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Is Your Brand Strategy MIA?

What’s your brand strategy?

If you can’t answer this question with certainty, you’re not alone – and you’re unlikely alone, also, in the reason it’s difficult to answer.

Marketing has become so complicated in the last few years that even the savviest of marketers are being tricked into thinking the absolute worst thing that a marketer can think: tactics are strategy.

Today, more and more marketing teams are spending time figuring out how to increase engagement on LinkedIn rather than questioning why they are using LinkedIn in the first place.

Although the complexities associated with deploying today’s marketing tactics can easily make you feel like you’re tackling the “big” problems that are guided by strategic thinking, the part that’s missing from the equation is the actual upfront strategy.

In other words, companies are jumping into the nuts and bolts of brand management instead of developing their brand strategy.

To understand this better, take a look at this diagram:

brand strategy, activation and management

Everything under “brand development” must be carefully considered and clearly defined in order to answer the question: What’s your brand strategy? This is why research, analysis and planning are critical.

During the brand development phase, your goals are set, and a brand position, message and attributes capable of achieving those goals are conceived. Only then, the final brand platform, including purpose and promise, is developed. Everything brand-related that’s decided and created after goal setting occurs is collectively known as brand strategy.

Brand activation (execution) and management – including brand identity, brand experience and all forms of marketing communications – although critical to marketing, should be based on research, analysis and planning. Most importantly, they are not strategy.

Even the creation of your marketing plan is actually part of brand management, to be tackled only after brand development takes place and brand strategy is set.

If Everything Is Working, Does a Missing Brand Strategy Even Matter?

Often the key question in marketing isn’t, “Are we getting good results?” but rather, “Could we get better results?” Well, better results related to what?

Without an underlying brand strategy in place, you could end up spending much-needed resources on improving metrics that ultimately get you nowhere. You are setting yourself up to take a shotgun approach year after year, rather than shooting a single rifle bullet right into the aspect of your marketing that needs that shot the most.

What Should We Do If We Realize Our Brand Strategy Is MIA?

The first smart thing to do is to refuse spending significant money on any new tactical initiatives until you invest in understanding and/or developing a crystal clear brand strategy (your business goals and the corresponding brand platform that can best get you there) followed by an on-point marketing strategy and the plan for executing and managing it.

Don’t stop everything you’re doing, but do put everything on simmer while you are taking a deep dive into your brand and the context in which you do business. Any brand strategy firm worth its salt will tell you not to touch your current branding until you understand your market, industry, audience, competitive landscape and more.

Until there’s a crystal clear answer to “What’s our brand strategy?” no company can execute a marketing plan with certainty and focus.

Those who try are playing a guessing game (and often don’t even know it). But those who do wake up to the fact that their brand strategy is MIA have the opportunity to recalibrate and come back to the market with a plan based on insight rather than luck.


Additional Resources

Download our free Brand Toolbox, a guide we’ve developed to assist you with the branding process – from conducting your brand audit to smoothly navigating the process.

The Rebranding Challenge: What’s an In-House Marketer to Do?

Anatomy of a Brand

10 Must-Ask Questions for Brand Evolution


Substance151 Can Help

At Substance151, we develop strong brand foundations to guide your company forward. Contact us at 410-732-8379 or brand@substance151.com to find out how we can help you design and deploy a comprehensive brand and marketing strategy that leaves nothing MIA.