“What do you do Bruce?” “I’m a Brand Strategist”. “How interesting!” Pause , “ But what do you actually do?” And so it goes. Brand Strategy is an up and coming subject, with many founders and CEO’s understanding the benefits it can deliver - especially in the SME sector - so here are six secrets you may not yet know about the value a brand strategy can deliver.
1. Your Brand Strategy Requires You To Make Good Choices
Nobody knows your brand better than you do. Not your PR agency, web agency, designer, or management consultant - you are the world's expert in your brand. So that means that you have to make those choices about how you define your brand. It's nobody else's job. It's your job. So you've got to take this responsibility seriously, because if you don't make choices about how to define your brand, other people will make them for you. And those people are not as qualified as you are.
2. A brand strategy describes a destination to head for
Part of the process of understanding and making choices is to say, where are we headed as a business? What's the vision? Because if you don't define your destination, you're not going to know when you get there! You can then ask, what do we have to help us get there? And what's going to slow us down? What drivers will help us move towards our destination, it might be you've got the second round of funding, a great management team, a unique product - assets you can use to help you move towards your destination. And your barriers are super important too because they will tell you what needs to change if you are to get to your destination. It may be a website that is woefully out of date or you have taken your foot off the innovation pedal for example. Knowing where you are going also delivers the most important thing a team can have - alignment!
3. It creates alignment and business efficiencies
It stands to reason, if you are aligned, you're much more likely to be successful than if you are not aligned. If the CFO knows exactly why the marketing team is asking for that budget, the product team knows why they are developing a particular product, the HR director knows what values to look for in candidates the sales team knows exactly what to put in the RFP or the tender document. That’s alignment, and it’s delivered by the brand strategy! Yes, it delivers direction, but it also delivers business efficiencies, saves you money, and saves you time, because you're not continually having to reinvent the wheel. So brand strategy delivers alignment, and that delivers business efficiency.
4. Your team is your brand strategy’s number 1 audience
The brand strategy is written for you. You are the number one audience for your brand strategy. Not your customers, your team. Very simply, if your team gets your brand, your customer will get your brand. But if you don't get your brand, what hope do your customers have? So brand strategy is written for the team whose job it is to deliver it.
5. Your brand needs to be relevant to all your audiences
Of course, it's important that we understand who our customers are, to know what makes them different. Not the deep dive persona work that you may do with a marketing plan, but a good idea about the different audiences the brand needs to address, because we can then understand what brings all those different audiences together. What needs do they all share? Because you only have one brand, and that one brand has to be relevant across your different audiences. And the way you do that is by ensuring that you understand the shared needs of all your customers.
6. Brand strategy is an open door to your business
Finally, by developing a brand strategy, you are in effect making sure the door to your business is wide open, that there are no obstacles stopping customers engaging with your brand. For example, if you use jargon instead of straightforward language, or your website is not kept up to date, or you focus on the brand’s features and not benefits (how we do stuff instead of why should I care), you end up creating a great big boulder that sits in that open doorway. And you find yourself helping customers squeeze around this boulder (of old and wrong language for example), telling them what you're not, as opposed to what you are, or worse, customers just walk past you because they don’t see you - just the boulder!
So, there you have it, six secrets of a brand strategy that can unlock your business and ensure customers can seamlessly engage with your brand.
Bruce is a CIM Course Director and speaks at conferences and business schools around the world on the subject of brand strategy. He is also the author of the award-winning brand strategy book ‘What’s Your Point?’ that contains the proprietary Brand Arrow framework.
Since 2009 his brand strategy practice Brand Arrow® has completed over 120 assignments in Europe and North America across B2B and B2C businesses.