It’s not easy to come up with the perfect strategy to build the perfect brand and all too often, people responsible for brand management focus on things that in fact shouldn’t be the top priority. Below, we’ve listed some of the things that are often employed when building a brand, but rarely can be attributed to its success. Contrary to the popular belief, these are the things that don’t matter in your brand development…
It definitely sounds important, but is it? Not at all, and the level of success a brand has, isn’t determined by this in the slightest. Some brands decide they need their positioning model written down in extensive brand books, while others can quite happily plough forward with just a sentence or two, or nothing at all! It’s not the number of words or the multitude of brand aspects described in your strategy document that matter. Three well chosen words can actually do a better job.
Of course, having your positioning model written down might make you feel more confident, but it’s not going to guarantee you success.
Being unique can be key in marketing, but it’s not something you need to be thinking about when creating a brand strategy. Some people believe (and we strongly agree with them) that there’s a finite number of brand strategies and it’s the execution that differentiates various brands. It’s almost impossible to make your strategy truly unique and you should be ok with that. There are many categories, in which brands represent similar values and communicate similar benefits, yet many of them are successful (read our post about the most popular brand values).
Many successful brands include emotions in their branding exercises – Dove giving off the feeling of empowerment, Honda playing on the power of dreams and Coca-Cola focusing on happiness. This leads to some thinking it’s mandatory that emotional benefits are communicated, when this definitely isn’t the case. There are many brands that never communicate emotions, and instead focus on promoting the rational benefits of their business.
For example, Amazon have spent years focusing on three pillars: convenience of delivery, low prices and wide selection. No emotions have been conveyed in their brand strategy, but their focus on these benefits has led to huge success.
It’s much more important to build emotional bonding with the client base, by delivering a consistently great product experience, rather than attempting to fix brand problems with emotion-driven image campaigns, taking us on to the next point.
Amongst marketers, it’s heavily debated whether running an image campaign is more beneficial than a product campaign, with many believing image based efforts are what builds the brand.
An image campaign can be good for your brand, but it won’t be the sole saviour of your strategy. It’s also fine to just have product campaigns, and some major brands such as Apple and Coca-Cola have gone from running image campaigns, back to product ones.
When running a product campaign though, you need to remember that it also builds your brand image and as such it should sit comfortably in your brand’s world. For example, sportswear brands such as Nike or Reebok are great at that – every product campaign strengthens the brand image and every image campaign is rooted in the product. By all means avoid situations, where your product and image campaigns look and feel completely different.
All product campaigns should have image factor and all image campaigns should relate to the product, otherwise they’re a waste of time, money and resources.
So those are the things that don’t matter…
Simply put, if you can describe what your brand is about in one sentence, and a child is able to understand it, then you’re on the right track. If not, you need to do your homework. If your brand is too complicated for you to explain in simple terms, how can it be expected for a consumer to understand what you’re trying to be?
Also the key success factor of building a strong brand is making sure your employees live and breathe your strategy. As explained above, having a brand strategy document will mean nothing, if five people at your company are aware of it and only two really understand it. Without proper knowledge of the brand strategy, your team will implement what they individually believe, and your product and communication activities will not build a coherent image. In companies where brand plays a major role (e.g. Disney, Lego, Coca-Cola), employees will never challenge the power of it, as they see how it makes their job easier on all levels. Some companies continue to believe that a good product will do the whole job, but brand thinking is always required as the product benefits need to be explained to the consumer in a meaningful way. Otherwise, you won’t be able to create a strong brand and utilise the power of it for a better financial turnover.
In summary, if you can easily explain your brand strategy in succinct and simple terms, and everybody in your company understands, believes and translates it to their jobs, then you’re in a good place.
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Magda Adamska is the founder of BrandStruck.
BrandStruck is the only online database of brand strategy case studies.
This is a tool that is dedicated to brand and marketing professionals, allowing them to better understand the positioning of the world’s most admired brands, the similarities and differences between them and to learn more about certain categories.