A bearded man stands in a storeroom, the walls of which are covered with handing and mounted bikes. The man wears a black apron over layered blue shirts and he has a tattoo of a triangle on one arm. The man has his arms crossed and smiles proudly.
A majority of consumers state that brand resonance plays a part in their buying decisions, so you should strive to create a brand that aligns with your customers' ideals. — Getty Images/Moyo Studio

Building a successful brand strategy takes time, consideration, and deep knowledge of the marketplace. However, first-time entrepreneurs may have difficulty getting started. Here are five vital steps for building a successful brand strategy.

Explore your target customers’ preferences

A brand strategy is all about crafting an identity and message that makes your business recognizable to your customers and establishes a relationship between them and your products and services. Nearly 60% of consumers have a preference for buying from either smaller or larger brands. To identify what audience you’ll be targeting, understand the four types of consumer brand preference groups:

  • Agnostic brand buyers: Consumers who don’t think deeply about what brand they are buying.
  • Unintentional small-brand buyers: Consumers who have some preference for buying smaller brands, but only when it’s convenient and accessible to them.
  • Exclusive small-brand buyers: Consumers who prefer to only buy smaller brands.
  • Exclusive large-brand buyers: Consumers who prefer buying well-known larger brands when possible.

When crafting a brand strategy, focus primarily on unintentional and exclusive small-brand buyers, as these groups are the most likely to buy from your business.

[Read more: EPIC Everyday Founders: Stay Motivated With Your ‘Why’]

Consider performance

To increase your brand awareness, assess global benchmarks and see how smaller brands are outpacing larger ones. First, select a number of metrics and benchmarks to measure the current success of your brand. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Profits.
  • Wages.
  • Purchases.
  • Depreciation.
  • Cost per lead per channel.
  • Conversation rate.
  • SEO rankings.
  • Website traffic.

To understand your performance through these metrics, conduct internal research to collect data. Speak with your employees, competitors, customers, and anyone else who may have access to this data and valuable insights to share. Once it has all been collected, organize and assess these benchmarks to create realistic goals for your brand. After your goals are solidified, your company can develop an action plan for your brand strategy and begin to work toward it.

Evaluate trend cycles

To reach your target audience, your brand must keep up with current consumer trends. In 2022, many major business trends unsurprisingly revolve around digital activity and content:

  • The popularity of streaming video.
  • A demand for more subscription video on demand (SVOD).
  • Growth in user-generated content.
  • The impact of influencers.
  • The increasing popularity of gaming.
  • Virtual reality becoming more mainstream.

When crafting a brand strategy, focus primarily on unintentional and exclusive small-brand buyers, as these groups are the most likely to buy from your business.

By having a brand strategy that meets consumers’ needs in these spaces, your company will have an advantage over competitors who are not yet there. To further understand which trends are best suited for your company, find and research case studies of smaller brands that have already embraced these trends and achieved mainstream success.

Differentiate your brands from others

Your company won't be alone in embracing innovative new trends; your competitors will eventually be in these spaces. As you craft your brand strategy by creating benchmarks and understanding trends, implement a signature style that differentiates you from other brands.

According to the NielsenIQ global study, 66% of global consumers state that brand resonance is important to them when they're choosing which brand to buy. Brand resonance aligns your business with consumers’ personal or cultural identity and influences their purchasing preferences. By fostering a brand that is different from your competitors and aligns with your customers’ values, your company can create a loyal following with strong awareness.

[Read more: 5 Steps to Reduce Online Returns and Build Brand Loyalty]

Launch and evaluate the success of your strategy

Even with the best research and thought-out intentions, brand strategies can become misconstrued when released into the world. After completing research and establishing a brand strategy in the marketplace, evaluate the success of that strategy against your business’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Without evaluation, your marketing team will waste energy blindly following a potentially flawed strategy.

Performance tracking priorities shift by business type and industry. For B2B organizations like SaaS companies, important KPIs may include the website’s organic click-through rate, pipeline velocity, monthly recurring revenue, and lead quality. B2C businesses, like online apparel retailers, instead might care more about numbers like the daily or monthly active user ratio, average revenue per user, and social engagement.

Creating a successful brand strategy requires consistent research, from creation to evaluation. Focus your team on understanding your audience, standing out in the marketplace, and analyzing success.

[Read more: Small Business KPIs: What Are the Numbers That Matter?]

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Published September 13, 2022