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Create a brand strategy: A comprehensive guide for startup brands

create a brand,create a brand strategy,brand,brand guidelines,strong brand,brand identity,build a brand,elements of a brand strategy,build your brand strategy,develop a brand strategy,strong brand strategy,brand purpose,brand message,brand story,effective brand,tone of voice,content marketing,style guide
What does it take to build a brand?

If I got a penny every time someone asked us to just create their brand guidelines without any pegs, inspirations, or clues on what their brand is about, trust me, I would be rich by now!

You see, most people don’t realize how much work it takes to build a brand.

Sure, some people just come up with a name and logo and call it a day.

In fact, I know a mom-and-pop shop that has been operating for 30 years, selling home-cooked meals without a logo or proper signage, and everyone in town still knows them.

But that’s the thing.

Branding is more than just a logo or a catchy tagline, it’s the essence of what your business stands for.

That mom-and-pop shop is only known for its hard-working owners, and they continue to stay in business because of the locals who have bought their food for years.

That sense of community and direct connection to the owners of the store is what built their brand.

It took a while (probably months) for people to try out their offerings, get to know the owners and make visiting the shop a part of their regular routine.

Even then, it’s rare for businesses like these to get outside of the local scene.

The average brand owner may not have the same time, resources, or even foot traffic to build a brand this way.

Especially if your business is only online, it is even more important to be strategic when building your brand.

A strategic approach to branding helps set you apart from your competition and build a loyal community.

Think of brands like Amazon, YouTube, and Spotify. They are all online businesses.

They’re not constantly inviting you to go to their websites, but they have become a part of your life, so you visit them very often.

Even when there are other marketplaces, video sites, and music platforms, they’re your “go-to” because you associate them with a certain belief or have made them a part of your routine.

This is the power of strategic branding.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the essential components of a brand strategy, focusing on defining your brand’s purpose, positioning, and promise.

We’ll explore concepts like the brand pyramid and SWOT analysis to help you develop brand strategies that resonate with your target audience and drive long-term success for your brand.

Postioning: the part of your brand strategy that sets you apart

Think of who your ideal clients are, what your brand can do for them, and how you are different from your competitors.

That is your positioning.

Your positioning statement tells your potential clients what your brand is for and how it meets their needs.

A strong positioning statement should include:

  • Target audience: Who are you making your products or services for?
  • Market definition: What kind of products or services do you offer?
  • Brand promise: What benefit do you provide that may not be in other brands?
  • Reason to believe: How do you prove this brand promise?

For example, if we were to create a brand positioning statement for Apple, it would look something like this:

  • Target audience: For efficient people who are frustrated with complex technology needing a more practical solution for daily use.
  • Market definition: Apple, the consumer electronics brand.
  • Brand promise: simplifies complicated technology to help people get the most out of their devices.
  • Reason to believe: Providing easy-to-use systems and UI on devices such as iPhones, Macbooks, iPads, etc.

Yes, it might seem so simple and unnecessary, but this can help you build a solid foundation for your brand.

When you get lost in the haze of constant development and scaling your business in the future, you can look back on your brand positioning and use that to guide you in your decisions.

To help you create your brand positioning, here are some steps you can take:

Develop a brand strategy with your ideal customer profile

Knowing your ideal customer profile (ICP) or target market helps you tailor your brand strategy to meet their specific needs and preferences.

Think about it. How would you sell to someone if you don’t even know who they are?

Different people have different wants and needs.

What may be trendy to a younger and constantly online audience may not work for a conservative and traditional older audience.

Coming up with your ICP helps you make sure your branding efforts resonate with those who can benefit from your products or services.

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You can create several brand profiles for your different target audiences.

You should know the characteristics of your ICP, such as:

  • Demographics: How old are they? Can your products benefit a specific gender, income level, or level of education?
  • Psychographics: What kind of interests, values, and lifestyles would people have to want to engage with and use your product or service?
  • Behavioral traits: Do you know what products they are likely to buy? Do they buy in bulk or in individual pieces? Do they like to pay subscriptions monthly or annually? Are they likely to stay loyal to a brand or try others for variety?

As a simple example, if your ideal customers are tech-savvy web developers, they may be aged 25–40.

They are often on tight schedules and need reliable solutions that enhance their projects without delays, so they value efficiency and quality.

How will you let them know that your brand exists and you are offering something they might find useful?

You can establish several ideal customer profiles and create different marketing materials and products that cater to them specifically.

Build your brand strategy with defined brand values

Brand core values are the fundamental beliefs that guide your business decisions and how you communicate with your audience.

While you can attract people with great value products and promotions, they may leave you for another product that offers bigger discounts.

You can only build brand loyalty through brand values.

After all, people are not loyal to just faceless brand names.

They are loyal to the beliefs and culture around brands.

Think of Patagonia.

People purchase their outdoor gear not only because it is practical but also because it stands for sustainability, the love of adventure, and preserving the environment.

Your core values help build trust and credibility, which are essential for client loyalty.

You can start by asking yourself and your team:

  • What principles are non-negotiable in our business?
  • How do we want our clients and employees to perceive us?
  • What motivates us to do what we do?

From there, you can build core values that define your brand.

Every successful brand strategy has a strong brand promise

While your core values are not visible but something that is felt from your brand messaging and the way you interact with your audience, the brand promise is the visible things your clients can expect from you.

This is why it has to be simple, believable, achievable, and consistent with your core values and positioning.

Think of what makes your product or service unique and how it addresses your customers’ pain points.

For example, at Deer Designer, we offer high-quality, consistent, and reliable designs from a dedicated design team at an affordable price.

No matter how we change the brand in the future, our clients can always expect this from us.

You can hold us accountable for this, as it is something you can see and experience for yourself!

Establish your brand’s voice

Your brand’s voice is the tone in which you communicate with your audience.

Every time your audience sees a message or a post from you, you want them to associate it with a tone or personality that they can relate to.

Think of your brand’s core values, brand message, and how you want your audience to perceive your brand.

Are you professional, friendly, authoritative, or casual?

You want this brand voice to be consistent across all communication channels, including your website, social media, customer service, and marketing materials.

This helps your brand stay memorable.

Think of Google, for example.

What voice do you imagine them to have?

No matter which AI voice assistant you may hear, it is consistent that their tone is friendly, enthusiastic, approachable, and helpful.

It also helps to make this voice consistent with your brand story.

If you want to be established as an expert in your field with years of experience, you want your brand voice to be professional, authoritative, and informative.

If your brand has humble beginnings and wants to come across as approachable yet professional, your brand voice may be friendly, helpful, and clear, avoiding jargon and speaking directly to the audience.

Building a brand pyramid for an effective brand

With all of the details above sorted out, you can then build your brand pyramid.

This is a framework that helps you understand your brand’s essence, from its functional benefits to its emotional impact.

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The brand pyramid establishes the overall impact of your brand.

Instead of looking at your brand as just another eCommerce store, you are seeing it as a big entity that has an impact on you, your audience, and your potential clients.

The levels of the brand pyramid include:

  • Attributes: These are the basic features of your product or service.
  • Functional benefits: These are the practical advantages of using your product or service.
  • Emotional benefits: This is how your product or service makes clients feel.
  • Brand personality: These are the human characteristics people may associate with your brand.
  • Brand essence: This is the core essence or promise of your brand.

It essentially puts all of the things you listed earlier into one cohesive branding strategy.
This is the foundation of your brand that you and anyone you work with can build on when you scale up your brand.
Each level of the pyramid builds on the previous one to create a cohesive brand strategy. For Deer Designer, for example, that may look something like:

  • Attributes: Clients can constantly expect fast turnaround times with high-quality designs from their design team.
  • Functional benefits: It saves startups and agencies time for their businesses while enhancing the quality of their designs.
  • Emotional benefits: It gives them peace of mind and confidence as they are working with a professional design team.
  • Brand personality: The Deer Designer team is creative, reliable, and innovative.
  • Brand essence: “Your own Design Team: reliable and always available.”
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Our brand guidelines at Deer Designer apply to our merchandise too!

All the brand names you can recall simply by seeing their colors or iconic logos have a comprehensive brand strategy and strict rules around their visual identity.

They use their colors, logos, and messaging deliberately, so you remember their brand immediately when you see their marketing campaigns.

Reinforcing your strong brand strategy across all customer touchpoints

Every interaction a customer has with your brand is a touchpoint.

A great brand strategy considers the client journey from seeing your brand through an ad to scrolling through your social media and website before making a purchase or sending you a message.

Arguably, this is the most important part of a business strategy.

You can constantly say that your brand wants to be client-centric, but people won’t believe you if you have poor customer service at any of these touchpoints.

This is why you should constantly be reviewing and optimizing these touchpoints to ensure a seamless and positive customer experience.

Here are some important touchpoints you have with your audience and how you can ensure they are supporting your brand:

  • Website: It should be user-friendly, easy to navigate, and have clear messaging.
  • Social media: You should be using consistent branding, creating engaging content, and being responsive to any comments or messages.
  • Customer service: Your customer service representative should always be ready with prompt and helpful responses and professionalism.
  • Marketing materials: Your brochures, emails, and ads should be consistent and on-brand.

Regularly review and update your touchpoints to ensure they align with your brand strategy and deliver a cohesive experience.

Conducting a SWOT analysis

When was the last time you had a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis?

How do you expect to grow your brand if you don’t know this?

How will you know what threats and competitors you should be looking out for?

You can’t just run your business on guesswork!

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Do you know the internal and external strengths and weaknesses of your brand?

A SWOT analysis helps you understand your brand’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats.

Yes, it might seem like too much work, and at times you might just be pointing out the obvious, but you would be surprised by all the things you could learn from the SWOT analysis.

If anything, it helps your team stay on the same page about your brand’s goals.

During a SWOT analysis, you see the following:

  • Strengths: What your brand does well.
  • Weaknesses: Areas where your brand could improve.
  • Opportunities: External factors that your brand can take advantage of.
  • Threats: External challenges or competitors your brand faces.

You can gather input for this analysis from various stakeholders, including partners, employees, and customers.

You can have polls online or have physical survey forms whenever people visit you or make a purchase.

If you want a professional’s opinion on your brand’s SWOT analysis (at least in the design and branding aspects), you can schedule a call with your creative director at Deer Designer.

They can help assess your existing brand and how it can be improved.

Building a strong brand identity

Building a brand strategy is a complicated process that goes beyond just coming up with an iconic logo and tagline.

It involves creating strong brand visuals and messaging that also match the interests of your target market.

Using frameworks like the Brand Pyramid and SWOT analysis can provide valuable insights and direction for your branding efforts.

Given the many competitors you have out there, it is even more important to develop a brand strategy that resonates with your target audience and sets you apart from this competition.

By following these guidelines and continuously refining your approach, you can build a strong, recognizable brand that drives long-term success.

Do you need help with building your brand?

We have a team of design experts who can offer advice on developing and implementing a brand design strategy that works for your business.

Book a client-fit call today!

Key takeaways

  • A well-executed brand strategy includes your brand’s messaging and purpose beyond just your visual identity. It can help you stand out from your competitors.
  • Your brand positioning lets people know how your brand meets the needs of your target market.
  • Having a defined brand voice helps you maintain brand consistency in how you communicate with your audience.
  • The brand pyramid establishes the benefits you offer your potential customers and your overall brand impact.
  • A brand’s visual identity is a defining point in marketing strategy as it affects how the brand is perceived and remembered by its audience. It collates your brand messaging, purpose, and voice into visible and tangible materials.
  • The brand experience a customer has with your website, social media, and other touchpoints can help support your brand’s messaging.
  • With a SWOT analysis, you can become aware of the opportunities your brand can use to improve and the potential threats and competitors you should look out for.