Increasingly, more and more theories, buzz words and approaches to brand strategy are being created as a means of differentiation, attraction and salesmanship by companies in the marketplace. And similarly, this very same dynamic is flourishing within client cultures and manifesting itself in conversations awash with buzz words and vogue terms. The unfortunate offspring of this dynamic both externally and internally has become a far greater degree of valueless complexity, lack of clarity and uncertain direction. What needs to be discussed with far more courage and tenacity around any given table is the fundamental purpose of strategy. Three simple thoughts i find useful in setting up, evaluating and questioning strategy in broadest level are these: think of them as a master check list applicable to any and all brands and categories.
- strategy is about making choices and not compromise. it is the very practice and application of distillation: going wide in thought, analysis and creativity, then making firm decisions about what to keep and what to leave out. if a strategy isn't pointed and prejudiced it's likely vanilla. the more accurate, the more concise, the better the idea.
- strategy is about the basic values you're trying to deliver to people. if the brand can't define itself why would we expect people to define it for us. if that's the situation you find yourself in, then one must really question the validity of the brand itself. people aren't attracted to or merely need more stuff...they are however attracted to and desirous of more stuff with imbued purpose and meaning. that's the fundamental difference between a commodity and brand.
- strategy is about the courage to be different than your competitors. if everyone is going to the same place - saying the very same things, looking, behaving and talking alike - it causes people to choose on price. you know you're beginning the journey of 'different' if you can decrease the price elasticity of your brand in market and create differentiators of choice that super-cede the category itself.
Get your check list out. i know i did today on these very same issues, and only gave a final grade of C+, but the conversation certainly got far more interesting and productive.