Marketing, perhaps fittingly, churns out a bunch of buzzwords regularly. Some of these buzzwords become firmly placed in the pantheon of business jargon. Brand strategy is one of these terms. I’m sure everyone has a hazy idea of what brand strategy is but not many can articulate what it does. There are a few things we need to look at to understand the brand strategy and what having one means for your business. So let’s get started.

What is a Brand?

There are two definitions of brand and I find both of these useful for our purposes here. The first definition says “a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name” while the second says “an identifying mark burned on livestock or (in former times) criminals or slaves with a branding iron”. Both definitions partly explain what a brand in the business sense is. To put the two together a brand is the combination of all the identifying qualities of a product or business. This means the Nike swoosh logo is not the brand but part of the brand. The famous “just do it” tagline is also part of the brand. The underdog story and beliefs of the company formed by Phil Knight are all parts of the brand. Your brand is the combination of all the expressions through which people experience or perceive your business. This means logos, colours, outlets, words, stories, taglines and all are part of the brand. Now let’s talk about brand strategy.

Brand Strategy

The brand strategy is a sometimes lengthy document that brings together all the elements through which the brand can be expressed. As the word strategy suggests it involves taking a bird’s eye view of where the business is, where the customers are and maps the way for the business to get to the customers. Depending on the stage of involvement brand strategy can start from the ground up completely developing the name for the business, choosing the corporate colours and tagline. It’s also possible to have some of these things already made when the brand strategy is developed. Marketing is a very involving activity and it should have many moving parts to be effective. It’s very easy to get lost in between the various adverts, website FAQs, social media posts and sales pitches, especially when these aspects are handled by different people.

What you will find in a complete brand strategy

The following is what you would expect to see in a complete brand strategy. We will assume the strategy has been built from scratch for a business.


The brand strategist will explain the chosen name for the business and explain the rationale behind the name. A lot depends on the stage of the business but the strategist may create the name completely from scratch and the rationale is communicated in the strategy.

Logos and typography

The brand strategist is not the logo designer but will have a lot of input in the making of the logo and the rationale behind it. Logos are very important and getting them right can get your business that extra mileage that spells success. This will also involve the fonts and typography the business will use in the materials.


Colour psychology is an important part of branding. Colours have meanings or psychological associations that people make with them. Understanding this will help you realise why red is a popular colour in food where blue is a popular colour in banking and financial services. Again the strategist will explain the colour choices and message. These first three parts fall under brand identity.

Market study

The market study is where the brand strategist explains the make-up of the market landscape and the key things to look out for in the strategy going forward. This involves understanding the problem the business solves and how to communicate it in marketing. Apple’s campaign with the iPod is a brilliant example of this. Instead of focussing on the storage size, the focus was on the number of songs you can save, something meaningful to people.

Buyer personas

While this forms part of the market study buyer personas drill deep into the minds and therefore wallets of your prospective customers. Buyer personas identify the qualitative characteristics of customers identifying the best approaches to those customers.

Product matrix

The product matrix is a graphical representation of the relationships between customer groups and buyer personas and the product range. This makes great sense if you have products that appeal to different market segments.

Marketing activities

The strategy document should also give specific instructions and examples on the communication with customers. This includes the channels and content strategies that will be used in reaching customers and appealing to them.

Strategy is direction

The brand strategy is a direction document that makes the job of bringing the business to the market easier. The idea is to make sure that all marketing activities are not only congruent in themself but also consistent in communicating what the brand is.