When people think of marketing, they often think of two things generating leads for sales or the creativity associated with building a brand. Often marketing activities can be seen as an expense by other departments within a company. However, marketing works to build equity with consumers so a brand can generate leads for the sales department, build relationships with existing customers for enhanced customer service satisfaction, or uncover consumer needs and desires for product development. The marketing department is an integral part of a company’s ecosystem. But, much of the equity that is built starts with branding. Building a brand strategy can be a daunting task as there are so many areas to consider. By laying down the foundation of a solid brand strategy, a business can set itself apart from its competitors to gain a good market share.
I’ve had the opportunity to build a brand strategy from scratch and can say that its a tough task, but it can be very illuminating for a brand. Sometimes business owners can be biased towards their own brand as it is associated with their hard work, dedication, and love for their company. As a consultant, I was able to take an objective view of the company and pinpoint areas of improvement.
When beginning to build a brand strategy, a consultant should research the company’s market category to learn the landscape and discover areas of opportunity or threats on an industry level. A close look at the company and its competitors is crucial as this will give you an idea of how your client’s company compares. I feel that many times diving into the customer’s company can be the most challenging part of the research stage. Clients and business owners, in general, can have a skewed vision of their business and how others view their brand. Its well knew within marketing professionals that your brand identity and brand image don’t always match up as consumers can have a completely different perception of the visuals and messaging versus the intent. Being able to ask the right questions to uncover who the targeted audience is, what customers are actually buying the products, and how the business owner views their own company is a delicate art.
In an instance where you are dealing with a larger brand, your research skills have to be top-notch. There can be a lot of information available externally and internally for an organization. Knowing whom to gather information from and what information to ask for is essential. I feel like knowing what data to explore is an area in which I excelled. I was able to identify where to gather the information quickly and begin analyzing right away. However, if I were consulting for a small business, I would start building the branding strategy with the budget. This can help understand what type of competitors to benchmark the brand against. I would then choose a larger aspirational brand to guide the brand strategy.
Creating a brand strategy is very fulfilling work as you can get a glimpse of where a company is at one point in time and see it transform when the branding plan is implemented. If you’re thinking about updating your brand, consider hiring an outside consultant to gain objective insights into your brand image. If you haven’t yet, read my last blog on social media, and why people follow and unfollow brands.