Strategy


By Dan Dufour, brand strategist at theTeam


In part one, we started looking at how a good brand strategy can help you change the way people think, feel and act. But you have to embed it across the whole customer and employee experience, not just the brand expression.

Consider your brand positioning

It is common to involve customers and employees in the development of a brand strategy and story to make sure it is truly inspiring. This can be complicated and time consuming but is the best way to create a brand with a strong sense of purpose, pride and commitment. Typically, different options are researched with key audiences before refinement. It is increasingly common to use human psychology (behavioural economics and human emotions) to inspire people to action

When we worked with Rightmove, they had an existing proposition they were happy with: Find your happy. But they weren’t happy with the way it had been brought to life by the brand expression or through the brand experience – which was disjointed across channels.

We cemented the brand strategy (purpose, proposition and personality) and then brought it to life by refreshing the brand expression – visual and verbal identity – across the whole customer experience, including the user experience (UX) design in partnership with their in-house design team. And the impact? Profits rose by 10% the year following the brand refresh, with a record number of estate agent listings.

When we work with Crimestoppers, they needed to change brand perceptions and engage two distinct audiences with one brand identity: the people who use their service – Stoppers; and the people who support them to provide it – Supporters. As a heritage brand, Crimestoppers has been providing a vital anonymous service for many years, but it is also an independent charity, which many people don’t know, which is why a rebrand was needed.

A new brand strategy was developed, including a vision, mission, values, personality and propositions. In this case there were different propositions for the different audiences that sat within the same brand strategy framework. ‘Speak up, stay safe, stop crime’ for the Stoppers. ‘Protect the people you care about from crime’ for the Supporters. And the impact? The anonymous crime reporting service is busier than ever. The rebrand has also shown Crimestoppers’ more caring side, so it can pursue more fundraising in the future.

One brand or more?

Alongside an audience segmentation and proposition development you’ll need to decide whether you need one brand, or a portfolio of them for specific products. This is called ‘brand architecture’ and is essential if your brand is to remain intact and not unravel. There are different models you can follow such as Freestanding, Unified (also known as Monolithic), Branded House, House of Brands or Hybrid, with pros and cons to each. Sadly, sub-brands are often created by default, rather than being directed by a clear brand strategy. So, we’d recommend agreeing your brand architecture during a brand development process, not leaving it until later as can be the temptation. In the era of Brand Purpose, corporate master brands like Unilever are becoming just as important as their portfolio of product brands from Dove to Marmite. At the same time, many charities are trying to tame a plethora of unnecessary sub-brands to move towards a more unified approach.

Have you embedded your brand strategy throughout the customer and employee experience?

Now you have your brand strategy in place, it is time to bring it to life. Most people start with the brand expression, visual identity and tone of voice. But branding goes much further nowadays.

Branding is increasingly embedded across the whole customer and employer experience, including UX (user experience) and CX (customer experience) design, not just marketing communications. This means working collaboratively across an organisation to influence products and services, culture and customer services. Or in a charity, across policy, campaigns and fundraising.

There has also been a shift in mentality when it comes to managing the brand expression. Where some people seek control and consistency, others allow more freedom of expression within set parameters. Where brand guidelines were once the bible, practical tools and online learning are now more commonplace. In this context, the job of a brand manager is to coach, educate and inspire.

So, if you’ve never thought of your personal brand strategy, I’d encourage you to ask yourself the follow questions:

My purpose: Why do I get up for work each day and what’s the impact I want to make?

My proposition: What do I promise to deliver for me and my employer, my colleagues or clients?

My personality: What personality do I want to convey in my professional life? Or what’s my brand archetype?

My principles: What are the principles (or values) that guide the way I behave or communicate?

Once you’ve finessed it, keep it as a reminder to guide your personal brand.

Check out the final part in this mini-series here.