Building a Brand Strategy with the Brand Thinking Canvas


During my studies at FH Joanneum in the graduate program of Content Strategy, I had an opportunity to develop a brand identity for my master’s thesis project. During the literature review, I came across Anne Miltenburg’s book called Brand The Change and her concept of “Brand Thinking Canvas” which is an innovative method for building strong brand identities through strategic thinking. It has been a highly rewarding experience as it made me understand the importance of having a well-thought-out brand strategy that is tailored to meet customer needs and expectations. Through this article, I will share my insights on how I used this concept to craft the brand identity of the company I work for.

The Brand Thinking Canvas: A Comprehensive Tool

The brand thinking canvas introduces an innovative approach to developing robust and prosperous brand identities by leveraging strategic thinking. Developed by Anne Miltenburg, the concept provides a comprehensive tool to help align your brand strategy with customer needs and expectations. It consists of various components – understanding customer insights, identifying core values and purpose, defining unique value propositions, developing relevant visuals, creating meaningful stories and messages as well as monitoring performance.

Brand thinking canvas by Anne Miltenburg (source)

Setting the Foundation: Vision, Mission, and Values

Defining a clear vision, mission, and set of values is of utmost importance for any organization. These elements serve as guiding principles that shape and inform your brand strategy. A well-defined vision outlines the future you aspire to create, providing a sense of direction and purpose. A mission statement encapsulates the core purpose of your organization, explaining why you exist and the value you offer to customers. Values, on the other hand, represent the fundamental beliefs and principles that govern your business conduct and decision-making. To develop a robust vision, mission, and values, it is essential to involve key stakeholders, conduct market research, and ensure alignment with your organization’s core competencies and aspirations. Additionally, regularly revisiting and refining these elements can help ensure their relevance and effectiveness in guiding your brand strategy over time.

Differentiating Your Brand

Brand differentiation plays a crucial role in the success of a business. With numerous competitors vying for attention in the marketplace, it is essential to establish a unique position that sets your brand apart. Strategies for achieving brand differentiation include focusing on unique value propositions, emphasizing your brand’s strengths and advantages, and delivering exceptional customer experiences. By showcasing what makes your brand distinct, whether it’s through product features, customer service, or brand storytelling, you can attract and retain customers who resonate with your unique offering. Successful examples of brand differentiation can be found in various industries, such as Apple’s innovative design and user-friendly interfaces, Coca-Cola’s emotional brand storytelling, or Tesla’s cutting-edge electric vehicles. These brands have effectively carved out their niche by leveraging differentiation strategies that align with their target audience’s needs and preferences.

Crafting Your Brand’s Visual Identity

Visual identity plays a pivotal role in a comprehensive brand strategy, as it serves as the visual representation of your brand’s essence and values. A strong visual identity encompasses various elements, including your logo, color palette, typography, and design aesthetics. These components work together to create a cohesive and memorable brand presence. When developing your visual identity, it is crucial to consider factors such as your target audience, industry trends, and brand personality. Creating a distinctive and consistent visual identity helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace and facilitates instant brand recognition. To achieve this, it’s important to ensure that your visual elements align with your brand‘s overall message and evoke the desired emotions. Additionally, maintaining consistency across all touchpoints, including your website, packaging, marketing materials, and social media platforms, enhances brand recall and fosters trust with your audience.

Developing Your Brand Messaging

Clear and compelling messaging holds immense significance in establishing a strong brand identity and connecting with your target audience. Crafting messaging that resonates requires a deep understanding of your audience’s needs, desires, and pain points. By conducting market research and customer surveys, you can gain valuable insights into their preferences and motivations. This knowledge enables you to develop messaging that speaks directly to their aspirations and addresses their challenges. Effective brand messaging should be concise, authentic, and emotionally engaging. It should communicate your unique value proposition and demonstrate how your brand solves a specific problem or fulfils a particular desire.

Case Study: Successful Brand Thinking Canvas Application

Throughout the brand development process at the company I work for, I found the brand thinking canvas to be an invaluable tool. The process of utilizing it was truly fulfilling, as it allowed me to establish a clear vision of what we aimed to achieve with our brand. One of the key outcomes was the creation of a comprehensive brand book, which serves as a guideline for our brand identity. This book encompasses essential elements such as the company name, vision, mission, values, and promises. Additionally, it delves into the visual identity, outlining crucial aspects like the logo, slogan, color palette, typography, and image/video concepts. Furthermore, the brand book helped establish a solid verbal identity, encompassing core strategy statements, tone of voice guidelines, and messaging rules. Overall, the brand thinking canvas facilitated the development of a cohesive and impactful brand identity, empowering us to consistently communicate our brand message and connect with our target audience.


Putting your brand thinking canvas into action is a dynamic process that involves several key steps to effectively implement your brand strategy. The first step is to clearly define your brand’s positioning, values, and messaging. This provides a solid foundation for all your brand communications and activities. Next, you need to ensure consistent execution of your brand across various touchpoints, including your website, social media, packaging, and customer interactions. This consistency reinforces your brand identity and helps build trust and recognition among your target audience. Regular monitoring and evaluation are essential to measure the success of your brand strategy. Additionally, gathering feedback from customers and conducting market research can provide valuable insights to further refine and enhance your brand strategy. Ultimately, a well-executed brand strategy, coupled with diligent measurement and continuous improvement, allows you to build a strong and enduring brand presence that resonates with your audience and drives business success.

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