Are you a consulting business owner who hasn’t developed a brand strategy yet? Brand or brand image is what the customer talks about when he uses the service of consulting business. It’s what gives a service an identity, makes it recognizable and helps build the emotional connection between the company and the client.
But a brand is not just a name, logo, and tagline. It is the experience that a customer has when purchasing a service, and the target market’s perception of the consulting company or service.
Brand strategy is a long-term strategy that helps develop this.
WHAT IS BRAND STRATEGY?
Brand strategy is a long-term plan used by a consulting business to establish its brand identity and find a unique position in the minds of the target audience.
It includes specific and long-term goals, which achieve the result in building a successful brand with high equity and credibility, which occupies a competitive position in the market.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BRAND STRATEGY
With many consulting companies offering similar services with no or very few differences, today’s market runs on perceptions and emotions.
In fact, according to a study by HBR, over 64% of customers pursue a relationship with a company based on their shared values. Having a brand strategy helps you build those kinds of relationships.
In addition, brand strategy is also important for:
· Loading identity for the company and company offers.
· Differentiate the brand from competitors in the market.
· Position the brand in a favorable way to create favorable perceptions and drive more sales.
· Communicate more effectively, because it creates an identifiable service, defines a unique brand message, and helps develop a communications strategy.
· Develop a marketing strategy because it is much more difficult for consulting companies to market services without a brand.
· Develop a favorable corporate image in the minds of customers.
· Develop brand equity – the value, over the typical service price that customers are willing to pay just because the service is associated with a particular brand. Defines the mission and vision of the consulting company as a brand.
· Develop happier and stronger relationships with employees because they feel more motivated to work with established brands.
BRAND STRATEGY COMPONENTS
Brand strategy is always developed with a holistic perspective on how the target audience perceives the brand and how the brand wants them to perceive it.
A successful brand strategy always considers the following eight components –
Target Audience: the target audience is the market segment that interacts directly with the consulting brand and is usually the customers of the brand’s offering.
Brand Promise: this is a promise made by a brand to customers stating what they can expect from the consulting brand and its services. It is that promise of trust that creates an unspeakable emotional connection between brands and customers.
Brand Mission & Vision: this includes what the consulting brand aspires to be in the long term, both monetary and non-monetary. It also consists of the means to achieve the goal.
Brand Architecture: this is the structure of the portfolio of brands, sub-brands, and other offerings managed by the company. It’s like a family tree of a brand and its sub-brands. Developing a brand architecture makes it easier to establish a main brand communication strategy as well as sub-brands.
Brand Message: this is the message communicated to the target audience through the brand’s offering and verbal and non-verbal communication messages that describe what it does and how it differs from others.
Brand Association: These are the recognizable aspects such as images and symbols associated with the brand or brand benefits
Competitive Awareness: Competitive awareness refers to knowledge of competitors’ brand strategy and making efforts to create higher value compared to them.
HOW TO DEVELOP AN EFFECTIVE BRAND STRATEGY?
Unlike in the last decade, consultants are now more focused on building brands than ever before.
If you went out and asked established consulting businesses about the importance of developing a brand strategy today, you’d be surprised how much they invest in it.
According to the 2019 Branding Status Report, 66% of marketing decision-makers plan to invest more in creating branded visual content than they did in 2018.
Building a consulting brand and developing a brand strategy is not an easy process. It can take months (or even years) of research and analysis to finally figure out how customers intend to perceive the brand. And even more difficult for newcomers.
But don’t worry, here is a complete guide that simplifies the process of developing a brand strategy for your consulting business:
1. Define Aims And Objectives
Just like a marketing strategy, the development of a branding strategy is driven by intent or purpose. This could be a new consulting company looking to make a name in the market, an existing company looking to expand its service line, or an established company looking for strategies to expand an existing brand or add more sub-brands to its name.
To find the purpose, answer these two questions:
- What do you want your consulting brand to do for your firm?
- How would you like to describe your offering or company to your target market?
When it comes to brand strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Therefore, it is important to know what you are building a strategy for before proceeding.
Once goals are identified, it’s important to introspect on the consulting company and the offering that needs to be branded. Focus on the why (vision), what (mission), and how (values) of the company and try to align branding goals with the company’s overall goals.
If a brand strategy is being developed for an offering, focus on the features and find a unique selling proposition and value proposition that you can leverage. Typically, brand positioning strategies are rooted in these two factors.
3. Target Market Research And Competitors
The next step involves you focusing on who will buy your services. Create buyer personas and target your audience by answering these questions:
- What is the age of your ideal customer?
- How much does he earn?
- What is the job?
- Is your service a need or want for him?
- Why did he choose your service over competitors?
To answer the last question, you need to do a competitive analysis as well. Answer questions about your competition by answering these questions:
- Who currently serves your target audience?
- What makes customers choose them over others?
- How do they market their brand?
- Do they have a single-brand strategy or a multi-brand strategy?
4. Find Brand Barriers
During the analysis of the internal and external environment, you must have found many obstacles in terms of target audience and competition.
Combine them with other barriers related to market conditions, government policies, and other factors that may hinder the successful positioning of your proposed consulting brand and look for ways to eliminate them.
5. Develop a Holistic Strategy for Defining Your Brand
A holistic branding strategy focuses on giving an identity to every service your consulting business offers. This usually involves:
- Associating attributes with the brand – name, logo, color,
- Define brand goals
- Develop brand identity, brand personality, and brand voice
- Include a brand message
- Develop brand associations
- Focus on making the brand consistent, flexible, and emotional
6. Find the Perfect Positioning Strategy
An effective brand strategy is rooted in how you plan to position your consulting brand in the marketplace. Positioning results from finding the perfect space a brand can occupy in the target customer’s brain regarding competitors’ positioning features and strategies.
A brand is always created in the eyes of customers. Once a consulting company has successfully developed a strategy for how it wants customers to see it, the next step is to promote the same.
Brand promotion is an important part of consulting brand strategy because it informs, reminds, persuades convincingly, and influences buyers to direct their purchasing decisions in favor of the brand.
That’s a complete discussion of consulting brand strategy that you might be able to apply to your business. Making your brand known to many people requires a mature, measurable, and targeted strategy. Make sure you make a plan by considering the important things that are in your business, including business finances.