Brand and Strategic Development in Alignment
By Guest Blooger, Cody Cheetham
What is a brand? So what really is a brand? You being you, is what makes your brand! It’s the way your people act every day, it’s the way you define what you want to be when you “grow up.” It is about aligning your products, your people and your strategy for reaching your audiences. Your brand defines and gives legs to the strategic direction your company is heading, the innovations you develop and the people who want to associate themselves with your brand (think about your internal and external audiences).
Brand Development Begins with Assessment: Where is your brand today, and where do you want it to be tomorrow (3-5 years from now)? Your brand should align closely with the strategic direction you want follow.
For example, would your clients say you are more client-centric, operationally efficient or does product innovation drive your strategy? Your actions and strategic direction must support how you label your organization. If your organization is mostly client-focused, your brand is one of your best weapons for communicating that. Think about Starbuck’s or Nordstrom. Where would they fall in this labeling? Client-centricity is their best weapon in the marketplace. It’s what differentiates them from competitors and encourages their customers to pay more for a consistently better experience. After all, your brand is defined by the one, or multiple, experiences your customer have with your organization.
Aligning your brand and your strategic direction: Organizations often overlook their brand when determining a strategic direction (this is assuming they have a strategic direction, and if not, let’s talk!). But, your brand should fit hand in hand with the direction your organization wants to go. It’s your voice in the marketplace and without complete alignment between your brand and your corporate strategy, you’re giving nothing but lip service to your audiences. Without alignment, you’ll end up three years down the road with a brand that reflects nothing about what your organization does, represents or the experiences your customers have with you.
So, as you evaluate who your organization wants to be when it grows up, be sure to include your brand. Your brand drives your organization in the eyes of customers, so your organization must embody all aspects of your brand and vice versa. Assess your brand (through informal and formal research, customer satisfaction scores and various other metrics) to determine areas where you may have misalignment between your strategy and your brand.
The moral of the story: ALWAYS, always, bring your brand into the discussions about your strategic direction to align the future of your company with the future of its brand.