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Brand Strategy

We live in interesting times. While businesses have many more avenues to reach customers, track the efficacy of marketing spends and make mid-course corrections, they must also contend with a rapidly evolving media landscape, increasing customer choice and spiraling marketing costs. Several businesses are increasingly finding themselves under the weather, forever playing catch-up with emerging trends. While larger, established brands are on the lookout for ways to keep their brand relevant and connect with newer audiences, upcoming brands are looking at clutter-breaking ways to get noticed, tell a compelling story and establish scale.

Whether you’re an upcoming brand or an established one, the disruptor or the disrupted, there is one thing that you cannot do without – a sound strategy for your business and your brand.

Here’s how we can help:

Business Strategy Analysis: A successful brand strategy is an off-shoot of a robust business strategy. We work closely with clients to understand their offering, business purpose and objectives, journey till date, internal dynamics and other information relevant to the process

Target Audience Analysis: While it is customers who generate revenues, other stakeholders are no less important – distributors, influencers, enablers, etc. How does a business keep them engaged and connected to the brand? We make sure the strategies we propose cover all relevant touchpoints

Industry Analysis: How does the client’s industry work? How is it evolving? Which existing or latent need do people have, that is not being fulfilled by existing players in the industry? Why? We bring to the table an open-minded approach that goes beyond the client brief. Several of our clients appreciate the availability of an ‘outsider view’ in taking key decisions

Competitor Analysis: This is one of the most crucial phases in the brand strategy phase. Not just is it important to define the competition carefully (after all, in 2009, would Hilton or Marriott have considered a group of 15 people working from an apartment loft in San Francisco, as ‘competitors’? Yes, we’re talking of AirBnB), it is crucial to come up with real differentiators that branding can build upon

Ultimately, our analysis helps define the vision, target audience, competitive advantage, positioning strategy, brand values, brand personality and brand promise for the client’s business.

Brand Identity

What exactly do people expect from brands? While different brands fulfil different needs (peace of mind, satiety, hope, happiness, moments of togetherness), there is one common need that all great brands fulfil – consistency. Over time, great brands come to mean essentially one single thing in the lives of people, for instance:

  • Kaspersky: Peace of mind (“We go to great lengths to eliminate risks associated with computing, so that you stay productive”)
  • AirBnB: Freedom (“Don’t let hotel costs come between you and your desire to see the world”)
  • Ikea: Pride (“Build your own home, your way…at a price that won’t burn a hole in your pocket”)

It is consistency that keeps people coming back to brands – the knowledge that the brand we love will treat us and make us feel the exact same way, every single time we interact with it, across touch points and time zones.

We help create distinct brand identities for our clients, enabling them to offer consistently delightful brand experiences to their customers:

Brand Graphics: In an increasingly busy world, people are being bombarded with more stimuli than ever before (we are exposed to over 6000 branded messages each day. Yes, 6000). How do brands get people to notice their presence, let alone remember and recommend them to their friends? The challenge for brands, today, is to achieve the desired communication objective in little windows of opportunity. What this requires is a brand identity that is unique, memorable and meaningful to the customer

Our work on a client’s brand graphics encompasses multiple aspects related to the visual appearance of the brand – logo, colors, graphics, typography, symbols, design elements, photography, etc. – as applicable in different scenarios (collateral, merchandise, digital, advertising, stationery, signage, uniforms, environments, etc.)

Brand Content: Consistency is not just about making sure that the brand looks the same all across. What are the over-arching themes that people hear from a brand? Are they in consonance with the brand’s positioning? Taking from the above example, can Kaspersky ever adopt a playful tone in its communication? Can AirBnB’s founders ever adopt an antiquated or preachy approach in their speeches? Can Ikea’s sales staff ever adopt a hands-off, take-it-or-leave-it style?

We help clients create a charter of the concepts, ideas, messages and themes that must be reinforced at every single touch point, making sure that everyone who represents the brand in some form or the other – founders, leaders, sales staff, brand managers, receptionists, tele-callers, service staff – embody the same ethos through word and action

Brand Style: One of Virgin’s hallmarks since inception has been its no-holds-barred, irreverential style of communication. From Richard Branson’s media-friendly antics to its ads, Virgin has always stayed true to its ‘work hard, party hard’ ethos. For a large corporation, this is quite rare, but Virgin has managed to sustain it successfully. End result – Virgin is one of the most recognized brands in the world, and the subject of several brand case studies, while many larger businesses (by revenue) don’t enjoy even a fraction of Virgin’s brand recognition. What has made this possible is a consistent brand style

We recommend the usage of a unique language, style and tone of voice for our clients’ brands. Stemming largely from the brand personality, we recommend the kind of words/phrases the brand should use, how it should respond to different situations, etc., making it far simpler for the company’s associates to maintain a consistent persona across communication

All three aspects – brand graphics, content and style – form part of a comprehensive brand manual that we deliver to our clients.

Brand Expression

Visualize a restaurant started by an experienced master chef. He distills years of experience to come up with a brilliant new concept, creates some crackerjack recipes, and brings on board some brilliant chefs to run the restaurant with him. Guests walk in the first time, some for the second time, but then stop coming altogether. Puzzled, the master chef spends a day observing things in the kitchen, and realizes the problem. The chefs working with him have been cooking the dishes per their own accord, adding the spices and flavors they like and garnishing it differently each time. No one stuck to the recipe.

A brand strategy and identity are essentially the recipe for brand success, but what ultimately matters is how the recipe is used, i.e., the brand expression. Brands express themselves through different tools and channels – social media posts, websites, brochures, event branding, print ads, blogs, etc. Consistently adhering to the code outlined in the first two stages – brand strategy & brand identity – is imperative for brand optimization and success.

We operate as the single point of contact for our clients, consolidating brand expression initiatives under one umbrella:

Strategic Communication: Leadership communication, leadership presentations, investor communication, media messaging, annual reports, crisis communications, launch communication, newsletters, channel/partner communication, packaging award submissions

Customer Communication: Print ads, brochures, flyers, website, social media, digital advertising, SEO, content marketing – blogs/case studies/white papers, event branding, e-commerce visual merchandising, email marketing, branded merchandise, audio-visual films, presentations, case studies, outdoor advertising

Point-of-Sale Communication: Packaging design, display units, in-store branding – standees/posters/danglers/wobblers

Associate Communication: Internal newsletters, facility branding, logos and campaigns for internal initiatives/events, sales team communication, managing platforms for internal communications, training booklets

Brand Relationships

In the pre-digital age, brands interacted with their customers by meeting them in-store or through customer-connect events, snail mail and telephone calls. Good ol’ AIDA worked just fine, but with the dawn of digital age, the way people view brands, interact with them and share their feedback is changing. AIDA (Attention – Interest – Desire – Action) has transformed into AISDALSLove (Attention – Interest – Search – Desire – Action – Like – Share – Love). Simply put, once a prospect has been made aware of a brand, how easy is it for him to find out more about the brand online (through a search-optimized online presence)? Similarly, once the purchase has been made, does the brand have a mechanism to reward customers for their engagement and advocacy (through a proactive social media presence)? These are important questions for brands in the digital age.

Taking engagement to the next level, several brands are actively involving customers in collaborating and co-creating offerings. After all, once the customer himself is involved in creating a product, can he walk away from it?

All these aspects point to the evolution of the brand from an experience to a relationship – a symbiotic, real-time, two-way process of co-creating greater value for both parties involved. Is your brand ready for this?

We work with clients to explore avenues to engage customers more actively with the brand, create a sense of ownership in them, and extend the relationship in a mutually-beneficial manner for a longer period of time.