A brand doesn’t become successful overnight – strategic branding is a rigorous and calculated process of cultivating a brand’s identity according to certain characteristics and values that a company wants to uphold. A strategic brand management process is absolutely essential for any business to gain recognition and position itself as a market leader.
What is Strategic Brand Management?
Strategic brand management is a series of techniques used to increase the perceived value of a product or service. The term “strategic” implies that the process is long-term, and includes every aspect of brand marketing all the way from building and maintaining reputation to rebranding (should the need arise).
While branding is the process of building your brand, brand management is the process of maintaining and monitoring it.
The importance of a strong brand cannot be stressed enough. Strategic brand management creates a powerful sense of familiarity within the mind of a customer when done correctly. This invokes a feeling of trust between the customer and the company, leading to loyalty and increased perception of value.
Managing a brand includes multiple key elements: centralizing digital assets, maintaining brand consistency throughout various channels and touchpoints, and setting up sustainable processes that serve as the foundation of your brand’s ethos.
Why Do You Need Strategic Brand Management?
Strategic brand management helps a brand promote its uniqueness and identity – you need to distinguish your brand from competitors and show customers why they should select your brand, right?
Once you have invested in strategic brand management, you have effectively laid the foundation for the future of your company by adding value to its overall perception.
Here are some key benefits of brand management:
- Increase customer loyalty
- Improve brand perception
- Safeguard your company from unexpected market shifts
- Differentiate your brand from competitors
- Increase the effectiveness of marketing communication
Without strategic brand management, companies find it difficult to appeal to customers or provide any unique value proposition.
The competition for customers is constantly increasing, and to retain customers’ trust and loyalty there has to be a system in place that reinforces and promotes the desirable brand values a customer is looking for.
How To Implement a Brand Management Strategy
Establishing brand positioning and value
Brand positioning is the process of designing a company image in your customer’s mind. This involves researching the positioning and image of competitors in the same sector and representing your own brand accordingly.
This part of the process requires rigorous experimentation, analysis, and of course, the right brand management tools for execution. By creating your own unique brand space, you will be able to distinguish yourself from your competitors.
Confused? Here’s a simple example: Starbucks.
When you think of Starbucks, what characteristics do you associate with it? Pleasure, happiness, a place to catch up with friends, high quality coffee, and so on. But at their essence they’re just a chain of coffee houses. While you might think you have built this perception of Starbucks yourself, you will be surprised to know it has been a calculated effort to create this perception – that’s how they’ve positioned themselves in consumers minds.
Planning and implementing brand marketing programs
Next, it is important to execute brand marketing programs – and this is where brand management software is extremely useful. In order to successfully build sustainable brand awareness, you must create digital assets (such as logos, videos, and images) that are consistent across multiple platforms. By doing so, you reinforce brand recall and improve recognition in the mind of the consumer. Furthermore, by associating your brand with a specific campaign, you help the consumer create a mental association.
Building a set of brand guidelines for stakeholders
In order to maximize your efforts, you must ensure that all communication is on-brand. What does this mean? In simple terms, it means centralizing your brand assets and creatives so that they are consistent and easy to scale.
A traditional method is to share brand guidelines individually among stakeholders. However, building a digital brand home is a far more effective method to maintain brand consistency.
Cloud-based brand management systems enable you to set up a centralized space with up-to-date brand guidelines. Brand management systems also provide you with libraries that host your creatives. This helps employees use the right assets for the right project. Sound familiar? This is also known as digital asset management.
Brand Reputation Management
In order to build your brand, monitoring consumer sentiment is an important factor so that you can pivot your brand strategy according to customer feedback. This also helps you get a clear picture of how your marketing efforts are being received by your customers.
In order to stay on top of your brand reputation, you need to know what is being said, where it is being said and by whom it is being said.
Ford, an automobile company, takes brand reputation management very seriously. It has successfully maintained its position as one of the top perceived automobile brands in the world thanks to its constant iteration of consumer feedback and adaptability.
“All publicity is good publicity” might sound like it has some merit but in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Your brand’s reputation is not only based on your communication on but more importantly on everyone else’s communication. Employees, customers, stakeholders – anyone.
Social listening and brand reputation management software are great tools to have in your arsenal. Some consumers’ first impression might be influenced by what they hear about your brand, so it is important to monitor it effectively.
Maintaining and increasing brand equity value
In order to make sure your brand keeps growing, it needs the ability to tap into related industries and constantly revitalize itself.
Your brand’s perception needs to be constantly tracked and analyzed to optimize its impact. This is known as a “brand audit.”
A brand audit is very important because it helps evaluate the alignment between a brand’s positioning and its values, along with whether consistency is being maintained across all channels.
How will I benefit from a Brand Management System?
Now that you understand the concept of strategic brand management, you might be wondering “how does a brand management system fit into this picture… and how will it help me achieve my branding goals anyway?”
Well, there are a few key benefits of using brand management software which simply cannot be replicated manually. These features make this tool highly appealing for businesses that are serious about their branding and communication strategy.
There is ample evidence to show the ROI of using a brand management system. A leading real estate firm, JLL or Jones Lang LaSalle saved more than 10% of their stock photography budget by centralising the procurement process and making the images available in their brand management system.
To help you decide whether brand management system is right for you, here are some key features:
Maintaining consistency by creating on-brand assets at a large scale
The ability to create on-brand assets at a large scale simplifies the brand management process tremendously. Users can organize brand assets using unique folders for different campaigns and tag them for easy filtering.
Creating an immersive brand experience and providing streamlined usability
As you have complete control over the brand ecosystem, a brand management system enables you to enjoy a high degree of creative freedom.
You can manage the access to each folder while also creating a streamlined workflow so that all team members are in the loop for any changes or updates.
Secure and centralized storage of brand information
Brand asset management ensures that the visual identity of your brand is handled with complete security. Besides this, you can also enable access to individual brand folders only to the team members responsible for its performance.
Strategic brand management might seem like an afterthought to some businesses, but research proves that it has a direct impact on profitability.
Successful brands are not built from product innovation or marketing, but by iterating on customers’ brand experience. A well-managed brand will not only improve your bottom line but also improve customer satisfaction. Moving forward it will not just be a choice for businesses to implement strategic brand management but a necessity.