- Brand marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on the brand itself, instead of individual offerings.
- Building a brand marketing strategy helps you understand your market, refine your communications and sales approach, and gain needed awareness.
- While there are steps to create a brand marketing strategy, this discipline involves ongoing evolution and is an iterative process that doesn’t end.
Brand Marketing Defined
The process of creating a marketing strategy for an entire brand, instead of individual products and services. The goal is to communicate the value of the brand’s offerings by creating and communicating the brand’s overall message and identity.
Brand marketing aims to build and expand the relationship between the brand and its customers.
Think of brand marketing as the long term strategy and plan to create awareness, recognition, reputation, and a loyal customer base. Over time, if you create and share the brand’s mission, values, culture, and other elements, the foundation for brand marketing success is built.
Brand marketing strategy, like other aspects of marketing, involves constant iteration, experimentation, and evolution.
It helps define:
- Communications approach
- Sales approach
- Promotion of products and services
Brand marketing vs. product marketing
Brand marketing is the higher level, non-product specific marketing activities conducted on behalf of a brand as a whole.
Product marketing is the process of bringing a new product or service to market, including positioning, messaging, the launch, plus internal and external education.
Why all companies need brand marketing strategies
Today’s brands face an uphill battle to stand out in the market. Social media, product and service saturation, publishers and affiliates, and a million other voices shout for attention. And while standing out is very difficult, it’s also vital for brands.
Done right, brand marketing breaks through that noise and fosters genuine connections with your audience.
Brand marketing tackles the big goals, including:
- Clarifying brand identity — Brand marketing creates consistent brand messaging across assets, which better defines your brand and what it stands for. This makes communicating your unique value easier.
- Raising brand awareness — Powerful brand marketing can give a major boost to high level, top-of-funnel awareness.
- Building brand loyalty — Efforts that improve, establish, or reinforce a strong brand identity will improve customer relationships in the long run.
- Strengthening brand equity — The stronger, more consistent, and more controlled a brand’s narrative, the higher the brand equity.
- Cements your marketing efforts — Empowering all your marketing campaigns and initiatives, plus defining bigger business strategy, potential partnerships, and more.
Brand marketing done right, with a full-funnel, online asset-driven approach, asserts control in a space. It allows brands to tell their unique stories and reach their audiences across the sales funnel. Ultimately, it develops long term customer relationships built on trust. SEO, content marketing, and digital marketing alone can’t achieve this.
Brands need to connect with customers in a consistent and compelling way. Brand marketing must be pursued with intention and care. It’s the only way to defend the reputation of a brand, build trust, and allow the brand to tell its story without being hijacked. Additionally, brand marketing increases product value across the board.
Having great offerings doesn’t create a dominant brand — it’s a combination of the offerings and superb brand marketing to establish a brand as a leader.
Google, Apple, Nike, Amazon, and Coca-Cola are just a few examples of exceptional brand marketing that holds these titans in place as industry leaders.
How to build a brand marketing strategy
Brand marketing strategy looks different depending on the company type and development stage. Here are the steps to get you started.
Conduct foundational research to ground your entire brand-building process. This includes research into the competitive landscape, the unique needs of different market categories, current competitor offerings, and the audience for your product or service.
2. Define your target market or niche
Be clear about the market or niche you seek to fulfill before you design a brand marketing strategy. Maybe you already have this figured out or maybe you’re already operating in a space. Either way, market research is required.
Here are some starting points:
- Determine what services offerings to focus on.
- Aim for a space with profit potential and limited competition.
- Try to create a laser focus on solving specific problems for your audience.
3. State your business goals
Define and identify the key business goals that can act as the purpose of your brand strategy as a whole. Ultimately, business goals should be the driver.
Business goals can include long or short term achievements, like:
- Growing the customer base by 25% in the next four quarters.
- Generating increased sales over the next six months.
- Increasing overall customer retention over the next three years.
- Bringing a new core offering to market.
- Gaining 1,000 new newsletter subscribers this quarter.
It’s important to start with concrete metrics and measurable goals so you can assess your success later. Plus, weaknesses that need to be addressed in a business inform many aspects of your brand marketing strategy.
4. Define your brand purpose — the ‘why’
For brands with limited brand marketing strategy in place, it’s vital to define the company purpose and core values. Without a statement of purpose and related materials established, you can’t develop brand identity, messaging, or brand positioning.
Brand purpose explains the why behind your business, not the way you get there (your offering).
Brand purpose includes:
- The overall brand ‘why’ statement
- Brand mission statement
- Brand vision statement
- Brand or company values
Developing the brand purpose involves the creation of the different brand statements, values, and commitment in a compelling and consistent way. A powerful brand purpose absolutely requires consistent messaging across all the assets your brand controls or will develop in the future.
The most successful global brands create a brand purpose that develops an emotional connection with key target customer audiences while communicating the problem and the solution.
This can drive great digital customer experiences and encourage customer loyalty, enhance brand personality, strengthen your brand name, and increase brand value and market share.
5. Identify your target audience
You likely already have an audience in mind or are expanding the reach in your current audience, but you need to have a clear idea of who it is and develop some representational materials to align.
Take your target demographics and create buyer personas that provide a broad representation of your ideal customers and their pain points. Using these personas, which you can build with existing customer research, you can zero in on the best tone, content types, and branding language to target your audience.
Despite being fictional, personas represent the high level concerns of your potential customers and help brands align their marketing strategies — including brand marketing — with the audience.
Determining the target audience can be simple, but understanding their motivations on a deeper level takes a bit more work.
If you need inspiration to get started, check out these 9 buyer persona examples for B2B and B2C brands.
6. Analyze your competitors
After you know where your brand fits into a market, dig deeper into the competitive landscape. The task is determining your competitors in order to brand yourself uniquely in a given market.
Consider that your competitors go beyond just offerings. In Google search, non-product competitors can crowd out brands. These entities include review sites, media and publishers, bloggers, affiliates, and more.
Get intimately familiar with all competitor types before entering the market. Getting a handle on who is out there, how they’re branded, and what they publish puts you closer to standing out as a brand.
7. Create a brand identity
At this point you can develop the items you need to visually define your brand — name, slogan or tagline, fonts and typefaces, image style, logo, etc. You may need to create imagery, iterate on current materials, or even launch a complete rebrand.
Similar to the written components of brand marketing strategy, your visuals need to be refined, unique, and consistent across your various web assets.
8. Define brand messaging and positioning statement
Using all of the materials created thus far, you can now define your brand and determine its positioning. Brand messaging includes how the brand will communicate to external audiences and internal audiences, like employees, investors, and other stakeholders.
Establishing an on-brand tone of voice for telling your brand story creates solid brand recognition.
A positioning statement briefly explains how a given product, service or brand fills a particular consumer need in a way that its competitors don’t. The competitive analysis step above will help inform this statement.
With this, the brand identity, the purpose, and the other components done it’s time to create a cohesive set of brand guidelines. You can create one for internal audiences and one for external audiences, each tailored to the audience
9. Publish brand guidelines
Now, publish an internal brand guidelines document. Your internal teams and management should have easy access to the brand guidelines as it defines just about everything.
For a new brand marketing strategy to work, it needs buy-in and requires that employees follow the new direction of the company. Hosting ongoing brand guidelines training is a great way to educate and align your entire staff.
Some brands publish external-facing brand guidelines with varying degrees of content. For press and brand partners, the external guidelines are often the same as the internal ones. For the general public, guidelines are usually paired down to the basics.
10. Measure brand marketing success and iterate
You set specific goals for the brand marketing strategy early on. Now you must return to those objectives, measure the impact, and create an optimization plan based on the results. If you identify misalignment, bad assumptions, or brand components that didn’t work as planned, your brand marketing team can jump in and right the ship as needed.
Brands must constantly refine their messaging and strategies into the future. Although not every aspect of a brand marketing strategy will work, the best brands never give up.
This is not the end of building your brand marketing strategy. Each step will need to be iterated upon on an ongoing basis, as the entire thing will evolve.
Depending on how close you came to the mark, your results will help direct you to potential improvements.
Starting with the principles here, you can build a successful brand marketing plan today. Each step of the process above can be customized depending on your goals.
- Brand Marketing Defined
- Why all companies need brand marketing strategies
- How to build a brand marketing strategy
- 1. Research
- 2. Define your target market or niche
- 3. State your business goals
- 4. Define your brand purpose — the ‘why’
- 5. Identify your target audience
- 6. Analyze your competitors
- 7. Create a brand identity
- 8. Define brand messaging and positioning statement
- 9. Publish brand guidelines
- 10. Measure brand marketing success and iterate