You’ve got a cold, so you ask someone to pass you the Kleenex. You want to vacuum your carpets so you get the Hoover out. If you want to search for something online, you Google it. Why do we use the brand name rather than the product description? Because their brand strategies have been so effective that we use the actual brand name, not just the name of the product they sell. Woman Smiling In Cafe for blog post: 5 Brand Strategies To Set You Apart From The Crowd

In response to the recession, brand loyalty has been steadily declining, with shoppers saying that they won’t necessarily return to ‘big name brands’ once the economy is stronger. They have developed what’s called a ‘recession mindset.’ Nowadays, shoppers will often bypass the idea of brand loyalty if the product is available at a lower price somewhere else.

Most of us don’t want customers whose shopping decisions are solely based on price. So how can we combat this? The answer is to build a powerful brand strategy.

Here are 5 actionable ideas that you can implement straight away.

First Off, What Is A Brand Strategy?

In a nutshell, your brand strategy helps to define how your customers see your business and product. It’s your positioning in the marketplace or “winning-difference”. It’s what helps you to stand out from the competition and avoid having to compete on price.

Building a brand strategy is essential to your marketing, and is what will build customer loyalty and generate regular, repeat business. Brand strategy is something that, in my experience, few founders think about. Then they either find themselves working backwards to try and get their business to resonate with their customers. Or they effectively have to start from scratch and re-engineer their business.

1. Uncover Your Unique Selling Proposition

Knowing your unique selling proposition is the foundation of any good brand strategy. Your aim is to differentiate your brand from your competitors, and give your customers a reason to purchase a product from you – not your competitor.

Your USP should highlight a story, a philosophy, a unique aspect or a goal of your business and product. It should make you stand out from the competition. In my case, I want to work with values based business owners who want to make a big social impact.

What makes your business unique?

In the case of the Flour Pot Bakery in Brighton, it’s artisanal breads and pastries, hand crafted by their team of first class chefs. Check out their website and you’ll see why the Flour Pot will be a regular port of call when I move to the Sussex coast next week!

2. Differentiate Your Brand on Product Quality

An extremely effective way to build brand loyalty is to use your brand’s product quality as a marketing tool. Nowadays, if the product you’re selling is not built or designed with quality in mind, customers are unlikely to return.  And even worse, your customers will express their dissatisfaction on social media or online reviews. If however you consistently over-deliver on the quality of product, you’ll have repeat business and build lifetime customers.

Another Brighton based business, Small Batch Coffee Roasters, has nailed their brand positioning strategy.  They make their product quality and features the most important part of their about page.  Through their blog, they take you on a journey to explain the journey from coffee farm to cup. And they you out on the road – to Costa Rica, Rwanda and Ethiopia - to explain their process and development process.

Guess where I’ll be getting my coffee when I move?

3. Change The Branding Rules

Last week I wrote an article that was essentially about changing the branding rules – When Others Go Right, You Go Left.  A key reason why so many businesses struggle to get off the ground is they don’t stand out from the pack. The founder plays it safe and sticks to the conventions of their industry in the belief that, ‘if this works for others, it’ll work for me.’

Taking risks will help your brand to stand out. If you or your product is quirky or unique, why not position your marketing efforts around that? By shattering the conventions of your industry, you will get people talking and see a loyal customer base start to develop.

In How Anita Roddick Changed The Business World, I explain how The Body Shop brand was a radical departure from the traditional cosmetics industry of the 1970’s. The Body Shop’s environmental activism was born out of the way Anita’s mother behaved in the Second World War when everything was reused, refilled and recycled, as well as Anita Roddick’s belief that business should offer a form of moral leadership in society.

4. Personalise The Customer Experience

Have you ever bought or ordered a product online and the experience completely blew you away? Beautiful craftsmanship and detail went into every aspect of the shopping experience, right down to the packaging.

If so, you’ll know that the shop has done their research by marketing to customers who align with, and match their brand’s identity. As a result, they nail their presentation and product branding down to the finest detail, just like the physical product itself.

Two of my favourite brands, The White Company and Anthropologie do just this. From the in-store experience to the customer service and packaging, these are companies that understand and are intimately aligned with their customers.

5. Giving Back

My favourite brands are those that give back. There are many different ways to give back. From finding a way to go above and beyond to thank your customers for their business to building a loyalty programme to donating a percentage of your sales to a charity related to your product.

Online store Tom’s Shoes does this brilliantly. The first thing you see when you go on their website is a message telling you that for every product you purchase, you help a person in need. Scroll down and there’s an image telling you how your purchase can save lives. Their slider invites you to ‘take the road less travelled.’ You are left in no doubt from the home page that this is a brand that does things differently, and that giving back is central to the way they do business.

How You Can Apply This To Your Business

Here are some questions you can ask to uncover what makes your brand remarkable:

  • Does your ecommerce business have a mission? Is it what my friend Amy Birks calls an epic mission? (Amy describes an epic mission as “something that leads you to regularly connect to the idea that you don’t have the luxury to fuck around anymore.”)
  • Is there a particular problem your product solves?
  • What do your current customers think about your business? Try to get inside of your customer’s heads to find what they think about your business.  You could do this by emailing a quick survey to your current customers.
  • What do potential customers think of your business? Coffee chats and/ or focus groups are a great way of getting feedback.
  • What values and standards do you want customers to associate with your business?
  • What is your brand promise?

Ideally, you want to be able to answer these questions without too much thought. Once you’ve tidied up the presentation, you can then promote these brand messages on a philosophy page to show your brand’s message and a customer reviews page to show what customers think of your product.

Join The Conversation

Let me know in the comments of any other brilliant examples of brand strategies that you’ve seen.

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Work With Me

I’m Denyse Whillier, a London based business coach and consultant. I guide entrepreneurs from across the globe to achieve profitable, scaleable growth and create businesses that are Built To Succeed™. Built To Succeed™ is my proven success system, developed during my 8 years in the trenches as a CEO, 25 years’ experience at senior leadership and managerial level and training at Cranfield School of Management, the UK’s leading business school. It’s this background that sets me apart and helps my clients to get BIG results.

I’d love to start a conversation. Simply use this link to arrange an informal Skype coffee chat. There’s no hard sell. Just solid advice and a straightforward, honest assessment of whether 1:1 business coaching (or business consultancy).