How Brand Strategy Can Ensure Your Marketing Works
The ancient Greeks knew a few things about building things of lasting value based on pillars.
I wouldn’t call Giles Thomas and Nicolette Robinson of Mimo Brands ancient, but they’ve certainly been around the branding block a few times between them.
Before founding Mimo in 2012, Giles was managing partner and COO at Branded. And before that, he was European Marketing Director for Sega Games.
Nicolette joined Mimo Brands in 2016, having worked as strategy director at a host of top London agencies – working on brands including Dove, Nestle Petcare, PepsiCo, M&S Wine and Starbucks Food. Before this she was Marketing Controller at Diageo where she launched Bombay Sapphire.
As a video production studio, we at Curveball are often asked to work our creative magic within the parameters of a brand strategy.
So when I talked to Giles and Nicolette, I thought it would be fascinating to find out how a top branding agency goes about their work and see what I could learn.
The Four Pillars of Brand Strategy
Just before we get into the four pillars themselves, I wanted to understand what we mean by brand and brand strategy, because these terms get thrown about a lot and can mean different things to different people.
Can you define “brand” for us and explain why it matters?
Brand helps consumers make choices about what they buy. It’s a guiding signpost in a sea of equal or similar products. This matters to businesses because a strong brand makes demand for products and services less sensitive to price – that is, customers are willing to pay more for them. That increases margins and business value.
Branding is different from marketing.
Branding involves defining the “meaning” of a brand, the associations that determine what you want it to stand for in the minds of consumers.
Marketing involves using all the resources available to build these associations in customers’ minds, and to drive sales – including product, pricing, distribution, communications, etc.
So what is a brand strategy and why do businesses need one?
It comprises deciding who to target and not to target; positioning; creating the brand assets; brand architecture.
Without a brand strategy businesses are missing huge opportunities to build value. There is a deep well of evidence to demonstrate that strong brands help to build customer loyalty, grow sales volume and improve margins, ultimately making the business more valuable for its owners.
A concise and well understood brand strategy will clearly point the organisation and its people in one unified direction. It adds clarity, reduces complexity enabling people within an organisation to deliver KPIs.
And how would you go about planning a brand strategy?
Every agency will have its own way of doing things, but here’s how we do it:
Pillar One: Brand Trust
- Start with a detailed analysis of the market, including customer segmentation and competitor activity.
- Create a brand positioning that meets the needs of a group of consumers that is sufficiently valuable to build your business.
- Then create the brand assets that will become the recognisable and distinctive shorthand for your brand wherever consumers see it.
Pillar Two: Products & services
- Work out how your brand will be delivered by the products and services in your portfolio.
- Which product or service will drive incremental growth amongst which customer segment, and how will each be positioned against its audience.
- Where are the gaps, where do you need to innovate? Or do you need to remove or highlight key parts of the portfolio?
Then turn to the human part of the brand.
Pillar Three: Service Proposition
- Define how your people will create and deliver a distinctive customer experience that is true to the positioning, distinctive in the market, appreciated by customers, and which can be consistently delivered by your organisation (the service proposition).
Pillar Four: Customer Journey
- Finally, look at every part of the customer journey and review how the brand positioning is delivered, using the brand assets and service proposition as filters.
- Join the dots. Make sure that every touch point for the customer delivers the brand experience.
What are the perils of not having a brand strategy or not taking a strategic approach to branding?
It might look pretty but will it work?
If you’ve got any questions or would like to know more about the four pillars of brand strategy feel free to link in with Giles and Nicolette or drop them a line on the Mimo Brands website.