What is a brand strategy? Why do we all want one so badly?
Essentially, when we look at ‘brand’ we are looking at a set of consumer value judgments against a given product or service. Driven by both emotion and function, these value judgments create an overall impression of ‘brand’ in the consumer’s mind. As marketers we hope that the impression we create will generate more value than the sum of the parts.
In a nutshell, we all want ‘brand’ and brand strategy because it allows us to sell to our consumers in a more profitable and more sustainable way.
Where to begin on a journey in brand strategy
Well, it’s always been about story-telling, creating emotional and functional differentiators that a consumer latches on to. Each time they come to purchase we hope the little story we have created about our product/service will replay in their minds.
In earlier times pre-advertising, the vehicle for story-telling was the packaging. Think about all those complex, multi-layered elements and messages on 19th Century packaging. They told the consumer the story of what they were buying, shouted out all the key things they should know: awards, medals, royal approval, product differences etc. This was the very early form of brand marketing which then gravitated to poster advertising.
Over time, TV advertising became king and the art of the brand story was lost. It was simply too expensive to buy the amount of time required to give consumers any more than a quick fix, jolt in the arm ‘buzz’ about brands. Packaging became about super slick design. The functional disappeared and we were left with pure emotion and the well worn, now rather tired, FMCG model of securing widespread distribution combined with a big ad campaign, job done.
The media landscape is now changed; digital advertising expenditure has outstripped its small screen cousin. To the next generations the TV will soon sound as old-fashioned as the ‘wireless’ did to our own ears.
We have a major change in approach to contend with. The online space demands content. It feeds on words. Consumers are reading, texting, tweeting, blogging, exchanging opinions every day. In the second phase of the web the lost art of story-telling will be reborn.
You have time, you have space and you have new opportunity.
The challenge that lies ahead is to create or re-create a new brand story that supports and nurtures your product or service. It will be shared, discussed and debated. It will engage, and it will connect if written well.
The brand story was and still is the heart of the brand, carrying those emotional and functional differences that form the value judgements of consumers. The digital space will allow it to be heard once again.