Brand Strategy is for Everyone (Not just marketing!)

by Bruce McKinnon

I started my business back in 2009 to solve a specific problem. Namely that companies found it hard to define the value of their brand and put that value into an order. When I asked them to tell me their most important message I would invariably be told it’s not possible because it depends on the audience, the current campaign, the territory, the product, etc. all of which have their place, but the brand has to be able to rise above that minutia and be able to be defined in a concise and cohesive way.

So I developed the Brand Arrow® as a framework to help companies make good choices because it’s their job to make those choices – not the agency they hire to build a website or the PR agency writing a press release. Why?

Because nobody knows the brand better than the company that owns it. And that’s the truth!

And whilst we’re at it here are 4 more truths about the value brand strategy can deliver:

1. Brand Strategy is for the whole company, not just marketing because its job is to represent the whole company

Whilst the marketing team may well be the first to use a brand strategy in developing its communications, it’s just as important for the HR team for example, to use the values of the brand in managing the culture of the organisation; the sales team to use the key messaging in developing relationships with prospects, finance to know why the budget is being focussed on particular areas and of course, the CEO to be able to communicate a clear vision for the company.

2. Brand strategy brings alignment across the leadership team, which will deliver a clarity of vision that will ensure the most effective use of resources

I believe the most significant impact a brand strategy can have is to deliver alignment – that each member of the team has a clear understanding of what makes their brand tick. It stands to reason that a team aligned behind a shared understanding of the value of their brand will likely be more successful than brands without that alignment. And if the whole team is going in the same direction, you’re going to be more effective in how you use your resources.

3. The number 1 audience for a Brand Strategy is the team because if the team ‘gets’ the brand, so will the customer, but if they don’t what hope does the customer have?

Of course, there is a need to be crystal clear about the customers the brand serves (and therefore where the revenue is generated) but the job of a brand strategy is actually to help the team understand the brand because it’s their job to communicate the brand to their customers. Without a straightforward definition of the brand the whole team understands, instead of a clear picture for the customers you’ll get a jigsaw where the pieces don’t quite fit.

4. Brand Strategy focuses on what brings customers together, not what makes them different, because it’s the brand’s job to meet the needs and be relevant across all customers

It is essential to have a clear breakdown of the characteristics of the different customers the brand is aimed at, and the marketing and sales team will no doubt invest time in developing demographic and attitudinal data on those customers and be able to really get under the skin of each one. But the job of a brand strategy is different, it’s much more interested in the characteristics, or needs those customers share because the job of the brand is to be relevant to all of them. You only have one brand and it needs to engage with all your customers.

If you want to explore how brand strategy can define the truths of your brand, why not join me for a complimentary 2 hour taster workshop, you can find the details here.


First posted on the Brand Arrow Blog and republished here with kind permission from the author.

Bruce McKinnon is a Brand Strategist. He runs Brand Arrow®, his own brand strategy practise and develops brand strategies for clients in Europe and the US across a diverse range of industries including software, fashion, fair trade, artificial intelligence, mobile, financial services and food and drink. He holds an MBA from Cranfield School of Management and the Chartered Institute of Marketing Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing. Bruce regularly speaks at conferences, business schools and facilitates workshops on the subject of brand strategy. He is also the author of the award-winning book Whats Your Point? which can be purchased from Amazon.