One of the most common questions marketing folks get when dealing with a new or relatively small business is, what is branding strategy?
It’s a valid inquiry, particularly now that we are in the age of the internet and it seems that the fundamental elements of marketing are changing dramatically. This question becomes even more pressing when considering how the line between personal and professional has seemingly become blurred; we live in an age where so much of our personal behavior is more public and accessible than it ever has been before. How does a company learn to wield these things as beneficial tools rather than view them as hurdles?
To get the answer to—What is branding strategy?—first you must know what a brand is. Your company’s brand (or your personal brand) is its public personality. For those who balk at the idea of a company having its own personality, think about this: Every company has its own culture–it’s a tiny community that has its own norms, communication style, and a stylistic approach to dealing with their clients and colleagues. Your brand is essentially the public face of your company, equivalent to acting on your best behavior and presenting yourself as a consummate professional when on a job interview.
Of course, branding as a strategy is hardly a new marketing concept. Although extensive research suggests that branding has existed for eons (as early as 2250 B.C.E., according to a research paper by Karl Moore and Susan Reid that was published in Business History), the modern iteration of this element of business finds its origins somewhere in the mid-twentieth century, and it became a prioritized marketing approach in the seventies.
What is Branding Strategy in the Modern Era?
In an article for The Atlantic, Marc de Swaan Arons posits that modern branding was a response to “the standardization of quality products for consumers in the middle of the 20th century [as it] required companies to find a new way to differentiate themselves from their competitors.” Arons goes on to say that companies who succeeded at this differentiation did so by figuring out what defined their consumers and used that information to elicit an emotional tie between the buyer and the product.
Branding strategy isn’t just a mere branch of your marketing; it’s the mission statement that all of your marketing, public relations, and customer service should be built around. With so many new companies serving so many of the same needs, your branding strategy goes beyond marketing a fantastic product; it gives customers a personal reason to invest in your company. It requires knowing who your company is at its core and who your company aspires to be.
Some questions to answer when defining your brand (and what is branding strategy):
- How does your company deal with a PR snafu?
- How does your company handle difficult clients?
- How does your company handle internal conflict? Financial stress?
- How does your company treat its employees (particularly those at the bottom of the ladder)?
- Is your company the kind of business that participates in charitable giving or coordinated company volunteering?
- Who is your demographic? What kind of voice appeals to that group of people?
- What is the nature of your product or service? Are you establishing yourself as an expert, or are you offering something fun and entertaining? If your product could talk, what kind of tone would it take?
When done right, a branding strategy creates lifelong, diehard customers, and that fanbase will carry you through the hard times that every business eventually faces.
It’s Time to Answer the Question “What is Branding Strategy?” For Your Business
Grab our Branding Persona & Strategy Workbook and take control of how your customers and the outside world perceive your company.