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  • brucemckinnon


Updated: Nov 6, 2020

In the first of my series on the four steps to building a brand strategy we are going to look at the importance of defining a vision, or destination, you want your brand to head towards, the drivers to help you get there, and barriers that might stop you.

At the age of 21, I joined three friends on a three-month, 10,000 mile trip from Edinburgh down to Zimbabwe. We drove over the high altitude passes of the Atlas Mountains, across the hot-as-a-furnace Sahara desert, into the muddy wet rainforests of the Congo, and through the vast plateaus of Zambia before arriving in Zimbabwe. Knowing where we were headed meant we knew we had to make the right preparations: we bought an old but reliable Land Rover which we fitted with spare fuel and water canisters, we each trained to be able to perform our specific roles, and we planned the route as carefully as we could. We made it in one piece with a few stories to tell.

We could not have done the trip in a Toyota Corolla. Knowing the destination meant we were able to be equipped and prepared. It's the same with business, you need to define where you are headed.

Define Your Destination

When I’m working with clients I often refer to the need to define their vision as a need to define their destination, because the job of a brand strategy is to help the organization get there. If your vision is to be “the best- known brand in the world”, the brand strategy will have a different approach than if you were creating a niche brand to serve a small number of customers. Knowing where you are headed also means you can track your progress and put up the bunting for the party when you arrive!

What will help you get there?

Once the vision is defined you can start to see what you have that will help you get there. Think of it as an audit of your capabilities. Start off by looking inside your organization. What do you have that you can use? For example, you might have deep expertise in your sector or a website that has great content. Then look outside: It may be there is increasing demand for your product or new regulations have come into force. I call these drivers as they will propel you toward your destination.

What will slow you down?

And if it is useful to know your strengths it is even more useful to know your weaknesses. Contrary to what it may appear, I always find this an extremely positive process with clients as successfully solving a problem starts by recognising there’s a problem in the first place. If you are to start to move toward your vision you need to know what will slow you down and what is going to stop you – what internal and external barriers will need to be overcome? For example, Your product may have lost its class leader position, your team may operate in silos or changing customer buying habits are making your brand less relevant.

This first step is enormously helpful because in a few short hours you have defined a vision for your business and worked out how well equipped you are to head towards it. The next blog will look at step 2, defining, in a word or two what's at the heart of your business.

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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