The Purpose and Importance of Having a Brand Strategy
There are so many reasons why you need a brand strategy, whether you are a start-up or an established business recognising the importance of a long term plan to establish a strong brand presence in your business landscape.
By developing brand strategy, a business defines and puts in place a plan for creating, building a brand to be wholly resonant with the capacity to connect and engage the business’ the emotions and needs of the target audience, through discovering and harnessing its purpose, formulating and underpinning a certain perception in their minds, linked to the business’ tangible and intrinsic qualities as perceived in the products, services or both and its delivery and discover a path to defining, delineating and owning a position in the mind of their target audience. The promises and personality evinced through these elements are also indispensable anchors to the brand that the work of defining brand strategy for your business seeks to realise and establish.
The purpose therefore of defining a brand strategy is to encode the plans and processes to enable the business to be differentiated and successfully compete, grow and be sustainable over time. It should drive how the business operates, how it sounds and presents, enable clarity of its purpose in its practices.
Bridging the Strategy-Operations gap
A well-defined brand strategy provides a powerful basis for building the brand and it takes work and it takes time. It requires range and control. It is important when solving short term problems, like undertaking a business or technology transformation, that the long-term goals and drivers of the brand strategy are not lost, squandered or ignored.
As with all strategic vehicles, the brand strategy may sit uneasily with the tactics driven activities the business will undertake within marketing, IT and operationally focused improvements that require project management and analysis, leading frequently to a phenomenon I call ‘ solving in siloes’ which has the tragic net effect of eroding the brand’s strategic imperatives.
This especially important when the brand is seeking growth or has acquired what will amount to sub-brands that may need to be subsumed under a Masterbrand if the risks of cannibalisation can be mitigated.
What Brand Strategy is Not and the Pivotal Role of Research
Brand strategy is NOT your branding collateral- getting your logo and slogan together does not cover it. Brand strategy and the work that it is based upon should ideally lead your branding or rebranding efforts because it should be based on research, on data, on feedback from the kind of people you hope to influence to like and buy into your brand. First, you must get into their minds and let your strategy be driven and dictated by them.
Once this research has been undertaken and a greater understanding of the customer are obtained, the brand’s story and primary message can be crafted upon which your marketing campaigns can be based.
Defining strategy helps to discover who your customers are, help to define what your business goals are and what your brand’s purpose should be. Knowing these makes your messaging far more compelling because you are speaking exactly what they want to hear directly to the very people who need to hear it. It’s powerful.
Interestingly enough, the brand strategy also can and should define your business culture and employee experience.
Brand strategy helps determine the sentiment you should aim for when defining the brand experience to ensure that it is end to end, that the components that build and assure it and shored up, reflected and echoed across all parts of the business, for the purpose to remain authentic and borne out. This makes it so important that in any initiative of note within the organisation, the brand strategic objectives of the business are always kept in focus.
Brand Strategy as Story
Aspirational branding, strong branding effective branding all have this one thing in common. They depend on and are built around the story and take time, research, data to flesh out the inputs to the components of that story. The story needs to move people. It needs to inspire them and give them a belief system around which their entire experience with your company revolves.
Your story is the big idea that encapsulates your purpose, promise and perception, and from which your messages, personality and marketing campaigns are derived. The story your strategy makes must make and strengthen the connective tissue between your brand’s messaging that elicits the emotions and beliefs in your customers that you want.
The purpose of branding ultimately is recognisability and recall-ability both of which depend on some factors that denote remarkability – characteristics that do not rise off just a 2-dimensional flat logo anchored to no big ideas and no great story.