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What are the key components of a brand strategy?

Lindsay Says

Brand strategy is a statement of who you are, what you represent, what you mean as a company. And the most powerful brand strategies make this statement with exquisite specificity. They make a specific promise to a specific audience with a specific character.

The more specific your brand strategy, the more your customers will bond with you. The more that customers bond with you, the more economic value you create.

The components you specifically need to articulate for your brand are: (1) sweet spot audience, (2) context, (3) brand promise and, (4) brand character. Let’s take a look at each.

1) Sweet spot customer

  • Who is this human being you wish to serve?
  • While there may be a variety of types of customers, the most potent brand strategies name the specific common thread. What are the attitudinal, behavioral, and psychic insights that you’ll leverage in order to serve this person?
  • Let this common thread be empathetic and human. A demographic target may be useful for buying media, but it is rarely useful for brand strategy.

Instead, identify the psychographic insight for this audience. What keeps this person up at night? What do they care about? What are their tensions? What are they like as a person? What is their philosophy? What do they do for a living? How do they relate to the problem you solve?

2) Context -- Competitive Frame of Reference

  • What is the context of your sweet spot customer when considering your offering? What are they currently doing because they do not have your business in their lives? This might be a set of direct competitors, but it’s more likely a substitute or a workaround behavior.
  • Brand strategy is about differentiating. Before you can show up as different, you first need to know – different from what?

3) Brand Promise

What do you promise to your sweet spot customer in this given context? Make a promise that has a functional, factual, and emotional angle.

Functional promise: What is the rational benefit a customer will experience as a result of choosing you?

Reason to believe: Why should your customer believe that functional promise?

Emotional end reward: What is the emotional reward a customer ultimately experiences because your promise was true?

4) Brand Character

If your business were a human being, what would that human being be like? How would you characterize this human being’s personality? How would you describe their tone?

By defining what your business’s character is like, you make it easier for your customer to bond with you, and you make it easier for employees to represent your brand in a way that is coherent and motivating.

Some brand strategies will go on to create a visual identity system for a brand. Other brand strategies will go on to create copy and marketing collateral. Yet other brand strategies will become the springboard for a campaign or launch.

But all value-creating brand strategies are rooted in specificity. This requires a courageous and concerted effort to choose. When you start with a precise choice of audience, competition, promise, and character, you set the conditions to unlock value.

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