Brand strategy may seem like a fuzzy concept used by pretentious marketing managers and communications agencies to have something to talk about at management meetings. However, it’s important. Functional and vibrant brand strategies are prerequisites for companies to be able to drive efficient sales, marketing communication and, not least, effective innovation and product development work, to name a few business critical areas. If you also implement the brand strategy internally, all (at least most) employees will understand the company’s direction and vision. They will be able to tell friends and acquaintances without difficulty why their employers are good and why customers buy their products and services. It’s added value.
How do you know if the company you work for has a vibrant and functional brand strategy? Here are five questions I’ve found works great as a foundation to discuss the state of your brand strategy.
- What are the company’s key success factors. Why are the company’s products/services sold on the market?
- What is the brand promise, or in other words; What does the brand promise to deliver to its customers? What distinguishes the company’s products/services from the competitors?
- Is there a key message, a communicative hook that runs like a common thread in the company’s marketing activities?
- Is that message something that the sales force also use in their rhetoric in contact with customers?
- Company values; and I do not mean the common three-value trick, can you account for how to work with values and how to relate to customers and employees, for real?
If you and your colleagues succeeded in delivering reasonably qualitative and concrete answers to the above, congratulations! You work for a company that has a vibrant brand strategy. If you feel that your answers are similar to clichés, or worse – you can’t answer, management needs to look over its strategic brand work.
Perhaps work has been done, but no effort has been made to implement the strategy internally, which unfortunately isn’t unusual. Maybe attempts have been made to get everyone involved, but the brand strategy work became too theoretical and impractical to apply, so it ended up in a binder.
Is your team ready to ask yourselves the tough questions and check the state of your brand strategy?