When to Bring in Outside Experts, such as Brand Strategy Consultants
Brand Strategy is the #1 priority topic for our clients in 2021. Effective brand strategy development helps a brand command a price premium over lesser brands, private label or store brands.
|Brand||Price Per Ounce||Price Per Load|
|Tide (at Walmart)||$0.17||$0.23|
With Rising Prices, Brand Strategy Development is Especially Critical
Today, strong brand strategy to support higher pricing is even more important. That’s because in 2021, price increases are already announced in categories from semiconductors (10-40%) to everyday consumables like cereal and toilet paper to restaurants, and more.
In some cases, the brand strength will not support these price increases, and customers may opt for generic versions, or unknown brands.
This raises the question: does your brand need the help of outside experts for brand strategy development?
Perhaps your brand is thinking of hiring for a brand strategy leader or building the bench in the marketing area with additional talent. You’ll be in good company, as brand strategy development is also an in-demand skillset in the job market with scores of brand strategy-related jobs available on Indeed.com.
Important Questions when Hiring for Brand Strategy Development
Experts for high impact brand strategy development that we’ve recently interviewed include Laura Luckman Kelber, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Flexera and Anita Puri, EVP and Group Account Director for Leo Burnett. Recent conversations with brand strategy experts suggest four factors for your organization to assess when evaluating whether you need expert help with brand strategy development:
Brand Strategy Development Factor 1: Experience and Proficiency
Your organization will need to gauge its experience and proficiency in brand strategy development, by answering these questions:
- Does your team include a proven brand strategy leader who has led development across multiple brands and categories at scale?
- Within the whole group, how much expertise in brand strategy does your leadership team bring to the organization?
Many organizations will find they do not have a proven brand strategy leader with depth of experience and also lack within their team. If that’s your organization’s situation, it’s worth exploring working with a brand strategy expert, like a brand strategy consulting firm.
Brand Strategy Development Factor 2: Understanding the Target Customer and Segments
Answer these questions to learn how deeply your organizational understands the customer and the specific target segments your brand is targeting:
- How would you rate your understanding of the specific customer target for your brand on a 1 to 10 scale, where 1 is low and 10 is high?
- How updated is your understanding for 2020 and 2021, given the fundamental changes that have taken place with COVID?
Many large CPG organizations invest in considerable customer target understanding and have a strong market research, analytics and insights department. Commonly, however, in business-to-business (B2B), there is little to no investment in market research and customer insights. In our experience, even large B2B organizations, like Honeywell, are reluctant to invest in understanding their brand and their customer.
If your brand doesn’t have a self-assessed rating of 8 or higher on the 1 to 10 scale of understanding, and/or lacks updated insights, it’s worth exploring an investment to get this understanding. Otherwise, you face the situation of having a brand that is watered down in trying to meet the needs of many different customers without a clear brand strategy.
Brand Strategy Development Factor 3: Relevancy of Current Customer Insights
Determine if current customer insights drive your brand strategy and how your organization is keeping these insights updated with these questions:
- Looking at the brand strategy, is there evidence of customer insights driving the strategy? How would you rate your brand strategy on including customer insights on a 1 to 10 scale where 1 is low and 10 is high?
- What’s the most recent date and time when consumer insights were updated for your brand?
- How, if at all, has your brand strategy evolved in light of 2020 and 2021 COVID demand shifts?
Brands like Flexera regularly update their customer insights, and there is clear evidence of how customer insights drive the brand’s strategy. In our experience, other B2B brands often lack this discipline. If your rating is less than an 8 on customer insights, or the most recent update is more than 2 years ago, you may consider a fresh perspective driven by experts. Similarly, if the brand strategy hasn’t been reconsidered in light of demand shifts and likely price increases in 2021, expert help is worth examining.
Brand Strategy Development Factor 4: Existence of a Creative Brief
A creative brief can be a valuable tool, it is informed by customer insights. Answer these two questions:
- Does your brand have a creative brief with a clear customer target, brand strategy and positioning?
- If you have a creative brief, is the brief informed by customer insights?
We explored a trend where fewer clients and marketers we are in touch with follow the discipline of a creative brief. This impression is reflected in online searches where the term “creative brief” has declined 48%, while the term “brand strategy” has increased 36%. If your brand isn’t using a creative brief, it’s worth contacting outside experts and exploring how this can be useful.
Bringing in outside experts or brand strategy consultants is an important decision with long-term impact. A candid assessment of the four factors by your leadership team can help.