Brand is nothing but thoughts and association in the mind of the customers. A brand belongs with the customers and not in the board room so it is more important to understand who our customers are and what they want from the brand. Customer choice has the power which has made brands like football and Amitabh Bachchan.
Therefore if you think about a successful brand, few other related things will also come to mind along with the brand name like, associated colour, person, quality etc. All the successful brands display few common characteristics which have made them so big.
Standing brands are true to the core, knowing who they are and displaying their real characteristics. They are distinctive and brilliant in they own field and stand out of the crowd. Such brands are evocative thereby generate emotions and feelings among the customers. These companies retain authenticity and creativity, and keep surprising their customers. Not only this, they are champions in their industry, become leaders and not followers and create opinions. They know how to engage their staff and customers.
But such an achievement is not an overnight task. You have to be ready with a complete brand strategy to make your business a true brand. Brand strategy is a continuous effort to build a brands perceived value. To build a strategy which will take your brand to a desired value will need a lot of research and planning.
Research has to be external as well internal. You need to look within before you look outside your company. Talk to your staff and stakeholders to understand what they perceive from your brand and how they think it can be improved. Study of customer trends, profiles and behaviour is also important to understand the changes and foresee the upcoming trends.
Once you do the internal review look around and talk to your customers. Try to take customer feedback to learn what you lack and what does your customer actually want. Understanding brand awareness, your customer perception, buying reasons and purchase behaviour are necessary too. This will give idea of where you are and how do you need to strategies.
Competitor analysis and research is another essential element that cannot be neglected. You should be aware of your competitors and their capabilities. Know your competitors; learn about their concepts, their touch points and their unique selling proposition. This analysis will give you a head start since you will be aware of the areas where you have to emphasise more and have idea of creating a distinctive image in the market which has multiple players.
Once all necessary research work is done you are ready to step into the next level; that is to strategies a plan that will take the brand to desired position. The crucial thing at this stage is to ensure that you engage your team at all levels to highlight your unique personality and determine your position. This will highlight your company values, beliefs and characteristics. Determining position in the market is important as you will define your target group and segment. Before you enter a market you should know your audience, then only you can focus on what they want and not what you want to sell.
Once you determine your position and personality it is easy to communicate to your audience with the right message. You can also use your experience and customer feedback to create an emotional appeal.
The next step is to put the plan into action and work towards nurturing your brand. Improve brand experience by developing good culture using creativity and initiating activities which are brand focused and integrated with the brand.
Other elements which move around your brand like brand management and control system should not be neglected as these are those factors which work towards the maintenance of the brand and are not noticed if they are performed well. But once these elements are neglected, brand health will start deteriorating.
Therefore brand strategy is a long and continuous process which involves important decision making in order to take the brand from perceived level to desired level. A lot can be learned from stable brands since they have struggled hard to create an image and sustained against all the competitors in the market.