When it comes to strategic planning for your marketing goals, it’s important to be in tune with the changing trends and times. Media is a constantly changing landscape and what worked for your brand strategy a couple of years ago will most likely not be quite as effective in 2022.
Sadira Furlow, branding expert and chief marketing officer for Happy Money, views brand strategy as the foundation from which all brand and marketing is built. She boils down the main components to truly understanding who you want to be as a brand and how you want to be presented to the world to these four main ideas:
- Long-term goals
“It sets the foundation on which you build the rest of your brand, serving as a purposeful guide for all marketing decisions and activities,” Furlow said.
Furlow brings her years of marketing experience and insight to offer you her top advice for brand strategy in 2022.
Build your foundation: Brand house development
When you start to build anything, you need a solid foundation or everything will inevitably fall apart. Furlow said the first things to nail down for effective strategic planning are the answers to the following questions:
- What are your company’s vision, mission, and purpose?
- What problems and pain points are you helping to solve?
- What products or experiences do you create?
- What is the competitive landscape and what unique spot do you fill in it?
- What are your proof points or “reasons to believe”?
Meet with your team, leadership and stakeholders, and especially yourself to thoroughly review and understand the answers to these questions and how they pertain to your brand specifically before moving forward.
“These questions should help you to align on a brand house—the foundation from which you will build all of your brand efforts,” Furlow said.
Furlow defines the “brand house” as these key points:
- Why you exist
- Positioning and key points of difference
- Outline the unique impact you have on the world
It’s one thing to have a great product or service to offer the world. It’s another to truly understand every angle of your identity as a brand and be able to effectively communicate that forward.
Define your magic: What’s your special sauce?
When it comes to using your brand strategy to set your business apart from the competition, the secret sauce lies in delivering functional benefits paired with emotional impact.
“This stage often requires competitive, consumer, and/or UX research—both qualitative or quantitative in nature—to understand how you’re delivering on your brand promise in a unique way,” Furlow explained.
During this process, Furlow recommended you ask yourself these key brand strategy questions:
- Where can you win?
- How does your product deliver on your mission?
- How do you compare with the competition?
Furlow also suggested getting intimately familiar with your target customer and your customer experience.
“Customer experience is a direct reflection of the brand, so understanding how it comes to life for your customers throughout their lifecycle is key,” she said. “Brand is ultimately the aggregation of all consumer and customer touchpoints and how people perceive you. So consider how you’re showing up to customers throughout the funnel and how you could uniquely bring your brand to life in your marketing as well.”
This is why establishing the emotional connection with your audience is so vital in 2022 for your brand strategy and why your strategic planning for the year should include a strong focus on content marketing to improve your overall reach and engagement.
Know your audience
Because brand strategy requires intimate stewardship of the consumer, Furlow emphasized how important it is to truly and thoroughly understand your target audience in 2022.
“It's critical to understand how your existing and prospective customers behave and then assess your biggest customer opportunities as you devise your brand strategy,” she said.
Here are some questions that Furlow recommended you answer in order to get a baseline understanding to launch your strategic planning from:
- Where can you reach them?
- How big is the total addressable market?
- What do they think, feel, do?
- What does that mean for how you would speak to them?
“Knowing what your target customer cares about is imperative when it comes to addressing their pain points and delivering a memorable brand experience,” Furlow said.
One way many brands take the extra step in understanding their audience is through conducting their own research. Implementing strategies like A/B testing into strategic planning can go a long way in truly understanding who you are marketing to and how to best communicate with that target demographic.
Turn data into actionable insights
All the identity-defining self-reflection in the world paired with research means absolutely nothing if there are no tangible steps to move forward with it. Now that you have the data, it’s important to understand what you can do with your results.
According to Furlow, “brand and business must be closely aligned. So get close and comfy with your cross-functional partners and your business insights team.”
The best way to accomplish this with your brand strategy is to focus on a few key components. First, you need to leverage data across the board. This includes the data you’ve gathered on your customer, your marketing funnel, your products, and your industry landscape.
Identifying the key drivers of your brand strategy and leaning into data-informed insights will drive your business and brand forward.
At this stage, Furlow said it's important to get technical. The following tasks should be high on your to-do list before your next strategic planning meeting:
- Create a measurement plan with a test-and-learn approach.
- Maintain an ongoing reporting cadence to ensure you are meeting your goals.
- Establish benchmarks for success.
- Create a plan to examine and learn from your successes and failures, ultimately showing value to the business.
Finally, Furlow recommended socializing your brand strategy across the organization and arming your teams with the brand tools they need to ensure a consistent and powerful brand experience end to end.
The narrative, visual assets, and guidelines are the main tools to make sure you have in your arsenal for easy access for those who are involved in representing and communicating your brand and its mission. This is vital in helping employees see how their work connects back to your brand’s greater purpose and empower them to serve as authentic advocates for your brand.
A unified team and consistent messaging equal an effective brand strategy that’ll attract and engage your target audience long-term, with the tangible results to show for it.
Press Hook is a great addition to your brand strategy
When it comes to your annual strategic planning, it’s important to know what tools are out there to help you work smarter and not harder. At Press Hook, we help you showcase the uniqueness of your brand and get in front of journalists to up your earned media coverage. It’s a streamlined process that simplifies your work while having a team of media relations professionals behind you every step of the way.
Click here to learn more about how Press Hook can help boost your brand strategy and stay ahead of the game.