Launching a campaign without defining your brand strategy is like driving your car to an unknown location. You’ll probably spend a lot of energy, and anywhere you’ll get wouldn’t be the place you wanted to get to.
Having defined brand values, story and messaging means you can navigate your campaigns to a clear destination. And usually, when you have a target, there’s a better chance you’ll achieve it.
Let’s start with the bottom line here.
A good brand strategy will:
- Answer a true need of your target audience
- Differentiate your brand from other alternatives
- Authentically reflect your brand’s value
And ultimately, be aligned with your business goals and KPI’s
Our 3 steps guide is about asking the 15 right questions, collecting the right data to answer these questions, and do the math.
Your brand X 4
Your brand is your story, and stories have the power to change people perceptions and realities. When people hear authentic stories, it usually connects them in an emotional way to your brand. It happens in B2C brands, and in B2B brands. People are people.
To figure out your brand story, we recommend to start by asking the following questions:
- Start with WHY - What is your brand’s vision? Why does the brand exist? Where does it aim?
- What is your value proposition? What are the different solutions your brand offers? How are they unique?
- What are your brand’s strengths? What are the values that led to your brand’s establishment?
- What is your brand’s weaknesses in the market and in the eyes of your customers?
After answering these questions, try to list 2-4 main values that represent your brand promise. It’s easy to think of this list by remembering the story that led to the creation of the brand. This is the reason you and your team are investing so much effort.
Case study - Mayple: This is how we defined our WHY.
When we started to design our brand story, we opened our first sessions with a Ted short lecture piece that seems to work each time: Start with why - how great leaders inspire action by Simon Sinek
We started by thinking why do we get up in the morning, what it the value we all wish to create by doing what we do. We succeeded to pinpoint the friction that our company solves: the digital marketing zero-sum game small and medium-sized businesses are struggling to win, without the tools to do so. We even have a slide that describes it visually:
Using this slide, we managed to define our role; helping businesses get out of this catch-22 and win the high results big brands have, only with a limited budget.
But why? Imagine this: a business works so hard to create an awesome product or service. This business invests in digital marketing to spread the word and attract new customers.
It seems like it works for everyone else…
After a while, this business realizes that putting ads on Google, Facebook and Yelp doesn’t work like magic.
Getting results from digital marketing requires high professional abilities.
But, a small/medium business doesn’t have the access to top-notch marketers like big brands have, to their advanced technology tools and their huge digital marketing budgets; nor the ability to assure the quality of the services the business buy. So they stay behind.
This business feels frustrated and angry, for what seems like the unfair bitter fate of small businesses. But then, The business feels the urge to break through, to be seen and get recognition for what it does best.
This is what Mayple is about. Empowerment to fulfill excellence.
We could keep talking and arguing, but talking to our customers and getting inside their heads and experiences was the effective part.
Your customers X 6
Answering the true needs of your target audience is what makes your brand relevant and what motivates your potential customers to engage with it. The most successful brands either communicated their customers’ most important values (for example Coka Cola, life & happiness) or solve their customers’ biggest pain points (for example Uber, move the way you want).
To understand your customers, we recommend you’d ask these questions:
- Who are my customers? Who could be the potential target audiences for my growth?
- What’s important for my customers?
- List 3 functional benefits and 3 emotional benefits that your brand provides your customers
- What are your customers’ main barriers to buying your products or services?
- What do your customers say about your brand? What do they say about your competitors?
- What were the most effective marketing campaigns you performed? What made then successful?
To properly answer these questions, talk to customers, ask your sales team or even try to call customers that were not pleased and left your brand.
Now list 2-4 values that are most important to your customers. An important thing to remember is that not necessarily the most important value should be your core message since it just might represent a basic value that doesn’t create any differentiation. For example, an online service that talks about availability.
Customers pain points and expectations
You can never listen enough to what your customers have to say about your brand, about competitors, and especially, about what they expect and need. After running a survey and interviewing some of our present and past customers, we could build a list of pain points that our customers experience while managing their digital marketing, and we also built a list of their expectations and the values that they represent. This is what we came out with:
- Not knowing how to make the right choice about freelancer / digital agency
- Limited budget
- Frustrating replacements of unfitted marketers
- Mediocre results
- Lack of transparency
- Get their business voice heard
- Reach a bigger audience that will enjoy their value
- Be in control
- Feel confident
These were the values we identified: confidence & control, trust, hope, growth, be seen.
Your market & competition X 5
Identifying the opportunities and threats in the market is a basic step to communicate your brand. This information will allow you to create more relevant and smart messaging that will reflect your brand. In addition to that, you’de want to know what are the main messages and brand values your competitors communicate. When you map them, you can decide which messages are already overused and what are the ‘free spots’ that your brand can appropriate in a way that will differentiate it from other competing brands.
These are the questions we recommend you to ask in order to understand your market and competition:
- What are the market trends that have to do with your brand’s activity? What are the main challenges? What are the opportunities?
- Who are your brand’s main partners? What is their added value to your brand?
- Who are your direct competitors? Who keeps you up at night?
- What are their strengths?
- What are their main messages? What values do they represent?
Try to build a table that compares your competitors messaging, according to value categories. For example, if one competitor is saying: my product is simple to use, the other says: my product is easy to use, and the third one says: using my product is effortless, they all chose the ‘simple’ category and you should consider choosing a different value for your brand if you want to differentiate it.
Competition messaging analysis
Since we are a disruptor in our industry, defining who are our competitors was the first task. After doing that, we checked what do they say to our potential customers to make sure we are going to communicate our value in a differentiating way. Fortunately, we saw that the marketing messages in the competitive environment focus on the service and rational factors. That left us a wide territory of combining rational and emotional factors in our messaging and brand values.
Do the math
If you answered all of the questions above, you probably have a few options for brand values to choose from. It is always good that a brand will have one leading value, and other 2-3 values to support it.
To sum up our case study here, Mayple’s core value is empowerment. We aim to empower our customers and marketing experts so both will be able to fulfill their potential.
We also have three supporting values: professionalism, unbiased and Maypling (which a unique experience we give our customer).
You can see our brand story and values here.
What are your brand core values?