We know developing your brand strategy sounds about as exciting as doing your taxes. (Things that have the word “strategy” in the title usually aren’t a party…)
Lucky for you, we consider it our job to make all things branding fun & easy 🎉
In this guide, we’re going to walk you through three simple but powerful steps that will get you to the finish line without breaking a sweat.
First, we’re going to pull together some key details about your ideal client. We’ll get inside their head and better understand what they need and why. By doing this, you’ll be armed with the superpower of crafting messaging and marketing that resonates effortlessly with your audience.
Next, we’ll uncover your special sauce — that secret ingredient that sets your brand apart from the crowd. We want to unleash your unique strengths, whether it’s your process, experiences, personality, or a combination of all those elements.
Finally, we’ll bring it all together in a concise brand positioning statement. By getting rid of all the fluff and making sure your key points are top of mind, you can talk about your brand with more clarity and impact.
Ultimately, we want you to walk away from this guide with the clarity and confidence you need to proudly promote your business.
Because this process is a whole lot easier with a template.
Grab our free, fill-in-the-blank Brand Strategy Workbook before we dive in:
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let’s quickly chat through what we mean by “brand strategy.”
In short, your brand strategy is the value you offer, who needs it, and why they should pick you over your competition.
Not only does developing your brand strategy help you create more effective messaging, but also it’s something you can return to over and over.
Think of it like a guiding light that will help you stay focused on the right things and make smart decisions in your business.
A brand strategy can involve a lot of different elements, but to keep things simple, we’re going to talk about the 3 most impactful steps:
When you take the time to develop your brand strategy, a few really great things happen:
The main reason businesses end up competing on price is because they’re not communicating what’s unique about them.
Or they’re not doing it in a way that’s compelling enough for people to see the value and choose them over the competition, even at a higher price.
In other words, when you can’t see the difference between two options, you’re left to evaluate them based on price.
The best way to show customers that you’re not generic and get out of the price war is with a strong brand.
And not only does a unique brand help you stand out from the crowd, but it also helps you charge higher rates.
When people can easily understand what you do, it’s much easier for them to see your value, hire you, and sing your praises to everyone around them.
Also, it saves you a boatload on marketing costs.
We’re pretty much the President & VP of Overthinkers Anonymous, but one thing that always helps us make decisions faster and with more clarity is going back to our brand strategy.
When we remind ourselves what we set out to do, and use it as a filter to make decisions, we stay focused, avoid distractions, and generally overthink less.
It’s easy to think you already know what your strategy is and can skip this step, but trust us — this exercise can make or break the rest of the process.
We see a lot of people struggling with things like writing website copy or deciding on brand colors. And 99% of the time it’s because they didn’t take the time to develop their brand strategy. So they end up flailing and feeling totally lost.
So take the time to write it down and use it as a guiding light as you move through the other stages of building your brand. *Future You* will be grateful!
Defining your ideal customer avatar can be a really in-depth process, but we’re going to keep things simple here and focus on 5 of the most important elements.
We just want to get clear on who you’re talking to, what they truly need, and how your brand is going to improve their life or situation.
(Don’t forget to download your fill-in-the-blank The Brand Strategy Workbook for this section.)
Okay, let’s get started!
Close your eyes (if you want, no pressure) and envision your ideal customer or client — the ones who make your heart sing and really love what you do.
Think about the ones who are a JOY to work with — no nightmare clients allowed in the ICA universe.
If your target client is a business, then think about the person within that company who’s responsible for hiring services like yours.
Quick time-warp back to the 1990s: Remember getting AOL Instant Messages from strangers that just said “A/S/L”?
(For the non-Millennials in the house, that stands for “Age/Sex/Location.” And yes it’s weird that strangers would lead with that instead of “hi.”)
Well, that’s what we’re looking for here… just less creepy.
The basic demographics of your ideal customer are things like age, location, marriage status, occupation, and household income.
Basically, anything you’d find on the US Census. (Sorry for bringing up taxes AND the Census in an article that’s supposed to not feel like an annoying task.)
Focus on the questions that are most relevant to your product or service. If you feel yourself falling down a rabbit hole, then set a timer for five minutes. That’s all you should need since you’re just looking for the basics!
When developing a brand strategy, you need to get super clear on what problem you’re solving.
So, let’s get specific about what your ICA really needs when it comes to your brand.
We’re talking about the things they picture in future versions of their life, and the frustrations that make them want to pull their hair out.
Because when you can tap into those needs and address them head-on, they’ll light up with recognition and appreciation.
Ask yourself: When it comes to the problem your brand solves, what’s causing them the biggest headache? What’s agitating them daily?
When you can shine a light on the problems they’re facing and empathize with their daily struggles, your brand becomes a magnetic force.
It resonates on a whole new level because your ICA feels seen, understood, and acknowledged by you. It leaves them nodding their head, thinking, “Yes! They get me.”
Pro Tip: If you’re unsure about any of these questions, then consider reaching out to someone who closely matches your ICA and gather some real-world insights!
Time for your brand to swoop in and save the day!
*Cue the Superman theme song*
When it comes to alleviating their frustration or getting what they want, your product or service is what’s going to get them there.
For instance, if your ICA’s problem is that she’s too busy with work to make healthy meals, the solution you provide might be “an all-in-one meal solution delivered to her door.”
Get literal here — you’re looking for the actual, functional thing they’re getting by investing in your solution. It’s the bridge that gets them to #4…
Spoiler alert: We humans are obsessed with instant gratification. We have absolutely no chill when it comes to waiting for ANYTHING.
That’s why it’s important to let your ICA know that something good is coming their way ASAP as soon as they click “buy” (or inquire, book now, etc).
Ask yourself: What will buying your product or service get them today? How will it make them feel? How will things get easier for them?
But we’re not going to stop there. Because when you’ve got a handle on both your ICA’s short-term and long-term needs, it’s like having a superpower.
You’ll be able to craft messaging that hits them where it counts, on not just one, but two levels. And that brings us to #5…
This is the thing they REALLY want.
Their big life desires… how they want to feel… the stuff under the surface.
This is where the magic happens.
It might not be top-of-mind every day, but it makes a BIG impact.
Someone might buy your product or service because it solves an immediate need, but they’ll be loyal to your brand because it meets a deeper need.
In other words, they’ll feel more seen and be willing to spend more money.
That’s the magic of branding ✨
And with that, you’ve finished defining your ICA! 🎉
Congrats! You’re a third of the way done developing your brand strategy.
The next step is a FUN one — uncovering your special sauce.
Let’s dive in.
This is where the magic happens!
We’re about to uncover your special sauce — the secret ingredient that sets you apart and makes choosing your brand a no-brainer.
First, let’s talk about what we mean specifically when we say “special sauce.”
Should it be one big, miraculous thing?
Or a charcuterie board filled with tiny, delicious details?
The truth is, the format doesn’t matter.
All that matters is that:
Because when you know and embrace your special sauce, you become a magnetic force, attracting the right people who resonate with your values and offerings.
It can be really hard to see your own uniqueness, and even harder to broadcast it. Which can be a big miss when you’re in business. Because there are people out there, actively looking for someone just like you. And they need your help finding you.
To help you uncover your uniqueness, we have several questions and exercises you can use. Remember to download The Brand Strategy Workbook to make the process even easier!
Alright, let’s do a little recon work to figure out how you can set yourself apart from the crowd.
First, take a look at what’s already out there – mainly your competitors and the industry norms.
Put yourself in your ICA’s shoes for a minute. If they didn’t choose your solution, who or what might they go for instead? Take some mental notes on your top competitors.
Next, let’s talk about industry norms, or the way things are usually done. What are the expectations your ICA has about how things work? What assumptions will they come in with?
And last, think about how your approach is unique. How do you approach things differently? Do you use a specific process or serve a niche?
Do you speak to your audience in an unconventional way? Anything that’s different from the norm is helpful here.
Now take a moment to reflect on all of this information.
Your answers could be things you can start doing, stop doing, or keep doing.
Get creative on how you can shake things up!
Your life is a collection of experiences that have shaped you into who you are today.
And even if you’re not conscious of it, they undoubtedly influence how you do business.
You can (and should!) be leveraging your experiences to attract and connect with your ideal customers.
There are two great ways to do this.
One of the first things people in sales positions look for when they meet someone new is something they have in common.
That’s because when you’ve had a similar experience as someone else, you immediately let your guard down and feel more connected to them.
Same thing here.
Say you’re a career coach, and you’ve dealt with anxiety & depression in your past.
That’s going to automatically make you easier to relate to, and it’s going to make you more qualified to help other people with that same experience.
Which brings us to the second way you can leverage your experiences…
People are more inclined to work with someone who has special expertise or knowledge that makes them more qualified than others.
This can be an experience gives you empathy, additional training or special knowledge that built your expertise, or just a unique perspective you’ve developed.
To identify this, try asking yourself: What life experiences influence your business?
Do you have any special skills or expertise that gives you an edge? What experiences can you leverage to make a unique connection with certain customers?
The end result is not only finding customers who can’t help but think, “Where have you been all my life?” when meeting you, but are also willing to pay more for access to your experience and expertise.
Ready to go deep?
We’re diving into your values & beliefs.
So here’s the deal: when you infuse your unique perspective into your storytelling, something magical happens.
You become so darn relatable that people can’t help but nod their heads in agreement.
The best part is that you start attracting people who not only get you but feel like you get them.
They align with your values, share your worldview, and become your biggest cheerleaders.
Brace yourself for an influx of passionate supporters.
When you’re looking for what might be unique about your perspective, ask yourself: Do you have a novel outlook on life, or a surprising opinion on a topic your ICA cares about?
Are there certain values or beliefs that strike a chord with your target audience? Can you empathize with them in ways that others just can’t?
Leveraging your unique perspective will help you stand out from the crowd.
But it’s about more than that.
It’s about attracting kindred spirits who connect with your authentic voice and share your core beliefs.
It’s a bond that runs deep.
Once you feel good about your brainstorm list, it’s time to narrow down.
Look for the 3-5 things that:
A helpful prompt to use as you clarify your special sauce is:
My brand is different from others because…
And if you really struggle to nail yours down, ask someone you trust to go through your list with you. It’s sometimes easier for other people to see our strengths!
Once you’re done with this step, congrats! You have your special sauce!
These are the points that need to start making it into your messaging and marketing.
The more you can broadcast the things that are unique about your brand, the more you’ll attract highly aligned customers and clients.
Now let’s bring everything together in the final step…
The last stop on our journey to develop a brand strategy is to bring it all together into one concise brand positioning statement.
Our goal here is to develop a concise statement that summarizes your brand’s positioning in your market.
It states what you do, for who, and what makes you different. It’s the culmination of your brand strategy in one simple, easy-to-remember statement.
Note that this is not meant to be customer-facing. It’ll probably be a little clunky, so you’re definitely not going to be adding it to your website or putting it in marketing materials.
The point is that it has all the necessary info and none of the fluff.
The GREAT news is, you already have all of that done!
All we’re doing now is stringing it together.
You can fuss over this step FOR.EV.ER, tweaking each word to perfection. But that’s not the point of this exercise. You just want to get it close. As long as you have something general to work from, you can always edit it later.
Also, there’s no exact format your statement needs to be in, but we created a fill-in-the-blank template, in case that kind of thing is helpful for you. You can find it inside the free, fill-in-the-blank Brand Strategy Workbook.
And when you’re done, that’s a wrap on developing your brand strategy!
First, take a minute to pat yourself on the back. This is a BIG undertaking that causes a lot of people to get stuck.
So, if you made it this far… CONGRATS!
We’re so proud of you.
The next step after you’ve developed your brand strategy is to build out the rest of your brand identity. That means your brand style, voice, logo, fonts, color palette, and graphics.
We have a step-by-step course called Oh Hey, New Brand that walks you through each step of the process.
It includes ALL the guidance, tools, and templates needed to create a polished brand in just a few weeks — even if you have zero design skills.