Introduction to Brand Strategy with Stimler Advantage
As part of its work areas and services, Stimler Advantage guides organizations to situate a brand in the context of its past, present, and future to keep and engage new customers. Brand strategy work is informed by the Stimler Advantage 5 S’s Framework.
Understanding Your Organization's Brand
A strong brand helps organizations attract new customers, retain existing customers, and distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace. A brand is the sum total of how your customers perceive your organization across its touchpoints, including your logo, website, name, marketing channels, products, services, and customer experience. Brand, in the mind and perception of the customer, is connected to feeling and memory.
Your organization’s brand should be an instantly recognizable expression of your organization’s mission, vision, and values. Critically, a brand should be accessible and legible, meaning that a brand must be easy for people to perceive and understand, regardless of their abilities or circumstances. In addition, an organization must build and sustain a devoted, durable, and dynamic brand. A successful brand is situated in the context of an organization’s past, present, and future.
Situate Your Brand in the Context of The Past, Present, and Future
Your organization’s brand must be well-situated in the context of dynamic change. It is critical to understand the history surrounding the context from which your brand emerged, your brand’s own history (with its failures, missteps, and successes alike), its contemporary interactions with the marketplace and socioeconomic culture, and future.
Your brand’s past is the history within which it is situated and its own history as documented by its logos, marks, content, products, and services. It includes the organization's origin and foundation stories, evolving mission, vision, values, key figures, timeline moments, and defining products, services, and customer experiences. Your brand’s past can be a valuable and actively deployable asset. It can help you connect with customers through an emotional connection to a sense of the past within the context of the present and emerging future.
Sustainable brands should develop an evolving and multigenerational customer base and position themselves for longevity with a continuous pipeline of ongoing engagement. People will perceive and interpret your organization’s past in ways that may not always align with how you communicate the organization’s brand. However, an organization with a clear and documented understanding of its past is an empowered organization, more able to know itself to lead and manifest the experiences and relationships it desires with its customers.
Your brand in the present is the current situation of your organization. It includes how your customers interact with and perceive the quality and value of your products, services, and customer experiences. In the present, your organization should be actively measuring and analyzing the impacts of your brand through digital metrics and other survey tools. Week-by-week, quarter-by-quarter, and year-by-year, your organization should have an accurate and active assessment of customer affinity to your brand.
Critical considerations for a contemporary brand are finding creative, timely, and appropriate ways to circulate your brand on channels, platforms, and products that attract niche but impactful and mass audiences, thereby compelling opportunities for building and fusing customer communities. Your brand in the present sets a direction for how your organization may or may not be successful in the long run. That is why it is essential to deliver a consistently excellent customer experience and measure customer satisfaction as embodied by your brand.
Your brand's future is what your organization plans to do in the ever-changing dynamic future. It is your vision for the organization’s role in the world. Your brand's future should give customers a reason to be excited about your organization and its products or services and prepare them for what is next. While your organization may seek to set some target milestones for future development, know that these are less fixed than you might think and should be in flux and responsive to change. Your brand should be something you can achieve, but it should also be something you can measure and track. By tying your brand to your analytics and metrics, you can ensure that your organization is progressing toward its goals and that its future investments are successful.
Placing your brand in scenarios of the future is a way to help customers situate themselves in the organization’s perspective directions. Examples of scenario forecasting for your customers include publications with illustrative storytelling, presentations, and prototype product demos. By placing your product in future test environments, while doing your research and development, you can help learn from your customers and stakeholders if your goals for the brand align with your customers' desires. While some people can imagine the future from the concept stage, concrete demonstrations and examples can help others who perhaps need another point of connection to situate and understand the organization’s direction. That said, prototyping and testing in future scenarios should be a focused and structured process aligned with the organization’s budget, mission, and priorities to ensure it is a constructive and helpful mechanism to build capabilities for future success.
Empower Your Brand To Lead
By situating your brand in the context of its past, present, and future, your organization can better understand its strengths and weaknesses. Help your organization identify how to empower your brand to lead. When your brand is empowered, your organization can attract new and retain existing customers.
Here are three tips for situating your brand in the context of its past, present, and future:
An empowered brand is essential for any organization that wants to succeed. It will help you attract new customers, build loyalty with existing customers, and distinguish yourself. By situating your brand in the context of your past, present, and future, your organization will be empowered to lead in today’s competitive marketplace.
If you are looking for help creating or strengthening your brand, Stimler Advantage can help. We can work with you to develop a devoted, durable, and dynamic brand that continually engages your customers.
Connect with me to discuss your executive coaching, tactical and strategy needs. Subscribe to the email newsletter. Follow Stimler Advantage on LinkedIn. An audio version of this blog post can be found on the Stimler Advantage Podcast.
Neal Stimler is President of Stimler Advantage.