The core elements of a brand strategy

Posted on April 26, 2023 by Sarah Robertson

Want to spend less time overthinking and more time understanding the basics of brand strategy?

When building your business, having a clear brand strategy is essential. Here, I begin by introducing the three core elements, as I call them in my design practice; brand foundations, brand positioning and brand essence. Together these key ingredients form the blueprint for creating meaningful and memorable connections with your audience and can help you gain clarity, feel confident and be decisive.

Brand foundations

Your brand foundations are the basic building blocks that underpin your brand strategy. They encompass your purpose, vision and values, serving as a cornerstone upon which you can evolve your brand over time. By establishing strong brand foundations, you can create a solid framework that is both supportive of you and immersive for your audience.

  1. Purpose: Your brand purpose is the reason why your brand exists. It’s at the heart of your business, aligns with your vision and values, and sets the tone for the other elements of your brand strategy. It is a statement your audience can connect with and feel inspired by, though it doesn’t necessarily need to be spelt out and can weave through all aspects of your communication.
  2. Vision: A brand vision ties in with the long-term goals you have for your business. It’s what you aspire to be and achieve in the future. Aligned with your brand purpose, it’s an aspect of a brand strategy that can energise you, keep you grounded and focused, and uplift those who come into contact with your brand should you choose to share your plans.
  3. Values: Your brand values are the principles that guide your behaviour and decisions in business. They define what your brand stands for and support how you show up in your interactions and relationships. They reflect in everything you do and generally echo the standards and reflect the expectations of your target audience.
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Your positioning distinguishes you from others, and it can also give you confidence in the direction of your business.

Brand positioning

By developing an understanding of your target audience, your place in the market, and where you sit in relation to the competition, you can create positioning that feels clear, helps you identify gaps and needs and distinguishes you from others in your field. Your positioning is what sets you apart, and it can also give you confidence in the direction of your business.

  1. Audience: Your target audience is the group of people your brand serves: the clients or customers who ultimately decide whether to engage with your business. When you develop a brand strategy, it helps to have a good idea of your audience’s desires, which, in turn, will give you the knowledge and power to create messaging and an experience that resonates.
  2. Market: A brand market is a space or niche where your brand operates. You might call it an industry or sector. And it’s where you can look to identify challenges and discover opportunities. Good market research is vital since it can help you gain insight and lead to devising a brand strategy that’s as distinct and diverse as you.
  3. Competition: To set yourself apart from your competitors, you must get clear on your audience and the space you occupy. Knowing this can lead to identifying possibilities for change and growth that will help you stay ahead of the curve. Of course, collaboration is also worth considering since our competitors can be part of our audience too.
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By developing brand qualities that speak to your audience, you can establish a deeper connection with them, creating loyalty and cultivating positivity.

Brand essence

Brand essence describes how your business behaves and interacts with your audience. With a focus on personality, voice and story, it reveals your traits through actions and choices. Expressing your brand qualities, whether caring and empathic or powerful and innovative, can create loyalty and establish deeper connections.

  1. Personality: This is the set of human characteristics associated with your brand. Consistent with your values, it’s how your business expresses itself and emotionally connects. Reflected in all aspects of the brand experience and constant across all touchpoints, it can be calming, playful or even serious, depending on the traits that best represent you.
  2. Voice: The way your brand communicates through language, tone, and style is one of the most vital parts of bonding with your audience. A clear, genuine and recognisable voice will support your values and is far more likely to result in a distinctive, engaging and memorable exchange. And you’ll be on your way to proving credibility and building relationships.
  3. Story: Perhaps my favourite element of brand strategy, your story is the narrative that binds everything together. It tells your audience how your brand came to be, what it stands for, and how it can serve them. By consistently sharing an engaging and emotionally resonant brand story, you enhance the chances of having an inspired audience.

Creating a clear brand strategy requires a broad approach. It goes beyond purpose, vision and values and involves understanding your positioning and essence. Each of the core elements involves some deep work. However, this needn’t feel overwhelming. With an awareness of the key ingredients, you will better equip yourself to overcome blocks and make choices.

To support you with crafting your brand strategy and building relationships with your audience, follow me on Instagram and Pinterest for hints and tips, or sign up for my Inside Story creative letters, where I support subscribers with understanding all aspects of brand strategy, styling and storytelling.