Regardless of where you’re at in the branding process, there are some universal aspects of brand strategy that need your attention before your brand is truly ready for primetime. This checklist covers all the brand strategy basics in a clear, concise way. Inspired by the success of brands we’ve built to dominate their target markets, each brand strategy component listed here is critical to the cohesion of your brand as a whole.
Why You Need a Brand Strategy
The most effective brands in the world weren’t cooked up overnight.
Building a sustainable and loyal customer base hinges on your brand connecting with the consumer in a way that is memorable and enjoyable. To truly develop a brand that communicates the value, feeling, and voice of your product or service, you need a tactical approach that leaves as little to question as possible.
In our experience as established brand strategists, planning the work and then working the plan provides much faster and more profitable outcomes.
Brand strategy requires critical thinking, collaboration, and an understanding of every component part of your brand. It also includes analyzing and understanding your customer to ensure the best fit for your brand in the market.
Yes, it’s a lot to tackle. But, with this checklist, you’ll be armed with the tools you need to go forth and conquer.
Let’s get started.
These are the ‘essentials’ in building a brand. Without them, your brand is just a good idea.
Business Case Your business case is the very reason why you’re bringing a product or service to market. A solid business case should include a description of the problem you’re looking to solve, the options available to your target market for solving that problem, and how your product or service is a superior solution in comparison to those options.
Values What does your brand stand for? What are its ultimately human traits? Zeneﬁts, an outsourced HR services provider, smartly spells out the values of their brand: Empathy. Integrity. Innovation.
Vision Closely related to the mission, the vision is a projection of what the future will look like because of your brand. Consider Apple, whose vision is to “make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it.”
Positioning Positioning refers to the space that a brand occupies in the psychology of its target customers. In other words, this is the who, where, how, when, and why of your brand.
Promise If a customer engages with your brand, what experience can they expect to have? Ford promises that customers will “Go Further”. Starbucks promises to “Inspire and nurture the human spirit”.
Personality After developing a brand persona, it’s necessary to also craft a personality. Are you noticing a theme here? The idea is to get as close as possible to human-to-human interaction with the consumer whenever brand engagement occurs.
Story Every brand has a story. And, that story is absolutely critical to consumers, because humans relate with narratives. After all, each of us has a story; your brand should, too.
Customer Personas A customer persona can be thought of as a ﬁctional character created speciﬁcally for the purpose of representing a user or customer type that is likely to use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. Customer personas are often developed very early on in the branding process, and they provide direction for honing a brand over time.
Competitor Analysis A sound competitor analysis is a must for any brand. It should answer the question of how your brand is going to fare when it goes up against your stiffest competition in the market.
Once the core components of your brand are addressed and deﬁned, it’s time to move to the arena of communication. Many communication-related brand features will take direction from the core components listed above, but they should also be capable of standing on their own.
Voice/Tone Commanding or inviting? Empathetic or assertive? Logical or emotional? Construct the voice of your brand so it is as identiﬁable as the logo, color theme, and catch phrases you’re using.
Vocabulary In developing a brand strategy, words are among the most powerful tools you have. Choose them wisely, and ensure that word use is consistent throughout every messaging platform you intend to use.
Messaging Successful brands go where their customers are and engage with them in their natural, everyday environments. This means tailoring messaging to suit the objectives outlined above.
No brand strategy checklist would be complete without a rundown of essential visual elements.
For packaging, website design, marketing communications and more, the visual impact your brand has will have long-lasting effects on the development and maintenance of customer allegiance.
Logo Developing a logo seems like such a simple task. That is, until you realize just how nuanced and iterative this task can be. A brand logo is the central visual element that will be top-of-mind with your customer before, during, and after engagement with your brand. As such, your brand logo deserves extensive, thoughtful consideration.
Typography Graphic designers know this all too well: the font type, size, formatting, and even character spacing used in brand messaging have a colossal impact on how the brand performs overall.
Photography This is one of the most often-overlooked aspects of brand strategy. For your brand to truly make an impact, you need high-resolution, brand-correct photos that are evocative, aesthetically pleasing, and relevant.
Any time a potential or existing customer interacts with your brand, there is an experience that is had.
This experience needs to be steered as much as possible to achieve the desired outcomes referenced earlier in this checklist. The brand experience encompasses the following:
Product Development At every stage of product development, attention should be paid to what the user or customer is experiencing. Every exchange, interaction, feature, and option should be analyzed for its contribution to total brand engagement.
Customer Service Often treated as an afterthought, Customer Service is absolutely critical in pulling the customer through to post-sale engagement and ensuring a comprehensively brand-aligned experience.
Environment Will your customers encounter your brand in-person, online, or both? How many of your brand assets fall into either category? Is this proportion weighted to accommodate how your customers naturally think, act, and behave?
After so much work has been done to develop and hone the brand, we now need to determine ways to measure its effectiveness.
Generally speaking, this is done by examining four key metrics.
Brand Awareness Are customers aware of your brand? How can you tell? In the digital space, this is comparatively easy: just look at website traffic and marketing campaigns. Customer outreach surveys can also be used.
Brand Engagement Social media likes, commentary, and content sharing. Click-through rates. Email opt-outs. Inbound lead ﬂow. How much are your customers engaging with your brand?
Brand Reputation Investigate brand reputation software and platforms. For example, many can monitor brand mentions and tally positive and negative keywords. This can also be done by analyzing online reviews.
Brand Loyalty Determining customer loyalty informs strategic decision making related to growing topline proﬁts. Loyalty becomes a byproduct of good branding, and it can even forgive product issues.
Building a brand takes a lot of coordinated effort, and not just from those who know branding.
Sales, operations, marketing, compliance, distribution...virtually every corner of a business has a role to play in the development of a brand. There is no one-size-ﬁts-all solution for any given brand, and as such, every approach to brand strategy is going to be unique.
At Orogamis, we’ve made it our life’s work to assist our clients in the conception and execution of powerful, effective brand strategy that drives growth and delivers ROI.