The process of creating a brand strategy that helps drive the business forward is a significant commitment. A company that is willing to dedicate the people, time and money to see it through will enjoy the fruits of their labors for years to come. Those that don’t just end up with a nice new logo. How do you know if you are ready?
Over the years, the member firms of the Brand Establishment have handled hundreds of brand strategy engagements and we frequently discuss what conditions need to exist for the work to be successful. These conditions are signs that the organization has the ability to transform its brand into a corporate-level priority, which is required to see the full benefits.
Here are five conditions that should exist before you start the brand process:
1. Your executive team is on board
The brand process is owned by the CEO and needs to be fully supported by the executive team for it to work. This core group has the best perspective on the business strategy and direction of the company. They direct the resources of the organization to make the needed changes. And they set the tone for the culture so that everyone in the company knows how important the brand is to their jobs. Their involvement and support is essential.
2. You are willing to change more than the logo
Brand strategy and business strategy are partners at the hip. Aligning the two may necessitate changes in various functions of the organization including marketing, sales, human resources and customer service. After all, you can’t promise “second to none” customer service in your digital marketing campaigns and then send customer calls to voicemail. It’s a team effort.
3. You know your customers intimately
The purpose of creating a brand strategy is to build your business. Otherwise, why bother? So it is important to understand what works well in your customer relationships and what doesn’t, what non-customers think, how the market views you and your competitors, and what is important to the buyer. The more you know, the more effective your brand story will be.
4. You know what sets you apart from your competitors
By nature, the brand process is about differentiation. Unique brands maximize value even in commoditized businesses. Why buy Dell over HP? Why fly Southwest over US Air? Your company has something different that sets it apart from the competition. It’s important to know your competitors inside-and-out, how the market perceives them, and where they are stronger and weaker than you.
5. You know yourself
Discovering your brand and what it means requires all-of-the-above, plus a bit of introspection. You need to be able to set aside the way you have describe your company in the past and explore a wide variety of things that might make you unique. This could include company culture, business model, internal processes, history, people or many other categories. At its core, Apple is more about disrupting markets with technology than the technology itself.
So are you ready? You may not be perfect in all of these areas, but who is? Your organization just needs to be able to discuss what you know, acknowledge what you don’t, and pursue the truth of your brand. It’s hard work, but anything that helps build your business is.