Quickly make 5 major brand strategy decisions

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Five major brand strategy decisions help marketers and business owners quickly define the key connective elements of their wider brand definition.

Our Brand Definition Funnel enables a business or marketing team to broadly define how they intend to structure, support and market a brand. The funnel starts at the widest point with what customers are looking for and funnels through to the specific type of story the brand should tell.

A decision funnel, not a sales funnel

Funnels are not an uncommon tool for marketers. However most brand funnel models are concentrated on customer decision making. The Brand Definition Funnel does quite a different job. So it doesn’t reference the Awareness-Interest-Consideration-Decision stages of the sales funnel. Instead, it looks at the wider understanding of what the brand represents.

It’s powerful because it provides a systematic way to filter the many variables within five major brand strategy decisions: need; strategy; culture; structure and story. Together, these elements represent literally tens of thousands of ways of potentially configuring your brand’s wider identity.

Brand Definition Funnel diagram

Contextual brand strategy decisions

The model structure is not dissimilar to that of the Business Model Canvas which uses an inter-relational chart to evaluate the implications for developing business models. Quickly ruling things out, and in, can save a huge amount of time.

The purpose here is not to focus on the detail. Instead, it’s about ruling out incompatibilities and setting out the parameters for deeper investigation. Marketers can focus on defining each level, without losing sight of the context. They can then appoint specific teams to focus on working through the detail of each element. Those different teams can work on different elements simultaneously. For example, one team can concentrate on the logistics and challenges of building a regional brand. At the same time, another team can work out what it will mean to shift to a more tribal culture.

What does our Brand Definition Funnel deliver?

We use our Brand Definition Funnel to define five major brand strategy decisions:

  • The customer need we are looking to meet
  • The type of brand we are creating
  • The nature of the strategy we will develop
  • The type of culture such a brand will need
  • The narrative we will need

Each element breaks down into more detail. For example, “needs” break down into recognised and unmet customer needs. Recognised customer needs then break down into high priority or low priority. From there, they divide again into little or high competitive activity.

Those decisions can yield answers that are tremendously important in understanding the nature of the customer need. Say your product is meeting a recognised, high priority need with little competitive activity. Your strategy will probably focus on taking the high ground and proving your brand is what customers have been desperately looking for. That’s a very different pre-set than if you’re  looking to introduce a product to a market that addresses a need customers don’t yet recognise and is therefore an unknown priority for them. There, your strategy will focus on establishing a desire that customers can relate to.

Decisions that sidestep the usual brand strategy delays

We developed our Definition Funnel in response to the often heard complaint that everything about defining a brand seemed to take so long.

Too many brand strategy projects start too broadly. Because nothing has been closed out, a strategy team must first go through and eliminate a full range of possibilities. That in turn influences the early stages of the brand strategy process. Initial conversations and interviews are broad-brush. A lot of people speak about a lot of things – because they can. And that quickly leads to a parade of possibilities, rather than a succinct evaluation of specific options.

In many traditional brand strategy projects, even the most high level decisions are sequential. Companies don’t even start to consider the culture or the type of story they will tell until they have signed off the strategy. That often leads to new teams tackling the many ‘moving parts’ of the wider brand identity one after the other. Ongoing rebriefing can then lead to teams making decisions that make sense to them. However, those decisions don’t necessarily enable the branded ecosystem to work to capacity. If an earlier decision changes, everyone else must stop what they are doing until other decisions are retaken.

Achieve broad consensus on defining your brand’s competitiveness in hours

This funnel still uses sequences to shift from the broad to the more defined. But it avoids the sandtraps of fully defining one thing before moving onto the next. The strategy process, for example, starts with many things taken off the table – meaning it is much more focused. Teams can canvass, discuss and agree the biggest decisions that govern a brand’s ability to compete in hours rather than months. And the wider team understands the overall brand definition in-principle before any in-depth strategic work starts.

Having these discussions upfront not only increases buy-in, it also saves a great deal of time when it comes to evaluating the final strategy. Decision-makers can reference the Brand Decision Funnel as their high-level blueprint. If some or many of the defining elements are already known, managers can focus on specific aspects to complete the big picture.

Want more detail?

This introduction to our Brand Definition Funnel includes details around each of the major brand strategy decisions you can make. Please contact us if you’d like more details.

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