It’s obvious that a brand strategy sets the direction for company’s brand journey and yet not every company invests the time to create one. Imagine being in the driver’s seat of your car without a steering wheel. Imagine setting off for a drive without any thought to where you’re going. How will you know when you get there? And where is ‘there’ exactly? If you don’t have a strategy in place for your brand or portfolio of brands, put your foot on the brake. Ask: where is your company going and what are you trying to achieve? If you want results and brand equity you need to pull over and map out your brand vision to get there.
To start the engine of your brand strategy, you need to confirm the vision, mission and values of your business. These are part of your business strategy and come before any marketing planning. Think of them as your context or road map. Don’t set off on your brand journey without them in the boot.
From there be clear about who you’re targeting. Who are the users of your product or service? If they’re a broad group, segment them in a meaningful way. If you ensure your brand delivers what your target market expects they will drive the extra distance to get what you offer. After that, confirm your positioning and develop your brand promise. Your positioning is much like your car’s GPS; it guides you until you’re in familiar territory. Positioning is also the fuel to determine how you intend to differentiate. Compare your positioning with your understanding of your competitors – what makes you unique? Often it can feel like you’re stuck in traffic if the lane you’re in is very crowded. If you want to be noticed you need to veer away from the middle of the road. Taking the road less traveled is your means to differentiate. Differentiation is like driving a flash car when everyone else drives the lack lustre sedan. When it comes to working out your brand architecture, follow the smart brands and keep it simple. Take Audi for example, they use the Audi name with a simple suffix (A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q3, Q5, Q7, TT, and R8) to identify each model and avoid any dilution to their brand name. Their brand strength comes from valuing the master brand. The brand architecture that costs the least is usually the right road to take to avoid any road blocks.
Now you’re ready to define your brand’s personality. Use a car analogy to ask what type of car your company should be. Clearly you’ll have a different personality if you’re a Morris Minor versus a Mazerati. Use this personality to steer your company’s visual brand identity and tone of voice.
Before you’re done, you need to determine your brand essence. Your brand essence is a verb or a set of verbs that ‘speak’ your essence. If you’re a race car it might be ‘faster’. Keep the essence simple and you’re on the right track. Well done, you’ve reached your brand strategy destination. You’ve secured your license and have a green light to drive that brand vision throughout your company.