Biggest error in building a brand - excluding the employees

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
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Brand strategy basics

The word “brand” is confusing because it originates from the word “fire”. The best way to make it clearer is to say it is the customer point of view. Therefore, when we say brand strategy, we mean “how can we manage what customers think about us?”

Before customers make any decision, they first must know the brand and understand the values it offers to them. This is the main problem brand strategy deals with and it is the most important part of growing a business which should be managed.


Brand strategy error

There are many approaches to brand strategy. They include product design, M&A, sales, marketing, pricing, PR, advertising, and many number of activities which offer value to and interacting with customers. Execution of these approaches is often flawed in how they engage the internal teams. Biggest error in building a brand is not engaging the internal teams.


Examples of errors

– Vision does not focus on unique values offered to customers.

– Vision is not shared with the employees.

– Employees are given only operational instructions and brand strategy is reduced to tasks.

– Cooperation between the internal teams (sales, marketing, etc) is not encouraged.

– Training is limited to a short period and is detached from every day work (lack of ongoing brand mentoring).

– Brand strategy feels like it is implemented as top-down management.

If above errors are made, typical scenario is that only few people in a business decide on the brand strategy and then communicate it in a very limited way to the employees. Employees are those who actually affect the value offered to customers. The result is that brand strategy has very limited implementation.


How to best build a brand strategy

– Define unique values your business offers to customers.

– If there are no unique values, then set a plan how to develop them.

– Plan should include input from all teams: sales, marketing, design, and development.

– Share the vision with everybody, and make sure it is short and clear.

– Allow regular changes to the vision by all teams.

– Projects and communication should be customer oriented and always answer: what value do we offer to customers?

If above is implemented employees will be aligned with brand strategy of offering value to the customers. This means that the work they do will support the brand strategy and ultimately offer value to customers.

Above image shows Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and links to his talk on the subject: how Starbucks lost the vision of the value offered to customers.

Written by: Nikola Tosic
Publishing date: 13 Nov 2016