Brand strategy is one of the most fraught areas of marketing, though clearly also one of the most important. There are many problems with definition. The key point is you can’t have a strategy without a clear objective. Restating a goal is not strategy, execution is not strategy, and tactics are not strategy. A brand cannot function without a strategy and the function of brand management is to implement brand strategy.
A brand’s longevity and strength has to be built less on price and more on differentiation. In markets cluttered with messages, and where a certain level of quality of product and/or service is expected by customers, brand owners have to find ever new ways to foster loyalty.
In order to decide how best to choose target customers for your brand, you need to answer questions, such as:
- Which customers are important to the market?
- Which are important to my brand?
- How can I get more customers or do more business with each of them?
The current preoccupation, rightly, is analysing which customers deliver the most value and hence profit the company most. These may not necessarily be the largest number of the brand’s customers – in fact it rarely is. In most brands, there is some variation of an 80/20 rule, where the minority of most loyal customers deliver most value to the company.
Advances in technology have made it easier to collect, store and utilise more reliable data on who your customers are, how much and how often they buy from you, what else they buy etc. The key strategic choice to make here is whether you are targeting the most valuable customers to keep their custom, targeting infrequent customers to make them more brand loyal, or trying to gain new customers?
All those targeting objectives are important to building a strong brand, but the emphasis may vary depending on the lifecycle of the brand. A new brand needs to establish itself in the marketplace, but over time customer loyalty will grow and the brand should reward its most valuable customers. Recruiting new customers, however, is a never-ending task and one which will ensure the brand’s longevity.
Consumers buy brands because their values align with the brands’ values.
To keep brands fresh, relevant and at the forefront of customers’ minds, it is vital to be able to have strong links between core brand values and positive customer experiences,which are brought to life in innovative
products using the best technologies.
Core brand values are what differentiate you from your competitors and can be expressed in a small number of words, although the words have to be meaningful in terms of the context of the brand. Positive customer experiences are the fulfilment of the brand promises. To maximise the impact you make on customers, it is important to explore the full richness of the context in which the product is being used, focusing particularly on the benefits which customers experience.
A proposition is what you choose to communicate about your brand to the market and various stakeholders in your brand.
This communication entails more than just the physical product or advertising. All the intangible communications of the brand, its customer service, its availability, its pricing policy, have a bearing on how the overall brand proposition is viewed by customers.