Building a business is one thing. Building an iconic brand is a completely different story. Without a truly innovative, stand-out brand to back it, your business will get lost in the shuffle.
Unfortunately, something I see in my role as a business consultant quite frequently is business owners neglecting the branding side of business in favor of marketing or operations.
The reality is, every business needs a brand strategy to help inform the different choices that are made along the way when it comes to voice, values, story, and vibe as a whole.
In today’s blog post, we’re going to look at five different essential components of a strong brand strategy that will resonate with your audience and help you create a long-lasting impression.
But first, what’s a brand strategy?
Your brand strategy is the approach behind the way your business presents itself to the world. It consists of several different elements such as brand voice, storytelling, design, identity, values, and overall vibe.
Your brand strategy is the #1 tool you have that will help you build connections with customers, increase brand loyalty, drive repeat sales, and inspire word-of-mouth marketing and referrals.
Brands that lack a solid strategy fall into the category of “forgettable”, which is the last thing you want.
Let’s go through each of the components that make up a winning brand strategy so that you know where to focus your efforts.
Every entrepreneur has a story to tell, you included. This is what’s known as your brand story. It is representative of who you are and what you stand for, and should effectively communicate your company’s origins, values, goals, and greater mission to your audience.
A few years ago, customers cared more about price and functionality than anything else when choosing to purchase a product or service. Nowadays, there’s a lot more that influences the decision-making process. Specifically, customers want to feel a connection to the brands they are supporting, which is exactly what brand storytelling promotes. By sharing why you exist, what you stand for, and what inspired you to get started and keep going, you create an environment where people can get to know your business on a deeper level.
The way you communicate with current or new customers across different marketing channels is called brand voice. In other words, it describes HOW you want to communicate to our audience, rather than WHAT you are trying to communicate.
Your brand voice is highly representative of the personality you want to assign to your brand. A professional, no-nonsense accounting firm who serves mostly people in their 50s will have a very different brand voice than an up-and-coming makeup brand geared towards a Gen Z demographic.
Your brand voice will mostly be reflected in your written text and copy. This includes the words you choose and the order in which you put them and applies to all written content you deliver — website content, social media posts, emails, and any other formats. For example, using direct, second-person pronouns (such as “you”) and simple, casual phrases can create a friendly and inviting tone.
My best recommendation when it comes to nailing down the perfect brand voice for your business is to reflect on the overall personality and values you want to convey to your audience. The worst thing you can do is simply ignore the question of brand voice and show up with an inconsistent or overly formal presence — this will not only bore your audience, but confuse them about the true essence of your brand.
Once you’ve decided on the voice your brand will use to communicate, create an internal style guide for brand voice that you can refer back to and show your team members to guarantee consistency across all content.
Here at OJC, I’m a big fan of brand values, which are the beliefs and principles that guide your business and help you make hard-hitting decisions. Asking yourself questions like…
…can help you get to the heart of your brand’s values.
Your brand values are SO important because they become the parameters that help you discern if a decision will fit the goals of your business and draw in potential customers who share similar beliefs. They also help with your brand positioning, as your values can be the thing that differentiates you from your competitors. For example, OJC’s values are as follows:
As the founder and CEO of OJC, I’ve made it my mission to let these brand values be the foundation of the entire operation — from my social media presence, to the OJC website, to the work we do with clients, and so on.
Oftentimes, brand design is what comes to mind when we think about the concept of branding as a whole. It encompasses the visual identity of your brand — from your brand colours to fonts to photography style — and the way those elements are represented in your marketing materials. Your brand design is often the first impression your customers will have of your business. The most iconic, stand-out brands work hard to create a sense of cohesion between the visual and non-visual parts of their brand. For example, Chanel radiates an aura of luxury and exclusivity within their storytelling, brand voice, and values. The sophisticated, minimalist packaging of Chanel products (complete with their signature interlocking CC logo) supports this brand narrative quite well, whereas more colourful, accessible brand design could create a sense of misalignment.
You’ll want to create an internal style guide for your brand design as well. As it pertains to a visual identity, this includes color hex codes, font weights and styles, logo usage, photography best practices, and more.
Let’s talk about brand vibe. This is a term coined more recently that refers to the general sentiment a brand emits across its website, social media channels, product packaging, etc. For example, some brands have a serious vibe where others are more playful. Your brand vibe will ultimately come down to how your brand story, voice, values, and visual identity intersect.
The importance of creating a vibe your ideal client absolutely loves cannot be underestimated. Think about a romantic dinner: without low lighting, candles, and an intimate feel to the space, there’s no longer a romantic vibe — it could be any old dinner.
While these five brand components are SO crucial if you want to truly stand out in your industry and create an unforgettable experience for your audience from the moment they come across your business for the very first time, what it truly comes down to is the emotions you are able to evoke in your audience. If you can inspire a connection through honest values, a brand voice that captures the essence of your business, and a visual identity that reflects the “vibe” of your brand, you’re well on your way to building the trust and connection needed to skyrocket your success.
As a business consultant dedicated to building iconic brands, brand strategy is my specialty. I’ve helped dozens of businesses create winning brand strategies that have led to a massive shift in audience perception (and subsequently conversions). If you want this to be a reality in your business as well, learn more about booking a strategy call with me to discuss your brand strategy game plan!