Creating a Brand Strategy: 8 Essentials & Templates [for 2021]

Brian Nuckols

Written by:
Brian Nuckols

Taking the time to develop a winning brand strategy is a crucial objective to help improve your organization.

In this post, I’ve collected the essential steps you need to take to upgrade your brand strategy, as well as concrete tips you can utilize right away.

Let’s get started!

 

Table of Contents

What is a Brand Strategy?

4 Types of Branding Strategies

Essentials for a Winning Brand Strategy

How to Build a Brand Strategy in 8 Steps

A Brand Strategy Template to Help You Get Started

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

What is a Brand Strategy?

We will start by defining brand strategy as the process of achieving long term goals during your organization’s evolution. Said another way, brand strategy is the plan you follow so your most important outcomes emerge in the world.

Branding is a way to bring your organization’s intangible aspects like its authenticity, personality, reputation and unique selling proposition into one neat concept.

You can understand strategy by comparing and contrasting with a related concept, tactics.

Many people conflate tactics and strategies with each other. This conflation leads to confusing branding strategies with branding tactics.

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A strategy is your map for achieving long-term goals that do not always need a discrete endpoint. A strategy is more like a process or a path that involves moving iteratively towards your goals.

Tactics are a far more concrete concept. They are essentially action steps taken to achieve the goals set in your branding strategy.

Some common branding tactics are to create a website, launch a new ad campaign or create visual content for a company blog.

Branding strategists may also use initiatives as a synonym for tactics because they typically have an objective time frame and discrete endpoint.

To craft an effective brand strategy, you must understand what your brand stands for and the extraordinary impact it hopes to make on the world.

Additionally, it is helpful to articulate any promises or guarantees you make to your customers. Expressing your brand’s personality conveys how communication with customers is a critical step in the brand strategy process.

 

4 Types of Branding Strategies

Now that we have explored an overview of brand strategy, we will move to the four most important types of branding strategies you need to know.

Here's an infographic to summarize the four branding strategies. Keep scrolling to read about each brand strategy in more detail.

Customize this infographic template and make it your own!Edit and Download

 

Type #1: Brand Extension

The first type of brand strategy we will explore is a brand extension. When you use the brand extension strategy, you are expanding your existing brand into new product categories.

The strategy’s essence is to expand your reach by moving into new markets on your existing brand’s strength.

When you extend into new categories, they can be related and unrelated to your current category.

Nike is an excellent example of a company that expands its reach through brand extension. They have grown from shoes into products as diverse as sunglasses and golf balls.

What is essential to keep in mind from a brand strategy perspective is to select new categories that match your brand mission statement and values.

Ultimately, the strategy you are using is to launch a new product underneath your established brand name in a new product category.

Although starting a new product seems like a daunting task, it is a viable strategy for brands of all sizes.

It is a viable strategy because you can ride the strength of your pre-existing brand, including all of the social proof and value that comes with it.

Even though the new product will be unfamiliar in the marketplace, the goodwill you have built up will create a greater likelihood of market penetration in the new category.

This success will help you reach a new audience and increase your overall brand strength.

 

Type #2: Line Extension

The second type of brand strategy we will explore is line extension.

In the brand extension strategy, you expand your brand’s presence in a new product category. The line extension strategy does something similar by increasing your reach inside your existing product category.

A great example of this takes place in the creation of new cell phone products. When a company like Apple creates a phone with a larger screen to appeal to a larger segment of customers, they use the line extension strategy.

When you use this strategy, it can help to win over customers who are choosing your competitors because they are looking for a product with specific features.

Instead of losing these customers, line extension can be a profitable way to increase your brand’s strength.

Ready to get started with translating your brand strategy ideas into an interactive presentation for your team? Use the digital branding and promotion template to get organizational buy-in!

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

 

Type #3: Derived Branding

The third brand strategy we will explore is the derived branding strategy.

While the first two strategies have covered how to expand your brand as a strategy of improvement, this strategy is about breaking things down.

Your product or service will likely include some key components that come together to deliver value for your customers. The derived branding strategy is when you isolate a particular feature and give it a separate branded identity.

An example of this is the consumer electronic company Intel. Their chips are in many PC products. Instead of branding Intel computers as a standalone entity, Dell chooses to give a component of the PC its own brand identity.

 

Type #4: Individual Branding

The fourth type of brand strategy we will explore is individual branding.

This strategy involves emphasizing personal characteristics, values and accomplishments that executives or team members have that highlight your brand’s mission.

It's beneficial for executives and leadership to use their platforms to amplify brand values. Plus, it's easier for people to connect with people.

 

Essentials for a Winning Brand Strategy

Now that we have reviewed the four types of brand strategy you can use, we will discuss some essentials for creating a winning brand strategy.

 

Essential #1: Employee Buy-In

The first essential that is crucial for you to dial in with your branding strategy is employee buy-in. Having an authentic approach to branding is the most sustainable way to create an effective employee buy-in strategy.

One way to create more authenticity in your branding is to link your forward facing company culture with your outward facing brand voice.

The most critical step in reinforcing this link is clearly articulating the promises you make to customers and your company’s underlying values.

This clarity is a great way to make sure your employees feel aligned with your brand. If they resonate with your company’s values and mission statement, and you articulate the branding strategy’s importance, you are sure to be on the same page.

Whether you are already clear on your company values or need to do some work articulating them for your branding strategy, you can ask the following questions.

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • How do you create value for them?
  • What is your vision?
  • What are your values?
  • What does your company hope to be in the world?

 

Essential #2: Consistency

The second essential for winning brand strategy is brand consistency. Brand consistency is the regular delivery of content that aligns with your values and brand strategy over time.

This consistency means that your audience can expect exposure to your key messages and core offerings regularly. Brand consistency means you always deliver core messages with consistent visual branding and other regular brand elements.

Easy ways to achieve brand consistency include creating a brand style guide and ensuring you deliver messages in a similar tone across time.

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

When you achieve brand consistency, your customers will start to recognize your messages and build positive associations.

 

Essential #3: Lean into Emotion Benefits

Emotional branding is the process of creating a relationship between an audience and a brand by provoking their emotions. We can achieve this by creating a brand that appeals to your ideal customer’s emotional state and aspirations.

The work of Marc Gobé is a good reference point for emotional branding.

He created the emotional branding concept and detailed it in his book The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People.

The philosophy is based on the observation that connections occur on an emotional level in relationships between brands and people.

 

Essential #4: Take a Flexible Long-Term Approach

Getting the most out of your branding strategy means taking a long-term approach.

Do not be afraid of making efforts now that may take a while to materialize. Branding is a long-term investment that will pay dividends if you continue to improve.

There is an important balance to strike between long-term planning and short-term flexibility. It's crucial to leave space in your branding strategy to adjust to real world feedback as it arrives.

 

How to Build a Brand Strategy in 8 Steps

Now that we have reviewed some of the essentials, we can shift to some concrete tips. We will now move on to eight practical steps you can take to develop your brand strategy.

 

Step #1: Establish Your Core Values

The first step to build your brand strategy is to establish your core values. Core values are the beliefs you have about your brand that inform your actions.

Use this template to jot down the values that matter most to your brand.

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These core values are why your company exists and are related to the specific problems you hope to solve for your customers.

Often, the company’s founding forged these values, and they are unlikely to shift much as your company grows. They are a foundational anchor of your brand strategy.

 

Step #2: Create a Strategic Positioning Statement

The next step to creating a brand strategy is to make a positioning statement. The positioning statement is a description of your product as well as your target market.

Its purpose is to show exactly how your product serves a particular need in a target market.

Here's an editable template you can use to craft your brand positioning statement and visualize its various elements.

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

You can use a positioning statement as a tool to make sure your marketing efforts are on the same page as your brand strategy.

You can also use the positioning statement to communicate your value proposition to your ideal customers by featuring your brand’s core characteristics.

Before crafting your positioning statement, you have to find clarity on the following aspects of your brand.

  • Who do you serve?
  • What do you offer them?
  • How do you offer it to them?
  • How does this compare to current offers?

 

Step #3: Understand Your Ideal Customer Profile

The third step to build a winning brand strategy is to understand your ideal customer profile.

An ideal customer profile is a description of the type of customer that would gain a lot of value from your product or service.

They are the easiest to sell, have the highest retention rates and love to refer others to your product.

In short, the ideal customer profile is a description of future customers that have the characteristics of your most important success stories.

Here's a buyer persona template you can customize to visualize and organize details about your ideal target market.

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

After you develop a thorough ICP, it will help you clarify the value you create for your customers. This will help you layout your branding strategy that is like a beacon for new customers and revenue.

 

Step #4: Craft a Brand Promise

The fourth step in building a winning brand strategy is to craft a brand promise. A compelling brand promise combines the brevity of a tagline with your unique selling proposition.

The more any brand delivers on the promises they make, the more effective their brand strategy becomes. Conversely, if you can not match your expectations, the brand strategy is failing.

This risk of not matching the brand promise is why it is vital to create a valuable brand promise that is both exciting and realistic.

At Visme, we help you design and share beautiful on-brand presentations, infographics and other visual communications. This statement is a brand promise.

It is an experience you can expect to receive when you interact with our design tools.

 

Step #5: Have a Visual Identity

The next step, when it comes to brand strategy, is to have a visual identity.

Now that we have explored various ways to find clarity on how you create value for your customers, we need to translate that into your customer facing communications.

Visual identity is the overarching description of the images and visible elements of your brand. The visual identity includes everything from your website to your business cards and social media accounts.

Use this template to define your visual identity elements, such as logo variations, brand color palette and brand typography.

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

The images you chose are a crucial form of communication when making an impression on your audience.

Your overarching visual identity will impact your ideal customers on an emotional level. Because of this impact, visual identity is an essential tool for building an effective brand strategy.

Conversely, if things go awry on this step, visual identity can become an obstacle to further growth.

A short description of the visual identity includes all of the imagery that expresses who your brand is and why you are different from everyone else.

A vital step in developing a brand strategy is to create and or review your brand style guide. A brand style guide will give you, and everyone on your team, instructions on creating a consistent visual identity.

 

Step #6: Review Crucial Customer Touchpoints

The sixth step in creating a brand strategy is to review crucial customer touchpoints.

Reviewing these touchpoints will help assure that your brand strategy is consistent in the most significant locations where people discover your brand.

A brand touchpoint is a point of contact between your audience and your brand. It includes things like your email newsletter, social media profiles and website.

Here's a template to help you visualize your customer touchpoints.

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

When you create a winning brand strategy, discovering the most crucial, revenue-generating touchpoints is a good step.

Understanding where your branding efforts make the most impact will help you prioritize any tweaks that can significantly impact your results.

 

Step #7: Get Clear On Your Brand’s Voice

The next step to building a winning brand strategy is to find clarity on your brand's voice. Defined simply, a brand voice is the standard way you communicate with your audience.

Here's a template you can customize to pinpoint your brand voice.

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

The ingredients of a brand voice are reasonably straightforward.

First, you must address the brand voice toward your ideal customer. Second, the brand voice should stay true to the brand values you described earlier in the brand strategy process.

If you include those two ingredients, an authentic style will emerge. For some brands, the voice takes a more authoritative tone. Additionally, for others, a more playful voice feels more authentic.

 

Step #8: Build a Regular Brand Audit

The final step for developing a winning brand strategy is to schedule a regular brand audit.

A brand audit is a thorough review that describes how your brand strategy performs compared to the goals we articulated during the brand strategy creation.

You should schedule these audits quarterly. Block out 1-2 hours to review your visual identity. Ask yourself these open ended questions.

  • How well is our visual identity representing our core values?
  • What tweaks or improvements can we make to improve our brand strategy?
  • Are the critical customer touchpoints speaking to the ideal customer most effectively?
  • What small experiments can we make with our brand voice to more accurately reflect our mission?

You can also take advantage of our brand audit template below.

A brand audit template available in Visme.
Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

There are many benefits to schedule a regular tempo of brand audits. First, you establish standard performance benchmarks. Additionally, you create a routine of incrementally improving your brand strategy.

Now that we’ve explored the best strategies to create a brand strategy, we will share how to use Visme templates to enhance your efforts.

However, if you’re not entirely sure how Visme can help, please check out our short video on tips for marketing plans like your branding strategy.

 

A Brand Strategy Template to Help You Get Started

Ready to translate your branding ideas into a dynamic brand strategy document? Customize this winning brand strategy template and get started right away.

Customize this template and make it your own!Edit and Download

 

Ready To Start Developing Your Brand Strategy?

A winning brand strategy will help you reach your goals. While integrating the theoretical knowledge is a good start, using Visme to incorporate professional design into your brand strategy is the next step.

With Visme, you get an all-in-one tool to create, share and manage your brand assets, content marketing visuals, presentations, reports and more.

When you are ready to take your design to the next level, get started with a free Visme account and take it for a test drive for as long as you want.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Now that you are ready to use Visme to help develop your brand voice, I would like to address the eight most common frequently asked questions about the process.

Q1. What is a brand strategy in marketing?

The definition of brand strategy is a long term and organization wide initiative for your brand to achieve concrete, measurable goals. Designing strategies to work across the entire organization is a mark of winning brand strategy.

Brand strategy helps you improve customer experiences, increase revenue and become more competitive in the marketplace.

Q2. How much does brand strategy cost?

Creating involves understanding the essence of your company. Additionally, it consists of understanding how your product fits within that mission and the marketplace.

Understanding these types of questions takes investments in your time and energy as a leader or employee in the company. It will be a variable cost depending on the value of your time.

Alternatively, you can hire a designing agency. Check out this helpful guide from TechCrunch on the varying costs of startup branding.

However, suppose you want to try branding on your own.

In that case, you can pick up the following two book suggestions designers commonly recommend: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout and Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler.

You can also use Visme to get professional design without needing high professional design costs.

Q3. How to build an employer brand strategy?

The best way to build a strong employer brand strategy is to understand your organization’s needs.

When you understand your business’s short and long term needs, you can craft an effective strategy. Understanding your needs will help you find clarity on everything you want to accomplish.

This clarity will help you align your goals with existing skill sets in the labor market.

When you do this, you can craft an employer strategy to attract the skills that will move your company forward.

To gain even more clarity on this issue, you can ask questions like:

  1. What objectives will the business pursue over the next 12-36 months?
  2. What new products and services are in the pipeline?
  3. What talent gaps exist that could prevent us from meeting our obligations?

Q4. How to create a brand strategy roadmap?

Creating a brand strategy roadmap is an important step to take when developing a winning brand strategy.

There are four elements that you should include in your brand strategy road map. These include vision, brand purpose, values and goals.

The vision component in the brand strategy roadmap will discuss the direction your brand is traveling. It defines an ideal outcome your brand is hoping to create in the world.

The purpose component asks the question, why is this vision important? What is the motivation underneath your ideal outcome? What makes it essential to the world?

Next, the value section helps you define what your brand stands for. What are your standards for operating as a company? How does this shape your strategy?

The goals section is where you get more concrete with your brand strategy roadmap.

What exactly do you hope to achieve? Make sure to include the specific metrics that track your results.

Q5. What does a brand strategy look like?

A great metaphor to help guide your brand strategy is to look at brand strategy like storytelling.

Our favorite stories transcend their medium. They are more than books, shows or movies. They are a lived emotional experience.

Stories achieve this experience with a simple structure. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. Additionally, they always have some kind of transformation or change involved.

When you build your brand strategy, make sure it communicates how your product or service creates a change in the world. Include language about where the customer starts, what it is like using your product and where they end up.

A good story is not just something to read on a page — it’s an experience. And for something to be an experience, it needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end. At the end of the story, there must be some kind of change from the start.

Q6. What does a director of brand strategy do?

A director of brand strategy is typically responsible for managing various brand strategy projects for multiple clients. Often, they collaborate with marketing and design teams to meet organizational goals to increase brand awareness within the market.

Q7. What is a brand strategy document?

A brand strategy document can include several different brand strategy templates that your team will use to improve their work. It may include details on your value proposition, brand narrative, customer personas and positioning statements.

Q8. Why is brand strategy important?

Brand strategy is important because it helps you cultivate a strong presence in the market. It gives you a definition that your customers will recognize.

Additionally, it gives you concrete benchmarks to track your progress. Without a brand strategy, you will find yourself unable to judge your branding efforts’ progress accurately.

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About the Author

Brian Nuckols is a writer working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enjoys communicating visionary ideas in clear, action oriented language. When he’s not working on content for a transformative company you can find him analyzing dreams, creating music, and writing poetry.

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