Designing a Great Brand Strategy
Starts with the Core Idea
A brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a person’s decision to choose one product or service over another. Many believe a brand is a name and a logo. But it is not.
If you’ve never heard of something before or think about it in a way that your brain can reference easily, whether it is something you would or would not choose or recommend—then there is no brand. A brand is a shortcut or shorthand for the feelings that an experience creates, and the promises that a product or service brings with it.
Seth Godin’s take on branding: “Spend 10,000 times as much time and money on your brand as you spend on your logo. Your logo is a referent, a symbol, a reminder of your brand. But your brand is a story, a set of emotions and expectations, and a stand-in for how we think and feel about what you do. Nike spent $250 to buy a swoosh. Probably a little more than they needed to. But the Nike brand, the sum of what we think and believe and feel about what this company makes–it's now worth billions. The swoosh is just pixels.”
If Nike announced that they were opening a hotel, you’d have a pretty good guess about what it would be like. But if Hyatt announced that they were going to start making shoes, you would have no idea whatsoever what those shoes would be like. That’s because Nike owns a brand and Hyatt simply owns real estate.
You will be successful if it plays into the equity, strengths, and value of the existing brand.
To develop the brand strategy, begin by defining the core idea. Create an inspiring long-term vision statement, define the value proposition, audience segmentation, attributes, the offering, and understand the gaps and assumptions. This core idea is the foundation for the brand strategy, which encompasses the brand architecture, positioning strategy, targeting strategy, value dimensions, and brand story framework.
Brand storytelling is creating a series of plot points to build an emotional connection between the brand and its target audience. It’s a summary of your company’s history, mission, purpose, and values, with a narrative structure that brings it to life. It’s the anthem. The rallying cry for your new brand.
This disciplined process and thinking helps to better structure your go-to-market and IMC plan, which determines how best to deploy those stories – in social, advertising, events, or on the website.
Think of this as your pre-game thinking. It will set you up for a better game-day strategy where time and money will be focused and better spent on a winning outcome.