How to Develop a Brand Strategy

Brand strategy has become a top priority for many marketing leaders. And for good reason. 

When it’s clear and usable, a brand strategy is more than a nice-to-have—it’s a superpower for your organization. It enables differentiation. Fosters a connection with customers. And creates clarity and alignment internally.

If your organization is thinking about brand strategy, here are a few important things to know. 

What’s involved in developing a brand strategy?

The process of defining a brand strategy is about discovery rather than invention. 

Looking for the core, the heart of what makes your organization distinct. In other words, the brand essence. It’s something that already exists, though it’s likely hard to see. 

Finding the essence starts with a map of the terrain that spans three related zones:

  1. Your organization (your story, your history, your vision, your culture, your values, your character) 
  2. Your audiences (those outside the organization you wish to connect with and bring closer)
  3. The market (the landscape in which these interactions take place, the competitors, conventions and dynamics that define it)

Getting an accurate map of the terrain is a collaborative process that can involve many stakeholders and perspectives. It requires exploring a series of questions in each of the three zones. These questions include:

Your organization:

  • What traits make your organization unique or noteworthy? 
  • What do you believe in?
  • What are your values?
  • What is your culture like?
  • How did the organization come to be?

Your audiences:

  • Who do you serve?
  • Can you break them into distinct groups?
  • What are their functional needs?
  • What are their emotional and social needs?
  • What motivates them?

The market:

  • What space will the brand live in?
  • How is it changing?
  • What are direct and indirect competitors saying?
  • How are they positioning themselves?
  • Where do gaps and opportunities exist?

The next step is to play back what you’ve learned to look for connection points. Where insights about you, your audiences and the market overlap or line up. These are places where that hard-to-see essence might reside. We like to call them “territories.” 

After identifying a few of them, zero in on the territories that are the strongest. The most authentic, distinct, compelling, inspiring, emotive, and clear.

Work with your stakeholders to determine which territory is strongest of all. This is where the essence resides. Then define it clearly and succinctly.

Once you have an essence, you can build on it or extend it to define a set of tools. A story. Voice guidelines. Personality guidelines. Messaging. A brand promise or belief. And the visual identity—the logo, color palette and type.

The last step is to package these tools in a way that’s clear and useful and roll it out across your organization.

What are the possible challenges in developing a brand strategy?

There are some challenges your organization may face when it comes to creating a clear and usable brand strategy. 

For one thing, you might end up struggling to zoom out and view things with fresh eyes.

There may also be a tendency to drift towards an internal point-of-view rather than deeply considering your customers.

Getting buy-in may also be difficult—having everyone on the same page and in agreement.

An organization doesn’t need to figure all of this out on its own. They just need to acknowledge they need help.

A trusted partner like Modern Craft can architect an approach to brand strategy that meets your organization’s specific needs. An approach that’s not off the shelf but custom tailored to your unique context.

Like any superpower, developing a brand strategy takes time and effort. But it’s always worth it.


Apr 21, 2023

Further Reading