The words ‘brand strategy’ get thrown around a lot, but what do they actually mean? What is a brand strategist, and what do they actually do?
Well, as a brand strategist myself, let’s get into it. I spend each and every day creating legacy brands for my clients that are backed by strategy and actually work for them. I don’t just create a logo, I create a brand that has an impact and creates the foundations for scale and momentum for growth.
So, if you are still thinking to yourself, “What is a brand strategist?…do I need one?” let’s take a look at what a brand strategist does and the difference between a brand design and a brand design backed by strategy.
What is a Brand Strategist?
To answer this question, we first need to talk about what a brand strategy is. A brand strategy is a thoughtful and purposeful guide for your brand that lays out how your brand should be represented to the world and more importantly the position your brand can take in the market.
Now, when you initially think of a brand, you probably just think about a logo or colors, but brands go much deeper than that (in fact those visual elements are only brand assets). A brand includes everything people see, hear, and experience with your business. A brand lives in the minds of your audience. It is their perception of your company. And you have the power to shape that perception.
So, yes, your logos and colors are part of your brand, but in order to speak to your people you’ve got to have some strategy so you know how to do this effectively. A few of the ways you can do this is by defining your ideal client avatar, your messaging, your mission, your goals, and so much more. A brand strategist is someone who steps back and takes a look at your business as a whole and helps curate a strategic experience for potential clients that is not only going to give you a solid visual presence but also drive in more ideal clients and leads to your business because all of the visuals and messaging are informed by your strategy.
While every brand strategist is going to offer a different approach, here are a few of the aspects of a brand that can be fleshed out by a brand strategist:
- Your ideal client/customer: You probably have a general idea of the people that you want to work with, but you may not have gone that in-depth about who they actually are. A brand strategist can work with you and help guide you through questions to learn more about who your ideal client is, what they would want to see, where they shop, how old they are, and many other factors that can affect how they interact and perceive your brand. It’s important this covers both demographics and psychographics- most stop at demographics, but that is surface level and won’t help with the selling factor.
- Your brand’s mission: A brand strategist can also help you work out your brand’s mission. Now, this isn’t to say that they will tell you what your goals as a business should be. Instead, they will listen to what you say about your business and help create a concise way to express why you do what you do to your audience.
- Your brand’s messaging: I want to start off by saying that when I say your brand’s messaging, I do not mean your copy. Brand designers and brand strategists are not copywriters, and you should not expect them to write all of your copy for you. However, they can help you come up with the general messaging for your brand. This includes things like a library of words or phrases that you can use throughout your branding (a lexicon), as well as language that you should avoid that may deter your dream clients. They will also write our signature phrasing including taglines, slogans, headers and other messaging to articulate your brand story.
- Fonts, colors, moodboard and logos: These are the more obvious assets that you would expect to get from a brand designer or a brand strategist, but they are still just as important. These are how your brand is going to be visually represented to the world. However, you want to make sure that what you get is a brand that actually works in your favor, not one that just looks nice.
Why You Should Hire a Brand Strategist Over Just a Brand Designer
Now that you know what a brand strategist is, let’s talk a little more about why you should hire a brand strategist over a brand designer. First of all, the overall brand that you receive from a brand strategist is going to be more thorough and intentional.
Each individual piece of your brand will be researched, and everything that is put into it will be added for a specific purpose. This is really when the benefit of hiring a brand strategist comes into play.
A brand without strategy is not an intentional brand back for growth. Any designer can create a logo or put together a color palette, but a strategic brand goes much deeper than that. For example, we can break down a few different aspects of the visual brand.
Take the logo, for example. It is not just about writing your name out. Is there any symbol that represents your brand? Is your brand very rigid and strict, or is it more loose and flowy? If your brand creates a sense of openness and flexibility, you don’t want your logo to feel hard or fixed.
When it comes to your colors, you don’t want to just pick colors that you like. Just because you like a color doesn’t mean it is the best color for your brand or works to elevate it.
For example, you may be someone who loves bright and vibrant colors, however, your brand may be based on nature. If you were to just give a brand designer a color palette of bright colors because you like them, you might end up with a brand that doesn’t connect well with your business.
Instead, a brand strategist can take that information and curate a color palette that is rooted in more neutral colors that you could find in nature. In return, your colors will attract and draw in clients that match the vibe of your brand and will be a more aligned lead.
Finally, we can look at fonts. There are a million different options out there, but the right font can make all the difference. A brand strategist can work with you to determine what aesthetic is going to work best for your business while also picking fonts that are easily legible.
For example, you can have two photographers that serve the same area but have very different editing styles. One may have a light and airy vibe to their photos, which may work better with a thinner serif font, while the other may have a darker, edgy, and moody vibe that works best with a chunkier sans serif font.
Although they are both photographers, it’s the deeper strategy behind their business that is going to dictate what design choices will create not only the most visually appealing brand but also the brand that will draw in the more aligned leads.
Another benefit to hiring a brand strategist over just a brand designer is that a brand strategist will most likely do more in-depth market research to understand the needs of your specific market and what others are already doing.
Working with a brand strategist also goes further than just your logo, fonts, and colors. Brand strategists can also help provide guidelines and direction for brand photos, take your brand visuals and turn them into graphics for you to use, create packaging for your products and more.
The last thing that you want to do is invest in a full brand only to end up with something that looks and feels very similar to another competing business. This is especially true in the online space today-brands that blend don’t work.
A brand strategist can work with you to figure out what makes you different and highlight that throughout your brand to create a lasting impression on potential clients. One that can grow with you.
At the core of everything, your brand should be working for you. It should attract your dream clients through its language and visual assets and create a sense of understanding of who you are and what you stand for from the first visit.
Final Thoughts on What a Brand Strategist Does
When it comes to the question “What is a brand strategist?”: A brand strategist is a designer who curates each and every aspect of your brand based on an individual strategy specific to your business and your industry.
At the end of the day, a brand that is not backed by strategy is not one that is going to work for you long-term.
Instead of feeling like you have to rebrand every few years because your brand feels disconnected from your business, start off on the right foot and get a brand that is backed by strategy.
If you are ready to make that investment and create a brand that is aligned, click here to learn more about my brand design packages backed by strategy, or click here to get in touch!