Brand Strategy 101 – Getting to the heart of things
25 Aug 2022
Of all the work we deliver to clients, the strategy is the hardest working.
We ask a lot of our strategies!
Strategies are tasked with addressing the problems that you and your customers are trying to solve in a meaningful way. They need to help businesses define themselves against competitors and stand out from the crowd. All other brand assets and content – the brand messaging, the tone of voice, the look and feel – turn to the strategy for guidance and direction.
If the desired destination is inspiring, distinctive, effective brand campaigns, then good strategy is the compass. It helps you make your move.
That’s a lot of pressure! But the strategy is up to the challenge.
Your strategy is a framework for inspiring creative work
As a brand, your strategy underpins the why and how of your communications by being firmly grounded in the world beyond your brand.
It’s not enough to look inward, to draw on the values of a brand, its ground-breaking innovations, or its years of heritage. Good strategic thinking lays the groundwork for creative work by incorporating and understanding a brand’s wider cultural context. This includes the forces shaping the market, the directions that competitors are taking, and customers’ reactions to them..
Good creative needs to challenge the client (and the audience) to think differently; bringing a fresh perspective to established or familiar issues. But to brilliantly contest the status quo, first you need a comprehensive understanding of it.
Research from the APG found that the top-rated skills for Strategists were understanding people and problem definition. A good strategy needs to be grounded in a detailed understanding of what motivates customers. Only then can it meaningfully shape a brand’s tactics.
Brand strategy provides clarity, direction, and relevance
I help to lead the Strategy & Planning team, and we spend our days getting to the heart of things. Every member of a comms team should be able to think strategically. But it’s incredibly valuable (and I feel incredibly fortunate) to have a team with the dedicated space to step back and make sense of the trends, technologies and themes impacting our clients.
So what’s the template for a good brand strategy?
As an agency, we work with tech brands to help them define who they are, and what they stand for. Crucial to this process is articulating your brand vision – how you’d like to see the world change in some way. Whether it’s ambitious on a global scale or a small but substantial shift in business behaviours, clarifying the goal your organisation is working towards can help make sure your comms activities are all pulling in the right direction.
Once a clear vision is established, the next step is your business’ role in achieving it – your mission. In the context of your vision, your mission is the reason you exist, your purpose as a business. For example, if your vision is a world without fossil fuels, your mission could be to make it easy for businesses to choose renewable energy sources.
When combined with an accurate understanding of the world outside your brand, your vision and mission form the basis of your strategy. This process brings clarity, direction and relevance to the stories you tell through creative campaigns and activations.
Think, create, make.
In the corporate world, it’s very easy to make creative work that has little lasting impact on its intended audience. To be truly moving, creative work needs to be grounded by an accurate assessment of the brand doing it and the audience seeing it. That’s the critical role that THINK plays in the H:LAB process.