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Strong brands don’t just happen by accident.

Despite this, only 53 percent of companies say they have a brand building strategy. The struggle is further exuberated by advertising and marketing professionals who cannot convey their business branding to customers despite knowing their brand placing.

In effect, businesses struggle to have a systematic brand development strategy to enhance profits and revenues. This week, we will teach how small to midsized enterprises (SMEs) can implement a cost-efficient brand building strategy that can touch all aspects of their business. This brand strategy template will enable firms to have a robust branding foundation to efficiently connect with consumer needs and emotions, and gain dominance in competitive environments.

Brand Audit

The first step to a successful business branding strategy is to do a brand audit-a thorough examination of where your brand currently stands to identify and address problem areas.  Doing this exercise will allow you to align your strategy more closely with the expectations of your customers and understand your company’s place in the market. Let this brand strategy template guide you.

Target Audience

Start the brand audit with identifying your target users. Know their profile, motivators, behaviors and decision-making process. It is also helpful to know what are their common concerns, key influencers and how price sensitive they are. Remember, this step is very crucial as your audience determines your messaging strategy and the marketing channels you should tap.

Decision Drivers and Target Insights

Knowing what the critical emotional and rational decision-making factors of your customers is the second part of your brand audit. One of the most effective methodology to understand customer decision-making is through the Laddering Interview process. This technique is a one-on-one structured dialogue that draws-out connections between product attributes, its consequences, and the human values linked to them. A good example of this is understanding a consumer’s purchase motivations through understanding their decision paths. From the decision drivers, businesses should be able to identify in general the product need of their target market. Their motivations, decision-making process, their perception of product benefits and even their unmet needs.

Brand Inventory

The last step in your brand audit is the brand inventory. Here it is essential to identify what are your brand’s current assets and where it is weak. Look at the brand positioning of your products, your logo and secondary associations, product claims and any third-party product reviews. From here, identify what areas sets your product apart from the competitors.

Brand Strategy

After your audit, it is time to build your brand building strategy. A well-defined plan not only affects all business aspects but also responds to the needs and emotions of your customers. Let this brand strategy template guide you.

Brand Pyramid

Start your business branding with a Brand Pyramid- a tool that can outline the basic building blocks of your brand. The Brand Pyramid focuses on five components of your product or service: features and attributes; functional benefits; emotional benefits; brand/product persona and brand idea. Use this as a guide for brand positioning.

Brand Positioning

Use the Brand Pyramid to position your product or service to surpass your competitors, engage your niche market and fit your major geographic areas. Create a brand positioning statement that will allow your brand to occupy a distinctive place and value in the target customer’s mind.  For example. Apple’s brand positioning focuses on emotional branding that is felt in the hearts and minds of the customers.

Brand Personality

The brand personality must behave consistently to its values to make the brand positioning successful. For instance, Apple’s brand personality focuses on emotions.  These emotions evoke a lifestyle of innovation, imagination, design and human-centered technology. Apple also highlights simplicity and removal of complexity in tech products. Rather it zooms-in people’s lives and produce products that are “human.”

Brand Execution

The last step of your brand building strategy lies in the successful execution of brand elements, communication, experience and community building. Let this brand strategy template guide you.

Elements

Brand elements must be consistent and recognizable across various platforms. For example, your brand name, logo, and icons together with its colors, symbols and music must be aligned with your strategy. At the same time, your brand endorsers and advertising slogans must be aligned with your brand positioning and personality.

Integrated Communications Strategy

A unified business branding communications strategy assures a compelling, consistent and efficient brand idea. With this, utilize your brand inventory to tap into your customer’s current beliefs and your brand positioning and personality to deliver the essential brand message. Your business branding communications must be clear enough that it draws your market to clear call to actions (i.e., a subscription, purchase, sharing of content or download).

Brand Experience

Brand experience is all about how customers interact with your product or service before purchase, during product usage and post product usage. Here, it is crucial to map interaction points that influence customer behavior and brand perception so that you can continuously optimize them. For example, Apple takes customer experience a priority, so it expanded and improved its distribution capabilities through its thousands of retail stores across the world. It partnered with Telco companies of various countries allowing increased accessibility of iPhones and iPads.

Community Building

The last aspect of your business branding focuses on nurturing the community that is formed around brands. Here, it is vital that your business nurtures, listens and validates the people who build a community to share their brand experiences. Apple has official support communities that answer questions about its product and continuously rebrands its stores to foster a community in each area. For instance, they are making stores with more space “drawing people out of their digital bubbles.”

Having a strong brand is crucial to remain competitive, relevant and valuable in the market. This brand strategy template should give SMEs the foundation to pivot their way towards active customer engagement and sustainable portfolio revenue generation.

Categories: Blog
Branding Fundamentals for SMEs

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