A branding plan is a vital first step in building your brand. Every “brick” of branding that you place for your company will be built upon the branding strategy. But what if you’re at a loss about how to develop a plan in the first place? In this article, we’ll cover what a branding strategy is, how to tell a good one from a bad one, and how long it should be. Keep reading for more info!
What is a Branding Strategy?
A branding strategy encompasses everything that you can control surrounding your brand. Branding strategies should include many elements of your brand, including:
- Brand identity
- How you tell your brand story
- Overall vibe/feel of your company
- Brand values
Of course, you can’t control everything about your brand – because a brand is the customer’s perception of who you are, it’s always a bit beyond your control. That said, there are specific steps you can take to try to avoid making major mistakes with your brand!
Signs of a Good Branding Plan
How will you know if you’re on the right track with your branding plan? A good branding strategy will be well thought out but not so inflexible that you can’t adapt and evolve. Before you come up with a plan, you’ll need to conduct a lot of background research into your client base, target audience, customer preferences, and more. You’ll need to find your unique positioning and what sets you apart from competitors.
In other words, there should be research, data, and consultation every step of the way as you’re coming up with a new branding strategy. Whatever you do needs to be informed by who you are, and (in most cases) drastic changes should be avoided so you won’t alienate your current customer base.
Your brand should be informed by all of this data – and if you’re thinking about a major change or a step that could potentially be controversial, you should always consult with experts and a panel of your most loyal clients to see if there’s an issue/angle you hadn’t considered.
How Long Should a Branding Plan Be
If you’re looking for an exact number, you won’t find it here. A branding plan should be as long as it takes to give everyone in your company a clear direction without being unnecessarily exhaustive or full of “fluff.”
Here are some of the things you should do as you create your branding plan:
- Talk to key team members about brand identity. Find out who knows the most about the brand’s identity (with the highest levels of knowledge and experience) and clarify your brand. This will usually include company executives/the founder or co-founders. Don’t forget to speak to sales as well!
- Get to know your target audience. Go beyond demographics to figure out their pain points, emotional needs, and gain customer insights. From there, build out a customer persona/avatar that you can refer to when creating images/messaging. Marketing and sales teams are critical for this step.
- Research competitors. You can look at four categories here: Industry forces, market forces, key trends, and macroeconomic forces. The objective is to find your unique positioning and how your brand adds value.
- Discover your brand personality. Find out the tone and voice your brand uses, craft a brand promise in a way that’s personable. You can even complete a brand personality archetype template to find out where you stand.
- Come up with brand guidelines. Once you have a fuller understanding of your brand, you can set up a brand kit. This should have visual elements (brand colors, logos, icons, fonts) as well as information about tone/voice, tagline, and more.
What You Need to Know About Branding
Before we wrap up, there are two things you’ll need to know about branding before you start developing your plan.
A logo is not a brand
Some people think that, if they’ve got a logo, they’ve already established a brand. Hopefully, this article has shown you that there’s so much more to a brand than simply a logo. If that were true, anyone could hop over to a logo creator app and become a brand like magic!
The truth is that a brand involves how you’re seen by customers. Every part of your brand (website, persona, story, promise, visuals, etc) should be in line with who you are as a company. This means that you can’t create a cool logo graphic that carries zero meaning and expect it to be your brand!
…but you’ll need a good logo
Your logo is not your brand – but if you want your brand to resonate with people and become recognizable, you are going to need a meaningful logo that visually communicates who you are.
Your logo should represent your brand at the most basic level, so if your logo is poorly made or keeps changing all the time – especially if those changes are drastic – it’s not going to be nearly as effective. This is why research is such a critical part of branding and logo creation. Everything must have a purpose, and you should be able to explain your logo in a way that immediately makes sense.
Let Us Help with Your Branding Plan
If you’re struggling with a branding strategy and need a second set of eyes, that’s what we’re here for! At Matcha Design, we specialize in every step of the branding process, from formulating a plan based on in-depth research to creating meaningful logos and building everything else about your brand based on what we’ve learned.
You don’t have to struggle through the branding process alone, tripping over trial and error. Our award-winning agency is full of marketing professionals who will be there for you every step of the way, resulting in a stress-free experience as you watch your dreams unfold.