Advanced Branding Class Week Five – Developing a Brand Vision

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by: Idris Mootee

Welcome to
week five of our Advanced Brand Strategy Masterclass. We are now getting into
the nuts and bolts of how to develop a brand strategy. I have divided that into
two parts. And here’s part one.

strategy development is a business process as much
as a creative process
. Branding is a business process–one that is
planned, strategically-focused and integrated throughout the organization.
Branding establishes the direction, leadership, clarity of purpose, inspiration
and energy for a company’s most important asset–its  brand. Even the most
potentially powerful strategy will fail if not executed effectively and

Here’s an
important point: A brand strategy is not the consequences of planning, but the
opposite: it’s the starting point. Here are the three basic requirements before
you start:

1/ We need a
clearly articulated business strategy / business plan with a view of the scale
and scope of the business and how you want to compete.

2/ We must
have good customer insights and understanding of evolving business economics.
This requires you to look at evolving nature of different target segments and
their existing and potential profitability.

3/ We need
to first determine the role of branding as perceived by your corporation which
will help shape many strategic brand decisions during the development process
(Going back to the brand taxonomies introduced in week one).

The most
common pitfall is many companies have no long term business strategy, at the
very least, they should have an articulated description of the business such as
how it creates value and how do they compete in their chosen industries. An effective strategy should act as a bridge between the past and the future. It
involves judgments and decisions about when to commit and be willing to bet,
when to delay making a commitment, when to kill something that won’t work and
when to change the rules of the game. Strategy is a complex system of acting
and talking, a system that occasionally manifests itself in rational designs.
Many brand strategy development efforts are unintentionally turned into
corporate strategy discussions and as a result these efforts are blamed for not
delivering any value. REMEMBER You cannot
develop a meaningful brand strategy with the absence of a business strategy.
Although you can still create a name, a logo, tag lines and a set of graphic
elements for brand identification purposes to deal with short term marketing

The key task
here and the most challenging one is to craft a brand vision. Crafting a brand
vision forces you to think through where you want the brand to be over the
longer term to support the corporate strategy. It helps the management
team achieve consensus on the longer term goals and the level of branding
support that is required to achieve those goals. It also provides guidelines to
determine what kind of research to put in place to monitor brand building
progress and return-on-investment. Most of all it gives you a starting point
and a mandate to start developing other elements to support the delivery of the
brand promise.

A brand
vision statement has no fixed length or style of composition. It should
be relevant, and therefore specific to the
business and the world within it operates. A brand vision statement is by
definition long-term and transcends
particular products, markets or even current executive leadership. A brand
vision statement should be complimentary to the company’s vision statement and
sometimes can be combined. (click on the slides above to see some examples).
Ultimately, it is the interconnection between aspirations, values and the brand
that is important, not what the statement is called.

Take a look
at this example from Sony:

We Help Dreamers Dream. Sony is a company devoted to the CELEBRATION of life.
We create things for every kind of IMAGINATION. Products that stimulate the
SENSES and refresh the spirit. Ideas that always surprise and never disappoint.
INNOVATIONS that are easy to love, and EFFORTLESS to use, things that are not
essential, yet hard to live without.

What do you
think of Sony’s brand promise? Are they delivering on this? Do you think it is
too aspirational or it is realistic? Is there anyone out there that execute
better than Sony on this? If this brand promise is to drive the future of the
company, where Sony should be going next?

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