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What Is a Brand Strategy? And Why Do You Need One? (2024)

Last updated: May 29, 2024

Let’s get right to it! This article is direct, honest, and what every business owner, entrepreneur, marketer, and creator needs. In the midst of the hyper-specialization of marketing and all the social platforms, the true motivation for consumer conversion and loyalty gets lost.

My goal is to give you alignment so your marketing that supports your business goals. Understanding what is a brand strategy and how to use it will provide that clarity. While everyone else is chasing a trend, fixated on an algorithm, or using the "winging it" method, this information will give you a strategic advantage. You may already have an advantage due to your products/services, your position in the marketplace, or your know how. But does your marketing and your messaging deliver clear and measurable ROIs every time?

Brand Strategy Why Statement

Here's what we will cover:

"Passion and energy do not create focus and direction."

Focus and direction come from a strong brand strategy and the discipline to follow it.

The Problems a Brand Strategy Solves

Are you inspiring action with ALL of your marketing and creating loyalty?

And yes, I do mean ALL of your marketing because all marketing should be working towards bringing in more sales and inspiring undeniable loyalty among your consumers and employees.

So, make sure you always apply the lens of “how is this helping me accomplish my business goals?”

As a heads-up, if you feel sensitive, offended, or triggered at any point in this article, I recommend looking critically at why. Typically, when those types of strong emotions come up, it’s because there's a truth we are not thrilled to acknowledge.

And just remember, strategy is not easy! If it were easy, this article would be pointless because everyone would already be applying this game-changing info.

So, give yourself some grace and get ready to learn how to guarantee returns on your marketing investments! Most people like to race past this, but not you.

Here’s a list of common problems I hear from business owners that a brand strategy will solve. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • you can’t seem to get buy-in internally

  • you are just starting to build out a marketing team

  • you are trying to get marketing and sales to work together more effectively

  • you need higher-quality leads from marketing efforts

  • your creative team is wildly inspired but their work is not resonating with sales

  • your finance colleagues question nearly all your marketing efforts and their return

  • you consistently hear new potential customers misrepresenting the true value of your business

  • you cannot, in 1 sentence, clearly explain the unique value of your business and why someone should care

  • you are launching new marketing and have no idea what the messaging should be (this particular one makes my insides turn!)

  • you have plateaued and can’t seem to reactivate growth

  • you feel scattered or unsure about your value to customers or what your customers think

  • you’re not sure which marketing opportunities to pursue

  • you’re confused about what content works

  • you feel like you are spinning your wheels or not using your time as efficiently as possible when it comes to marketing or content creation

  • you aren’t seeing the growth in your brand like want

  • you are trying to decide what product or service to launch next

  • you are frustrated by the lack of engagement with some content that you thought was great

  • you can’t seem to inspire the kind of action you want (from customers or within your company)

  • you are just starting out and want to turn your idea into a business

Are you getting the feeling that no matter what stage of business you are in, you need a brand strategy? If you picked up on that then you are already lightyears ahead of your peers who are still determined to ignore the most important part of their business.

A clear strategy solves all of these issues and so much more. Your business's brand strategy is how the most successful brands make tons of money and maintain loyalty! And the most successful do not have to be the biggest household names. There are thousands of successful brands we've never heard of.

Brand Management services and the incredible brand strategy work that comes with them are the solutions to nearly every marketing issue.

If you are still on the fence, here’s a bit of tough love for you: marketing, content creation, and business decisions become an incredibly expensive (time and money-wise) way to make money if you do not take the time to do the foundational work of building your brand strategy.

What a Brand Strategy Does for Your Business

Until you are clear on your brand's emotional and practical value to people, customers will continue to expect the minimum from you and measure your value on features and price. Having a clear brand strategy gives you a clear message. It gives you a distinct value proposition and a clear emotional connection that resonates with your target.

You earn loyalty and customers’ trust by showing consistently what you believe and why you believe it. Your WHY, also called your purpose and belief, is what draws people in and keeps them. And that purpose is identified by refusing to cut corners and being disciplined enough to start at the beginning to build your brand foundations.

If I could set off alarms for you every time someone is trying to convince you to jump straight into posting, writing, photoshoots, new products, a new social media channel, Canva/creative templates, caption purchases, and countless other ideas, I would! But the best way I can think to set those alarms off for you is by giving you access to the tools to build your brand strategy so that you always know exactly what opportunities to pursue and what to ignore.

By filtering decisions, opportunities, and options through your brand strategy, you spend less time and less money! How good does that sound??

Investing time now in identifying your brand’s strategy will guarantee your marketing will work and help you stop second-guessing yourself. With a clear brand strategy,

  • You will no longer feel unsure or like your efforts may not pay off.

  • Your plateau will turn to growth.

  • You will stop wasting time on content or actions that get you no results or poor-quality results.

  • And you will finally build unwavering loyalty that can only come from people developing an emotional connection with your business due to a clear understanding of your WHY.

Without a why, customers do not know what to expect from our business, so they automatically start assessing our businesses on the bare minimum: what we do and how we do it. These factors include price, quality, service, and features. All 4 of these factors are important, but when customers start measuring our business on these factors alone, there is no loyalty and they are ripe for stealing by your competitors. As marketers and business people we get around the commodity game but understanding our clear value for customers and speaking to them in a way that resonates and inspires action (and emotion).

For these reasons, I recommend every business owner and entrepreneur start with their brand strategy framework before creating any marketing. If you are already down the road of creating marketing you can pause while you do this brand strategy work or be ready to pivot your efforts quickly once you get the answers you need.

If at this point overwhelm is creeping in because you feel uncomfortable working on, let alone thinking about, how to develop a brand strategy, I have you covered!

  1. You can always hire a brand management firm (like mine!) to kick off your killer brand strategies and get all the simple and organized answers you need. If you are ready for that conversation, I would love to talk with you! Use this link to select time on my calendar.

  2. If you are not yet ready to commit to brand strategy services, keep reading because I’ve filled the rest of this article with helpful direction to kick off your brand strategy work yourself.

What is a Brand Strategy?

There are 2 sides to marketing: tactical execution and strategy. Everyone knows about the tactical execution side because it delivers the outputs that we all see. There are thousands of companies and marketing experts working hard at tactical execution every day. And this part is essential, but it fails to support business goals without a strategy guiding the work.

Tactical execution in marketing includes all of your actions-based marketing efforts:

  • Digital marketing of all kinds

  • Influencers and partnerships

  • All social media posting

  • Email/SMS marketing

  • Website and SEO marketing

  • Tv commercials

  • Signage around town (called OOH or out of home)

  • Digital ads

  • Events, sponsorships, or activations

  • Trade shows

  • Merchandising

  • And every other specific action-based marketing initiative.

As I said, these are vital, of course! But they are only 1 side of the marketing coin, and the other side is what guides and dictates whether or not those efforts create a clear business ROI. You can take action all day long, but if you don't know WHAT you are working towards, WHO you are talking to, and WHY anyone should care, do you think your actions will produce results?

Debunking Misconceptions About Strategy

Before I dive into why strategy is essential to get right BEFORE you try to build any of the tactical, execution-based marketing, let me first help you understand why it seems like you can jump right into execution and why there is a misconception that it can work without the strategic foundation.

For starters, tactical marketing is the “easy to see” stuff.

Meaning, you can see a clear result from work right away and there are tons of metrics to track immediately. Additionally, and especially with certain types of marketing, some type of validation or lead will come through based on how the platforms work. But you are sacrificing quality leads. Said differently, you are wasting your time with people who MIGHT buy rather than just going directly after the people who WILL buy.

You may get 100 clicks on an advertisement or gather 5 million views on TikTok with your efforts or your tv commercial may be guaranteed to be seen by 1 million people. But the true value of those leads lies in what happens next. All of the following examples I will use to explain this are real examples from multiple businesses out there (some are my clients and some I am watching from afar).

EX 1: Views mean nothing if people are not taking action. These are just Vanity metrics unless these people could be converted.

Unless you are in the entertainment business, all your content should clearly communicate your brand’s primary message or inspire action. If you are a business, you are trying to make money. That means you have to provide a value strong enough that people are convinced to spend money with you.

How can you clearly communicate your message that inspires action if you do not know

  • Who your target customer is,

  • What they care about most from you,

  • How they think and want to be talked to (because these are 2 different things), AND

  • How your brand inspires an emotional connection with them (not by using puppies, kids, or cute images)?

All of these are essential and when you ignore any of these components or take a shortcut around them, your messaging suffers, you generate less high quality demand, and your conversions are lower.

Social Media Strategy

Ex 2: Let’s talk about those 100 clicks on a social media ad.

They are a great indicator that those 100 people were curious about what the ad said. But the next questions you need to answer are

  • Were those 100 people a part of your potential purchasers (i.e. your target audience),

  • What was the main value they took away from the ad and what did they expect to receive,

  • Do they clearly understand why they should care about your brand, and

  • Did your ad connect emotionally or did it inspire people to evaluate you like a commodity item? When I say thoughts of commodity, I mean

    • Did it focus so heavily on features before ever establishing a connection that a customer is focused on the details of your business as a first introduction to you?

    • Did it focus so heavily on details and features that they may not actually be able to understand what kind of value you could provide for them?

    • And the worst thing is, did it focus so heavily on features and details that it potentially caused confusion as to what exactly your business does?

Brand Strategy creates happy customers

As consumers, at our core, we want to FEEL connected to a brand or product. We want to FEEL good about buying it. We will use logical reasons to justify the purchase or our decision to be loyal to a brand, but the FEELING it gave us is why we took action.

For each example (and countless more just like it), the answer is not to pick apart all of your marketing efforts one by one. That is tedious and will waste your time.

The answer is to take a step back and set your strategy! It is quite literally that simple!

What is not so simple is the actual work of setting your brand strategy. But don’t worry! The rest of this article is dedicated to explaining how we do that.

Brand Strategy Defined

A brand strategy is the clearly defined primary emotional and functional values you offer for a specific target audience, by solving their primary pain point. It provides the critical answers to the questions "why do you exist" and "why should anyone care".

Brand Strategy creates alignment

A brand strategy will help you understand and specify your target consumer and the unique value you provide to them. This will give you a guide for the rest of your business development and your marketing. It will also make your decisions very clear, so you’ll stop wavering, feeling confused, or doubting yourself.

Building your brand strategy will give you the clarity to always know exactly which opportunities are right for your business and when to spend resources for the best return possible.

As you grow your business you will want to keep coming back to your brand strategy and be sure it’s still in line with your goals and your target. Your brand strategy can adapt and evolve over time. However, it should not significantly change year to year.

Start by developing a brand strategy to get alignment for your business. You will increase the likelihood of seeing the results you want to grow your business. Any marketing tactic works well with a good strategy supporting it.

There are 10 elements to build with your brand strategy. Those 10 elements will feed most of your content marketing, so each is important to fully define. From your defined strategy, you will be able to develop the outputs your business needs like

  • Brand Style Guide (if you want to create your own, here's the best guide for it)

  • Logo

  • Taglines and Slogans

  • Primary Messaging

  • Mission, Vision, Values

The brand strategy is the foundation of your playbook for all marketing.

The Elements of a Strong Brand Strategy

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably convinced of the value of a brand strategy but are dying to know what exactly goes into a brand strategy and how you can build yours!

I’ve heard so many different characterizations and elements for a brand strategy framework. Every time I think I’ve heard it all, a new set of elements pops up. I even heard a colleague and businesswomen say that she was told a logo and color scheme were part of a brand strategy. I was so tempted to ask her who told her that so I could reach out to them to beg them to stop spreading those ideas to hard-working small business owners.

Instead, I’m adding it here to try to caution all of you about this type of misinformation. A logo and color scheme are part of what we call your brand style guide. It is an output of your brand strategy, but it is not your brand strategy.

This format is used for major international brands and new-to-the-world businesses. It works across all industries, all types of businesses, and all stages of maturity, and I can safely say it is a tried and true method for building excellent marketing. In fact, I have even called the development process I take my clients through The BOM Method (i.e., The Business of Marketing Method).

I personally use this with every single one of my clients, for my own brand, and for every past brand I’ve worked on.

Brand Strategy Template

And now, as promised, here are the 10 elements of a rock-solid brand strategy. For a deeper dive into each of them check out this article on a guide to the elements of a Brand Strategy.

  • Target Audience

  • Consumer Insight

  • Reasons-to-Believe

  • Assets

  • Brand DNA

  • Functional Benefits

  • Emotional Benefits

  • Tone

  • Belief

  • Purpose

There is also a very handy template and guide I created for you that you can download using this link. I encourage you to download it and then use it as we go.

Building an Effective Brand Strategy

Before you dive into each of these elements, I want to take a minute to tell you that a brand strategy is not consumer-facing. So, no part of the elements identified in your brand strategy framework need to be the language used to speak with consumers. It should influence and guide the content you create, the channels you show up on, and the way you write your messaging. But and I cannot stress this enough, you need to be showing your customer all the elements of your brand strategy and not telling them.

For real-live examples of this nuance, you will have to work with me!

The best way to jump right into figuring out your brand strategy is to download the brand strategy template I linked above (it is also linked again right here!), read through the guide I wrote also linked above (and linked here again), and then determine if you want additional brand strategy services and are ready to hire me as your brand management firm!

After you’ve downloaded the brand strategy framework and read about how to develop a brand strategy and all its elements, set up a free strategy session with me and we can talk through what is best for your business.

The tough love I will leave you with is that if you continue to try to use marketing without strategy (build an email list, make another lead magnet, spend money on paid ads, hire a content creator, set up a photoshoot, create a new website, design a new logo, or any other tactical marketing action), you will fall into the same spirals of struggle.

You owe it to your amazing business and all the customers you could reach to spend the time working through your brand strategy now to set yourself up for success. The rest of your marketing will fall into place naturally once you’ve determined your brand strategy. You will stop second-guessing yourself, your marketing will be cohesive and impactful, and you will easily reach your goals.

How to Use Your Brand Strategy

Now that you have an incredible brand strategy, carefully and intentionally developed. You are ready to create the outputs. Here's how the marketing ecosystem fits together and what your brand strategy dictates. These pages are pulled from the brand strategy workbook all of our clients receive.

Key Takeaways to Steal for Developing a Brand Strategy

Passion and energy do not create focus and direction.

Focus and direction come from a strong brand strategy and the discipline to follow it.

Strategy creates alignment and measurable ROIs

Before you get too deep into any marketing, focus on establishing the foundations of your brand. While it is possible to build a brand without creating a firm foundation, it will be inconsistent, feel scattered, and lead to a lot of confusion on your part and for anyone who works with you. There is an immense amount of value for your business in clearly identifying a brand strategy to guide all your marketing and business development. Your brand will be significantly more successful with consistency and purpose in all your marketing efforts. A brand strategy will give you that and provide the roadmap for building your business based on your target and the unique value you bring to them.

Use the proven frameworks that get results

When done well, this work is a ton of fun! The difficult part comes after this work when you have to apply discipline to stay true to your brand strategy.

When you’re ready to work with a brand strategist, I hope you and I can work together! If you’re ready now, go ahead and pick that free spot on my calendar and let’s talk during a 15-minute free strategy session.


Julianna Francesca, Author of How to Get Testimonials from Clients

Author: Julianna Francesca, Founder of The Business of Marketing

"Thank you for reading this post and for choosing to learn a more about how marketing can strengthen your business! We need more savvy marketers and business owners out there and you're taking steps to be part of that elite group. If you are hungry for more information, check out the rest of the free articles we wrote for you and pick up one of the self-guided materials to aid your work. If you are curious about what else we can do for you, head to our About page or our Brand Management Services page."

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