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A strong corporate brand strategy is one of the most powerful forces an organization can marshal. Properly operationalized, it can mRoad mapeasurably improve top-line effectiveness for product brands and bottom line efficiencies throughout the organization from the stock room to the board room − and everywhere between. In the best brands, the strategy acts as a guide for every stakeholder decision, from the highest level to the most granular, which can result in reduced management costs and greater employee satisfaction.

But just as any other kind of strategy, the true power of brand strategy is activated only with aligned execution. A brand strategy road map helps brands stay on track with clear process, aligning business, vision, people, and process.

Brand strategy originates in your organization’s  vision and values. Aligning business goals, customer wants and needs, and employee satisfaction with that vision is critical to sustainable growth.

Virgin Logovirgin brandsVirgin operates 53 separate brands, as diverse as airlines, records, books, and health. All Virgin brands are based on the same vision and values:

“Virgin believes in making a difference. We stand for value for money, quality, innovation, fun and a sense of competitive challenge. We strive to achieve this by empowering our employees to continually deliver an unbeatable customer experience.”

Experience…Founder Richard Branson showcases the Virgin brand with his swashbuckling extreme sports, spaceships and experience-steeped TV commercial roles. By contrast, many organizations mistake the branding process for an identity exercise. And while that is an essential piece of brand, there are three major components to branding:

  • Brand Strategy
  • Brand Development
  • Brand Engagement
Brand Strategy Road Map

A brand strategy road map helps communicate the process to senior management and provides “gates” that must be sequentially satisfied to move through the process. (Click graphic to enlarge)

Your company’s best branding strategies will almost always come from aligning customer insights with organizational vision, values and business objectives. Those strategies are brought to life with brand development (logos, messaging, governance, programs, products, services) and should permeate your organization’s processes and culture/employees. Only on this strategic footing is the brand ready to push outward to customers through sales and marketing touch points. This process helps organizations “live the brand,” so customers’ and consumers’ brand experience is consistent with what the brand stands for. This consistency provides a host of business benefits from enhanced productivity, support for premium pricing, and deflection of competition, to higher revenues and margins.

shutterstock_32689690Mergers & Acquisitions

When a merger or acquisition occurs, though there may be solid business due-diligence behind the transaction, brand misalignment is likely. Rarely are two brand cultures so similar that an alignment action isn’t needed to optimize business performance. Developing a brand strategy roadmap, along with some seasoned facilitation and guidance, helps resolve brand misalignment issues so people and processes support a common goal.

Get the (big) picture?

Alignment essentially assures that people, processes, and business goals all understand the vision and support each other. Alignment of talent, brand delivery, marketing, operations, and other functional areas and stakeholder groups make up the entire alignment picture. “People” include not only employees, but also distributors and customers.

Chicken and egg

There’s a debate among brand consultants about whether business strategy drives the vision or vice-versa…that business strategy may change the organizational vision. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Leave a comment (see top of post).

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