A strong brand is the foundation of any successful business. If you think about the products or services you use on a daily basis, it’s likely a memorable, trustworthy and compelling brand logo will spring to mind.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of brand strategy in a business context. That’s why we invited Matt Daley, brand consultant and founder of performance marketing agency Circulate Digital, to talk about how businesses of all shapes and sizes can build effective brands.
His agency, which has offices in both the UK and Spain, works with clients all around the globe and has gained an international reputation for driving significant return-on-investment.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at what he had to say about putting together a successful brand strategy.
1. Brand Story
Matt started off by making the point that, as a society, we’re now more divided and polarised than we have been at any other point in history. We live in a digital world that is defined by conflicting beliefs, opinions and preferences.
As a company grows, the infrastructure of its brand changes – challenges become more common, the brand narrative often shifts and evolves, and consumer perceptions grow more entrenched. That’s why it’s essential for every company to “know its roots” and ensure that the core story which underpins its brand remains consistent.
Your brand’s story is essentially the “why” at the heart of your company. Matt talked about how his vision for Circulate Media was to create an energetic global agency that had an exciting and innovative workplace culture. Once you are clear about your fundamental “why”, you can begin to flesh out the specific values and goals that will make up your broader brand identity.
2. Brand Values
You need to be clear about your values from the get-go. Write them down and use them as a tool to inform every aspect of the company decision-making process. Brand values need to become part of your DNA, and your team should live and breathe them every day. Crucially, this means ingraining your values into your recruitment strategy.
Matt described the following core values of Circulate Media:
- Passion – Often passion trumps experience in the recruitment process. Matt said he believes it’s the real driver of performance.
- Relationships – As a relationship-based business, a high level of customer service is essential.
- Knowledge – The ability to share genuine insights (in a world of self-proclaimed experts) while adding value is a crucial component of providing an optimal customer experience.
- Failure – Matt has actively worked to build an environment at Circulate Media that harnesses failure rather than denigrates it.
- No Bullsh*t – The digital marketing space is filled with fluff and bad advice. Matt encourages a no-nonsense, transparent approach to clients and isn’t afraid to tell them when they’re wrong or when things aren’t going as well as expected.
- Value – Demonstrating a clear return-on-investment is a key component of Circulate Media’s ethos.
When your values saturate every facet of your company, particularly in regards to your team, you will connect with the right clients and develop a relationship that improves every time you work together.
3. Visual Identity (Logo)
Your visual identity should reflect your values and story. A memorable logo will form a lasting impression on your customers. And when you look at the logos of popular brands, whether McDonald’s, Apple, YouTube or any other well-known company, you instantly get a sense of their values.
Memorability is the key word here. The best logos have an associated icon to ensure people remember it. What’s more, an icon should be recognizable without any additional text. Nike, Reebok and Adidas are all good examples.
Notably, Matt pointed out that the number of customers a company has is irrelevant. Logo design is about forming a lasting impression with the right group of people, even if your market is relatively small.
Matt also said that it’s important to pick a colour scheme and font that resonates with your customers and potential customers. At Circulate Media, Matt and his team purposely chose a colour palette that communicated luxury, with a view to connecting with high-end clients.
The vital thing to keep in mind is that small details like these will separate you from the majority of your competition, allowing you to connect with clients in a deeper and more lasting way.
Defining multiple unique selling points is essential from a branding perspective. You should seek to create a value proposition that connects with your target market and is a natural evolution of your broader ethos.
Circulate media, for example, offers the following USPs:
- Boutique, highly-personalized service
- Custom reporting
- A high level of communication
- A strong focus on employee mental health
But Matt outlined a particularly important point that many businesses overlook. Unique selling propositions shouldn’t be static. Instead, they should evolve as a brand changes. As a company grows, its customer base will likely diversify and existing client needs may shift.
As you build your own brand strategy, you should allow for a certain degree of flexibility. This will enable you to modify your USPs as your market shifts.
5. Brand Point of View
Your brand point of view represents the way you are perceived in the context of your broader industry. It encompasses the specific characteristics you emphasize to position yourself relative to your competitors.
In its messaging, for example, Circulate Digital highlights the fact that it’s a boutique agency with no outside investors and a strong focus on employee mental health.
As with your USPs, your point of view should tie back to your values. In particular, the values that strongly separate you from your competition and create a clear market position in the minds of your customers.
6. Map Your Brand Positioning
Once you’re clear about the characteristics that comprise your brand point of view, you should create a positioning map. This will help you clarify how you stand in relation to your competitors. It’s also a useful exercise for determining pricing.
Pick two defining aspects of your product or service – such as quality and cost – and map them on a graph. Then list all your competitors depending on where they fall on the spectrum.
When you have a clear understanding of your market and position therein, you can better understand your cost of sale and tailor your advertising budget and marketing strategy accordingly.
7. Target Customers
By this stage, you should have a fairly clear idea of who your ideal customer is. You know their values and you also have an understanding of where they sit on your positioning map. It’s now time to develop a cohesive strategy to target them.
Matt recommends social media platforms like Facebook, Google Ads, and LinkedIn. These tools are unparalleled in terms how specific their targeting features let you be.
Once you establish a steady stream of leads, set up processes to qualify them and deal with crises. Crisis management is required when you end up with a customer that isn’t an ideal fit. And knowing what to do when somebody leaves a bad review or demands their money back will save a lot of headaches further down the line.
8. Tone of Voice
Finally, Matt spoke about tone of voice. This is quite a fun part of the process and involves understanding how your customers communicate. For example, clients of high-end services will use very different tone, vocabularly and phrasesto individuals looking for lower-end items. Once you have a solid understanding of your customers’ tone of voice, you can tweak your messaging and outreach content accordingly.
Considering a Career in Marketing & Communication?
Brand strategy is an exciting discipline that draws on a range of creative skills. If you’re considering a career in this field, a bachelor’s or master’s degree from EU Business School will provide you with the expertise and experience you need to thrive.