- So now that we're grounded in what a brand strategy is, let's get started with how to build one. The first thing we do is frame the strategy, but before that we need to prepare for this exercise. We'll define the target customer and the competitive frame of reference, and then you'll schedule your customer interviews, and then you'll prepare questions for those interviews. First you define your target customer.
Who is your sweet spot customer? Some ways to get at this question: Identify a uniting theme. What do they all have in common? Explore who you benefit most. To whom do you bring disproportionate value? Determine who brings your business the most value, who are the people who bring disproportionate value to you? Zoom out and consider your mission.
Why are you in business? Who is the person that you have created your business to serve? Lemme give you an example. Say I'm REI. I market outdoor apparel and gear online and in retail stores across the United States. As a co-op our mission is not only to have a healthy bottom line but also to get more people enjoying and nurturing the great outdoors. Our best customers, the one that bring us the most value and whom we bring the most value, are the outdoor enthusiasts.
They spend the most with us, and by embracing the outdoors they're also helping us with our mission to cultivate environmental stewardship. The second part of preparing is defining the competitive frame of reference. Who is your true competitor? You are asking your target customer to buy your offering instead of what exactly? It could be a direct competitor, it could be a substitute, it could be a workaround.
It could be something completely different from what your offering is. If we go back to the REI example, our frame of reference is primarily other retailers that sell outdoor wear, ranging from specialty retailers like The North Face and army surplus to general retailers like Amazon and Walmart. So now you're ready to schedule some customer interviews. There are lots of ways you can conduct these interviews. It can be in small focus groups that you conduct or that you hire a facilitator to conduct.
It could be a pizza party that you invite your sweet spot customers to. It can be over coffee. My personal favorite way to do these is by setting up 30 or 40-minute phone calls with each of these individuals. Sometimes the person on the other end feels more safe if others aren't listening to their responses. Also, doing these by phone saves time, which you can then spend on doing more interviews. The last part of preparing is creating an interview guide, a list of questions for interviewing your customers.
Whichever setting you choose, you're going to get in front of your customers and have what people in the design thinking world call empathy interviews. This is a way to get inside the world of your sweet spot customer so that you can view your business and brand development from the customer's standpoint, outside-in rather than inside-out. There are lots of ways to structure this interview, but what I like to do is start at a high altitude and then narrow down.
Start very general and then narrow to your offering and your brand. That way, you're getting a more real glimpse of how you fit into the context, and it's more true to the customer's actual way of thinking.
In this course, branding expert Lindsay Pedersen explains how to create a compelling brand strategy that gets results for your organization. She demonstrates how to properly frame your strategy and covers brand positioning, discussing how to climb a benefit ladder and determine your position. Plus, she shows how to create a personality for your brand, choose the tone, and create an activation strategy.
- Framing your strategy
- Crafting your brand promise
- Defining your brand character
- Activating your strategy
- Identifying your plan of action