Often mistaken for marketing strategy. It covers all aspects of your business; from marketing to customers, sales and product(s). Your brand strategy identifies who your business is in the industry. At it’s highest you find the purpose of your brand, then your vision, mission and values, then your unique value proposition(UVP) and finally, your customer. This provides your team with the ability to make informed decisions to grow your business and it’s brand.
The direction your brand takes in the big picture is all that matters! To make things better, understand what the actionable mission is for the short, mid and long-term business goals.
A well thought out and executed brand strategy impacts the overall feel or vibe and has a direct connection to your customer’s needs, emotions and competitive awareness. Your brand is not just your logo, website, name or product. It’s so much more than that; the stuff of feelings, the intangible things. It’s that “Something about it/her/him makes me fall in love.” This is exactly what separates global powerhouse brands from mediocre ones.
For us marketers, it’s an art that can only be perfected with experience and total immersion in its world. But if you haven’t had either, there are very obvious signs you can pick up, that shows you are lacking a proper brand strategy. First and the most obvious, you feel that your brand/ communications/marketing/social media/ look and feel is all over the place. The second, and most common is that you have most of the brand elements sorted but it doesn’t seem to match who you really, what you really do and the customers you think are your target.
Never fear, XX is here! haha
To give you an insight into what makes a long-lasting brand strategy, we’ve broken it down to a few key principles, that will lead you in the right direction.
Principle One: Purpose
Allen explains how this principle and its implications were clarified at the infamous Association of National Advertisers conference in Phoenix. Megamind CMOs from leading organisations outlined why purpose-driven branding takes the cup in today’s environment.
Find your why, is a concept that has been thrown around a lot in the past 10 years. Which has made it seem like another trend/fad/jargon that’s just another trick in the toolbox. Yet, every day, everything we do has a strong ‘why’ behind it. Makes you think right? In other words, your purpose is the driving factor in the life choices you make.
According to the Business Strategy Insider, purpose is made up of two elements. Functional; focuses on commercial success aka making money. Intentional; add value to the world while making money. Consumers know that making money is important to almost every business, but they admire and become loyal to brands that are about more than just profitability. Does this ring any bells for you? Which brands do you love? Why do you love them? Are they about more than just money? These brands are a great source of inspiration for your own brand.
Principle Two: Consistency
To connect to people with your purpose, consistency in look and feel aka Brand Strategy plays a huge role. This ensures you focus on activity and communication that enhances your brand. This results in developing strong brand recognition and lays a long lasting foundation to build your brand loyalty on. Easy right?
Let’s run a quick exercise! Read the below questions and the first thing that comes to your mind is the right answer.
- Name a fizzy drink.
- Name a car brand.
- Name a shoe brand.
- Name a phone brand.
- Name your top 5 favourite brands.
Do your answers include Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Honda, Tesla, Nike, Adidas, Apple or Samsung. These are our answers. Your top five brands are the ones that have done the most to connect with you over your lifetime. You can very easily recall your favourite brands and their look, feel and style amongst the plethora that exists today. Brand consistency has helped several brands become the most recognizable brands in our world.
A style guide, which is part of your Brand Guideline Document helps you identify how you ensure consistency across your communications. It avoids the situation where potential customers can’t tell which is your genuine channel of communication. I.e. Your official account Facebook, Instagram, iTunes, Youtube etc.
Principle Three: Emotion
Most people aren’t rational 24/7. In fact, the majority of purchase decision and decisions, in general, are made emotionally. There’s a reason why someone pays thousands more for a Harley Davidson, Apple, Nike or Rolex while there are perfectly functional, cheaper alternatives in the market. That little voice inside you keep saying, “Go for the Harley, imagine how much more fun you will have cruising down Great Ocean Road.” Or “You know, you want the Apple iPhone!” Or ” Nikes are just made better, buy them!”
But why is this voice inside, so right? All of these brands communicate to your emotions and feelings. Through their branding and marketing, they enter your daydreams and connect with your ideas of success and happiness. That’s how they build loyal and thriving customer communities around their brand. Harley Davidson started the Harley Owners Group (HOG) was created to develop a strong emotional connection with their customers. This gives customers a way to become part of the brand and all the people who love it for all the lifestyle. All of a sudden, your brand brings like-minded people together. And who doesn’t like a room full of people who share the same passions, values and lifestyles. It makes for great life experiences and cherished memories.
It taps into human nature and our innate desire for love, affection, building relationships and belonging to groups. Smack bang in the centre of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
What does really mean for your business and it’s brand? It’s simple! Figure out ways develop a purposeful connection with your customers on a deep, emotional level. Think about how you can provide them with peace of mind, make them feel part of a loving and caring family, or how can you make life easier for them. Your answers to these questions will strengthen customer loyalty and keep your brand around and relevant for a very long time.
Principle Four: Flexibility
Consistency alone does not lead to a successful brand strategy. Flexibility is also a key principle in ensuring your strategy stays relevant and keeps up with consumers’ requirements. It allows for maximum creativity in the brand message communicated while still executing the brand strategy. A strong brand has enough structure and consistency to be identifiable but enough flexibility to stay fresh and human.
Old Spice is a perfect example of consistency and flexibility working together to achieve growth. Not long ago, Old Spice was expected to be a standard requirement for dads and granddads and there were several stereotypical jokes about it. But that’s not the case today is it? Old Spice has become one of the leading brands for men of all ages. Their flexible brand strategy allowed them to stay relevant in the ever-changing market and position their brand in a way that captures new customer segments.
If you have been doing the same thing year after year and still not getting the results you wan then it’s time to change things up. Do not be afraid to try new techniques and take new approaches to build on your strategy. Remember, just because something used to work, doesn’t mean it will forever continue to work. New generations communicate in new and exciting ways. Surprise them by communicating in their language and culture. Finding a surprise on your bank statement isn’t ideal, but it’s disappointing when we don’t find one in a fashion store, magazine or in a room full of people.
So maybe there’s a brand partnership out there that will spice things up? Maybe there are aspects of your products and services you haven’t emphasized before? Stay relevant to new customers while reminding your existing ones why they love you so much.
Principle Five: Team Involvement
We keep talking about your brand communication. This isn’t just external comms going out to your customers via your advertising and content strategies. It also covers internal comms across all teams along with how your employees communicate and represent the brand.
Your brand personality needs to be consistent across all customer touch points and your employees play a huge role here. If your brand personality is playful and cheeky through your social media channels, then your employees can’t be grumpy and monotone when interacting with customers. Your Brand Guideline Document should cover how you want your employees to communicate and represent your brand and its values.
Principle Six: Loyalty
The most sought-after thing in the world by brands, by communities and by individuals. Think about your most valued relationships; loyalty will be a huge theme amongst all of them. Likewise, with your brand, if there are individuals, communities and brands that like it, then they will play a huge role in shaping and growing your brand’s future. Reward and empower your brand fans to spread the word and recruit more like-minded people who could become super fans.
Think about it, fans go out of their way to endorse you, write about you, tell friends about you and stay loyal to you. It can be as simple as a personalised thank you or as flamboyant as a free trip to exotic destinations. It’s the perfect opportunity to get genuine and highly engaging content from your super fans. Asking fans to write reviews goes a long way too. Loyalty is the glue and an important aspect of every brand strategy.
Long story short, highlight and empower a strong relationship between your brand and the customer. It will set the standard for the potential customers yet to engage with your brand.