Is Your Brand Strategy Strong Enough?
When things are going your way in business and life, it’s easy to feel like you’ve got all the answers.
But you don’t… nobody does.
Just when you think it’s all systems go and your brand is maximizing its potential, a chink in the armour rears its ugly head.
And while you come to terms with reality, in most cases, the actions you take to address areas of vulnerability will make or break your business in the end.
So how do you account for the unexpected and craft a brand strategy that’s as bulletproof as possible?
What are some of the warning signs that your planning may not cover your ass the way you thought it did?
The strongest brand strategies typically account for evolving customer tastes and expectations. After all, it’s predominantly your customers who shape your strategy, right? Capturing their hearts and minds is what marketing is all about.
The best way to connect with your customers and build a business they come to know and love is to shape your brand strategy around their identity and tendencies.
You’ve got to be honest with them though: who are you and why should they care? And of course, what’s in it for them?
Being honest is only one aspect of the battle though.
Adaptable at all times
When the tides change, can you stay afloat?
More simply put, can you call audibles with your brand strategy – does it support contingencies?
It’s important not to go too far down any rabbit hole when you decide on a direction for your brand. You don’t want to make it impossible to pivot if that’s what you need to do – and chances are, at some point you will!
Your customers’ tastes are going to change, the markets will rise and fall, the industry you’re in will become stagnant and bounce back… can your brand strategy keep up and roll with the punches?
To be adaptable, you’ve got to build a plan that has layers and that offers “out clauses” along the way. Painting yourself into a corner with campaigns that run too long or consistently launching content that’s not evergreen will harm your ability to make changes on the fly.
Can it withstand…?
Is sudden change or unplanned circumstance going to force you to raise the white flag?
Your brand strategy has to be able to stand up to criticism if it comes under fire. People may criticize it but as long as your customers “get it,” you can consider yourself on the right track.
Being strong also means having the ability to withstand overachievement – if you grow too big too quickly, can you still support the demand for your products and services? Will your brand strategy cause you more headaches than high fives?
I like to think that the brands who can weather the most difficult of circumstances are the ones who have build their strategy on a foundation of quality, consistency and innovation.
If you’ve got a well-made product, over-deliver more often than not and aren’t afraid to push the envelope, chances are you’ll be able to hold up in the face of adversity.
It probably means your people are strong, too.
Is it creative enough?
Don’t let your brand strategy put your customers to sleep.
Say something meaningful with your marketing. Tell your community a story that you know they’ll want to hear.
With the overabundance of content to consume at a moment’s notice (and at our fingertips), you’ve got to stand out to stay in. Being creative (without losing your key message) will always help hook and hold your audience. While there’s definitely a fine line that you never want to go too far past, it’s important to have a brand strategy that’s creative.
Now, creative doesn’t always mean edgy or controversial – at the end of the day, your brand just has to stand out.
Maybe you adopt a new platform that your competitors are rejecting and carve out a niche for yourself there? Or perhaps you invest in tech you know your customers are drawn to but your industry hasn’t adopted yet?
Regardless, refusing to adopt a “that’s the way we’ve always done it” attitude will help you flex your creative muscles and build a brand strategy that’s engaging and memorable.
...Yet still relatable enough?
Remember: you never want to isolate your customers and community.
Spending too much time outside their comfort zones or sweet spots is going to cause you more trouble before it generates the buzz you’re seeking.
To stay relevant to your most important customer segments, you’ve got to put their wants and needs at the forefront of your marketing, product design and service levels. They’ve got to be able to have that lightbulb moment where they say to themselves, “AHA – this is me!“
The brand strategy you rollout to the world has to include elements that are relatable – lots of them. Your customers have to be able to see themselves using your new smartphone or driving your latest vehicle. It has to fit their life, their budgets, their self-image.
Of course, it’s not always easy to tap into all of those factors with a single marketing message.
But that’s what the goal should be.
In what ways could you improve your current brand strategy? How do you look to strengthen relationships between your brand and its customers? Please use the Comment section below to share your thoughts!