The creative industry is laden with lingo. In fact, we’re willing to bet some marketers just use terms interchangeably, and hope for the best.
But when it comes to strategy, speaking plain English is crucial to brand success. Lumping brand, marketing and comms strategy together does an injustice to your business and the specialists that deliver it.
To help marketers navigate their way around creative services, we’ve drawn up a what’s what of the three key strategies your brand will need so that in your next board meeting, you can do more than nod along. Or better yet, get all three working in perfect harmony:
‘Brand’ is one of the most widely-used [and chronically misunderstood] words in our day-to-day language. What the word means to me, can differ from that of another seasoned marketeer, and that’s exactly why we’re here. The common denominator is considering your ‘brand’ your ultimate form of differentiation.
Your brand strategy, above anything else, has to align with your business strategy. Why you started, who you are and where you’re going are all key questions that inform this stage of the process, and the strategy you arrive at will sum up what your brand stands for. It is your DNA, and subsequent personality – and will filter across every aspect of your business once it’s activated.
At this stage in the game, look at your brand as its own person. What are its remarkable traits? What is its mission in life? What aspects of its character make it stand out from the crowd? It may seem a bit existential, and that’s exactly the point. Brand strategy is much bigger than your product or your logo, it’s articulating the emotional response you either provoke or want to provoke.
When that’s clear, every part of your business becomes an intentional vehicle to get there.
Marketing strategy and brand strategy should always exist in the same realm. Brand is your long-term thinking, marketing short-term and tactical. It’s heavily rooted in the commercial aspects of your business and considers how your brand can be actualised via product, price, communication and distribution.
It’s all about tangible goals and setting out a practical roadmap for achieving them. Some goals will be the same across any business – boost sales, convert new customers – and some will differ in their consideration of sustainable competitive advantages. Honing in on your business objectives, and the reason why you believe they will carry your brand is key. A solid marketing strategy will improve your organisational efficiency, particularly in distribution and promotion methods, and have the numbers to prove it.
Think marketing as more of the hard sell, designed to bring in revenue through physical manifestations of your brand.
A (good) communications strategy is the effective way to get you from where you are now, to where you want to be – across every internal and external communication effort. Devising a fully integrated comms strategy means that every physical expression of your brand (copy, digital offering, and design) feeds back into the same core creative message. That message should be consistent across any communication outlet while taking into account the nuances of modern audiences, and how and where they’re interacting with your brand.
We could go further into PEST analysis and SWOT analysis, but like any good communicator, we know when to stop. Your comms strategy will form part of your wider marketing strategy, and make sense with the bigger picture. By defining your objectives – and keeping your stakeholders smiling in the meantime – you can move on to the fun stuff. Getting the right message, to the right audience, through the right channels is what it’s all about.
There’s no shortcut to nailing your strategy, but considering all three components in their own right is a great place to start. Each strategy requires a different specialist skill set, and if the chemistry’s right, they’ll come together to optimise your brand. Working through brand, marketing and communications strategies, in that order, will give your brand a consistent voice and help all parties in singing from the same hymn sheet.