Lots of Shopify store owners think they can slap a logo on their site and call that branding. But branding is more than just a logo. In fact, it’s vital to have a full brand strategy outlined before you even create a logo.
A brand strategy is what separates the uber-successful Shopify stores from the stores that close just a few months after opening.
So, what exactly is brand strategy? It’s simply how you present your business to the world. It includes things like your mission, goals, what makes your brand unique, positioning in your market and more. It’s your blueprint for getting a foothold in your niche.
If you don’t have a brand strategy, you’ll simply be throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. There’s no faster way burn out and fail than that.
Research the Data
All of your brand strategy elements should be rooted in customer and market data. You’ll want to know things like:
+ Who your competitors are and what their strengths and weaknesses are
+ Who your target audience is and what they want
+ The types of marketing strategies and messages that resonate with your target audience
+ How to price your offerings competitively
You can find this info by spying on your competitor’s social media channels or in Facebook Audience Insights. You can also check out demographic info and public opinion polls from Statista or Marketing Charts. As your business grows, you’ll get more of your own data on customers, visitors and followers to further refine your strategies.
Identify Your Brand Strategy Elements
There are a few key parts all good brand strategies have:
Brand objective – This is your company’s mission or purpose. Ask yourself why your company exists and what it plans to do for its customers and the community.
Target audience – Who exactly will your brand serve? Young, high-income Buddhist vampires? Retired professional pumpkin carvers? Figure out what their interests, habits and needs are so your brand can make all their dreams come true. If you’re struggling to define your target audience, try creating a buyer persona.
Brand identity – This is where your logo comes in to play, plus other images, colors, your tone, voice and reputation. Basically, it’s what people see when they come into contact with your brand.
Brand positioning – Where does your company fit into your target audience’s life? What piece of the market will you own versus your competitors? How will you carve out your own slice of the pie?
Marketing strategy – How will you communicate what your brand is about to your target audience? How will you get your audience’s attention and turn that into customer relationships? Your marketing strategy encompasses everything from social media posts to email marketing to paid advertisements.
Create Your Brand Identity
Once you’ve completed the planning phase by researching your target market, competitors and niche, you can start building your brand identity. Gather the following info:
Company Name – Use a business name generator if you can’t come up with anything on your own.
Color Palette – Choose two or three colors to use on all your branding materials. Don’t forget about color psychology.
Fonts – Pick two or three fonts to use on those materials as well.
Other Visuals – You’ll definitely need exceptional product photos. You might also want lifestyle photos, videos or other imagery.
Voice – If you’re selling something ridiculous like a poop knife, it makes sense to have a silly tone. But if you’re selling high-end electronics, you may want to sound more serious. How you deliver your message is just as important as the message itself, so come up with three or four adjectives to describe your company’s voice.
Story – Customers want to know who you are. How did the brand start? What is its mission? Get personal on your About Us page and make your customers feel something.
Website – Now you can finally put all that together into a website. Make sure your design is on point and your site loads fast. A huge percentage of people will instantly leave a website with shitty design or slow load times.
Define Your Marketing Plan
Just because you have an amazing website with a clear identity doesn’t mean the cash will automatically start rolling in. You’ve got to get your products in people’s faces through marketing. You do that by promoting your brand’s messages to your target audience on the channels where they hang out.
But no one wants you shoving your products in their face, screaming, “Buy my Sasquatch feeders!” You’ve got to hold their hand, offer them a drink and warm them up before making your offer. Use the classic sales funnel as the framework for your marketing plan.
Some of the best marketing methods are:
+ Email marketing – This alone can give you a 4400% return on investment. That’s $44 for every $1 spent. For real.
+ Social media marketing – Influencer marketing, social media ads and organic posting all have their place here.
+ Content marketing – Emails and social media posts actually fall under the content marketing umbrella. So do blog posts and videos. Use content marketing to draw your customers through the sales funnel.
+ Guerrilla marketing – Think outside the box, do something no one else is doing and make your brand stand out.
Whatever marketing strategies you use, make sure to stay consistent with your voice, tone and images. Don’t veer from serious to silly. That’s a surefire way to turn off your target audience.
For every message you create, ask yourself, “Does this fit with my brand identity?” If not, toss it.
Brand Strategy Examples
I can spout on and on about all the different parts of the brand strategy puzzle. But it’s probably more helpful to share a few examples.
Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club had the herculean task of trying to take a slice of the men’s shaving niche from Gillette, a brand that had dominated the market for decades. Their strategy was to cut out the needless crap (10 extra blades, a vibrating handle, etc.) and sell good razors at cheap prices while being their normal human selves rather than chiseled slabs of model man meat.
Their 2012 viral marketing video exemplified their brand attributes of candor and fun. Everything they do now aligns with their mission to provide a quality experience without taking themselves too seriously.
There are a million different beers on the market, and each one must carve out its niche in order to be successful. While some beers appeal to their audience with sport montages or half-naked ladies, Corona uses tropical landscapes to stake their claim as the “on-vacation beer.” Their ads simply ooze relaxation, with turquoise seas, white sands and beautiful sunsets.
To keep customers associating them with vacationing and escaping from stress, Corona’s marketing team simply asks themselves, “How can we encourage folks to unwind and relax?”
Tesla is proof that even a business that doesn’t meet its production goals can be worth billions of dollars. They appeal to the high-end consumer by selling a vision rather than a product. This isn’t the average electric vehicle, this is the electric vehicle that’s going to bring you into the future.
Tesla’s focus is on creating a premium customer experience. They stay on message by pushing the envelope and exceeding expectations.
A brand strategy is your blueprint for success. It outlines what makes your company different, what it’s position is and why it’s better than competitors. All of that is communicated through visuals and messaging that appeal directly to a narrowly defined group of people – your target audience.
With a solid brand strategy in place, you can be as successful as a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo.
About the Author
Gennifer is the Marketing Manager at ByteStand, where she lives and breathes customer service education while sipping coffee in her pajamas.
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