Brand strategy is something that's often overlooked; hell for a number of years at Ply we did it ourselves - jumping straight from forming a deep understanding of the business and its people right into the first piece of work. Sure, we would form up parts of the strategy as we went—like crafting a clear brand positioning statement—and in the end we'd have a strong foundation for the brand, but we weren't consciously mapping out a holistic strategy before we did anything else.
It turns out this is where the power of brand strategy really lies—in separating it from the work itself and getting it all "written down" and agreed upon. This is when your brand strategy becomes your foundation, the playbook, the guiding light and the decision maker that it can be.
What makes a good brand strategy?
For us, the importance of any good strategy—whether it's for brand or any part of your business—is a lot less to do with which framework or components you put in there, and much more about the opportunity to get everyone on the same page and facing in the same direction.
It's the conversations that it starts. The "a ha" moments when someone articulates a different spin on something you've thought about differently for years. The difficult work of resolving disagreements on things like vision and values. The collective feeling and resolve to make it happen when you can sit back and look at the plan and say "yes, this is us".
Throw these in the mix
Of course, there are common questions to consider when forming up your brand strategy:
What's your "why"? Defining the reason your business exists and the passion that drives you personally is what will give meaning to the brand.
What's the long term vision? A good brand should last, so knowing where you're heading beyond the next few years can shape what your brand should really be about.
What do we value? A core set of values help you make decisions not just about your brand but your business in general... "Does this align with our values?"
What personality should the brand have? Usually the best answer here is one that best reflects the people behind the business so it's authentic and real.
What's unique about what we do? How do you deliver your product or service in a different way that will help you stand out?
How well do we understand our market? Do you know who your real competitors are, and how your audience will evaluate who to choose? It's not always the obvious answers.
How do we fit in? What's the position that we'll mark out as "ours". Something we can own and live by.
There's more to it than this, and for each brand, different factors will weigh in more than others. However, if you start with these types of questions you'll find the conversations will uncover the things everyone in the room is really passionate about—and that's where you'll uncover the real insights.
Above all—make a decision
The key step as you go is to make sure you land on an outcome for every question. This is essential for any strategy to take hold—that it is actually set out and agreed upon—not left ambiguous to be resolved another day. This process can be tricky (we recommend appointing a decider to break any deadlocks), but if you leave it open, you'll never come back to it.