Thinking Through a Brand Strategy


Nov 19, 2012 - by Ryan Berman
Thinking Through a Brand Strategy

As a communication firm that specializes in ideation, we are tasked with rationalizing strategies to support a brand position. Many companies come to us looking for ideas that will help accelerate their brand past others in their category. Today we are even tasked with looking beyond the category walls as brands have started to compete more across verticals for discretionary income.

Here are a few tips to help you set up strong pillars to ensure your brand strategy leads to a well thought out MarCom campaign.

PEOPLE - Do you know the consumer?

We pride ourselves on asking questions. And then answering them. We can only do this properly by diving into consumer research to help guide insightful thinking and recommendations. Educate your team about the consumer who will engage with the product you are trying to get in front of them.

Develop personas that help give context to the different types of targets you are tasked with communicating to. This gives context to how they spend their time interacting with brands and communicating throughout their day. It will also simplify the audience, which is much more useful than trying to talk to a larger bucket of demo averages. Remember, you cannot be everything to everyone. Tailor and target your strategies.

Understand the underlying emotional drivers of your target segments. These are what you need to tap into to move someone to engage. You can sway attitudes and behaviors but only a life changing (e.g. the recession) event can change someone’s values. Focus on how you can make a connection that will prompt the consumer to add your brand or product to their consideration set. This should hit on intrinsic emotional instincts that are elicited from the experience the brand or product provides.

PRODUCTS - What are the differentiators?

Sometimes there is nothing that differentiates a product in its category. And that is where branding and awareness can really swing a company into the leadership category. Tide was a great example of this. Most of the time there is something that differentiates the product from the competitive set. If this is true be sure that this is a focus of the strategy. Make it simple to understand and easily digestible.

You want your consumer target to be able to replicate what you are messaging as the differentiators from the brand side. Give your consumer tools to pass on to their friends. They will become your biggest advocates if you speak to them in their language and make them want what you have to offer.

Make sure you understand the consumer journey. Consumers have become much more adept at researching and comparative shopping of products they are interested in purchasing. Today’s consumer is also much more inclined to make a well rationalized decision versus an impulsive one especially if the item is expensive. Think multi-channel engagement. The funnel of awareness, research and compare, look and desire, buy, maintain, and evangelize has become much more blurred. This is more like a flight map than a funnel. Figure out where they engage and utilize attribution metrics to help measure and optimize messages throughout their journey.

CULTURE - What is the opportunity to make this a part of their lives?

Brands can change our culture. Apple did. Coke has created a culture of Joy. It’s just sugar water people! It’s the emotion of a brand that we tie into. All of us want to represent ourselves uniquely. From the brands we wear to the products we use, they represent the individuality we choose to showcase in our daily lives. How we then transform these into our relationships with our friends, family, and life experiences is the true test of a brand infiltrating and becoming part of popular culture.

Every brand must find a way to entertain. Technology has given us the greatest opportunity to share what we like. People only share what they believe is a representation of self or what they find entertaining. Entertainment is excitement. And excitement is happiness. If you are excited to do something, most likely you are content with whatever it is you are doing. Find a way to tap into that and you will be able to move culture.

Every piece of business we have the opportunity to work on is different and each has its unique challenge. The thread that runs through all of this and supports a strong strategy are the pillars that get set up front. Make sure these are sound and cannot be knocked down. Then it’s up to the ideas to make them come to life.


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