The Importance of Strategic Brand Management
What is strategic brand management? In its simplest form, strategic brand management is all your customer-facing communications – written, audio, visual or otherwise – that communicate and track your brand’s unique identity and its effect. This is different from branding in general which focuses on the consistent aesthetic of your company, be that a logo or your mission statement. Branding is a bedrock look, feel, and sound whereas the brand strategy is the intentional way you deploy and manage your aesthetic.
Developing core brand management strategies is essential to long-term success in almost every business. This strategy will help determine how your clients view your products, so make sure to emphasize the strategic part of this, and put a clear plan together on how, where, and with what mediums your brand will engage the public. Below are several different components to consider and include when building out a brand management strategy, along with examples for each.
Maintaining Brand Recognition
Most people understand how vital establishing brand recognition is, but maintaining recognition is important for the long-term success of any brand management strategy. Brand recognition might be a catchy tune like the jingle “ba-da-ba-bah-baaaah…I’m lovin’ it!” from McDonald’s or “eight hundred, five-eight-eight, two, three-hundred Empire Today!” Chances are just reading the words triggered a memory of those tunes – that’s a perfect example of brand recognition. The same goes for certain logos – think of how many cars are easily identified by the logo on their grill.
Why these are all strong examples of brand recognition is that each one has maintained that branding (with minor adjustments) for decades. When thinking about brand management and strategy, you want people to remember who you are and what you do. Even if this doesn’t lead to sales today, overtime this begins to accumulate because people recognize your brand as trustworthy and meeting needs that arise.
Monitoring the Brand
Data doesn’t lie. If you want your brand management strategies to pay-off, utilizing the different resources at your disposal to measure your brand’s reputation and reception across the web is a great way to manage your brand strategies. This will also help you pivot when necessary. Monitoring your brand management strategy examples might include social media metrics, tracking user engagement with your company blog and website, including referral sources, and monitoring review sites.
That practice can include setting up Google Alerts to monitor a brand across the web. Knowing how people engage with and perceive a brand provides important insights into the dividends a brand management strategy is paying off. Make sure to set clear goals – views may feel good, but don’t necessarily impact the bottom line. Lots of views or interactions and low closing rates can be a good indicator that the current brand management strategy needs to be adjusted.
Demonstrating Reliability and Value
As mentioned above, maintaining brand recognition is part of a brand management strategy that develops a strong sense of reliability and value, but this is only part of the formula. An important part of brand strategy and management includes building a trusted and reliable presence in consumer minds. Trust is easy to talk about, but harder to build, so some examples of what this looks like as part of a brand management strategy might be helpful.
Strategic deployment of an influencer marketing campaign can demonstrate reliability and value to an engaged audience. Strategic brand management should incorporate brand monitoring, and you can use this to share positive reviews that highlight the value a brand brings to the consumer. Leveraging these strategies can help connect a brand to the reliability consumers and clients are looking for.
Developing Brand Loyalty
Brand management strategies should keep long-term goals in mind, including finding ways to turn negatives into a positive. Say, for instance, a customer posts a complaint on social media: quickly engaging, addressing, and rectifying this can build brand loyalty even if it does not lead to short-term sales.
Here are a few quick facts on the subject:
- Brand loyalty is an important part of strategic brand management because it goes beyond building a loyal customer base.
- Brand loyalty builds brand evangelists who recommend products to all the people they know.
- Brand loyalty might have the largest long-term payout of any brand management strategies (but building this type of consumer community does not happen by accident).
- Brand loyalty is built by intentionally engaging with and building community in the online and real worlds through a well-thought-out plan.
Improving the Flexibility of Branding
Static logos are a thing of the past. There are too many mediums and spaces that a brand needs to actively engage within to build recognition and clout, so creating dynamic and flexible branding is a must when putting together a brand management strategy. Brand flexibility can mean simple changes (background, font size or color, and additional images) or something more elaborate, but the basic concept of the brand and logo is still recognizable.
Some great brand management examples around design flexibility might include Google’s famous Doodle, The Simpson’s couch in the opening credits, or the more understated flexibility of Adidas and Nike. Each of these brands is easy to recognize but takes advantage of the opportunities brand flexibility creates to implement or expand their brand management strategies as opportunities arose.
Tracking Competitor Strategies
Tracking Competitor StrategiesIn one of the most important books on strategy ever written – The Art of War – Sun Tzu noted, “If you know your enemy and yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” When it comes to managing your brand strategy, ignoring the competition is like deploying a strategy with one eye shut. There is only so much market share to go around, to ensure the long-term success of a brand strategy requires the ability to pivot to maintain recognition, loyalty, and many of the other topics mentioned above. To be prepared, it is always wise to keep an eye on changes in your competitors’ brand management and strategies, including their big wins or losses – both can present new opportunities to imitate or fill a void.
Improving the Customer Journey Experience
Brand is all about narrative – it tells customers what they can expect to experience or how their life may change. Narrative takes customers on a journey from life without a brand, to the problems that causes, to the solution a brand might provide, and the new life this can create. Brand management strategy is all about finding and building upon this experience by telling a better, more clear, more vivid story for your customers to engage with. Patagonia might easily have one of the best examples of how brand management strategy improves customer experience.
This all stems from authenticity, engagement, and the ability to live out rather than simply project an image. Amazon, on the other hand, built a customer journey experience around convenience and affordability. These are two distinct approaches, but both produced long-term success by developing a clear brand management strategy that engaged their ideal customers in the experience they imagined as most important.
Building Brand Architecture
Brand architecture is the connection between all in-house branding a company does. This might include specialty or off-shoot products that have their own unique branding and market segment but fall under the same general brand (think Amazon with Amazon Prime, Fresh, Prime Video, etc.), or it might be a series of uniquely branded products housed within the same company (think General Mills cereal brands – each is uniquely presented but falls under the same corporate roof).
Deciding which strategy to employ is an important step in brand management because it will determine what brand strategies will need to be employed to reach the target market and will affect the long-term brand management strategies around brand recognition, value, and customer journey experience.