Strategic Brand Management

Strategic Brand Management

In this lesson, you’re expected to:
– understand the importance of brand strategy
– discover the four crucial steps in strategic brand management
– learn about the essential components of a strong brand

What is Brand Management?

The process of maintaining, improving, and upholding a brand so that the name is associated with positive results. Brand management involves a number of important aspects such as cost, customer satisfaction, in-store presentation, and competition.

Brand management is built on a marketing foundation, but focuses directly on the brand and how that brand can remain favorable to customers. Proper brand management can result in higher sales of not only one product, but on other products associated with that brand.

Importance of Brand Management

A brand is the set of product or service attributes imbibed in the consumer’s mind in the form of a name, symbol, logo, design and trademark. Brand management is important for the following reasons:

1) Product differentiation from competitors
2) Building corporate image
3) Creating bundle of benefits for different product categories
4) Attract and retain the most loyal customers

What is Brand Strategy?

By definition, brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. 

First, let’s clear up the biggest misconception about brand strategy: Your brand is not your product, your logo, your website, or your name. In fact, your brand is much more than that – it’s the stuff that feels intangible.

It’s that hard-to-pin-down feeling that separates powerhouse and mediocre brands from each other.

Enlarged version: http://bit.ly/2nGq9YA
[Optional] A Better Way to Map Brand Strategy
Read this Harvard Business Review article to learn more:
https://hbr.org/2015/06/a-better-way-to-map-brand-strategy
Building a Brand 

Brand building is a tough job and requires a solid plan in advance. This is where strategic brand management steps in.

The role of strategic brand management is to take the brand equity of the company to new heights through sequential steps, which add value to the brand and ultimately position the brand strongly in the mind of the customers.

Below are four steps that should be followed in Strategic Brand Management:

1) Brand Positioning
2) Brand Marketing
3) Brand Performance
4) Brand Value

1) Brand Positioning

The first step in brand management is to decide the brand positioning which the firm wants to achieve. The marketer has to research each brand in the industry and then find out differentiating factors.

Using these differentiating factors, the brand can find a unique position in the mind of the customers. This will give the brand a boost and consequentially will affect the overall performance of the brand.

2) Brand Marketing

This involves marketing through various activities and media channels. By implementing ATL and BTL strategies, you can reach the end customer. Value can also be built through research and creativity in your marketing communications.

Brand marketing is an important middle step in strategic brand management because it covers the gap between planning and implementation.

3) Brand Performance & Analysis

It is important that you analyze the brand and its performance in the industry. Brand audits can be conducted on a periodic basis to find out the real performance of the brand and how it has benefited the company.

When compared to competitors, is your brand at the top of the mind of consumers? Accordingly, the right measures can be taken.

4) Brand Value

The last step in strategic brand management is when you build value for your brand by taking various necessary measures. To increase the value of a brand, the company has to offer new products and possibly enter new markets.

It is the job of the brand manager to keep adding value and repeat the previous steps to keep changing the brand positioning as per the market demand.

Branding strategy
Components for a Comprehensive Branding Strategy

Here are six essential components that will help guide your branding strategy:

1) Purpose
2) Consistency
3) Emotion
4) Flexibility
5) Loyalty
6) Competitive Awareness

1) Purpose

While understanding what your business promises is necessary when defining your positioning, knowing your vision carries more weight. In other words, your purpose is more specific, in that it serves as a differentiator between you and your competitors.

IKEA‘s vision isn’t just to sell furniture, but rather, to “create a better everyday life.” This approach is appealing to potential customers, as it demonstrates their commitment to providing value beyond the point of sale.

2) Consistency

In an effort to give your brand a platform to stand on, you need to be sure that all of your messaging is cohesive. Ultimately, consistency contributes to brand recognition, which fuels customer loyalty.

The key to consistency is to avoid talking about things that don’t relate to or enhance your brand.

A great example of consistency is Coca Cola. As a result of their commitment to consistency, every element of their marketing works harmoniously together. This has helped them become one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

3) Emotion

Customers aren’t always rational and have an innate desire to build relationships.

Research from psychologists Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary best describes this need in their “belongingness hypothesis”, which states: “People have a basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others, and that caring, affectionate bonds from close relationships are a major part of human behavior.”

Find a way to connect to your customers on a deeper, more emotional level. Do you make life easier or make them feel like part of the family? Use emotional triggers like these to strengthen your relationship and foster loyalty.

4) Flexibility

In this fast-changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant.

Flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from that of your competition.

A great example of this type of strategic balance comes from Old Spice. Until recently, Old Spice was considered an old man’s brand. Today, they’re one of the most popular brands for men of all ages.

5) Loyalty

If you already have people that love you, your company, and your brand, you need to reward them for their loyalty.

These customers have gone out their way to write about you, to tell their friends about you, and to act as your brand ambassadors.

Cultivating loyalty from these people early on will yield more returning customers and more profit for your business. Loyalty is a critical part of every brand strategy, especially if you’re looking to support your sales.

6) Competitive Awareness

Take the competition as a challenge to improve your own strategy and create greater value in your overall brand.

Since you’re competing in the same business and going after the same customers, it’s important to be aware of what everyone else is doing.

[Optional] Consumers Are No Longer Brand Loyal
A Brand Extension is the use of an established brand name in new product categories. This new category to which the brand is extended can be related or unrelated to the existing product categories.

A renowned/successful brand helps an organization to launch products in new categories more easily.

For instance, Nike’s core product is shoes. But it has now extended to sunglasses, footballs, basketballs, golf equipment and more.

An existing brand that gives rise to a brand extension is referred to as a parent brand. If the customers of the new business have values and aspirations matching those of the core business, and if these values and aspirations are embodied in the brand, it is likely to be accepted by customers in the new business.

Extending a brand outside its core product category can be beneficial in a sense that it helps evaluating product category opportunities, identifies resource requirements, lowers risk, and measures brand’s relevance and appeal.

However, there is no guarantee whether an extension will be successful or not.

[Optional] The Best (and Worst) Brand Extensions
What is a Brand Experience?

Brand experience is conceptualized as sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications, and environments.

Moreover, brand experience affects consumer satisfaction and loyalty directly and indirectly through brand personality associations.

[Optional] Every Experience is a Brand Experience
Watch this 1-minute video to see how consumers are experiencing more touch points with brands than ever before.
Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8yCGyp28RY
[Optional] Experiential Marketing
Watch this 7-minute video to see examples of experiential marketing used by companies like Coca Cola, Nike and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZhbmlbfG5U
Jim Rohn