Where Brand Strategy and Business Strategy Overlap (It’s Not What You Think)
As we approach the end of 2021 it’s a good time for leaders to assess the business strategy and make adjustments and decisions on where to focus and invest resources in the coming year. There are various directions a business leader may decide to go in and a critical point of analysis is the state of the brand. In this case, the state of the brand is less about name, logo, colors — it is about the reputation and “referability” of the brand in the target market. With a robust brand, a business leader can analyze three elements: awareness, likeability, and market-share to guide their path to a specific vision of success.
Grow the Brand & Business
Is it time to go bigger? From a personal brand standpoint, this could mean revisiting where you are seen and expanding targeted opportunities for thought leadership. For example, as a thought leader, would you want to speak more, be on podcasts, write a book — where might you want to grow your visibility and what conversations do you want to join or shape? One place to start is of course to look at what was well received in 2021 and grow that content potentially in new channels or double down in existing channels.
This could mean geographical locations, size of market share, products or services offered, or other measures of scale. What do you need to do to grow? Back before it was ubiquitous, when Starbucks began to move into different markets, it danced a fine line between tying its taste reputation to the coffee culture of its Seattle origins and expanding the vision to allow for a café-style, high-end coffee shop in any location. With high likeability, it focused on increasing market share and awareness.
To Rebrand or Not to Rebrand
Celebrities live their lives under the microscope. Let’s face it, a celebrity brand is absolutely a “business” brand. The path to name recognition can be through their career success or their shenanigans. When it comes to market share and awareness, mega-stars sometimes lose likeability because they are too limited in their roles, so a rebrand adds energy and new demographics to their following. Tom Cruise made his name playing cocky, bad boy characters, primarily in action films. His decision to take on roles in films like Jerry Maguire and Edge of Tomorrow where he showed vulnerability and a sense of humor about himself helped entrench and expand his popularity. Angelina Jolie made a name for herself as a bad girl in real life. While her film roles were challenging and received critical approval, she truly skyrocketed to the top of the A-list when she switched from a knife-collecting, blood-wearing, questionable figure to a UN representative with a focus on family, women, and children.
When a brand has high likeability, but low awareness, it is in a position to increase its market share by building awareness through marketing campaigns and other efforts. Bombas is a great example of a company with a fantastic value proposition — buy a pair/give a pair. The company leveraged Facebook and other platforms to advertise its business model, and it has taken the sock industry by storm. Bombas continues to utilize integrated marketing campaigns like TV and mailers to increase awareness and prompt action by the consumer.
Reposition or Reframe (Authentically)
In some instances, likeability and the evolving market call for a business to reposition itself. Oil and gas companies are a perfect example of business models that should see the writing on the wall due to increasing concerns about the environment. Beginning with BP, these companies have shifted their messaging and business model away from pure oil and gas towards being “energy” companies. While their primary focus remains on fossil fuels, the smart companies in this space are expanding into other energy sources and making sure this is a prime element of their brand. However, this is also a cautionary tale, be sure that when your business repositions or reframes the story that it is authentic because the truth will come out. The Exxon lobbyist caught on video by Greenpeace (NPR) absolutely undermined the brand, although, did we really believe their reposition anyways? Hoped, maybe…, but hope is not a strategy.
Back to Basics…Build Relationships with Your Clients & Community
Positioning a business in relation to communities and customers is a strategy that helps with various challenges. For example, UPS has a dominant market share and brand awareness, but a likeability challenge. To counter grumblings over delivery times, UPS highlights its relationship with customers, emphasizing relationships built by drivers following consistent routes for years. Stories about a single employee can truly impact the overall brand in a positive (or negative way).
To increase brand awareness, a New York-based company, Erie Materials, invites each of its nine locations to choose the charity that they want to give back to in the year. In both instances, the frontline workers are a critical component of the relationship strategy. Every location chooses which charities are relevant in their market and to employees, providing choice and an opportunity to be engaged.
Are you planning for your brand strategy and your business strategy in the coming year? It helps to work with a brand expert to make sure that you are uniting these two elements and focusing on the right direction for your organization. Contact us to learn how BrandMirror can help you amplify your brand and grow your business.
Jen Dalton is a personal brand specialist with entrepreneurship in her DNA. Her book, Listen: How To Embrace the Difficult Conversations Life Throws at You, is an insightful guide into navigating tough talks. She helps business owners and executives define how they show up as leaders, make the most of their strengths, and tend to their legacy, growth, and visibility. The author of two books, frequent speaker, podcaster, and “Purpose Sherpa,” Jen is a critical resource for any person or company that wants to define their brand and differentiate themselves in authentic, credible, and relevant ways to the market. brandmirror.com