The Difference Between Brand and Brand Strategy

At Motion, Chicago’s largest independent, woman-owned agency, our rebranding skills are something we’re proud of. Creative agencies in Chicago can design brilliant brand guidelines, but those brands often lack direction. Marketing firms can build out amazing brand strategies, but for a strategy to work you need a brand that can carry its own weight. Motionites thrive on building great brands that have the strategy to set them up for success. 

You start by clearly defining your brand in a sentence or two.

Your brand is so much more than a name, a logo, colors or a tagline. That’s just the icing on the cake. Your brand is defined by what you actually stand for.  What has your company done in the past that has connected with consumers? Does your brand strive to make a difference outside of what your firm does or is sales the only goal? You have to ask yourself all these questions and many more to get to the core of your brand. 

After you know exactly what your brand stands for, it’s time for a position statement, mantra or manifesto – the simple truth that lives at the core of your brand. This will be in essence, your brand. Everything you do, from new product launches to crisis communications must ladder back to your brand positioning. The second you start to deviate from it, you’re changing the brand.

Words also only tell so much of the story. it’s now time to ice it with a logo, colors, typefaces and many other visual ways of telling your brand story. Just like you wrote out a paragraph defining your brand, your visual brand guidelines are another way to keep your brand in check. Any deviation from your defined colors, logos or even tone can cause your brand to shift. This applies both in the physical world and online. 

Understand the difference between what you want your brand to stand for vs what it is perceived to stand for.

Despite your best efforts, people may not think your brand stands for what you think it does. This is called Brand Perception. Anything from your own actions to societal shifts can cause changes in your brand perception which makes it incredibly important to continually conduct brand research. You always want to know exactly how your brand is perceived. Once you know where your brand is you can measure how far off from where you want to be. 

This is where brand strategy comes in. 

Once you know where your brand is and you know where you want it to be, your brand strategy is your roadmap to get there and it begins with starts by defining clear goals.

At Motion, we build comprehensive brand strategies all the time. We’ve done top to bottom rebrands and subtle shifts to help our clients reach new consumers. Sometimes our strategies are designed to push back against a new threat or combat misinformation

When building a brand strategy, it’s important to take a detailed look at the competitive landscape. Who are your major competitors? What are they saying? What’s the whitespace that your brand can occupy that your competition cannot? When looking at the competition, it’s also important to see if there are any socio-economic barriers that may drive consumers to your competition. For example, if you’re bringing a new ice cream brand to market for the holidays, you may want to tout your brands flavor and decadence. But when January rolls around everyone is focused on eating healthy, can your brand adjust to owning the healthier option space? Or is your competition better suited for that? For your brand strategy, always remember that it’s important to fight the battles you can win. 

Lastly, no brand strategy would be complete without clearly identifying your target audience. Who your brand is trying to connect to is just as important as what your brand is saying. At Motion, we take a deep dive into consumer, cultural and sales data to dig up truly unique consumer insights. We not only identify who your target consumer is, but their lifestyles, relationship status, where they like to spend their time and so much more. We conduct an audience analysis to build out an accurate consumer profile to always make sure the right consumer is receiving the right message to have the most impact for your brand. 

Remember, it’s YOUR brand. 

Despite how many of Chicago’s finest marketing firms, ad and PR agencies claim they can take your brand to new heights, nobody knows your brand better than you. Once you’ve clearly laid out what success looks like, what barriers you have to overcome and what your needs to be done at each communication touchpoint, then you can build out a roadmap to success for your brand. 

Building a great brand starts with branding, but without a proper brand strategy to back it up, your brand will just be screaming into the void.