ALIGNING BRAND WITH STRATEGY DELIVERS RESULTS
Making sure your brand aligns with your organisational strategy is often talked about, especially by consultants. But what does it really mean and what difference will it make to your business strategy? Is it just about logos and making sure the way the business looks is consistent, or is there really more to a brand than what you see at first glance?
Organisations will get the results they get, but is this what they had really hoped for? Or were they looking for something else? It makes sense to ensure you have the right plans in place and that everyone in your organisation understands what you want to achieve, so you’re all heading in the same direction.
Confusing operational planning with strategy is a common mistake. Strategy involves the senior leadership team sitting down at least annually if not more often, and thinking about the company’s position in the marketplace, assessing its relevance and determining where they will focus their finite resources over the next year, three years, etc.
Given the speed of change in the market today and depending on what industry you operate in, you will need to revisit and review your strategy on an on-going basis; reviewing its relevance externally on an ongoing basis will ensure you don’t leave yourselves exposed to competitor threats (some who may not have even been around when the strategy was set).
Staying ahead of the competition is as much about having your plans in place, reviewing constantly and being able to move quickly to take advantage of new opportunities, as it is about having a fabulous product/service. A key part of your strategy is figuring out how we’ll get where we want to be and how will we differentiate ourselves from our competitors? It’s also important to consider what may need to be done differently to achieve the strategy.
Businesses often fall into the trap of developing a new strategy and then trying to deliver it with their current business model. They are inevitably setting themselves up to fail before they’ve even hit the go button.
Aligning your brand with your strategy isn’t about logos, letter heads and banners. It’s about who you are, how your organisation is positioned in the market, how you engage with your customers and what they feel about you.
Be clear about your value proposition. What value do you add and for whom? If you know this then it’ll make it easier to ensure you invest wisely, creating the right experience for customers that will keep them coming back. As strategist, Michael Porter says if you can’t articulate how you’re different from your competitors, then why are you there?
If your strategy is heavily focused on delivering exceptional customer service but the experience for the customer is less than exceptional, then your brand is not aligned with your strategy and it doesn’t take much science to predict that this won’t be good news for your profitability either.
Brand and strategy are inexplicably linked and one should flow from the other. Changes to your brand position can and should influence your overall strategy. Not thinking about your strategy can destroy your brand.
To get your brand aligned with your strategy you need to identify all the touch points your customers have with you i.e. call centre, shop front, website, social media, sales people etc. and invest in ensuring that the experience for customers consistently fits your strategy and clearly shows them why they should continue to do business with you.
If your strategy is to always offer the best-priced goods and you actively tell customers that you won’t be undercut by your competitors, they need to see this in action every time they engage with you. Whether it’s when they walk into a store, browse on the internet or visit your Facebook page the experience they have should reinforce the message that your goods are the best priced. Their experience interacting with your brand should be aligned with your strategy.
If you’re not clear on your strategic direction then what you prioritise in the business will be determined by what is demanding the most attention at the time, rather than what will take the business forward and help you build and strengthen your brand position.
Good simple strategy makes it easy to make decisions. New ideas are considered against the strategy. Will this help you achieve your strategy or not? A clear strategy makes it easy to identify what initiatives to focus on, what resources you’ll need and where you’ll need to allocate them to ensure success.
At no point can you sit back on your laurels or you’ll risk your competitors overtaking you. Businesses need to continually review and evaluate their performance against the strategy. Looking at your financial data is only one part of reviewing your performance. You’ll also need to check in regularly with your staff and customers to see how they feel you’re performing. Regular validated organisational research helps keep the business on track and can be used to identify problem areas and enable them to be sorted quickly.
Employees need to understand their role in delivering the strategy and building/strengthening the brand. As a key part of creating a positive company culture, senior leaders must take responsibility for creating the link between what each employee does and the strategy, so everyone understands their contribution and the importance of it in the organisation’s overall success.
There is a strong risk that leaders will sprint the marathon in their desire to deliver the strategy and get a return, without taking the time to drive it through the business and make it meaningful for employees. Partnering with an outside organisation to help develop and deliver your strategy, can be hugely beneficial.
The key is to partner with a company that understands business, your industry, and can help you develop and execute your strategy, but doesn’t actually do it for you. Retaining ownership and being seen to drive the strategy by your employees and your customers is essential to them buying in. Objective advice from a third party will also help you to challenge traditional ways of operating which may have been holding you back.
Speak to Ken and the team at K3 Consulting to find out more by either filling in the form below, emailing Ken@k3.co.nz, or calling 09 366 1366.