What IS Brand Strategy?

As I’ve gone through my career, I find that I have to fight an uphill battle defending what “brand strategy” is vs. what people think it is.

Inherently, when one mentions the word “strategy”, it is relatively clear that they are referring to a process by which a vision can become a reality.  So why is it when you add the word “brand” ahead of it, suddenly it is referring to a company or product’s logo?

In the modern world of marketing and brand strategy, a logo does not make a brand; a brand, however can make a logo.  (For those familiar with the world of meat, it is akin to all Kobe is wagyu, but not all wagyu is Kobe.)  If you are a new company and have that solid foundation to which I referred last month, then it can absolutely influence the look of how your company, or brand, is represented.  Similarly, if you are an established company that is looking to pivot or reposition yourself because of XYZ, the new look and feel can, and quite frankly should, be influenced by the company’s strategy based on the cornerstone of its mission, vision and values.  Some call it a” logo”, I lovingly refer to it as a “visual manifestation”.

That said, sometimes, a mark is just a mark.  If you think of the greats over time, their logos were less influenced by their strategy and more by what would be purely recognizable based on the name or affection from the owner (i.e. the golden arches = McDonald’s, a doting father = Wendy’s, an apple = Apple, etc.).  There is nothing overly cerebral about these identities.  So why all the pomp and circumstance now?  Sometimes, it is just that easy.  However, as companies have to get more and more creative in the business they pursue because of saturated markets and exhausted industries, so too how brands, and their strategies, are developed must dig deeper to define their niche and ultimate success.

Most of the time, when I am speaking to folks about what it is I do, and I manage to get on my soapbox about how important strategic communications are, when talking about brand strategy, I often replace the word “brand” with “business”, or remove it entirely.  I have found that for those who are unfamiliar with the nebulous world of marketing, it helps to focus the conversation on the truly important concept of strategy, and less about a word that is misconstrued with the mark used to represent the company or product.  That said, this is my interpretation of the words/phrase.  Should you google the term, you will be met with an abundance of definitions and expectations from many parties.

So, I will leave you with this question – what IS brand strategy to you?  How would you define it?  I’m always open to hearing other interpretations and would love to hear yours.  Drop me a line on LinkedIn or contact me via my website.

Stay tuned for more from TCS next month!

Sarah Heximer, Owner & Chief Visionary Officer

True Colors Strategy