What is brand strategy?

I posed this question to twenty executives in a recent training session and I got the answers I usually get. Most attendees linked the term brand strategy to branding, that is to say, choices regarding primary branding elements like brand name, logo, and visual identity. Or, they linked brand strategy to choices of marketing communications such as Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 2.35.11 PMadvertising, publicity, and social media. A few also mentioned the important role that other aspects of the marketing mix—products, place, price, and promotion—frequently play.

As I discussed in my last post, branding seeks to achieve two important goals:

  • To help customers identify your company, and its products and services
  • To help customers to think and feel about your company, and its products and services in a way that is meaningful to them so they perceive your brand provides them with a compelling value

While branding is an absolutely crucial part of a company’s brand strategy, it represents only a part of the story because branding decisions occur during the execution phase of a company’s brand strategy. Before you can execute on a brand strategy you must first conceive of that brand strategy. Brand strategy includes more than just branding.

The heart of a winning brand strategy is its powerful business strategy

A winning brand strategy is synonymous with a winning business strategy. It takes a well-conceived and executed business strategy to build a strong brand and business. It takes a well-conceived and executed brand strategy to build a strong brand and business. It’s the same thing.

Regardless of whether you call it business strategy or brand strategy, it is about focusing a corporation on winning with the customers it’s choosing to serve by creating, delivering, and communicating a compelling value for them.

This imperative to win with customers by providing them with compelling value is what defines brand strategy, or business strategy, if you prefer.

Every brand strategy must answer two key questions: Where to play? and How to win? The answers to these two questions define the competitive strategy for a brand and business.

Where to play? requires decisions about the markets in which the brand and business will compete and the level of investment that it must make to be successful.

How to win? requires decisions regarding the value proposition that a brand and business seeks to deliver to the customers it chooses to serve, the assets and competencies required for this purpose, and the functional strategies to be employed in order to deliver on the chosen strategy.  (Branding choices take place once decisions have been made on Where to play? and on what Value Proposition needs to be delivered to the customers that will be served.)

It is the answers to these two questions that define the essence of business strategy. It is the answers to these two questions that define the essence of brand strategy. Again, it’s the same thing.

brand strategy is business strategy.

The real battleground for every brand is in the customer’s mind. Brands win on this battleground when they create a unique and valuable position in the minds of customers. This occurs when brands prove themselves capable of creating, delivering, and communicating a compelling value for the customers they are choosing to serve. And, that is the true meaning of brand strategy!

If you enjoyed this post then you should also read the posts below which have received acclaim from readers of this blog.

Marketing strategy is business strategy

How to talk about your “branding” so your audience gets it?

How do you talk about “your brand” so that everyone gets it?

About ashleykonson

STRATEGY CONSULTING | EXECUTIVE COACHING | CORPORATE TRAINING | KEYNOTE SPEAKING | Ashley Konson is the Managing Partner of Global Brand Leaders Inc., a new kind of brand consulting company dedicated to making brands and their teams leaders across the globe. He is a Brand Leader, Business Consultant and Award-Winning Educator, and a recognized thought leader and fervent advocate of the premise that strong brands and businesses achieve and sustain their market positions because they are strong Inside out™.
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11 Responses to What is brand strategy?

  1. Harika says:

    Great article Professor. Reminds me of your lecture “The challenge is to make everyone see the same green apple”

  2. Ron Strauss says:

    Most time and attention are spent on the ‘How to win?’ question. However, the ‘Where to play?’ question is underappreciated for the contribution it makes to a winning strategy. Correctly defining the category in which you want to compete, and getting the size of the investment right, are fundamental to success. Get this part right and the answers to the ‘How to win?’ question become more obvious and easier to execute.

    • ashleykonson says:

      Hello Ron, my thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post. I agree with the point you make and would add that it is especially so because of market segmentation and targeting decisions that inform decisions about the value proposition.

  3. Joe Fayt says:

    Hi Ashley,

    Just wanted to let you know that I have been enjoying reading your branding posts. I find them insightful, concise and practical. You mentioned that you were considering writing a book, I would encourage you to do that. You have a really nice writing style.

    Joe

    From: ashleykonson Reply-To: ashleykonson Date: Thu, 2 May 2013 19:00:40 +0000 To: Joe Fayt Subject: [New post] What is brand strategy?

    WordPress.com ashleykonson posted: “I posed this question to twenty executives in a recent training session and I got the answers I usually get. Most attendees linked the term brand strategy to branding, that is to say, choices regarding primary branding elements like brand name, logo, and “

  4. Hello Ashley,
    Really glad to read your great article.It is very helpful for me as a my profession.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ashley!I like the valuable information you provide in your article. I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently. I am quite sure I will learn lots of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

  6. Eric Cosnoski says:

    Hi Ashley,
    Interesting article on Brand Strategy. I think many people don’t incorporate brand elements into business strategy but you drew some nice parallels.

    From the Brand Strategy perspective, what are your thoughts on a wider approach? From my perspective, I have always thought of brand as the personification of a corporation. In addition to conveying an expectation to a consumer, it also imparts image. We can see this clearly when you think of a strong brand and try to picture the type of person that comes to mind (ie, Harley, Polo, Nascar, etc.).

    To add to your point, firms who do not incorporate this persona into their business plan often get their brand shaped by their product. A good example of this is the initial offerings of Samsung vs. that of Apple. Samsung let their products do the talking and, while they had some great offerings, the difference in perception was obviously seen in the price and demand of their Galaxy vs. something like the iPhone. They now seem to be incorporating brand strategy into their business plan but, as we can see, it is much more difficult after the persona is set in the customer’s mind.

    So I guess my question to you is do you think Brand Strategy should contain elements beyond the Business Strategy as well as possibly elements that are different (public face vs. private face)?

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