August 21, 2023

What is Brand Strategy?

Ryan Magada

  • Brand strategy is an important aspect of a company's success.
  • It guides decision-making and helps a company differentiate itself from competitors, build trust, and increase customer loyalty.
  • A visionary leader should shape and document the brand strategy, which should be reviewed and updated regularly.
  • The brand's values and character should not change without a good reason.
  • Building a brand strategy alone is possible, but it can be challenging, so hiring a guide to navigate the process is recommended.

Brand Strategy? I’ll take buzzwords for $1000, Alex!

There’s always a buzz around “brand” words. Brand positioning, brand strategy, brand identity, brand recognition - these words feel trendy, ambiguous, and to some extent overwhelming.

The questions we receive most often are:

  • What is brand strategy?
  • Why is it important to have a brand strategy?
  • Who shapes the brand strategy in an organization?
  • When should a brand strategy change?
  • How can I set a brand strategy?

What is brand strategy?

Qualtrics has a great definition of brand strategy, “Think of your brand strategy as your north star. It guides your decisions about what you do and just as importantly, what you don’t do. Strategy is informed once you decide where you sit in the market, whom you want to go after, and how you’re going to target them.”

Even if you have never formally set a brand strategy, you likely have a very simple guide that you are operating from - your personal values. Your values are filters for behavior that are created by your collective experiences (good AND bad) that inform how you interact with the world, how you deliver your products and services, and the experience you create for your audience.

Why is it important to have a brand strategy?

A brand strategy helps a company differentiate itself from its competitors, build trust with its target audience, and increase customer loyalty. It also helps a company align its marketing efforts with its business goals and create a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints.

Without this “north star,” your organization’s personality, values, and overall direction will shift from day to day and from touchpoint to touchpoint. Everything will feel disconnected, and customers just won’t engage deeply.

Who shapes the brand strategy in an organization?

Every company needs a visionary. Someone who knows exactly what kind of meaningful work they want to bring into the world.  This person should set the strategy and document it clearly and concisely so that they can share it with the organization. It needs to be centrally located and easily accessible for the entire organization, and most importantly, it needs to be talked about ad nauseam.

When your brand strategy gets talked about frequently, it becomes part of your culture. The guiding principles aren't held and enforced by a select few but are embraced by all as the path forward for the organization.

When should a brand strategy change?

A brand strategy should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure it continues aligning with the company's business goals and resonates with its target audience. This can involve updating messaging, refreshing visual identity, or even repositioning the brand if necessary.

The tactics and touchpoints will shift and change, but the heart of a brand (values, character, etc.) shouldn't change without a really really good reason. This can happen when leadership changes, a major internal crisis happens, or other major economic factors start to impact the direction of a business.

How can I set a brand strategy?

You have two paths:

  1. You can go it alone and struggle with building a brand strategy from scratch.
  2. You can hire a guide who can help you navigate the process.

There’s nothing wrong with Path One, but know that it’s not for the faint of heart. Not only will you have to overcome your imposter syndrome alone, but you will also need to get out of your own way in many places for the good of the vision and the growth of the brand. This is hard work.

Path Two can streamline the process and give you a clear and concise way to share the brand strategy with the organization.