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What is Brand Strategy? Why Brand Strategy is important? How Brand Strategy impact on business? History of the Brand Strategy? Rules for Brand Strategy? Bad Brand Strategy? When Brand Strategy introduced? Common errors in Brand Strategy?
What is Brand Strategy?
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.
Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.
The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:
• • • • •
Delivers the message clearly Confirms your credibility Connects your target prospects emotionally Motivates the buyer Concretes User Loyalty
To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact.
Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.
A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. It's important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. After all your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. It's a foundational piece in your marketing communication and one you do not want to be without.
Brand strategy is one of the most fraught areas of marketing, though clearly also one of the most important. There are many problems with definition. The key point is you can’t have a strategy without a clear objective. Restating a goal is not strategy, execution is not strategy, and tactics are not strategy. A brand cannot function without a strategy and the function of brand management is to implement brand strategy. A brand’s longevity and strength has to be built less on price and more on differentiation. In markets cluttered with messages, and where a certain level of quality of product and/or service is expected by customers, brand owners have to find ever new ways to foster loyalty.
TARGETING In order to decide how best to choose target customers for your brand, you need to answer questions, such as: Which customers are important to the market?
Which are important to my brand? How can I get more customers or do more business with each of them?
The current preoccupation, rightly, is analyzing which customers deliver the most value and hence profit the company most. These may not necessarily be the largest number of the brand’s customers – in fact it rarely is. In most brands, there is some variation of an 80/20 rule, where the minority of most loyal customers deliver most value to the company. Advances in technology have made it easier to collect, store and utilize more reliable data on who your customers are, how much and how often they buy from you, what else they buy etc. The key strategic choice to make here is whether you are targeting the most valuable customers to keep their custom, targeting infrequent customers to make them more brand loyal, or trying to gain new customers? All those targeting objectives are important to building a strong brand, but the emphasis may vary depending on the lifecycle of the brand. A new brand needs to establish itself in the marketplace, but over time customer loyalty will grow and the brand should reward its most valuable customers. Recruiting new customers, however, is a never-ending task and one which will ensure the brand’s longevity.
VALUES Consumers buy brands because their values align with the brands’ values. To keep brands fresh, relevant and at the forefront of customers’ minds, it is vital to be able to have strong links between core brand values and positive customer experiences, which are brought to life in innovative products using the best technologies. Core brand values are what differentiate you from your competitors and can be expressed in a small number of words, although the words have to be meaningful in terms of the context of the brand. Positive customer experiences are the fulfillment of the brand promises. To maximize the impact you make on customers, it is important to explore the full richness of the context in which the product is being used, focusing particularly on the benefits which customers experience.
PROPOSITION A proposition is what you choose to communicate about your brand to the market and various stakeholders in your brand. This communication entails more than just the physical product or advertising. All the intangible communications of the brand, its customer service, its availability, its pricing policy, have a bearing on how the overall brand proposition is viewed by customers.
How Brand Strategy impact on business?
A strong strategy should be specifically designed to reflect your business objectives, your corporate culture, and the value of your products and services; it should be based on sound market research and focus on your target market. Above all, a professional brand strategy employs a mechanism of measuring the ongoing success of each of your idea.
History of the Brand Strategy?
We tend to think of branding as a modern day phenomenon. Certainly, during the late 1990s and the early 2000s, branding emerged as a significant area of emphasis not only for companies and their products, but also for municipalities, universities, other non-profit organizations and even individuals. Branding became ubiquitous. Many of us also know that Proctor & Gamble and other consumer product companies began branding their products in earnest in the mid-to-late 1800s. But more interesting to me is how far back in time branding goes. For instance, companies that sold patented medicines and tobacco began branding their products as early as the early 1800s. Around the same time, some fraternities and sororities branded their pledges (literally) during initiation rites as a form of identification and bonding, a practice that has long since been identified as hazing and therefore abandoned. But that is still recent history -- relatively. Between the 1600s and 1800s, criminals were branded (again literally) as a form of punishment and identification. For instance, in England, they branded an S on a person's cheek, while in France, they branded a fleur de lis on the shoulder. As repugnant as it may be to us today, slaves were also branded roughly during the same time period to connote ownership. In the 1200s, England required bread makers, goldsmiths and silversmiths to put their marks on goods, primarily to insure honesty in measurement. In the Medieval times, printers also used marks as did paper makers (watermarks) and various other craft guilds. But branding goes back even further. As far back as 1300 BC, potter's marks were used on pottery and porcelain in China, Greece, Rome and India. Branding of cattle and livestock go back as far as 2000 BC. And archaeologists have found evidence of advertising among Babylonians dating back to 3000 BC. So, how far back does branding go? At least 5000 years. What is more interesting to me are underlying needs from which branding originated: to insure honesty, provide quality assurance, identify source or ownership, hold producers responsible, differentiate, as a form of identification and to create emotional bonding. Interestingly, people value brands for many of the same reasons today. Clearly, history provides some insight and perspective on modern day branding.
Rules of Branding
1. Be specific Know what your brand stands for, and know what your brand promises. Your brand promises should be precise and attainable, and you should be able to communicate them clearly. For example, don’t just say your brand stands for quality. That’s a broad statement that any company can make. How does your brand specifically live and breathe quality? Those specifics are what will make your brand stand out from your competition. 2. Be authoritative Once you know what your brand stands for and promises, don’t be afraid to flaunt it. You need to make everyone else believe you’re the leader and authority in your area of expertise and specialization. Don’t meekly communicate your message. Say it with powerful words and conviction.
3. Be consistent Get your brand message out there and don’t waiver on it. I’ve read statistics in the past that state as soon as you’re tired of your message, your customers are just starting to recognize it. A consistent message and customer experience are critical elements to building your brand. 4. Be honest In today’s world, people welcome honesty and your business will be rewarded for it. Don’t offer promotions or guarantees you can’t deliver. Instead, admit your fallibility and deliver on your promises. Integrity goes a long way. 5. Be relentless Get your brand message out there. Then get it out again and again and again. People are inundated with a myriad of messages each day. It’s not only critical that you try to stand out from the competition but it’s equally important that you are not forgotten. Don’t drop the ball on communicating your brand promise and building your brand image. Your efforts will be rewarded in time. These rules apply to company, product and personal branding. They are simple, basic rules that are critical to your brand’s overall success. What rule or rules would you add to this list?
Standing out amid a massive chorus of competitors is a challenge for any company in today’s business climate. Want evidence? Look at any magazine, TV show or surf the Internet. The number of offers and sales pitches one receives on a daily basis is simply staggering and increasingly ineffective. It’s no wonder, then, why businesses are seeking new and more effective ways of increasing the influence of their brand strategy in the marketplace. A strong brand strategy can increase the awareness of a company and its offerings in such a way that establishes strong feelings and reactions and a favorable view towards the company as a whole. To create this sort of “brand awareness” in your market, it takes skillful Brand Strategy know-how. Successfully out-branding your competitors is a continuous battle for the hearts and minds of your customers. The proposition your brand strategy makes must be very compelling, attractive and unique among competitive offerings. The proposition must also be consistently reinforced throughout all phases of an organization, from senior executives to customer service, research and development, business development and even your business partners. What entails a comprehensive and effective “Brand Strategy process?” That’s a much longer answer than what we have space for here, plus it varies from industry to industry, but here are some very basic guidelines about what makes a good Brand Strategy. Brand Strategy—what’s the big deal? Brand Strategy is nothing new. Yet, the expectations consumers have for a product or service they buy is stronger than it’s ever been. This is why companies interested in long-term success must create the most promising, targeted brand experience possible. Whether you know it or not, you already have a brand, and your customers are having a “brand experience” when they interact with you, whether it be with your products and services or the people in your company. In order to craft this “brand experience” in a calculated way that is beneficial for your company, you must have a strong understanding about what exactly a brand is. Brand is the Alpha and Omega In other words, brand is the totality of your company and its business. “A brand is the sum of the good, the bad, the ugly and the off-strategy,” says Scott White, one of the nation’s leading branding consultants and a valued expert companies like Sun Life Financial and Franklin Sports rely on. “It is your best and worst product. It is your best and worst employee. It is communicated through award-winning advertising as well as those ads that somehow slipped through the approval cracks and sank anything riding on them. It is your on-hold music and the demeanor of the receptionist who puts that valued client or prospect on hold. It is the carefully crafted comments by a CEO as well as negative buzz by the water cooler or in chat rooms on the Internet. Brand is expressed through written, audio and visual content. It is interpreted through emotional filters every human being has—where anything can happen. Ultimately, you can’t control your brand. You can only hope to guide it.”
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