A brand strategy is a long-term plan for how you want customers to perceive your brand. It encompasses the who, what, where, when, and why of your company’s story, voice, values, and overall visual look.
A successful brand strategy is based on a deep understanding of your business's strengths, mission, and opportunities for differentiation within a chosen market.
Architects and contractors use blueprints to create a complete and functional building. Similarly, Quill Creative Studio crafts brand strategies that serve as the blueprint for a cohesive experience for every customer interaction with your brand.
Just like blueprints help guide the building process at every stage, your brand strategy helps guide your brand every step of the way.
A well-crafted brand strategy informs design decisions which, when used consistently, increase brand awareness and recognition, making it easier for potential and past customers to find and choose your business.
A brand strategy sets the stage for visual identity development, which includes logos, fonts, and other key visual details. These graphical elements are carried across platforms and touchpoints so that customers can easily recognize and engage with your brand at every touchpoint.
A brand strategy helps your business stand out from competitors by communicating your unique value proposition and visually differentiating your brand in a crowded marketplace.
While you may sell a similar product or service as another company, your brand strategy hones in on what’s unique about your offering and provides guidelines on how to express that so you stand out.
Consistent, compelling, and organized branding builds trust and credibility with your customers, increasing loyalty and repeat business.
Your brand strategy gives everyone working with your brand —
your marketing team, customer support, leadership, etc. —
shared guidelines so that every touchpoint is aligned. That consistency helps customers feel secure in engaging with your brand.
A strong brand strategy can create a foundation for long-term growth and success.
With a solid strategy, your brand becomes synonymous over time with the traits that make you unique and matter most to your customers and community.
When those traits are front and center, it makes it easier to make critical business decisions without losing what makes your brand memorable. And because customers already trust you and share in your vision, they’re more likely to follow you through business pivots and changes.
A great brand strategy will save you money and pay for itself over time by helping you to maximize your marketing budget and reduce wasteful spending. It’s important to note that you must take a strategic approach to your brand building to set yourself up for success from the beginning to save you time, money, and energy in the long run.
If you’re starting your business or looking to hone your brand strategy, you
must begin with a brand guide that has what it takes to last.
A brand audit is a deep dive into your brand from various angles and perspectives. It will serve as a baseline as you build out your brand strategy.
Start by evaluating your current brand messaging, visual identity, and customer perception. Where did your business or product idea come from? Why are you here? Focus on
big-picture questions to help you hone in on your brand story.
After you’ve taken a look inward, take some time to focus outward on your customers and competitors.
Research existing or target customers to better understand what resonates with them. How do they make buying choices? What key challenges are they facing? There’s research available online about how different generations act and engage. You can also connect with existing and potential customers through surveys, reviews, and one-to-one conversations.
Your competitors are also a goldmine of information. What are they doing well? What’s not working? Any similarities in colors, visuals, and messaging? Spend some time diving into what they do and how they do it. While you never want to copy another brand, this can help you figure out what sets your brand apart and help you tap into an unfulfilled market.
With the research done above, you should be well on your way to developing your brand identity. Brand identity includes messaging (tone and voice) and visuals (logo, color palette, and other design elements) that people associate with your brand.
If your brand was a person, what would its personality be like? Dive deep. How would they talk and dress? What would they like or dislike? What role would they fill in the customer’s life?
By answering those questions, you’ll start to hone in on the message points and visual elements that will help your customers connect with your brand.
With Momentum Carnivore Nutrition, for example, we wanted to capture the message that good pet nutrition is a cause for celebration. That’s why you’ll see bright colors and visual elements on the packaging that give the feeling of celebration.
The next step is to plan a launch strategy that will help you introduce your brand to your target audience and build brand awareness. Your plan could include a launch event, website, social media campaign, or other marketing strategies.
The goal of a brand strategy is to create a sense of cohesiveness on all touchpoints, so think about that as you’re planning your launch plan.
Create a list of all places where visuals may need to be updated and who’s responsible for the changes. This includes non-digital spaces, such as signage, business cards, mailers, etc., and online platforms like your website and social media profiles.
Set a timeline for the launch. To avoid confusion, update as much of your branding all at once if possible. You can do certain things ahead of time — such as scheduling social posts and ads and sending out embargoed press releases — to keep things on track.
Once you’ve launched your brand, it’s all about keeping things on track and watching how customers respond. Consistency is vital to a successful brand strategy. Over time, the right brand strategy will improve your marketing efforts, customer and employee retention, and much more.
Put together a brand style guide — like the one we created for Good Foods — and distribute it to your team and any external partners. This will help ensure future updates will be consistent with your new brand strategy.
You should also conduct ongoing branding audits to ensure all efforts stay on brand and everything runs smoothly.
There’s a lot that goes into developing a brand strategy. Just remember, you’re not alone. If you're ready to take your brand strategy to new heights or want an outside perspective on what's working or not working with your brand, we're here to help.
Brand activation is the process of bringing your brand to life and creating a positive connection between your brand and your target audience. Brand activation focuses on shifting your brand from one state (unknown or disliked) to a more positive state (known or enjoyed).
You can activate your brand in various ways, including through events, sponsorships, contests, and digital campaigns. At its core, brand activation is about creating memorable experiences that generate positive emotions. As a result, customers continue engaging and keep coming back.
We often hear “brand activation” confused with “brand marketing.” While similar, the distinction is important. Brand marketing is a broad, all-encompassing strategy that includes all activities your company uses to build brand awareness. On the other hand, brand activation is a specific tactic that is generally more hands-on, experiential, engagement-focused.
A brand activation strategy can help increase awareness or shift negative perceptions about your brand. As a result, you’ll have more loyal customers and, ultimately, more sales and revenue.
Brand activation helps brands make a name for themselves and differentiate from competitors. Fostering brand awareness is especially important for new brands, new products, or if you’re in a crowded market.
People can connect with you if they don’t know you exist or what makes your product or service unique. If you want to succeed, you need to stand out and make customers pay attention. Brand activation is a way to do that.
By offering unique, memorable experiences that trigger an emotional reaction, you can create a lasting impression in the minds of consumers. Then, you’ll be top-of-mind when they’re ready to take the next step — whatever that may be in your industry.
A brand activation strategy can help shift how your audience sees you and help you align with the right audience.
We’ve all seen how one viral post or bad press can blow up your entire brand. Negative reviews will also affect the public’s overall perception of your brand. In these cases, you need a comeback plan that will start tipping the emotional scales in a more positive direction.
Shifting perceptions is also essential for brands experiencing changes in their internal structure, products, and mission. You have to balance the emotions and needs of your existing customers while fostering a positive connection with a new audience that’s more aligned with your current values and products.
By providing unique and enjoyable experiences, you can help customers overcome any hesitations they may have with your brand.
When people know about your brand, and there’s a positive emotional connection, you’ll naturally see more leads/sales.
Think of a product that gets attention when it launches or does something noteworthy. The well-known Apple Events or Dove’s Real Beauty sketch campaign come to mind. It doesn’t take long before sales skyrocket because people like feeling included in the newest craze or resonate with the messaging.
Even those who had never used the brand suddenly lined up to spend money. According to AdAge, Dove sales jumped from $2.5 billion to more than $4 billion in the decade following the Real Beauty campaign.
If you're not meeting ongoing revenue goals, step back and look at how a brand activation campaign could help.
There are several types of brand activation campaigns for your brand to
consider, each with pros and cons. Let’s look at the most common types of
brand activation to figure out which one might be a good fit for your business.
Experiential marketing focuses on memorable, interactive experiences for consumers. Pop up stores, demos, unique packaging, or full-scale immersive events are all examples.
The goal is to get customers actively engaged with the brand. M&M’s flavor room experience in New York City was a great example of this strategy in action.
Effective experiential marketing campaigns generally attract positive viral attention. You’ll hear people talk about these brand experiences for years when done right.
Large-scale experiential marketing can be expensive, and only a limited audience has the chance to interact. There are also legalities involved with obtaining permits and permission to use video and photographs.
Influencer marketing involves partnering with individuals with a large social media following to reach a wider audience. Influencers can quickly boost your brand awareness and credibility.
What’s most important with influencer marketing is how connected and engaged their audience is. A niche
micro-influencer with under 100,000 engaged followers can still significantly impact your brand if your goals and vision align.
There are many cases where products are sold out or hard to find within hours of an influencer mentioning them on TikTok or Instagram.
You’ll reach a targeted, engaged, and trusting audience within seconds.
Depending on contracts, you may have limited control over the messaging or content that the influencer shares.
Digital marketing is all about connecting and creating experiences with your audience in an online/digital space in a cohesive, relatable way. Digital marketing can encompass a wide range of strategies, including website development, social media, long-form content, and video.
A great interactive web experience or social media campaign can grab people’s attention and propel your brand forward.
Think of the memorable "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign introducing Old Spice to a new generation of customers. Besides the iconic Super Bowl ad, the campaign included a well-rounded digital presence with social media posts, taglines across its website, interactive engagement, and more.
You control the messaging and can reach many people if your campaign goes viral. You’ll also hear directly from customers in the comments.
Be ready for possible backlash and trolls.
As the name suggests, product sampling allows consumers to try a product for free or at a reduced cost. These free samples can help generate interest and boost sales, especially for new products.
We see so many social posts and ads that it can be tough to cut through the noise, especially as a smaller brand or business. Sometimes first-hand experience with a product — with limited or no risk — is all it takes to build a positive connection with a customer.
You minimize customer hesitations and build relationships with minimal impact on your bottom line.
It can be challenging to track the success of product sampling campaigns. Also, not all products/services are a good fit for “sampling.”
If you’re ready to activate your brand, don’t go in blind. Start by creating a strategy that will increase your chances of success.
Before you start planning your brand activation campaign, it's essential to identify your target audience. By understanding your audience, you can tailor your tactics and messaging to resonate with them and create a more meaningful connection.
To define your target audience, use a variety of data sources.
Your brand identity and messaging are the foundation of your brand activation strategy. A clear and consistent brand message and identity results in a more compelling and memorable customer experience at every touchpoint.
If you’ve already developed your brand identity, now is the perfect time to review. To start developing your brand identity, ask yourself some key questions.
This is only the start. Once you ask yourself these questions and dive in, you can develop a cohesive brand identity that truly represents your business. You can work with a creative agency (hello, that’s us!) to bring that identity to life across all touchpoints.
This is only the start. Once you ask yourself these questions and dive in, you can develop a cohesive brand identity that truly represents your business. You can work with a creative agency (hello, that’s us!) to bring that identity to life across all touchpoints.
Through these steps, a clear strategy may rise above the rest — or you can at least start to weed out some ideas. For example, limited time or budget may mean a large-scale event or Super Bowl ad isn’t feasible. But you may be able to offer free demonstrations at an existing event or send out samples.
By regularly assessing your results and making changes to your strategy, you can ensure that your brand activation efforts achieve your business goals.
Before launching anything, set goals and decide what metrics are best to track progress. If your main goal is increasing sales, you’d want to focus on revenue. If your focus was shifting perception about your brand, then reviews, net promoter scores, and social sentiment scores may be better metrics.
It's also good to have stretch goals and ongoing ideas in your back pocket if your campaign takes off. For example, if your in-person experience generates viral attention, keep that going by sharing user-generated content, developing a case study, running promos, and so on.
We're proud of our work and our customers, so we wanted to share some successful brand activation campaigns we've participated in. Visual elements are a crucial piece of the brand activation puzzle, so here’s how we helped these brands change brand perceptions and better share their story with the world.
Momentum Carnivore Nutrition is a natural pet food/treat brand that wanted to compete nationally in a very crowded market.
We worked to help launch them into this new market. We focused on developing a new brand identity to help them stand out. We updated the packaging to include a repetitive design element that looks like confetti. It is meant to spur happiness and celebration because “every time you give your pet a treat, it’s a moment worth celebrating.”
As we launched this new positioning into the world, we worked to change customer perceptions by updating every aspect of the brand identity for consistency, including social campaigns, a new website, etc.
AAA Liner Replacements needed a shift to better align its branding and customer perceptions with its high-quality customer service and products.
Our visual elements convey a message of calm, efficiency, and confidence to counteract customers' frustration or distress when they reach out about their pool liners. It’s also more of a fun and colorful approach than many other pool brands take.
The brand activation strategy included launching a whole digital marketing campaign and updating the company trucks for a cohesive in-person experience.
It’s hard to stand out in the alcoholic beverage market, so Sturgeon Spirits Craft Distillery needed to make its mark. The new distillery wanted to tap into its Wisconsin roots and leverage the unique tradition of sturgeon spearing with this brand.
We focused on creating beautiful packaging, environmental graphics in the tasting room, and a targeted grand-opening campaign to splash the market on opening weekend of sturgeon spearing with incentives to visit the distillery and get a limited-time product.
Everything was developed with consistent visuals and messaging that felt like home to locals and grabbed the attention of area visitors. This brand identity served as the foundation for establishing customer experience as the brand launched.
If you need to make a strong comeback or launch your brand into a crowded market, our team can help. We can help you create an eye-catching brand identity and strategic approach to take your brand to the next level.
Brand positioning is the be-all and end-all of who your brand is and what your organization does, it’s the heart of your business. Your logo is not your brand. Your tagline is not your brand. Even your products or services are not your brand. They are all pieces of the puzzle, but great brand positioning takes those pieces, and so much more into account to generate a true brand strategy that clearly communicates your brand values, personality and differentiators.
Ultimately, brand positioning helps establish your brand's unique identity and communicate your unique qualities and differentiators to consumers. That unique identity makes it easier for your target audiences to understand and remember your brand.
A brand positioning statement is a concise statement that defines your brand's unique value proposition, target audience, and target market. Generally used internally, your brand positioning statements will help define a brand's identity, guide its marketing efforts, and differentiate it from its competitors.
A strong brand positioning strategy can help a brand to achieve long-term success by helping you differentiate yourself from the competition and keep all goals and objectives aligned. This process allows you to understand your purpose and who you’re up against in the industry, then refine the characteristics of your brand to start carving out your unique place in the market.
Differentiating yourself from competitors is crucial in today's highly competitive market, where consumers are faced with numerous options for products and services.
Say you’re on your way home after a long day of work and craving a hamburger. There are endless options. If you want something more “gourmet” with a variety of topping options, maybe you’d opt for a burger joint like Red Robin. If you’re looking for fast, affordable, and simple, a trip through the McDonalds drive-thru may be appealing. Or perhaps you gravitate toward the local family-owned diner that sources ingredients locally and frequently gives back to the community.
All three options are known for tasty hamburgers, but they’re clearly different. Despite similar offerings, each restaurant positions itself in a different area of the market, tapping into a unique customer base. As a potential customer, you immediately understand what each brand represents and what it stands for, making them stick out in your mind when dinner time rolls around.
From marketing and HR to sales and leadership, everyone at your company is representing your brand in some way or another. With a strong brand position, everyone can be aligned and cohesive as they tackle their various initiatives. Creating alignment and consistency at all touch points is more important than ever for brands in our omnichannel world.
By having a clear brand positioning strategy that everyone understands and can refer back to, it is easier to determine priorities, messaging, and the overall look and feel of your brand. This alignment is important for public-facing initiatives as well as internal initiatives.
Let’s go back to those hamburger brands again. Say your marketing team is supposed to come up with an ad campaign. By understanding each brand position, it’s much easier to determine which characteristics to advertise. Red Robin might highlight their gourmet toppings, McDonalds may focus on convenience, or speed, and the local diner may push locally sourced ingredients and their community feel.
Those values and message points can then continue to be highlighted during every interaction — as waitstaff or cashiers interact with customers, when HR reps hire new team members, and when management chooses partners and suppliers.
As a result, employees feel more confident in their work and customers get a completely on-brand, well-rounded experience.
If you’re updating your brand positioning or creating a brand position statement for the first time, here are a few things to keep in mind.
There are countless ways to differentiate and position yourself. At Quill Creative Studio, we compile competitive awareness research, undergo persona mapping and archetype definition exercises, map out customer experiences and so much more when working on a client’s brand positioning project. As you get started, here are four of the most common brand positioning strategies you can consider for your brand.
A convenience-focused positioning strategy highlights why a company’s product or service is more opportune and easier than a competitors. Think the ease and accessibility of Amazon’s two-day delivery for Prime members or Target’s two-hour curbside pick-up option.
A price-based positioning strategy showcases how your product or service is the lowest price and best deal on the market. You may not offer certain amenities or features that a competitor has, but it’s worth it for the affordability.
If your product is top-of-the-line compared to competitors, brand positioning centered around quality might be the best option for you. The goal of this strategy is to show how the high-quality materials, craftsmanship, rarity, etc. make your product or service worth the premium price.
A differentiation brand positioning strategy focuses on the characteristics only your brand offers. It’s centered around innovation and uniqueness. This is great for brands investing in proprietary technology that is innovating the industry. For example, despite a plethora of plant-based options, Beyond positioned itself as the first option that actually looked and tasted like meat.
When people have a strong emotional connection to your brand or can connect it to an experience, it’s more likely to stick. That’s often what sets the household names apart.
Emotions are powerful — and customers want to feel something when they utilize your brand. Lace up a pair of Nike’s and you feel more energized and ready to “just do it.” Pick up an Apple product and you immediately feel more creative and innovative. Or smell that particular brand of pie and have nostalgic flashbacks of holiday meals with loved ones.
If you tailor your brand position to tap into those emotions and experiences that customers will remember, your brand will always be top of mind.
Once you know how you’re positioning your brand, you have to be able to express that not only in words but with visuals too. Your logo, imagery, and visual elements are just as important as your messaging — if not more so.
What colors and fonts emphasize the position you’re trying to solidify? What is the imagery adding to your story? A strong visual identity serves to strengthen your brand positioning and makes your brand immediately recognizable. Our creative studio’s team of designers and strategists work tirelessly to use design intentionally so that the end results we create are as functional as they are beautiful. It’s one thing to like a font or color, it’s another thing entirely to bridge your business needs, brand positioning, and creative solutions.
After taking the time to define and shape your unique value proposition, it is important to communicate your brand positioning to both your target audience and your employees.
Creating and maintaining consistent brand deliverables is no small feat. Every element of your brand should be carefully crafted to align with your positioning and overall brand strategy. From your business cards and sales materials to your website and promotional collateral to your packaging design, reports, and branded employee gifts, communicate your branding at every touchpoint.
Remember, your brand is more than your logo, it’s the heart of your business. Ensure your messaging reflects your mission and what sets you apart from the competition.
If you’re in need of some inspiration as you’re developing your unique brand positioning, here are a few companies Quill Creative Studio has worked with recently to develop new or updated brand positioning strategies.
With decades of established equity, Momentum Carnivore Nutrition knew it was time to invest in a brand update to better compete on a national level. As we developed the unique brand position, we rooted our approach in the idea that when you give your pet momentum, it’s cause for celebration.
Sturgeon Spirits is the newest craft distillery in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It’s been decades since Oshkosh had a distillery to call its own and in 2022, a local college professor with passion for distilling chose a location and decided to bring his talents to the public. Following research and strategic planning, a brand identity was established by combining positioning, voice and visuals to be authentically unique.
A midwest hydroponic farming technology startup chose Quill Creative Studio to reinvent their brand to better serve their community. Rebranding an organization that has established brand equity is always a delicate task. Our brand positioning challenge was to evolve their established brand and create a new creative foundation for current and future touchpoints and initiatives.
Quill Creative Studio specializes in helping businesses hone in on their brand and develop a brand position that sets them apart. If your business strategy is ready for a refresh, connect with the creative team at Quill, and take your brand to the next level this year.
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