The five Ws of brand strategy

8 July 2021 4 min read
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The hardest part of creating a brand strategy is knowing where to start. There are so many related components and, even when you’re the expert on your business, it’s not always clear which part to prioritise

That’s why we have the five Ws, the bread and butter of marketing, if you will – who, what, where, when and why. Put simply, if you can’t answer one of these points, it’s probably a good idea to review your strategy. Without the five Ws, planning and organising your brand strategy will be virtually impossible.

Who should your brand seek to influence or interact with?

Much like failing to look someone in the eye during a conversation, a brand without a clear audience is going to struggle to get a message across clearly. If you don’t have a clear idea of who you’re talking to, you can be sure that people will automatically assume you’re not talking to them.

To remedy an initial lack of audience focus, creating character personas is a powerful exercise for beginning to picture who it is you’re targeting. Launching a money management app? Perhaps your audience includes Rachel, a single mother of two who needs to keep a close watch on her expenses. And maybe it includes Tom, a first year student who’s still getting to grips with budgeting. Narrowing down your audience and getting specific with your messaging is key. Don’t assume your brand has the ability to speak to a whole crowd at once because, in all honesty, no brand really does.

What products and services should your brand offer?

While Amazon and Apple are doing a fairly good job of it, most brands can’t sell everything at once. At least to begin with (don’t let us dampen your big tech ambitions), it’s a good idea to focus on a few key services or products that your brand can forge a clear identity in the marketspace with.

Take, for instance, Innocent. They began by selling just smoothies, clear and simple. Then they moved into juices – radical. And now, they’ve even entered the plant milk market (if you haven’t tried their hazelnut milk in a hot chocolate yet, you’re in for a real treat!. The key thing here is starting from one point and naturally progressing from there, in a way that still allows you to maintain a sharp focus. Amazon may be massive now, but even Jeff began just by selling books from his garage.

Where should your brand seek to interact with its target audiences?

We’ve spoken about this topic before in our #marketingmyths series, but not every channel is right for every brand. And spreading yourself too thin by trying to have a presence on every channel out there is a waste of resources. As a first step, ask yourself who exactly you’re trying to reach.

The largest age group of users on Facebook and Instagram is 25-34. While Twitter and LinkedIn’s average ages are a little older, coming in at 30-49 and 46-55 respectively. Meanwhile Snapchat (13-34), TikTok (18-24) and YouTube (15-25) reach far younger audiences. So, with this in mind, to establish your ‘where’ it’s worth returning to the character personas in your ‘who’, because that will answer exactly which platforms you need to focus on.

When should your brand seek to interact with its target audiences?

Now there are of course data-driven answers to this – Sprout Social, for instance, claims that Tuesday between 11am and 2pm is the best time to post on Instagram – and, while this is certainly useful insight to have, it’s not always as simple as this.

Over the last year, media consumption habits have transformed, people have been furloughed from work or working from home, and kids have been schooled from home too. Our usual patterns of living have been disrupted and, as a result, social media consumption patterns have been too. So our best recommendation is to practice a policy of trial and error. That’s the beauty with social – different strategies can be tested and insights are instant. Try the time windows the data points towards to begin with but, if you’re not seeing the results you’re after, tweak it until you find your business’ sweet spot. And, word of warning, never get lazy – be prepared for this sweet spot to be continually shifting.

Why is your brand needed?

Now this is the most important W, and it’s probably something you’ve asked yourself when you decided to launch / work for your brand. What can your brand offer that is meaningful? What problems are out there that need a solution?

Maintaining a clear sense of your why is like being able to read a compass and map on an expedition. Don’t be a fool who gets lost in the marketing woods. Have your why written somewhere where you’ll see it regularly. Not only is it motivating, it is the W at the front of the line guiding all the other W’s in the right direction.


So the five Ws. They’re the foundations necessary to build your brand strategy. The other stuff which comes next, after brand strategy – brand positioning – relies on having a firm set of these foundations in place. Once you’ve worked out these, your next step is finding your how – this is where you begin to build your brand upwards.

Is your business looking for some guidance with your marketing strategy? Are some of your W’s not quite as clear as you would like them to be. Our expert team of marketers are always up for a chat – get in touch to organise a free 30 minute consultation.