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August 3

What is the point of a brand strategy and how will this help companies trying to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic?

In this first of a blog post series from Manchester B2B PR agency Metamorphic PR covering post-pandemic business recovery, Dave O’Hearns, brand strategy consultant at Dawn Creative – agency specialising in brand, design, digital and motion – explains the value in developing a brand strategy:

Why is it important for companies of any size to have a brand strategy? 

You have to ask first – why does your organisation exist? If it was removed from the market, would anyone care?

Your brand is what you stand for as a company from the top down and the promise that you make to your customers about what you will deliver. This promise is how you go to market and create trust and loyalty.

So, a brand strategy starts with knowing what you stand for and – whether you’re large or small – it’s about creating consistency and a “rulebook” for how you operate. This attracts customers who like having consistency and, ultimately, develop a relationship with your brand.

This is all really valuable to guide the business and make decision making a lot easier; knowing your brand means you behave based on what the company has collectively decided rather than someone’s ad hoc opinion of what you represent.

Once you’ve considered your position in the marketplace, found a gap you can occupy and documented what you are and what your customer promise is, then it’s about having the right brand identity. And the visual aspect of brand strategy needs to match your market positioning to give customers a sense of comfort and guarantee.

Dave O’Hearns of Dawn Creative

Brand architecture

There are broadly three types of brand architecture your company can adopt:

  1. Monolithic

Consistent across all parts of the business, e.g. Virgin Group fundamentally shares the same values but adapts them based on the audience.

  1. Endorsed

For example, Kellogg’s has its own brand identity but with multiple brands that all have individual brand values and identities (for example Cornflakes vs Frosties). This gives the customer a variety of choices but confidence in knowing that each offers a similarly high standard.

  1. House of brands

A company like Unilever stands for something of itself, allowing it to offer a variety of products/brands that are very different.

Brand strategy and Covid-19

In the current climate, I think people – if they have money to spare – will spend it on things they already have trust in.

So, this is a time for brands to be more consistent than ever, engaging with their audience and showing empathy. Like you’d expect from a friend, customers expect their chosen brand will be there for them in the best way possible.

And this pandemic situation has underlined the importance of the digital world: companies’ websites and the fact people are making buying decisions based more on what they see online.

It’s the perfect time and opportunity to review your online presence and question how well it represents your business. In a competitive marketplace, the quality of your digital footprint has got to be better than ever before.

Brand trends – what it means to your business

Interbrand has just released its latest “Breakthrough Brands 2020” report which highlights the trends and direction of travel in up-and-coming companies.

This finds a growth in brands that are:

  • Playful with upbeat personalities
  • Authentic – speaking as humans not corporates
  • Creating communities 
  • Being sustainable and socially conscious

I think that playfulness should have been a feature of brands for some time; instead, many businesses have chosen to be more corporate in their approach. For some, the net result was audiences not understanding what they were talking about!

Being playful can work for businesses in most sectors – with some obvious exceptions – but at least any business can be engaging and have a personality.

And as companies today are not in total control of everything that’s said about them, authenticity and speaking with more humanity is vital; it’s become much more of a two-way conversation between brand and customer.

Equally, being part of the community – whether geographically or virtually – and having a commitment to sustainability and social consciousness is necessary. The risk to your brand reputation of not doing this are too great, as it’s become much easier for companies to be found out.

Brands that realise the importance of “giving something back” are ahead of the game; both in the sense of “doing the right thing” and also attracting people new employees who share a sense of purpose.

Making the investment in brand strategy

The main reason to embark on a brand strategy review is a need for change: for example, your visual identity could be dated or, over time, adding different products/services to your range is causing confusion and fragmentation. You might have retained technical names for things you do that no longer have an obvious meaning for the customer.

By investing time and energy into a brand strategy, you can re-position your business to attract either more of the same customers or a new audience for your products/services. You might want to increase your prices, therefore your brand needs to look the part.

Devising and executing a new brand strategy creates a sense of pride across the business; the new sense of purpose and excitement it generates is reinvigorating for your existing staff and helps attract a broader spread of new talent.

Contact Dave O’Hearns and Dawn Creative by phone on 0161 711 0910 or email at wakeup@dawncreative.co.uk

For B2B PR and communications to support your brand strategy, contact Metamorphic PR on 0161 672 7000 or email at change@metamorphicpr.co.uk

Download this brand strategy blog post as a PDF guide

Also in this series: 

#2 Video content for post-pandemic business recovery

#3 Media relations for post-pandemic business recovery

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