Does your business and brand strategy see eye-to-eye?


Alex Franco

9 min read

Today we're dropping some BS bombs (...gotcha, no swearing in this article). We're talking brand strategy and business strategy. They feed into each other but are not one and the same. So we've taken the time to break down the basics on what they are; how the two work together and what thinking is involved to get them sorted. Your biz & brand strategy is your core; the anchor of everything you do in an organisation. So we tie things off with a few takeaways on how you should be using your new found strategy. 

Biz versus Brand 

Okay first let's take a step back and consider 'strategy' in general. Strap in, we're going to get nerdy with a few old school definitions. 

Brand strategy is identifying what you want consumers to think and feel about you, how you create that experience and evoke those emotions in the consumer's mind. Business strategy is your organisational goals, mission and values, and (to be frank) how you actually make $$$. 

So which comes first? The chicken or the egg; brand or business. The business strategy starts the conversation around the brand. You should have your core purpose mapped out before taking a further step into how that is reflected in your visual identity and messaging. It's much harder to reverse brief in a biz strategy to an existing brand and creates some wonky outcomes.

Achieving this balanced strategy

Okay so how do you define this strategy?

It starts with why

Have you heard of the golden circle? It was raised during a renown TEDTalk on how great leaders inspire action. 

Why are you in business, why do you get out of bed every day? What is the driving force behind it all? From here you work your way out to how you do it and what it is.


Traditionally most businesses will market the what - the product or service - and they explain how it works through features or process. But it's the why that consumers care about and resonate with. At the end of the day, they'll buy from you if they have the same underlying problem, recognise your solution and feel an emotional pull towards what you do.

When distilled down, we humans act on emotional drive by instinct.

Your why statement can also be seen as your core company values and mission statement. It's the stuff that really matter to you; the decision making principles that will shape your business throughout it's life. 

We always try to cull this down to 3 x core value words or short phrases. More than this feels over-bearing. Then anything you do can be considered 'on brand' and that defeats the purpose of unique positioning.

Knowing your most important values makes decisions easier, clarifies your message and sets you apart from the competition. It's hard work, but worth it. 

The long term plan

It's a no brainer that you've got to map out your 1, 3 or 5 year plan. It's natural for successful teams to plan the now. However if all goes well, then your company and brand will last a much longer time. 

It's important to look into the future on what you may be doing 10 years from now. Whilst it can seem far fetched or vague, it has a tangible impact on your brand outcomes that are decided now. 

Take Patagonia for example. Their mission is to produce high quality products that caused no harm and take on environmental activism. That's still true today after almost 50 years. So their branding assets (website, marketing, parnterships, customers) all reflect those core values. Sure they've grown and changed over time to reflect landscape, but the essence never changed.


Who else plays in your space?

Can't be a biz strategy without a good old competitor analysis. What market does your brand operate in and (more importantly) how do people evaluate you against your competitors?

Don't fall into the trap of thinking product features are your key differentiator. It's the overall solutions or benefits you offer customers that differs from your competitors. Remember it's all about the why, not the how or what.

You've also gotta think about who your competing for. Do you strive for the same audience, or is there a slight pivot or niche to be pulled out of the mix? This mix of customers isn't just the end user or buyer - that's too narrow minded. Broaden this a little and you'll realise that your team, potential hires, media and industry professionals all play a role in your audience.

Feeling lazy? Put your feet up and have a listen to more on this topic via our podcast Layers. 

Available on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify & Soundcloud.

Tying in the brand playbook

Let's take the business strategy you've just worked hard on defining and get into the fun part. Your visual identity. Everything you've just mapped out will tie into your broader brand image.

This strategy is your anchor. Everything related to brand should come back to this initial set of strategic definitions.

This means you'll need to set aside your personal preferences. Sure, you hate the colour orange for a brand. But does the colour orange relate back to your business strategy? It evokes feelings of warmth, enthusiasm, excitement or attention. If these align with your core values, then hey presto - orange may well be the colour for you.

If your business excels in providing simple solutions or a clean UI as part of your 'how' statement, then perhaps a dense, content-heavy website isn't the right way to reflect your brand. 

Each decision you make surrounding your visual identity can be tied back to your initial business plan. It creates layers to be added to your brand bucket that collectively contribute to your broader plan. 


#1 Put pen to paper

It's common to carry strategy in your head and execute a project or task on the fly with that underlying strategy bubbling below the surface. Sure, going off jut instinct works - but you'll reap some sweet benefits if you pull out your strategic goals first and map them out in writing. 

Years of experience in the strategy game has taught us, that thinking about strategy and clearly communicating strategy lead to very different outcomes. 

Plenty of business owners and employees may think about their company's core values and purpose. But it's only when they have a conversation or write it down that different perspectives come to light. Business owners may find their team don't actually share the same perspectives and a broader realignment of your brand is needed (or perhaps some staff education). If your internal team don't know, how the hell will your customers? Talking and writing down your strategy forces conversations that break decision deadlocks and brings forth the right answers. So get those ideas out of your head and talk with your team!   

#2 Change the conversation

It makes it pretty hard to misunderstand a business and brand strategy once it's discussed and written down. This completely changes the conversation when it comes to your work and outcomes. You have a central source of truth to refer back to when making and justifying your decisions within the business. 

For us as a B2B service based agency, we noticed that projects ran smoother and clients were happier when we treated business strategy as a separate conversation before exploring the brand. This step of getting everyone on the same page and signing off on that strategy is so valuable (understatement of the year). It helped clients understand and rally around what we produced for the brand, and allowed us to back our decisions.  

#3 Start living it.  

Final learning from us. Don't put your strategy away in a draw to gather dust. Keep it fresh and consistency refer back to it for all of your branding (and general business) decisions. It makes it hard for your colleagues to argue with brand or marketing choices when they're all tied back to that strategy anchor. 

The true value of strategy is using it as a reference tool to make other decisions. 

It keeps your goals geared towards the right plan for your business and ensures you stay on track (despite hating the colour orange).