Every day, business owners are pitched opportunities to take their brands in a ‘new’ direction or to stay the course—by colleagues, by their agencies, because of the actions of competitors or by delegations of customers or suppliers. When everyone has a tactic and everything is presented as a panacea, how do you sift the wheat from the wonk? How should brands commit to their future? The secrets I suggest here are singularity, over-commitment and a fundamental drive to keep challenging.
We hear a lot about the effects that technology and developments like AI will have on jobs and workforces. But powerful forces already operate in markets to actively undermine value and drive out distinctiveness. It’s one thing to know that. It’s quite another to develop a broad differentiation strategy capable of stopping it.
Branding is competitive. It’s about staking out the right to earn over others. So it requires a strong and competitive strategy. But when that competitive streak becomes obsessive, brands lose objectivity and that can cost them dearly.
Have we become so pre-occupied with the niceties of brand that we’ve forgotten the reason they exist? Where’s the link to sales?
It’s not always easy to spot that your brand is falling out of favour with consumers, especially if, on the face of it, things look healthy.
As marketers we come close to taking brands for granted. But while many would say they now get the theory, the practice of brand-building is not as simple as they might like to believe.
If businesses are truly intent on developing strategies that cut through, perhaps the best place to start is with stranger questions. Asking the less obvious might push more brands to think more laterally about their futures.
Often, when people in agencies talk about brand strategy, what they are meaning is the thinking that has led to the work they have been doing on the brand. That’s not brand strategy.
As we start another year with all the usual wishes to do better, it’s sobering to review how your intentions from this time last year panned out. What didn’t happen, and what do those disappointments tell you about your brand and the state of your brand heading into 2016?
The intuitive answer is market share. But perhaps there’s another way of looking at this: one that is increasingly being pursued by brands with a strong purpose agenda. If your brand must be bigger than what you make, perhaps the basis on which you compete must be greater than what you can distinctly own.