In Part 1 of the Introduction to Brand Strategy series, you learned what a brand strategy is and why it's important to your business' success. Now, it's time to learn about the many stakeholders that your brand strategy affects so you can develop the best brand strategy possible. It's time to do some market research and put on your thinking caps because developing a brand strategy takes time, analysis, and serious thought.
A brand strategy affects far more people than the marketing department. It touches all aspects of your business both internally and externally. Therefore, it's essential that you take time early in the brand strategy development process to identify all the stakeholders and ensure each is addressed within the brand strategy.
Your brand is far-reaching, and that means there are many stakeholders to consider in your strategy development process. Some of the most common stakeholders are described below:
Your employees are your most important brand advocates. If they don't believe your brand promise, and if they're not on board with driving your brand forward, you're in big trouble.
Your brand must be positioned against your competitors and add value to the market where it will be sold. Therefore, you need to understand what your competitors are doing at all times, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how you can attack them or defend your brand against them in a proactive manner.
The marketplace where you do business today and your current competitors won't necessarily be the same tomorrow. Markets and competitors evolve and change. A tiny startup might launch a product or service in the near future that could turn your market upside-down. Your brand strategy needs to be developed to prepare for these types of changes.
You need to understand both existing and prospective consumers that your brand could appeal to. Research and understand their emotions and feelings. Create surveys with questions that ask them to describe their feelings about brands like yours and explain what they want that brands aren't delivering. Create a brand strategy that meets and exceeds these expectations.
Your brand strategy needs to be solid and detailed enough that investors believe in it. What do investors want from brands and businesses in your market? Your strategy must address those needs.
6. Vendors and Business Partners
Your brand strategy affects vendors and business partners, too. From how vendors work with your business and think about your brand to the types of business partners that your brand attracts, your brand strategy must take these stakeholders into account.
Social responsibility is hot these days, which means you need to define how your brand will be received by the communities where you do business. For many brands, adding a cause-related element (for example, supporting the green movement) is a core component of their strategies.
How will the media respond to your brand? Keep in mind, the media today includes not just newspapers, magazines, and television news organizations. It also includes millions of online publishers and even more voices in growing online conversations on blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and so on. You need to identify how you'll monitor and manage your brand reputation across a wide variety of traditional and new media outlets.
Once you've identified your brand stakeholders, the next step is to use the goals you established for your brand (as discussed in Part 1 of this series) as well as your detailed analysis and understanding of your stakeholders to develop your brand strategy. That's the subject of Part 3 of the Introduction to Brand Strategy series which will be published soon on the AYTM blog.