Over the years we’ve seen many advertising agencies become more and more specialized.
With every new digital avenue, niche and boutique agencies rise up with a focus in that one small aspect of marketing. Agencies that only handle SEO/SEM, influencer marketing operations, video-only shops, creative-only shops, email marketing agencies, website agencies… you name it.
While this seems great on the surface, brands have suffered unintended consequences — namely, fractured branded communication.
With niche shops, companies have access to deep levels of expertise. However, to have a multipronged approach you’re forced to work with multiple agencies. Even a savvy marketer who can successfully navigate working with several agencies will have difficulty maintaining a truly integrated approach that stays on brand (and on budget) with those conditions.
When you have multiple teams working in silos, it leads to fragmented recommendations and results.
Missing the bigger picture, teams eventually become desperate for answers – and understandably so. Unfortunately, this leads to the mentality of looking for a quick fix. And with the plethora of digital tools available these days, it’s easy to chase the newest shiny object.
Instead of chasing the newest thing, our experience leads us to trust in the fundamentals.
When it comes down to it, the core of any marketing plan is the brand and the strategy that tells its core story. Taking the time upfront to understand a client’s brand and develop a plan to deliver the core message prevents major setbacks down the road. It also sets up channels down the chain to succeed.
”Instead of chasing the newest thing, our experience leads us to trust in the fundamentals.
What is Brand Strategy?
A brand strategy is not a logo, a color palette or a tagline. It’s not a website or a slick new app.
It’s a company’s long term approach to the business.
It affects and must be supported by every aspect of the company. From backend tools needed to execute the vision to product/service development to customer service expectations, and even internal company culture and how the company communicates.
Brand strategy provides a holistic view of the company’s direction, market conditions, the competitive landscape, the company’s position in comparison to competitors and how customers perceive the brand. It also directs how the company goes to market and advertises its offerings to intended audiences.
A successful brand strategy works as a guide post. Without it, communications from a company can be disjointed. The right hand may not know what the left hand is doing because different channel strategies don’t have a central brand strategy to fall back on.
Tips for Developing a Brand Strategy
You might be wondering what homework needs to happen to get started with developing or refining your brand strategy. Here are a few to get you started:
Be Real: While reflecting on your organization, the market, competitors and customers, be honest with yourself and your team. Does reality meet your perception? Can you identify gaps between how you think of your products/services/brand and how your customers or prospects think of your brand? Do you need to change your perception? Do you need to do work to change others’ perceptions?
Research: To help with painting an honest picture of your company’s landscape, we recommend pairing internal reflection with external research. This could be secondary research that gives insights into the industry and consumer habits; or it could be primary research in which you garner insights from your current customers about your products; or a mixture of both. The idea is to get objective feedback from outside of your own experience.
SMART Goals: As you reflect on the state of your business, it is also important to set SMART goals to keep you and your team accountable. SMART goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Give yourself a yardstick by which to define success.
Internal Buy In: A successful brand strategy starts with internal buy in. Company leadership and staff need to understand the brand strategy inside and out to execute against it. Often this can be achieved by involving stakeholders from each area of the company in the planning process. If your the people inside of your organization don’t know the what the brand stands for, they are likely not able to deliver on it.