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  • brucemckinnon

BUILDING A BRAND STRATEGY. STEP 3: Communicating the Essence of your Brand

So, what is a brand proposition? Think of it as the first few words in the story about to be told. It captures the value the brand will deliver and shapes how the brand is expressed to your team and your customers. It’s usually around half a dozen carefully chosen words that capture the heart of the brand (the brand positioning) in a way that is clear, honest, and motivating. It is written for all who have to understand and use the brand, and that starts with you!

As the brand owner or creator, you need to be able to succinctly communicate the promise of the brand to the community who need to engage with it. That community will include the team charged with creating products to deliver the brand’s services, those who will need to communicate the brand to your customers, your management team (and investors if you have them) who quickly need to be able to grasp what your brand stands for, and of course, the customers who will be buying it (whoever said the customer comes first?!).

Simple vs Complex

Your brand needs to deliver clarity but that does not mean you have to reduce your message to its lowest common denominator.

Most clients and most sectors are complex. But let’s not think the role of the brand proposition is necessarily to simplify a message, your brand needs to deliver clarity but that does not mean you have to reduce your message to its lowest common denominator. So beware of the temptation to try and simplify because you can often lose the richness, interest, and distinctiveness of a brand when you simplify what it stands for.

Simplifying a brand message is almost like spoon-feeding customers baby food instead of accepting your customer has the wit and intelligence to consume a full-course meal. You want to employ the intelligence of your customer because that process delivers “skin in the game” – the customer feels engaged with your brand and is more likely to feel attached to it, to have a sense of ownership. The key to a customer wanting to engage with your brand is to make sure it is presented as relevant to their needs. If it’s relevant they are much more likely to engage with it regardless of how complex the message is.

Proposition vs Slogan

The brand proposition’s role is to shape how the brand communicates to all its stakeholders, not just its customers

So far we have been exploring the brand proposition, and you may well have been thinking, hmm, they look a lot like slogans. Good point. So here is how I distinguish between the two. A slogan, sometimes referred to as a strapline or a tagline, uses a few carefully chosen words written predominantly to appear in marketing campaigns. Based on the brand proposition, the slogan will use a form of words that will appeal primarily to customers – usually placed after the message has been communicated (so at the end of the commercial or at the bottom of a print ad).

The brand proposition, however, is written for the three types of audience your brand will need to engage with. Those that deliver the brand – your team; those that consume the brand – your customers; and those that influence the brand – your stakeholders. All three have a role to play in making your brand a success, and all three need to be presented with a compelling and consistent expression of your brand.

And that’s what makes the brand proposition such a valuable asset for the brand. The next blog will look at step 4, brand values: Capturing your Brand you sum up the character of your brand to act as a benchmark for your team to aspire to and the hallmark your customers will remember you by. 

To receive free content and a chance to win a copy of What’s Your Point?, Bruce's award-winning book on brand strategy, click here.

As well as the four steps, the book explores how brand strategy can fuel business growth, referencing some of the world’s most successful brands as well as sharing case studies from his own global consulting practice

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