The Strategic Context For Brand Transformation

The Context for Brand Transformation

A strategic context for brand transformation is more necessary than ever as professional services companies like law, accounting and architecture firms begin to realise the importance of building a brand. The realisation that building a brand goes way beyond designing a nice logo is important for businesses who may still not think it is possible to differentiate in their sector.

When it comes to the unfavourable impacts that the pandemic may have had on your operating model and the challenges thrown up, you may be starting to recognise that a transformation is needed, From mindset to branding and digital transformation to delivery model, and due to the range of areas impacted, you may realise that an integrated strategy is required.

 

Rebranding Strategy – a Great Beginning but Not the Whole Story

Rebrands are the latest panacea being offered by marketers to leaders for wide-ranging growth, technology and internal capacity issues they face. However, a focus seemingly only on marketing drivers may not provide the comfort that leaders need, as it’s difficult to make the leap from a marketing-driven initiative to functional and operational constraints that affect your business’s competitive position.

Consultants offering productivity tools or technology firms offering software solving current problems but with no reference to brand ideals and ambitions (every bit as important to sustainability and longevity), would likewise fail to provide the strategic lens required to solve problems in a holistic manner. This is what makes a strategic context for brand transformation so critical.

Having clear objectives regarding building a brand in order to become and stay differentiated, is a consideration that spans your business, end to end. Therefore, there is a need for an integrated brand strategy and transformation. There is an unmet need for independent assurance of the brand marketing work to ensure it incorporates the business’ objectives and considers the business’s capability to live up to the brand ideals defined. Conversely, there is also a need for independent assurance of change management activities to ensure they are aligned to brand imperatives, like purpose, positioning and fundamentally the brand promise.

Ideally, there is a strategy to the delivery process of brand transformation that can be designed and implemented through an integrated brand strategy. At Iconify, we recognise that this is what businesses are really crying out for at this time – a holistic process for addressing the range of challenges coming at leaders fast, and uniquely we have the expertise and capability to offer the underlying work or the assurance capability. This means that even if you already have (internal or external) marketing or strategy teams working, it makes sense to consider a different approach that ensures all brand marketing is also aligned to business objectives, and change works are aligned to brand imperatives because this significantly reduces the risks of working in silos, conflicting requirements and degraded customer experiences.

The Branding Imperatives to Business Objectives Alignment Gap

At Iconify, we have recognised this significant strategy synergy gap, namely that because the links just aren’t made in the minds of leaders between a rebrand and the integrated strategy that a business needs to solve the challenges they are currently facing and anticipating, these disconnects looms large in the absence of an integrated strategy. That’s why we propose a strategic context for brand transformation that considers the business as a whole end-to-end and touches on the main considerations that would make the largest and most immediate advances for creating a brand with longevity in its DNA.

If

  • you need a strategy for bringing business revenues and other KPIs up a couple of notches
  • you face staff and customers loss, are getting fewer leads or are billing at lower rates
  • revenues are stalled and you are looking for new avenues of growth, and want to add new services
  • you have yet to start your digital transformation process
  • your website is not yet a digital asset that helps generate leads, improve reputation/social proof
  • your digital presence is lacklustre
  • You want to fall in love with your business again, and everyone along with you,

you need a rebranding strategy that goes beyond brand design and focuses on brand-aligned business strategy.

Steps to Brand Supremacy

Step 1) Brand Strategy

How can your business win? Brands that win are outcome-focused, not service focused. They know it’s about the experience, the confidence engendered and the hassle avoided. Coke understands that nobody ever wanted a cola. They wanted an exciting cold drink that made them feel like a part of a worldwide tribe of people just like them.

Without Coca-Cola’s ad budget, how do you establish your credentials and influence your target audience? That’s the role of brand strategy; through this process, clarity on purpose, positioning, proposition and your brand promise are realised and integrated into your operations, people and communications. A rebranding strategy that does not take account of the strategic context for brand transformation for your business, will not deliver the full benefits your business deserves.

 

Step 2) Brand Identity

Brand identity is all the visual, verbal design and cues of your brand and should match your overall brand personality. Many rebranding strategies stop at this level but we aim to go beyond the visual and match these cues not just to the brand personality but also to your brand imperatives; things like purpose, positioning, position and promise), and be designed to make the right impact. This is how you build out a rebranding strategy with stamina.

 

Step 3) Capability and CX (Customer Experience) Alignment

Holistic integration of brand strategy into your operations and processes can create a customer experience that customers appreciate and don’t want to be without. That comes from building the capability to match your brand’s promise.

It’s important to grasp that your customer’s experience is a rolling river, from when they become aware of you, to when you have fulfilled an order to when they recommend you or find out you have other services they need because you anticipated their needs to when you ask for reviews they are happy to give or respond to a query or complaint they wish they didn’t need to when they read news of what you or your employees are up to, doing things that interest or matter to them. It matters.

 

Step 4) Change

Understanding what needs to change to plug the gaps between your vision and your as-is business model with its attendant challenges and constraints, is a key part of building a brand or rebranding. Change is central to successful and sustainable rebranding and managing this process and your organisation’s readiness for it is vital.

 

Step 5) Communications

Once your brand personality is clear, your voice and language can be evolved to meet prospective client expectations and appeal to their emotions, and this comes from messaging that is concerted and consistent across all channels for employees, partners, and clients alike.

 

Step 6) People and Culture

As first-line advocates of your business, and defenders of the faith of your business, your employees are so precious. It’s critical that they buy into the principles of the business and that they are empowered to embody your brand ideas and ways of working in their conduct and performance. The culture of your business must enable the attitudinal positions your business expects to see through your employees. Building and executing a rebranding strategy in the context of brand transformation is a perfect opportunity to review how well your processes facilitate innovation and adoption of change as some profound changes to underlying processes and systems may be required.

 

Step 7) Digital Transformation, Marketing, Presence and Web

Digital – the word on everyone’s lips with a plethora of applications, fields and opportunities.

Rebranding your business strategically, not just visually, is the perfect time to start to understand your customers, their needs and habits as well as the outstanding gaps in your business’s capability. Being the aspirational brand your business aims to be will fall short without significant and extensive digital capabilities and a presence that is built and bolstered through them, for example, engagement and the ability for your clients to access some of your services through your digital infrastructure.

 

Step 8) Constantly and iteratively align brand imperatives to business objectives

Once deficits are identified, it is important that all changes undertaken are done with a view to mapping strategic objectives, delivery methods and the brand’s aspirations and objectives.

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Brand Strategy as a Superpower for Brand Building

Brand Strategy as a Superpower

When it comes to brand building, integrated brand strategy is a superpower that helps your business achieve its goals and address many of the most pressing concerns you might be facing.

Business concerns we hear about the most centre around similar themes:

“We’re a little lost on digital”, “we need better branding”, “how can we achieve greater growth”, “how do we get fit for purpose software for our business”, “we need a culture change”, “we need to manage change”.

The way that businesses with durability and stamina deal with solving these questions are what makes them sustainable brands. Understanding this literally separates those who play for short term impact and those who play for keeps because strategy is their superpower.

Why?

Because they recognise that all efforts in these respects touch on brand building. If your efforts in your business and the way benefits are being delivered are not playing a part in building your brand, shaping your perception and serving and engaging your customers better, you need to re-evaluate them.

Brand building is the process of developing and shaping your business’s brand through the discovery of what your purpose, positioning and principles are with the aim of positioning your business in the market and in the perception of your customer and building awareness on that basis.

Differentiation is critical to that process but digital marketing – SEO, SMM, Email Marketing and PPC have changed the game. As useful as these advances are, without the relevant brand discovery, development and strategy process, these processes will not deliver the desired outcomes.

What is a Brand?

Your brand is the sum total of everything your business stands for, does or doesn’t do and the position you occupy in the minds of people who know of you. It is the perception people have of you and the attributes, they ascribe to your product or service, the ways you deliver them, your culture and ways of working or all of the above. All of these considerations go into brand building and make it demonstrate the necessity for an integrated brand strategy as a superpower in meeting business goals.

Very often, however, how people feel about your brand has nothing at all to do with the features of your product or service but primarily with how your product/service makes them feel. The power lies in the fact that it can command a premium for your product or service. The sum total of your brand contributes to your brand reputation, your brand equity and the power of your brand.

Consistency of communications, customer experience and service are critical to customer perception. It takes time and strategy to build a brand and that’s why long-range vision is so important. With the right planning and preparation, customer engagement can be increased and enhanced to improve advocacy and sales.

What is brand building?

From a brand assets perspective, a recognisable, well regarded and even loved brand is the diamond standard and is irreplaceable as a guarantee of the brand promise, quality and calibrated expectations. Small to mid-size businesses are frequently competing with bigger brands who have bigger budgets to spend on advertising to entrench their position and supremacy.  This means that smaller rivals must build up a strong brand personality and awareness in order to compete smartly.

 

Brand differentiation is critical to and drives brand awareness, which is the first stage of building brand power. At the heart of brand building is the requirement to integrate and synthesise brand strategy  – positioning, purpose, principles to create an authentic and resonant entity. Getting this right is the blueprint for building brand power.

A brand built with a holistic and strategic strategy can capture brand love and loyalty and shore up brand equity, so a brand building process is going to be one of the most important things that a company can undertake in the competitive stakes, and will be increasingly important in the coming years. Therefore, so any effective brand building process will need to incorporate shrewd brand visibility strategies.

The Strategy to Resonance Equation

Knowing what you want to achieve and all the factors needed to align across all parts of your business is how strategy can function as a superpower.

The idea of resonant brands derives from Keller’s brand resonance building block that suggests that resonance is the strength of a customer’s psychological engagement with the brand and the steps to how this is formed. Performing these steps lead to differentiating, brand resonance and gaining brand power. Answering the strategic questions thrown up in developing an integrated brand strategy across all of your business facets and functions is key to attaining resonance.

 

In the final analysis, your brand represents a promise and how well you keep your brand promise determines whether yours is a resonant brand.  Resonant brands will grow to eclipse their rivals. Your brand promise is a position in the marketplace, much like a territory. What you represent in the market to people that you want to influence and move, is attributable to how accurately, acutely and completely you can appeal to that target market. What brand visibility strategies should be employed? How compelling can you make your message? How well can you enable customers to believe you can give them what they want and how well will you deliver on that?

 

These are the questions that brand strategy seeks to answer in order to effectively promote what your business stands for and enhance your place in the market to make your brand resonant because iconic brands are resonant brands, who rule their territory, and garner brand love and loyalty.

Why Brand Positioning Strategy?

Brand Positioning Strategy and ‘The Battle for Their Minds’

Brand strategy and positioning recognise that as a business, as an aspirational brand, your business is in a battle for the consumers’ minds.

Simply put, a brand positioning strategy is necessary because people start businesses every day. They literally start-up by the hundreds and vast numbers of new businesses are in the same, similar or comparable markets which means they are often not just competing directly but also indirectly. It’s never been more important to be seen and heard because with shorter attention spans and so much more competition for it, ‘popping up’ is not enough. Grabbing  attention alone will not cut it. You need to keep it.

A brand positioning strategy is how you do that. Even when there is a sufficient ad budget (and there often is not enough) in a business, people actively avoid ads, so other avenues for building awareness and recognition are necessary. Goals for your business should include building a really strong brand that can increase your market share but strength comes from resonance and resonance is dependent on a brand positioning strategy.

Positioning, as part of an overarching marketing strategy, helps to create resonance because it ensures relevancy and clarity. It can help you think about your brand is perceived. To create a strong brand, your brand needs to occupy a distinct position in the consumer’s consciousness. You may need to build it or you can create it by changing how they think about your competitors.

At the Core of Positioning

Who are your tribe, what do they love and why should they love you?

If you can answer this, you can explain why they should listen to you. If you know that, you can craft a message that helps you realise your goals with regards to your target segments. Therefore, an initial understanding of who your target segments are. What are their differences and similarities and their underlying loves, fears or unmet needs?

In short, you’ve got to KYC – know your customer, through research, conversation and study. It’s the only way to get through to them to where you can make a lasting impression. It’s the equivalent of making a shocking ad about something customers care about – themselves.

 

Winning prospective customers needs to be addressed at both ‘fit and hit’ levels – fit needs, wants and anticipate requirements and hit emotions through meeting unmet needs, satisfying unexplored desires and gratifying unrealised angles for delivering delight, beyond all expectations. This may entail an extension to your offering that adds on a tiny margin of cost but is something your customer is willing to pay a higher additional premium.

This is being seen and heard on every level. You go beyond meeting an unmet need in the market to meeting unmet needs in your customer’s psyche and lifestyle. These are important considerations because depending on the barriers to entry, meeting the gap in the market your business does could be replicated. An additional dimension is essential and is where brand positioning strategy comes in.

The success of this process would mean that your brand evokes meanings and feelings about gains and benefits rather than features.

 

Positioning at its best is not features led, it’s feelings led. The goal is brand supremacy in that position not product superiority in the category. This is an important distinction. You are going for brand love in order to compete and will need to project a distinct and unique brand consistently in order to get the message across.

Successful Brand Positioning Strategy Drives Perception as well as Performance

This is why it’s pivotal to brand strategy, especially one that is integrated because your business is always considering this customer and their needs through both how you interact and engage as well as how you operate, deliver and serve.

A positioning statement is a huge step to defining the dimensions of positioning once the relevant research has been done and insights are gleaned because a very clear view of your target market is fundamental.

Data your organisation already holds is a very useful place to start as is research, especially if your product or service offering or business is new. Positioning is equally important when there is an existing stable of brands and the positioning of a new product will then need to be in light of building a powerful brand architecture that minimises the opportunities for cannibalization.

 

Brand position and strategy is an approach that creates the best opportunities for your brand to thrive. You’ve got a great offering, one that you believe in but it’s important that this is anchored to the audience who will best appreciate your product, the right message to reach them and the right voice to carry the message.

Why Brand Positioning is Key to Successful Brand Strategy

The Positional Elements of Brand Strategy Part 1

The Key to Successful Brand Positioning and Why you Need It

Brand positioning is key to successful brand strategy because it drives everything from brand design to the business choices we make around, for example, capability, tools, communication and HR.

The holy grail, whatever your business is to move away from factors that commoditise your business and trap you in a race to the bottom on price. Conversely, differentiation allows you to levy a premium for your offering, whether you sell products, services or a mix of both. This all depends on differentiation and should particularly be focused on businesses operating in a very competitive business terrain, which let’s face it, is a high percentage of many companies. Certainly, in the professional services and home and lifestyle sectors, this is very true.

 

Why the positional elements of brand strategy are key to successful brand positioning

But what are the things that allow your business and offering to be differentiated? Let’s take a quick step back and consider some core ideas around what constitutes a successful brand strategy and some foundational brand positioning truths.

1) Understanding Brand Imperatives 2) Differentiators may be found outside the offering 3) what brand positioning is 4) why it’s integral to brand strategy, and 5) why your business needs it

 

1) Brand Imperatives

Brand strategy is based on what we define at Iconify as Brand Imperatives, foundational elements of building a sustainable brand – Purpose, Principles, Perception, Personality, Position, Proposition, Promotion, Promise. These are defined with the purpose of carrying them into the operational, functional and delivery realms of business in an integrated way, to ensure consistency between what your brand stands for and how it operates, so that expectations set by your messaging and promotion can be met through the capability built within your business to do so.

 

2) Differentiators may be found outside the core offering

What sets you apart does not have to be intrinsically in the offering but may in fact be in methods, delivery or even based on relationship.

Positioning is an imperative of the brand that defines the space within which you believe the sum total of what your brand and business are about can matter. It;s the space where everything that differentiates your business and lends such a slant and pivot to what you offer as to make it difficult to compete with on the terms you set as to what is so special about your brand. People buy feelings and benefits, advantages and emotional crutches; they buy satisfaction and gratification, not just the products and services they buy from you. These are simply a means to the end they ultimately seek.

3) What is Brand Positioning?

Al Ries makes it clear that this positioning is an alchemy that happens in the mind of your customers as a result of the perceptions driven by your business about the benefits people gain from your offering. Your business must be positioned in a favourable ‘space’ relative to your competition where a synthesis of what the customer believes they want, what they need, and how your offering delivers on those.

To do this effectively, you need to KYC – know your customer, which can be done through research and conversation.

 

Positioning strategy, the Customer and CX

Positioning Strategy is the plan and techniques of defining, ascribing and winning the right position and while it is an integral part of brand strategy, we believe brand strategy encompasses ideas beyond just positioning.

This is because it’s one thing to build the perception, another thing to carve out the position but it’s another thing again to maintain that position sustainably. That must be supported by the capability that references and protects the foundation, meaning and power of that position through how your business operates.

 

4) How brand positioning is integral to brand strategy

The position can not exist in a vacuum and is not tenable without consistent and excellent customer experiences that encourage your customers to move beyond adoption to advocacy. This is because it’s very possible to become positioned by accident or as a matter of course, which leaves a lot to chance and your business at the mercy of those who can spend significant amounts on ad revenue to rebut the position you hope for. Businesses that hope to become brand must work proactively to identify a position to own and deploy communications and marketing signals to do that in an integrated way.

5) Why you need it

Where the favourable and compelling idea of your business lives in the mind of your customer is where your brand is born. Before this idea is adopted, you are just a business. Once a strong view is formed that will lead to the contemplation of adoption or advocacy, your business becomes a brand. This is brand positioning. This is ‘why’ brand positioning and the necessity to explore the positional elements of brand strategy and the key to successful brand positioning.

You need it because you win by contending in a busy market place as a leader and a remarkable player due to differentiators that can be found in your business through brand strategic tools and techniques.

 

In the beginning …. or 100 years ago or so

When we think about brands, we think about Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, Xerox, Colgate and the like, thousands of brands we are all familiar with, whether we are adopters or not but what these brands have had above all is time. Even Apple, often seen as a Wunderkind has been around for more than four decades. They have had time.

They have also had something else that is truly special. They have had a story.

But there is one other thing that they have all done. They have spent millions building and cementing their position. This means that if you haven’t got 40 – 100 years to establish your brand and billions in ad spend, you really need a positioning strategy; you need the special story and you need to do your utmost to found that position in the minds of your customer. You do that, you are no longer competing on a commoditised basis. Which means recognition and resonance. You will have adopters and advocates. Brand love and loyalty follow and the bottom line, follows this – revenues will increase and keep increasing predictably. That’s the story of brand.

In the Positional Elements of Brand Strategy Part 2, we will look at some more exciting ideas to help determine a positioning strategy

Integrated Brand Stategy for Decision Makers

The Ultimate Brand Strategy Process

In this post, I share an infographic that represents our Integrated Brand Strategy Process, the ultimate brand strategy process for decision-makers, who must consider more than just marketing, design and creative aspects of the business.

We take an in-depth look at what an integrated brand strategy should look like and the process that’s required to ensure that it’s fully fit for purpose and delivers on everything I have outlined in the last post, about why brand strategy should be integrated and aligned with your business’s operational objectives and actions.

 

From Porter’s 5 forces, SWOT and PEST to Perceptual Maps and Value Chains, there are a number of tools that can help us build a foundation for brand strategy work.

1) Decoding your Business Environment with Strategic Tools

The first step in building a brand strategy is to recognise that it is in fact a building process.

You need a foundation, damp proof membrane, steels, and utilities thought out, worked out and integrated throughout from the outset. But also, you must know that you need to build a house, not a school but you may not know if you want a house on three floors or a sprawling bungalow.

To establish your goals and ultimate business objectives, you need to fully understand the terrain within which you operate. Then you can take a clear and long term view of what the brand you are building should be and for example, the type and size of plumbing (capability) you will need.

 

You must carve out what we call the ‘Brand Imperatives’ at Iconify, discussed in the last post; the P2Ps as we we call them – Purpose, Principles, Perception, Personality, Position, Proposition. Promotion, Promise. These are important both internally and externally but we must never define them without reference to what is going on in the external environment. Brand strategies are created to help businesses win which invariably requires taking stock, knowing and fully understanding your strengths and weaknesses, your threats and opportunities. With regard to your environment specifically, you should be abreast of challenges and gaps in the market as well as obstacles – your basic SWOT/PEST data but used as a basis for building your purpose and differentiators, as well as your positioning decisions.

 

This market and competitor information is critical for deciding how to pitch your company. You get many good ideas too of where the ‘potentialities’ of your organisation for differentiation and even extension may come from, which is part of what makes this integrated approach, the ultimate brand strategy process.

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2) Inside-out Brand Strategy – Define your Brand Imperatives

You start outside, scope out the terrain, start to define what your structure should be, where you should site it and what its edifice might be but starting outside and understanding your environment means you are sure where there is water, soil or rock. You are ready to start considering your business and brand in concert to define your Brand Imperatives – purpose, principles, perception, personality, position, proposition, promotion, promise – in detail, with the correct stakeholders.

 

Simon Sinek advocates starting with the ‘Why’, and we agree, so we start with purpose but the preceding exercise will have informed and reinforced that/those ‘why(s) as you start to define your business purpose, your principles and ideals you want to embed in the organisation to start winning the attention and custom of the clients you will target. Brand Imperatives are built from informed hopes and dreams.

What is the current perception of your business in the market and does that differ from the perception you hope to project? What positional opportunities are there and should you continue with the position you occupy if you do not lead in it? How close are your offerings to what people really want and are willing to pay for?

 

What will it cost to get you to the ideal or is there a pivot that is more profitable? How well is your company keeping its promise to its clients, meeting customer expectations and what adjustments are required to get there? How are you promoting your business now? Are your methods relevant and effective or is a review in order? This and more as some of the questions this part of the process will help you get the answers to.

3) Define Brand Aspirations

At the start, you’ll consider where you are going and decide where you should go as you define brand imperatives, but this is also the time to think about what you want the brand to be known for, desired as – which psychographic requirements will it meet, for example. As you define your purpose, it should be linked to aspirations for the brand. It’s no use having a limiting purpose if you have big ambitions for the brand. But these need to be defined clearly in terms of market segmentation, position and even down to how you would like to be described by current and prospective customers in the next 2 years when they speak about why they pay 50% more for your offering than for that of your closest rivals.

 

This will help determine the gap between where you are and where you want to be and of course the size, scale and extent of the effort required to begin to fill the gap in the market most lucratively.

4) Determine Interdisciplinary Objectives

That last step is critical in building clarity on what each function of your business need to do to achieve those aspirations and clarify how the operations need to change. It will help to build a business case and outline the necessary transformations across the organisation, why they need to happen and by when. In an integrated brand strategy, all things must work and dovetail well together with dependencies clear, anticipated and well managed to deliver the resonance that is the goal of an integrated brand strategy.

Consider operations, functions (including marketing of course), people and technology – what do we need to be able to do with and within these to build the business and the brand that will get us that market share and establish our brand as the first choice? What should be prioritised, and at what rate to get us there?

5) Review organisational capability

Operations, functions, people and technology – how well are we placed to meet the objectives established in the last step as what the business should be capable of doing to arrive at the desired endpoint of strategic initiatives.

From brand design to business transformation to reputation management, the next step is to determine where the organisation is now versus where it wants and needs to be if it is to meet its aspirations along a capability maturity spectrum that will be built upon as the strands of the integrated brand strategy are executed.

As an example, if an objective is that the business wants to engage more frequently and meaningfully with a segment of their target audience they currently feel cut off from, the questions would be:

  • Is there a solid and multifaceted digital marketing strategy that will make this happen and
  • are the necessary tools and capability available to achieve this?

Common challenges are IT related and many businesses are constrained by digital transformations that they are yet to make, many of which are relatively simple. However, in the absence of a complete brand strategy incorporating the digital transformation element, the roadmap to achieving these capabilities can appear very vague.

 

One thing we see a lot is that innovation is a fond dream of many business owners which they consider is of the pipe variety. Another is to increase diversity and inclusion. Without a clear plan to identify and remedy any deficits in your business, if they exist, it’s difficult to make the turnaround. Even when these exist, if the program of change isn’t linked to the brand strategy, especially with regard to brand imperatives and how organisations are committed to operating, it is all too common to fall at the first hurdles.

 

Ultimately, your ability to build the brand you dream of and be the first choice of the target segment you are aiming for in the position you decide on is fully dependent on operationalising all the areas that will deliver the objectives of the business case in uplifting capability and capacity across the board.

6) Define Change Program and Develop Strategy

Operations, functions, people and technology – what will actually be delivered, by who, how and when?

 

The parameters of the business’s transformation from the brand to the people level are taking shape strongly by this point in the process, and remain only to be documented, planned and resourced as a program of change with buy-in from decision-makers and stakeholders who should already have been on this journey from the outset and can clearly see that the costs indicated are a warranted and worthy investment.

Change practitioners and project managers will manage this part of the process but the brand strategy should dictate a key set of considerations for the business and technical architecture as well as how people should be organised and capability built on a cross functional basis. If new branding collateral is required, this should of course govern that process of discovery and design.

7) Strategy Execution

What have we done so far? We have built an integrated brand strategy that has considered the lockstep improvement, perhaps even overhaul of interdependent parts of your businesses that will benefit from economies of scope through the transformations that are made to all parts of the business that build, transmit, translate and deliver value. Yes, we have built a Transformation Engine! That’s what makes this the ultimate brand strategy process.

 

For the first time, perhaps you have been enabled to see your company as a holistic entity. It’s no longer seen as a business where it’s desirable to have functions, tools and processes they use, hived off in silos with communication about key and integral things, minimal or non-existent. Now we can plan for an organisations where people across all functions enjoy a sense of shared identity based on purpose and direction as well as a role-based responsibility.

 

Clearly, this organisation will serve customers better, now united by a shared vision and enabled and empowered by better capabilities to do the jobs they are asked to? Surely the people that work here are more engaged and enriched?

Strictly, execution is separate from strategy, however, it is extremely instructive to define and link how and where delivery workstreams that will work on the benefits of the strategy are related, how they’ll be met and should be a critical part of the project governance, risks and benefits management.

 

What will the comms and messaging look like? What is being transformed for brand, the business and IT and how will they all impact Customer Experience? How will they be delivered, how will this be governed and who will be responsible for ensuring that the Brand Strategy objectives are not lost through the compromises that often have to be made in change programs? Lots of exciting questions, the answers to which could be transformative to your business.

 

The unique thing about the brand strategy I have described is that it is an integrated brand strategy and in that integration is its power. The wonderful thing about it is that it generates sufficient detail not just to build a powerful strategy but also facilitates the establishment of tactics and processes to make the strategy stand while remaining responsive, flexible and focused on the Customer Experience.

Below is the summary of our Integrated Brand Strategy Process.

The Ultimate Brand Strategy - the number one best brand strategy for decision makers is an Integrated Brand Strategy Process

The idea is simple: To help decision-makers adopt a brand mindset that extends beyond the creative and design elements of a brand, and takes you from the visual to the heart, soul and the parts that actually do the heavy lifting. It helps owners, leaders and directors realise that changes to strategy should be aligned to the brand marketing work and ensure that brand messaging is reflected through the business operations and translated to how customers experience your business.

This strategy will to help strategists create roadmaps and gain clarity on your most entrenched challenges. Its complexity will be defined by the complexity of your organisation, but as a rule of thumb, the more complex your operations, the more you need a brand strategy that isn’t skating on top of disembodied marketing activities but is at the heart of your strategy for achieving your revenue and brand-driven goals.

Why you Need an Integrated Brand Strategy

Why it’s critical to have an integrated Brand Strategy to Create a Truly Resonant Brand

Effective and successful Brand Strategy can be defined as an integrated and long term mix of business cases, objectives and holistic strategies that are aligned across the business, operational and marketing functions to promote superior performance, resonant perceptions, an unassailable market position and present a compelling proposition through optimised business and technological capability and brand marketing techniques.

It’s the process of defining your brand’s purpose and imperatives like your proposition and principles but it should also underpin how your business operates to reflect these ideas and promises and it should direct efforts to meet these objectives. Overall business performance is therefore attributable to strategic tools defined through the brand strategy. Certainly, it goes beyond your brand, logo and colourways of your company because these things do not tell, sell or deliver anything to your customer. This is behind the idea of a resonant brand, a brand that is believable, compelling and enduring. Instinctively, one can grasp that the foregoing cannot be anchored by purely creative and visual aspects of branding.

 

Beyond Perception, Underpinning Performance and Bolstering Brand Power

Brand strategy must move beyond perception to performance with a long-term plan that incorporates capability as well as brand building. In highly competitive operating environments, it is critical to carve out a market position that is not easily copied or mimicked. This is what an integrated brand strategy can help your business to achieve because to be effective, it must be long term and align the objectives of business and marketing functions.

Presenting an offer compelling to the most lucrative target segments requires an in-depth understanding of your audience, but how can this information be come by without a clear joining up of what your business is promising as its offering and benefits with who and how. Important as this is a key determinant of operational and financial performance.

A Winning Brand Strategy is about Your Brand & ……

You’d be wrong to consider developing a brand strategy work carried out purely by a creative agency but you wouldn’t be alone. Brand strategies have traditionally been seen as a byproduct of marketing but it is real strategic work that should touch not only on everything that is important to your business but also on its aspirations, growth and ability to manage and adopt change. This is why it needs to be seen and implemented as an integrated brand strategy that builds and maintains a resonant brand in a holistic way.

Your business’ brand strategy should move in lockstep with your business objectives, and as such must align with your people, processes, operations and technological plans and objectives. Making changes to any of the preceding without reference to the brand strategy is the reason why so many business change projects fail, but also why brands lose their resonance and the brand purpose-promise fit breaks down.

The Best Approach to Defining your Brand Strategy

We’ll look at Brand Personalisation in detail in another post but for the purposes of this post, in order to illustrate why an integrated brand strategy is superior to any other kind, it’s useful to consider the following:

if your brand were a person, who would it be, what would it say and how would he behave? What does this person hold dear? What would they never do, and what would they stand for?  In other words, what is the character of the person?

What have they done, what will they do, what do they hope to do? How do they compare to their friends and people they know in knowledge or kindness or aptitude? In other words, what’s their history and story?

What do they struggle with? What are their aspirations? To whom do they relate the most and who relates to them? What does one get from associating with them? Why would one seek them out? What can they help you with better than anybody else? How do they make you feel when you go to them for help? Are they quick and easy-going? Are they thorough and do they add untold value? Do they do one thing and then you find they can help you with something else you had not thought of? If you need them to come quick, do they come on a scooter or in a car? Do you care more about the environment or about speed?

Holistic Brand

This is what your brand is like – an integral and whole entity with intrinsic values, aspirations and always building a capability to achieve those dreams that transcend the work done for promotion. When you put it that way, it becomes intuitive that brand strategy does not belong just in creative agencies, specialist marketing teams or business consulting teams standalone, any more than your human would be fine with just a dentist but not a doctor, or a hairdresser but not clothes.

A whole person needs them all and a whole brand needs a multidisciplinary team to create an integrated strategy. Strategy cannot be implemented without a plan, capacity or capability and a brand strategy is the blueprint to make things happen.

If it wasn’t before, it should now be  clear that you must consider your brand:

Purpose, Principles, Perception, Personality, Position, Proposition, Promise and Promotion.

In the next Brand Strategy Post, we’ll look at some ideas and a process for defining an integrated brand strategy.

5 Brand Strategy Benefits of Digital Transformation

The Brand Strategy Intersects of Transformation

You may never have considered the brand strategy benefits of digital transformation but the enduring factors of brand primacy, especially in competitive environments owe a great deal to the adoption of change and technology. Successful digital transformation will accelerate awareness, visibility and growth but it is dependent on commitment to developing resonance and using it to extend brand reach, access and relevance.

Customer Experience is the driving force behind Digital Transformation, with most efforts operationally underpinned, and CX is often where the biggest transformations fail, creating enduring deficits to brand power.

With change perennial, awareness of impending or current digital trends is necessary for maintaining dynamism, and clarity on innovations or tools that enhance your business’ relevance, visibility, and engagement.

Your business’ state of ‘operational readiness’ must be defined and validated by digital awareness and capability, implemented through people, processes, data, collaboration and learning elements.

 

1) People and Digital Transformation

While ‘People’ may appear not to be strictly a digital element, skilled and highly capable employees operationalise and optimise strategy by the work they do and how. Transformation creates the capacity to help them work at their best.

There are also still significant challenges in attracting and retaining the right people, who also are digitally savvy. Businesses must consider their Digital People Strategy, a primary strand of which must be that employees should be encouraged and enabled to start and run their own initiatives based on their interests. Businesses that can plan and implement these practices will contribute greatly to their Digital Readiness.

 

2) Collaboration and Engagement

Digital Transformation changes the game for collaboration regardless of physical constraints and generates tremendous business value, increases the speed of delivery and ultimately competitive advantage. It’s not limited to internal stakeholders either and can help you take control of relationships with existing, prospective clients and suppliers.

Naturally, tools chosen for collaboration must be fit for purpose and suited to the shape and working practices of the organisations. The tools should help to improve those too, in order to fully realise the brand strategy benefits of digital transformation.

 

3) CX (Customer Experience) – Brand strategy benefits IRL

A great example of benefits harvested through the data/collaboration intersections is business insights transferable at speed across different teams generated through the application of data mining and analytics. This will be a great change catalyst in the coming decade, not least in the customer experience space. The ability to offer the frictionless and seamless experiences that digital delivers can uplift customer engagement as well as retention of business.

 

4) Data and Insights about Who You Serve

These will be gleaned from human intelligence and customer data and other data available in the organisation. Businesses need to be aware of the latest digital trends and implement tools and solutions that are the standard in their sector. Implementing Cloud Computing will need to be prioritised and planned for, as will Big Data.

One of the simplest but yet most significant adoptions is ensuring integration with and a managed presence, on social media, along with an analytics capability and a clear social media strategy.

A significant brand strategy benefit concerns the ability to devise offerings that more closely matches and anticipates your customers’ requirements, even on a segmented basis at a much quicker rate than ever before, and with greater accuracy.

 

5) CX and Business Process Driven Automation

Your company can discover businesses processes that will benefit from automation and in turn, enrich the employee experience. Automation is the gateway to realising true efficiencies in your business and the process to decide what can be automated should lead to an overall streamlining of your processes and resilience in your business.

Putting in place high-velocity practices and techniques will allow your business to contend favourably with the need for change and disruption. It will position your company to compete intelligently and strategically. At the most successful level, understanding transformations as a brand strategy imperative and opportunity will allow for a more meaningful and robust approach to be adopted — it’s always about serving tour customer better than your competition and doing so lucratively.

 

4 Success Factors for Digital Transformation

Aligning Digital Transformation Success Factors

Continuing with our theme on aligning success factors for digital transformation as a way to strengthen your brand, the first considerations in developing your strategy depends on the dimensions one prioritises for change. Bearing in mind that as we said in the foregoing article,  3 Brand Driven Reasons for Digital Transformation, digital transformation will be disruptive, it follows that it will impact every function and facet of your organisation in some direct or indirect way.

One of my fundamental beliefs about building brand power, borne out of years in organisational transformations of all kinds, from banks to FMCG organisations, is that it absolutely relies on making all change brand-aligned.

This means that the business case, transformation strategy and brand strategy must be aligned such that brand imperatives are not lost, and that neither the customer experience nor the employee experience is sacrificed. It has been a source of constant amazement to me through the several transformations I have witnessed organisations do, that there is a surprise when customer satisfaction takes a steep dive, post transformations and yet employees were only considered as an afterthought, gotten rid of summarily and treated badly. Employees are first-line brand advocates so not protecting them through transformations is not a good approach.

4 success factors for digital transformation to ensure your brand strategy is enhanced and supported

Approach

A good approach to transformation must incorporate the customer experience (CX), target operating model, business objectives as well as brand imperatives in concert.

  • Your organisation’s brand imperatives – principles, purpose, position, proposition and ideals –

Remember who you are in your business. All changes must support and enhance and advance your position in the market, promote your offering and help to engage with and create higher visibility and awareness with the people your business exists to serve. The transformation will affect them. Tell them about it, create a sense of excitement and give a timeline that you are confident that you can deliver on. Tell them what they will get and how it will make their lives easier and deepen your relationship.

  • Excellent Customer Experience (CX)

A factor that should be borne in mind through all considerations, plans and activities for digital transformation, because this is how your clients and customers experience and perceive your organisation’s offer and benefits.

  • Business Objectives

overlaying a digital process that is supposed to be excellent on a business model that is patchy and not fit for purpose will never deliver what the business case has advocated and the hopes and ROI that you will surely expect for your transformation exercise. There must be a deep review process of opportunities for improvement and indeed where transformation would elevate the business.

  • Target Operating Models and Technology Architecture – Operations, Processes and Technology

Identifying, based on best practice research and clarity on what currently is not effective or contributing to success, developing a vision of how operations, functions and processes should be structured to enable better communication and collaboration internally with staff, stakeholders and leadership, and externally, with suppliers, customers and the public. Where might the biggest digital initiatives found in intelligent automation environments or RPAs, or conversational bots help and what does it mean for overhauling process and the roles people currently perform?

It’s clear to see the interaction and interdependencies of these factors for success in digital transformation, and the importance of considering them in concert and planning accordingly.

3 Brand Driven Reasons for Digital Transformation

– Brand Power, Brand Equity and Business Effectiveness

 

Digital Transformation – What it is, Risks and Trends

One of the biggest brand risks that businesses face currently is that of falling behind competitors, simply because of digital deficits. Mitigating these risks is a big part of three primary reasons for digital transformation – to increase brand power and equity and optimise your business’s effectiveness.

You know as a business owner or CEO that digital transformation is a trend you can’t stay in the wake of or let pass you by.

Digital Transformation refers to the key technological and digital innovation and improvements applied to the processes, toolsets of your business and the capability of your staff that allows your company to transform the ways of working within your organisation. By exploiting advances in digital technology integrations that facilitate collaboration, communication (including channels) and expedite delivery of your offering, your company can better identify and serve its target audience.

It’s instructive that transformation is disruptive and revolutionary when considered against the necessary incremental change your business is engaged in daily through adopting new tools for example. It’s a step change, perhaps even a paradigm shift for your organisation. It touches on everything in your business and may create significant upheaval. Consequently, careful and considered management of the process is critical.

It takes bravery, vision and a great strategy.

 

Challenges of Strategy, Adoption and Mindset for Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation embodies the intersection of innovation, technology and communications, where there are great opportunities for transformation, capability growth and greater visibility and influence of your brand.

Like many in senior management, you may be struggling to define what your strategy should be. If like many directors or board members, you haven’t made the connection yet between building a stronger brand and implementing digital transformation, you are in good company, so it’s helpful to know that differentiating your brand and sustaining brand equity are served by digital transformation.

The digital transformation journey, like any transformation, can be perilous. Keeping in constant view the reasons for digital transformation and driving strategy from that perspective builds in a brand strategy alignment to your overall transformation strategy and plans.

It requires you to consider your entire environment and make tough decisions about what may need to change, in order to better grasp the nettle of digital capabilities. For e.g. Will your delivery model need to be adapted to your still waterfall delivery environment and should you jump straight to implementing an agile environment?

Many companies have yet to start their digital transformation process, but the strategy will really define who the winners will be.

 

Align Digital Transformation Initiatives To Brand Imperatives

Align any transformation strategy to your brand mission and imperatives. Digital transformation should be a part of building and differentiating your brand and all it entails – delivery and customer experience. In line with the reasons for digital transformation, many of which revolve around continuing to build a resonant brand, customer requirements should drive initiatives.

These are ultimately the factors that a transformation exercise should improve as they directly relate to not only an increase in revenue but also in reputation and customer advocacy. In the age of social media, advocacy is gold, and it is born of love and loyalty that only the customer experiences your business delivers can engender.

Remember that.

With regard to the brand connection, it helps to remember what goes on within your business is just as important as how your brand looks and is perceived.

Your transformations should focus on how you can a) better serve your customer b) give them a better product/service and experience c) and by doing the forgoing, differentiate your company consistently.

It can seem overwhelming but the nature of managing projects successfully is to break deliverables down to make them easier to deliver, and similarly, it’s sensible to break down the process bit by bit.

Taking the difficult and operational decision to embark on a Digital Transformation programme is a brand strategy imperative. It will help to position your business to compete better, collaborate smarter and communicate with customers. It will also enable your company to mine and deploy data insights, critical for designing a sustainable customer experience (CX).

The Secret of High Quality Software

How to get Fit, High Quality Software

As your business grows and evolves, you will likely need to enhance, transform or replace your existing software, and there is a secret to fit, high-quality software and applications and finding a  fantastic software development company. If you are like many of the leaders responsible for procuring the right software consultancy and software project management, you may baulk at the task, as it is fraught with risk, not least to your brand. Horror stories of trashed systems, overruns and overspend or a combination, mostly as a result of poor software project management, emanate from the biggest names in the industry for work done in sectors as critical as healthcare and government. As there are myriad considerations, it is often useful to focus on the aptitudes, attitudes and motivations of the people to whom you would entrust such an important deliverable as Fit Software – software that is fit for purpose, actually solves existing and anticipated problems and delivers high value.

‘Good code’

The attributes of good software and the code that goes into it, have been written about ad infinitum, not least in the brilliant and incisive article by Zachary Goldberg, which even questions what is meant by ‘good code’. Software has a life cycle, rules, algorithms and systems which help. However, ‘fit software’, i.e. software that will encompass the core attributes of well written programs but most importantly, that is fit for your company, fit for your processes and people and therefore supremely fit for purpose, has a crucial dependency. This dependency and a primary dimension to good code are, of course, the software engineers, developers, programmers and coders (terms hereafter used interchangeably!), and this is the primary secret to getting fit, high-quality software and build a great software development company.

The best software engineers are at heart, artists who entered into their craft with a desire to do and create great things and transform the world around them. They are the ultimate dreamers and hopers. Traditional stereotypes suggest purely nerdy types, tethered to reality and constrained by parameters and algorithms, being detailed oriented and concerned with algorithms. Like all stereotypes, some of that is true, but in fact, software engineers are also people that need to have and hold a big picture idea in their heads and hearts in order to fully extend and apply the detail they treasure. They are steady and systematic, even seeming to slow their heart rate much like a sharpshooter does before taking aim, as they painstakingly debug code in it often in high pressure, fast paced environments.

Take the first step to fit software

Get the right people with the right aptitudes and attitude  to code fit software.

Artistry

The right software consultancy will know that great software developers are creators of reality through their code and must care and understand your business purpose, so they can take a story, decompose then rebuild it to create stories of greater power and myriad applications.

Like artists, they make something out of nothing, like linguists, they manipulate language, patterns and ideas through the use of engineering practices, tools and structures and integration with other technologies, filtering a spectrum of possibilities through the prism of the technical limitations to create fit software.

A factor that keeps them connected to their first love is solving big problems as elegantly as possible. Linear or non-linear approaches matter far less than fit and capability or structured software project management. Their ability to deliver both for their clients and users is their greatest driver. Many of the best coders would work for free, so relentless and fierce are they in the pursuit of the possibilities they create, and the right software consultancy harnesses this passion. Like an author, they know the building blocks and characters but are often surprised by what the characters flowing from their fingertips eventually choose to do and they never know exactly how the story will end, except that it must support, enable and integrate as fully as possible with the story of their clients and if possible elevate it. This is at the heart of good coders and the right software consultancy knows and understand that this is the secret of fit, high quality software  and applications.

 

the secret of fit high quality software and applications from the right software consultancy iand software development company in London, using the best software project management practices

 

Star Quality

In many a software development company, programmers cannot program as they would like to, to effect the explosion of tiny ideas into planetary brilliance because this instinct and freedom are often lost in the frenzy of projects. They can similarly be constrained by the vision of business case owners or just time, whilst trying to write fit software.

Nevertheless, to get fit software, look for the software development company with experienced programmers who still have dreams in their eyes, who listen well and believe, whatever they have achieved, that there are better ideas than they have been able to implement, who still believe that their best art, their best code, is still ahead of them. Look for the ones who want to dive into what your business is and who will walk with you on your journey to determine what your business needs. Choose the ones who will work with you to distil high-quality requirements with business, technical and people integration facets. Yes, they’ll be obsessed with performance and be concerned with efficacy and coverage and logic but as storytellers ultimately, this is because they want to hit you between the eyes with the beauty, sleekness and seamlessness of their application.

Adhering to methodologies that prioritise teamwork, and enable collaboration, the finest programmers have beautiful minds that synthesise the simplest solutions and execute them elegantly. Their world view allows them to be less judgmental and more patient and optimistic – optimism deriving from readiness to try new things to get a solution. It comes from inside, the willingness to feel the pain and code anyway, to be aware the picture may not be complete but create anyway, the special ability to conceive at the same time, multiple ways to see and solve a problem and create concepts to prove it. These are the people you will want building the fit software that your business needs to scale, transform and continue your story into the future, and we ensure they are served and enabled by strong software project management, and a software development company that has the experience working with the best.

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