Most high-performing businesses spare no shortage of time and effort in developing a viable business strategy, and a hard-hitting brand strategy to support it. But what about a creative strategy? Too often brands conflate brand and creative strategies, robbing their business of either destination or approach. The businesses that truly succeed are the ones that complement their brand strategy with a creative one.
Creative vs Brand Strategy: What's the Difference?
Your brand strategy is where you want your business to go. It's the overall vision you have for your company and where it stands in the market. It's the why and where. Your creative strategy is the "how" around that brand strategy. It's the story, themes, behaviors and personality that will take you there. It helps you reach your marketing goals while staying aligned with your brand, business objectives - and budget.
But you can't get away with just one or the other. Your brand needs both. Your creative strategy ensures that your brand strategy gets communicated, while your brand strategy ensures that your creative strategy is coherent and aligned with your overall goals.
Chances are that you have a brand strategy, but not a creative one. So how do you go about building the latter?
Building a Creative Strategy
A solid creative strategy gives your creative team what they need to be able to develop high-performing campaigns that will help boost your brand. It should consist of three core points: market research, strategic delivery and the look and feel of the creative itself.
In developing your marketing strategy, you'll want to ask the following questions:
- What is your overall brand strategy? What's your vision for your brand? Where do you want to take it?
- What are your objectives? What's the goal of the creative strategy overall, and of each individual campaign? Set some S.M.A.R.T. goals.
- What are you promoting? What's the focus of your strategy and the campaigns that underpin it?
- Who is your audience? Who are you trying to reach with the strategy? Where are they found, and what do they want or need?
- What channels will you use? Will you tap into print, social media, emails, search ads or all of the above?
- What deliverables are needed? What kind of marketing pieces are required, and how will they tie together?
- What's the budget? How much do you have to spend, over what period, and across what areas?
- Who's involved? Will you need a designer, copywriter or app developer to make it happen?
- What background info is needed? What will your creatives need to know to develop an effective campaign? What are your brand guidelines?
- What's going on in your industry? What are your competitors doing, and how can you stand apart?
- What are the mandatories? What should your CTA be? What contact, product or pricing info should be provided?
- How will you measure success? How do you know if your strategy has delivered?
These questions and their answers will give you what you need to develop a solid creative strategy.
Pulling it All Together
When you've answered the above, you can start pulling everything together, leveraging your market research and knowledge of your audience to develop a campaign that will further your brand objectives. Once you know what you're trying to create, you can pass along mandatories such as deliverables and budgets for your creative team to transform into eye-catching campaigns that align with your overall brand objectives. Once these have been produced, you can monitor and measure their success, using that information to both evolve your creative strategy and inform subsequent campaigns.
Need some help developing a creative strategy or creative campaign? Get in touch!