What is Brand Strategy? Essential Answers + 8 Vital Steps for Retail Success

Brand is the most powerful strategic tool in your arsenal for stealing and retaining consumer wallet share.
Without a strong brand strategy, you leave your product adrift in the ever-changing sea of price changes, competing products, and increasingly confusing digital channels that fragment your ad spend.

What is brand strategy?
Stated simply: brand strategy is the purposeful business exercise of outmaneuvering your competitors to get more consumers to buy more products at higher prices with less consideration for the competition.

At times brand seems like a mystical talisman protected by those who’ve studied in the highest mountains with the most clandestine monks. That’s because, for the end user, brand is emotional. It’s a gut feeling. It can be as intimate as their personal identity.

How do you create a brand for consumers to connect with, emotionally? You really need to know and communicate four things:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you do
  3. Who you do it for
  4. What makes you different

Uncovering this information and learning to use it is how the magic happens. It’s not fill-in-the-blank, as some prescriptive branding models with scalable (read: sellable to mass audiences) branding frameworks would have you believe.

Brand strategy is a mix of art and science.

Valuable insights come from research. Study your competitors, investigate the mores and needs of your prime prospects, and don’t shy away from introspection. In-depth workshops involving your company’s senior leadership like the Brand Fingerprint provide the tools for masters to create masterpieces.

What’s the difference between brand, branding, and brand strategy?
If your brand were a temple, your marketing team would be the monks that tend to it. The success of your efforts to create an uplifting, inspiring, or communal space is determined by how visitors respond to it, not your intentions.

Brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It’s important to note – you don’t own the brand. The end user does.

Branding is the attempt to direct the target audience’s gut feeling about the brand. You own the branding, and this is your effort to influence the brand.

Brand Strategy is an evolving plan to outmaneuver competitors using differentiation. This goes deeper than art and copy. It’s before marketing and advertising. This is where the real magic happens.

Brand strategy is a business practice. Period. A great brand strategy may change your product or service offerings. It may rename your company. Brand strategy may cause you to completely change product categories.

Industry-shaking brand strategy may create an entirely new category.

Brand strategy isn’t a one-time magical effort that takes care of the brand’s needs in one exercise. Brand strategy never stops. It’s an agile business practice to iterate, improve, and protect market share.

Eight vital steps for brand strategy success in retail
What are the steps for brand strategy? Depending on the needs and particulars of your business, they could be executed in a six-week sprint, a six-month detailed effort, or an 18-month launch with test markets and iterations.

Regardless of time and budget, you should consider these eight vital steps for building a successful brand strategy.

  1. Business objectives
  2. Research and business immersion
  3. Target audience
  4. Strategic insights
  5. Purpose and vision
  6. Brand positioning
  7. Brand architecture
  8. Brand story

1. Business objectives
Brand strategy begins with business goals. Are you taking a new product to market? Preparing for a line extension? Do you need to increase awareness? Has your brand lost traction?

Understanding where your business is, where it’s headed, and what challenges stand between you and your goals is vital to creating brand strategy. Your flexibility and agility within this step not only create solutions - they can influence entire markets.

2. Research and business immersion
If you want to set sail for blue waters, you need a compass. This means taking time to chart the value propositions, brand promises, pricing, and products in the competitive landscape. Equally important: understanding the mores and needs of the prime prospects.

3. Target audience
You may have a winning product or service, but businesses can’t exist without buyers. What problem does your product solve? What does your target audience wish you knew about their lives so that you could make improvements? What are the tribal connections that serve as the unwritten rule of society?

To know the brand, you must know the consumer.

4. Strategic insights
If you know your consumer’s needs and the lay of the competitive landscape well enough, you can uncover insights that lead to huge breakthroughs for brand positioning. Insights are the product of research and analysis. What they uncover can be startling, but also simple enough to communicate in a single sentence.

5. Purpose and vision
Leadership must align to provide a true north for business direction. Workshops like The Brand Fingerprint (insert hyperlink here) can help senior staffers unify on the vision, mission, voice, and essence of your company, connecting the head and the heart of your unique brand.

6. Brand positioning
Once you understand who you are, what you do, and who you do it for – make sure you do it in a way that’s radically different. How will you position your brand to stand out in the sea of sameness? A 2x2 exercise, plotted with the data and insights from the previous steps, is a way to get started on your new positioning.

7. Brand architecture
How does your new brand strategy impact the foundation of other brands you may have, now or in the future? If you’ve repositioned the parent company, do you use that as a branded house?

Or have you changed a sub-brand in your house of brands? Will your ambitious new position affect another one of your own products? It’s important to understand this before launch.

8. Brand story
Clear messaging that communicates the brand’s value to the prime prospect comes through in many forms of art and copy. The initial effort, often in the form of a brand manifesto, should be short, concise, and set the tone for your marketing and advertising efforts.

Different brand strategies based on business goals
There are many types of business strategies, and choosing the best one depends on your business challenges and goals.

Are you launching a new company? Is your company considering a line extension … or a brand extension? Are you facing a brand revitalization and need a fresh start? Do you need to flank an existing brand to influence a pricing strategy?

With so much of your business riding on the right brand strategy, it’s important to get a strong start and create an agile strategy for growth. The right partner makes all the difference in the world, especially when it comes to understanding the home improvement retail landscape.

Here at Sales Factory, we are your partner throughout the entire brand lifecycle – from research to discovery; from activation to management.

Are you ready to create a winning brand strategy? Let’s discuss how to get started and crush your business goals.

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