Brand strategy. The term can be intimidating, but you better have one.
That may have hurt, but you are reading a FIG blog and we keep it 100! We also happen to love the word strategy. Go figure. Without a strategy, you have an idea, and while ideas are a vital part of any business, they alone aren’t enough to build a business.
But, hey. I’m sure you know all of this. What you may not know is how trendy the term “brand strategy” is and if you’re a FIG fan you know, we don’t do trends... we do brands. This read is all about knowing the difference between a brand poser and a pro. Trust us, for every pro, there’s a couple dozen posers (at least). We’ve had clients reach out to us after meeting with “brand strategists” and “branding experts” who were really sales brokers. Big difference. Although sales is a critical part of brand development, brand strategy is not the same because brand strategy requires, well, a strategy.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is your product or service and who is it for?
If those two questions aren’t asked up front, you’re dealing with a poser. Period. Having 50 years of experience working with beverage brands is not the same thing as developing a strategy to connect your brand to your target audience. It means you’re good at lip service and can sell. And yeah, businesses need sales reps. But sales doesn’t equal strategy. To put it plainly, everyone in the world has experience with a brand; they’ve purchased brand products, they drive brand cars, they eat in brand restaurants - does this make them an expert? Of course not. So why risk your brand development and reputation on a poser? Think of some of the brands you love and respect and what you love about them. Chances are they have an incredible team of brand experts, marketers and sales reps - each focusing on a respective area of the business to maximize brand awareness for the company.
A pro will ask things like, “what sets you apart from your competition?" Why did you start your business? and What are your succession plans?”.
Don’t be afraid of answering as these are critical when it comes to helping you develop a brand strategy. Picking up on their pro knowledge is easier than you might think. Look for someone who has questions beyond “what's your budget” and “timeline”? If your goal is to scale (and it should be) then you want to work with someone that understands your vision and will develop metrics to help you get there.
A comprehensive brand strategy will include: positioning, marketing, advertising, public relations, social media, events, digital marketing, community outreach, sales management and customer retention. A poser will know every one of these terms, but will lack the knowledge and experience to put it all together for your business. Major difference, right?
Our advice, be picky. Be very picky because a brand is personal to the company and not just to the owner or board of directors, but to the team, it’s customers and it’s community. Your brand determines how you will be judged and selected (or not). Make sure the strategy is developed by a pro so your business can thrive like one.