Unlock Your Brand Strategy
Define your “Why,” find your brand voice, and get your stakeholders on the same page
“Brand strategy” might be one of the most overused phrases in marketing.
But we run into problems all the time because everybody comes to the table with a slightly different definition.
– CMOs and CEOs with different agendas
– Agencies pitching ideas that aren’t quite right
– The PR folks are telling one story and the sales decks another
In other words…not everybody is on the same page. As a result, you waste time, money, and your brand can never be as strong as it should be.
A strong brand strategy should be:
– The animating force of your business
– Clear, compelling, and consistent
– Focusing the way customers experience and interact with your brand
I’m convinced that brands can’t really go to the next level until leadership is all reading the same blueprint to build the house.
Know Your “Why”
Great brands focus on a clear WHY.
Why do they exist? (Spoiler: it’s not about the company, it’s about the customer.)
Disney = Magic
Volvo = Safety
Nike = Action
FedEx = Fast
Coke = Happiness
So much brand strategy work boils down to getting clear about your WHY. And then having the courage of conviction to make it the singular lens for your brand experience.
It’s not easy. There are lots of forces that add complexity and extra words and layers of story. Too many strategy decks become a collection of stakeholder input rather than a clear roadmap.
The best brands know…simple is hard, but it’s critical.
That’s why they maintain a laser focus on their WHY. And it shapes all marketing communication, product development, and customer experience.
Find Your Voice
Brands won’t get their “voice” right until they know who they are.
Over the years, I’ve been hired lots of times to help a brand figure out their “voice and tone.”
There’s a well-worn playbook for this assignment. You go to the big list of adjectives and do the ol’ “we are” and “we are not” scale for a handful of key attributes. You write a manifesto, some messaging boilerplate, and call it a day.
But it’s all window dressing if the brand hasn’t done the core foundational work.
Unless a brand is clear about their WHY — why they exist as a company and their role in the world — it’s impossible to define how they should speak and act in the world.
As soon as you start the voice and tone project, it’s pretty clear whether the company has a well-defined strategic foundation or not.
If it doesn’t, the voice exercise becomes a battle for a much more fundamental debate — the soul of the company.
Form follows function. Strong brands develop the voice that advances their mission. No clear mission, no clear voice.
Do We Really Need This?
“We don’t need to revisit our brand strategy, we already have one.”
In 20+ years of working with brands, I wish this was true as many times as I’ve heard it. (Spoiler: It wasn’t.)
Many brands (maybe most?) don’t have the strategic clarity they need to move their brand to the next level of awareness, preference, and sales.
There are lots of reasons for this:
– Rotating cast of marketing personnel
– Focus on the short-term goals
– Internal debates about the company’s true focus
– Hubris! 😉
If your brand strategy isn’t clear, consistent, and compelling…if it doesn’t focus efforts in all aspects of your company (from marketing to product development to customer experience)…then you DO need to revisit your brand strategy.
It might feel like a step back to clarify the basics — the what, how, and (most importantly) WHY of your brand. But you shouldn’t build without a clear blueprint.
A clear brand strategy is the blueprint for your brand to make sure you’re all building the same house.
NEED HELP? Check out our 6-Week Brand Strategy Bootcamp — The simplest, fastest, best way to refresh your brand’s strategic platform to help you achieve your brand goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Kovacevich is a creative director and the founder of Agency SOS.