How To Become A Brand Strategist (8-Step Process)

Thinking of shaping brands with your strategic vision? Discovering how to become a brand strategist starts here. 

If you’re interested in learning how to become a brand strategist, this article has you covered. 

It’s no surprise. Everyone seems to be “Building A Brand” today, yet so few are versed in the strategic methodology that moves the needle. 

Building a brand starts with strategy, and the brand strategist is in the driver's seat. 

Everything a brand does from ads to social posts to content to videos and everything in between, needs to serve a purpose and therefore, must have a guiding compass to answer important questions. 

An effective brand strategy helps to answer these important questions and effective strategists are the experts to uncover and implement these guiding structures.

If you’re building a brand as a professional or a business leader, understanding the intricacies of brand strategy will make you an indispensable cog in the machine of your brand. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to become a brand strategist and discover some of the best strategists in the business. 

What is a Brand Strategist?

The responsibility of shaping and managing a business’s brand identity falls onto a brand strategist.

This role requires strategic thinking, creativity, and an understanding of the brand’s target audience.

The work of a brand strategist involves defining the brand’s positioning, developing its brand identity, and ensuring the brand externally aligns with business objectives.

Being a successful brand strategist transcends being just a designer. They are the chief planner of the brand’s strategic decisions, guiding the brand’s growth and perception in the market

They perform a variety of tasks, including:

Market Rsearch

Competitor Analysis

Positioning Strategy

Their output is a valuable brand strategy that shapes how the brand is perceived by customers and potential customers.

Key Functions of a Brand Strategist

The brand strategist has several key functions:

Developing a brand strategy that aligns with the business objectives

Forging a deep understanding of the brand, its target audience, and the market conditions

Working closely with the brand leadership and other team members to ensure the brand strategy effectively meets business objectives

A effective brand strategist:

Has processes to understand the market and its segments

Knows how to analyse the competitive landscape

Can find insights, gaps and opportunities

Can develop and expand opportunities into differentiation strategies

Knows how to effectively communicate the brand to the market

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The Importance of Brand Strategists in Modern Business

The role of brand strategists has surged in importance amidst today’s competitive business landscape. 

They are pivotal in achieving business objectives and maintaining a competitive advantage.

With their understanding of brand strategy, brand strategists can shape the brand’s image  in a way that resonates with the target audience and stands out in the market.

They play a crucial role in shaping the perception of the brand, both internally and externally. 

Their work involves understanding market trends, identifying opportunities for brand growth, and developing strategies to achieve business objectives.

Benefits of a Career in Brand Strategy

A career in brand strategy is laden with numerous benefits. There are significant opportunities for professional and personal growth in this field. 

As a brand strategist, you will have the opportunity to work with a variety of brands, from startups to global brands depending on your chosen path.

This diversity of experience can be highly rewarding and provide valuable insights into different industries and markets.

In addition to professional growth, a career in brand strategy also offers the chance to make a tangible impact. 

The work of a brand strategist can shape the perception and success of a brand.

This can be highly satisfying, knowing that your work directly contributes to the brand’s success and growth.

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Pros and Cons of Being a Brand Strategist

Like any career, being a brand strategist has its rewards and challenges. On the one hand, it offers the opportunity to work on diverse projects, engage with different industries, and make a tangible impact on a brand’s success.

The role demands creativity, strategic thinking, and problem-solving skills, making it an exciting and engaging career choice.

Those who can effectively establish themselves in the market as an in-house strategist a big firm, in agencies or as independent freelancers, have a unique opportunity to have a defining role in a brands success and all the fruits that come with the labour. 

Conversely, the role of a brand strategist can present demanding challenges. It requires a deep understanding of the market, the ability to analyze complex markets, and the skills to develop effective strategies. 

The role may also involve managing tight deadlines and high expectations, requiring excellent time management and stress management skills.

How to Become a Brand Strategist

Becoming a successful brand strategist requires a combination of education, practical experience, and skill development.

It involves understanding the dynamics of human psychology and behavior, developing effective communication skills, and gaining a deep understanding of marketing.

We’ll now explore the steps to becoming a triumphant brand strategist since our company started offering brand strategy services.

#1. Relevant Education

Embarking on the journey to becoming a brand strategist commences with securing a foundational education in pertinent fields like marketing, business, or design. 

While traditional educational institutions offer degrees in these fields, they may not provide a dedicated brand strategy degree due to the rapid evolution of branding over the past decades. 

It’s here that online education comes into play. 

Online courses and certifications provide a more direct route to learn about brand strategy.

They offer flexibility, allowing you to learn at your own pace and convenience. 

Moreover, they often provide up-to-date information and insights into the industry, making them a valuable addition to your learning journey.

#2. Learn Strategy Development Systems

Each successful brand strategist employs their unique methodology for developing brand strategy. This methodology is like a framework or roadmap that guides their strategic decisions. 

It involves:

Understanding the brand’s uniqueness

Analyzing the target market and it's segments

Researching competitors for gaps and opportunities

Defining a point of difference and a competitive edge

Learning or developing your strategy development system is crucial for becoming a brand strategist. This involves:

Gaining a deep understanding of brand strategy mechanics, including audience and competitor research as well as consumer behaviours.

Understanding the strategies and techniques needed to spot valuable insights and opportunities that exist in every market.

Tailoring your approach to the specific needs and preferences of the target audience and the business connecting with them.

Crafting communication frameworks through messaging and storytelling to mobilise the brand into the market.

By following these steps, you can effectively develop and implement a successful brand strategy, as brand strategy sets the foundation for your business success.

#3. Gain Practical Experience

Though education lays a solid foundation, it’s the practical experience that genuinely equips you for a brand strategy career. 

Internships and entry-level positions offer invaluable experience, helping you understand the industry better and apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve acquired. Pro-bono or discounted projects, can get your foot in the door with smaller businesses, allowing you to grow your portfolio, experience and social proof of your capabilities.

Whether it’s through creating mock scenarios or working on real projects, gaining practical experience is crucial. It’s also important to be an observant learner, critically analyzing ads and documenting standout elements. 

Building a personal brand on social media platforms can also help showcase your skills and build a professional network.

#4. Develop Your Communication Skills

For any brand strategist, excellent communication skills are essential. It involves clear and transparent dialogue with clients and team members, regular updates on projects, and early discussions about potential issues. 

This not only helps in setting realistic timelines but also ensures that everyone is informed and aligned.

Developing your communication skills also involves learning to provide and seek clear feedback at key stages of a project. This ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals at the appropriate pace.

Remember, a strategist must communicate internally to the brand's leadership, and externally, to the brand's target market.

#5. Strengthen Marketing Skills

Beyond strategic thinking and communication, potent marketing skills are also a must for a brand strategist. This includes:

Understanding of analytics

Competence across digital and traditional channels

Knowledge of funnels and advertising

General understanding of broader marketing

These skills will enable you to:

Understand the market and consumer behavior

Develop effective marketing strategies

Measure the effectiveness of your strategies

Understand the competitive landscape

Identify opportunities for brand growth

#6. Understand The Synamic Of Human Psychology & Behaviour

Grasping human psychology and behavior constitutes a major aspect of brand strategy. 

It involves understanding how people perceive brands, make purchasing decisions, and interact with brands.

Having a deep understanding of human psychology can help you create brand strategies that resonate with your target audience.

It can help you understand what motivates your audience, what their needs and preferences are, and how to communicate effectively with them.

#7. Leadership and Team Collaboration

Executing brand strategy is a collaborative effort, necessitating effective leadership and team cooperation. As a brand strategist, you will often work with a team of professionals, including designers, copywriters, and marketers.

Leadership skills are crucial in executing successful brand strategies.

They involve setting a clear vision, fostering a culture of collaboration and accountability, and ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goals.

#8. Certification and Continued Education

Procuring certification programs and advanced degrees can significantly accelerate your brand strategy career. They offer a deep dive into the field, helping you gain advanced knowledge and skills. 

Continued education is also crucial in this rapidly evolving field.

It helps you stay updated with the latest trends and developments in the industry. Online platforms like Coursera offer courses on brand identity and strategy, which provide valuable insights and a certification that can be added to your professional profile.

Gain Experience And Execute Brand Strategy Work

Acquiring experience and implementing brand strategy work form an integral part of your journey to becoming a brand strategist.

It involves working on real projects, implementing the strategies you’ve learned, and learning from the outcomes.

Whether it’s through internships, entry-level positions, or working on your projects, gaining practical experience is crucial. 

It allows you to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve gained, learn from your mistakes, and hone your skills.

TIP:
If you lack experience, then gaining it should be your focus. Put yourself out there, be resilient and don't let anything stand in your way from getting the experience you need.

Learn the processes and systems to bring value to the table, then offer those services pro-bono or heavily discounted to get the experience you need.

Top Examples of Successful Brand Strategists

Though many top strategist avoid the limelight, there is much we can learn from those who are willing to share their expertise and experience through books, articles or podcasts.

Brian Collins

Brian Collins

Brian Collins stands out for his innovative approach to brand identity and design. 

As the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of COLLINS, his work has redefined branding for companies, making them stand out in their respective industries.

Jez Frampton

Jez Frampton, as the former Global CEO of Interbrand, has been instrumental in driving growth and innovation through strategic insights. 

His leadership at Interbrand, a leading brand consultancy, has helped numerous companies achieve a competitive edge in the global market.

Jez Frampton

Marty Neumeier

Marty Neumeier

Marty Neumeier is another influential figure in the brand strategy world. 

His books on branding, including “The Brand Gap” and “ZAG,” are considered essential reading for anyone in the field. 

His methods have shaped the way brands think about innovation and differentiation.

Karen Kang

Karen Kang, the CEO and founder of BrandingPays LLC, has made her mark by developing the BrandingPays methodology. 

In which it has a unique approach to personal and corporate branding that has been adopted by numerous Fortune 500 companies and MBA programs.

Karen Kang

Marty Neumeier

David Aaker

Lastly, David Aaker, often referred to as the “Father of Modern Branding,” has contributed significantly to our understanding of brand equity and brand positioning. 

His books and articles provide a foundational framework for building and managing strong brands.

The exemplary figures mentioned above have made indelible marks on the field of brand strategy. Their contributions have shaped industry standards and offer a wealth of insights for aspiring brand strategists to follow.

Conclusion

The journey to becoming a brand strategist is a fusion of education, practical experience, and skill cultivation. 

It’s a career that offers the chance to make a tangible impact on a brand’s success, making it an exciting and rewarding choice.

With strategic thinking, effective communication, and a deep understanding of human psychology, you can shape and manage successful brands, meet business objectives, and become an indispensable asset in the business world.

Frequently Asked Questions

What degree do you need to be a brand strategist?

You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in business, journalism, marketing, or a related field to pursue a career as a brand strategist. Some companies may prefer candidates with a master’s in business administration.

How long does it take to become a brand strategist?

It typically takes 3-5 years of experience in marketing to become a brand strategist, but the rewarding and challenging nature of the career makes it worth the investment of time.

What exactly does a brand strategist do?

A brand strategist is responsible for developing a strong brand positioning, strengthening brand awareness, implementing a consistent brand voice and messaging across all channels, conducting extensive market research, and formulating different strategies to maintain and enhance a company’s image. This role involves working with market research, positioning recommendations for products or services in different markets, and developing marketing plans through trend analysis of current consumer needs.

How do I become a freelance brand strategist?

To become a freelance brand strategist, you should consider earning a bachelor’s degree, gaining industry experience, developing your writing and computer skills, learning digital marketing, and pursuing a certification as a brand strategist. This will help you build a strong foundation and expertise in the field.

What is a brand strategist?

A brand strategist is a professional who shapes and manages a business’s brand identity by defining brand positioning and developing brand identity to align with business objectives.



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