Brand Strategy as Market & Organizational Development
Utter the word “Branding” and most people start thinking about logos.
That’s certainly understandable, since the very origin of the term was a way to tell your cows from mine. In simplest terms, a brand is nothing more than a basic identifier; a recognizable differentiator; a name.
Branding, on the other hand, is the painstaking process of helping the intended consumer attach specific attributes and meaning to that name, thus elevating its equity in the marketplace. In its earliest phases, Branding is based largely on organizational strategy – which makes it almost the polar opposite of Marketing.
Marketing is called Marketing because it’s all about the market. Ask people what they want and then figure out a way to give it to them. But Branding is called Branding because it’s all about the brand – which means it’s really all about you. And that can be a difficult concept for many marketers. Branding not only forces you to change the way you think about your marketing, but the way you think about your company and yourselves.
In that way, brand strategy is the baseline of market and organizational development. It not only sets the standards by which all other marketing initiatives will be measured but, more importantly, lays the foundation upon which the company’s future will be built. Without the structure and integrity of sound brand strategy, your company is just another rudderless ship without a distinct target destination.
Solid brand strategy begins with understanding and agreeing upon critical elements like Brand Vision, Values & Ideals that set expectations for team members, consumers and other stakeholders. Then it translates those internal principles into external components like Brand Competencies, Personality & Promise to help your best prospects identify and understand what really makes you different from everyone else who does what you do. In other words, to help them attach specific traits and real meaning to your brand.
From our perspective, great branding and marketing aren’t just a matter of venturing out and finding the right customers. It’s about helping the right customers find you. But that will never happen until you’ve developed a clear understanding of who you really are and a cogent message that truly resonates with those prospects at a more emotionally engaging level.
As a brand strategist, one of the most exciting aspects of MI’s new Intelligent Pixel platform is that it not only accesses real-time behavioral data to profile consumers who appreciate your brand message most, but leverages machine learning to develop look-alike prospects and exponentially expand your market potential. Marketing is no longer a matter of asking people what they want and trying to give it to them, but connecting one-to-one with millions of those who already want what you offer.
But it all begins with a deep understanding of what that is and who you are. So, if you really want to build your brand, forget about your logo for a while and focus on all the other elements it represents. Logos are fun. Logos are cool. But they’re the last step in the march and just an emblem on the marketing arsenal you’ll take into battle.
The world is full of successful companies with horrible, meaningless logos – but bulletproof brand strategies. The opposite, of course, is rarely true (so I doubt either of us could name even one). Until you invest the time and team effort it takes to construct a comprehensive brand strategy, no logo or slogan can save you.