"Just do it."
"I'm lovin' it."
"What's in your wallet?"
We're guessing that (unless you've been living under a rock) those words called to mind some very clear images — a swoosh, some golden arches, and a credit card that might actually be in your wallet.
We could go on all day with examples of some of the biggest and most recognizable brands in our culture. But it's important to remember that those brands are more than a catchy jingle, snappy slogan, or killer logo — they were built on strategic vision that evolved with a lot of time and effort.
The same can be true of your brand, too. Maybe you want to be the Nike of the SaaS world or the next Apple in the tech industry. But how do you get there? Read on because you're about to find out.
Brand-Building: Model vs. Strategy
Your brand encompasses everything that distinguishes you from the competition. It's how consumers recognize you, how they perceive you, and, ultimately, why they choose to (or choose not to) give you their business.
Brand work digs deep into who you are, why you do what you do, and what it means to those you serve. But if you're wondering whether you need a brand model or a brand strategy, the answer is this: You need both.
Think of it this way: A brand model (sometimes called a brand equity model or a brand essence) is your reason for existing. It's your why. Why you do what you do. Why you're the best at it. Why your customers choose you. Why your brand resonates with them.
A branding strategy, on the other hand, is your how. How do you win over your target audience? How do you market to their needs and wants? How do you create demand? And, perhaps most importantly, how do you deliver on your brand promises?
Building Your Brand Model
Let's dig a little deeper — where do you begin with creating your brand model? It’s important to start with a brand audit, and you may want to consider using a brand marketing agency to help you begin and navigate through this process. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What are the key brand themes?
- What are the differentiators?
- How does the language you use support the brand?
- Are there areas of confusion?
At the end of the day, it’s all about perception. When you perform a detailed and thoughtful audit of your company’s brand, you gather tools that will help direct your brand strategy.
Once you've completed your brand audit, it's time to start thinking about how you want to construct your brand model. There are two widely accepted modeling types within the marketing industry, and you can use either of these to lay the foundation for your own brand model:
Keller's Brand Equity Model
The CBBE (customer-based brand equity) model is steeped in feelings. It asks: "How does the consumer feel about our brand at any given time in their journey?" To effectively use this type of model, you want to be making branding decisions informed by your mission, vision, and values. How are you communicating those? Do you live your values in a way that is obvious to consumers? Is your engagement with customers relational or transactional?
Brands built according to this model are all about the warm fuzzies, but of course, that has to be grounded in a strong identity. Consumers often want to use a brand because of what it stands for but also what it says about them. For instance, someone who wears Tom's shoes or drives a Subaru.
The Aaker Brand Equity Model
On the flip side of the coin, we have the Aaker Model, which is based more on consumer recognition. This model begins with awareness, but, of course, you must have top-notch quality to back it up. Once you wow consumers with your product or service, they make certain positive associations with your brand and eventually become loyal customers (or, even better, brand ambassadors).
As an example, think back to the start of the article and the Nike swoosh or McDonald's arches. They are instantly recognizable, and you know exactly what you're getting when you purchase their products.
Of course, you can create a brand model that takes elements of both of these. However you decide to model your brand, you need to ensure you can bring it to life with your branding strategy.
What Is the Value of Building a Brand Strategy?
As we've mentioned, a brand is more than just a logo, name, or slogan. A brand is the entire experience that your customers have with your company, product, or service. It doesn't just tell them what you do — it tells them who you are.
Your brand lives in everyday interaction with your audience and is highly visible in the following areas:
- Images you convey
- Messages you deliver on your website, social media, proposals, and campaigns
- Ways in which your employees interact with customers
- Customer’s opinions of you versus the competition
Building a brand strategy is a critical early step in an overall growth marketing plan. As you begin putting together your strategy, here are a few points you'll want to outline in detail:
Are you aiming for broad brand recognition, or do you want to create demand within a smaller target? Understand your goals at the outset so your strategy can provide the roadmap to help you get there.
Find Your Niche
Sure, you want everyone to love your brand, but narrowing your focus to a particular niche will enable you to be more strategic and will give you detailed insights into your customers, your competitors, and the market.
Conduct Market Research
Speaking of the market, you'll want to do some in-depth research as part of your brand strategy. Make sure you include a competitor audit/analysis so you understand who and what you're up against. Also, take a look at potential customers to find out what they're looking for.
Identify Your Buyer Persona
Your buyer persona is going to be critical to your brand. While not every customer will fit into the parameters of your persona, you'll find that there's usually some overlap. Use a buyer persona template to get started quickly and easily.
Highlight Your USP
What do you do that no one else in the market is doing? That's your USP (unique selling point). Depending on your industry and your product/service, your USP might be pretty obvious. But if you're in a packed market with fierce competition, it might take some digging to uncover it. Once you do, make it an essential part of your strategy.
Develop Supporting Strategies
In addition to a brand strategy, you're going to want strategies for the marketing channels you'll be using to promote your brand. That may include content, SEO, lead/demand gen, social media, and more. You may want to choose one or two to start with. The key is making sure that your strategies all align and support the same goals.
Craft Your Brand Identifiers
Now for the fun. Consider your logo, brand colors, taglines and slogans, and any other visual identifier you'd like to use. Your research may have uncovered some insights in this area (e.g., the brands in your market almost always use the color blue), so consider that when designing your visual identity.
Stand Out from Your Competitors Today
Ready to differentiate your brand from your competitors and stand out from the crowd? By working with a growth marketing agency that understands the ins and outs of branding, you’ll develop a strong brand strategy that boosts your ability to attract prospects and leads.
With great brand development, you can:
- Set yourself apart as a modern brand that people love
- Compete with brands that have been around longer
- Motivate prospects to buy from you
- Create loyalty between your customers and your brand
- Increase revenue and retain customers with less effort
Get your brand story right and the revenue will follow because prospects understand what your product and company stand for.