Brand strategy, by definition, is an inter-departmental strategic plan for a brand to accomplish certain, pre-set, measurable goals. In the past, branding was primarily a function of mass marketing and reputation management. Today, a strong brand is more about building a distinctive personal image and delivering specific, differentiated value to consumers. A successful brand strategy should be well-crafted and implemented across all organizational functions, with an ability to enhance product quality, competitive advantage and overall financial performance. The challenge is to find a way to connect with the essence of your brand’s core values to all elements of your organization and ensure that these values are communicated consistently and effectively to your target audience.
The “brand strategy paradox” is that while it is desirable that brand strategy is consistent and ultimately focused on the goal of establishing a distinctive customer experience, brand strategies from various organizations can often be highly divergent. This paradox is most commonly seen among small, new brand-led companies that rely heavily on an initial product launch to build recognition and credibility. Once customers and the media have raised doubts about the quality of the product or service, new competitors may very quickly gain a foothold in the market. While established competitors may be slow to react, smaller companies often suffer from this paradox because they do not possess the resources or marketing edge of larger, more established competitors.
There are several important factors that must be considered in developing a brand strategy. These include defining clear brand identity and defining pre-defined goals or marketing objectives. Often, companies begin their brand strategy development process by simply identifying their desired end result – i.e., how they want to define their customer experience and position in the market place. However, taking a more holistic approach by simultaneously determining and quantifying key performance indicators, formulating an overall framework for future tactics, and evaluating tactical actions over time are equally important elements of the development process.
The key to a successful brand strategy is the ability to define and quantify the desired end result and then build on those tactics that help achieve those goals. A common thread throughout the development process should be a focus on identifying and addressing the company’s biggest challenges or areas of weakness. In essence, this is the “tactical tactics” that help build a winning brand strategy. While many companies use “shock tactics” and other short term tactics, developing a set of long-term brand strategies that are based on sound metrics and strategies will ensure a more consistent and successful results-oriented approach.
One important aspect of creating a brand strategy is the creation of a financial performance reporting framework. A financial performance report provides management with timely and reliable information regarding firm-wide and sector-wide financial performance. Measuring customer loyalty, investor confidence, and overall corporate value is critical to a successful brand strategy. Market share, the current and future price of products and services, and the firm’s competitive position in key markets are all part of defining these financial metrics. The purpose of these reports is not only to provide management with information on how its firm is performing against its competitors, but also with regard to how the business as a whole is performing against the metrics being used. In essence, a financial performance report tracks the success of the brand strategy as a whole.
Another important element of creating brand strategies is the execution of multi-product branding strategies. Multi-product branding is a marketing tactic that makes use of at least two similar but distinct products offered by the parent company. Examples include an ice cream franchise and a water sports franchise. Through this tactic, a company can create a positive association between the parent company’s two products while also building loyalty from the customers of each product. Developing and implementing multiple-product branding will not only increase a company’s overall profitability, but will also increase a company’s chances for success in the marketplace.