There was no way I was going to miss out on this one. If not to learn, at least I would compare notes. The team from Brand Integrated Consulting LLP was driving the conversation on this one led by their very own Managing Partner Richard Mukoma and Associate Partner Derek Waruhiu.
Brand strategy is a field I’ve greatly involved myself in as well at Pulsar Limited, including writing a few articles on what a brand can do for your business. So, I was definitely attending out of learning curiosity, and learn I did.
Let’s jump right in so you can know why when you stop growing, you start dying.
The Dunes are Shifting
If you are fan of documentaries, you have come across a time-lapse shoot on sand dunes. There’s in fact one on the Sahara Desert where the BBC Team placed camera in a desert for a whole year, taking a picture a day. All the photos are then compressed into one clip… and the dunes do move like ocean waves! Astonishing!
This was likened to the marketing environment where for a fact, it does change, but if you are not careful, you’ll find yourself either not noticing this change or getting lost in the change. Does your approach to strategy give you the pace needed in a dynamic environment?
By the way…
What is Strategy?
There are several definitions of strategy but if I were to simplify it, I would say it is a collective set of activities that give your business the edge needed to compete. Below, we unbox the steps you can take to develop a good strategy…. Call this a guide or framework to help you picture where your business is.
Derek said, “If you can’t explain your strategy on one page, then you can’t compete”. So, let’s review…
The Strategic Framework
This begins with uncovering your strategic purpose. Knowing why your business exists is the starting point. This leads to your business story. The business story gives the background to your business’ foundations. It is a very important aspect to developing your strategy as it will inform the values by which your organisation will stand for. This heavily ties down to why the business was started in the first place and hence your purpose.
If the process were to be conducted by a strategy consultant, they would carry out interviews. This is basically done around various stakeholders including employees, customers and investors to find out whether these stakeholders connect with your business story. From this information gathered, one is then able to identify key success factors for their business.
As you can see so far, the strategy is being built from the ground up. The key success factors form the basis for building a sustainable competitive advantage. Remember, this is not a one-time event as you must always monitor this process to ensure it is responsive to the ever-changing environment. Your analysis must therefore provide the right response at all times the environment changes. Examples were given of companies that are constantly re-inventing themselves, always considering themselves as a start-up.
Next, do an analysis to develop the necessary capacity and capability required to drive the strategy to the next level. The organisation needs to develop, through their leadership, a capability to make decisions that correspond to the times. This is of course supported by an agile leadership, employees, systems and processes driving it.
From Business Strategy to Brand Strategy
Many have attempted to define what a brand is and there are various definitions available depending on the context. I would describe it as the sum total of the organisation self (it gets philosophical here) and how it presents this self to the target market. The sum total because, what you get to interact with (or experience) may be less than what is actually delivered of the said experience. Less philosophical is that a brand is a promise. You buy something, you have expectations (what you have been promised), and if they are met, the promise is kept… +1 for Value.
What promises have you made to your customers and how do you ensure your promises are met?
This is where the business and the brand strategy come together. The brand strategy helps drive the business strategy. The structures, processes and systems behind your business should work towards helping you meet the customer promises made.
The process is really simple.
Interrogate. Get information on the brand from various stakeholders.
Integrate. Aggregate this information to gain clarity on the brand strategic direction, while still aligned to the business strategic direction and purpose.
Implement. Develop the brand assets including the brand identity, the brand message, the brand standards and your entire brand communication. All these assets should now connect well with the brand’s strategic direction.
Measure. After all, how do you know whether your brand is achieving growth if you don’t monitor and measure the results? …and of course, interrogate these results, integrate and implement once again.
Something I resonate with from the conversation is that you need global thinking. Brands in Kenya need to stop thinking they’ve made it and start thinking globally. That is how your strategy can lead to growth… otherwise you can become like Eveready and the likes.
The Power of Branding
This simple yet powerful diagram below showcases how a brand can and should be the central organising principle for the entire business. It is the cornerstone for your business!
So, Why Brand Strategy?
Simple really. A brand creates relationships, which build customer preference and loyalty. This results in enhanced earning… over time! This is how a brand grows in value and in turn how the business grows.
Do you have a brand strategy in place for your business?
If not, you are not growing and if you are not growing, the dunes are shifting and you will die in the desert… forgotten in that vast wilderness.