Brand strategy is one of the most important aspects of marketing—it’s the foundations that every successful business needs to be built upon. In this article, learn all about brand strategy, brand messaging, brand identity and branding.

By Ellie Keft

August 30, 2021

What is brand strategy?

Brand strategy is baaaaasically just about having a strategic plan for what you’d like to achieve within your business or ‘brand’ and how you’ll achieve it. It really is step 1, or let’s say step -1.

Within this process, you’ll be looking at things like your short term and long term goals, your mission and your vision, and your target audience.

Whether you think of your business as a brand or not, the fact is that it IS a brand. 

Your BRAND is like this big umbrella that encompasses literally eeeverything to do with your business, including everything your employees and business partners do (both on the clock and off).

Simplified, a BRAND is really just the thoughts, feelings and emotions that come up for people when they hear your brand name, your business name. It can seem a bit airy-fairy, but it’s the real deal. It’s a deeply intimate relationship that your brand has with a person’s mind because it’s how THEY perceive your brand, the stories they create around your brand and the romantic notions they might conjure.

As an example—I’ll give a camping example because I’m me and I love adventure—MSR sells one of the most popular tents on the market, it’s called a ‘Hubba hubba’ and I have one. But for me, when I think of MSR, it’s not just a TENT I’m picturing in my mind. I’m envisioning multi-day hikes with everything I need on my back, escaping from the shackles of everyday life, from work, from commitments, getting out into nature and getting gnarly, setting up this light-weight tent out in the mountains, snuggling into it after a big day, with a cuppa and a book. It’s the romantic notion of adventure, of escape.

And so BRAND STRATEGY is what overarches everything you do to create your BRAND. It’s the roadmap that allows you to CREATE a brand that is magnetic and that people connect with on a personal and emotional level.

I often have clients coming to me with a whole bunch of fancy marketing requests, but they haven’t done this foundational brand strategy work, so I always recommend it.

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t, most people haven’t! But I’m here to tell you that it’s important and this is not a drill!

So once you have an overall strategy, you’re then drilling down a little deeper, at what’s called the ‘BRAND MESSAGING’.

BRAND STRATEGY is what overarches everything you do to create your BRAND. It’s the roadmap that allows you to CREATE a brand that is magnetic and that people connect with on a personal and emotional level.

What is brand messaging?

BRAND MESSAGING is about really figuring out exactly what you’re offering, what’s unique about it, and really why someone should choose you and not the many other choices that exist out there.

To do this, you’ll want to drill down into your core values and your ‘why’ or ‘purpose’. I actually have a free worksheet for this, if you head to hiatusstudios.co/whyworkbook you can download that for FREE and it’ll help get your brain juices flowing (I love saying brain juices).

I think the MOST important thing about brand messaging is identifying your ‘edge’, your ‘special sauce’ in your market, also called your ‘unique value proposition’ or UVP, and then you can break that out into your unique services as well.

I also think this is the hardest thing for people to do. It involves really digging into what your competitors are doing, and actually, it involves even knowing WHO your competitors actually are, which can be tricky!

It’s also tricky because you need to be able to zoom out and look at what you are offering objectively. This can be a BIG ego check as you might suddenly realise that your product or service isn’t as unique as you thought it was.

The art and science of brand positioning is a combination of iterating and improving your offering, but also—and this is key—identifying the nuances and intricacies to your entire brand.

While your PRODUCT might be similar to another brand, they don’t have YOU, for example. Or, they don’t have the same romantic connection to a particular town or region, or things like that.

This is why I love brand messaging so much actually, because I am FASCINATED with people and stories. And great brand messaging is just about digging into the story and identifying the parts of you and your brand that will resonate with the people you’re trying to reach, and then figuring out how to articulate these gems in a way that gets the message across, AND encourages people to take the actions you’re asking of them.

Much of your brand messaging comes out during the process of creating a brand strategy, but defining your key brand messages is more about picking out the best bits, bringing together the juicy core of your business into a few tasty morsels, or bite-sized statements that encapsulate who you are and what you do.

As with everything we’re discussing in these initial eps, I will be going into more details about the practical steps about how to do these things in future eps once all the basics have been covered, so stay tuned for that if you need some help with this stuff.

Then the last part of the puzzle is what’s sometimes known as your ‘brand identity’ or your ‘visual brand identity’ or some combination of those words.

What’s brand identity?

It includes the colours and fonts that you use, as well as your logo, as well as any icons, illustrations or patterns.

Importantly, brand identity is the execution of your brand strategy. So great brand identity is very intentional in how it wants to make you feel, certain elements of a brand it wants you to remember and so on.

It’s a creative process sure, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be well-thought out, purposeful and calculated.

Brand identity needs to be consistent and uniform, and needs to be displayed everywhere your brand appears—both on and offline.

There is SO much meaning in the visual representation of your brand, and so if you can have a think about what your fonts and colours say about your brand, or how your logo represents your brand, I’d recommend it.

And also, importantly, reflecting on whether your brand identity aligns with your strategy is uber important. If you’re trying to be known for your connection to nature and your sustainable practices as a core brand message, loud, bold, in your face fonts and bright, artificial colours might not cut it. But if you want to be known as an up and coming Fintech brand, a mini Google who has Katy Perry perform at your outrageous work parties, perhaps that branding will work for you.

As a quick example, I don’t like using hard, bright, primary or close to primary colours in my branding. Why? Because I want to be seen as natural, earthy and laid-back. It’s more of a coffee in a trendy cafe wearing lounge linens and Birks than a loud party dress dancing with confetti and scream-singing loudly with a group of girlfriends… type of vibe.

And when it comes to fonts, I prefer fonts with rounded edges because to me, that feels more feminine, approachable, nurturing. Angular edges, to me, are more domineering, final, decisive. Does all that make sense? I hope so!

What’s ‘branding’?

Branding is the actual process of executing your brand strategy and influencing your overall brand. Think of terms like ‘co-branding’, ‘personal branding’ and ‘digital branding’.

They all describe certain tactics you might have included in your strategy, to achieve certain objectives. Co-branding might be useful to position your brand in a particular way, perhaps as a more sustainable brand, and personal branding might be useful for adding a personal, charismatic edge to your brand.

And working on and distributing your brand messaging and brand visual identity, is PART OF your branding activities.

This article is based on an episode of my podcast, Unearth Your Herd… check it out!

OK so that’s pretty much all I had to say today!

Remember that if you are keen to start the process, I’d recommend downloading my ‘Finding Your Why’ workbook. It’s a bit of a taste tester for one of the services I offer which is a my ‘brand messaging booklet’ where I basically just do all of what we’ve discussed today for you! Magic!

You can find the FREE workbook here.

ALSO if you do have any questions that you’d like me to answer, please head to the website and there’s a form there that you can submit questions to.

Photo credit: Olena Sergienko

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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land we predominantly work on, the Ngunnawal people. We recognise that ‘Australia’ was founded on the dispossession of First Nations people, that sovereignty was never ceded, and that this country always was and always will be, their land. Hiatus Studios pays our rent by making monthly donations to Healing Foundation, which supports Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities.

© Copyright Ellie Keft 2021