How to create a strong brand strategy

The Great British Bake Off returns to our screens this evening.

I’m no master-baker, but I would like to think of myself as a master-brander. So it got me thinking about a fool-proof brand strategy recipe. 

So here’s the classic Victoria Sponge of the brand strategy world.

Start here – with this method and the 3 vital ingredients – then, by all means, add some of your individual flourish and flair.

But don’t mess around with the recipe too much, or you may end up with something that doesn’t fit the brief. 

How To Create A Brand Strategy: Method & Ingredients 

There are three key steps in the process, and three vital ingredients.   

  1. First, you need to gather your 3 essential ingredients: Customer Insight, Competitor Insight and Company Insight.
  2. Then you need to sift these insights to get to the ones that are most authentic, relevant and different – the insights that you know must play a role in shaping how you...

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? 



Rewind a minute - what is brand strategy??


So I've been writing away about branding for a while, but I got a couple of emails this week from people asking me to rewind a bit, and answer, 'What is brand strategy?'

So here's a 5 minute clip from my free 'Brand Strategy in 7 Simple Steps' mini-course that explains it.

I start by rewinding even further - to what is a brand.

Because you've gotta know that, before you know what brand strategy is.

If you're more a reader than a watcher, get the explanation below.

And if you're itching to know what to do next - how to do your brand strategy - then it's all in the free course - get it right here.

Wishing you clear, confident brand-building progress my friend!

What is a brand?

All brands really are, are the associations people have about a business in their minds. 

And studies and neuroscience have shown that the stronger and more connected these associations are, the more likely a customer is to choose and buy your brand.

So what does this...


Rebranding a company: the 3 approaches and the 2 things you MUST do first

All the questions I’ve got within the last week have been about ‘rebranding’ this quarter.

Perhaps the back-to-school lure of new shiny pencil cases is making you feel your brand needs an update too?

If so, pause for a moment and read this before you get sign-off on a big ‘rebrand.’  

‘Rebranding’ is a very loaded and misunderstood term – usually interpreted to be all about changing the signals of what you stand for – primarily your visual identity and verbal identity.   

It’s used as the great panacea – for declining sales and low pricing, lack of customer engagement, or employee motivation.

And, let’s be honest, it’s also kind of exciting and makes people feel important.

But to avoid, “I’m spearheading the rebranding project,” turning into, “I squandered several thousand dollars…”, keep reading...

What rebranding means

Rebranding can sound confusing but...


Brand Strategy, Branding and Marketing Strategy: get clear on what they are and what often goes wrong

The world of brand and marketing is full of complex terminology.

But brand strategy, branding and marketing strategy can be explained simply.  And once you get this clear in your head you can be more confident with your brand and marketing planning and projects. 

Read on for simple descriptions of what brand strategy, branding and marketing strategy are, and what order to address them.

Defining Brand Strategy, Branding & Marketing Strategy 

As Julie Andrews sang, "Let's start at the very beginning".

First, you have to understand what a brand is. 

"Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind."
Walter Landor

All brands really are, are associations in people’s minds.  And the stronger and more connected these associations are, the more likely a person is to choose and buy your brand.  

More here if you want it, but let's move on... 

What is brand strategy? 

Brand strategy is your decision on what...


Looking for a brand benchmark? These are the top performers

3 is the magic number, or so sang De La Soul. (Anyone else remember that one??)).

Douglas Adams would have you believe it’s 42.

But my magic number is 35. 

35 is the number of brands that appear across all 3 global brand valuation studies (BRANDZ, Interbrand and Brand Finance).  I’ve been researching the brand strategies of the brands that appear in these studies since 2013. (Yes – I’m a total brand strategy geek, and proud of it).  But it’s the ones that appear across all that I do a really deep dive on every year.  And this year there are 35 of them.

Strong brands build the bottom line

Now, I hear some of you scoffing.  Because it’s easy to take pot shots at these valuation studies, as the inimitable Mark Ritson does here. The figures for the same brand are often widely different.  Take Google – who BRANDZ value at $323,601m and Brand Finance have at $159,722m.  Just a teeny $163,879m difference. A mere...


Perplexed by purpose? These 4 things are all you need to know

I almost didn’t write this blog.  What hasn’t been said about brand purpose over the past decade?

But then I started reading that advice. And realised you might just want something clearer and simpler.

So here’s 4 takeaways that cut through a decade of musings on ‘purpose’, to help you understand what it means for the brand you are building.

1. Having a purpose benefits your business in a multitude of ways, so you do need one.

Defining a clear and compelling purpose has been linked in research to:

  • 3x faster business growth than competitors
  • Increased customer preference and loyalty
  • Greater employee satisfaction and retention AND
  • Improvement of business innovation and transformation efforts.  

It's an investment that packs a punch. 

Purpose is also critical as a means of connecting all of your marketing efforts.

Purpose is the great uniter. If your marketing efforts aren’t being developed with the overall purpose of the...


Think you know what a brand is? Do this quick test to find out!

If you can confidently complete the next sentence in 10 seconds, you don’t need to read this blog. 

A brand is _______________________ .

Not so easy is it? 

But you know you need a good brand, right?

Everyone talks about brands. But what are they actually talking about?

Hold those thoughts for a moment, while I ask you another question. Imagine I sent you a bank transfer for $50,000, and you had to use it to buy a new car.  Which brand of car would you buy? 

I bet answering that question was easier, right? 

Now, the reason it was easier to answer that question comes back to what a brand actually is. 

Brands are what people think they are.

Defining what a brand is 

Walter Landor, the founder of one of the world’s largest and oldest brand consulting firms (where I cut my teeth on brand strategy) expressed it this way: 

“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” 

What did he mean by...


Create a brand like Apple's by asking these simple questions

Come on, admit it.  

You know you’ve done it. 

At least once. 

Who hasn’t used the Apple brand as an example at some point? 

In a presentation. In a workshop.  On a vision board.  As an example of a brand you want yours to be like.  And why not? Apple is the world's most valuable brand, with a brand valuation of $355 billion in 2022, according to Brand Finance, a 152% increase from 2020.

But what does Apple stand for?  What is their brand strategy all about? 

Apple's brand strategy framework 

What Apple have done, like all other leading brands, is answer 4 simple questions.  They are crystal clear on:

WHY they exist

WHO they are

HOW they do things

HOW they look, feel and sound

WHAT they do

In my 20 years of brand strategy practice and research I've learnt that all of the world's strongest brands also answer these same questions. 

They call their answers to these questions all sorts of different...


Thinking of redesigning your logo and website? Stop! Read this first

As I sit in the UK on the first day of lockdown, I know that many of you, while feeling unsettled, may also be looking at this as an opportunity to step back and reassess aspects of your brand and businesses. 

One thing you may be considering is whether or not to redesign your logo and website. 

Perhaps you've been considering this for a while, or perhaps you see the recent slow down in business as the perfect opportunity to refresh what your brand looks and feels like.

But I will let you into the secret of how the world's most valuable brands will be approaching this.  

They will not be changing what they look like, or what they say about themselves unless they want to signal that they are doing something radically different - or want to stand for something different - in their customer’s lives.

Redesigning your logo and website is a sign to your customers that something about you has changed. Identifying this change should be your first...

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