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How to Build a Brand Strategy: Template With 5 Critical Steps

Brand Strategy Template

Answer These Key Questions to Drive Brand Growth

Here’s a very simple but powerful brand strategy template that I have seen generate great results because it takes a customer-centric approach to brand strategy and enables alignment across the organization to execute effectively.

Over the years, I have worked with many small and large companies across a variety of industries.   Most brand teams I engage are in a period of transition, where they are trying to determine what’s next for them – either how do they turn around their business or continue to drive growth.

Brand Strategy Template Step 1:  Define Brand Strategy Objectives & Identify Team Members

A brand strategy typically looks at a longer-term horizon and clearly outlines what needs to happen within that time frame to achieve goals. These goals are typically a combination of financial and brand-related objectives with milestones (e.g., achieve 10% market share growth and improve brand differentiation).

Aligning management at the beginning on what the brand strategy framework must deliver, questions it must answer, and who needs to be involved for input will set the team up for success.  As with any initiative, not having a clear understanding of what success looks like and ways to measure that success can lead to a lot of frustration, wasted time and effort.

Brand Strategy Template

Brand Strategy Template Step 2:  Develop Common Understanding of the Marketplace & Opportunities

A sound brand strategy has to have a strong foundational understanding of the category it plays in, macro trends impacting its category, who are the major competitors, potential target consumers and needs their products satisfy.   Understanding all of these elements are critical for two reasons: 

  1. Helps set realistic financial goals
  2. Allows the team to see gaps in the marketplace that could set your brand apart versus competition 

After all, the goal for any brand is to offer something different to consumers that will result in revenue and brand loyalty.

In this step, it is important to not “boil the ocean,” but rather have a robust fact base from which to identify potential opportunities, prioritize and quantify impact.  

Brand strategy example opportunities might include:

  • Addressing product formula/performance issue  
  • Brand expansion into a new category
  • Launching a new sub-brand or product line extension  
  • Targeting to a new consumer group
  • Penetrating new channel, etc.

Below is a template of three areas your team should establish a common understanding on:

Brand Strategy Template Step 2: Develop Common Understanding of the Marketplace & Opportunities

AreasDescriptionFill-In Brand Opportunities Identified
Competitive Landscape & MacrotrendsWhat does your product do and what category/categories does it compete in? How big is that category, and is it growing?Who are the major players in the category? What is their size, growth, positioning, price points, product offerings, etc.?Are there other macrotrends to take into account? e.g., growth of health and wellness, government regulation, etc. 
Consumer LandscapeWho are the potential consumers for your products? What are their motivations for purchasing this type of products, occasions product is used in, unmet needs, products currently purchased and demographics? 
Product Cost & Financials How much does it cost to make the product? What are the retailer margins/major channels of distribution? What are realistic financial goals? 

Brand Strategy Template Step 3:  Have A Clearly Defined Target Consumer & Compelling Brand Positioning

Once you have established a firm understanding of the market landscape and potential opportunities, it’s important to then hone-in your thinking and clearly define who are the target consumers for your brand during the defined time frame.  

If it’s a 5-10 year strategy, you might consider an expansion target in addition to a core target. The key is to take the time to really understand the needs of your target audience, so that you can create a customer-centric brand strategy that is authentic and intentional in its purpose.    

How you talk about your brand, the innovation pipeline that you generate, the packaging, etc. should all be grounded in two things:

Brand Strategy Template Step 3:  Have A Clearly Defined Target Consumer & Compelling Brand Positioning

AreaDescriptionFill-In For Your Brand
Who You are Selling To (Target Consumer)What is the size and profitability of this segment? What is their consumer profile, e.g., demographics and current behavior? What are their needs, preferences and motivations? 
How You are Selling (Do I have a differentiated & compelling brand positioning?)   Is this positioning differentiated versus competition?Does it resonate with target audience? Does it alienate other segments?Benefits and/or product attributes that make this believable for your brand? 

There are many ways to talk about a product even when you narrow down the audience, so making sure that you have a truly compelling brand positioning often requires ideation and research.    

Visit our resource pages to read more about customer segmentations and brand positioning examples.

Brand Strategy Template

Brand Strategy Template Step 4:  Establish Brand Guardrails to Aid in Execution & Drive Organizational Clarity

This is a critical step that often gets overlooked.  As a reminder, a brand strategy usually has a longer time frame with milestones in between.  But over time, brand teams will experience personnel changes. With every transition, will the brand strategy change, too? That makes it hard to build long-lasting brand associations, and your brand runs the risk of losing consumer confidence. Ultimately, this instability would result in missed revenue goals.

This step in the brand strategy template focuses on defining your brand essence/personality and identity to ground your brand strategy. If your brand was a person – would it be serious or silly, laid back or sophisticated? And what would be its heart/mission?  This documentation creates clarity on brand vision/aspirations and initiatives across the organization.

Equally important is the need to articulate what your brand will NOT do. For example, a health-focused brand might benefit from outlining that they will never use ingredients that they can’t pronounce. Setting these guardrails and sticking to them will enable consistency and brand cohesion across departments. 

Brand guardrails are also helpful from a brand architecture standpoint, as they can be defined for the primary brand, as well as any sub-brand or brand extension.   

Brand Strategy Template Step 4:  Establish Brand Guardrails To Aid in Execution & Drive Organizational Clarity

AreaDescriptionFill-In For Your Brand
Brand Essence  & Personality What does your brand stand for or aspire to be? What is the brand persona? 
Brand Benefits (Functional/Emotional & Product Attributes)   What unique product benefits does your brand deliver?What unique functional benefits does your brand deliver?What unique emotional benefits does your brand deliver? 
Brand GuardrailsWhat are the parameters for the brand? What must all products under the brand have?What should the product under the brand not have? 

Brand Strategy Template Step 5:  Executive Buy in with Prioritized Opportunities, Milestones & Support Request

Brands exist within companies, and company dynamics undoubtably play a role in the success of a brand. Elements such as role within company portfolio, capabilities, skills and investment required should be accounted for in building out a successful brand strategy.  The executive share-out should include brand objectives, opportunities you have prioritized, why they make sense from a financial and brand standpoint, and how you are going to measure success. Further, having the foresight to outline what is needed from the organization to achieve brand strategy objectives can make the difference between success and failure.

Brand Strategy Template Step 5:  Executive Buy in with Prioritized Opportunities, Milestones & Support Request

AreaDescriptionFill-In For Your Brand
Brand Role within CompanyWhat is the role of brand within company portfolio?Does your brand strategy chart a different role for the brand within the company portfolio, or is it consistent?Is there an updated brand architecture, and what is the role of each? 
Vetted & Prioritized Opportunity Areas  What is the financial impact?Why does the opportunity make sense from a branding standpoint? 
Resources RequiredCapabilities? Marketing investment? Talent acquisition, etc.? 
Success Criteria & Milestones  Do you have measurable key performance metrics and milestones?What is the review cadence? 

A successful brand strategy should:

  • drive organizational clarity on what the brand is
  • who it’s targeting
  • how it’s going to achieve its financial and brand objectives 

Because different teams might be assigned to different tasks, successful brand teams work hard to ensure alignment on core fundamentals and plan three to five years ahead. Following a comprehensive brand strategy template makes it easier to know when to pivot in order to maintain brand relevance and drive continual growth. 

For more resources on brand strategy, please visit our resource page or contact us.