How do you meet your customers’ needs and aspirations? You must first determine your company’s needs and priorities. Though it may appear obvious to some, many brands fail to define their value proposition. Going through a positioning process can help a company focus, allowing the brand to be refined into a short essence that can be delivered consistently to propel the brand’s worth over time.
THE VALUE OF CLARITY AND FOCUS
The costs of introducing a new product or revitalizing an existing brand have become extremely expensive. Not only are the barriers to success higher today, but consumer confusion caused by the complexity of choice, as well as a lack of alignment within organizations, have resulted in many branding initiatives failing to achieve their intended goals. Our research has discovered a significant lack of solid brand cohesion and positioning, with only 38% of companies having a high level of brand integration within their organization.
This backs up our claim about the effective translation of the complexities of a brand position. Few businesses can distill their brand’s unique value into easy-to-remember, simple-to-understand messaging. The second, and perhaps more critical gap is that because brand positioning is primarily external, employee engagement and onboarding programs have little to no internal focus. This lack of understanding and clarity of direction results in missed opportunities and confusion at the most critical point of purchase.
UNDERSTANDING CORPORATE VERSUS BUSINESS STRATEGY
There appears to be some misunderstanding about the term “strategy,” and, more importantly, the role of a corporate and business brand strategy. The corporate strategy should define the organization’s vision and mission, assisting in determining the organization’s long-term direction across all of its business units and brands. Finally, corporate strategy is the compass heading that the organization has identified as the ideal destination.
Corporate strategies are best defined by a Vision, Mission, Value Proposition, and Strategic Pillars, all of which are centered on an ideal future state that the organization must achieve in order to differentiate itself and achieve long-term success. This is referred to as the Brand Direction in our ThinkBlink(TM) process. The business strategy contributes to the overall corporate direction and serves as a foundation for value proposition delivery and market success. The business strategy has been defined as the Brand’s DNA, which includes the position, personality, attributes, and brand essence.
THE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL BRAND POSITION
An effective brand strategy highlights a central unifying idea. Over time, all of the organization’s supporting initiatives and its brand will effectively align. As part of the organization’s effort to remain relevant and meaningful to its customers, the position must address an unmet consumer or market need, ensuring a solid leadership position in the industry in question. The ability to differentiate an organization’s offerings from those promoted by competitors and national brands is the ultimate success of a branding initiative. The strategy is based on a clearly defined direction, aligns with the company’s long-term corporate strategy, and emerges from the organization’s culture and values while meeting the needs of those customers.
Key factors of an effective brand strategy:
- A successful brand is built from the inside out;
- It has the buy-in and support of all key stakeholders;
- A successful brand clearly defines a unique and proprietary position in the market;
- It is both believable and relevant to the consumer;
- A successful brand speaks from one consistent voice, and every consumer touchpoint delivers the same message;
- A successful brand is experiential and makes an emotional connection with its audience;
- It gives a reason to believe;
- A successful brand delivers on its promise.
Image Source: SLD
THE THINKBLINK(TM) BRAND CARD
The ThinkBlink(TM) brand card is simple and concise, ensuring that all stakeholders work together toward a common goal. It is a combination of brand direction and brand DNA, defined in simple language and structure, that is required to ensure thorough integration across all brand touchpoints as well as internal business units and functions.
The Brand Direction:
The overall corporate strategy consists of a pyramid which outlines the various key factors that influence the final destination, namely:
- Brand Vision asks, “Where do we want the brand to go?” Brand Vision defines a broad, aspirational image of the future that a brand aims to achieve;
- Brand Mission defines a brand’s purpose and primary objectives. The Brand Mission answers the question, “Why does this brand exist?”;
- Brand Value is how the brand meets the needs of its customers by leveraging its core equities;
- Brand Pillars form the core or proprietary aspects of the brand. They are the indisputable truths of the brand.
The Brand DNA
The Brand DNA provides a platform for how we want the desired brand to behave in the marketplace from an execution standpoint, and it consists of three overlapping factors which support a finely crafted brand essence:
- Brand Essence encapsulates the heart & soul of the brand. It reflects the brand’s fundamental nature or quality. The brand’s essence is the one constant across product categories and global markets;
- Brand Position defines the code by which the brand lives. They are the basis for what the organization believes is essential for growth (also known as Brand Equities);
- Brand Personality defines the emotional connection an individual has towards the brand in terms of human characteristics (e.g., serious, warm, light-hearted, etc.). It characterizes the image, tone, and manner of all touch points of the brand, both internal and outward facing;
- Brand Attributes are the functional or emotional characteristics which define the brand. They can be both personality- or product-driven (also known as the Brand Position);
The development of the brand card consists of the brand’s DNA and direction, as illustrated by our company’s brand card.
Image Source: SLD
THE BRAND CARD THINKBLINK(TM) PROCESS
The ThinkBlink(TM) strategic process’s brand card component enables brands to articulate the most focused approach for where and how they will compete in the marketplace. The following are the advantages of a well-defined brand card:
- A systematic process that ensures brands effectively connect in a complex and cluttered world;
- Allows brands to focus on what differentiates themselves from competitors in a split second it takes to make a buying decision;
- It drives brand engagement.
Brand engagement is the collaborative act of gaining customer commitment and brand loyalty by making them partners in the co-creation of meaningful value. It leverages the iterative process by which consumers connect with brands, namely, awareness, communication and transaction while allowing them greater control and recognition as part of a trust-building experience.
The ThinkBlink(TM) process aids in the development of both a corporate and a business strategy, resulting in a precise and differentiated value proposition. Over the years, the process has been refined to ensure that internal and external stakeholders are strongly aligned, and that all executional elements are focused on a compelling value proposition. The journey to defining a solid and differentiated brand position is founded on a thorough understanding of the customer, the organization’s culture, the context, and the competitive environment.
The creation of the brand card is the culmination of the first phase of the process, which helps define how well the organization can compete in the marketplace and consists of three significant stages covering a series of key required information, namely:
- Audit and information gathering
- Consumer and business insights
- Alignment to gain clarity on the position
The development and process of creating a clearly defined brand card should be inclusive in nature, ensuring input is obtained from across the entire organization to ensure it reflects the organization’s values and desires. The end result of this process should be an onboarding document that explains how employees’ roles will help achieve the brand promise. It is important to note that most branding initiatives fail due to a lack of understanding on the part of employees, who see most of these initiatives as marketing speak rather than behavioral and performance guidance.