Your brand strategy is the guiding force behind your brand that points you in the direction of where your brand will go in the future. It also sets the stage for you to create a brand implementation plan that will bring the strategy to life through specific tactics. However, you can't just jump from strategy to tactics. There are some steps you need to take and decisions you need to make before you move to the tactical stage of brand development, which you'll learn here in Part 4 of the Introduction to Brand Strategy series. If you missed Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3, follow the preceding links to read them now and catch up.
As you develop your brand strategy, you need to conduct research to learn what customers need, what they want, how they feel about existing brands in the marketplace, and so on. However, research and analysis doesn't end with brand creation research. Next, you need to gather data to help you apply your brand strategy to the various elements of brand implementation plan. Those elements include:
Is your brand the low-cost choice or the high-end option? The pricing of your brand has to match customer expectations based on the brand promise. Conduct a consumer survey to determine what prices consumers are willing to pay for a brand like yours.
Learn more about brand development and strategic planning research.
Again, your packaging has to accurately reflect your brand promise and image as defined in your brand strategy document. Remember when Tropicana changed its packaging in January 2009 to a more generic design only to switch back a month later after consumers complained loudly across the social web? The new design did not meet consumer expectations for the brand which they were already loyal to and had strong perceptions of. Create some package design mock-ups and conduct a consumer survey to gauge reactions to the packaging and consumer preferences.
Learn more about brand perception and equity research.
Just as you wouldn't expect to find Walmart selling Rolex watches, consumers will develop expectations for the types of places where your brand should be offered. If you're not sure if consumers will accept a certain distribution option, ask them for their opinions through market research surveys. New distribution initiatives cost a lot of money. Don't spend that money unless they're right for your brand.
Learn more about brand growth and change research.
4. Advertising and Marketing
All of your advertising and marketing must match your brand strategy. For example, your messaging, imagery, placement, and so on must appropriately reflect the brand promise and image. Even your brochures, business cards, website, social media profiles, and email signatures should match your brand position and promise. Conduct research to determine which messages consumers respond most positively towards, which media they're likely to accept your ads in, and what types of content they want to get from your brand on the social web. Also, conduct ongoing research through online reputation management by listening to conversations and monitoring your brand mentions across the web using tools like Google Alerts and Monitter.
Learn more about brand promotion research.
5. Brand Identity
The tangible representations of your brand are critical components of your brand implementation plan. These include all of your brand elements such as a logo, slogan, color palette, and so on. Develop brand identity concepts and conduct consumer research to determine which concepts resonate best with them. Once you develop your brand identity, use it consistently across all aspects of your business and consumer touchpoints.
Learn more about brand creation research.
Once you've developed your brand strategy and the five elements listed above, you can begin creating a marketing plan to bring your brand to life. The plan should include specific tactics that you'll use to reach specific goals. For example, identify the media you'll advertise in, the events you'll participate in, and when. Set budgets and goals for each tactic. Finally, show how those tactics will move you towards your larger brand goals. Set quarterly goals, 6-month goals, and 12-month goals. Also, identify how you'll measure success.
Remember, your marketing plan should be flexible enough to evolve with your brand strategy. While tactics are more likely to change, your strategy doesn't change as frequently. However, you need to be ready to adapt to changing micro- and macro-environments through both your tactics and strategy. Together, a well-defined strategy and well-planned tactics can lead a brand to great success!
If you missed previous parts of the Introduction to Brand Strategy series, you can follow the links below to read them:
- Introduction to Brand Strategy - Part 1: What Is a Brand Strategy?
- Introduction to Brand Strategy - Part 2: Identify the Brand Stakeholders
- Introduction to Brand Strategy - Part 3: Bringing Your Brand Strategy to Life