So I’m a brand strategist, and my mom doesn’t even know what I do.
What up, yall! I’m Liz Marie, a brand strategist and creative working with women and BIPOC-owned brands to level the fuck up. That’s what we do here, but there’s a little more to it than that.
I get asked all the time, like, “but what do you do?” And, honestly, my friends and probably even my boyfriend really don’t know. So whether you think you need help with your brand, or you’re just wondering, “what the hell does that even mean?” You’ve come to the right place.
I’ve been a brand strategist for almost 15 years, and I’m gonna tell you exactly what that means!
What Is Brand Strategy?
To put it simply, a brand strategy is a document that defines everything important about your brand. That includes things like
- Who your customer is
- What makes you special
- What helps you stand out
- What you stand for
- Why your customer cares
A brand strategy identifies all of those ideas and then puts them on paper in the exact, most perfect words you should use every time you talk about your brand. And that includes things like a tagline, a brand story or about section, an elevator pitch – some of those key pieces or messaging that you should be using repeatedly to tell your story, sell your brand, and market yourself. You need those key pieces because those are the things that make you stand out. So, when someone asks, “who are you?” or “what do you do?” you’ll know exactly what to say.
Your brand strategy is the foundation of your brand. So before you go out and start marketing or make a logo, you should have this stuff figured out because it’s literally the basis of who you are as a business.
What Is A Brand Strategist, And What Do They Do?
Here’s where it gets a little complicated because people use the term “brand strategist” to refer to three different types of specialties.
#1 A Brand Designer
who uses a strategy session in their process. What they create for you is a brand identity, including a logo, colors, graphics, etc. While they’re essential to the branding process, they’re not truly a strategist in the OG sense. This was a huge peeve of mine because brand strategy and brand design are their own separate things, but I’ve just accepted it nowadays. Design should always be strategic; that’s what design is. Just because you include a strategy session or like ask a question or have a questionnaire in your design process doesn’t make you a strategist, in my opinion. That’s just what you should’ve been doing anyway.
#2 Growth Strategist Or Brand Manager:
Like I said, brand strategy is the foundation of your brand, but many people think of it as how to get their name out there and build brand awareness; “How do I help people find my brand?”
However, building brand awareness is more on the marketing side of things (I have a video on the difference between branding and marketing because it gets really confusing). But this is someone who usually steps in once that foundation is built to help spread the word about what it is. They’re also very strategic and necessary, but they serve a different purpose than what I consider a brand strategist.
#3 A Real Brand Strategist!
Aka, the person who creates that branch strategy document. Our goal is to help you get clarity about your brand and to “position” it in a way that will be successful (check out my video on brand positioning for more on what that means).
How We Build Brand Strategies
These are the key steps we, as brand strategists, take to build out that foundational document and help position your brand.
We start by researching and taking in all of this information about your company, your customers, your competitors, etc. Essentially, we’re looking to find ALL of the information out there that’s relevant to your brand. For me, that looks like interviews, surveys, and competitive research, like analyzing your competitors’ websites, Instagrams, and marketing materials – really scouring to gather all of the background and context that I need to understand where your brand fits.
Then, we analyze that information to come up with some insights. And what that usually means is finding opportunities. We connect the dots between these pieces and say, “all right, here’s this gap in the market that I’m seeing that you could fill,” or “this is this unmet customer need that your business could actually meet.” We try to find key takeaways that are going to be really compelling and help the client, or the end brand, be successful. But those ideas are only half of the battle; they’re vital, but they’re only part of it.
Now it’s time to translate those key insights into what we call messaging. Messaging is the absolute, most perfect, particular words to explain a brand. That includes things like the tagline, like brand story – it’s taking that idea and translating it in the most simple, emotionally impactful way.
At the end of that process, you (the client) have this document that can grow with your brand. It can be the guideline you judge against for every decision you make, “Does this align with who we are? Does it align with who we want to be?” And, you can keep that in practice for years and years to come.
There are a lot of different meanings to brand strategists, and there’s a lot of overlap between them. For example, I am a true brand strategist, but I’m also a brand designer – I do both, which isn’t very common. The thing to keep in mind is that a true brand strategist’s goal is to help you get clarity on your brand and position it to be successful. So if you feel like that’s something you need, you now know that you need to look for someone who will create that “brand strategy” document for you.
If that’s what you’re going through right now, do not hesitate to hit me up! I would love to help you create that!
Until next time, stay badass!