A great brand strategy combines what Adrienne used to call ‘the logic and the magic’ – that mix of rational and emotive elements that, together, combine to give a brand engagement, connectedness and distinction.
I talk a lot these days about needing to position a brand beyond reasonable doubt – and by that I mean looking for brand performance and potential on more than just logical grounds; positioning it in such a way that it ‘calls’ to customers rather than just rationalising itself to them.
To do that, there are always 7 factors I look for in a brand strategy. The 7R’s …
1. Resonance – how will people react? Brands need to elicit an emotive reaction. So what’s the emotion that’s being generated here and how intense is it? Does it talk to people’s needs in ways that feel personal, relevant and wonderful?
2. Resilience – how strong is the strategy competitively? Does this really give the competition something to ponder and react to? Does it front-foot them in the marketplace? If not, it’s wallpaper. Just as importantly, for recovering brands, does it mark a clear way back and a strong way forward?
3. Results – what difference will it make? How will it change the bottom line, contribute to the business strategy, earn its keep? Is it going to make its numbers? And if it doesn’t make those numbers initially, where’s the Plan B in the strategy to fix that?
4. Resolution – how will the new strategy galvanise people from the inside-out? Is it inspiring? Does it align with the vision and the purpose? Does it bring focus and substantiation to the conversations taking place internally? Does it squarely and fairly say “We heard you” to internal stakeholders who were consulted? Does it give permission?
5. Radiation – will it spread? Are the ideas in this strategy capable of great take-up? Will they get people talking? Will they move the brand beyond the confines of where it now finds itself? Is there a story embedded within the strategy that people will really want to hear.
6. Redefinition – is it radical? Does it have stretch? Will it make people sweat (in a good way)? Is it disruptive enough to reset the competitive markers? Or is it just rearranging the deckchairs? What nuances does it unearth? What new angles about the business does it cover? How exuberantly does it challenge the status quo?
7. Recognition – does it still have the brand’s DNA? Despite everything that’s being proposed, everything that’s being challenged, does it still feel like an iteration of the brand customers know? Is there enough here for them to recognise and enough here for them to get excited? It may be an extension or an expansion, a shift or a reinforcement but the connection points still need to be there and the departure absolutely needs to go to a better place for customers (which means there’s still clear comparison points with what it was).