Typically, we take vitamins as a preventative measure for long-term health. On the flip side, we take pain relievers in the hopes of fixing immediate problems or easing suffering. In my 26 years as a brand strategist, I’ve found that most companies view brand strategy as taking a vitamin, but I think it can also be a pain reliever.
Brand strategy is the process of stepping back to assess your market, better understand your consumer and their unmet needs, establish a differentiated position and develop a core list of signature moves that serve as evidence of your brand’s differentiation and value. This is a long-term proposition and takes time to build. After all, brands don’t shift their overall strategy month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter.
However, many brands are wasting valuable marketing dollars with weak, undifferentiated and, sometimes, irrelevant strategies in the hopes of growing their share or remaining competitive. Sometimes, companies are bringing new brands to market without a solid brand strategy behind them, which is also a waste of resources.
Stepping back to assess your brand strategy will have long-term effects on your business, but it can also have immediate implications for your marketing—making it more effective and successful now, not just in the future.
How do you know if you’re wasting money marketing with your current brand strategy? Beyond the performance data from your marketing, there are a few strategic questions that, if answered either negatively or with a “don’t know,” could tell you it’s time for a fresh look at your brand strategy.
• Do you know which audiences will create growth for your brand?
• Do you know the current and unmet needs that your brand is meeting?
• Does your brand meaningfully stand out from the competition?
• Do you know the signature moves your brand makes that serve as evidence of its differentiation?
• Is your brand creating meaningful moments with consumers in ways that can’t be forgotten or ignored?
• Have you identified the biggest threats to your brand in the near future?
Answering “no” or “don’t know” to any of these questions means you may be misusing marketing dollars to support a flawed brand strategy. Worse yet, you could be building the business of other brands in the category.
Enduring brands make brand strategy a habit and reexamine it on a regular basis. However, there are moments when it becomes necessary to undergo the brand strategy process. Some inflection points include when:
• New competitors are entering your category.
• Your competitors are shifting their messaging.
• You’re launching a new product or service.
• Growth is flattening out, or you’re losing market share.
• Brand health measures are trending down.
• Your brand experience is receiving negative feedback.
• There is a shift in your audience (i.e., a new generation of consumers).
• Cultural forces are changing how people interact with your brand.
• You feel your brand has lost relevance.
Stepping back to assess your brand strategy isn’t just a preventative measure. It is an immediate thing brands can do to ensure their short-term success. Immediate implications could be:
• A change in messaging and positioning.
• A change in your target audience and how to reach them.
• Development of new signature moves or equities that can set you apart from the competition.
• Better alignment of your brand experience with your marketing.
• Introduction of new products or services that could increase growth.
• More effective marketing and demand generation.
Take your vitamins, but don’t forget that brand strategy can be the aspirin your company needs right now.
Source: Is Taking Time To Do Brand Strategy More Like Taking A Vitamin Or A Pain Reliever?
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