All right, let’s talk brand strategy. So what is brand strategy?
Why does it matter in our businesses and why is it that the companies that are applying it and applying it effectively are getting incredible momentum and success from it, and really increasing profit and margin and sustainability in their businesses.
That’s what we’re going to dive into.
So applying brand strategy in your business gives you a few very specific things.
First off, it gives you clarity because a lot of the things that we really address with brand strategy and the models and the frameworks and the using this, give us clarity about the things in our business that traditionally can seem somewhat vague and intangible. And we actually give those quantifiable data and apply them to decision-making. So clarity is the first thing.
Cohesion is another thing that I think is worth noticing and talking about. When we talk about applying brand strategy effectively, and it’s cohesion around the different products in the surface services that we offer it’s cohesion between our marketing and our sales is cohesion between our brand and our stakeholders and our operations. So all of the different elements and things that need to happen in our business in order for it to form, it gives us a way to create cohesion across all of those things. So we can be very, very uniform across the board.
Cohesion lets us get much better traction and momentum in all the things we do in every area of our business brand strategy.
The third thing that I think is worth noticing is that it’s compelling. It gives us the words, the framework, the confidence in order to be able to compel, not just our consumers, our prospects and our customers, but also our team members and our partners and all of those people that we need in our ecosystem to support our business and move our business forward. It makes us much more compelling and it gives us a framework to me to communicate why we’re doing what we’re doing, why it’s the right thing. And it gets people activated and moving in the same direction.
So it can be incredibly powerful for these reasons. Here brand drives the perceived value of our products, our services in our business, and this drives sales, thereby increasing our margin. So if we want to simplify what brand is and our business brand is margin, it’s a margin we can make when we apply brand and the strategies around brand effectively in our business.
So why do we need it?
Because we need to make decisions think about on a daily basis as a business owner, as a leader, as a stakeholder in your business or the business that you work for, you are making decisions on a daily basis, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. You are flooded and inundated with decisions. And sometimes those decisions are, should I even make a decision about this?
Applying brand strategy, all the models and the processes really, really is effective in helping us really filter through that.
And first decide, do we need to implement time mental capacity, other resources into making this decision, or do we need to put it towards another decision?
And if we do, how do we make the best decision?
How do you know which decision to make?
It all comes down to brand and brand strategy.
So brand is no longer just a logo, just your colors. It’s not just the image, it’s the perceived value and how our customers, our community, our market, our team, our partners, how they feel about what we’re doing, where we’re positioned in the market market, the offerings we have, how do we make them feel about all of that and how do we control that? And of course like anything we’re doing, doing brand strategy is hard.
So there’s a lot of models that we can talk about with brand strategy. We’re not going to get into all of those right now. We’re just going to talk about kind of a high level of what this looks like.
So really in essence, what we’re trying to do is they’re trying to capture the brand essence and be very aware of it, quantify it and figure out how to really hold it true, let it be strong.
Let it really, really just continue to swell and create that perception out in our marketplace. From there, from that very core center, then we can move to the core identity and the things that really represent the identity from there.
And from there, we can get into the extended identity and brand strategy helps us do that, but we get much deeper into quantifiable models to help us do that. This is a very, very high level piece.
So let’s go back here and talk about another high level way to think about it is your brand architecture. So you may have product, a product B you may have a service in addition to the products, or you may have multiple services, you may have sub product or services. All of these things are part of your brand. And it’s so easy to let them start to stand alone.
Or if you have different people responsible for them, for them to get away from the essence, that core essence, right back that we talked about of your brand. And we don’t want that to happen. So we have to think about our brand architecture.
How do we bring them all together?
How do we have them under an umbrella?
When do we need sub umbrellas underneath them?
And what does that look like?
Why do we have in the, what decisions do we make about each one of those?
But when our marketplace and our customers are thinking about looking at our brand, are we controlling that architecture in a way that it still really, really falls together?
So when you think about there’s different products under apple, right? Apple has phones, it has watches. It has all these different things. It does, it has apple music, but we all identified the same brand essence of everything in brand in that apple brand, because they’ve been incredibly diligent about their brand architecture and keeping that true and having the filters in place as to what products or services that they have, how they are represented, where they fit in the architecture, so that they have a good, solid structure. And they’re not creating any weak foundations anywhere. So that’s just another way to look at it.
Let’s talk about what this looks like when you actually are applying brand strategy to your business.
You’re at that point, you know, you need to make critical decisions. You don’t, you want to be really frugal with your resources and you know, that invest in things, but you want invest the right things and you want to put time into the right thing.
So what does it look like if you’re going to lay this out as a process, what could it look like when you’re applying this to your business?
So let’s talk about what phases of brand strategy development can look like in your business.
Now, one thing I want to note here is that it’s a little bit like creating music. You have all the notes that how we put them together can be a little bit more of an art form.
So you may start and apply some of the models and that may drive a direction that you may spend more time with certain models or not use certain models at a given time based on what you’ve learned from early model use. So this can look slightly different, but I think that this is a good overall strategy and approach that we try to take when we’re sitting down and we’re really applying a full brand audit to a business, we usually start with something that we call the three lines of business. And this is your cost of production, your price and your perceived value. And these are lines. Like I said, we’re not going to look at all the models.
We have diagrams of all these models, but I’m just going to give you a quick overview.
Now there are brands like you have your Ford brand and your Ferrari brand, right? They are their line of business for cost to produce price and perceived value. If you look at those models for those two businesses are very, very different, right? The perceived value for Ferrari is way, way up here. And it’s not as relevant to as many people, but it’s highly relevant to people that it is relevant to. Those are, that’s a model that we applied to our business. We can look at our market and we can say where in our market do we want to be? Where we qualified, where are we uniquely positioned to be? Maybe we look at our market and say, is there room for somebody to be that certain type of business in this marketplace that can drive a higher perceived value? The things that we can control really in this are two things, our cost of production and our perceived value. We can drive that cost of production down, or we can drive up the perceived value. Those are the two strategies that we largely see come out of that.
The next, when we move on to the next phase, the two models we see the most are hurdles and the clock model.
When we talk about hurdles, we talk about differentiation. Are you different from everything else that’s offered in your market, in your industry, against your competition, then we have relevance.
What’s the next hurdle?
Is it relevant?
You may be different, but does it matter how you’re different?
Does your marketplace care?
So are you relevant to the market?
And then lastly, is it sustainable?
Have you picked something that even down the road, once you’ve got success, if everybody else in your market starts to see that, can you own it? Is it sustainable?
Can you keep it up longterm?
Can you own that and really, really keep it your own.
The next thing is as clock model. And I like to think about this. We think about pre-purchase purchase and post-purchase on a clock. We put our customers in the middle and we think about all the touch points that our customers have and where we want to be known for and where we want to have those touch points, those touch points. And you’ll see this a lot is some of these models we’re going to actually, move down this bit process, and then we may come back and reuse another model because they can directly relate to each other and help deepen and enrich the quantifiable data that we’re bringing out.
So the clock model can be one that kind of comes up over and over during the process and be a really useful tool. When we’re talking about quality cues later on the clock model can be incredibly powerful.
Then we think about brand identity model. And this is the positives and the negatives of your brand, and also your competition in the market. What are your negatives?
What are your positives?
What are their negatives?
What are their positives?
And usually after we applied this model, we go back and we’d jump into those hurdles again. And they actually help us really flush out where to focus there. So, like I said, these things layer on top of each other and become hyper-relevant and help us get the most out of it.
We keep moving down the process. We can use some models like laddering and quality cues.
This is identifying positive differences that maybe we have and positioning those against our competition in order to highlight their negatives. That’s a really simplified way to think about using the laddering.
And then we also have the signals or the quality cues that we send out into the marketplace. And like I said, that can be used a lot with a clock model or in conjunction with that as well.
Then we have the thermometer model and the brand architecture. We alluded to brand architecture a little bit earlier, but we need to think about the climate in our market or industry and how we are reacting to that.
Are we moving along with it?
Are we counter reacting all of the different things and how we want to position ourselves.
And then that brand architecture goes back to all the elements and the components we’re using to build our business, how they interact, how they align and how each piece really needs to contribute to making that brand architecture solid, secure, and really not making any weak links. Sometimes when we’re doing brand strategy, we have to deal with crisis management. This has taken a rational, strategic approach to any kind of crisis. So really being in a crisis situation and being able to apply models to make decisions can be super critical.
A lot of businesses found themselves in a situation during COVID, where they needed to be thinking about this and applying the stealth stuff. And what was a crisis situation or felt like a crisis situation for them and what was going to happen next for their business.
As we continue on, we move into brand messaging and brand messaging.
Not everybody includes this, but I think it’s a really important because it’s the beginning and the end to all of the execution of our strategy, how we communicate to our partners, to our employees and our teams, to our possible recruits, to our prospects, to our current customers, all of the ways in which we communicate with them are critical in terms of keeping a brand pure.
Then we move on to the strategy guide.
These last two pieces are all about execution. The strategy guide flushes out the strategic opportunities that were identified, and the playbook gives us a roadmap of how to execute on those specific strategies. Like I said, it’s all about saying we can’t make decisions on everything and we can’t choose everything. So now that we’ve done all this front work, we’ve identified the things that are going to give us the most momentum in our business and get us where we want to be to stand as a part in the marketplace that how are we going to execute them?
We need a playbook to keep us true to execution. Then we get into execution measurement, how are we going to measure success?
And how frequently are we going to adjust for that?
Because businesses like life, it, things happen. Things change your market changes or competition changes. And so we always need to be measuring, adjusting, and pivoting. And that’s part of the process you overlook. So these are the phases of applying an effective brand strategy for your business.
I hope that was really helpful to see, okay, I can see how these build upon one another, the value of really applying models and frameworks to the things that sometimes feel really intangible to us when we’re busy working in or businesses and with so hard to step back and look on our business.
These models can be really powerful to help us think stuff through and really apply some data to those intangible things. So here, let’s talk a little bit about the overall power. So we talked a little bit more about the nuts and bolts. Let’s talk, let’s go back to that high level. Really. It gives us the ability to make strategic decisions based on quantifiable data. It helps us not just follow our gut on those intangible things, but actually make them tangible. So we can feel really, really confident in our decision-making and not waste time on things that are important, or aren’t going to get us the growth and the momentum and the margin that we want.
It helps us to better apply resources.
We all have limited resources, but if we want to grow strategically, we have to invest resources. Whether it’s our time, our energy, the mental capacity of our teams, all of those kinds of things. This helps us do it better. We don’t get to experiment anymore. We’re actually going to make a strategic decisions with things that we know, give us a higher chance of return for that investment and brand.
Like I said earlier is all about margins.
The goal here is to increase our margins and can take control of that margin optimization. So many times in business, we think that we have all the margin that we can capture, but if we’re strategic about it and we make strategic decisions, it’s all about capturing more margin and better margin, great leaders build strategy first then, and only then do they commit to execute measure and then adapt as they move along and apply those strategies.
So I hope you found this really helpful in terms of what is brand strategy. It’s not just the logos and the colors anymore. It’s all about making strategic decisions and growing better, stronger, healthier businesses that are going to really last the test of time.
If you have more questions about brand strategy or how it could apply to your business, whether your business is at a place where it’s a good fit to apply some of these models to help you make your current decisions or help you identify decisions, maybe you should be thinking about, make sure you contact us at StoryBuilt Marketing and Consulting. You can reach out to me anytime at email@example.com or get on my calendar here.