Updated: Nov 30, 2019
For many business leaders, brand strategy is still an activity within the marketing discipline. It’s not marketing, advertising or communications.
I’m reminded of the famous David Packard quote (as in Hewlett Packard) about marketing being too important an activity to the well-being of a business to be left in the hands of marketing people alone.
Marketing is not a “hard discipline” like engineering, sales and finance. Business leaders love quantified activities that facilitate predictable returns. Marketing doesn’t provide predictable returns. And in today’s social media, permission-based and privacy driven world, marketing is even more suspect by customers.
Customers want real, authentic connections and engagement with brands they buy, not more marketing and selling.
Brand strategy is not a sub-discipline of marketing.
Brand strategy is not about creating awareness; it’s about guiding the quality and relevance of your organizational behavior in serving a specific group of customers/consumers.
In many companies, brand strategy is an activity mostly created and managed within the marketing discipline. Brand strategy is not marketing, advertising or communications. So what is it really?
Brand strategy is the rudder that steers your ship!
Brand Strategy sets the direction for how your business will create customers and advance them beyond the reach of your competitors. A brand strategy will position customers as an integral part of your competitive edge—and keep moving that edge. Brand and customer both win through progressively adding value to each other. Your brand becomes the “one and only” to customers who won’t settle for a substitute.
As brand strategy becomes essential for 21st century marketplace success, enlightened business leaders will move it further away (and upstream) from the activities within marketing organizations.
It’s a more sacred process defining the who, the what, and why an organization or a product exists in the first place – beyond money making. Brand strategy and brand management is about the soul of the thing–the intangible, the unseen, the meaning rather than the physical artifact.
Brand strategy is a top down discipline.
The principles that guide the strategy and management must originate at the leadership level. Brand leadership begins with business leadership. Business strategy informs brand strategy which, in turn, informs marketing tactics.
Most business leaders focus on sales strategies that get bundled into marketing and media based activities. Their brands are synthetic creatures of marketing and sales–and nothing more. They’re transactional in nature moving customers through a process that ends at the cash register.
Consumers / customers loathe marketing. Marketing now gets in the way of real engagement with a brand. Your marketing needs to be baked into brand strategy, not the other way around.
What your brand strategy must include.
An effective brand strategy will include these qualities:
It’s based on shared values. Your strategy is focused on delivering new forms of value rather than compete for the value created by competitors. Your value advances customers beyond conventional approaches, and out of reach of your competitors.
It innovates new and unexpected meanings. Your brand strategy will deliver a new customer context, a new vision of what customers can be, and do—exclusively through the brand. The goal your strategy is to make the brand a springboard for greater personal customer growth.
It co-creates with customers. Brand strategy frees customer perceptions from illusions or fears that hold them back in their lives. Additionally, brand strategy is an open platform where customers are collaborators in the process of value creation.
It’s a disciplined act of creating your culture. Your brand strategy informs and creates an internal culture of growth, initiative and discovery designed as the organizing principle that elevates the quality of your presence in the marketplace and elevates customers to richer life experiences.
Brand strategy is internal marketing is external.
Brand strategy informs everyone within the your business why it exists and matters to people, what values they share, what markets they serve, what products they innovate and bring to market, what processes they use, and what experiences they create for customers and the community at large.
Without this solid strategic foundation firmly established in your business, your marketing team has nothing to go on – no map, no guidance, and no discipline – an aimless ship adrift without a rudder.
Brand strategy is the rudder that steers the ship.
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