How to Create a Winning Brand Strategy

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Brand strategy guidelines

Late last year, Brinc and global advertising & media agency, Hylink Group, announced an ecosystem partnership that aims to provide our portfolio startups with access to strategic entrepreneurial marketing resources. At the heart of this collaboration is a mutual commitment to nurturing innovation and driving entrepreneurial success, offering comprehensive creative and marketing support tailored specifically for startups.

Here, Brinc and Hylink delve into the multifaceted process of building a brand for new entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of establishing a strong brand identity that aligns with their values and objectives.


Many new entrepreneurs find themselves confronted with challenges when embarking on the creation of a new brand. Among these challenges is the task of establishing a brand identity that accurately reflects their values and objectives from the beginning. To achieve this, developing an effective brand strategy is vital.

What is a Brand? 

The term “brand” finds its origins in the old English word “burning,” which was used to mark cattle. To grasp the concept of a brand, one needs to clarify what “brand” is NOT first.

A brand transcends mere elements such as a name, a logo, a tagline, a product, advertising, or a website; these are tools. Brands encompass more profound significance beyond communication tactics; they embody a promise, a commitment, and a pledge to their core values.

Brands stand out when they are consistent and deliver on their promises.

Similar to an emotional bank account, each positive interaction with a customer contributes to the company’s equity in the minds of its audience. Since brands are built for people, they symbolize a relationship rooted in a brand promise.

Amidst the myriad challenges faced by startups, including entering saturated or nascent industries, the question of differentiation looms large. How does one set themselves apart? How does one effectively communicate the essence of their company? How does one pinpoint the appropriate target audience?

Brinc and its portfolio companies share a unified mission: to expedite humanity’s progress towards a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive world. Whether grappling with carbon removal or pioneering developments in Web3, startups confront the task of carving out their niche in competitive or emerging sectors. The key lies in differentiation and articulating the essence of the company to resonate with the intended audience.

Pick a Niche

Understanding your customers is the foundational step in formulating a winning brand strategy. Begin by posing questions such as: Who are the individuals that need to resonate with our brand? With whom does our brand aspire to foster meaningful relationships? Whose needs and preferences are we striving to address?

This underscores the importance of customer segmentation, and segmentation can range from surface-level demographic profiles to more nuanced motivational profiles.

Demographic
Behavioral
Psychographic
Motivational
Age, gender, socio-economic group, location
What are they doing? How loyal are they? How often do they use it?
Personalities, lifestyles, attitudes
Why do they do what they do? Why do they love what they love? Why do they want what they want?

Next, always make sure you map the competitive landscape: your brand will encounter both direct and indirect competitors upon entering the market.

Direct competitors share similar business premises and offer comparable products to the same target audience. An example is Adidas vs. Nike, both catering to the athletic apparel market.

On the other hand, indirect competitors provide products that may differ in price point or target audience while still serving a similar need. For instance, Alo Yoga serves as an indirect competitor to Nike, specializing in yoga apparel. Although their product offerings may differ slightly in pricing and audience focus, both brands operate within the realm of athletic wear. Alo Yoga’s leggings, for instance, have a higher price range compared to Nike’s offerings, appealing to a distinct segment of consumers.

Once you’ve identified your target audience and analyzed the competitive landscape, the next crucial step is to make your brand stand out by communicating to your audience what sets your product apart from similar offerings on the market.

This is where positioning comes into play.

Positioning refers to how consumers perceive a product based on its essential attributes, defining its place in consumers’ minds relative to competing products.

Differentiating positioning from branding is vital: positioning is grounded in rationality, while branding appeals to emotions. Positioning expresses your company’s strategy in precise terms that convey relevance, differentiation, and purpose, often summarized in a statement. On the other hand, branding encompasses your company’s strategy through various elements such as language, tone, sound, color, design, imagery, and illustrations.

As a founder, being incredibly specific about your business positioning and goals is crucial.

Effective communication of your mission ensures that you can engage the right audience and stakeholders. By establishing your positioning statement and branding from the beginning, you lay the groundwork for a business that clearly defines its objectives and how it aligns with consumer needs.

 

Here is an example of Nike’s positioning statement: “For athletes in need of high-quality, fashionable athletic wear, Nike provides customers with top-performing sports apparel and shoes made of the highest quality materials. Its products are the most advanced in the athletic apparel industry because of Nike’s commitment to innovation and investment in the latest technologies.”

How to create a positioning statement:

Target
Frame of Reference
Point of Difference
Reasons to Believe
Who do we want to attract?
Who are we competing against?
In what ways are we different as a brand?
Why is the consumer going to believe what we say?

Once you’ve established your positioning statement, the next step is to develop your brand’s personality.

Brand personality encompasses a set of human characteristics attributed to a brand name.

There are 5 dimensions of brand personality: excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence, and sophistication. These attributes align with some of the most renowned brands globally; for instance, Disney is often associated with sincerity, while Apple is associated with sophistication.

After defining your brand’s personality, the focus shifts to crafting brand’s identity.

Brand identity refers to the tangible manifestation of the brand’s personality and should maintain consistency across all brand communications. It encompasses the unique manner in which the brand presents itself, including its visual elements, auditory cues, and overall presence in the consumer’s perception. 

When crafting brand identity, several factors to consider:
• typography
• color
• layout
• photography
• illustrations
• tone of voice
• Sounds

With a strong brand identity in place, the next step is leveraging technology to effectively connect with your target audience across diverse channels, including social media platforms, websites, mobile apps, custom emails, and more.

Finally, continuous analysis of audience engagement and response to the brand becomes essential. This involves monitoring what resonates with the audience and what doesn’t, thereby enabling strategic adjustments to the brand strategy. The goal is to enhance resonance with the audience, maintain engagement, and strategically position the brand amidst competitors.

In our ongoing collaboration with Hylink Group, we are committed to empowering and offering guidance to startup companies. For more relevant articles, be on the lookout for new Hylink articles to be published with Brinc.

 

Brinc

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