5 steps to building an effective brand strategy

A brand strategy is a plan for building your reputation and image. It helps understand your customers better and create a unique identity. Dig in to define your target market. Build your brand positioning statement. Create a brand vision for the future. Set your goals. Then build a strategy plan that lays your issues, strategies and tactics. 

Brand Strategy

The fundamentals of marketing matter

The marketing fundamentals that we show in this article are part of what we use in our marketing training programs. Marketers will learn strategic thinking, brand positioning, brand plans, writing creative briefs, advertising decision-making, marketing analytics, and marketing finance

Define your target audience.

A brand strategy should start with defining who your ideal consumer target audience is. This includes understanding their needs, with consumer insights that adds flavor to the target definition. Then, you can figure out how kind the products or services your company offers should be positioned. You also need to consider where your target market shops and where they live online.

Focus on those who are the most motivated by what you do. 

There is this myth that a bigger consumer target will make the brand bigger, so scared marketers targets ‘everyone’. For instance, there seems to be an irrational fear of leaving someone out. Spreading your brand’s limited resources across an entire population is completely cost-prohibitive. While targeting everyone “just in case” might feel safe at first, it is riskier because you spread your resources so broadly. You will never see the full impact of what you want to see. 

Before you dig in on the brand positioning, you want to understand the needs of the consumer. 

We use 12 different functional needs and 12 different emotional needs. Knowing your consumer target, start thinking about what you think makes sense for them. These needs will come up later as we explore which consumer benefits to stand behind. 

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in on this element of your brand strategy.

Identify your brand positioning.

Once you’ve identified your target audience, you need to identify your competition. What do they offer? How do they position themselves? Who are their customers? These questions will help you develop a clear picture of how your business compares to others in your industry.

Identifying gaps in the marketplace

To identify where you have opportunity, you can use market research to help plot your competitors. Plot each brand based on the functional and emotional benefits, and you will begin to see space where there may be opportunity for you to win. Below, you can see how Gray’s Cookies and Oreo match up when it comes to functional and emotional benefits. The farther from the center, the stronger that brand plays on that element. Oreo wins on sensory appeal, experience, comfort, and feel good. Gray’s has the opportunity to win on healthier, smarter, and stay in control. 

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in on this element of your brand strategy.

There are 4 elements that make up a brand positioning statement. Start with the definition of who will you serve. Then, lay out where you will play, and where you will win. To sum up, use support points for why consumers should believe you.

1. Who is the consumer target?

To start, define a slice of the population who is the most motivated by what your brand offers? However, don’t just think about who you want, but rather who wants your brand.

2. Where will you play?

Next, consider the competitive set that defines the space in the market your brand competes in. Brand positioning is always relative to who you compete against. For instance, a brand is never fast. But, it should be faster.

3. Where will you win

Most importantly, what is the main promise you will make to the consumer target? It should differentiate your brand to stand out as interesting, simple, unique, motivating, and own-able. Do not talk about what you do. (features) Talk about what the consumer gets (functional benefits). And, talk about how the brand makes them feel. (emotional benefits)

4. Why should they believe us?

Finally, lay out the support points and features needed to back up the main promise. Moreover, these support points should close any potential doubts, questions, or concerns the consumer has after hearing the main promise.

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in on this element of your brand strategy.

Demonstrate all the elements of your brand strategy by using the Brand Key Model

Below is the Brand Key example for Gray’s Cookies. They are shifting from a product-led to an idea led brand, trying to own “The best tasting yet guilt free pleasure so you can stay in control of your weight.”

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in on this element of your brand strategy.

Develop a vision statement.

To build a strong brand, you must first define what you stand for. This is called a vision statement. A vision statement should clearly state what your company stands for and why people should care about it.

First, the vision in the brand strategy roadmap should answer the question, “Where could we be?” Put a stake in the ground that describes an ideal state for your future. It should be able to last for five to 10 years. Essentially, the vision gives everyone clear direction. Most importantly, the vision should motivate the team. Write the vision in a way that scares you a little but excites you a lot. The vision steers the long-range strategic plan.

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in on this element of your brand strategy.

Set goals.

Once you have defined your vision, set goals for how you will achieve it. These goals should be measurable so you can track progress. You also need to consider whether these goals align with your business objectives. If not, you might need to reevaluate your vision and goals.

Your goals in the brand strategy roadmap should answer, “What will you achieve?” For example, the specific measures can include consumer behavioral changes, metrics of crucial programs, in-market performance targets, financial results, or milestones on the pathway to the vision. Accordingly, your goals set up a brand dashboard or scoreboard.

Beloved Brands playbook

Our Beloved Brands playbook goes in depth on everything you need to build a brand consumers will love. Learn to about strategic thinking, brand positioning, writing brand plans, advertising decisions, media planning, marketing analytics, and financials.

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Our readers tell us they keep our Beloved Brands playbook close by for whenever they need to take on a new project. Clearly, we are thrilled that 89% of Amazon reviewers have given Beloved Brands a 5-star rating. Also, we wrote a B2B Brands playbook and a Healthcare Brands playbook

Develop strategic plan.

A strategic plan is an essential tool for business owners who are looking to grow their businesses. It helps them identify what they want to achieve and how they intend to do so. We introduce our Brand Strategy Roadmap as a tool to use for your strategic plan. While you can do a presentation, it’s essential to get it down to one page everyone can keep handy.

What is a strategic plan? The term “strategic” refers to planning ahead, while “planning” means making decisions that will guide future actions. Strategic plans are used by companies to set goals, understand the key issues facing your brand, develop brand strategies, and choose activities that will progress your toward those goals.

Key issues: 

The key issues answer the question, “Why are we here?” Look at what is getting in your way of achieving your brand vision. Then, ask the issues as questions. The strategies are the answer to each issue.

Brand Strategy: 

Next, use your brand strategy decisions to answer, “How can we get there?” Your choices depend on market opportunities you see with consumers, competitors, or situations. Most importantly, the strategies must provide clear marching orders. Above all, the brand strategy define the strategic program you are investing in, the focused opportunity, the desired market impact and the payback in a performance result that benefits the branded business. We go deeper on how to write your brand strategy statements that you can use in your marketing plan.

Tactics: 

Finally, the tactics answer, “What do we need to do?” Framed entirely by strategy, tactics turn into action plans with clear marching orders to your teams. Decide on which activities to invest in to stay on track with your vision. Most importantly, the best ideas must deliver the highest ROI (return on investment) and the highest ROE (return on effort). With a long-range strategic plan, you don’t have to get too specific with the tactics. 

To build out an annual marketing plan, go deeper into execution tactics.

Brand Strategy Roadmap CPG brands

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in on the brand strategy roadmap.

Brand strategy examples

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in on the brand strategy roadmap.

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in on the brand strategy roadmap.

Furthermore, click on the diagram to zoom in on the brand strategy roadmap.

To illustrate, click on the diagram to zoom in on the brand strategy roadmap.

Strategic Thinking

Smart strategic thinkers ask challenging questions.

To start, take the opportunity to improve your strategic thinking skills. Look to the five steps to building an effective brand strategy

We show how to use our Strategic ThinkBox, and lay out the five elements of strategic thinking. Next, go deeper on to challenge your brand’s core strength, engage with consumer strategy, or competitive strategy

Undoubtedly, you must understand the business situation before making your next move. We show how to write the ideal strategy statements you can use in your marketing plan

Video Lesson: Key Issues

To illustrate, watch our video on how to find the key issues on your brand that you can use in your marketing plan. Importantly, it helps you find the best possible questions. Subsequently, it sets up strategic solutions to answer those questions.

Play Video about Strategic Key Issues Video

To view, use the ▶️ controls to play our brand strategy video. 

Staying on strategy through execution.

As you move to the marketing execution, you need to use in-the-box creativity to stay on strategy. We map out the advertising process, and the innovation process. Take a look at  our Creative Brief and the good and bad creative brief examples. Then, we set you up to make marketing execution decisions using our advertising checklist to evaluate creative advertising ideas. And, you can use our innovation checklist to compare new product ideas.

Importantly, marketers need to understand media planningpricing strategy, and social media strategy

Our brand templates make it easier for you to do your job.

Moreover, we provide brand templates that help you run your brand. For instance, you can find templates for marketing plans, brand positioning, creative briefs, and business reviews. Altogether, we offer brand toolkits with all the presentation slides you need. 

If you are looking to make your marketing team smarter, we can help. To get started, email Graham Robertson at graham@beloved-brands.com

Advertising Decisions

The Creative Brief defines the box.

At Beloved Brands, we believe the best creative people are in-the-box problem solvers, not out-of-the box inventors. This builds on our Strategic ThinkBox we used in our planning process. The box below demonstrates how we need creative work that is focused on the target, fits with the brand, delivers the message, and executes the strategy. 

As marketers, we kick off the advertising process using a Creative Brief to define the box the creative advertising must play in. The execution align with the brand positioning work and deliver the brand strategy statements you wrote in your marketing planMoreover, we show examples of the good and bad of the Creative Brief. And, we introduce our Mini Brief for smaller projects and the Media Brief as part of media decisions. We have a Creative Brief template you can use. 

As marketers, we kick off the advertising process using a Creative Brief to define the box the creative advertising must play in. The execution align with the brand positioning work and deliver the brand strategy statements you wrote in your marketing planMoreover, we show examples of the good and bad of the Creative Brief. And, we introduce our Mini Brief for smaller projects and the Media Brief as part of media decisions. We have a Creative Brief template you can use. 

Use our Creative Checklist to determine if the creative work is in the box.

Then, we introduce a Creative Checklist that is designed to help you make advertising decisions. When you see the creative marketing execution come back from your experts, use our creative checklist to make decisions. Next, use your feedback to your marketing experts to steer the ideas back in-the-box. Importantly, the Creative Checklist highlights the gaps you see. Your role is to provide your problems with the work, while avoiding providing a solution. Let your creative marketing execution experts use their in-the-box creativity to figure out new solutions that will fit the box. 

To illustrate, click to review how our Creative Checklist helps decide if the creative advertising fits the box..

Use our ABC's of Advertising: Attention, brand link, communication stickiness

Here are four questions to ask:

  • First, is it the creative idea that earns the consumer’s attention for the ad?
  • Then, is the creative idea helping to drive maximum brand link?
  • Next, is the creative idea setting up the communication of the main consumer benefit?
  • And, is the creative idea memorable enough to stick in the consumer’s mind and move them to purchase?

To illustrate, click on the ABC’s of advertising to see details.

Get comfortable with various advertising techniques.

Learn how to be better at advertising. Explore other advertising ideas such as emotional advertisinghumorous ads, feel-good ads, and ads that bring consumer insights to lifeMoreover, read how to conduct your own marketing research, social media plans, or using influencers.  

Video on how to use in-the-box creativity

Have a look at our video on how to use in-the-box creativity to ensure our marketing execution stays on strategy. We introduce how our Creative Brief defines the box the work must play in. And, our Creative Checklist to allow you to decide if the marketing execution delivers. To read more, click on this link: How to use in-the-box creativity. 

To view, use the ▶️ controls to play our brand strategy video. 

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Contact Information

Graham Robertson

Email: graham@beloved-brands.com

Phone: 416–885–3911

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the playbook for how to create a brand your consumers will love

With our Beloved Brands playbook, you will learn how to think strategically, define your brand positioning, write a marketing plan, make execution decisions, and analyze your brand. Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands as a reference tool to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. We are proud that 89% of online reviewers have given Beloved Brands a 5-star rating. As a result, Beloved Brands has been a #1 bestseller in brand management. We also have the B2B Brands playbook and our Healthcare Brands playbook

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If you are running a marketing team, your will always benefit from having a smarter team. When you invest in our marketing training program, you will help your team gain the marketing skills they need to succeed. As a result, you will see them make smarter decisions and produce exceptional work that drives business growth. 

We have designed our marketing training program to build the fundamental skills that will help your team reach their full potential. We will work with your team to help them learn take on Strategic Thinking, Brand Positioning, Marketing Planning, Marketing Execution, and Brand Analytics. 

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