The Art of Branding Mastery: A Definitive Guide
Before we dive into the art of crafting a brand strategy, let’s first try to demystify the concept of branding. In the marketplace, there’s often a lot of confusion surrounding this term.
So, what exactly is branding? Is it merely your logo, tagline, company name, or website design? Well, it’s all of these elements and yet, it’s something far more profound.
A brand is an unforgettable impression etched into a customer’s psyche through their interactions with your company. In the eloquent words of Seth Godin: “A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one service (or product) over another.”
However, crafting an impactful brand strategy requires a well-coordinated process that ensures all of these components harmonise seamlessly, consistently reinforcing your customers’ perceptions. But exactly how do you craft a branding strategy that boosts your ROI and improves brand awareness? We provide a step-by-step guide below.
Step 1 – Establish Your Brand Foundation
Formulating your brand marketing strategy revolves around defining your brand’s essence and its unique value proposition. These fundamental elements will serve as guiding beacons throughout the entire process.
Identify Your Brand Type
Brands can be broken down into three distinct realms – organisational, product/service, and idea. It’s beneficial to grasp these categories as they often interweave seamlessly. Let’s explore an example from Apple Inc to illustrate this synergy.
- Organisational Brand – Apple Inc.
- Product/Service Brand – A diverse array of tech products, including iPhones, MacBooks, and iPads
- Idea Brand – Apple’s commitment to innovation, design excellence, and user-friendly technology.
All of the above brand types should build on each other and support the overall customer experience.
Define Your Value Proposition
A value proposition is your key selling point, the one that sets you apart. While it can be tempting to have multiple propositions, the most effective brands are laser-focused on one type of value.
There are three primary types of value:
- Product/Service Excellence – Offering top-tier products and services through innovation and thought leadership.
- Operational Excellence – Delivering your product/service at a lower cost than competitors, often due to superior manufacturing processes or streamlined systems.
- Relationship Excellence – Solving your customers’ problems by providing customised solutions that cater to their specific needs.
For example, Apple’s value proposition (summarised in the words of Tim Cook below) is to make great products. It places a strong emphasis on creating products that are simple, intuitive, and known for their excellence. It also targets markets where they can make a significant contribution.
Step 2 – Define Your Brand Pillars
As we’ve established, a brand is essentially an immersive experience, one profoundly influenced by emotions. By emphasising your brand’s advantages, you can pinpoint precisely how your brand evokes emotional responses. While this might pose a unique challenge in the B2B landscape, for companies that master it, it confers a significant advantage. In fact, a resounding 77% of B2B marketing leaders said that branding plays a pivotal role in promoting growth.
Once you’ve identified which of your advantages generates the most profound impact, you are ready to start working on your brand pillars.
It’s essential to start by distinguishing between features and benefits:
- Feature – a fundamental aspect of what something does or represents.
- Benefit – the favourable outcome that the feature delivers. Benefits can take on either a functional or emotional dimension.
- Functional – intrinsically linked to the functionality of the feature.
- Emotional – nurtures the user’s sentiments. Start by compiling a list of your brand’s features, then explore both functional and emotional benefits. When contemplating emotional benefits in a B2B context, place your focus squarely on the decision-maker. In this scenario, it’s likely an entrepreneur launching an e-commerce venture.
Take a step back and identify your strongest features and benefits. These will make up your brand pillars.
For example, one of Apple’s brand pillars is innovation and simplicity. This makes sense since the value proposition is product/service excellence.
Gathering feedback from potential customers is essential, as it’s easy to develop tunnel vision when deeply immersed in your industry or product. Seeking a neutral perspective from a marketing agency, such as Markateur, can prove invaluable in guiding you through this critical process.
Step 3 – Craft Your Brand Personality
Imagine your brand as a person standing before you. What image do they project? How do they speak and behave? While this may seem unconventional, it’s a potent method for conveying your brand identity because, ultimately, people connect with people.
Focus on the human traits that mirror how you want your brand to be perceived in the market. These traits collectively constitute your brand’s personality. Ensure they align seamlessly with your value proposition and the emotional advantages your brand offers. Take inspiration from other brand personality examples to spark ideas.
For instance, consider Apple’s brand personality, characterised by traits such as innovation, simplicity, focus, collaboration, excellence, and adaptability. These attributes not only reinforce their value proposition but also touch on the emotional benefits associated with their brand.
The foundation of your brand narrative lies in a commitment. Branding experts stress the importance of having a singular brand identity that resonates strongly with customers. Consider this: have you ever found yourself using Google or FaceTime as a verb? Or perhaps you’ve casually mentioned going to the “Cashpoint.” This phenomenon occurs because ‘Cashpoint’ is such a widely recognised brand that it has become synonymous with ATM. If achieving global branding success seems daunting, don’t worry – many brands don’t achieve this! The point is that it’s crucial to cultivate this level of clarity internally.
Consider the following:
- Your value proposition.
- The most compelling emotional benefits you offer, or your brand’s core principles.
- The most significant challenges faced by your target customers.
- The human personality traits that define your brand.
For example, Apple’s states that its mission is “bringing the best user experience to customers through innovative hardware, software, and services.”
As part of its core values, it states: “…we don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change. And I think regardless of who is in what job those values are so embedded in this company that Apple will do extremely well.”
Brand Positioning Statement
Your brand positioning statement takes your promise to the next level, summarising the core of your brand succinctly. Establishing a positioning strategy brings clarity to various facets of your marketing efforts and provides you with an impactful elevator pitch.
Craft a 25-35 word positioning statement that includes:
- Your company, product, or service name.
- A concise description of what you offer.
- A clear indication of your target audience.
- One or two key reasons why customers choose your offerings.
Consider exploring positioning statements from other companies to gain insights and inspiration.
Apple’s positioning statement succinctly conveys a wealth of information in just two sentences. It asserts that it creates top-tier computers and mobile devices, embody innovation as a forward-thinking tech brand, and prioritises social and environmental ethics in its business practices.