Brand Strategy

The territories that make up a brand's blueprint

Brand strategies come in many different forms, from the simple brand onion or pyramid through to far more detailed programmes. While there are a range of theories that are highly influential (such as positioning, value proposition and loyalty) there is no definitive framework for developing brand strategy. The field has grown significantly over the last 20 years, and agencies are often adding to, rather than simplifying, the strategy process in order to position themselves as leading-edge.

Brand Strategy territories

While there is no perfect brand strategy, there is a set of guiding principles, or territories, that a robust brand strategy must incorporate.

    • Business idea – the main drivers of the business: the things we aspire to (vision) and the choices on how we’ll succeed (business strategy).
    • Brand model – the plan for positioning the brand in audiences’ minds, and the central brand idea used to drive all brand communication
    • Brand signals – delivering the brand, covering all the activities that are used to connect the brand idea with audiences.

The Syndicate’s brand strategy framework is an example of the three territories in action, showing the staging, and relationships of the activities underpinning each territory (please click the image to view larger).

Using the full brand framework

Brand strategy relies on a strong internal logic and connection between these three territories. When each territory clearly informs the next, a strong line is drawn from an organisation’s purpose and aspirations, through to the actual connections it will make with consumers.

There are a number of benefits to working with this complete brand strategy framework.

  • Built for the future − vision and business strategy are long-term prospects, and ideally, so is brand strategy. Marketing initiatives and campaigns come and go − a brand is a long term asset and should be planned accordingly.  An evolved understanding of the business context will also help separate ideas for the brand that will endure, from those which are more suited to tactical, near-term campaigns.
  • Business strategy informs positioning − the elements of business strategy (where to play and how to win) form the basis of brand positioning by defining the competitive offer and the value proposition to audiences. Positioning is effectively a direct outcome of business strategy.
  • Inform and inspire − vision is a means to excite, inspire and engage, while business strategy is the deliberate and connected decisions about where and how. Brand strategy merges the two into a more powerful whole.
  • People respond to context − businesses employ staff across many disciplines, and only a small number may have brand experience. To most of your business, branding and propositions can seem abstract and arbitrary. If people are shown how the brand idea relates to the business itself, they will be far more likely to embrace the direction, understand their role and become willing contributors.
  • Empower the brand and marketing teams − without a connection to business priorities, brand and marketing initiatives can be seen as superfluous or up for grabs by other areas of the business. A completely defined brand framework shows the brand signals as part of a strongly connected set of decisions.