Brand strategy

Key Tips for Creating the Perfect Brand Strategy

Brand strategies don’t create themselves, even though you wish they would at times. For new entrepreneurs, coming up with a brand strategy isn’t exactly easy. It’s one thing to take an existing brand, pick it apart and explain why it works…but coming up with your own branding workup isn’t always so easy. It’s much easier to work backwards than it is to work forwards.

Many new entrepreneurs looking to create their first start up make the mistake of doing the opposite — finding an existing brand, deciphering their success and trying to use these components in their own branding. It’s always best to be original — but that’s just one key tip for creating the perfect branding plan. Here are a few more to consider before putting the finishing touches on your newest branding schematics.

Understand What Branding Is

This is a common mistake new entrepreneurs make with their first business. They often think of marketing and branding as being synonymous, but they really aren’t. Branding isn’t just logos and a business’ website or slogan. These are part of a brand, but the most important aspect of branding is something intangible. It’s the essence of a business and it isn’t something you can necessarily pin down as one particular item.

A Brand Conveys Purpose

Look back on how a brand is intangible. Marketing is much more concrete in how it’s presented; from graphics to blogging content, marketing is a pitch that you can sum up quite easily. Marketing should also directly state the point you’re trying to get across. Something like “Our business can guarantee you a five percent increase in follower traffic” is directly related to marketing.

Branding, however, conveys an intangible purpose. It’s more so a “bigger picture” type of deal as compared to marketing. A brand identity puts a business in a certain position, like being formal or casual, being trend focused or best-practice following. Some business’ have brands that are more philanthropic, while others are profit-based.

Branding is Emotional

When you read a book or watch a movie, what’s playing out on the big screen or within the pages affects your brain in some way. It’s not about a direct ideological correlation — reading Romeo and Juliet won’t lead you down a naive and romantically disastrous road — but it’s instead about making you feel something. Branding works in the same way.

Except branding is supposed to lead someone to act on certain emotions. It plans an idea in someone’s head in a way that doesn’t require reason or numbers. A good branding strategy injects a business with an emotional edge that plays to a consumer’s feelings. Branding should make people feel like they belong, like they matter and like they feel connected to a business.

When you consider the emotional aspect of branding, what purpose your branding truly has and understand what branding really is, you’re on your way to a truly killer branding strategy.

Effective Strategies for Testing New Branding Ideas

So you have to come up with new brand strategies. How do you test if it works?

There’s a certain art to effectively testing out branding strategies that you’re unsure of, and it’s definitely an art that takes a lot of practice to master. Marketing in general is something of a science – there’s a lot of psychology and numbers involved that makes it somehow both subjective and scientific at the same time. Branding and advertising have certain standards, but if every brand formula was so simple, there’d never be a failed advertising scheme or bankrupt business.

No matter how you test out your branding strategies, it’s imperative that they work. The only way to truly see your branding strategy’s success in action is to use testing methods that give you accurate results that you can visualize.

The following strategies can give you the data you need to make sure your recent branding venture is on point.

  • Social Media Competition – Pick two brand marketing ideas you want to try out on social media. Put both up in two different tweets. See which one does the best with your target audience. Don’t just go off of retweets and likes, either – your true analytics data should be what you go off of first and foremost.
  • Ask Outside Sources – Sometimes you get too absorbed in being a boss and worker that you forget to think like a customer. Sure, the obvious solution is to do blind studies with strangers in a controlled setting, and this is indeed an effective method of market testing. However, also get up close and personal with your ideas – ask your family. Don’t go straight to the family member you know will be easy on you either. Go for that brother or sister who points out your flaws and gets on your nerves. They honest and biting critique can actually serve you well when it comes to branding criticism.
  • Go Undercover – Try your branding out on your own coworkers and staff. If you’re a nutrition company, set up a faux bake sale stand near the front of the office. Get someone to say they’re trying to help their kid out with a bake sale or experiment and ask if they can help buy the products so they can meet the set out goal. Offer up several samples – mock ups of your own branding ideas – and keep track of who chooses what, as well as which gets chosen the most. Adapt the method to whatever your company produces and get creative with it.
  • Do a Blind Vote – Sometimes, even in the most tightknit office, people aren’t willing to speak their mind about their criticisms. When you’re testing out a branding idea, don’t ask for anyone to give their opinion directly. Instead, hand out index cards and ask for your coworkers to write their most biting thoughts on their cards – anonymously. Gather and shuffle the cards, then read them aloud for others to comment on the criticisms. This way you can honestly see what works and what doesn’t in a safe way.