Congratulations! You have discovered your next business idea that will change the world! In addition to starting your business operations now there are logos and taglines and websites, and social media marketing to consider. You have all your ducks in a row…or at least, you think you do.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating something new and to forget that becoming a brand requires a lot more than a great logo, tagline, and website. All that shiny stuff is just window-dressing. The research, positioning, and messaging are the real nuts and bolts behind a brand strategy.
As you read through the below list, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed. But rest assured that if you take your time and insist on being intentional as you work through this process, you will be overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the result.
Key Considerations for Launching Your Brand Strategy: 1. Start with the basics: Is there a market? AKA look both ways before you cross that street.
Whether you are creating a brand strategy for a new product or for an extension of an existing product line, it’s important to do some serious research into the potential market that you want to tap into. There are three important areas to consider here.
A. Market/situational awareness:
Research the current tools, technologies, services, and work-arounds. Positioning your brand in the market requires extensive understanding of what else is available. You will be looking to gain a share of these markets.
Ask the following questions about existing brands and peers:
- What works/doesn’t work?
- What’s the broader discussion? Are companies/thought leaders talking about this capability?
- Where is the solution on the technology cycle (innovative vs. mature)?
- Is there pending legislation or regulation that may shift the market dynamics?
B. Market segmentation and prioritization:
Once you have a handle on what the market looks like, dig deeper. Get as specific as you can about what your target market looks like. Segment and prioritize different target groups in the way that makes the most sense for your brand. Finally, determine each segment’s pain points and specific challenges.
- Who is my specific target market? How do the buy? When? Why?
- Where are these customers? Consider industry, customer size, geography, innovation requirements, you get the idea.
- What are the customer pain points our product solves?
C. Competitive analysis
The last piece in the market puzzle of your brand strategy is doing a thorough competitive analysis. This will help determine how to position your brand both in terms of the current market landscape and projecting into the future potential shifts.
Ask the following about your competition:
- Who are they?
- Where are they (physical locations, virtual locations, operational status)?
- How big are they?
- Market share (try to get at least a notional sense)?
2. Now, go deep inside your business. How will your new brand change your operations?
Depending on how much of a transformation you plan to make as you build your brand strategy, this will take a good mix of pragmatism, creativity, and a bit of speculation. It helps to bring in your team to get a full picture of potential business impacts.
How will you need to structure your current business to accommodate the new brand? Or is this really a new business/company? A spin-off? A joint venture? A product extension?
3. Prepare your brand messaging
Messaging can be the difference between launching a successful brand and launching a brand. It’s the difference between a basically reliable casual shoe and a Nike. Try to figure out what unique value your brand offers and more importantly, how to get the word out. This may take some trial and error. Above all, make sure your messaging reflects your brand promise.
A. Value Proposition
- Why us?
- Why now?
- What problem do we solve?
- What pains do we alleviate?
B. Brand promise
What are you offering your buyers? Why is it important? What does your brand stand for and why?
C. Positioning Statements
- How do our priority market segments prefer to receive information?
- What is the tone they prefer?
- How can we signal social proof?
D. Message Architecture
Think of message architecture as scaffolding for all your marketing content. Your message architecture or framework will support and shape all the content you produce going forward. When marketers and communications pros talk about messaging, they are talking about the general impression they want customers to take away from the content itself.
E. Elevator pitch – you have just 15 seconds in an elevator with your dream client – what do you say?
Every new brand needs an elevator pitch. This should be easier once you’ve done the research and analysis above.
4. Brand Identity — most people skip directly to this step, but putting in the upfront work is critical to developing a brand strategy.
Your brand’s identity is the public perception of the brand. A lot more than words on your website goes into your brand identity.
Here the following are crucial:
- A. Is this a stand-alone solution or does is it part of a family/suite of products/solutions?
- B. Reflect on your market research and align to your aspirational positioning.
- C. Consider whether you need/want a tagline — a tagline can be a powerful brand discriminator and shorthand for what’s unique about your brand.
- D. Don’t forget to reserve your URLs!
5. Launch Strategy — get ready to be big!
Now that you’ve put in the hard work, you can start to plan the launch strategy for your new brand. I offer some good tips here in my blog on www.audaciastrategies.com. And just imagine how much confidence you’ll have gained once you’ve completed the list above.
I know that this all sounds like a lot of work and it is! But this is your company. What could be more rewarding and satisfying than watching your business concept grow from a thought bubble into a household name?