What Is a Brand Strategy? And How to Create One

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about the definition of brand strategy, why having one is an important part of your business, and the steps you can take to create your own.

[Featured image] A marketing team discusses brand strategy in front of a whiteboard with sticky notes on it.

What is a brand strategy?

A brand strategy is a framework that determines how businesses present themselves to customers and stand out among competitors. Your business’s brand is more than just its name, logo, fonts, and colors. Think of your brand as the sum of your business’s look and feel, personality, philosophy, values, and customer experiences.

Consistent and values-driven brand efforts inspire trust in consumers, who are increasingly purchasing from brands that offer quality while contributing to a better world, according to reports by Lucidpress and Edelman [1, 2]. With a clear brand strategy, you can: 

  • Build your business

  • Reach your ideal customers or target market

  • Market your products more effectively  

  • Increase brand awareness in the marketplace

In the sections below, you’ll explore your brand’s foundation and begin the process of building a brand strategy. 

3 key steps to exploring your brand’s foundation

Complete the steps below to establish a strong brand foundation and develop a strategy to present your brand to the world. 

Build business plan elements. 

A business plan is a formal document that describes a business’s goals and the strategies it will follow to meet those goals. Think of it as a roadmap you can use alongside a brand strategy to develop a thriving business. Follow the prompts below to compose a basic business plan or refer to your existing business plan and explore ideas that will be fundamental to your brand.  

 

  • What is your business’s mission statement?

  • What value does the business offer your target customers?

  • How would you describe your business model—the products and services you offer and their price points?  

  • When you explore these details, what possibilities do you see for identifying a tone, mood, or set of concepts you could use to define your eventual brand? 

Refine your buyer personas.

It’s important to know who your business serves so that you can design a brand and deliver an experience that resonates with them. A full market analysis can offer a thorough look at a specific market, but for this brand exercise, consider the following: 

  • What are your target customers’ values and beliefs?

  • Which brands do they admire, buy from, and stay loyal to?

  • What are their typical objections when considering whether or not to purchase a product?

  • How do they find out about new products? 

  • How do their typical purchasing habits reflect their personalities, pain points, values, beliefs, goals, and needs?

Explore brand archetypes.

In your branding research, you might come across the idea of brand archetypes, which marketers and businesses have developed from psychologist Carl Jung’s concept of archetypes that describe the human psyche. Examples of brand archetypes include:

  • The creator, referring to brands that encourage self-expression, innovation, and creativity to solve problems

  • The outlaw, referring to brands that disrupt the status quo and inspire revolutionary attitudes

  • The sage, referring to brands that position themselves as thought leaders and experts in their industry

Exploring brand archetypes and identifying the ones that align with your business goals can be a great way to generate fresh ideas for your brand’s potential. To gain these insights, take an online brand archetype quiz like MasterBrand or Lucidpress.

How to build a brand strategy

It’s time to use brand foundation exercises to build a strategy. Each of the following components of your brand strategy will require you to be creative and systematic, appeal to customer emotions and reason, and reflect deeply on your business objectives. 

Define your brand’s mission.

Your brand’s mission statement should communicate the purpose and philosophy behind the customer experiences you’re creating. Use the prompts below to help define your brand’s mission:

 

  • What inspires you to develop this brand for your business?

  • What impact do you want your brand to make?

  • What experiences do you want to enable for customers, including emotions, sensations, new thoughts, and possibilities? 

  • What practical role do you want your brand to play in the lives of your customers? What outcomes can your brand drive? 

Define your brand’s vision.

Your brand’s vision statement is a long-term, future-oriented goal for what your brand will become, its presence in the world, and what it will accomplish. To describe your brand vision, think about what could be possible for your brand. Write it as though there are no barriers or limitations keeping you from making this possible.

Use the following three examples as models for how you can phrase your vision statement: 

  • To provide all children with access to education

  • To create a more connected world

  • To become a leading provider of entertaining experiences 

Identify your brand values.

With your brand’s mission and vision clearly outlined, your next step is to identify its values. What does your brand stand for? What is the fundamental belief system behind every aspect of the brand? Answering these questions will determine how your brand behaves in the marketplace and the customers you attract.

To complete this part of your brand strategy, name and define the values you share with your ideal customers. Here are a few examples:

  • Empathy and compassion

  • Passion and enthusiasm 

  • Tenacity and stamina 

  • Trustworthiness and integrity 

Determine your brand positioning.

Careful brand positioning can help you distinguish your brand from others in your industry and capture your target audience’s attention:

 

  • What makes your brand and its products and services unique in your industry? 

  • What are the specific differentiators, and how do they compare to competitor offerings? 

  • How will consumers who fit your buyer persona perceive and respond to these differentiators? 

  • What will they believe about your brand and its products and services?

Use answers to the above questions to craft a brand positioning statement: [Audience] will choose [product] to experience [benefits and outcomes] because of [audience’s beliefs].

Develop your brand voice.

Your brand voice will determine how you use language to communicate your mission, values, and personality to the world. The brand voice will keep your messaging consistent, from paid ads and organic social media content to emails, product descriptions, and customer service portals. It will also help you foster relationships with customers and gain their trust. 

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What do you want your brand to be known for?

  • What adjectives would you want customers to use to describe your brand?

  • How would you describe your brand’s personality?

  • If your brand were a person, what tone, words, and phrases would they use? How would they come across? 

Design your brand’s identity.

Gather everything you’ve put together so far to design your brand’s identity. The identity will include all sensory experiences associated with your brand, such as the visual design of the logo, fonts, and colours; the taste, feel, or smell of your physical products; voices, music, and images that appear on videos; and the brand name and tagline. 

Subtle choices in font style, size, layout, shades of colour, scents, sounds, and other design elements can influence how the world perceives your brand. Brainstorm ideas about how different design elements can do the following:

  • Represent your brand’s mission, vision, and values

  • Correspond to your brand voice

  • Evoke the emotions you want customers to experience

As you generate the look and feel of your brand, it’s a good idea to work closely with members of your creative team, including graphic designers and product designers, to finalize your brand’s identity. 

For more ideas on designing your brand’s identity, watch this lecture from Branding: The Creative Journey Specialization:

Create your brand guidelines. 

One of the most important tools for your business will be brand guidelines—the definitive instructions, parameters, and standards that determine how you present your brand and everything it stands for in the world. Without clear guidelines, a brand can quickly become disjointed and thus dilute its message and weaken its business efforts. 

According to LucidPress’s 2021 Brand Consistency report, 68 per cent of survey respondents said that brand consistency has contributed to 10 per cent or more of their revenue growth [1].

Besides listing the physical aspects of your brand’s identity, the brand guidelines might specify some of the following practices: 

  • The instances in which you’ll use your logo, as well as the maximum and minimum sizes it should appear 

  • Messaging guidance, including keywords, phrases, tone, and voice, as well as language to avoid

  • Editorial guidelines 

  • Social media and website layout options 

  • Paid ad display options

You might find it useful to compile the brand guidelines in a single document, slide deck, or booklet and distribute them to everyone throughout your business. That way, marketers, sales staff, product developers, and the creative team can ensure that you’re providing a cohesive brand experience at every customer touchpoint.

Build your brand strategy with Coursera.

Taking an online course is a great way to gain experience with brand development and explore your business’s potential. Learn how to create a winning brand and offer memorable customer experiences in Branding: The Creative Journey Specialization.  

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