Most of us are familiar with what it means to have a strategy: It’s an actionable plan created to achieve predetermined objectives. But we believe strategies aren’t just defined by the paths forward that they propose—they’re defined by extensive upfront research into where you are now and where you’re going.
For starters, modern brands are not solely built on their products, goods or services anymore. Today’s brands create and foster authentic relationships with people. And the foundation for those relationships is your brand strategy. That strategy codifies what your brand stands for and provides the necessary ingredients for creating a brand campaign.
Below, we’ll discuss how brand strategy is at the foundation of a successful brand campaign and the steps taken to achieve one.
Brand strategy basics and brand strategy platforms
If your brand identity establishes a somewhat-static understanding of who you are, then your brand strategy establishes how that identity is relayed and represented across everything you do. Ultimately, it helps define what you stand for, the promise you make to customers and the experience and personality you convey.
Brand strategy is much more dynamic, transforming your organizational aspirations into the unique characteristics that define a person’s experience with your brand. And it can be comprehensive, as it extends into messaging, story and even back into brand identity.
However, all the elements that comprise your strategy require organization and quick accessibility for anyone crafting brand communications and experiences. That’s your brand strategy platform, which compiles and synthesizes them. And although the term “platform” might evoke thoughts of technology solutions, it operates more as a foundation for your brand-building efforts that employees and partners continually reference regardless of form.
Creating a brand strategy
When creating a brand strategy, there is much to cover. And you’ll find that many of the questions you must consider aren’t quickly or easily answered, as the answers require investigation, consideration and alignment among senior stakeholders. These could include:
- What do we stand for as an organization, beyond making money?
- What conditions are we dedicated to improving, or what trends are we riding?
- What intrinsic value do we provide to customers and our employees?
- What makes us truly unique or differentiated in our market, and how do we defend our position?
Like the journey and the destination, the process of workshopping and entertaining these questions is more important than the answers you’ll arrive at.
This is the process where you’ll begin to carve out how you’ll express your identity, story and values to a wider audience—in other words, the brand strategy is what you’ll use to define your brand platform and the true meaning of your brand.
Once your brand strategy is established, you can activate it through a brand campaign.
What is a brand campaign?
A brand campaign is the embodiment of your brand charging toward your predetermined goals. Your goal, for example, could be for audiences to remember, think and have a clear understanding of your brand, whether prompted or not.
At a high level, a brand campaign has three purposes:
- To build awareness and familiarity by telling the story of your brand
- To foster a deeper connection with your target audience, whether ideological, emotional or through shared values
- To reinforce this connection whenever a person engages with your brand
An effective brand campaign—i.e., one that moves or inspires people—will epitomize your brand strategy and platform. To communicate these ideas, your brand campaign messaging may draw inspiration from elements like:
- Your brand’s origin story
- Your brand’s position in the marketplace (and culture, more generally)
- Your brand’s promise
- Your brand’s position
By crystallizing the facets that comprise your brand, your audience doesn’t just encounter another spectacle pandering for their attention. They’re given an offering: something to connect to and build an ongoing relationship with.
Creating an indelible brand campaign starts with brand strategy
The process of creating an effective brand campaign looks different depending on your brand strategy and the agency you partner with. It’s also a recursive process—it requires experimentation, transparency and an unflinching belief that there’s an audience waiting to be inspired by your singular message.
That said, there are some practical measures essential to every brand campaign in incubation. Let’s take a look.
#1 Define your brand platform
If brand strategy is a fertile plot of land brimming with colorful ideas and promise, the brand platform is the garden bed that helps your brand thrive—organized, intentional and pegged with helpful markers for easy reference at any time.
So what shall we plant? A brand platform should define your brand all the way to its core. It should meaningfully, yet concisely, tell you what the brand stands for and what its intentions are.
To do this, you’ll want to compose these key sections into your brand platform:
- Brand aspiration—This is what drives the brand into the future. It describes what the brand hopes to become or achieve as it meets with its audience and traverses the world.
- Brand position—This is what the brand stands for: the values it holds in its heart, ready and willing to share them with listeners through enticing storytelling. Your brand position is what begins attracting brand believers once they’ve encountered you.
- Brand promise—This is what the brand intends to do. It’s how a brand vows to treat each person it interacts with, pledging a unique experience of thought and feeling. It’s fundamental to maintaining authentic relationships with your brand believers.
- Ideal brand experience—This is how you want your audience to feel when they engage with your brand. It empathizes with their current problems and feelings and designs a better world through your offerings. When the experience is genuine and authentic, it reaffirms the relationships brand believers form with you.
- Brand expression attributes—These are the essential visual elements that instantly and easily communicate your brand’s position and promise, like your logo and typography.
Many companies make the mistake of skipping the crucial step of founding a brand platform, only to falter later over half-baked concepts and lackluster campaign metrics. Spend the time and care to build an enduring brand platform—because the health of your crops starts at the soil.
#2 Construct your brand messaging and story
With a fortified brand platform built, the brand messaging and storytelling rise naturally to the next occasion. At this stage, it should feel like brand messaging ideas are flowing from your fingertips like tingling magic. All we need to do is harness and organize that power.
To communicate your brand’s core beliefs through language, you must first understand the audience you intend to communicate with. And that starts with research.
Conducting surveys, analyzing customer reviews and performing broader market research allows you to envision members of your brand’s community and what their lives look like. This data will help you build audience personas with insights about what apps they use, what stories resonate with them and how they like to communicate (and be communicated to).
Data lights the path toward language that reverberates in value-driving harmony with your ideal customer. Without this step, you can write some of the most groundbreaking brand messaging, but it’s not going to attract brand believers.
Now, you can construct brand messaging that:
- Speaks in a tone of voice that embodies your brand
- Empowers intentional connections to your target audience
- Uses language that resonates in channels your audience is using
- Tells the story of your brand and what people can expect from it
- Produces an effective brand experience with empathy at the helm
#3 Map your campaign strategy and plan
With the foundational elements of the brand platform, messaging and story solidified, you can begin building your brand campaign. The brand campaign is the well-planned appearance of your brand in the world—like a debutante or a celebrity book signing. Each detail has a purpose: the messaging, the channels, the audience and what results you plan to achieve.
Those results, otherwise known as objectives, are a wise place to start. Objectives are the goals you hope to achieve through the deployment of your brand campaign. They should be specific, achievable and, of course, measurable.
Some objectives you might map out for a brand campaign are:
- Awareness—Spreading the word about your brand to new people
- Familiarity—Growing an audience’s knowledge about your brand
- Engagement—Encouraging people to interact with your brand
- Loyalty—Deepening the relationship between your brand and audience
Once you outline your objectives, you can strategize the best messaging, channels and advertising tactics to reach those targets.
#4 Activate the campaign
It’s time to release this campaign out into the world and in front of your audience. Your brand campaign activation should express your strategy, work toward your objectives and bring your brand to life.
Think about a brand you’ve recently interacted with. Where were you? In what format did the interaction take place? The channel or format of your brand campaign execution is known as your media mix, and it’s a crucial ingredient of your activation.
A media mix is the tactical channels used to reach an intended audience. The media you employ to activate your brand campaign can include:
- Digital media, like SEO blogs or pay-per-click ads
- Traditional media, like TV ads or radio spots
- Out of home (OOH) advertising, like billboards or bus wraps
- Experiential media, like an immersive museum experience
The goal here is to invite your audience to interact with your brand in a way that meets them where they are and elevates their experience. In your media execution, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Make it unforgettable.
#5 Measure the results
Remember that part about making sure your objectives were measurable?
Your brand campaign can touch the hearts and minds of millions of your finest future customers, but if you don’t have the metrics to tell you as much, you’ll be none the wiser. What’s more, you’ll want to ensure you have a way of measuring how much revenue you earn from the dollars you spent on the activation.
A brand campaign should be constantly measured and optimized for success. Rather than “setting it and forgetting it,” check in at least weekly on performance metrics to see whether or not the campaign is moving in the right direction for your desired results.
Depending on the objectives of your brand awareness campaign, you might review metrics such as:
- Reach—Metrics like reach, impressions and views can help you gauge how many views your content received, which can help you understand growth in brand awareness.
- Consideration—Metrics like engagement, click-through rate (CTR) and time on page can be tracked to understand the level of intention a user has in doing business with you.
- Behavioral—Metrics like repeat website visits and subscription sign-ups can depict an even higher interest level in the brand beyond the first ad the audience sees.
- Intent—Metrics like intent to purchase are especially useful in B2B markets with longer sales cycles, measuring how committed a user is to considering a brand to purchase a product or service once they’re ready to do so.
Remember, a brand awareness campaign built on stunts or gimmicks is a house of cards. After untold hours of scrolling, brand believers are ultimately human beings who crave an evocative, emotional experience—something deeper and more meaningful than a content-hunting spree.
More often than not, arriving at what will resonate with your audience requires brands to retrace their steps and revisit those original questions posed in the brand platform and brand strategy workshops.
Evaluating successful brand strategies and brand campaigns
There are numerous metrics and data that can inform you of how many engagements your campaign created and whether or not they were successful. But, ultimately, your success comes down to one criterion: Did your brand campaign personify your brand authentically, intentionally and in front of the right audience to achieve your objectives?