what is a brand strategy

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Branding at the hands of most practitioners is 85% emotional.  That is to say, names, colors, shapes and taglines associated with a “brand,” are usually dictated by a few decision makers who either feel it or they don’t. Emotion is not unimportant, but often it’s way too important. There needs to be a lot more science in branding. Especially in brand strategy. A brand, i.e., logo, is not a brand strategy. A brand strategy is an organizing principle; one that allows brand managers and stakeholders to make marketing decisions. Marketing decisions that create everlasting value for a product or service.

While the physical brand or mark is what helps people identify a product or service, the brand strategy helps with deeper cognition.  With reasons to consider, like, prefer, buy and recommend. For these qualities we must turn to science. Brand strategy is about tangible evidence of preference. “I liked the ceviche because it was sweet. Because the salmon tasted buttery. Because of the perfect helping of herbs.”  Not because it tasted good.

Look at your brand strategy. Explore the science. Omit the fluff words: Quality, innovative, best, better. Mine the science.

Peace.

 

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How do you build a brand?  It’s an easy question. Sadly, it has a thousand answers.

Were I to ask how to build a car, the answer would be with an engine, steering, wheels, transmission, chassis, etc.  How do you build a sandwich? How do you make beer? Of course there will be variations in ingredients but the components are pretty static. Not so much in brand building.

If you ask ten brand consultancies you’ll get ten different constructs for what constitutes a brand plan.  Components may include product development guidelines, packaging, a visual identity scheme, (e.g., a logo, style and usage manual) and rough communications guidelines, but for the most part the actors charged with building the brand are a federation of marketing people inside and outside the company (agencies) following a marketing plan, not a brand plan.

Marketing plans are built with line items transferable from one company to then next. Metrics include: unit sales, revenue, market share and profit plan. And lots of tactical cow bell. Brand plans, on the other hand, are devoted to building product and consumer value. Values based on care-abouts and good ats. They are not transferable line items but values endemic to the product.

The best marketers are also great brand advocates. They don’t care only about the plumbing, they care about the product and its unique value to the consumer.

Peace.

 

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I ran across a company today whose boilerplate description reads thus (the name has been changed):

ABC Communications is a creative marketing partner to our clients. We are experts in building brands and promoting product across all media channels. Our ability to seamlessly integrate online and offline communications in a compelling, unique and effective manner has given us recognition in the quickly growing online community. Providing inspired ideas and compelling creative that empowers and optimizes market presence is our passion!

It’s an agency. Their specialty seems to be integrating off- and online work. So 2009, don’t you think. But let’s not be catty.

My problem here is with the use of the words “brand building.”  Copy the first para. of every agency website extant and paste it into a file then search for “brand building” and you’ll get an 80%+ hit rate. Why? Because every tactic can be seen as brand building, so say the unwashed agency masses.

Real brand strategists know otherwise. Brand building starts with a real brand strategy. A claim or promise and unique proof array. All the marko-babble about “mission” and “values” and “personas” and an assortment of similar agency taxon used to create a halo of understanding between agency and brand marketer really just comes down to “Is there an organizing principle in place that allows for brand building, in a measurable way, that ties to sales.”  With measures that are discrete and finite. In a way that allows brand managers to say “no.” If so, you have a brand strategy. And you can build brands. Otherwise your tactics are nothing more. A loose federation of acts to increase awareness, interest and sales. Simple templates for action.

Peace.

 

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