Many people like to reduce brand strategy to a clever logo. I take a broader view. A good brand strategy includes answers to these questions: Is the brand readily available to the buyer now? Does it offer value to the buyer for a specific use? Is it unique? If the answers are yes, that’s a good brand strategy. Brand strategy is the comprehensive approach for wide-ranging use of the brand.
- Identify your market. Brand strategy requires an in-depth analysis of every facet of your market. Identify who the brand appeals to, and what the market is you’re targeting. Is it the general public, or a trade group? Is your buyer young? Old? Car owners? Air travelers? By identifying your market, you must also think about how you’re going to position and price your brand.
- Get the word out in the niche you’ve identified through print media, online recognition and all other means of communication at your disposal. The Mac Tools company has a great brand strategy. Their large vans drive to construction sites with we’ll-come-to-you convenience. And their logo is prominently displayed on all their vans.
- Strategize before your product is released. Is your product a line extension of an existing brand? If it’s a Ford Focus, it’s already a Ford. That’s a line extension. If it’s a totally new brand, it’s much harder to get traction. You need to do networking in advance of its release to create curiosity. Also, consider a test market, make adjustments, then increase your distribution. Big corporations can do a test market then go national right away because they already have distribution.
- Align your brand with groups important to your buyers . Subaru uses this facet of brand strategy brilliantly. They sponsor the American Canoe Association, the American Association of Snowboard Instructors, International Mountain Bicycling Association, and many other groups all of which support the same outdoor-activity associations that are meaningful to the sub-niche folks who buys Subaru’s cars.
- Brand strategy can include leveraging. Leveraging is used when a brand goes into a narrow niche, gets established, and then extends the product line. Tesla, for example, came out of the gate with a two-seat model that was very sleek, attractive, and fast. The company even got movie stars to drive it. In no time, owners were proud to drive a Tesla. Then the company introduced the sedan.
- An essential part of brand strategy is customer service and feedback. After sales, customer service is the single most important department in any company. That’s how you find out what your customer thinks. Customer service becomes part of your brand strategy when you link that feedback directly to production and marketing. When those departments have a disconnect, the company suffers.
In my experience, brand strategy is a marketing plan based on a comprehensive study aimed at identifying the terrain upon which your brand will be launched, grow and, hopefully, survive.
Of course, there’s much more that could be said on this subject. What’s been your experience? Michael Houlihan, co-founder of Barefoot Wine, the largest selling wine brand in the nation, invites you to join the discussion on Branding Strategy with your comments, thoughts, and opinions below.
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) & Shelf Smarts courses to help consumer product brand builders achieve success. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular business site at www.thebarefootspirit.com.
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