A strong brand strategy will help make the day-to-day running of your business much more straightforward. It also has the bonus of uniting everyone within an organisation under one banner, helping to iron out any misconceptions about the direction of travel. When working alongside a well-defined business plan, your brand strategy will help identify areas of growth and potential new sectors or categories in which you can expand.
All strong brands need a plan of attack
Regardless of industry or location, successful brands rely on good planning to achieve and sustain growth. Building brand value is an important goal as external opinions and perceptions can directly influence how a business or organisation performs. Engaging in meaningful brand development makes it possible to define a long-term plan to bring it closer to its audience while laying solid foundations for future growth.
Aiming for unity
The goal of a brand strategy is to unite all teams and departments under one cause. At LBD Studio, we use brand planning to create focused objectives that all parties can get behind. A good brand strategy should offer a roadmap to achieve your brand’s goals by closely aligning with the business plan. Team-specific objectives can, of course, come out of this. However, the main aim is to create a holistic program that helps shape the culture and direction. Actionable ‘brand level’ goals might take the form of new product development, marketing and advertising success, branded partnerships or simply better customer relationships.
Longevity vs the quick fix
Brand strategy is often wrongly compared with advertising or marketing campaigns. While there are similarities, we advise clients that brand planning will likely take 1-2 years before fully embedded. Unlike advertising exercises, a strategy is difficult to measure over the short term. It is important to remember that brand perceptions are not formed overnight, and brand planning aims to create a meaningful understanding of the brand.
Where do you start?
To define a successful strategy, we first look at the traits, goals, perceptions and truths already present within the brand. We then compare these to each area of the organisation, breaking down each service and product before agreeing on the commonalities and discrepancies. Stakeholders must discuss these topics openly from the beginning. A good brand strategy must achieve buy-in from senior team members if it is to be successfully adopted.
The first step in creating a brand strategy is to uncover the core purpose of your organisation. This statement is called a ‘brand proposition’ — the story that sits at the heart of all products and services. A proposition does not change every year, and nor should it: the classic example here is Nike’s ‘To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world’. This statement clarifies the type of work Nike is involved in while building a common goal for staff to get behind.
Once articulated, this message will bring perennial focus to all activities. It will inform advertising campaigns, define partnerships and help audiences relate to the brand. The value of uncovering the story at the heart of a business can not be overstated when creating a robust and recognisable brand.
Context is important, and a brand can learn a lot by exploring the competitive environment. It is also recommended to look into companies or organisations from other industries as there is always something that can be learned as the challenges facing brands are often shared. These learnings may take the form of pricing strategy, product naming, branded partnerships or new territories for product development. It can also help to guide decision-making to avoid pitfalls and mistakes made by other brands.
A clear portfolio architecture and naming strategies for products and services are also valuable. Following the brand audit, it often becomes clear that there is confusion or incorrect perceptions around certain products as they have grown or changed over time. By uncovering and using the brand proposition, we can define a clear strategy for how the brand names its various elements. Apple is a good example, having created a clear naming structure for products like the iPhone, iPad and iMac.
We recommend bringing in an external consultant or agency (like ourselves) to help with this process. It is often difficult to have an open and honest discussion free of bias without external advice. We find that an outside perspective will cut through the noise and get to the heart of the matter much more effectively. It can also help alleviate internal conflict if there are competing departments, products or sub-brands at play.
If your business would benefit from a new approach to strategic development, please get in touch, and we will be happy to advise on the best route forward. We recommend that a strategic audit is undertaken before starting new strategic work to ensure it uses a solid evidence base.