Roadmap for success

By Brian Byrne     21st Nov 2019  

If you read my last blog post Finding Your Niche, you’ll know that I’ve recently been doing an online marketing course. A continuing topic of conversation among the participants is brand strategy—the difficulties people have explaining it to their clients and as a result, how to sell it. In one of the workshop lessons, we were asked to draw up a nine-step marketing plan, and implement it over the coming months. Part of my plan is to improve how I communicate the fundamentals of brand strategy, why it’s essential for business, how it links to identity design, and how I implement it at Lands. I’m still in the research phase, but I thought I’d share with you some of my findings so far. In doing so, I hope to give you a better understanding of it too.

When I do anything like this, I like to start with definitions. Let’s break up the phrase, what is a brand, and what is strategy?

Here’s Marty Neumeier’s definition of brand, taken from his book The Brand Gap: “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organisation. It’s a person’s gut feeling because brands are defined by individuals, not companies, markets or publics. It’s a gut feeling because people are emotional, intuitive beings. Your brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is”.

I like the Business Dictionary’s definition of strategy: A method or plan used to bring about a desired future: such as the achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.

SIDE NOTE:

I have a big, 40-year-old, leather-bound, dictionary on my bookshelf, and when I’m researching, I like to take a look at how words and definitions have evolved. It always provides interesting reading. So I looked up strategy and here’s what it says:

—n. strategy, generalship, the art of managing armed forces in a campaign: artifice or finesse generally.

Artifice! Finesse! I thought that was quite funny. As a brand strategist, I swear I’m not trying to pull the wool over your eyes! I love my big old dictionary, but I digress…

So combining the definitions, brand strategy could be explained like this: A plan used to bring about a future where people think about your product, service or organisation in a desired way.

Alina Wheeler in Designing Brand Identity dives a little deeper than my effort and gives a comprehensive outline: “Brand strategy provides a central unifying idea around which all behaviour, actions and communications are aligned. It builds on a vision, is aligned with business goals, emerges from a company’s values and culture, it reflects an in-depth understanding of the customer’s needs and perceptions. Brand Strategy defines positioning, differentiation, the competitive advantage and a unique value proposition. It should resonate with all stakeholders, external customers, the media, employees, the board and suppliers. Brand strategy is a roadmap that guides marketing, makes it easier to sell more and provides clarity, context and inspiration to employees.”

I like the roadmap analogy because devising a brand strategy for your business is like going on a journey. It gets you from Point A to Point B, where you are now to where you want to get to in the future. In a conversation with strategist Melinda Livsey, designer Jacob Cass also describes it as such. “It’s a roadmap that contains the what, why, how, and who of the brand. These should be discussed in-depth to form better connections with your customers. Strategy is the foundation a brand is built upon.”

In the same conversation, Livsey calls strategy “a plan for where a brand wants to go—to connect with ideal customers, increase sales and achieve growth.”

Photo by Brian Byrne

Connecting your brand with the target market is a big part of brand strategy, and German strategist Fabian Geyrhalter sums it up nicely, “Strategy is defining the heart and soul of a company. How it’s positioned to the correct audience in a way that really connects with the product or service. The audience, positioning, heart and soul all have to align.”

So, after taking all this into account here’s my revised definition of Brand Strategy: A plan that defines the essence of an organisation or business. It defines positioning, differentiation and connects the ideal customer to the product or service in a desired way. It steers marketing efforts, should be inspirational and needs to resonate with all stakeholders. Brand Strategy provides clarity and alignment.

Next time: How Lands implements brand strategy.

Brian Byrne is a graphic designer and founder of Lands.
Sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of the page and you'll never miss a post!

0 Comments

Recent Posts

Design Is Strategy Amplified
Following on from my last blog post, I want to give you an idea of how brand strategy is implemented at Lands and how it's the basis for effective identity design....

The Culture Collections No.7
This collection includes Nick Cave, Muriel Cooper, Conor O'Leary, the Tesla Cybertruck, Leonard Cohen's posthumous album and more ...

Roadmap For Success
A continuing topic of conversation among the participants is brand strategy—the difficulties people have explaining it to their clients and as a result, how to sell it...

The Culture Collections No.6
This collection includes lessons from Paula Scher, Tonic of the Sea, new music from FKA Twigs, Bean and Goose and more ...

Finding Your Niche
A common topic of discussion amongst the students is niching down, a strategy that Seth himself, advocates...

The Culture Collections No.5
This collection includes Dieter Rams, 100 Archive, Vivian Maier, Lankum, Oliver Jeffers, The Mandalorian and more...

Imagining a Better World
When you have success with one methodology, it's tempting to keep using it. But its a strategy doomed to fail. ...

The Culture Collections No.4
This collection includes Chris Morris, new music from Poliça, Martin Parr, Judy & Punch, Henri Matisse pottery and more...

Easing Fear Through Charm and Wit
Its Friday night, Michael has just settled down to binge-watch the new Netflix show he’s been dying to see...

The Culture Collections No.3
This collection includes Wim Crouwel, Mitch Epstein, Basciville, PJ Harvey, The Lighthouse and more ...

Culture Night: Designing Wexford
As I drove through Wexford on Friday night, it quickly became apparent that the town was packed. Culture Night was back ...

The Culture Collections No.2
This collection includes new music from Angel Olsen, Cove Magazine, Brother Hubbard, Boundary Brewery and more...

Swim Goals
I swam my first ever kilometre on Saturday. Well, 1.2 kilometres to be exact. A sea swim, with waves...

The Culture Collections No.1
A new feature where we regularly share things we love from the world of art, design, music, film...

The Ogilvy Sign
A man helps another man through the beauty of words and an understanding of the human spirit...

Your Brand is Good for Business
How can a brand be good for business I hear you ask? Aren't businesses and brands the same thing... 

Teach What You Know
I just finished reading the excellent 'Show Your Work' by Austin Kleon...

Welcome to Lands
Lands is the rebranded design studio of Wexford native Brian Byrne...

Sharing culture and expertise through our newsletter

When you subscribe to our newsletter, you will receive regular updates, news, articles and opinions. Also, we want to help — if you have questions about your logo, identity, brand strategy, or how design might benefit your business, please get in touch. With your permission, we will use the newsletter to share and answer any questions you might have.

You can unsubscribe at any time, and we will never share your email address.