The six big benefits of a brand strategy for small to medium size businesses
A recent Gartner survey put brand strategy as the CMO’s number 1 strategic priority – ahead of subjects like market analytics, marketing operations, and digital commerce for example. But why is that? And exactly what is brand strategy?
A brand strategy is a framework for you to make good choices about the purpose and character of your brand and to help you deliver it consistently to your customers. And the benefits of consistency can be translated into hard cash – research by Forbes showed a 23% uplift in revenues from brands with consistent messaging, values, and content.
In this article, I’m going to unpack the six big reasons why, as a small to medium size business, it’s vital to take the time to get your brand strategy right.
1. Internal alignment
The first reason is that, ironically, a brand strategy does not belong solely to the marketing team, it’s meant for the whole company because a brand should represent the whole company.
I often think of the brand strategy as having a dual purpose. Yes, it has to communicate your brand to your customers, but for me as a Brand Strategist, the most important audience is your team – those responsible for communicating the brand to your customers.
2. Resource management
The second big benefit is all around the notion of boosting your resources. If everybody is aligned, if the whole team is going in the same direction, you’re going to be more effective in your communications, and you’re going to be more efficient in how you use your resources.
Put another way, your teams are not going to constantly be re-inventing the wheel when it comes to new campaigns or product development because the key building blocks of the brand will have already been developed and agreed.
The third big benefit is knowing where you are going as a business. I call it brand vision and often think of it as a destination.
By defining a brand vision – two or three sentences in language that’s understandable – it allows your team to move in the same direction, and importantly allows you to say, “what do we have that’s going to help us move towards this destination?” I call these your Drivers. Equally, it will allow you to ask, “what’s going to slow us down? What are our Barriers?” If we recognise our drivers, we can draw from them; if we acknowledge our barriers, we can deal with them.
The fourth big benefit of a brand strategy is that it allows you to distill your true character or values. Your values will deliver two very important things. Firstly, they act as a benchmark for your team to know if the planned activity is in line with the character of your brand – does this meet our values?
Secondly, values also act as an important hallmark for your customers to recognise your brand – especially important given how crowded marketing channels are and how much resource is needed to fund campaigns.
The fifth benefit of a brand strategy is that the process allows you to discover your key messages. In fact, more than that, it allows you to develop a hierarchy of your key messages so that you know what your most important message is.
I call it the tyranny of the first. There’s always going to be a first. A first chart in the presentation, the first headline on a website, and it’s very important that you know what your first message is, and your second, third, fourth, and fifth. A brand strategy helps you to develop that hierarchy.
That brings us to our last big benefit, which is being relevant, and different. Why should a customer buy from you and not the competition? You can do this by solving your customer’s problem by demonstrating your benefits. But you also need to be different, you need to be distinct. If you’re just relevant, it means you’re the same as everybody else. If you’re just different, you won’t have any customers. You need to be both relevant and different.
There we have it, the six big benefits of a brand strategy, and the six reasons why, as a small to medium sized enterprise, it makes financial and strategic sense in talking some time to develop a brand strategy.
Bruce M McKinnon is a Brand Strategist and author of the award-winning book ‘What’s Your Point?’ that explores how SME’s can use brand strategy to fuel business growth.
Bruce regularly speaks on the subject of brand at conferences around the world and will be holding a branding workshop for SMEs here at CEME Campus. To book a place please click here.