A good strategy focuses your limited resources (money, time, people, partners) against an array of unlimited choices (target market, brand message, strategic options, activities) so that you drive the highest return on investment (ROI) and effort (ROE) to push your brand into a better zone.
The six elements of good strategy
Strategic thinkers see questions before answers. Non-strategic thinkers see answers before they know the right questions. Strategic thinkers never divide and conquer, they make choices to focus and conquer. They make decisions, using the word “or” more than they use the word “and”. They apply limited resources to invest against pressure points that break through. Here are the six elements that make for good strategy.
- Vision: an aspirational stretch goal for future, linked to a well-defined purpose. It should push you. It should scare you a little, but excite you a lot.
- Focus: alignment of your limited resources to a distinct strategic point you wish to penetrate, creating positive momentum on a pathway towards your vision.
- Opportunity: something happening in the market, as a potential strategic opening based on trends in the market (e.g. consumer behavior, technology).
- Early Win: break through point where you see a shift in momentum towards your vision. It offers potential proof to everyone that this strategy will work, helping rally others–the team, agency and even your boss.
- Leverage: ability to turn the early win into creating a momentum, that leads to the tipping point where you achieve more in return than the effort put in.
- Gateway: realization point where you see a shift in positional advantage or power that allows you to believe your vision is achievable.
Use the Brand Love Curve to frame your strategy
In the consumer’s mind, brands sit on a Brand Love Curve, with brands going from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and finally becoming a Beloved Brand for Life. At the Beloved stage, demand becomes desire, needs become cravings, thinking is replaced with feelings. Consumers become outspoken fans.
It’s this connection that helps drive power for your brand: power versus competitors, versus customers, versus suppliers and even versus the same consumers you’re connected with. The farther along the curve, the more power for the brand. It’s important that you understand where your brand sits on the Love Curve and begin figuring out how to move it along towards becoming a Beloved Brand. With the power of connection, the brand can leverage that power into increased growth and profits.
To figure out your strategic options, you need to understand where you are on the Brand Love Curve, so that you can start to understand HOW to move to the next stage. A brand at the Indifferent stage needs to establish itself in the consumers mind, brands at the Like It stage need to separate itself from the pack and create a following, brands at the Love It stage need to tug at the heartstrings of those consumers who have shown some love in order to tighten the bond and finally those brands at the Beloved stage need to find a way to continue the magic and activate the most loyal followers turning them into fans.
Here is a guideline for Brand Leaders to use in their plans with the 16 possible strategies to use. For instance at the Indifferent stage, you can use a mind shift, mind share, new news or a turnaround to establish your brand in the consumers mind.
Use this as a guideline to get you started on your plan and you may need to add specific flavoring to your situation. As you’ll see, if your brand is at the Indifferent stage, you can’t easily cross sell and you certainly can’t get loyalists to influence others, since you have no real loyalists.
The biggest flaw I see in many brand plans is trying to drive penetration and frequency at the same time. These are two of the hardest strategies for a brand and having them in the same plan just divides your resources in half, doing a bad job at both.
Mapping the Brand’s big Idea and 5 brand connectors
It should all start with the Big Idea of your Brand. The challenge I have for you is that if the best brands eventually evolve to defining a Big Idea for their brand, then why not just start there? Build your brand around a big idea that’s simple to understand and big enough to create a lasting impression with consumers. From there, we have mapped out 5 brand connectors that are essential to create brand love.
Brand Promise: Create a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, based on being better, different or cheaper. This is set up by your brand’s positioning and customer value proposition.
Brand Story: Use your brand story to motivate consumers to think, feel or act, while beginning to own a reputation in the mind and hearts of consumers. This is delivered by your brand’s communication through Advertising, Social Media, PR and Search media.
Innovation: Fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and using technology to deliver on your brand promise. This is your product development team, supported by claims, technology, innovation and creative delivery mechanisms of the brand.
Purchase Moment: The moment of truth as consumers move through the purchase cycle and use channels, messaging, processes to make the final decision. This is the point of sale, whether that’s in-store, on line, or through a direct selling mechanism.
Experience: Turn the usage of your product into an experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of their day. This is supported by the organization’s operations and processes as well as the culture which creates the values and behaviors delivered by the team.
Here is a tool to help Brand Leaders write better strategies:
As I review brand plans for clients, there’s one glaring area where Brand Leaders need to do a better job: the writing of strategic statements. Too many times, they are framed as tasks or objectives, but miss out on the “how to get there” part of the plan. What’s missing is a pathway to power (health) or a pathway to profit (wealth). Brand Leaders need to be better at writing brand strategies that everyone can follow. A good brand strategy focuses and moves the consumer to do something, thereby putting the brand in a better position–either healthier (more powerful) or wealthier (higher profits)
Here’s how this tool works. The basic idea is that you will mobilize one of the possible brand connectors to get a specific target profile to take action against a stage of the buying system and then use that to either harness brand power for the future or use it to a specific area that delivers added profitable for the brand. Here’s the five stage process to the tool.
a. Select one of the 5 brand connectors: (brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment or experience
b. Pick target market you will move (user profiles, demographics, regional)
c. to take a focused action along buying system: (awareness, consideration, search, purchase, satisfied, repeat, loyal or fan)
d. To either harness your brand’s power to unleash in the future
e. Or drive one of the 8 profit drivers for your brand
Here are two examples of how you can put this tool to work, and write best in class strategy statements for the Apple brand.
- Launch the new innovative Apple Phone (a) to Mac loyalists(b) converting interest to trial (c) to successfully move Apple into the phone market. (e)
Create an in-store Apple training experience (a) to young seniors 55-60 years old (b) to tighten the bond with apple (c) creating a new user segment for Apple. (e)
Use this tool to write better brand plans that everyone can follow.
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We offer Brand Coaching, where we promise to make your Brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your Brand’s full potential. For our Brand Leader Training, we promise to make your team of Brand Leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at email@example.com or phone me at 416 885 3911