“Strategy without tactics is a daydream; tactics without strategy is a nightmare.” Influenced by Sun Tzu and coined by our CEO and Co-founder Mark Schmukler, this quote explains the purpose behind our step-wise marketing process JumpStartTM which begins with a Brand Strategy. B2B branding isn’t just another piece of the puzzle when it comes to marketing activities. It’s an integral part of strategy that determines the direction every marketing tactic your company uses will take.
Your company’s brand is what makes your company look, feel, and sound like a company that others want to do business with. In The 2019 B2B Trusted Brands Report, the companies B2B customers report trusting all have strong, recognizable brands. At Sagefrog, we accelerate client success through B2B brand building and marketing. We’ve helped many a company establish a solid brand that serves as an effective, appealing calling card and every time we’ve done so, the first step has been supplying them with our flagship Brand Strategy product.
Learn about our Brand Strategy process and the immediate benefits it will have for your company.
1. What is a Brand Strategy?
A Brand Strategy defines the visual and verbal experience that your company provides in the marketplace. It’s an enterprise-wide internal and external roadmap that explains how your company should be spoken about by your team and portrayed in the marketplace.
Your Brand Strategy outlines your company’s visioning, positioning, brand messaging, and visual identity by considering your current and desired perception in the marketplace. In a formalized and tangible document, each of these components are clearly written or displayed, with each element contingent on the next. For example, your positioning statement will include your purpose (mission statement) and differentiators (messaging) while your logo will include applications with the anchor line and so forth.
2. What Exactly Is Included?
The finalized Brand Strategy will be delivered in the form of a tangible document that your company can share with your entire organization. A typical Brand Strategy includes the following elements:
Corporate visioning includes mission statements, vision statement and brand personality and tone of voice that explains your company’s purpose and its strategic direction. Corporate visioning aligns your team based upon who you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there.
A positioning statement helps you see where your company stands in relation to your competitors. It’s the statement that becomes your elevator pitch and your boilerplate, defining who you are, what your purpose is, how you’re different and better than competitors, and what the ultimate benefit is that your company provides.
Your brand messaging is the platform that communicates why your company is different and better than competitors. Brand messaging is intended to inspire and persuade customers to choose your brand by telling them the value that your company and its subsequent processes, technology and people can do for them.
A brand name that resonates with your audience is crucial to your success. Names that sound too much like competitors’ names or don’t invoke the right kind of imagery for your industry can hold you back. Through our proven naming process, we generate ideas, test for quality, and check availability to make sure your company finds a name that hits just the right note.
Conceptual Overview Diagrams
Providing products or service with excellence and skill is second nature to you, but prospects and customers don’t know exactly how you do what you do. We help you create visually compelling, digestible proven process diagrams that communicate the basics of what prospects can expect from working with you and what they can expect from your products or services.
Brand identity is also often referred to as a brand’s “visual identity system.” Your brand’s identity is comprised of every visual component of your brand. The color palette, fonts, image styles, icons and logos your company use are say just as much about your brand as your sales reps or marketing content do. Our designers will work with you to develop a visual identity system that speaks volumes about your brand.
If you don’t know who you’re talking to, you can’t have a meaningful conversation. We use demographic and psychographic information on the needs and values of your audience to put a name and face to your targets, and create content that directly addresses their needs, wants and values. Our buyer personas make sure you meet key stakeholders at touchpoints that matter.
Depending on the complexity of your sale and the breadth of your needs, your Brand Strategy may also include brand architecture to rationalize sub-brands, guiding principles to align your team, messaging by target audience, subsequent sub-brand or program logos, buyer journey and so forth.
B2B Branding Bonus Lesson: Brand Identity vs. Brand Image
The terms “brand identity” and “brand image” are often thrown around in the world of B2B branding, and often confused with one another. Brand identity is everything visual about your brand that includes your logo, color palette, typography, imagery style, graphic elements, iconography and the way these elements are all packaged together. Brand image is how your brand is perceived by customers and marketplace based on the reputation you’ve earned through quality of service, thought leadership and public relations.
3. Why Does My Company Need a Brand Strategy?
Every company that’s serious about increasing market share needs an up-to-date Brand Strategy. Without a Brand Strategy, your company lacks formalized, cohesive direction about why your company exists, where it’s going and how it will get there through unique differentiation.
There are several reasons companies come to us for a Brand Strategy. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
- Your internal team is not aligned around a common mission or long-term vision
- Your marketing communications have inconsistent messaging, look and feel and tone of voice
- Your target market doesn’t understand what you do or why you’re better than competitors
- Your HR department has a difficult time recruiting new employees due to lack of awareness
The beauty of a Brand Strategy is that it packages all of the necessary information together to provide your marketing, sales, executive and human resources departments with consistent talking points. It takes seven times for people to really hear a message for the first time1 and therefore, permeating strong consistent messages across all touchpoints and departments will help your case stick.
4. How Long Does It Take to Develop?
Developing a Brand Strategy can take a long as you’d like, depending on the depth you require. However, as specialists who have been around the branding block for more than 15 years, we pride ourselves on the ability to ask the right questions that streamline the development of our strategy.
A majority of our Brand Strategy projects – which typically include discovery, workshops and interviews with key stakeholders, creative brief development and final verbal and visual identity creations – are finalized in less than two months. Of course, this is contingent on our clients’ ability to provide concise information upfront and timely feedback on our recommendations. To prepare your team for the task of providing concise input and feedback, here are a few tips:
- Hold an internal prep meeting before your workshop to decide what components of your verbal and visual identity are not open to revision, such as a particular color or tagline.
- Get input from your sales team on what they deem are your prospects’ most critical pain points as well as their primary objections about your offering during a sales pitch.
- Give thought to your primary competitors – the companies that you run into during the sales process – as well as the top visual references that convey what your brand aspires to be in look or feel.
5. How Do We Actually Use the Strategy?
Great question. Most people equate strategy to elusive, intangible ideas, but our Brand Strategy is just the opposite. With sound messaging and an updated visual identity in place, we hit the ground running on execution without wasting extra time fiddling with copy or design. We immediately:
- Apply it to marketing materials, sales aids or a new website
- Update your social media profiles with the visual and verbal identity
- Use it in your digital advertisements and content marketing assets
- Feature it in any email or direct marketing and tradeshow signage
Additionally, depending on how drastic the update to your company’s verbal and visual identity is, we may suggest an external and/or internal brand launch with public relations and communications.
The bottom line? If your company is preparing to ramp up its marketing effort, starting with a Brand Strategy is the smartest thing you can do. By taking some time to really iron out the most important details about your company and formalize the visual and verbal identities around that, you end up saving time and money in the long run and wind up with harder-hitting marketing communications.
If you’re thinking about a new or updated Brand Strategy, first, we commend you and second, we would love to help. Schedule a time to talk to us and discover which components of your brand could use an update. Branding is what we do and what we love and we can’t wait to share our passion with you.
Are you interested in B2B marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.