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 advertising, 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!
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