The brand strategy. The basis for a clear differentiation.
“Know thyself.” This sentence from antiquity is the key when we advise customers concerning strategic branding issues, because the brand has to be aware of itself, like a human being is aware. Only then can the customers authentically differentiate themselves.
Only when it is clear, because of a briefing or previous brand analysis, in which market the company or the product is in today and should be in tomorrow, who the customers are today and tomorrow, and what still is or should be possible in the future, can the work on the branding strategy commence.
For the core positioning, first, the essence of the brand and the intrinsic value of the product or service must be described. This results in the answers to the question of what utility the product or service offers to the user. A further important aspect during brand consulting is the search for the unique features and the decisive differentiating characteristics in the market. When you know this for your product, you can divide the market and reposition the competitors in the minds of your customers.
Of evolution and divergence
The simplicity of such a brand strategy statement demands one thing, however: the differentiation by the customer between the actual and perceived quality of the performance of the company or product. It goes without saying that the consistently high and constant quality of products and services contributes to B2B brand development. However, the quality perceived by the customer differentiates a company from its competition even more. This takes place in the mind of the customer and is in part highly emotional. At the same time, it is obvious: We value the market leader more than the non-market leader. The original has to be better than the copy. The specialist can do more than the generalist. The new generation is definitely better than the previous one.
There are two central forces that act in nature and markets alike: Evolution in the sense of further development and continuous improvement, and divergence in the sense of splitting or a revolution that leads to an increase in variety in markets. In the saturated markets of today, which to a large extent is also true of B2B markets, divergence strategies generally provide more opportunities for a brand strategy and sustainable brand development. The invention of a new category and the associated creation of a new brand with razor-sharp positioning and a future-oriented brand strategy lay the foundation for this. For success at the end, there is one sentence that counts: “Better to be the first (in the mind of the customer) than better.”
Whether evolution or divergence: Quality is absolutely necessary! The perceived quality, which goes far beyond the factual quality, brings the brand strategy and thus the B2B brand on the road to success.
The importance of a brand architecture
The times during which we clearly connected one brand and one product with one company are long gone. Today, enterprises manage ever-growing brand portfolios. And often more than one brand marks a particular product or service. In a brand architecture, the division of brands, their respective positioning, the relationship between brands, and their position in the market becomes clear.
Four concepts of brand architectures
Branded house, subbrands, endorsed brands, and house of brands — these concepts define the brand architecture. The brand architecture must be clearly defined for the brand strategy.
Today’s brand architectures are characterized by four concepts:
- In a “branded house,” all offerings are managed under the dominant corporate brand.
- With “subbrands,” the corporate brand undergoes a modification.
- “Endorsed brands” are supported by the dominating corporate brand.
- Finally, the “house of brands” manages each offering as its own brand.
The reality lies between these cornerstones, but is quite important for the individual brand strategy. In a brand architecture having grown through expanded offerings, mergers and acquisitions, and changes in the market, a distinction has to be made between individual brands, family brands, and umbrella brands.
To strategically develop and manage a brand, its place in the given brand architecture must be defined. This is an essential aspect of consulting for efficient and effective brand management in order to strengthen the image of the brand among all stakeholders.
Of brand strategy and brand identity
Brand identity and brand strategy are closely interwoven. Brand strategy defines the framework within which the identity of the brand can and should be developed successfully authentically and for the long term. What plays a role here — alone or in combination — are product- and product-range-related aspects, topics specific to distribution and user groups, and the geographic distribution of sales markets.