Saturday, December 5, 2009

Evaluating Brand Strategy (Chapter 2/5)

All done? Nope. In fact, you are never done. But at some point you will have to set it all down for a while and work the strategy as best you can.

However, now it would be good to see how some of your best customers feel about what you have done. I would pick four or five of your best customers, organizations who buy from you regularly and seem to best understand what you are trying to do and like your original game plan. However, these people also need to be smart business people who will be candid with you.

You can take them through this process or show them the result of the work of your management teams. However you do it, I recommend having these discussions with each client separately in a one-on-one discussion to get the most from each participant. Importantly, expose the strategy as if it is work in progress so they are comfortable articulating concerns they may have with your brand strategy.
Is the strategy relevant?
As part of this exercise, ask them (and yourself) these six questions:

1. Can we deliver on the promises made in this brand strategy?
2. Does the strategy meet the needs of a significant segment of customers in the marketplace?
3. Is the strategy and its brand promise relevant to customers?
4. Is the strategy also differentiating vs. competitors?
5. Can a competitor easily transition to this strategy if it becomes well-known that our strategy is working?
6. Will this strategy deliver short-term sales, but more importantly, long-term brand growth?

Obviously, you and your clients will need to have some business facts available to you to truly answer these questions. But, if your strategy stands up to the test of these questions, you probably have something to work with. If it does not, you need to stay at the process. In truth, the best brand strategies evolve over time but do so in subtle ways that consumers do not recognize easily. And that is a good thing since a brand strategy that appears to change constantly suggests a schizophrenic company.

If it sounds like all this strategy development is hard work, it is. But, once the strategy is executed in the marketplace and shows signs of gaining traction, you will be glad you made the effort!

Much more to come. Thanks so much for reading.

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