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Updated on October 11, 2023.
What is brand strategy?
We've been talking about it since the beginning of the guide.
We hear that it's super important, and yes, it is!
Let's find out why.
First of all, what is a strategy?
Strategy is the art of coordinating actions to successfully achieve a specific goal.
It is a term used daily in different fields. Whether in sports, video games, military operations, or business: you will use this word to describe your plan of action to achieve a goal.
Generally, we talk about strategy when faced with a new challenge. No matter how big or small, you will always need the plan to achieve the goal you have set for yourself.
Napoleon Bonaparte would never have succeeded in conquering Europe if he had not used carefully crafted strategies before each battle.
When we talk about creating and building a brand, it's the same thing! You are not there to conquer territory but to positively impact a market.
Branding is coordinating a brand's actions to achieve its specific goal(s). The battle plan will allow you to reach your most ambitious objectives.
What does it do?
Brand strategy facilitates your strategic decision-making to ensure the consistency and continuity of your brand image through the decades.
By analyzing your context and calculating the risks, it will be easier for you to make choices that are beneficial for your brand in the long term. You will no longer be navigating in the fog; the path to success will seem clear.
Branding is the plan that will allow you to improvise and move forward without regrets.
However, you might say:
Wait! Even with a plan and a strategy, you can still lose a battle, just like Napoleon (#Waterloose 🇧🇪)
And you're right about that! Nothing ever guarantees a strategy to be a complete success. Nothing really ever goes the way you imagined.
So why would we create a battle plan for our brand if we don't know what will happen?
Don't worry. We'll explain it all to you.
The importance of brand strategy
Put yourself in the shoes of Napoleon in the 19th century. What would happen if you sent your soldiers to attack the enemy without tactics or strategy?
No matter how well-trained your troops were in battle, there would be a good chance that it would end in defeat and heavy casualties.
Now, what if you had sent your soldiers out with a clear plan that included the following:
an analysis of the battlefield
knowledge of the opponent's skills
well-honed combat tactics
Once again, in this situation, there is no guarantee of victory.
However, you increase your chances of success in this battle by preparing your troops for different eventualities.
What are we getting at?
A single context: the battle. Two opposite outcomes:
Outcome 1: Move forward without a strategy hoping it will work, and run into a disaster more easily.
Outcome 2: develop a strategy and increase your chances of success.
This concept works in a military context, and it also works in a branding context.
Having a plan allows you to improvise, iterate and evolve.
By defining your brand strategy, you'll have all the tools you need to complete your project and succeed in your mission.
You will surely lose some battles, but a well-structured brand strategy will always allow you to find new solutions to circumvent obstacles and flourish your brand.
This strategy must be scalable. If your company creates and markets forks today, it may not do so tomorrow.
But your purpose and goals will not change overnight.
They will evolve and allow you to make better strategic decisions.
An example anchored in the present time: Apple.
Apple is a brand that sells smartphones, computers, components, bank cards, watches, wipes, etc.
On paper, this company sells everything and anything without any continuity in its brand image.
We all know very well that this is not the case. Apple could even start selling cars, and nobody would be shocked.
The question is this:
How did Apple succeed in making so many different products and services while sharing a collective and consistent feeling across its creations?
The answer is simple: Apple has precisely defined what its brand is. From its look to its values, everything is fine-tuned.
Thanks to a coherent and well-constructed strategy, they manage to make their brand shine throughout the world. Today, Apple is present in the minds of many of the world's population.
It is a brand that allows people to think differently, to challenge the status quo. Apple advocates quality and excellence in its products by targeting a public of creators, innovators, and professionals.
It is a brand always looking to go further by constantly improving its experience and brand image with its audience.
Example: Apple is one of the only brands in the world that offers you to choose your music on hold before you can talk to one of their advisors on the phone. They make sure their community experience the best at all times.
Every possible interaction the brand has with its audience is defined in its strategy to create a real community.
Define your brand
Let's get back to business.
Similar to the Apple example, you must also learn to define yourself.
Defining your brand will create an "internal compass" guiding its community.
With this compass, you can correct your brand as you go along. You will then evolve your strategy with what you have just learned.
With the help of this compass, your teams can improvise when they run out of time or are caught off guard, for example, when a journalist asks them to explain your brand.
The point is simple, your brand will evolve because you will know :
Where you started.
Where you are.
And where you want to go.
A successful brand strategy
These days, more and more companies are talking about brand strategy when they actually talk about brand territory (don't worry, we'll define that term in the following pages).
☝️ Be careful not to confuse these two very different steps.
To make a long story short, the brand territory (a.k.a. brandscape) is the part about studying your market and your positioning.
It has nothing to do with the brand strategy, which is the definition of your brand independently of its current market.
As a reminder, within our brand strategy, we must define our precise objectives and the action plan.
This is where many brands get lost by defining short-term strategies oriented in the wrong direction
We often hear:
"Our goal is to double our revenue."
"Our goal is to become the leader in our market."
These are not goals for your brand image, only capitalistic ideals.
You will be able to achieve these financial goals if, and only if, your branding issues are well understood and defined.
The only way to achieve these financial objectives is to have a well-executed brand strategy. Achieving these objectives is not an end but the result of a job well done.
If we take these objectives in the context of the Apple example:
"Our goal is to show the world we find a real way to express ourselves by thinking in new ways."
"Our goal is to enhance the creative ability of our customers through unique, high-quality products."
"Our goal is to show that innovation and creativity, in the service of a concept, is one of the keys to improving our daily lives."
The goals listed above are well-linked to a long-term vision. It is the brand strategy that allows them to define themselves well.
On the other hand, the brand territory allows us to assess the short- to medium-term context.
With the help of these two elements, you can easily define effective marketing and sales strategies (see the symbiosis of branding and marketing).
Brand strategy: specific objectives.
The core is to define the purpose of your brand. This is what should not change in 10, 20, 40, or 200 years!
You're probably thinking:
Wow, that's going great 😱 !
And you're right!
If a brand has no purpose:
Either it has achieved its objective. Mission accomplished, and it's over! ✅
Or it has no deep purpose and no problem to solve. Game over, it's useless because it doesn't help anyone.
You then define your endpoint by defining your mission, vision, values, etc. This definition is what allows you to solve the problem.
Without these elements, you will move forward by choice in a permanent fog. Good luck getting somewhere if no one tells you the address and your GPS is broken.
Good branding allows you to rough out the "far, far away," making the picture clearer and your goals almost tangible.
Good branding makes the future real.
Brand strategy: precise actions.
A good brand strategy does not directly define specific actions to be taken in the short term.
A good brand strategy allows you to create a robust framework for your brand to prepare for all eventualities.
Think of it as a battle in the making (Napoleon, here we come!):
You don't know the terrain yet.
You don't yet know the number of enemies in the opposing army.
You don't know the weather.
You have no idea what the outcome of the battle will be.
All you can do is:
Define your objectives so that you have them in mind on the day of the battle.
Train physically and mentally for the battle.
Think of your brand strategy as physical and mental preparation for the battle. You'll need to imagine possible futures:
Imagine how your brand will grow as you move toward your goals.
To summarize, a good brand strategy is:
A clear definition of your brand
A well-defined framework and context
A long-term strategy
A long-term action plan
A clear vision of the future
Don't worry. The following pages are dedicated to brand strategy and will help you put yours in place!
Bad news that means this was only the introduction to the topic 🙃.
Business and strategy, do you have it all figured out?
Branding is a long-term business strategy that allows you to control your brand image.
So strategy comes before the realization of a visual identity and has nothing to do with a graphic charter.
Your strategy is the brain of your brand. It is what engages your community in the cause you share.
With this strategy, you'll be ready to communicate a consistent brand image internally and externally.
You'll know how to align your brand's past, present, and future.
We hope you've enjoyed this chapter.
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