Developing Brand Strategy

In this Branding Basics series, we've discussed the difference between a brand and branding and the goal of branding. Now it's time to discuss where to start with your branding strategy. Many times people start with the visuals for their brand i.e. logo, website, social media. Each one of these tactics is important however it's not where you start. Be sure to take some notes because this will be a meaty post.

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Start with why. Start with purpose.

Purpose is the reason you get up in the morning to work on your business. Purpose will keep you encouraged when you get more no's than yes'. Purpose keeps you focused when distractions come.

Have you thought about your purpose? Think about why you do what you do. It may take some soul searching but it will be your guide as you navigate brand building.

Next, what and how. Vision + Mission.

Vision and mission are often confused but both are distinctly different. Vision is the picture of the future you hope to see for the people you wish to impact.  Vision is the ultimate destination. Mission is the specific path you take to make that vision a reality.

One of my favorite brands is Target and their purpose, vision, and mission are very clear, making it easy for them to resonate with their audience. Target's mission is to "make Target your preferred shopping destination in all channels by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation, and exceptional guest experiences". Target nails it every time with their new collaborations with high end designers (innovation), not to mention, their lines are open (exceptional experiences).

When developing your brand's vision, you have to DREAM BIG! The vision should be so big, it should scare you. Then when tackling the mission, it needs to a summary statement of how to get to the destination.

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Mission + Vision Extension: Values

Values are the guidelines that steer your brand's attitudes, choice, and action. Values tell what the brand stands for and the things it holds dear. Values are the principles that define how the brand behaves.

After the why, what and the how, comes the who. Target Audience.

Your target audience is the demographic of people most likely to be interested in your product or service. It's difficult to develop a brand when you don't know WHO you are talking to. When determining your target audience, it's important to be very specific.

BMW doesn't try to sell to everyone and neither should you. People often say their product/service is for everyone but there's no way. Consider your brand as a big fish in a small pond, allowing you to dominate in a way that is impossible by being general.  Not saying your services or products won’t reach everyone but your marketing focus will be your target audience.

Defining your target audience requires some research because you need to consider age, race, gender, household income, occupations, hobbies, etc. You need alladat because it influences your pricing structure, advertising and much more for your brand.

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The intersection of Who + What + How are Promise and Personality.

Promise is what your brand brings to the table that consumers cannot get from other brands or cannot get as well from other brands. It is your unique value proposition. Say what you want about Chik-fil-a but they stand out by delivering great customer service EVERY.TIME. It's like each employee goes through some kind of brainwashing training. I mean they are out here rescuing Hurricane Harvey victims. They will continue to have loyal customers because their customer service makes them stand out from their competition.

Have you consider what your brand promise is? Make sure it's something you can deliver EVERY time a customer experience your brand and it's the ONE thing that separates you from others in your industry.

Personality is the perceived characteristics of your brand would embody if it were a person. Your brand's personality helps to drive your messaging for any type of brand communication. Take for example, Amazon. They are coming for EVERYONE in the online retail space. I am here for this lower Whole Foods prices. If Amazon was a person, their personality traits would be reliable (hello Amazon Prime), Imaginative (hello Whole Foods) and Timely (hi Amazon Prime again).

Name a person who best represents your business. Then consider how that person talks, interacts with people, what traits do they have and begin to write them down. That exercise will help you develop your brand personality.


Purpose, Mission, Vision, Values, Target Audience, Promise, and Personality are what I call the eight components to branding strategy.