22 March 2024

Why every business needs detail-driven brand strategy

Nick Ford-Young

The world of brand strategy remains a mystery and a minefield for many, often awash with long decks of idealistic theory.

However, when done properly the strategic process unlocks significant value and holds huge importance – as the leading global brands will attest to.

If brand strategy is the science and art of creating a plan for your business that allows you to achieve your commercial goals, then the best brand strategy must combine business, brand, creative and marketing thinking in unison to create distinct competitive advantage.

Here are a few key steps that help show how this is achieved – all with a common theme for success: the devil is in the detail.

  1. External Objectivity

Great brand strategy begins with the luxury of having external objectivity, meaning your perspective is untainted with the complexity of the inner workings of a business.

Brand positioning and messaging looks to own a space in the mind of the consumer, so you must step in and out of mindsets – of both brand and audience.

The science is assessing this, the art is delivering it back to the people who are the closest to it in a constructive, productive way.

2. Internal Politics

Every large strategy project involves navigating internal stakeholder politics and understanding the unique nuances of that boardroom.

Even in the most wonderful working environments, there is a healthy tension to explore.

The best strategy teams need tact, empathy, challenge, performance, and trust in equal measure.

Reading the room, understanding every perspective and challenge, mediating between viewpoints, and slowly building trust in yours, is crucial.

3. Consumer Culture

Perhaps branding and advertising 101; but interviewing, researching, plotting, and positioning that unearths the true cultural context of an audience requires a delicate, detailed understanding of problems, needs and how a client/brand’s offering can uniquely solve these.

Crafting a strategy that resonates across time and space requires a deep appreciation for cultural nuances.

It’s not just about staying relevant; it’s about embedding the brand in the fabric of its society.

4. Emotional Positioning

Science meets art = function meets emotion.

B2B or B2C, everyone is triggered to buy with an emotion.

We use the concept of the ‘bold space’ to simultaneously address and define product and functional benefits, the context of the competition, audience culture, and emotional needs all at the same time – presented in a few catchy words.

So often we see brand positioning and strategies only focused on the functional. The art is in the emotional.

5. The Thread

At Boldspace what we call ‘The Thread’ is the binding idea or guiding theme that flows through every part of a brand.

It should underpin the positioning, narrative, creative platform and all messaging – meaning all communication is consistent, strategic and primed to amplify the brand – from corporate news to a TikTok ad.

But more than this, a strong thread provides guidance on business strategy as much as marketing strategy. Who you acquire, where you open a new office, what situations you show up in – should all be guided by a great ‘thread’.

6. Bold Creativity

Understanding the full potential of the creative landscape allows you to exploit the full arsenal available when bringing a brand strategy to life.

I love the idea presented by Johnny Corbett in Marketing Week that creativity is to brand what compound interest is to savings – the more you invest and build on it, the bigger the accumulative effect.

Starting with messaging and coming alive with brand design – every double meaning of a word, every graphic iteration in a design system, every frequency in a sonic palette, every service-style nuance, and every human interaction is a huge creative opportunity where detail and consistency is everything.

7. Modelled for the Media Mix

For too long brand strategy has operated in silos – either more ‘consultancy’ or more ‘creative’, more ‘comms’ or more ‘design’ – but we are in an integrated world where each medium must be addressed to work together.

Detail-driven brand strategy understands, underpins and amplifies paid, owned, earned, social media, and reputation building comms in unison.

It provides a framework that acts as a clear guide for multi-channel guidance and implementation; so one department or agency is never singing off a less detailed hymn sheet to another.

8. Team Buy-In

The only way brand strategy is welcomed, loved and actioned by a business is when the people who have to live and breathe it every day are fully invested in it being a success.

A team must feel ‘part of it’ and ownership of it – with their ideas and insights proudly present.

There is no shame in saying this means the strategy must be both sold and bought, which is a delicate process.

Not dictated back, but presented and discussed, debated and deliberated, so even those not so sure initially, leave the room excited and united to launch it to the world.

9. Operational Implementation

A brand strategy is only ever as good as a company’s ability to make the experience live up to the reality – a task rarely considered on the to-do-list of a brand strategist – but perhaps the most crucial step for success.

The best brand strategy will always come with operational recommendations that will accentuate and build on a new or evolved positioning or message.

When the operations do not back up the strategy it will be nothing more than a veneer. The detail is in making sure all parties know what it will take to live up to the message – and getting that roll out plan in motion.

10. Always-On Measurement

Measuring brand strategy and its effects on awareness, consideration, intent, and purchase is still deemed by some CMOs as the holy grail of data. But it’s all very possible.

There are many brand tracking and data monitoring tools that can contribute to this insight, including BoldLens, Boldspace’s AI platform that tracks all your brand communications across paid, owned, earned and social, relative to your competition and overlays the effects on your commercials, 24/7.

From consumer ‘pulse checks’ pre and post launch, to the effects of creative PR on branded search, or the testing of emotional advertising messaging on conversion – all these metrics are tests of the effectiveness of your brand strategy.

Measure everything and anticipate what’s next.

A brand strategist’s work is never done.