Investing in Brand Strategy Is Only Step One
Creating a brand strategy that maps precisely to your business strategy demands resources. Money, of course, but also time — the valuable time of your senior executives. But the best and most meaningful strategy in the world can only make a positive impact on your business if it’s implemented thoughtfully and effectively. Don’t waste your precious resources developing a brand strategy if you don’t have a strategy for a proper roll-out.
Building a brand strategy is, of course, hugely valuable. Companies do it because they recognize the impact it could have on their business. Just going through this process is incredibly valuable because it requires coming together as an executive team in a spirit of openness, dedication, and thoughtful collaboration. Many times, undertaking a brand strategy creates an important opportunity for executives to have the kind of conversations they usually don’t have time for. It helps bridge gaps of misalignment, and, ultimately, leads to a better articulation of the vision of the company and the steps that will make that vision a reality: brand architecture, positioning, messaging, go-to-market strategy, a new logo, and visual identity.
But all too often, companies reach this stage — they’ve got a refreshed brand and a new look — and think that brand strategy is done and that this “project” is over.
Right? We say wrong.
At Emotive Brand, we believe that is the point where brand strategy really begins. What follows is hard work: creating a clear, informed roll-out plan with a budget to transform the brand strategy into a living, breathing, and successful reality.
The key to brand strategy adoption is successful socialization with the people who matter most: your employees. By itself, even the best brand strategy can’t transform your business. But your employees can. If they live and breathe your brand and its promise each and every working day.
How do you convince employees? We see five key steps in the brand strategy roll-out process:
Step One: Include Human Resources
Don’t overlook HR in the process of developing your brand strategy. Encourage your head of HR to use the brand strategy to build KPIs that will help guide employee behavior and incorporate the brand strategy recruitment and retention efforts, as well as your employer brand. Your employees are the secret weapon to any killer brand strategy, and HR is an essential asset in ensuring employment training, engagement, and excitement from the beginning.
Step Two: Socialization
After a brand strategy is complete at the executive level, there needs to be a socialization strategy. This starts at the top and works its way throughout the organizations. Executives should socialize it with their managers, and then their teams, and so on. Everyone in the company must understand the shifts the company is seeking to make and how these shifts specifically impact the company as a whole, their department, and the way they do their job everyday. This kind of in-depth socialization requires a budget, materials, training, and focused communications. You need to get your employees fired up about your new strategy and how to embody it with purpose.
Step Three: External Introduction
After socializing the brand strategy internally, it needs to be rolled out externally. If you’ve changed your logo or visual identity, you need a clear plan on how to update your identity across all your brand touch-points — website, signage, marketing materials, trade show booths, etc. This plan requires a strategy and a budget. It’s not easy, and some companies don’t have the resources to pull it off internally. The right strategy can help a company roll out the brand in planned phases over time. That being said, don’t embark on step one without knowing how you will execute step two.
Step Four: Prepare for Launch
Once the new brand strategy is ready for launch, talk to your customers, your partners, and the other external audiences who are important to your brand. Give them a front row seat. Tell them personally what this new strategy means and why you’re excited about it. Make them care. These people matter to your brand’s success and they deserve the recognition for the roles they have played (and will play) in the process of building the right strategy for your business.
Step Five: Manage Change
Step five is about managing change, from the small to the monumental. Prepare the organization. Take it slow: be methodical, but strategic in how you approach your shifts. All adjustments and changes take time. What’s essential is that you get everyone on the same page. Aligning and preparing people for something different takes the same due diligence, time, energy, and budget that developing your brand strategy did.
We know that investing in brand strategy takes guts. But it also takes a lot of thought, time, and careful planning—well after your actual strategy is formulated. Those that invest in the right ways and move through all the steps with purpose and diligence are the brands that will thrive. These are brands that change the trajectory of their business, for the better.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy and design consultancy.