Originally published in 2018, this post has been updated to reflect our current thinking related to brand strategy. Here, we’ve created an even simpler, more streamlined process, as well as our free Brand Strategy Toolkit to guide you through. We hope you find it helpful.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from over a decade of helping brands tell their story, it’s that a successful business can’t survive if it doesn’t have a strong brand strategy. Without a unified identity, everything from your content, to your culture, to your core business can suffer. But there’s a reason why this problem is so pervasive: Building a strong brand strategy takes time, effort, and commitment. And that’s where many people (including ourselves) can get stuck.
The Beginning of Our Brand Strategy
We started doing brand strategy work a few years back after encountering various clients who came to us for content strategy work but couldn’t articulate who they were or what they were really trying to achieve. We soon realized they needed more than content help; they needed a total brand realignment. We were eager to help guide them, but we also had two big realizations:
- Brand strategy work seems really complicated—and it shouldn’t be. Once we started learning more about brand strategy, we ran into so many schools of thought, conflicting perspectives, and outdated exercises. If we wanted to give our partners a simple framework, we’d have to create it ourselves.
- We didn’t know our own brand as well as we thought we did. The more we explored our clients’ brand problems, the more we realized we were struggling with many of the same issues. If we wanted to confidently guide our clients through the brand strategy framework we created, we’d have to be the guinea pig and test it on ourselves first.
So we dug in, got dirty, and did the work. Thankfully, after an entire year of tweaking and testing (first on ourselves, then with a few brave clients), we emerged with a tried-and-true brand strategy process that was simple, intuitive, and adaptable for any brand of any size. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Was it worth it? Oh yeah.
We think it’ll be worth it for you, too. In this guide, we’ve taken everything we’ve learned about brand strategy—the books, podcasts, articles, and personal experience—and distilled it down into a simple step-by-step process to create an effective, flexible brand strategy that will help you…
- Understand who you truly are and use your beliefs and values to guide your decisions in ways that are better for your people, your business, and the future.
- Communicate your brand consistently and effectively through every piece of content you make.
- Attract the right customers to build a strong, lasting brand.
- Position your brand in a way that helps you compete now—and tomorrow.
To make it easy, we’ve included the tools, resources, and real-life examples you need to get through the brand strategy process, from finding your Brand Heart to creating the brand guidelines to express it.
You’ll want to start by downloading our free Brand Strategy Toolkit (below), which includes handy templates, questionnaires, and checklists to help you throughout the process.
As you work through this guide, follow the steps sequentially (as each builds on the previous), and you’ll finish with a basic brand strategy that can grow with you as your brand evolves.
- What Is a Brand?
- What Is a Brand Strategy?
- Why Do You Need a Brand Strategy?
- What Team Do You Need to Build Your Brand Strategy?
- What to Know Before You Start Your Brand Strategy
How to Build Your Brand Strategy
Part 1: Find Your Brand Heart
Part 2: Articulate Your Messaging
- Brand Essence (Personality, Voice, Tone)
- Value Prop
- Messaging Pillars
Part 3: Design Your Visual Identity
: Create Your Brand Guidelines
- Part 1: Find Your Brand Heart
- How to Bring Your Brand Strategy to Life
What Is a Brand?
There are a million definitions of a “brand.” Often, when people talk about a “brand,” they’re referring to the physical mark (or logo) imprinted on something to identify the business that manufactured it. But a brand is more than a physical mark. It’s an emotional mark—more specifically, an emotional experience, strengthened or weakened through every interaction with that business.
We define brand as what people think, feel, and say about your business. (This differs from marketing, which is what you say about your business.)
As branding guru Marty Neumeier says, a brand strategy is “a plan for the systematic development of brand in alignment with a business strategy.”
A brand strategy helps you understand who you are and acts as a blueprint to help you communicate it.
Our brand strategy process is broken into three distinct parts. We guide you from your Brand Heart (the core of your brand), to the articulation of your Brand Messaging (how you talk about who you are), to your Visual Identity (the visual expression of your brand). By the end, you’ll have a full brand strategy, summed up in fresh brand guidelines to help you bring your brand to life.
Why Do You Need a Brand Strategy?
When you don’t know who you are, why you exist, what you believe in, or what you’re trying to achieve, your business suffers. From customer communication issues to employee retention, a lack of brand strategy causes problems at every level of an organization.
Having worked with hundreds of clients over the last decade, we’ve learned to spot the telltale signs of a brand in crisis, often caused by a lack of strategy. (Some of these issues might sound familiar to you. Before we documented our brand strategy, we suffered from them too.)
When you have no brand strategy…
- You don’t understand your purpose, vision, mission, or values, so you make marketing and business decisions that don’t reflect them.
- You don’t have a documented marketing plan, but you hope that whatever you’re doing will work.
- Your team is fractured by disunity, confusion, and conflict, making it hard for employees to feel engaged and interested.
- You don’t have cohesive brand messaging, so your content tends to be inconsistent at best, and contradictory at worst. As a result, it’s difficult to attract people who share your values (customers, employees, etc.).
You can’t clearly articulate your brand, and as a result, you can’t carve out a discernible place in the market.
In short, without a brand strategy, you lose.
You can’t build a brand strategy alone. You need a brand team to craft, revise, and bring it to life at every level of your organization. Without this designated team, the work you do here will likely get sidetracked or steamrolled.
Luckily, you don’t have to hire a ton of people to form your brand team. You can even have a two-person team, so long as both people can cover these essential roles.
What to Know Before You Start Your Brand Strategy
If you’re starting your brand strategy from scratch (or trying to do things the “right” way this time), there are two key pieces of information you need to know beforehand. (If you’ve done your business strategy, you know these already.) They are:
1) Who You’re For
Who are you trying to sell to? What do they need/want? How are their needs not being met?
To build a brand strategy that helps you genuinely connect with people, you need to know exactly who you’re selling to. Knowing who they are and how you’re trying to serve them can actually bring clarity to who you are (e.g., your Brand Heart) and how you communicate with them.
HOW TO DO IT
If you don’t know who you’re for, use the Personas Template in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Create Personas .
2) Who You’re Against
Who shares your space? Who will you be competing with for attention? How might they outshine you?
This is invaluable information to help you identify who you are and who you aren’t, how you fit in or stand out, and how you can communicate your differences through your brand strategy.
HOW TO DO IT
Use the Competitive Analysis Template in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Complete Your Competitive Analysis .
Once you have this information, you’re ready to dive into your brand strategy.
How to Build Your Brand Strategy
Follow these steps sequentially (as each builds on the prior), and you’ll end up with a comprehensive brand strategy that helps you share your story impactfully and effectively at every touchpoint.
Part 1: Find Your Brand Heart
Every brand holds a basic set of beliefs that influence everything they do. We call these beliefs your Brand Heart. Knowing what these principles are and why they matter is imperative, as they are a powerful, potent force that can actively support or sabotage your business. When your brand’s beliefs and business are aligned, you can successfully bring people together, cultivate community, and create the future you want. When you have no beliefs (or those beliefs are toxic), you can easily alienate both employees and customers, cripple your culture, and make decisions that derail your long-term goals.
Your Brand Heart is comprised of four elements that help you clarify who you are, what you do, and why it matters.
- Purpose: Why do we exist?
- Vision: What future do we want to help create? What does the future look like?
- Mission: What are we here to do? How do we create that future?
- Values: What principles guide our behavior?
HOW TO DO IT
Use the Brand Heart Workbook in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Complete Your Brand Heart .
Note: While your Brand Heart is often an internal document, it can be translated into external-facing messaging everywhere from your website to your packaging, which is why it’s so important to have it nailed down from the beginning.
Part 2 : Articulate Your Messaging
Now that you have your Brand Heart documented, you know who you are. Next you need to figure out your Brand Essence (how to express who you are) and your Brand Messaging (how to talk about who you are). When you distill and document these elements effectively, you can ensure your brand will communicate honestly, authentically, and consistently.
Note: Some brands are tempted to skip straight to designing their visual identity (logo, colors, etc.) once they have their Brand Heart, but we would argue that there are a few crucial steps to complete before that. Things like your logo, colors, and typography are vital to your brand, but they’re ultimately a visual translation of your brand’s essence and messaging. If you don’t know what you’re trying to communicate, it’s difficult to create a visual identity to embody it.
That said, you may already have created your visual identity before you solidified these elements. (Full disclosure, that’s what we did too—many years ago.) But if you’re doing this work now, it’s important that your heart, messaging, and visual identity align—no matter the order in which you tackle them.
PSST! DO YOU HAVE A BRAND NAME?
We’re assuming you do. But if you don’t, find out How to Choose the Perfect Brand Name .
Create Your Brand Essence
Your Brand Essence consists of your:
Identifying these elements can seem intimidating, but it’s not a chore. It’s not even a hunt. Your essence is inherent. It doesn’t need to be manufactured; it simply needs to be unearthed and documented with some intention.
1) Identify your personality. Your personality is basically your brand’s human characteristics and attributes. Are you curious and enthusiastic? Elite and sophisticated? Wild and crazy? Your personality is a reflection of your Brand Heart, influenced by your beliefs and demonstrated in your behavior. When you have an intimate understanding of your personality, you can infuse it into every aspect of your brand, from your customer service process to your product descriptions. This is a powerful way to differentiate yourself and cultivate relationships.
HOW TO DO IT
Follow our Guide to Find Your Brand Personality.
2) Identify your brand voice. This is the way your brand sounds and speaks. Remember that every brand voice is unique . A yogurt brand doesn’t speak the way a car brand speaks, and one car brand sounds different than another. Your personality already influences your brand voice; you just need to articulate it so that you can communicate consistently in your content.
HOW TO DO IT
Use the Brand Voice Template in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Find Your Brand Voice .
Remember: The words, phrases, slang, and jokes you use communicate your identity in both direct and indirect ways. Think about how you want to speak—and how your customers want to be spoken to.
3) Identify your tone. You brand’s tone is basically y our general attitude. Your voice may be authoritative, but the tone is respectful. Think of your brand’s voice as how you talk, and your tone as how you talk in different contexts. You always use the same voice, but you may shift your tone depending on who you’re talking to.
HOW TO DO IT
If you’re not sure exactly what your tone is, think of how you want to make people feel. Should you talk to them like you’re a helpful and kind neighbor, or a mysterious and aloof lover? To start, choose at least 3 words to describe your tone. (For example, Uber describes their tone as “Optimistic, inviting, bold.”)
With your Brand Essence articulated, you have formed a basis for communicating who you really are at every touchpoint, from the pop-ups on your site to your Twitter feed. (The brands that do this best are the ones we love the most—no matter what they’re selling.)
Create Your Brand Messaging
There are many ways to talk about who you are, what you do, and why people should choose your brand over your competition. For the purposes of this brand strategy, we’re starting with the most basic messaging: your value prop , tagline, and messaging pillars .
1) Articulate your value prop. Your value prop is a succinct explanation of both the functional and emotional benefits your product or service provides to customers. It’s not just who you are and what you do differently (your positioning); it’s also how you solve their problem and why they should choose you over the competition.
You can also think of it as the promise of what your customer will receive if they buy from you. If you want your brand to succeed, you need to have the answer to this question before anyone asks. Going forward, it’s what all your messaging will ultimately support and reinforce.
HOW TO DO IT
Use the Brand Messaging Template in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Write a Great Value Proposition .
2) Distill your tagline. Your tagline is a sentence, phrase, or word used to summarize a market position. Coming up with a great tagline isn’t like the movies. Most companies don’t have a Don Draper to simply feed you the perfect line. It’s usually a long slog through brainstorms and iterations. Luckily, researchers are discovering the keys to a great tagline, offering interesting insights that can help you choose the perfect one.
HOW TO DO IT
Use the Brand Messaging Template in the Brand Toolkit . Follow our Guide to Write a Great Tagline , and check out these 13 Unique Tagline Examples for inspiration.
2) Identify your messaging pillars. Your messaging pillars are the key stories you want to tell about your brand—what makes you unique and different. Every piece of content you create should reinforce these core messages across all touchpoints.
HOW TO DO IT
Use the Brand Messaging Template in the Brand Toolkit , and follow our Guide to Create Your B rand Messaging .
Depending on your brand’s needs, you may want to articulate additional messaging elements, including:
- Brand promise
- Brand story
- Origin or founder story
- Elevator pitch
Part 3: Design Your Visual Identity
When most people think of branding, they think of a brand’s visual identity: the logo, colors, typography, and other elements that act as the “face” of the brand. Now that you’ve crystallized your heart and messaging, it’s time to visualize it with the basics:
A strong visual identity is meant to be purposeful, first and foremost. You aren’t just designing for today. You’re designing for your brand’s future. Thus, a good visual identity is:
- Flexible: It should be able to grow with your brand, whether you’re branching out into new products, services, or even new industries.
- Comprehensive: It should provide brand designers and content creators with the tools they need to properly do their job.
- Intuitive: It should be intuitively designed and well constructed so that each element complements the other.
Note: Depending on your brand, you may need to expand your visual identity over time. If so, you might consider adding guidelines for additional visual elements.
A good logo is a memorable logo, and research shows that the most memorable logos are the simplest logos. You want it to reflect your brand, yes, but keep it simple if you want it to make an impact. You also need to consider how people visually process and assign meaning to images, as research has found that people assign different attributes to different shapes.
HOW TO DO IT
To start, use the Visual Identity Checklist in our Brand Toolkit to ensure you design a comprehensive visual identity. Follow our Guide to Design a Logo You Love , and make sure to avoid the 7 Most Common Logo Design Mistakes.
Typography is an extension of your logo; hence, we start with logo design first. However, typography is more important than ever, as people are consuming words in multiple mediums. That said, something that works on your packaging may not work well on your website, so it’s important to consider not only how your typography aligns to your brand but the many applications it will be used for.
HOW TO DO IT
Follow our Guide to Find the Right Typography for Your Brand.
Color is one of the most powerful yet mystifying elements of branding. Research suggests it can affect everything from brand perception to purchasing intent, yet it is a bit of a tricky science. Not all colors evoke the same things in everyone because our associations with color are very subjective.
HOW TO DO IT
Follow our Guide to Choose the Right Brand Colors .
Imagery is more important than ever, now that so much of your brand is communicated through visual media. Whether you choose photography, illustration, or a combination of both, everything should align to your brand.
Developing a unique illustration style is a smart way to visually brand your content, but don’t go overboard. You want a style that is clear, distinct, and on-brand. Also, don’t mix styles or clutter illustrations with visual junk.
Photography is an effective, versatile tool that is less time-intensive to design. However, you need a clear aesthetic to keep it consistent with your brand. You should also consider the resources available to you. Luckily, there are plenty of sources to choose from.
- Stock sites (free): There is a ton of free, high-quality stock photography online, and you can easily create unique design treatments that turn a bland stock image into a photograph that communicates your brand. ( Pexels , Unsplash , and StockSnap.io are great places to start.) Just make sure you clearly lay out the dos and don’t for things like filters, design treatments, resolution, etc.
- Image licenses (paid): There are a variety of photo services that let you license photos individually or as a subscription. They’re less likely to show up on your competitors’ site, but it can still happen as anyone can purchase them. Check out Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, and Alamy if you want to go this route.
- Custom (free or paid): We are living in a golden age of creation, thanks to the amount of creative tools available to everyone. You can commission photography or let your team handle it, so long as they have the skills and tools to create high-res images.
MORE VISUAL IDENTITY RESOURCES
For more tips and resources to create each element of your visual identity:
- Follow our Guide to Create a Powerful Brand Identity .
- Bookmark these 75+ Tools, Resources, and Tips to Build a Brand Identity .
- Get inspired by these 15 Brands with a Strong Visual Identity .
Your brand guidelines serve as a playbook for how to use your brand, specifically in the content and communication you create. Maintaining quality and consistency can be a challenge, especially if you work with freelancers or outside agencies. Thus, your brand guidelines should include enough direction to empower any creator to produce work that strengthens the brand instead of weakens it.
To ensure your brand guidelines are comprehensive, include direction for both your visual and verbal identity.
- Brand essence (personality, voice, tone)
- Value prop
- Messaging pillars
- Anything else helpful or relevant
- Imagery (photography, illustration)
- Data visualization
- Interactive elements
- Video and motion
Remember: A brand’s strength is determined by its consistency or lack thereof.
HOW TO DO IT
Follow our Guide to Create a Brand Style Guide , and take a look at Column Five’s interactive brand guidelines to see how we brought ours to life.
Once you’ve completed your guidelines, make sure you have a designated point person who can answer questions about applying the brand guidelines correctly, and make sure your guidelines are accessible to your team.
How to Bring Your Brand Strategy to Life
Now that you’ve completed the full brand strategy process, you can take a damn nap. Thanks to all your hard work, you officially have all the tools you need to communicate your brand story, align your brand and your business, and build the lasting relationships you need for long-term success. Of course, that work is never done.
To implement your brand strategy effectively going forward…
- Keep up on best practices. Check out our 9 Favorite Books on Branding for more tips on effective branding.
- Create content that’s aligned to your brand. Start with our Guide to Document Your Content Strategy.
- Master your content creation. Find out How to Improve Your Content Production at every stage.
- Tell your brand story at every touchpoint. Learn How to Tell Your Brand Story through every piece of content.
- Maximize your content reach. Follow our Guide to Craft a Content Distribution Strategy to make sure your content gets in front of the right eyes.
Of course, we know this can all be a lot for any brand team, especially if you’re short on time or resources. If so, consider bringing in help. Follow our tips to find a creative agency , and find out what it’s like to work with us on your brand strategy . Or just holler at us . We’d love to help you tell your brand story.
These resources are so underrated! I have been using Column Five’s brand strategy template to help my clients tell their stories, and the results have been phenomenal. Thanks, Y’all!
Wow. This is our favorite kind of comment. Thanks so much for those kind words. We’re so happy to hear it works for you.
Looking forward to growing my expertise in branding
Awesome. We have plenty of resources for ya!
Thank you SO much for all this valuable information!
Happy to help!
Thank you for your article. It lays down such a systematic guideline to formulate branding. It is so overwhelming, yet gives steps to “eat-the-elephant-piece-by-peice”.
So glad to help!
This is a fantastic resource, thank you for putting it together. The overall organization and thoroughness is impressive. Very helpful.
PS – caught a quick typo toward the end of this page…
Under Part 4: Create Your Brand Guidelines the following sentence needs a “with”. See sentence with correction in parenthesis below.
Maintaining quality and consistency can be a challenge, especially if you work [with] freelancers or outside agencies.
Argh! Updated. Thanks for flagging that for us, Jacob.
Great framework. Thank you for sharing. I would strip the word “visual” from the title of the last section, changing it to, “Design your identity.” Then, I’d also suggest adding motion, audio, and video to your list of design areas to consider. Thanks again.
Thanks for the feedback, Gino.
I’m trying to locate the segment on Rebranding. Can you please guide me to it?
Hi Peter, you can see our guide to rebranding here: https://www.columnfivemedia.com/how-to-do-a-rebrand/
Hi, This is brilliant stuff here, the step by step process is second to none, I enjoyed every piece of it.
That means a lot. Thanks so much.
Great informative article. This is such a comprehensive guide on the fundamentals. I’m a professional graphic designer and brand logo designer who creates brand identity design & strategy. Thank You ! Keep going!!
So happy to hear it! Thanks so much.
“People do not buy goods and services. they buy relations, stories, and magic”. Please do a simple google search to see whose quote is it actually from.
Thanks for flagging that. We’ve corrected it.
Thank you sharing such a useful information.
Happy to help!
Very helpful and systematic.
Happy to help.
Great Job Guys <3 Thank you for your efforts
Happy to help!
Thank you so much for your guide. It is very helpful. I am planning to start a brand and came across this article. At first I was very confused about different terms like brand strategy , identity etc. But this article was very helpful. Now I am confident to start working on my own brand.
Thank you so much once again ?
Wonderful to hear. Best of luck!
This is an excellent article! I’m studying for my Masters in Media Design and this article helped me grasp the concept of brand strategy. I would love to know more about the background of Katy French to add this to my annotated bibliography!
Hi Tyandrah, so happy to hear you found this helpful. I am the Managing Editor of Column Five (a B2B-focused creative agency that helps you outshine your competition, win people’s hearts and minds, and get measurable results). I turn everything we learn from working with clients into content that people can actually understand 😉 What you’ve read here are the combined insights from our amazing agency team, filtered through me——a journalism major turned writer with an expertise in content marketing.
Thank you so much for your guide, it has helped me briefly understand the reasons behind the different elements of a bran image. A fantastic bonus would be a guide of question to ask to define my brand. Simple questions that can lead to a better understanding of my brand and enable me to better populate my brand identity elements.
eg. Why have you created this service or product. What is the purpose behind the sale of your services/product for both you and the customer. (speaking to brand purpose)
Again thank you so much!
Thanks for the recommendation, Jana! We’re currently working on a Brand Identity toolkit that will include this type of content. Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter to find out when it launches.
This really is the most amazing thing I have come across. Thank you for making this possible. I’m about to graduate and needed some extra help in figuring some stuff out. This was worth the read!!! Plus all of the additional sources 😉
Love to hear it! Happy graduation 😉
This is an amazing guide!! Thank you for putting this article together along with the resources!! There is a ton of value here that is worth $$$ and the best part is that it is all for free. Can’t thank you enough!
Glad to help, Gerald!
Wow! Thank you for this incredible resource! Y’all did that!
I’m a graphic designer transitioning into brand identity design & strategy- and this is such a comprehensive guide on the fundamentals. Then you also provide guides to download?! I’m in love!
Thank you, thank you- because of what I’ve already implemented from this site, I was able to land my first BIG client for a re-branding project!
Thanks, Addis! Best of luck.
This is already so helpful!!
A brilliant piece. Thank you for sharing!
Now THIS is comprehensive and ACTUALLY helpful. Not some vague, general thing. Thank you for this!
That means so much, Anton. That’s exactly what we’re here for 🙂
Thanks a million for this guide, it has helped our business to build a better foundation.
That’s wonderful to hear! Best of luck.
This is the first time in my life to comment on a website/blog post, I’ve wasted too much time on other website who create an article with similar information over and over again it’s like they copied it from different websites and differ it by using different style of writing but yours are to the point, brief yet explains the detail thoroughly, very helpful guideline, it’s not all over the place, it is indeed a helpful start for a beginner like me! Thanks A LOT !
This is one of the most elaborate articles I’ve come across on Brand Identity and the thought process behind it ! Thank you ! Brilliant stuff !!
Thanks, Taanvii! We try to make it easier for everyone to understand.
This will be the first time I ever leave a comment on a website outside social media. This is simply a lifesaver treasure that helped me realise I’m moving in the right direction. I can’t stress enough how great this information is. Endless thank you to your team. You got yourself a committed reader.
Wow, that’s major praise. Thank you so much, Irina! We’re so happy to help.
Thank you for your great research and guidance. Very helpful, I recommend these all blogs for all marketing and research team.
Thank you so much.
We sure do appreciate it!!!
Thank you, i really needed to read this.
Thanks, Timothy. We do our best to make things easier for everyone to understand.
First of all thanks for this treasure,and of course you are the choosen one in the future business <3
Well, that is the nicest thing we’ve ever heard 🙂 Thanks so much.
Thank you for this in depth guide!
It helps me alot to graduate, thank you!
That’s great news! Best of luck in your future career.
So much more to go though…
Thank you for the great guidance given.
I’m most appreciated.
Thank you so much!
Happy to help!
Oooh you have no Idea how much ypu habe helped Me. I am building two brands at the same time.
That’s great to hear. Best of luck!
You are the best , it is the first time i read something that is so easy to understand and has so much power and knowledge in it .
thank you so much i am looking for your updating
This is exceptionally useful content, thanks for being so generous.
Glad to help!
This is by far the best breakdown of brand strategy I have come across! Thank you for sharing.
So glad to hear, and happy to help!
Such a great post. Thanks for sharing great tips to create and brand strategy.
Thanks much! Hope the tips help.
Thank you so much for all the information!!!
All the good content helps to understand every step you have to take to delevelop a great brand strategy.
I´m happy to have been know a little about you guys!
Thanks, Roxana! Best of luck with your strategy.
This helps me so much in developing the brand of my new company! The (free) value you provide is absolutely amazing. Though I will not seek payed help now (because of the limited budget in the startup) you are the number one partner on my list for helping me to build the brand of the company in the future!
Thanks a LOTT!!
Thanks a lot, Paul. We try to help people until they’re ready for us to help ’em 🙂
Yo thanks guys this is gonna help lots!!!!
Glad to help out! Thanks.
After looking around in many places to get a proper understanding and flow of brand strategy, I found your website.
This is by far the most meaningful and in-depth presentation. Many thanks.
Thank you, Alvin. We were trying to create the resource we couldn’t find ourselves 🙂
Katy, thank you much. This is an eye-opener for me. I have been into identity design for a while and I believe its about time I transit to strategy. I have been thinking about how to transition from a brand identity designer into a brand strategist. Your article is gold!
That’s wonderful to hear, Marvin! Best of luck.
Thank you so much for all your fabulous FREE content that you give away. This is the best explanation I’ve found so far despite many hours online and trawling though books on Amazon I am now off to work through the tool kit for my new brand Hello Dame London.
That’s wonderful, Zoe. Best of luck with it!
What a great effort. I am so impressed. Thank you so much for building such great content & sharing. With very best wishes for you all.
Thanks for your great efforts to share a practical method of branding.
Unfortunately, many companies tent to skip this important step without thinking much about what their brand should do in the future. This great share seems to be another way to convince clients effectively.
Keep great works
Hi, thanks for all the effort of structuring and making an incredible brand strategy guide. So clear, precise, well explained and inviting to get hands on!!!
Hugs from Venezuela 🙂
Gracias, Rubik! We hope it helps in your branding endeavors.
Truly amazing piece of content! Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to work with the toolkit for our brand.
Keep up the good work
That makes us so happy to hear, Merle. Best of luck with it!
This is a fabulous easy to follow guide. I have been immersing myself in brand strategy content for the past few months and this is by far the best guide I have found online. It stands up proudly against some well-known books on the subject This should definitely be made into a print book. Well done C5 and thank you.
So detailed. So helpful. So FREE! Itll take me a while but I plan to disect every part of this and learn.
This is an incredible guide and distills everything concisely in an easy to follow style. I’ve been educating myself in brand strategy for the past 6 months and this post stands up against some of the books I’ve been reading on the subject. And ditto what other comments have suggested – this content could become a great print book. Thanks a lot, Nick, from the UK
This is so very helpful! If expanded, it would be an amazing print book. The information stands tall right up next to new classics like Branding in Five and a Half Steps and Designing Brand Identity. Actually, this seems even more practical, I love it. Kudos for pushing this out to the community, what a great way to show your expertise and sophistication.
Thanks so much, Adrian! Maybe we’ll go full print someday 🙂
This. Is. Amazing. I am so lucky to have stumbled across this when my business is in its very early stages. This will help me launch on the right foot—and keep walking forward!
Thanks so much! Best of luck for your venture.
I have read almost every article there is on brand strategy on the internet, no kidding, I have been at it for the past 4 years. Never have I ever stumbled across an article which is so clean and informative, a job well done indeed.
This is so wonderful to hear! FYI, stay tuned, as we’ll be updating this later this month with an even more simplified framework and toolkit.
Thank-you so much for this content, it has actually provided me with value. I love the way that it has been laid out, very clean and informative.
Excellent content and so much to value to take from this. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you so much for this!! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Greetings from Bangkok.
So happy to help!
Thank you so much for providing this brand strategy information. For someone who is in a graduate program taking a marketing class for the very first time, my stress level has been at an all time high. Your explanation and step by step breakdown helped to relieve my stress and give me a better understanding of what I have to do. You explained better than my professor and I am grateful.
That makes us SO happy to hear, Pauline. We felt the same frustration, which is why we set out to simplify it for ourselves and our clients. Best of luck (and less stress) in your graduate program.
Hi, thanks for this amazing content. I have one question though: How do you close the gap between your B2B and B2C messaging when your are selling to dealers only. The value proposition and benefits for a dealer of working with a company differ from those of the end consumer. Would you make have multiple value propositions for B2B and B2C or would you always focus on the end consumers benefits?
Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks
Hi Stephan, good question. Your main value prop should be geared to your direct customers (e.g., dealers). However, depending on your target segments, you can have one tailored to the end consumer as well.
The most helpful addition to my swipe file in many a moon. Thanks for sharing such valuable insight, Katy.
That’s awesome to hear, Greg. Hope it helps 🙂
I cannot put it in words how helpful and insightful was this article for me to easily navigate through the complex brand strategy steps. Thank you for writing this Katy. I’ll always look forward to read more from you. 🙂
That’s so nice to hear, Shamini! We’re always trying to make things easier to understand. Good luck on your strategy!
Thank you very much for these few pointers! I will definately do up my Strategy.
Glad to hear it, George!
Very clear and straightfoward approach to crafting brand strategy for an entrepreneur.
Thank you for this. May all you do in the future be successful. I was stranded as I am embarking on this new journey of offering brand strategy in my agency. I am grateful, eternally so for giving me the guide.
Happy to help! Best of luck with it.
This is a fantastic article and step-by-step guide to building a brand strategy. Thank you so much for 1) putting it together and 2) sharing it. It’s absolute gold! You weren’t on my radar before, but for any future agency needs I will definitely reach out.
That’s so nice to hear, Jess. We’d love to help you out.
Wow. This is a fantastic resource, thank you so much for putting it together like this. A step-by-step guide to help any business be better.
Happy to help, Jen!
Hi Katy, great article. Are you available for hire to help with a tagline? We have a two to three day timeframe in which to come up with something. Thanks.
Hi Michele, Sounds like you have a very tight turnaround, which may be a little tough to complete. Not sure if that deadline is final, but we’d be happy to chat more about your brand identity needs. https://www.columnfivemedia.com/contact
Absolutely informative and helpful! Thank-you!
Thanks, Che. Best of luck with your brand.
Hello! First of all thanks for the effort, the guide is awesome!
I’m using it to develop the desired brand strategy for a brand that does not yet exist. In this context, how to tackle 10) Brand Guidelines ? I see that part applying more to an existing brand. Checked the link to https://brand.columnfivemedia.com/ as suggested, and that is more an example of brand guidelines for an estabilished brand. If 10) as it is is not applicable, what to do instead? I’m thinking to a series of guidelines to be given to a creative agency for the brand creation. Thanks 🙂
Hi Nicola, Good question. Even if the product/service hasn’t gone to market, you would still follow the same steps. Your brand guidelines are simply the final output of your branding work–a succinct way to describe who you are, how you talk about yourself, and how you present yourself visually. If you are working with an agency to design your visual identity, the elements you’ve outlined will influence the execution of your visual identity (things like your core identity, etc.). Ultimately, you want guidelines that are comprehensive enough to give content creators, designers, etc. the direction they need to communicate your brand through all touchpoints. You can see our visual identity checklist to make sure you have the elements needed to do so: https://www.columnfivemedia.com/everything-to-include-visual-identity . Hope that helps!
Very nice and helpful article. Thank you!
This is so helpful! Thanks for the efforts 🙂
Thanks, Lojain. We hope you make good use of it.
This is the best article about brand strategy I have ever read. Amazing work!
That’s so great to hear, Pedro! We hope it helps you in your endeavors.
really helpful! Thank you!!
Glad to hear it, Berta!
Very practical and helpful. Thank you
Glad to hear!
Love your blogs, these are really helpful
Thanks so much! Glad to hear it.
Thank you for this helpful article. I learnt so much
So happy to hear it!
Thank you for this. I love how Brand Guideline is not until #10 on the list. I cannot agree more!! The actual assets are a by-product of brand strategy. Great info.
Thanks, Nikolay! Glad it helps.
I have often Struggled with the right process. This is very clear cut, precise and objective.
Happy to hear it!
This is a gem!
Glad it helps!
Really great stuff here. Thanks for the read and powerful ideas.
Hope you can put it to good use!
Thanks so much for this great article.
Thanks for reading!
Super helpful post on a really important topic. Thanks for putting this together!
We know it can be a confusing subject. Hope it helps.
This is incredibly well articulated, and something that has been top-of-mind lately. Thanks for distilling this down and making it easy to understand.
Thank you for including the templates Katy. It really helps get started 🙂
Most articles I’ve read focus on one of the many facets that go into developing a brand. This article is all-encompassing and had me taking many screenshot reminders as I read through it. Thanks for the helpful exercises.
Thank you for the templates! These are really helpful.
This is awesome, thanks for sharing. That Marty Neumeier book is great!
I have been round and round trying to find something I can wrap my head around. This is super useful. Thanks!
Glad it helps, Jennifer!