Brand strategists like me all have our models. We have boxes and matrixes and pyramids and triangles and pillars and canvases and so on and so forth. But, really what is it all for? What is the point?
Boiled down into a nutshell brand strategy should be about helping leaders answer the big business questions. To bring clarity in the complexity. The aim of brand strategy is to have a unified way of clearly articulating a top level strategy with a plan to continually execute against it. To do this in an aligned and unified way. Confidently.
So what are the big strategic business questions that brand strategists help to answer?
Here are some of the most popular questions leadership teams I work with call me in to help consider:
Why do we exist beyond making money?
What do we stand for?
Are we set up for our convenience or for the convenience of the customer?
Are we all aligned behind a strong purpose?
What is our story?
Is our vision strong or distinctive enough?
Who do we serve and why should they care?
Are we easy for customers to understand?
What do we believe the world should be like?
What do we not believe the world should be like?
What category do we play in?
What problem do we solve?
What do we believe about the category?
What do we not believe about the category?
What are we famous for?
How do we prove that we are what we say we are?
How do we change our customer for the better?
Are we holding people accountable / celebrating values/behaviours regularly enough?
Why are we different?
Are we truly building a strong and distinctive culture which will attract top talent?
How do we hold ourselves collectively accountable?
How do we improve our culture?
How will we win?
How will we grow?
On paper these questions look simple - but when you are dealing with multiple leaders with different views on the answers and when you are dealing with multiple teams with splintered cultures it's not that easy!
These are the reasons strategists exist.
Once the big questions have an answer and leadership is aligned behind them it’s amazing how effective and efficient things become. Until the point of alignment leadership teams can feel like they are all pulling in different directions. Decisions are made which don’t make sense from the customers perspective. The brand experiences are not joined up and don’t tell a consistent story. Employees often are disgruntled and disengaged. Prioritisation becomes a problem. There’s no framework for making decisions (apart from money) and businesses become splintered and messy to manage.
So when I’m embroiled in workshops, research, brand statements and positioning frameworks I keep reminding myself that I’m here - to help bring clarity around the big questions. To help find the answers to these questions and then to help teams respond to them effectively. To help brands become experienced by customers in meaningful ways.