Strategic branding and why it matters

Lets play a game:

We designed two make-believe organic shampoo brands. Guess which shampoo each of the following statements apply to:

  1. Targeted at women in their 40s/50s with high-income jobs & costs NGN32,000 / USD 75
  2. Targeted at women in university & costs NGN15,000 / USD 32
Organic Shampoo designed by aseda

Shampoo A
Organic Shampoo designed by aseda

Shampoo B

Its safe to say 99% of you chose Shampoo A for women in university and Shampoo B for middle-aged women; right?

The thing is, both products are well designed and use the same wording. However, something about the logo, colours, fonts, tone and ‘feel’ of the Shampoo A just does not speak to middle-aged women in high-paying jobs and vice versa – in respect of the Shampoo B’s marketability to university students.

When you create a product or service – you’re doing so with distinct origins, features and values that make it different from the products/services already out there. Moreover, you are creating that product/service with a particular audience in mind – and strategic branding is what helps you bridge the gap between your idea and your market.

Strategic branding is important because it looks beyond ‘good’ design, which is subjective, and seeks to achieve ‘effective’ design – design that is fit for purpose, communicates who the brand is clearly and has a clear target market.

Here are five ways you can achieve strategic branding for your product/service.

One: Finding your why

There are many products and services out there, and great branding gets to the heart of the product/service and asks why. Why did you launch this particular product or service? Why is this so important? Why does this product/service exist?

Like Simon Sinek says in his book, Start with Why, every company/organisation knows WHAT they do, some know HOW they do WHAT they do, but very few know or can articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. Strategic branding starts with asking, beyond profit, why does this product/service exist?

Two: Researching the market

When you launch a product/service, you’re doing so in a market that most likely has existing competitors and consumers/clients. Without understanding the existing market, you could be launching something eerily similar to a competitor; or something that speaks a completely different language from its target audience. Strategic branding involves taking the time to dig deep into the existing market to know what’s out there, with the view to understanding your product/service positioning within said market.

Three: Discover what makes you unique

Whether you’ve come up with a revolutionary product/service – or just a new way of doing something that already exists, in order to strategically brand your product/service, you need to articulate those features/benefits/values that make your product/service stand out from your competitors. In His book ZAG, Marty Neumeier talks about the importance of developing an ONLINESS STATEMENT as a way of defining your position in the market. An ONLINESS STATEMENT goes like this:

We are the only [what you do] that [what makes you unique] for [your customer] in [your market/geography] who [your customer’s need] during [trend /era].

For example:

We are the only [makers of organic shampoo] that [use plant-based ingredients] for [ university students] in [Lagos, Nigeria] who [are on a budget] during [a time where most budget-products have chemicals and artificial ingredients].

Four: Bringing it all together

So you know why you do what you do, and you know what your competitors/customers are up to and what makes your product/service unique; strategic branding involves taking all that learning and crafting a visual and verbal identity that is fit for purpose. Everything from the name, to the tagline, logo, colour scheme and fonts should speak with one language that is true to the brand.

Five: Make it delightful

It goes without saying that strategic branding should still surprise and delight your customers/clients. A brand exists beyond the logo; every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to reinforce your brand – from the business cards, to your website, to your packaging and social media. Strategic branding involves using every opportunity to delight your target market.

When we take on brand identity projects at aseda – our 4-step process of brand therapy, discovery, creative concept development and building out the brand ensures that we have a full and deep understanding of who our clients are, who they want to be and who they are trying to speak to. We take brand strategy seriously and that helps us develop brand identities that are clear, targeted and unexpectedly delightful. If you have a product or service and want to develop your brand identity strategically, we’d love to talk to you. You can reach out to us here.