Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Marketing Strategy : 10 Questions About Your Brand

Marketers are faced with a highly challenging task of balancing short-term and long-term strategies for the brand. In a highly competitive market, marketers often get deluged in activities which are tactical in nature. In doing so, brands may lose focus on pursuing its vision.

There are many reasons behind the manic run behind short-term gains for the brand. The major culprit is in trying to manage the brand from quarter to quarter. Pressured to show positive growth in every quarter, managers are seldom given time to analyze the long term implications of their marketing activities.

At some point in time marketers need to pause and take stock of the brand’s path to future. Great brands are never built in 3 months. It takes years of focused work and investments. Although marketers are willing to invest now, they expect a positive ROI within a short span of time.

Whether the brand is new or old, marketers need to periodically assess and evaluate the path towards the future. The following questions will help the brand managers to check whether the brand is treading in the right direction.

1. What is your brand vision?

It is critical for brands to have a long term game plan. The plan will help serve as a guideline that will help future managers to devise action plans and continue in the right direction.

2. What needs of customers that your brands satisfy?

Marketers must be able to clearly articulate the customer needs and wants that the brands aim to satisfy. These needs and wants may change over time; hence marketers need to periodically review whether the brand is currently relevant in the customer’s life. The brand should also be able to appeal to the new demands of the consumers. Regular evaluation of this parameter will keep the brand in tune with the changing consumer mindset.

3. What is your brand’s core strength?

Brands needs to have a “ WoW” factor if it is aiming for long run profitability. Marketers needs to constantly search for the “WoW “factor and keep inventing more and more of these “ WoW” factors.

4. What values does the brand represent?

Brand values represent the core foundation upon which brand strategies are made. According to Professor Kevin Lane Keller, Brand Values are those set of abstract associations that characterize the 5 to 10 most important aspects or dimensions of a brand. Brand values serve as the basis for brand positioning. Marketers have to identify and internalize these core values and periodically check whether the brand is aligned to these values.

5. Will the customers relate to those brand values?

Not only that the marketers should identify brand values, they need to check whether those brand values are relevant to consumer’s life. Sometimes consumers may not relate to the brand’s core mantra. It is in this situation where the brand may feel disconnected with its target audiences. Periodical review of the brand’s connection with the target market is critical to long-term survival.

6. Is the brand relevant to a customer’s life?

Successful brands stay relevant in the consumer’s life. Marketers should be able gauge whether the brand is relevant to the customer. Managers should constantly keep in touch with the customers to understand how the brand is helping them in their life.

7. Is the brand’s promise sustainable over time?

Markets are dynamic and consumer taste and preferences change drastically over time. Hence while developing the brand’s core mantra or promise, managers should also devise a process to determine whether the brand’s promise is sustainable over time. The brand also needs to evaluate its promise in comparison with its competitors.

8. Is your brand flexible?

There will be situations where the brand may have to reinvent itself. New opportunities may force the brand to venture into related as well as unrelated categories. Marketers should build some amount of flexibility in the brand architecture so that it is possible for the brand to venture into other categories.

9. Does the brand create excitement in the market?

Iconic brands are exciting. These iconic brands not only excite the customers but also the employees. A crucial question in the brand’s quest for excellence is whether the brand is able to create a sustainable level of excitement in the market. Creating excitement in the market is not easy and it cannot be done overnight. Marketers need to invest a lot if they want to create a high level of excitement in the market.

10. Is your brand engaging the customers?

The final question for the managers is about customer engagement. We are living in the experience economy. Consumers pay for experiences rather than for products. To understand the customer’s expectations and deliver those experiences, brands needs to constantly engage the consumers. Technology has enabled marketers to directly interact with the customers in multiple platforms. Managers should check regularly whether the brand is engaging with the customers through the various available platforms.

Originally Published in