Effective brand strategy provides a central unifying idea around which all behaviour, actions, and communications are aligned. It works across products and services and is effective over time. The best brand strategies are so differentiated and powerful that they deflect the competition. They are easy to talk about, whether you are the CEO or an employee.
Brand strategy builds on a vision, is aligned with business strategy, emerges from a company’s values and culture, and reflects an in-depth understanding of the customer’s needs and perceptions. Brand strategy defines positioning, differentiation, the competitive advantage, and a unique value proposition.
Brand strategy needs to resonate with all stakeholders: external customers, the media, and internal customers (e.g., employees, the board, core suppliers). Brand strategy is a road map that guides marketing, makes it easier for the sales force to sell more, and provides clarity, context and inspiration to employees.
“The best brand strategy is developed as a creative partnership between the client, the strategist, and the designer.”
– Connie Birdsall, Creative Director at Lippincott
Who develops brand strategy?
It is usually a team of people; no one does it alone. It is a result of an extended dialogue among the CEO, marketing, sales, advertising, public relations, operations, and distribution. Global companies frequently bring in brand strategists: independent thinkers and authorities, strategic marketing firms, and brand thinker to help a company articulate what is already there.
“The importance of brand strategy and the cost of building brand identity should be understood at the highest levels of an organization and across functional areas – not just sales and marketing – but in legal , finance, operations, and human resources as well”
– Sally Hudson, Marketing Consultant
Sometimes a brand strategy is born at the inception of a company by a visionary, such as Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, or Anita Roddick. Sometimes it takes a visionary leader, such as Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, to redefine brand strategy. Companies frequently survive and prosper because they have a clear brand strategy. Companies falter because they do not have one.