brand strategy definition

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There are many definitions of brand strategy. Most hard to understand.  And for businesses whose sole purpose is clarity of message, you would think brand strategy definitions would be easy.  

Here’s mine: “An organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.”

What does an organizing principle look like in words?  (Brand strategy is inanimate.)  Well, it is a “claim and proof” array. A single claim about brand superiority or value, supported by 3 proof planks. Proof planks are evidence of the claim, grouped into homogenous clusters.  One of my favorite brand claims for a small commercial cleaning and maintenance company is “The Navy Seals of Commercial Maintenance.”  The proof planks are: “Fast,” “Fastidious” and “Preemptive.”  Put these words into a single sentence and you have a clean, articulate brand strategy. You are organized to market. You are organized to productize. You can build your business experience, communications and website.

Okay other businesses out there — care to share your brand strategies in one sentence?

Peace|

 

 

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There are some in the advertising business who believe brand strategy is limiting.  They use pejorative terms for brand strategists like “brand police.” (Not that there’s anything pejorative about police.)  When a brand strategy is seen as confining, most often by creative people at agencies, the belief is that brand strategists are conditioned to say “no.”  And it’s true to a degree; good brand manager wants deposits in the brand bank.    

Brand strategy needs to be shared with creative teams and content builders well before the creative process begins. Not on the eve of the job. Creators need to understand the claim and proof array that is brand strategy, then they need to sleep on it and live with it.  Brand strategy done right is like fly paper.  It captures ideas over time.  There is nothing more freeing when ideating than having an articulatable goal. A goal beyond simple engagement and recall.

If you have a creative team working on an assignment, brief them early. Engage them over time. Let the strategy percolate.  Then set them free on an assignment. You’ll up your potential for “yes.”

Peace.

 

 

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Organizational Design is a shiny new business thing. A number of smart brand planners and digital raconteurs have noticed that many corporations are floundering using old org charts and technology. Old infrastructural assumptions. So these new change agents are hoping to consult their way to new revenue streams as org design consultants.

Ten years ago “Social Business Design” was an inchoate business response to poor organization. It attempted to alter business by using digital social tools.  Those tools turned into software and much of the concept was lost. Sure Slack is a cool social tool. Dashboards and marketing platforms have emerged and evolved – mostly to streamline and cut cost. But organizational design, the recasting of the modern business in a way to make it more responsive, agile and effective, though a fine pursuit has been mostly talk.

My consulting business is a brand consultancy. I make no promised to reorganize your business. But organizational design is a likely and probable outcome. 

Defined as “An organizing principle for product, experience and messaging,” brand strategy has the potential to touch everything: supply chain, customer care, manufacturing quality, hiring, and advertising. All are possible levers in brand strategy. 

Brand strategy ain’t what it used to was.

Peace.

 

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$17,500 is the number I use as my brand strategy fee. It covers one month of work and a brand strategy. A brand strategy is here defined as An organizing principle for product, experience and messaging.  The brand strategy itself comprises “One claim, three proof planks.” What’s a proof plank, you ask?  A homogeneous array of consumer value examples.  I’ve been using $17,500 as a fee for close to ten years; it’s time for rate increase.

Starting February, the monthly rate will climb to $20,000. Inquires fielded before February will hold old pricing.

Many small companies spend scores or thousands of dollars on advertising and marketing. Larger companies hundreds of thousands. And most do so without a brand strategy. Without an organizing principle. Those who invest in a brand strategy make the best one-time investment of their business lives.

A pittance in the total scheme of things.

Peace.  

 

 

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In a piece of 2014 research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit on the subject of customer experience, the top box response to the question below was about message uniformity.

I know to the hammer everything looks like a nail and to the brand planner everything marketing thing looks like brand strategy, but this one made my day. Brand strategy, defined here at  What’s The Idea? as “An organizing principle for product, experience and messaging,” is the key to message uniformity. Sure “voice,” “tone” and “personality” are important (ish) but the substance of the message is how one builds brands.

Find your claim. Identify your three proof planks, make sure they are key care-abouts and brand good-ats, and you have a strategy.

Stick to it and it will stick to your customers. And prospects.  

Happy holidays to all. Peace.

 

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“Brand identities create memorable distinction and differentiation in marketplaces in which meaningful functional product or service differentiation is increasingly impossible to secure. They help convey stories and meaning that assist decision-making, establish relevancy and positive disposition.”

This is a quote from a friend and really smart branding person. Someone who taught me a lot. It is true as true can be. It explains brand identity in a thoughtful, complete and rich way — yet it is a bit dense and suffers from what I call marko-babble. If you parse the sentence slowly it makes sense. It’s cogent. However, in branding circles where there is so much marko-babble quotes like this gets sucked right in.

I have worked really hard to take the marko-babble out of branding. I like to think I’ve simplified the definition and the outputs. Here are a couple of boil downs, in consumer language, for you to ponder.

A brand strategy is an “organizing principle for product, product experience and messaging.” (Some might argue product is the domain of product strategy and they would be right. But after the product is created, enhancements, extensions and evolutions need to be true to the brand strategy.)

A brand strategy is 1 claim and 3 proof (support) planks. Planks are populated by actual and future examples of what a company is great at and what consumers want most.

In sum, my branding meme is this: Branding is about claim and proof. Proof and deeds. Deeds and experiences. Strategically organized and tightly managed.

Marko-babble beware. Peace.

 

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A start-up prospect of mine accidently sent me an email, the topic of which was an internship program at a local university. (I did not open it, good boy that I am.) But it got me thinking. The top interns gravitate toward startup companies who do the best job of ‘splaining what the company is and what the company does –startups that can articulate their Is-Does in other word. And that doesn’t just apply to  startups. Many small and mid-size companies lack the Is-Does ability. The smartest interns go to the companies who can easily and clearly define their product and its value. In 140 characters. Not a breathy 6 minute meander. 

How does one create a tight Is-Does? Yep, from a brand strategy. 

A brand strategy is not a tagline.  It is an organizing principle anchored to an idea. It is the result of lots of work, insights, customer care-abouts and product strengths boiled down into a tight easy to articulate, easy to remember explanation.    

If you are a company fishing in the intern pond, you know there will be lots of resumes coming your way.  A tight Is-Does will makes sure the right resumes are coming your way.  The resumes of then next generation of leaders. Peace.  

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