Building a strong brand is about having a clear understanding of what your brand stands for, and then making sure everyone else understands it too. It is as simple — and as complicated — as that.

If you’re serious about building a brand, don’t start advertising just yet. Marketing tactics are the last step. Building or reenergizing your brand starts with answering some questions about your product or business:

1.     Who are my customers?

2.     What customers do I want to have?

3.     Who are my competitors?

4.     What is my competitors’ brand position?

5.     What problem does my company solve? Does anybody care?

6.     What is my value proposition? Is it distinctive? Is it relevant to my customers?

7.     When people think about my company or product, what are the feelings and associations I want them to have? Are they unique? Can we “own” them?

8.     What are the functional benefits that we deliver to our customers?

9.     What are the emotional benefits that only we deliver to our customers?

10.   What kind of personality will my brand have?

The last two questions are critical if you really want to build a valuable brand. In his Top 10 Brand Precepts, David Aaker talks about the importance of getting beyond functional benefits. Emotional benefits are a much stronger way to differentiate your brand. How does someone feel when they buy or use your brand? Volvo, Hallmark and Crayola are all brands that evoke strong emotional associations. Brand personality can set your brand apart from the competition.

When you answer these questions, you will have the basic building blocks of your brand strategy. Although it may seem like a lot of work, the benefits of defining your brand identity will be more than worth it. Developing your brand strategy is much more than a marketing tactic. It’s a fundamental part of good business. Done right it becomes a powerful management and execution tool to help you develop stronger customer relationships, create effective, cost-efficient marketing campaigns and a more unified organization.