Branding is daunting. You might associate it with intangibles, huge budgets, and unachievable goals. In reality, though, it's not nearly as scary once you break it down.
Every B2B business needs a brand strategy. That strategy helps you successfully position your company, keeps your marketing consistent and on track, and even keeps your employees happy. The key, then, is actually building that strategy.
You have to be convinced that it's the right thing for your business. After that, take these four steps to develop a comprehensive, cohesive, and successful brand strategy.
Why Every Business Needs a Brand Strategy
Branding is an important component of modern marketing for a variety of reasons. Put simply, it's a framework that every aspect of your marketing strategy fits into. Individual messages, tactics, and budget expenditures can all flow from that strategy.
As a result, branding keeps you on track. Done right, your strategy is more than a to-do list but a guidepost for every marketing and business decision you make.
The benefits of branding don't end there. By defining who you are in the context of your competition, it helps you build a strategy specifically designed to distinguish your business in the marketplace. It builds consistent, intentional values that makes your customers more likely to trust and buy from you.
Finally, branding done right tends to keep your employees happy. A recent LinkedIn study found that 73% of purpose-driven employees are satisfied with their job, and a brand strategy can provide that purpose.
Combine these benefits, and you understand why investing in a strong brand is worth it. Now, all you have to do is take the below 4 steps.
Step 1: Perform Internal and External Research
Every good brand is built on research. You cannot rely on hunches or industry knowledge, regardless of how valid they have proven in the past. Instead, validate (or invalidate) your beliefs with solid data that helps you make more informed strategic decisions.
Start with internal components. Define your company's goals, missions, values, and visions. This is the why of your company's existence, which is important to keep at the forefront even as you go into the external environment.
Next, extend to your competitive environment. Complete a comprehensive analysis of your industry and product market, including both your competition and your target audience. Research on your target clients, especially when performed regularly, creates significantly more profitability and business growth.
The Importance of Buyer Personas
Research, of course, only matters when you make it applicable and actionable. Based on what you learn about your target audience, create buyer personas. These are specific, hypothetical and ideal customers that represent your audience's demographics and psychographics.
In the Cyber Security sector, that might be "CISO Sam," an executive-level information security officer at a large enterprise company in need of better threat detection software. Identify his goals, habits, lifestyle, and pain points so that you can build a brand and communication strategy specifically designed to address them. (You can check out more of our cyber security personas here)
Step 2: Develop Your Brand Positioning Statement
The second step to leverage your research is to build your brand positioning statement. This statement establishes your core uniqueness and answers the following:
What, exactly, distinguishes your product or service from its competitors? What makes it uniquely able to solve your audience's pain points?
Developing that statement means thoroughly understanding and analyzing your research, then synthesizing that into a single sentence or two. It's a difficult process that typically takes quite a bit of time. Checking out some examples by the world's most successful brands is a great start to gain inspiration and learn some best practices.
Step 3: Create Your Messaging Strategy
Based on your positioning statement, it's time to start thinking about the exact messaging that you plan to put into the marketplace. That messaging strategy has to combine two crucial factors:
- It has to be in line with and fall under your positioning statement, making it unique in the medium almost by default.
- It has to speak directly to your buyer personas' interests, challenges, pain points, and concerns.
If you have multiple personas (which is quite common, actually), you need messages that are nuanced to their needs. You need to craft a voice and tone for your brand that resonates with all of your potential clients, but can also get specific for each segment depending on their needs.
Always remember that what people want to hear will resonate much more than what your brand wants to say. The key is finding a messaging strategy that accomplishes both, hitting on points of interest within the context of your positioning statement.
Step 4: Create the Deliverables
Finally, it's time to turn theory into practice. All of the above is strategy work that, while absolutely essential, will likely never make its way to your audience. It's just the framework that supports the final step: the deliverables that make your brand come to life.
That starts with your brand name, logo, and tagline. All, naturally, has to build on the above steps. Look at your competition, then find a unique niche that accurately reflects your positioning statement. Brevity is crucial as you look to compete with limited attention span and the natural clutter of the online world.
Next, it's time to pay attention to your website. Consistency is key here, especially when it comes to your visuals, voice, and tone. Convey the core information you need about your business while making it stand out from its competition.
With the framework in place, create a content calendar that allows you to plan the content you are producing for your website, social media pages, and other channels. That creates a steady stream of content and allows you to stay on track as well as on brand. Similarly, you need to make sure that your digital ads (if you use paid media) are developed with intention and designed for your audience.
Every deliverable needs a strategy that helps you track its success, and make adjustments over time. Keep coming back to the larger brand: are you serving it well, and where can you make improvements to accurately reflect that positioning statement?
Building a Brand for Greater Business Success
Branding doesn't happen overnight. The first step above alone might take months to accomplish. At the same time, it's absolutely essential for long-term, sustainable marketing success.
When it gets too much to stem on your own, you might just need help. Whether you want to tackle an entirely new branding strategy or just need a new logo, we're here to help. Learn more about our brand identity and logo design services, and let's start a conversation today.
Whitney Parker Mitchell
Whitney is a highly sought-after B2B online marketing expert with more than 12 years of experience leading marketing and communications teams in a variety of organizations, including nonprofits, small businesses, tech startups, and large global corporations. She’s helped dozens of brands gain greater recognition for their causes and products in the digital world.