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Brand Strategy Framework Tops Priorities in 2021

Amid Rapid Change, Brands Re-Focus on the Future

What is the highest priority growth and marketing topic for your organization in 2021? If you’re like our clients, brand strategy framework is on the list.

Across industries, many organizations that weren’t natively digital or “contactless” shifted their focus out of necessity. For those who were able to do so, remote working became the standard, rather than an exception. A McKinsey survey found:

“Respondents are three times likelier now than before the [COVID-19] crisis to say that at least 80 percent of their customer interactions are digital in nature”.  

The same research found that leaders also reported dramatically accelerating the time needed to respond to or implement changes.

Given the rapid pace of change, it might seem that there is little time to step back and work strategically “on the business,” and, that of necessity, the focus is execution of daily activities “in the business.”   Taking the time to define your organization’s brand strategy framework might seem less important than churning out marketing executions on social media and through email. 

Brand Strategy Framework and Growth Strategy Top the Priority List

In light of this situation, Insight to Action surveyed our clients who are largely CEOs, CMOs and Senior Vice Presidents to find out what topics would be most relevant for them in 2021. The results might surprise you.

Topping the list for 2021 are brand strategy and growth strategy.  These two areas tied for #1 as the highest priority areas for this year.  After brand strategy and growth strategy, the next most important topics were customer segmentation and channel strategy.  Much further down the list were new product and innovation strategy.

Brand Strategy Framework Tops Priorities in 2021

Our recent Insight to Action work reflects these top priority topics, and, in particular, a focus on applying brand strategy frameworks. Through our conversations, we’ve been surprised to notice that more marketers and executives are less familiar or haven’t worked with the fundamental marketing principles of the target customer, brand values, and brand differentiation.  An example of two of the brand strategy framework tools we recommend are the Brand Equity Pyramid and the Brand Pillars.   Another frequently used tool is a creative brief to guide marketing communications. 

Brand Strategy Framework Example: 3 Steps for B2C Brand in 2020

We were asked to develop a brand strategy framework and brand positioning to guide messaging for a paper planner brand. 

  1. The first step was to understand the consumer segments, and their focus and needs for planning.  In this category, the heavy user consumer may use multiple planner products for different purposes. The target planner consumer might need a separate product for personal goals like exercise or budgeting, and a different product for her work calendar. These heavy users of paper planner products recognize that they are more effective when they write down their goals, and there is research that suggests that they are correct.
  2. The next step was to define the desired brand strategy framework tools.  Specifically, we worked with the client team to develop the brand pillars, brand pyramid, brand positioning and brand expansion zones. We previously shared an example of these brand strategy framework tools for the Quaker megabrand
  3. The brand positioning was translated to a creative brief, and the advertising agency developed messaging executions which are currently in market. 

Brand Strategy Framework: Brand Architecture

Brand architecture is another part of the brand strategy framework, and this was also relevant for the B2C planner brand, since one of the most challenging aspects of this work was gaining clarity and alignment with the leadership team on the brand architecture. 

The specific issue was the role of the corporate brand that makes the products contrasted with the role of the consumer-facing brand. A well-known example of a corporate brand vs. a consumer-facing brand is Procter & Gamble, which is the corporate brand that has a number of consumer facing brands in its portfolio, such as Tide or Febreze.    

When we began this work, the client had a mixed implementation, with product packaging showing both corporate and product brand names at equal size on the front, whereas the website focused only on the consumer-facing brand.   Along with the mixed implementation, there was considerable leadership disagreement on the appropriate use of the corporate brand. Some in leadership were attached to the corporate brand and felt it should be promoted to consumers.

The consumer interviews, however, suggested that the consumer-facing brand should become the consistent focus on packaging, website, and communications. Since there was considerable disagreement, the client chose to add a quantitative awareness and imagery study to test the qualitative findings. After the quantitative research overwhelming showed the strength of the consumer-facing brand, the leadership team readily aligned to make the consumer-facing brand the focus going forward. This streamlined the packaging communications.

In our experience, brand strategy framework tools equally apply for B2B brands and non-profit organizations.

Will your organization take the time to align on fundamental brand strategy frameworks to drive execution in 2021 and beyond? Or will you continue to go-to-market without these tools? 

We were recently told that the brand strategy framework developed by Insight to Action for a global brand in 2009 is still being used today. Additional examples of our brand strategy work are available on our resources page. If you are interested to get a long-lasting benefit of brand strategy alignment, contact Insight to Action