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  • brucemckinnon

Brand Strategy, an exercise in choice.

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

In my new series I will be taking you through the foundations needed to build a successful brand strategy. These are based upon the Brand Arrow framework and are designed to inspire and help you create and define your own brand. The full framework can be found in my book, which you can pre order here.

What’s your point?

Most often, when I begin my depth interviews with clients at the start of a brand strategy process, I ask what the point of their organisation is. This is not an easy question to answer. I know this because I usually get back, after a long pause, something like “this is not an easy question to answer!” I then get told that it all depends on what product I am asking about, or the customer type, or the region they are operating, or the time of year and it goes on.

None of these responses are wrong, and all will play a significant role in deciding how to develop the brand once the strategy is complete, but for now, we have to define what the point of the brand is because it mirrors the first question a customer will ask the brand, in effect, "why should I care about you"? What the brand cannot do is answer with a series of qualifying questions.

Rise above the detail

Let’s say I was sitting in front of Apple’s CEO and ask him that same question. I would not get back a series of questions about whether I was interested in iPod 4 or the iPhone XS or the MacBook Pro. No, what I would get something along lines of Apple’s point is to design technology so intuitive that it becomes an extension for your own creativity (by the way that's just an my opinion as a user!).

So, the purpose of that tricky first question is not to start the interview off with an awkward silence but to seed the idea that the job of the brand is to house the overall point of the organisation. Brand strategy should drive us up and above the details of the benefits and features to be able to see the overall value the brand delivers.

Making the choice at the right time

Back to that question, and once the respondent has had a go at summing up the brand up in a sentence I always get very instructive answers which help gauge where they see the value of the brand. It is also an excellent way to introduce the idea that a brand is largely about choice because with one sentence you can’t say too much, so what will you choose to say? And as importantly what will choose to leave out?

So, a great deal of developing a brand strategy is about making choices, because if you make the choices in the strategic development phase, then you stop having to make them at the execution stage. Once that question is answered I usually follow up with the invitation to pick a single word to sum the brand. An equally unpopular question and the subject for my next blog.

For a longer version of this blog, you can pre order my book 'What's Your Point' here.

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