S is for Strategy

Much like a ship flailing around at sea, in the dark, near a rocky coastline, as a storm rages (ok, you get the point, I’ll hold off mentioning the hole in the hull that’s filling with water!) your brand can get into deep water without a lighthouse, or in this case, a strategy.

Just as a lighthouse casts a beacon of hope for safe passage, a strategy provides a clear path through rough seas.

Essentially, your brand is what customers perceive it to be. This perception is formed through every single interaction people have with your business. And interactions occur across multiple channels all the time; website, social media, customer service, logo placement, word of mouth, sponsorship and the list continues. So it’s clear there’s a lot to reign in to make sure you’re offering an appealing value proposition to customers.

What is needed then, is some kind of guiding light, to keep the day to day activities in order and ensure you don’t unknowingly stray into unchartered territory. Oh look! over there, it’s a lighthouse brand strategy.

What is a brand strategy?

Market Research agency Aytm offer a handy definition of a brand strategy as ‘a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments.’

Essentially, a brand strategy helps build the big picture. It pulls together all the elements that create an experience of your brand for customers and makes sure these elements talk to each other. A strategy keeps you moving. It helps you evolve and redefine your positioning to suit fluid target audiences. Technology is changing and the way customers want to interact with brands using new technologies is changing too. A crafted brand strategy serves as a launch pad for your marketing efforts.

The 2016 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands report by Millward Brown offers some interesting insights on the value of the world’s biggest brands. It notes that consumers have become less brand loyal, so companies are having to change their marketing strategies to develop more meaningful engagement. Without an overall strategy to follow, this would be a tricky task.

What does a brand strategy look like?

A strategy can be big or small, long or short but it needs to spell out the who, what, when, where, how and most importantly, why, of your brand. Who is your target audience? What do you need to tell them? (key messages) When will you communicate with them? (timeline) Where? (communication channels) How will you reach them? (tactics) But most of all, customers need to know why.

Why you need a brand strategy:

  1. It explains your purpose to people

Why does your brand exist? What need in the lives of your target audience are you filling? Millward Brown analysed the Top 100 and found purpose to be a key common factor of the highest performing brands. “Purpose may be grand but it must be genuine.” Consumers today expect your brand to change the world and improve their individual lives (I did mention earlier strategy is all about the BIG picture). A brand strategy helps articulate your reason for existing in a language familiar to today’s savvy consumer.

  1. It helps you stand out from the crowd

Unfortunately, you’re not the only one trying to reach customers. It’s a messaging minefield out there. The New York Times reports that the average person living in a city is exposed to over 5,000 marketing messages… every. single. day. Yikes. A strategy helps you stand out of the crowd with a clear offering.

  1. It enhances your value proposition

It’s important to have all your marketing mix ducks in a row because a clear, strong brand builds trust and loyalty. It enhances the value of your brand to consumers. If you are able to demonstrate authenticity and make a sincere connection with consumers, it’s a great platform on which to build long-term advocacy.

The day to day tasks can seem like an endless ocean. Get strategic and find your way. What does your brand stand for? Why are you in business? Talk to the brand building, blunder busting experts at Cuckoo Creative about developing a guiding brand strategy to keep your business safe from rocky coastlines.