Growing a business is easier said than done. Companies of every size face challenges that act as barriers to growth.
Over the years we have encountered a wide range and number of businesses that have great products and services yet are unable to define, articulate and communicate their relevance to customers and define a vision of where the business is going.
In order to grow, businesses need to utilise their most important asset, their brand. He we explore how creating a brand strategy can provide a catalyst for growth.
What is a brand strategy and why is it important?
A brand strategy is a primary mechanism to activate your business strategy. Creating your brand strategy usually starts by identifying opportunities within your market. In contrast to your business and marketing plans, which detail how you’re going to meet specific business targets, a brand strategy addresses how your business is going to evolve to prepare itself to overcome the challenges of today and in the future.
A brand strategy gives your company purpose and relevance while also providing answers to questions about your long-term plans.
They are of crucial importance because they keep your company working towards goals that go beyond what’s happening in the market today. They keep both leaders and employees focused and aligned around a core vision and central idea about what the business is and stands for. As a result, they compel all stakeholders to pull together and drive in the same direction.
How do you build a successful brand strategy?
Developing a brand strategy demands coordination among a cross-functional group of stakeholders; it can’t be just a few people in a room with a whiteboard. Everyone involved should understand what they’re working towards and why, as well as what they’re expected to bring to the process.
To be successful in your strategy, you need to consider what will significantly impact business growth. Here are a few starters for ten:
Your value proposition
(an innovation, service, or feature that makes your business or product attractive to customers)
To grow your business you need to increase its reach and resonance with existing customers and be able to attract new ones. To do this, you must create a value proposition that:
• customers and prospects can quickly understand
• clearly and simply states what your business does and how it does it
• emphatically demonstrates your value to customers
Your value proposition should be unique to your business, reflect your vision and create a competitive advantage by addressing an opportunity in the market that they have overlooked or that you can deliver against that they cannot.
Creating relevance and delivering an exceptional experience
Even the most recognised brands in the world started from scratch at some point, often from a garage or attic office.
Although they are very different types of businesses, they all achieved success by being more relevant to their customers than their competition, communicating that relevance better than anyone else and through delivering a unique and joined up customer experience.
Branding is often undervalued and seen as the ‘logo’ or ‘colouring in’. However, building a strong brand is so much more than this. Strong brands are identified by their values, what they stand for and the experience they deliver to their audience. All of this should be established in your brand strategy.
To define your relevance you should engage with your audience. By understanding their needs and aspirations you can build a brand platform that establishes greater resonance, becomes a strong force of attraction and drives better retention.
Think long term
Being focused solely on the present and short-term results can have detrimental effects on your business down the road.
By committing to building your brand over the long-term you will enjoy bigger returns in your marketing spend as the equity in your brand delivers over and above what short-term sales activation ever could.
You should also invest time and energy in thinking about where the world is going, what change could mean for your customers, partners, employees and how you will position yourself to service their changing needs.
Having a robust brand strategy in place will help you navigate changes and make the best decisions for the future of your business that are aligned to its overall vision and business plan.
Narrow the focus before you expand
Many businesses aspire to expand their offering in to new categories and markets before they have built a strong enough foundation to support this expansion.
You should first narrow your focus, build a strong brand platform for something that is unique, that you can own and continually deliver an exceptional customer experience for before you make big expansion plans.
When the time is right, ensure your expansion plans and business decisions are informed by the brand strategy and the overall vision. This will ensure you minimise the risk of diluting your core offer.
Grow at a pace you can manage
We’ve all seen it before, and we’ll see it again – companies that grow too fast and then fail because they can’t keep up. The result is an inability to deliver their promise and a disjointed customer experience.
The last thing you should do is stretch yourself to secure short-term gains that will eventually put unnecessary strain on your business and your people.
It can be hard to make trade-offs, sometimes sacrificing the exciting for the sensible, but it is sometimes necessary for the overall long-term health of your business.
A robust brand strategy will guide you and your team towards achieving your vision, helping you to make the right decisions along the way.
When you know what you want and have a well thought out plan for how to get there, you’ll avoid the pitfalls of making hasty decisions that could end up costing you in the long run.
If you’re thinking about how to create or refine your brand strategy, Fogg have a wealth of experience in supporting businesses of all shapes, sizes and life stages in doing just that.