Articles

What is Brand Strategy?

How deliberate are you about your brand?

There is some lingering scepticism regarding the importance of branding—or perhaps confusion as to exactly what it is. What people think of a company (customers, staff, collaborators, shareholders, media), however, clearly has an enormous effect on its performance. A good reputation is incredibly valuable and a brand is a specific reputation in the mind of an individual. Your company cannot control this, but everything you do influences it. Branding efforts do so consciously.

Ferrari, for example, no doubt makes exceptional cars, but it maintains its Formula One team in order to perpetuate its racing legacy and maintain the allure associated with one of the world’s most powerful brands.

Ferrari

It makes good business sense to think consciously about how you want to be perceived, to position yourself accordingly, and to ensure that everything from aesthetics to customer-service is consistent with that position. Building your brand could be the most effective investment you make as effective brands are able to charge a premium, win customer loyalty, and keep the mission of the organisation in focus.

Hiut Denim restored the practice of making jeans to the small town of Cardigan, Wales—ensuring that local craft was not lost. A story in itself. The product is handmade using the finest materials available, justifying the premium price. Their manifesto is “do one thing well.” “We make jeans. That’s it. Nothing else. No distractions.” A relaxed and off-beat vibe rounds out the brand’s personality in combination with the ethical and quality aspects of their narrative.

Photo: Hiut Denim Co.

Strategy requires a perceptive view of the situation; understanding where you are relatively strong and your opponent is relatively weak. A familiar scenario in military engagement or sporting tactics. Putting it a bit less aggressively, because life (and business) is not a zero-sum game, strategy is a long-term plan which allows energy and resources to be directed toward the most promising opportunity.

Brand strategy is, therefore, a form of leverage that allows one to compete by occupying a market position in which you can win. A platform which allows you to communicate your value and express your uniqueness. “The best strategies are so differentiated and powerful that they deflect the competition.” — Alina Wheeler, Designing Brand Identity (fifth edition, 2018)

Photo: The Morgan Motor Company (Pashley Cycles collaboration)

Pashley, England's longest established bicycle manufacturer (founded 1926), lean on their heritage. They don’t try to make the fastest, cheapest, or the most futuristic looking bikes. Instead, design is restrained and appropriate, with a streamlined traditional aesthetic.

Good strategy, like all good design, is elegantly simple and, for this reason, a fool may undervalue it. It requires not only an understanding of the situation but a creative re-framing of the landscape by a perceptive leader who can see the opportunity that others, perhaps, do not.

TL;DR
Strategy is a long-term plan which informs tactics—how resources are directed towards opportunity. Brand strategy aims to achieve differentiation by considering the purpose, positioning, and personality elements within an overall business model.

If you’d like help with developing your Brand Strategy then drop me an email to book a free consultation call.