While each specific brand strategy will be unique, there are a few core components that can and should be used by every business.
The brand value (i.e., mission) is a brand’s promise to buyers. What’s the benefit of paying attention to this brand, and trusting it enough to actually make a transaction? In other words, what’s the USP, and how is it being communicated? Before a company can begin to formulate a brand strategy, it must work to distill its specific value as succinctly as possible.
> Pro Tip: Most companies can readily adapt their mission statement or brand positioning statement for this component. Or, they can get the process rolling by answering a few basic questions: Why does this brand exist? What’s different about it, and why should people pay attention to it? What specific customer pain points does it solve?
The brand design (or look and feel) is the visual component of a brand strategy. This includes the logo and design, the look of the packaging, the color and the physical aspect of the product itself. Effective brand design can instantly communicate important concepts like modesty, minimalism, youth and luxury; choices in color or photography can create useful emotional connections.
> Pro Tip: Remember, design is more than a logo! Essential brand design elements can include not just iconography but also color, font, employee uniforms, even the architectural design of a corporate headquarters. And brands should protect their investment in these elements with registered trademarks, as well as clearly defined guidelines on how, where and when they can be used.
The brand story (or storytelling) is the narrative underlying the overall brand strategy, or the overall impression that’s being delivered. It’s the art of telling customers and prospects why a brand exists, and why it’s worth paying attention to — ideally in a way that invites their emotional investment.
> Pro Tip: Storytelling establishes a brand identity in a way that inspires interest and confidence while communicating the company’s larger objective. As such, it should be applicable in every instance where someone is likely to encounter that brand, whether during an online purchase, a customer service call or a visit to their LinkedIn page.
The brand voice (i.e., communication) is the actual language used to communicate the brand story, and to engage and attract people to the brand. It’s the verbal or written expression of the brand identity. As such, it’s instrumental in shaping the personality of that brand in the minds of consumers, prospects and the public at large.
> Pro Tip: Brand voice is likely to vary among different target customers, as well as in the different communications channels used to reach them. Internal style guides for content and design should be used to ensure overall consistency and direction for each situation.