Did you know that Coca-Cola is more than a drink, and Starbucks is more than coffee?
Ray-Ban is more than sunglasses, Porsche more than a car, Apple more than computers, tablets and phones, and Levi's more than jeans. It's obvious when you think about it. They’re among the many brands all over the world that give you an experience when you use them. And we buy them with that experience in mind.
That's what the bosses of Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Ray-Ban, Porsche, Apple and Levi’s want. They know exactly what we experience, because they control that experience. After all, they’re the ones who have brought their brand into being so that it's there in every aspect of every contact you have with the brand. In doing this, they all started from the brand itself, their core. A brand is without a doubt the most important asset an organisation possesses. But how did they bring this about?
Quite simply, they thought about it long, hard and carefully, and they continue to do so. And because they have developed their brand strategy in such a sophisticated way, they can now work with enormous precision – within specific parameters, with clear objectives, in the right context and with the right use of resources.
Take a sporting analogy. You can't play basketball with a tennis ball on a football pitch and you can't play ping-pong with badminton rackets in a swimming pool. It sounds obvious, yet there are still many organisations that seem to be attempting just that. Before you play a sport, you think about where you’re going to play, when, and exactly what you will need. Only then can you start thinking about winning and tactics for winning.
For the development or redevelopment of a brand, everyone within an organisation must be convinced of one thing: a brand is more than a product. And to give it 'more' shape, a strategy is needed. In addition, a few questions need to be answered. To be honest, a lot of questions need to be answered. Essential questions.
Who are we doing this for? Why are we doing it? And why are we doing it for them? What needs in the market can and do we want to meet? Is that need there, or must we first create it ourselves? Are there already products available? What are others doing? And how do others talk about what they are doing? How do we make a difference? What is our promise? Do we keep it? How do we keep it? How do we tell our story? What do we think is really important? And who are we?
Are we funny? Or serious? Are we caring? Or are we tough or even ruthless? Are we ‘we’ or are we ‘me’? Are we male or female? Businesslike or emotional? Are we dynamic or are we static? Innovative or classic? Once we know this and much more, we can write our own brand story and shape our brand personality. We can translate this into a brand identity. How do we want to be seen, heard, felt? All of this will bring this brand personality to life.
Only when we know who we are, and what we stand for in relation to our potential customers, can we proceed to make a connection with those customers and arouse the right feelings in them. We need to be focused on the customer's genuine need, conscious or unconscious. If we know who we are, we can consistently behave on that basis. In this way our brand will become recognised, acknowledged, remembered and taken into account.
If you think of a brand as a person, bear in mind that brands that know what they stand for are much more successful. In short, a good brand strategy takes a brand out of puberty and towards adulthood: self-aware, purposeful, smart and also flexible.