Branding – look beyond the logo to the strategy below the surface
The super quick version = less than 2 mins video
The logo is only half the story when it comes to brand. If you look past visual identity, there’s a lot lurking below the surface. In this Marketing Nugget, we’re looking at the three different levels of brand strategy. One level leads on to the next and they combine to create a credible brand that people believe in.
Brand strategy level one – brand purpose
It all starts with brand purpose. This is what the brand stands for. Without the brand purpose, there’s nothing to build on. It’s the equivalent of the foundations needed to build a house. Without them the whole structure would just crumble.
Perhaps the most important thing here is authenticity. Brands need to really believe in what they stand for. Just think about the beauty brand Dove.
Their brand purpose in a nutshell is ‘real beauty’. They’ve brought it to life consistently over the years with their different marketing campaigns. The Dove Self-Esteem Project provides self-confidence resources and the #NoLikesNeeded campaign tackles the negative impact of social media on body confidence.
There are three central elements of brand purpose:
- What it isn’t – brand purpose doesn’t reference the products the company makes or the services they provide.
- What it is – brand purpose is all about the way the brand makes people feel.
- Why this is important – it’s the ultimate statement of the benefit for the customer.
Never mind the fact that Dove make hair products, skin care and deodorant. These essential everyday items aren’t what the brand is built on.
Brand strategy level two – brand values
Sitting one level below purpose is brand values. Another way to think of brand values is personality. They build on the purpose and add further detail. This is why they’re so descriptive.
A great brand communicates its values without overtly saying them. Take Ikea as an example. The furniture company was founded in Sweden in 1943 and is now a global brand.
We bet if you had to describe Ikea in a few words you wouldn’t be far off their values of:
- Cost-consciousness – well-designed furniture that’s affordable.
- Togetherness – our homes are a place where we build relationships and connect with the people we’re closest to.
- Simplicity – functional furniture that can be used every day and is robust.
You can see how each of these values complements the others. Affordability, functionality and relationships come together and are in different ways represented in Ikea’s ‘The wonderful everyday’ strapline.
And the beauty of brand values, is that it isn’t about slavishly saying what they are so that your target audience remembers.
Instead, it’s about doing things which are in line with your values so that people get a sense of them without being told.
Brand strategy level three – tone of voice
Dig down another level and you get to tone of voice. Put simply, this is how brand values or personality come across in the marketing messages.
If we look at Ikea again, you can see how their tone of voice could be described as:
- Down to earth – this says affordable without devaluing the overall proposition.
- Fun loving – this is a way of demonstrating how we want our homes to have character and represent who we are.
- Quirky – this brings to life the contradiction between well-designed furniture and affordability.
You just have to look at Ikea’s adverts to see their tone of voice in action.
This is the brand which made replicas of the living rooms from Stranger Things, Friends and The Simpsons for a marketing campaign. (Well, this isn’t quite true as it was their marketing agency, but you get what we mean).
Ikea don’t take themselves too seriously and here we can also see the importance of focusing on the customer benefit.
People ultimately want to relax in their homes. When they’re doing this they often watch TV. This is the link back to why Ikea created the living rooms from massively popular programmes using their furniture.
Interestingly, it’s what a brand doesn’t say or do which is just as important. You wouldn’t describe Ikea as serious, authoritative or considered, and it wouldn’t act in this way. However, these values describe BBC News quite well and are exactly what we expect from their news coverage.
These three elements of brand strategy combine to be greater than the sum of the parts. A good example of this is the branding we developed for The Escapologist escape rooms, which is centred around the ‘Escape from the everyday to the extraordinary’ strapline. It brings to life the brand purpose, values and tone of voice in just seven words.
You can see the important role The Escapologist’s branding plays in their Xscape Yorkshire launch campaign. We helped them reach over 160,000 people in seven weeks which resulted in weekends being booked up in advance and a third escape room being added within three months of opening.
Brand strategy – a quick summary
We’ve boiled down this Marketing Nugget on brand strategy so that it’s easy to digest:
- Brand purpose – this is what the brand stands for and is all about the way the brand makes its customers feel.
- Brand values – living by your values means that your target audience and customers get a sense of them without being overtly told.
- Tone of voice – this is how the brand values come across in the marketing messages with what’s actually being said.
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