Got four minutes? Learn the bedrocks of brand strategy


Got 4 minutes?

Then I’ve got 4 questions for you.  Questions that every world-class brand knows their answers to. 

What am I talking about? 

Brand strategy, of course.   Because all any business needs to do to create a brand strategy is to answer these four questions.

Brand strategy is the answer to four questions

WHY -  you exist

WHO -  you are

HOW - you do things, and how you look, feel and sound

WHAT -  you do

Now you can call these whatever you want. You can call the answer to WHY you exist your brand purpose or your mission. You can call the ‘WHO', your values, principles, or philosophy.  You can call your 'HOW' your behaviours, or mantra, or principles. 

Contrary to what you might see elsewhere – what you call these things DOES NOT MATTER

But what matters very much, is your answers to these questions, and that you answer all of them. 

Why do we have to answer each of these questions? 

Because the answers help to do different things for your business.

How brand strategy builds your business 

The 'WHY' is where you need to start.  This impacts everyone and everything.

If defines the ultimate value you provide your customers, and hence what you need to live up to as a business, both right now, and in the future.  So it’s also critical to help guide your future innovations. 
And your why is just as important for your employees, to inspire and motivate them to come to work for a bigger cause. 

It’s important to start with why. You may have heard Simon Sinek’s often quoted phrase, “People don’t buy what you do they buy WHY you do it”.

That’s why the ‘WHY is the first question in my model, and the ‘WHAT’ is at the bottom.
But it’s not enough to only answer why.   Start with 'WHY', but do not stop there,

WHO you are is important to answer because it helps you clarify your culture. You have to figure out and define this because it helps you identify what sort of people you want to attract. Who’s the right fit for your company, and who isn’t?  

HOW you do things follows on from this. It helps guide employee behaviours and recruitment, and helps you set goals for job reviews, job chats, reward and recognition programs, performance reviews etc. 

All of this needs to be answered with your WHY as the guidepost.  Defining WHO you are, and HOW you do things, IN ORDER TO LIVE UP TO WHY you say we exist.

What goes wrong with brand strategy?

Two big mistakes often happen.  

Firstly - marketing go off and do the WHY statement.   HR do the WHO and HOW.

None of it is connected.  Epic brand strategy fail.

Secondly, you also need to answer how you look, feel and sound. This is a piece of brand strategy that many companies miss out. Then they get to a point where they want to redo their logo, website, packaging etc. and they just don't have the right words to help inspire designers, or copywriters, or any creative partners, to bring their brand to life.  

Then they look at what they get back and blame the creatives.  “It just doesn’t look like us or feel like us!” 

Well, no wonder.

You didn’t give them guidance on how to look and feel like you.

Last, but not least

Finally, WHAT you do is the place where most companies mistakenly start when they describe themselves. 

Of course, you have to have a way to describe what you’re selling - your products, services, experiences and the industry that you’re in -  you just shouldn’t start here.

But that's not to say that defining it is unimportant. If you take the time to think about it creatively, you can often describe what you do in a way that helps you stand apart from your competitors.  

It’s why McDonald’s don’t call themselves a fast food chain, but rather an ‘informal eating-out chain’. It’s the difference between calling yourself a hairdressers vs., (as I saw the other week), ‘a hairdressing retreat’. Putting some thought into how you describe what you do can suggest a different, and better, type of customer experience.

Let me end this by showing you a real example to help bring this to life.

Whether you love it or loathe it, McDonald’s is one of the 35 most valuable brands in the world. 

And they have developed very clear answers to these questions.

WHY they exist:  to make delicious feel-good moments easy for everyone

WHO they are:  People focused on: Responsible Leadership; Inclusiveness; Progressiveness; Local Integration

HOW they do things and HOW they look, feel and sound:  Light-hearted.  Playful.  Welcoming. Dependable. Unpretentious.

WHAT they are: The world’s largest “informal eating out” chain

Just take a moment and look at these words and think about what they help them to do.  ‘Delicious feel-good moments’. ‘Light-hearted’ and ‘Playful.’ What comes to mind?

 Their whistling theme tune. The Happy Meals.  How their ad copy is always unpretentious , (“100% Arabica beans, We just call it coffee.   How every employee has an official ‘Welcome Meeting’.  Why they have the Teriyaki McBurger in Japan, the Greek Mac, Gazpacho soup in Spain. Local Integration.

Their whistling theme tune. The Happy Meals.  How their ad copy is always unpretentious. (“Expertly roasted, freshly ground, South and Central American 100% Arabica beans. But we just call it coffee.")   How every employee has an official ‘Welcome Meeting’.  Why they have the Teriyaki McBurger in Japan, the Greek Mac, Gazpacho soup in Spain: 'Local Integration'.

You may not love McDonald’s but you have to respect their brand-building prowess.  None of what they do is by accident. It all stems from their answers to their 4 brand strategy questions.

If you want to learn more, then this video is a teeny part of my FREE brand strategy mini-course – you can get it here.

And if you want to go all-in, and properly skill up on brand strategy, my in-depth, step-by-step, Brand Strategy Academy course starts on October 1st.  Enrolling now! Learn more here.



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