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.


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.


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.


The Importance of Market Research for Small Businesses

To Boss Your Market, You’ve Got to Know It

The importance of market research for businesses starting out or moving up, including small businesses is down to the fact that the data that research provides, is at the heart of much of what you decide to do with your brand. How you pitch your offering, your messaging, how you articulate your purpose, the methods you use to project certain perceptions, these all depend on knowing our market and the prospects who people it.

Setting off on a brand development adventure to ascertain your positioning without market research is analogous to setting off on travels through the Sahara Desert without a compass. You might try it but you really should not.
You might understand the importance of developing a brand and also for having a brand strategy to steer your business through choppy waters but it is equally important to know that it is complex and in-depth work that should have a basis in facts and numbers and not just supposition and wishful thinking. Empirical evidence is not only good for confidence but it actually gives the power for great decision making.


compass capabilities of market research

What is Market Research?

Market research is a tool, a knowledge base, a marketing, planning and brand development stock in trade that enriches the process of brand definition and sharpens the resulting brand’s effectiveness and the desirability and efficacy of the offerings your business provides. You find and collect information, insights and patterns that expose the potential desires and unmet needs of customers as well as their attitudes and habits. If you remember that businesses like Google and Facebook trade in data about you and me, then you must realise the value of data like that.

Regular market research helps your business grow and continue to grow. It helps your business take stock of shifts and changes in the market place and identify trends and threats in the operating environment. It’s a real risk not to do it because it helps you continue to understand and refine your knowledge about your target market and improve your ability to speak their ‘language’. It means that you can pinpoint problems and possible opportunities and uncover competitors operating in gaps you were not aware of.


What should be the scope and objectives of your market research?

Market Research is famously divided into primary and secondary research types.

Clarity on what it is you want to know about the market at the stage of the business life cycle you are inhabiting determines this, as well as the type and mix of techniques you might employ.

Primary market research focuses on collecting unique data about a business and target customers to use to enhance your offerings and relies on getting as close to the customer or prospective customer feedback or behavioural data from their interactions and transactions with you, like how effective sales is, how effective your sales channels are etc.

Secondary market research is conducted at a remove from the customer and their direct behaviours, feedback and reports, being derived from readily available and compiled from a range of sources.

With primary research, you focus on data and metrics for:

Competitor and industry research
Competitor Services
Communication channels
Focus Groups

You focus on the following with secondary research:

Published company reports data
Industry and sector-specific data
Government data and sector reports
Third-party surveys and studies
News and social media reports, reviews and the general themes shared in forums etc.

Things to Remember

It’s important to ascertain when you start a market research process what data is required, why and by whom, whether similar research has been performed, especially recently and try to mine it or adapt it to your requirements. This may mean that you do not need to carry out your own primary research but if it does, it is instructive to define how and who with. A hypothesis or general idea about the broad nature of the target market is also needed.

10 Reasons You Must Have Market Research

Start your business or relaunch it on a stronger footing

For brand development and to underpin a brand strategy

Compete with established competitors who are confident and slick because they’ve got market research insights you don’t

To scale

To differentiate and diversity

Learn about the customers you want, the customers you’ve got and the potential customers you’re missing – extend your line or offerings

Know and undermine your competitors by identifying opportunities in performance, pricing and promotion

Make informed decisions

Test new offerings and markets

To speak to your prospects in a language they understand and build brand love and loyalty now and forevermore, Amen.


Bridge the Knowledge Gap with Market Research

Businesses that engage in regular market research grow faster and are more successful than competitors who do not. This is why market research is not just for new businesses and is especially precious for small businesses and professional services businesses that face intense competition. When it comes to defining a customer experience that can give you an upper hand in retained USPs, market research is critical for the data needed to design it,

Why You Need a Brand Strategy

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.

How to Define Brand Purpose

The Answer is Purpose

‘What is brand purpose’, is a popular query so here’s a look at  how to define your brand purpose, why brand purpose is important and how yours can be a purpose-driven brand for our times. The short answer is that brand purpose is pivotal and a purpose driven brand stands the greatest chance of going the distance.

Defining Brand Purpose

‘Because I need a job’ said exactly nobody whoever got a great gig, in response to the question ‘Why?’ Why do you want THIS job? Why us? Why you?’ In the same vein, there is a big WHY at the heart of your business and if there isn’t, if you hope to go the distance, there should be. While your local corner shops may not have purpose emblazoned on the shop door, their purpose is pretty clear and their position and importance in your life as part of it, doesn’t require much explanation. But they will always be local and serve a specific segment plus their principals may be largely fungible because your entire relationship relies on a need they serve and anybody could run it as long as they were not impossibly unpleasant.

When you are competing across locales and geographies and a range of offerings with a competitive market place though, the dynamics are different, Then, there has to be something beyond the mere features, the totally transactional. There is a ‘Why?’ for every connection, engagement, interaction and also for sustaining these as long as there are other choices. The more choices there are, the more differentiation and the greater the need for a compelling answer to why brand purpose is important.

What is Brand Purpose?

Brand purpose is the reason why your business exists beyond the profit imperative, what it hopes to achieve in the life of their consumers and in the world, and how that ‘why’ powers how you do business. When your business gets big and important enough, CSR factors will kick in but without your purpose, you will navigate those waters only superficially, possibly artificially, never authentically copying the fads and trends of what others do. 

What is brand purpose to you? What does it mean to your business? What does it mean for your people? Brand purpose will dictate a roadmap for how you work with and treat your employees and your customers. When these things fall out of alignment, the problems will come but then they will also be easy to diagnose.

Let’s look at your individual purpose. It got you out of bed to build or grow your business. Purpose is a driver – people can be galvanised by purpose and this applies as much to your employees as to your customers, so while we discuss differentiation for competition, the competition is not just for sales, it’s also for recruitment of the right people into the lifeblood of your business.

Sinek, an authority on purpose,  believes that people need to see more than just the transactional elements in the things we do in life, especially the things we have to do, than just the need to do it.

Brand Purpose Definition

So, how to define brand purpose, taking together all the concepts above, especially with regards to creating an emotive element for connection between the business and its consumers? The following is our definition:

Brand purpose is the essence of the single driving idea, principle, reason, that links you to your customers on a level that transcends the transactional and rational, going beyond mere benefits and creates an emotional connection which depends on and relies on the positive, differentiated impact your business hopes and exists to make to your consumers and society at large. Brand purpose delineates ‘who; your brand is in the world and what it stands for, what it dreams and why. Lofty, no? Yes, and necessarily so.

A look at the brand purpose of some of the world’s most recognisable brands.

It’s instructive to take a look at a few of the purposes stated by what are arguably purpose driven brands.

– Promoting sustainability and community – Innocent

– Our ultimate purpose is to inspire and develop children to think creatively, reason systematically and release their potential to shape their own future – experiencing the endless human possibility – Lego – this one gets me every time!

– To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google – I think most can agree Google is rocking its purpose all day long!

What brand purpose is not!

Having addressed the ‘what is brand purpose question’, it’s just as useful to look at what is not brand purpose. They are related to brand purpose and it does inform them but brand purpose is not your mission statement, your vision, your business strategy or any of the other important and more tangible things businesses are used to having to think about and document.

Per Sinek and other scholars on the subject, Purpose correlates to the Why, the What is your business operations and the How is how you get the job done.

We envision the relationship in a similar vein, with the Purpose the resounding and never silent Why, while Mission is the child of the What, the original What being your business and your mission to grow it (your brand promise is based on mission and your values), with the Vision bringing up the rear on Where that mission might take you, the big hairy ambition of your business being encapsulated in Vision. Guiding principles and values are the foundation of your How, in terms of your corporate attitude and behaviours, and help to define the culture of your business, and boy does culture matter! Your purpose is stillborn without it. Specific actions to reach the destination of the mission and vision, are of course encapsulated in Strategy.

When it comes to how to define your brand purpose, there is a place and a purpose for all of the above.

Sinek, an authority on purpose,  believes that people need to see more than just the transcactional elements in the things we do in life, especially the things we have to do, than just the need to do it.

The Golden Circle Presentation | Simon Sinek How to define brand purpose

Copyright Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek’s golden circle simple and clearly shows that purpose while at the heart doesn’t refer to the how and the what but I like to think that the the ‘why’, the purpose, emanates outward, shaping and informing the what and the how.

Why Brand Purpose is important

Why a purpose driven brand? Well, you say, this didn’t seem to matter before so much, why is brand purpose so important? The biggest, strongest and longest standing brands ALL have well defined brand purpose. If with all their hundreds of millions of dollars in ad spend see the importance of it, it must be important indeed. It’s increasingly important as consumers today are quite different from consumers even 20 years ago. They are compelled quite differently in some ways than people seem to use to be. They are looking for, they need an added dimension. People are genuinely interested in the beliefs, ethics  and practices of businessesConsumers are no longer just looking for value in the products, they are looking for values in the purveyor too. This is never more true than where they feel they have many choices. This is why brand purpose is important.  It sets up uniqueness, differentiation and in its wake, loyalty and love.

How to Define your Purpose Driven Brand

We are none of us machines and there is no cast iron process that answers how to define brand purpose. The Why is a great question once it is installed as our Purpose but when it comes to defining the purpose in the first place, then all of the other Ws are just as important – what, who, how, when, where, when. 

What’s the problem you help solve or relieve? Why are you best placed to solve it? How could you be better placed to solve it? What’s the joy/gain/help you bring? What is your remarkable difference? Why is it remarkable?

What do you as a business, as a brand believe in? Why? What do you stand for? What will you never stand for, and this is just as important? Who do you as a brand make or deliver your offering for? Why them? Why those offerings? How do you do it, and why? Why do you love it? How could you love it more? How could they love you more? Why? Is it all aspirational? If it’s not, what’s limiting it?

Are you satisfied your products are seen beyond features and as benefits? If not, which pivots might get you there? Where is the satisfaction? Where does dissatisfaction rankle? 

Write it all down – in a granular way and workshop it with your teams. Themes will start to emerge. A picture will start to form and if it’s one that resonates you are on the home straight. If it does not feel or sound right, keep going until it’s recognisable, relatable and resonant.

It may be that your purpose is already evident in some of the things you do and some of the ways and it needs to be elaborated on. It may be unclear or muddled but the beginnings of it are undeniable. Grasp and embrace that and begin to build it, then live and work by that why visibly and with clarity and honesty.

Then it’s time to go to church, so to speak.

Research for Purpose Clarity, Positioning and People

You’ve workshopped it, you’ve brainstormed it, now it’s time to underpin it, assure it and prove it. Yes, in order to fully define your brand purpose, it’s time for research!

What is the purpose of competitors in your field and even of others in the same value chain? How does your purpose stack up in terms of uniqueness? How can you be sure that your purpose will attract the people you want to do business with? Will the purpose show your uniqueness?

Get the answers, rework until you get to the right answers and then power everything with the clear view of your purpose, from your positioning to your people.

How to be a Purpose Driven Brand in Practice

Create a Brand Strategy

Once the purpose is locked down, it is the time to share this widely in the organisation through seminars and training. Then create your brand strategy. This will bring your purpose alive in the business and keep you honest!.

Match strategies and actions to values and principles.

Live your brand purpose and values in your operations and process, especially with regard to how you treat and nurture your people.

When it comes to business change or a new marketing campaign, always have recourse back to your purpose. Always consider how you protect your brand. Always consider how you support your people to support the campaign or the transformation. Be aligned to your brand strategy because that should always depend on your purpose and is built on it. Walk your talk and leave no room for hypocrisy – if there are gaps in your capability or diversity and inclusion that belie your purpose, well, they will let down your brand. Fix that!

Have a Brand Risk Management Framework

For adverse events, blind spots, reputational damage and crisis, have a robust and test plan for crisis communications and risk mitigations for whenever the brand deviates from its stated purpose in a way that is likely to go public and have a negative impact if it does. What might bring these types of adverse events about? How can they be avoided? How can they be resolved?

Focus on your people and the Employee Experience

Get the right people in your organisation, people who fit with your values and can believe and work for your purpose. Value them and interact with them in positive ways aligned to your values. Honestly assess gaps in your current organisation that mean there are operational or procedural risks that will undermine your purpose and business objectives and remedy those. Attract the right people and keep them to reduce the risks of negative reports and rumours. Understand the opportunities for improving the employee experience within the business.

Focus on your Customers and the Customer Experience (CX)

How much fun is it, how easy is it to interact with your organisation currently? How accessible and available are you? Is it sufficient for your customers? Is it acceptable? Will they leave you given the chance because it is such a faff to get someone to talk to? If switching costs aren’t high, are they disgruntled and likely to speak negatively about you or ask others not to adopt your service? Honestly assess areas where you are not delighting the customer and consider how and when these can be improved through technology, digital or business transformation. Then find interesting ways to engage and entertain customers through the digital opportunities available.

Find out the things and activities that your customers are interested in and get involved in it but only if you care about it, or somebody in your organisation with the emotional intelligent and social nous cares about and can champion it, rally a team to sustain it, and will not get bored spearheading it, and will not be a liability.  Do good visibly and consistently.

Strive for Excellence

Keep an eye on your competitors and how they are changing or improving their delivery or fulfilment processes and consider how this changes the options for your customers so that you can make the moves required not only to maintain your customers but increase opportunities to gain more business and acclaim.

Protect the brand during Business and IT Transformation

Change and business transformation is increasingly necessary for all businesses. Ensure that your brand and impacts to it brought about by new projects are not dealt with as an afterthought. They must be front of mind.

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