Why a clear brand strategy is important
Effective marketing campaigns can help deliver business. However, without a clear brand strategy it’ll be difficult for employees and customers to connect with your brand at a deeper level – resulting in more functional and transactional relationships.
Arguably it’s more important for financial brands to invest in their brand strategy than other sectors as there is no tangible product and a general lack of consumer trust.
And over the years we’ve seen many financial companies simply telling customers to ‘trust’ them which instinctively has the opposite effect. The only way to truly change or enhance the way your customers view you is to a) be clear on your values and purpose and b) live by and demonstrate those values in everything you do.
What is a brand strategy?
The manifestation of a clear brand strategy is usually series of statements that will articulate what’s special about your brand and should include:
- Why you do it: your brand purpose and vision
- How you do it: your brand proposition or essence. This will be supported by:
- Customer insights leading to the proposition
- Reasons to believe
- What you do: your products and services
- What you stand for: your brand values
- Who you are: your brand personality and your brand story
- How you say it: your tone of voice
Key steps to developing your brand strategy
Step 1: Insight into context
A brand will only have the power to change behaviour if it’s based on truths and real beliefs. So the following areas of insight are suggested: a questionnaire sent out to all staff; one-on-one interviews with employees across a range of departments and seniority; analysis of recent qualitative and quantitative market research; and competitor brand reviews.
Step 2: Brand strategy development
Every agency might have a slightly different way of presenting this information, but it generally includes most of the statements in the ‘What is a brand strategy’ section above and will often be summarised in some sort of brand pyramid or matrix.
Over time it’s easy to lose sight of the reasons of why the company exists. Profits and growth targets are necessary, but you’ve got to stand for something more. A human factor and a reason for being that everyone can get behind. You’ve got to inspire people and take them with you on a journey towards something meaningful that you can be proud of. Watch: Simon Sinek’s the golden circle: with how starting with the ‘Why’ is key to how great brands and leaders inspire action and change behaviour, that we often watch to inspire us before developing our clients brand strategies.
Step 3: ‘Brand workshop’ with key internal stakeholders
This is a session to:
- Replay the lead insights from the immersion process that informed the approach
- Present the proposed brand strategy statements
- Debate and refine strategy statements during breakout sessions and group discussions
- Reach a group consensus on the message and the approach to each statement, whilst all key stakeholders are present
Step 4: ‘Brand strategy refinements’
Refine the brand articulations following group feedback, for board sign off.
3 top tips for developing a powerful brand strategy
1. Agree the outputs upfront – so everyone is clear on what you want to achieve. The template above should a good starter for 10.
2. Make the process inclusive – by listening to and debating employee and key stakeholder input upfront and throughout the process you will ensure a more authentic and therefore more powerful approach to the new brand. It also means that everyone within the business will be much more invested and engaged in the new brand as they’ve felt part of its inception.
3. Get external support – This isn’t a blatant push for our services but ideally you should have someone external or an external company help you with this. Why? Because external support shows you’re taking it seriously and ensure it’s seen as an impartial process with no internal agenda’s or departmental biases.
What’s next after creating your brand strategy
- Ongoing internal engagement – In order to strengthen your brand and live it, it must be visible. Agree ways to make sure every team member understands the refreshed brand positioning and can see it, feel it and believe it every day within their working environment.
- Review the brand identity – Review if how you talk (your tone of voice) and how you look and feel (your visual identity) needs to be reviewed to align with your new brand strategy.
- Brand deployment – Once you’ve got all this sorted bring it to life through all your brand touchpoints and communications.
Smart campaigns can drive business but if you want to take your brand to the next level you may need to define or refine your core brand strategy. Get in touch if you think you need to realign your brands compass to take your brand to the next level or read our case studies of brand strategies we’ve created for Benenden Health, Ellipse and Key Partnerships.