the corporate and business sides. It is the means of identifying the perceptions, sensations and experiences that the product or service generates in its consumers and will position it in their minds.
The branding strategy begins with the construction of the brand.
From the very beginning, we must be clear that a brand is more than a logo, a name, a specific typography or a mixture of the above elements.For it to be built in a solid way, everything must make sense and convey emotions. This, in turn, will help to preserve it over time.
A brand becomes a mental representation of how the customer perceives it. It depends on their experiences, emotions, perceptions or feelings. But also, on the different contact points or impacts that the brand has caused when interacting with them. In a brand strategy, the aim is for the consumer to positively relate, in their mind, the brand with the experience it conveys. Somehow trying to become what Kevin Roberts of the Saatchi & Saatchi Agency, and author of the book “Lovemarks, the future beyond brands”, called a Lovemark.
“For great brands to survive, they need to create loyalty beyond reason. That is the only way they will be able to differentiate themselves from the millions of bland brands with no future. From a commitment to these three powerful concepts come Lovemarks, which are the future beyond brands”.Kevin Roberts, “Lovemarks, the future beyond brands”.
2. What steps do you have to follow to build a successful branding strategy?
In order for your brand to become a lovemark, you must draw up a strategy since the brand image is built. The brand’s attributes and values must be seen as unique and coherent by customers. Let’s now look at what elements your branding strategy should have:
2.1 Define the mission of your brand
Before building a brand, you must have a clear brand statement or brand mission. It is not only about defining objectives or goals; it is about establishing the reason for its existence. Establishing the brand mission is a way of synthesising the essence of the brand in a couple of sentences. After this first step, it is easier to draw up a brand strategy, define objectives and develop an action plan.
2.2 Know your potential audience
Once you have defined the mission, you must take into account who you are going to target, establish a consumer profile to know their habits, behaviours, buying patterns and the way they interact with society. Segmentation is also important. This could be the biggest paradox of any good business: to increase your chances of success, it is absolutely necessary to reduce your potential customer base.
In other words, the answer to the question “Who are you trying to sell your product to?” should not be “to everyone”. Knowing who your audience and who your regular consumer is, will allow you to naturally attract potential customers who are more likely to buy your products.
« Buyer Person »
Nowadays, most companies tend to develop a muse: the « Buyer Persona » or ideal customer. This is a customer profile that is created as a reminder of what the key target audience should be.
While conceiving said muse may mean eliminating the rest of the spectrum of consumers your products could reach, we strongly recommend that young businesses do this exercise because it often helps them find a purpose and identity earlier on. Why not spend some time thinking about who your muse would be? First, look at who your current customers and competitors are and start creating your ideal customer type.
Afterwards, make a list of your products’ perks and services and make sure they fit the interests and needs of that person. The idea is to start thinking about what the customer needs from you before they even open their wallet. Once you understand that, you can go to the next step and create your identity and communication plan.
2.3 Establish your Corporate Identity Profile
The Corporate Identity Profile is the definition of how a brand wants to be seen by its target audiences. This instrument directs all the activity of developing the company’s public image and corporate communication. This will enable the development of a strong, coherent, differentiated and attractive corporate identity. Within the branding strategy, the Corporate Identity Profile (CIP) is a basic element.
“Defining the CIP is a strategic decision for the organization“, Professor Paul Capriotti of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. “Corporate branding. Strategic management of corporate identity”.
The Corporate Identity Profile involves changing the projection of corporate culture and philosophy to a series of personality traits, competitive attributes and values. The ultimate goal will always be to demonstrate to the consumer everything that differentiates your company from all others.
2.4 Develop the visual elements of your branding strategy
It constitutes the brand; it will define, to a large extent, the future of the brand and its positioning strategy. For it to be easy to retain, it must be original, short, easy to pronounce and easy to write. Nowadays, It is also advisable that it’s easy to translate and that it meets certain requirements in other countries. This is an important fact, if the future international expansion of the company’s branding strategy is in mind.
It can be a text or a graphic image. The more representative, simple, memorable and attractive it is, the better. This will make it easier to remember. It must meet three basic requirements for a good positioning strategy:
- Versatility; to adapt it to different communication environments,
- Authenticity; relating it to what the company stands for and what it does,
- Legibility, with good technical resolution of the elements that make it up.
Many brands on the market have iconic logos, as is the case of Mercedes-Benz. Due to its versatility in adapting to changes and managing to prevail despite the years.
It may seem a superficial and meaningless element, but colour can be categorical in the positioning strategy of your brand. Colour refers to the relationship of affection and emotion between the customer and the brand, what we call colour psychology.
It is a complement to the image that the brand provides. The role of the slogan has to be easy to remember. The impact must allow it to be positioned in the consumer’s mind and even be catchy. Depending on its effectiveness, the slogan may even be more recognizable than the logo. Creative departments are often responsible for this task. In fact, a good slogan should reflect both the positioning and the essence of the brand’s values.
To make it easier to understand, let’s take the example of Nike’s “Just do it” slogan. One of the most recognizable slogans in the world. What makes it so successful is that it reflects the brand’s values. Such as a challenging mentality, a positive attitude and never stop chasing your dreams.
2.5 Position your brand
Brand positioning or Brand Position Statement is the process of positioning a brand in the minds of consumers in the long term, whether they are target audiences or not.
In this way, people have a positive impression of the brand associated with something for which it wants to be recognized. A clear example is Coca Cola. Whether you like this soft drink or not, Coca Cola has seeped into our brains as the drink that brings us “happiness”. There are many other cola brands, but only Coca Cola has been able to position itself at that level.
The Brand Position Statement is not only achieved through the impact on the target groups, but also from within the company. All the aspects of the brand must be aligned with how we want consumers to see us: from the employees themselves to the brand’s products. Everything has to be in perfect sync with the brand positioning you have opted for.
2.6 Differentiate yourself from the competition
This part of the branding strategy focuses on the development of brand personality. It is closely related to values. All those that differentiate us from our competitors.
As mentioned above, attributes, personality traits and values must be perfectly defined and highlighted. The ultimate goal is to be original, for its attributes and values to be shared. Not only among consumers but also among the employees themselves. That they stand out from the competition. If the value proposition that the company promises is fulfilled, customers will become loyal. The result will be a more positive perception and the level of commitment and reliability can be seen.
Positioning changes from country to country
Depending on the market, a specific differentiation strategy rather than another can be implemented. It is not a standard process, positioning changes from country to country since the differentiating elements do not necessarily have to be the same. The product has to differentiate certain attributes instead of others habits, social or cultural elements.
To conclude, a well-designed and correctly implemented brand strategy has the capacity to influence consumers’ behaviour and, therefore, their purchasing decisions. This ends up generating predisposition and preference towards a product or service or a specific brand. In fact, powerful brands manage to be seen by their users as the only solution that fulfils their wants and needs.
The important aspects are not many but they are difficult to implement. Do you think you haven’t fulfilled all of them? If you need help in developing a branding strategy for your brand, contact us!