By Dan Dufour, brand strategist at theTeam
Let’s face it, brand strategies come in all shapes and sizes. Brand models. Brand platforms. Onions. Worlds. Keys. Pyramids. All populated with a multitude of words. Vision. Mission. Values. Beliefs. Behaviours. Purpose. Promise. Personality. Proposition. Customer value Proposition. Employee value proposition. Sometimes summarised in a ‘big idea’. A brand story. Boilerplate. Descriptor. Or manifesto.
Brand is a philosophy after all. A philosophy which guides how the brand communicates. Its tone, look and feel. Its physical presence, regardless of channel, and innovation. As well as how it behaves and interacts via people and technology. A benchmark to test everything against. It might be worth considering the below to help you set out a compelling vision that will help insight change and innovation.
Have you done enough to engage your people with your brand?
There can be a tendency to rush to take a new brand to market. But don’t forget, your people are a ready-made salesforce and every interaction we have with a brand informs our perception of it, including with its people. There have been numerous stories of bad behaviour having a negative impact on brand trust and reputation. But embedding your brand strategy and values within your culture should mitigate this. Ultimately your brand should be a guiding light, to inform decision making and conduct throughout your business.
Do you have a clear plan for digital communications, marketing campaigns and content?
The next step is to engage your target audiences with your brand to build the right perceptions and influence action and loyalty. Your approach will largely depend upon your budget. Most people start with digital marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO) and Google ad-words to ensure the right messages are seen by the right people at the right time, together with a content plan. Which social channels do you want to invest in curating, for which audiences and for what purposes? What content will you put out to connect people emotionally with your product or cause?
You’ll also want to consider the right mix of marketing channels based on your audience segmentation, as different channels have different benefits from awareness to response and retention. Some brands plan specific campaigns within set time periods, while others adopt an ‘always on’ strategy or a combination of both. Integrated campaigns are popular within charities, where different parts of the organisation work together to maximise impact, from brand and marketing to campaigns and fundraising work.
Do you have measurement and processes in place to make improvements?
Brand development is an ongoing creative process and is never set in stone. We test and learn, curate and evolve. But improving your brand is always best when based on audience insight, so make sure you have good measurement in place. Brand trackers are common, measuring metrics such as prompted awareness, understanding, consideration to purchase or support, attribution and trust. Measuring the sentiment towards a brand online is also popular, often called ‘buzz scores’. ‘In campaign’ measurement can allow you to optimise your creative in real-time. Then there is the hard evidence, such as sales figures, income, customer satisfaction, trust pilot rankings and staff retention.
We recommend creating a dashboard of key measures you can report to senior management at key intervals. Regular brand health checks or audits are also a good idea, as is a brand steering group with representation from across your organisation to help you create, embed and improve the brand going forward.
Preparing your own answers to the questions above will help you to create an identity and tone of voice that reflects the purpose and personality of your brand and the strategy you decide to implement.