Ideas + Insights

What’s the difference between a brand strategy and a business plan?

Tess Robinson

A business without a plan is like a ship without a captain, and a brand without a strategy is like a story without characters. Both are unequivocally essential to running a successful business. 

But how do they differ?

Your brand strategy and your business plan are two distinct yet interconnected elements of your company’s overall strategy. While they have different focuses and purposes, they complement each other in driving the success of a business

If you’re a 90s kid, like me, you’ll appreciate that I like to think of them as Pinky and the Brain: 

Brain embodies the business plan, he’s the genius seeking to conquer the world through well-thought-out and structured approaches.

And then you’ve got Pinky – the zany and unpredictable weirdo who has the ability to capture the audience’s attention with his humorous escapades, embodying the essence of a brand strategy, which is all about engaging and entertaining the target audience through creative storytelling. 

The business plan is the meticulous architect, the blueprints, and the grand vision of your empire, while the strategy is the charismatic storyteller, the essence, and the unforgettable face of your brand.

It’s a bit like explaining the difference between plotting a treasure map and embarking on a thrilling pirate adventure—both essential, yet delightfully distinct. 

Brand Strategy vs Business Plan: The Breakdown

Purpose and Focus:


The Purpose of Brand Strategy

A brand strategy is centred around building a strong and distinctive brand experience and identity – it defines the very essence that makes your business stand out in a sea of competitors.

A brand strategy articulates the brand’s DNA including such things as values, positioning, target audience, messaging, and visual identity.

The primary goal of a brand strategy is to create a unique and memorable brand that resonates with customers and sets the business apart from competitors.

The grand mission of a brand strategy is simple yet profound: to conjure a brand so uniquely memorable that it leaves an indelible mark on your audience.

The Purpose of A Business Plan

A business plan outlines the overall objectives, strategies, and operational details of a company.

It includes components such as market analysis, financial projections, organisational structure, product/service offerings, target market, and marketing strategies.

Its primary goal is to provide you with a roadmap for achieving business goals, securing funding, and ensuring the company remains solvent.


Brand Strategy Timeframes


A brand strategy is your long-haul lover with typically a longer-term perspective, focussing on the long-lasting elements of the brand experience.

It sets the foundation for consistent brand building and can remain relatively stable over time, although it may evolve and adapt to market changes.

Business Plan Timeframes

A business plan, on the other hand, is a short to medium-term fling, providing a detailed action plan for a specific period, often ranging from one to five years.

A business plan’s primary job is to outline the steps and milestones necessary to achieve the company’s objectives within that time frame.


The Audience of A Brand Strategy


A brand strategy is very concerned with keeping up appearances.

It primarily targets external audiences, including customers, potential customers, and stakeholders, aiming to create a positive perception of the brand, build trust, and establish emotional connections with the target audience.

The Audience of A Business Plan


A business plan has a broader audience, including internal stakeholders, such as company founders, management, employees, and potential investors or lenders.

Business plans provide a comprehensive overview of the business’s operations, financials, and growth strategies to communicate the viability and potential of the business to key stakeholders.

Interconnection: How Brand Strategy and Business Plans Work Together


While brand strategy and business plan have different focuses, they are very much interconnected.

A well-defined brand strategy informs and guides the marketing and communication strategies outlined in the business plan.

The business plan, on the other hand, provides the context and framework for implementing the brand strategy by aligning it with the company’s overall goals, target market, and financial objectives.

In short, a brand strategy is a comprehensive plan that outlines how a company aims to establish, position, differentiate, and manage its brand in order to connect with its audience, while a business plan outlines the overall business objectives, strategies, and operational details.

If your business plan is your instruction manual, then your brand strategy is your guiding North Star; like Pinky and the Brain navigating the path to success.

And just like Pinky and the Brain, a brand strategy and a business plan might serve different purposes within a company’s strategy, but work together to ensure world domination.

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