Consumer habits have changed dramatically due to Covid-19, and this means that brands need to rethink their brand strategies to remain relevant, top-of-mind and, ultimately, to stay in business. And what better time to rethink than as we kick off 2021?
Not sure what your business’s brand strategy is? Here’s a little help ...
To put it simply, a brand strategy is a business plan that not only clearly identifies the company’s goals, but also the character of the business. Think of some famous brands and what they are known for. For example, we know that Nando’s sells good chicken, but the brand is known for being cheeky and clever because of its responses to social and political happenings (see an example of that cheekiness at the end of this blog).
“The broad purpose of a brand strategy is to clarify what your goalposts are – what the business does and how its communications serve the brand and the business. Once this is clarified, you know what your aims are,” says Janet Berger, strategy specialist at Flow Communications.
It is imperative to have a strategy not only for your business, but also for your brand and your communications, and all of them need to be aligned, she says. There are potentially many different people talking about a brand – a social media team, partners and influencers, for example – and all of them need to be talking about the brand in one voice.
Twitter Business gives five tips for developing a solid brand strategy:
- Define your unique brand positioning
- Develop consistent messaging
- Create a strong visual identity
- Get to know your audience
- Find channels for engagement
Brands are built on perception, says Janet. “Your brand strategy has to support the business. Your brand is your persona, so you have to figure out what your persona is, and when you communicate, all your communications need to reflect the brand’s persona, behaviour and offerings.’’
She gives the example of Porsche, when it started offering SUVs as part of its product range. To its loyal fans, Porsche was known for its beautifully engineered and designed sports cars, but in 2010 it announced its decision to produce SUVs – ultimately a smart business move that allowed it to take advantage of the huge market for SUVs.
“Our approach always was that whatever we build in whatever segment we’re active in, it always has to be a Porsche – it always has to be the sportiest car in the segment,” Klaus Zellmer, CEO of Porsche Cars North America, said in an interview. “When we published the plan that Porsche would develop and sell an SUV, especially the core fan base, they couldn’t believe it. They said, ‘That’s not my brand anymore.’ So it’s tough. You have to convince people.”
Porsche was not known for SUVs – it is primarily a sports-car brand. But although it offered a different product, its branding stayed true to its persona. “Porsche had to convince consumers that it was the same brand, even though it had moved into a different market with its new product offering,” says Janet.
And this seems to have worked – in 2019, Porsche had its best SUV sales year ever..
“Your brand strategy is your blueprint: it gives you a framework about how you are going to talk about your brand and how to stay true to the brand, and it is part of your brand’s personality,’’ says Janet.
Hubspot.com, a company that develops and markets software products for marketing, sales and customer service, gives some insights into a number of top global companies and their winning brand strategies, including cosmetics brand LUSH, which is committed to producing handmade products and buying ethically sourced ingredients. The brand is well known in South Africa.
“So, what makes LUSH so different from the likes of Sephora or even Etsy? Handmade products. Advocates of LUSH are committed to ethical buying, and are obsessed with the purity that comes from a handmade item. The company’s biggest success is knowing that its core buyers value social and corporate responsibility over a luxurious and out-of-reach image.
“LUSH’s branding is simple and genuine, with great contrast between visuals that is simply not seen elsewhere. For that reason, the company has a massive brand-loyal following,” says the article. Also, the brand is “Not selling an image – the business is selling a viewpoint on how to define ‘beauty’.”
Says Janet: “Your brand strategy must answer the question, ‘“Why?” – why am I talking to this audience, why am I sending out these messages? It is not the ‘What we do’; it’s the ‘How we do it’.”