Everybody has heard somebody talk about brand strategy. You hear of brand strategist and you wonder how it’s different from a designer. Sometimes designers also called themselves brand strategist and it’s hard to distinguish what you need and who to hire.
I’m gonna go over the difference between a graphic designer and brand strategist. Not all brand designers are brand strategists. And not all brand strategists are designers. This will help you understand what you’ll need for your business and how you can get started doing your own brand strategy.
As you can imagine from the word strategy, it’s all about the process and the why. This refers to how your business will run in a way that is parallel to your brand.
This is also the time you define what that really means. Brand strategy is a way to guide your business plan and helps you to navigate how you want to communicate.
It’s usually an in-depth and involved process that will help you in marketing, promoting and selling when you launch. Sometimes people rebrand their business is because they’ve learned more about their customers and need to pivot to help them better.
When you get a designer to help you with your branding, know that not everybody specializes in strategy. Usually, this is made clear in their services and their process.
If you can get a logo in a few illustrations done fairly quickly and for a cheap price, then you are paying for design rather than strategy. It’s not to say that this is necessarily better or worse. It just depends on what you need for your business at that time.
Most of the time, when you start your business, you’re not too familiar with your clientele or your customers. So you need time to make the sales and to speak to people in order to come up with your mission and vision.
It can also be a time where you reevaluate your services and your offerings. However, if you’re trying to brand your business after selling for a little while, the strategy part might be more important.
When you work on brand strategy, it usually helps you understand what your visuals have to be. There’s a lot of psychology in it as you study your target market. You figure out what appeals to them and what they need. You also learn about how to clearly communicate this with them. And with visuals being such a strong part in customer acquisition, it’s usually done with a lot of care and research.
Not to say that a beginner could not do brand strategy, but usually, this practice is done by someone with more experience. Somebody who understands both marketing and design and how they work together.
Since the brand strategy is kind of like the gateway to a business plan, it has a lot of those aspects. As I mentioned, the difference is in the communication and the visuals of it. Once you have a brand strategy it really does act like guidelines on how you will talk to your people after you’ve delved into the why.
You understand the mission, vision, and goals of your business. Who are you helping, and how are you helping them? What does that look like to you? How will your offerings align to this?
What are your goals for this business both short-term and long-term? What are the goals for yourself in relation to the business? Is this brand or a reflection of you and your personality? Or is it a brand that will live past you and is more about the vision?
The biggest part of brand strategy is the research done for the target market. This is definitely not a simple task –which is why I said that people who’ve been in business for a bit longer will have a better understanding of this.
It’s good to have a few clients in or enough customers to see certain patterns in who they are and what they need. You’ve probably heard people talk about doing some sort of customer avatar. A lot of business owners skip this part because they think they have so many different profiles of who their ideal customer is.
I always tell people that it doesn’t hurt your business or limit the type of people who buy from you by trying to hone in on one type. In fact, you can still pivot once you have more people coming to you for your services or products. And from there you can decide whether you can expand your overall target market.
For example, just because you are speaking to a woman does not mean that a man will necessarily avoid buying from you. If your offerings are that good, it won’t matter who it’s for unless it’s specifically in the tagline or your offering is made for a specific demographic.
The thing about researching your avatar is that it really helps you understand more than just demographics. What you really want to understand is psychographics.
These are more of what they think and desire rather than facts about them as a person like their age, occupation, ethnicity, etc. These are deeper questions like how do they destress at the end of the day? Do they value something that is visually appealing or are they more budget-conscious?
You can answer these questions more effectively if you already know them! You can’t really make it up because psychographics have to be real and they have to be studied.
As you can see, brand strategy is the gateway to crucial aspects of your business. It gives you guidelines that will help you remember why you do what you do. And it lets you know what’s in alignment in your business vs. what isn’t “on brand”.
That’s why when creating your main brand identity visuals, it’s essential to have a combination of both. It’s the driver behind how the rest of your business operates.
Whether you’re a designer or a business owner, I’m listing out a few of my favorite brand strategy resources.
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