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Brand Management Strategy

Our new Brand Management strategy was working great and our brands remained very prestigious and a cut above the rest.

  1. Develop a holistic understanding of the brand

A holistic, customer-driven understanding of the current brand and a vision of the brand’s future are crucial to proactive renovators. Typically, a holistic view includes an understanding of the brand’s heritage, personality, iconography, functional benefits, emotional benefits, and perceived value in the minds of customers, influencers, and intermediaries.

The key is to understand how each of these groups views the brand in the context of their daily lives and compared with the other things that are on their minds. This view enables proactive renovators to see opportunities to credibly extend the brand and avoid the trap of defining the brand by what the company knows how to make or offer, instead of what customers want to buy.

Brand Marketing has managed to stay relevant despite the digital and graphics technologies that might have threatened its brand’s very essence. Its understanding of the brand goes beyond the functional benefits of washable markers or erasable pencils. Brand Marketing’s brand leaders understood that colorful fun and creativity best defined its role in the lives of teachers, parents, and children; accordingly, it evolved from an art-products company to a visual-expression company.

 

  1. Look for segment swings

By the time most brand managers spot important trends, they are already threats. That’s not surprising, since it’s difficult to identify the early impact of trends among the general population of brand users.

Proactive renovators spot trends early by tracking segments of the population where the impact of change is more apparent, segmenting customers in different ways to fit their businesses.

Among the common segmentation principles:

  • First, they ask questions about lifestyles and general attitudes in order to gain a broader context for the role of their products and categories.
  • Second, they are particularly sensitive to trends with the potential to cross segments—from urban to suburban shoppers, or from youth into mainstream culture, for example.
  • Third, they proactively test alternative ways to connect their brands to important trends in order to identify opportunities to play a greater role in the lives of their customers.

 

  1. Distinguish the underlying issues

Not every brand issue is a competitive one, but we frequently encounter brand leaders so focused on gaining advantage against a narrow set of competitors that they fail to address indirect competition or tackle customers who are questioning whether it’s worthwhile to buy the category at all.

Proactive renovators are much more likely to distinguish among different types of threats and respond accordingly. Brand guru (and Prophet vice-chairman) David Aaker groups these threats as commoditization, brand lethargy, and changing customer dynamics:

  • Declining brand differentiation underlies commoditization, which is characterized by increasing price competition, entry of low-cost competitors, and narrower margins.
  • Brand lethargy is often a problem for category leaderswho fall into the trap of repeating past success factors rather than updating the brand and keeping it fresh and alive.
  • Brand relevance underlies customer dynamics issues.Changing technologies, lifestyle patterns, or attitudes typically cause a brand or a category to become less relevant to peoples’ lives.

 

  1. Apply the right strategies

Too many marketers think every brand issue can be solved with a new advertising and promotion campaign.

Of course, brand communication is an important component to building differentiation, energizing a brand, or building relevance. But, proactive renovators ensure that brand communications reflect fundamentally different strategies to cope with differentiation, brand energy, or relevance. One size will not fit all:

  • Successful differentiation in commoditized categories almost always requires finding ways to provide more emotional reasons to prefer the brand.Emotional leverage enhances consumer credibility and trust in innovations that drive big margin gains and allows the brand to eke out small, but often crucial, margin advantages in older products. Emotional bonds provide a platform to charge more despite the competition.
    Staples’s focus on ease (think “Easy Button”) and expertise in small-business and home-office efficiency differentiates it from other superstores and lends permission to provide such value-added services as office delivery and computer repair to enhance loyalty and margins.
  • Reinvigorating brand energy typically requires revamping the brand’s imagery.A brand image in keeping with its promise makes it more noticeable, easier to understand, and more desirable. Marketers often think that refreshing the logo and trademark imagery is sufficient; that’s rarely the case. User, usage, product, and associative imagery all must be explored to truly reinvigorate a brand.

    Sprite is one brand that regained energy by changing its user imagery to focus on young iconoclasts and its associative imagery to focus on the NBA.

  • Relevance issues demand a re-examination of the customer experience. When consumers change the ways they shop, live, or use technology, the experience must adapt

About Brand Management

Brand Marketing is a consultancy that specializes in the creation, building and management of brands. We are experienced in everything from brand positioning, brand strategy, and customer journey mapping to naming, brand architecture and internal learning and development.