What is a brand strategy?
“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relationships, stories and magic.”
– Seth Godin, Entrepreneur & Best-Selling Author
There are many definitions of a ‘brand’. Often, when people talk about a brand, they are thinking of the physical mark or logo imprinted on something to identify the business that manufactured it. But a brand is also an emotional experience, strengthened or weakened through every interaction with that business; it is what people think, feel, and say about a business. With our purpose being to create meaningful connections between premium brands and high-net-worth audiences, we always start our client partnerships with a brand strategy.
A brand strategy is a plan for the systematic development of a brand in alignment with a business strategy. A brand strategy helps our clients understand who they are and acts as a blueprint to help us express:
- What a brand stands for (purpose, vision, mission, values)
- What a brand does (tagline and value proposition)
- How a brand looks and feels (personality, voice, experience)
With a unified brand, everything from a client’s content, to its culture, to its core business is influenced. Indeed, when a company doesn’t know who it is, why it exists, what it believes in, or what it is trying to achieve, that company’s business suffers.
Without a brand strategy a company makes business decisions that do not reflect the foundations of its reason for being, and hope that whatever marketing they do will work. Without a brand strategy, often a company’s teams can become fractured by disunity, confusion, and conflict, making it hard for employees to feel engaged and interested. When a company does not have cohesive brand messaging, marketing content tends to be inconsistent at best, and contradictory at worst. Ultimately this means a company can not carve out a discernible place in the market.
Future Fit Marketing
Central to a brand strategy is the brand vision and the brand mission. A brand vision is a future objective, a future state a client is ultimately working towards some day in the future.
From an evaluation of stakeholder thoughts, company assets and market position, the brand visions we develop for clients help us create a differentiated visual identity and marketing campaign that will resonate with their customers; as well as energise and inspire everyone inside their company. Our brand visions contain unique adjectives and verbs that reflect a company’s world view, and this shapes the look and feel of a brand.
For example, if a company’s vision communicates that it sees the world as a project and aims to make the world humane and democratic, then the brand identity will portray a personality that is about stability and control to provide structure to the world; and togetherness and belonging to be a connective force for good. If however a company sees the world as a problem with which it can and must cope through making a living and pleasing those who control its future (i.e. shareholders), then the brand identity will portray service and interdependence, safety and mastery.
While a brand’s identity reflects a company’s future state and intention, it must also reflect the actual steps a company takes to move forward.
A brand mission is present tense, why a company does what it does and who benefits from this work every day. The brand missions we develop for clients ensure we create visual identities and marketing campaigns that provide clarity and unity inside and outside a business, and drive a team forward to a clear destination. Indeed, a brand mission determines the way a company behaves and what it believes, and therefore when we translate this into marketing campaigns that align all touch points with our client’s company, cultivate relationships and ease communication.
For example, a client’s mission might be incremental in nature, which means it must exploit what works, focus on organic growth and appeal with existing customers. Our marketing campaign would therefore demonstrate existing ideas, ways and means a company uses, and serve to meet the needs of customers. Indeed, this type of content will be conservative and safe in tone and subject matter.
However, a client’s mission might be more radical in nature, which means it is keen to explore the new, explore inorganic growth and fascinate existing and new customers. Our marketing campaign would therefore celebrate the creation, discovery and acceleration of completely new ideas, ways and means, and serve to uncover unspoken demands customers might have. This type of content will be more progressive and expressive in tone and subject matter.
Adapting to Change
Successful companies keep an eye on the market to assess whether it is the right time for a refresh or reinvention of a brand identity and marketing campaign. Marketplaces are increasingly turbulent and transformative, and that means brands need to be resilient, open minded and prepared for what happens next. A modern brand needs to inject emerging growth drivers like connectivity, sustainability, trust, simplicity, creativity, and digital into its vision and mission, and identity if it wants to stay relevant and meaningful.
Indeed, things change, and we find clients are adaptive if we give them a good enough reason to relook at how they engage audiences and possibly refresh their brand identity and marketing campaign. It’s important to embrace change and stay ahead in the transformative times we live in.
If you are nervous of a rebrand, evaluate the opportunity and risk of not staying relevant, meaningful and connected to the changing marketplace. Determine what precisely needs refreshing and redirecting (logo? name? look and feel? vision and mission?) and ask yourself if your brand currently sells a differentiated relationship with audiences, with a clear, compelling story, and full of magic that only your company can conjure.
Get in touch with our strategy and brand communications team to talk about your branding and marketing strategy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.