In the age of constantly changing market environments and ever-increasing competition, your business could get disrupted by emerging technologies or new sales channels seemingly overnight. In this turbulent business climate, there's never been a more urgent need for a sustainable competitive advantage. A strong brand management strategy could give you just that.
An effective strategy can act as not only a defensive moat to protect your business, but also an offensive weapon to acquire new customers and grow revenue. It can help your firm stand out in the marketplace, build trust with customers, and align its various departments and functions.
A powerful brand can become one of your most valuable assets by improving customer loyalty and market positioning. According to the Trust Barometer report by the marketing consulting firm Edelman, brands' role in customers' buying decisions has been increasing, with 63% of buyers in 2023 making purchases based on belief, an almost 9% annual increase from the 58% figure in 2022. It's no surprise, then, that the most valuable brand in the world, Apple, was worth $482 billion in 2022, calculated by brand consultancy Interbrand.
What Is A Brand Management Strategy?
It’s a long-term, systemic plan to build, measure, and improve a company's brand equity and recognition. It utilizes various design elements and media, such as images, text, fonts, videos, and music, to showcase the business' uniqueness, reinforce its value proposition, and present its brand positioning. The goal is to build stronger customer relationships and more positive brand perceptions, leading to higher customer loyalty and increasing revenue.
Instead of a static, one-off process, it’s an ongoing, dynamic function that requires continuous measurement of business results and adjustments in response. An effective strategy can leverage multiple channels, including advertising, PR, product design, employee training, and customer interactions, to holistically create and maintain positive brand awareness.
Why Is Having A Strong Brand Management Strategy Important?
An effective brand management strategy can offer many benefits:
- Increased recognition: More people know and remember your brand.
- Improved perception and customer loyalty: Your customers think of your brand more positively and are more likely to stay with you.
- Strengthened differentiation: Set your brand apart from competitors.
- Higher revenue: The three points above can combine to promote word of mouth, expand your customer base, and increase repeat purchases.
- Better organizational alignment and employee satisfaction: A well-designed brand strategy can help align the business' various departments, such as sales, marketing, and customer service, resulting in improved work culture, higher employee satisfaction, and lower worker churn.
Types Of Strategic Brand Management
Depending on your needs and circumstances, one of the following 5 brand management strategy types may be the most suitable for your business.
This strategy focuses on helping customers identify a brand based on logos, slogans, or jingles. When you see a Swoosh, you think of Nike, and when you hear the phrase "You're in good hands," you know it's Allstate. This strategy may be a better fit for more established brands.
Individual branding creates a unique brand for each product of a company. Use this to emphasize differentiations among your product range and avoid cannibalization. Procter & Gamble is a master of this strategy, fielding 65 individual brands, including Crest, Oral-B, and Scope.
Emphasizing brand personalities over product features, this strategy seeks to associate a brand with specific emotions, such as excitement or authenticity. Nike's "Just Do It" and Apple's association with minimalism and simplicity are two famous attitude branding examples.
Brand Extension Branding
Brand extension leverages an existing brand name to launch new products into new market segments, increasing the brand's reach and revenue. Examples include Gillette extending from razor blades to shaving cream and Colgate branching out from toothpaste to toothbrush and dental floss.
Also called store brands or generic brands, private labels are value brands owned and sold by retailers. They offer a low-cost alternative to the name brands carried by the same retailers. Examples include Costco’s Kirkland Signature and Amazon's Amazon Basics.
Creating Your Brand Strategy
While creating and executing an effective strategy is a complex process requiring the seamless integration of many disparate tasks and can seem more like an art than a science, there are best practices and patterns you can follow to avoid pitfalls and maximize your chance of success. We've distilled these best practices into an optimized process for brand strategy development.
Organize Brand Assets
Brand assets are the design elements, such as logo, tagline, and color scheme that identify your brand and set it apart from competitors. An effective asset, such as a famous logo or slogan, can create an immediate association between the asset and the brand in people's minds. As assets can account for most of your brand's customer touchpoints, they are critical to your marketing strategy by improving your brand awareness and reinforcing your identity.
The 3 most important assets in your brand management strategy are:
- Logo: Logos are the top recognizable brand identifier, with 75% of people recognizing a brand by its logo. More importantly, 50% are more inclined to buy from a brand with a logo they know. Nike's Swoosh, McDonald’s Golden Arches, and Apple's bitten apple logo are all iconic designs that are instantly recognizable throughout the world.
- Color Scheme: Color has an outsized impact on human perception. People make up their minds about a product within 90 seconds, with up to 90% of that initial impression based on color alone. Tiffany's robin egg blue, Hermès' classical orange, and Subway's yellow and green are examples of the power of a well-designed color scheme.
- Slogan: A good slogan can convey your brand image and purpose in a memorable and punchy catchphrase. When you see the phrase "Just Do It," you instantly know it's Nike. Other famous slogans include Disneyland's “The happiest place on Earth” and De Beer's “A diamond is forever.” In a marketplace full of competing products, a catchy slogan can help your brand stand out and stay in customers' consciousness.
In addition to the 3 elements above, other important assets include:
- Song or audio snippet
Align Brand Assets With Your Brand Purpose, Vision, and Personality
Your assets should reinforce and be consistent with your brand purpose, vision, and personality.
Brand purpose is the immediate motivation behind your daily decisions and operations, vision is your company's long-term guiding principle and ultimate goal, and brand personality is the characteristics you give your brand to personify it and help it resonate with your target audience.
- Purpose: “To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world”
- Vision: “We see a world where everybody is an athlete — united in the joy of movement”
- Personality: Determined, competitive, adventurous, strong, spirited
- Purpose: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”
- Vision: “To help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential”
- Personality: Innovative, warm, personable, trustworthy, competent
Different brand purposes, visions, and personalities can call for different asset designs. A mass-market brand may work best with a striking logo design and primary color scheme, while a monogram emblem with an understated color palette may be more suitable for an upscale brand.
Manage Brand Assets
Once you've created your assets, you can store and organize them with brand management software to enable all employees to access them easily. This way, you can maintain a single source of materials and enforce a companywide standard for your logo, font, color palette, and document templates.
Align Your Brand Values and Brand Positioning
To strengthen brand equity and resonate with their customer bases, successful brands ensure their values align with positioning. You can do the same by taking stock of your values and positioning to check for any inconsistency between them.
Brand values are the foundation and principles that guide a business' operation and its employees' daily decisions and behaviors. These core values drive the company culture and help create brand loyalty. Interview the key stakeholders within your organization and document the core values that define your brand and guide your employees. Examples of brand values include:
- Nike: Community, sustainability, diversity, social responsibility
- Disney: Optimism, storytelling, quality, innovation
- Levi Strauss: Empathy, originality, integrity, courage
Once you've documented your values, it's time to ascertain your positioning and ensure they align. Interview your existing and potential customers to see how they perceive your brand, and perform competitive analyses to find out how your brand stacks up against other vendors.
Compare your values and positioning to find out any misalignment between them. For example, while "sustainability" is one of your values, your customers may see some of your competitors as sustainability leaders instead. In that case, adjust your strategy, including marketing and PR, to emphasize what you're doing to protect the planet and support sustainability.
Plan & Create Your Marketing
When planning and creating your marketing campaign, ensure it uses the appropriate brand voice to represent your core values and convey your messaging. For example, if your values include "integrity," design your marketing to evoke feelings of authenticity and trust. And if "warmth" is one of your brand personalities, emphasize a friendly customer experience in your marketing.
Similarly, your values and personalities should also determine your marketing channels. Rolex, a luxurious watch brand with a rich heritage, sponsors the PGA of America to reinforce its upscale and traditional image. Red Bull, an edgy, adventurous brand, focuses its marketing on extreme sports, such as rock climbing and mountain biking, to stress its fun-loving personality.
If your customers are mostly Generation X or baby boomers, consider TV, radio, and newspaper as your preferred marketing channels. Conversely, if you sell mainly to millennials or Generation Z, you're more likely to reach your audience through digital marketing on social media or phone apps.
Depending on your target market segments, you may include alternative channels, such as YouTube challenges, influencer marketing, and physical gifting, in your marketing plan to reach your most loyal customers and maximize brand recognition.
Monitor Your Brand Reputation
A critical step in the strategic brand management process is to monitor your brand reputation after you roll out your campaign. You want to see how your marketing has impacted your brand reputation, positively or otherwise.
As part of your reputation management strategy, you can use sentiment analysis software to scan user comments, reviews, and feedback on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, to summarize and distill them into easily digestible quantitative metrics, such as "87% positive."
You can also generate graphs to track how your reputation changes over time and how different marketing campaigns and channels impact it. This way, you can fine-tune your marketing efforts to optimize your performance.
Measure & Analyze Performance
Strategic brand management is an ongoing process with continuous feedback and adjustment. Measure and analyze your brand performance to optimize your brand strategy continually.
Important brand performance metrics include:
- Brand awareness: Does your target audience know your brand?
- Top-of-mind brand awareness: The percentage of the audience who name your brand first when thinking of your niche
- Unaided brand awareness: The number of people who mention your brand (in blog posts, social media comments, etc.) unprompted
- Aided brand awareness: The number of people who recognize your brand with assistance, such as picking it out of a list of choices
- Brand advocacy: Do your customers promote your brand through word of mouth?
- Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score: Using a survey, ask your customers how satisfied they are with your brand. The percentage of those who answered "satisfied" or "very satisfied" is your CSAT score.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): Using a survey, ask your customers how likely they are, on a 0-10 scale, to recommend your brand. Subtract the number of respondents who answered 0-6 from those who answered 9-10. Divide that by the total number of responses to calculate your NPS.
- Purchase intent: How likely your audience is to buy from you within a specific period, such as the next 6 or 12 months? Measure this metric using surveys or predictive modeling based on data including website engagement, reactions to marketing messages, and demographics.
Start Your Journey
Ready to create your brand management strategy? Check out our picks for the 10 Best Brand Management Software In 2023 to find one for your project.
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