I was sitting in a meeting this week and the topic of brand came up. (I am really passionate about brand – you should see how long it takes us to plan Marketingland – every detail makes or breaks the brand in my opinion.)

Brand = your company’s WHY.  But also, the way in which your brand SHOWS UP. The details. The consistency (or lack there of 🥴). 

Why do you exist beyond the products and services that you sell? Why are you different? Why should someone buy from you?

Ultimately, what you need to know is that brand is how you’re going to win in the long run. 

And, to be blatantly clear, brand strategy does not = marketing plan. That’s my opinion!! 

So, the big question is: How do we build out an EFFECTIVE brand strategy? Thank you so much for asking. 

Here are some steps I would take:

Internal and External Research

1️⃣. Internal stakeholder interviews:

Brand strategy isn’t something that can be decided upon in a silo – you have to involve all stakeholders and you need to make sure the entire company is aligned to a singular vision. 

Set up interviews with product, sales, marketing, customer success, leadership, ect!  The goal is to figure out how each team envisions the brand, where they think we should go, and their specific expectations. From there, your job is to guide the team into one singular, agreed upon, but strong message forward. 

2️⃣. Competitor analysis:

You HAVE to know your competitors to beat them. Identify your direct and indirect competitors, know their strengths, weaknesses, and market positioning like the back of your hand.

Journey map the entire pre-sale and even post-sale experience that they provide to their customers. So you can study it – and then beat them. 🙂 

Take it 1 step further: interview customers/users of your competition. So you can study their answers – and then fix the pain points that your competition isn’t paying attention to. 🙂 

The point here is to tear down their Marketing from A to Z. 

Create an ONLY Statement

Your “only” statement identifies the 1 thing that makes your brand different from all competitors. 

This should be said simply and specifically. It’s what makes your brand unique. If you can’t distill an only statement… your brand needs to differentiate itself more. 

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Creating Customer Personas

1️⃣. Gather data: quantitative AND qualitative:

– Talk to customers

– Survey customers

– Dive headfirst into your customer database (unless you’re starting from zero, and if you are, study the competition EXTRA)

– Social listening

2️⃣. Analyze the data:

– Find common trends, characteristics and patterns. Look at more than just firmographic data. Who does your target audience follow, what are their hobbies, where do they consume media? So on and so forth. 

3️⃣. Segment the audience:

– Segment the data into distinct groups that share common common trends, characteristics, and patterns. 

4️⃣. Create the personas:

– Give them a name, seriously a name (helps make them relatable).

– Demographic

– Psychographics (interest, hobbies)

– Goals and motivations of that persona 

– Pain points 

– Where that persona consumes media

Creating a Brand Identity

This is where you create your brand essence and personality, which makes up your brand identity. 

1️⃣.  Brand personality = What is your brand REALLY about? What does your brand stand for? What is its personality in your comms and messaging? It’s NOT what you say, it’s how you stay it. Think about the tone of voice, vibe, and how you make your audience feel.  EMOTIONS ARE WHY PEOPLE BUY AND STAY.

(You can get a sneak peek into my brand personality from the ALL CAPS lol.)

2️⃣.  Brand essence = THE SOUL and HEARTBEAT of your brand. This is your secret sauce on what makes your brand top of mind. The characteristics that make your brand what it is.

– What are your brand values? What are your brand roots? How do you show the general public this? 

– WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? (This one is important to me). 

– What impact do you want to make?

– What is your mission?

– What qualities do you encourage in your internal team culture? 

– What is the vibe everyone feels about the brand?

– What do you want your brand to make people feel?

You might have dozens of values that you get from your team, customers, and leaders. Now, you have to boil them down into 3-5 values.

You also want to create a brand mantra, a powerful, memorable phrase that captures the essence of your brand.

Make it meaningful: It should reflect your values and your mission. It’s not just what you do; it’s why you do it.

Map out the feelings you want your audience to experience when they encounter or think of your brand. People don’t just buy products or services, they buy feelings. Your brand should evoke emotions that align with your values and resonate deeply with your audience.

Map out those emotions you want your audience to feel.

Tone of Voice: My FAVORITE Part

1️⃣. Who is your brand if it was a person? Is it the funny friend, the mentor, the party animal, the smart friend? The tone of voice needs to reflect this character. And, I feel the need to say this, the tone of voice is NOT your Founder’s tone. 

2️⃣. Reflect back on your values and what you stand for. Are you all about breaking the mold (think Liquid Death) or maybe you’re the comforting voice that is reserved and reliable. 

3️⃣. Be relatable to your audience. Are you talking to fun Millennials? Are you talking to tech experts? Your tone needs to match who you are talking to. If you were in a group chat with them how would you speak?

4️⃣.  Don’t copy your competitor’s voice. Have your own vibe. Differentiation is a massive lever to pull.

5️⃣. Who you are and who you aren’t. Write explicitly what your voice is and explicitly what you aren’t. 

An example statement here:

We are funny, not insensitive. 

We are timeless, not trendy. 

6️⃣. Test and reinvent. You need feedback, test your tone and voice, see how others react to it…and innovate on that. The best brands are forever evolving. 

7️⃣. Live and breathe it. Your voice needs to be consistent in all your internal and external communications. Your voice must shine through every single touchpoint, EVEN that 1 tiny email you’re thinking about right now. Consumers LOVE consistency. Your team also loves guidelines – it’s hard to write when you don’t know what you’re allowed to write, for example. Document your branding, build a true and accurate brand book, and keep it always updated. 

Daniel Murray
Daniel Murray
Level up your marketing game

Zero BS. Just fun, unfiltered, industry insights with the game-changers behind some of the coolest companies from around the globe.

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