Checklist: What makes a good brand strategy?

Whether you’re a startup ready to develop your brand strategy or a company considering a brand strategy refresh, we have a checklist of the ten criteria you can use to judge whether your (new or old) brand strategy is working hard enough for your business.

1. Right-sized
The strategy should be both big enough to inspire and narrow enough to provide internal focus.

  • Is it big enough? The strategy should leave room to grow in terms of products and innovations in how you market, who you market to, and what you build or create. It should feel lofty in its intent, and inspiring to end customers.
  • Is it narrow enough? The strategy should also be narrow enough in focus that you can really own it and so your organization can truly focus on it in a harmonized, consistent way across lines of business and departments. If it’s too broad, it may not resonate specifically with your customers and within your given context.

2. Coherent
Is the strategy internally consistent, so that there's a clear path from the insights and strategic recommendation to the ultimate return on effort?

3. Unique, not just “better”
The strategy must be different. If it is contingent on being better – faster, easier, cheaper, nearer, etc. – then it is not different, it is only better. Better can be beat. Different is an “only” – and only your brand should be able to own it.

4. Toothy
The strategy must have real meat to it. You should be able to prove it, and the hard-and-fast rules for how and where it comes to life should be clear and tangible. It needs to be able to be experienced and absorbed — not just be a puffy emotional set of words.

5. Generous
The strategy should come from a place of total empathy with your customer(s), and be generous about their needs, desires, and ideals.

6. True
The strategy must be true to who you are, how you operate, what you value, and how you deliver.

7. Meaningful
The strategy must matter to your end customers, and ideally to a greater portion of the world or culture at large. Would your customers miss you if your brand disappeared? Would the world miss you?

8. Hard-working
Does this strategy actually solve the problem the client is facing? Is there a clear business reason for the client to invest in implementing this strategy? Is the strategy able to be implemented within reason in terms of budget and other required investments (product innovation, marketing support, sales, or service training, etc.)?

9. Inspiring
Is the way you’ve written and expressed it inspiring? Is it easy to understand and engaging? Is it well written, such that it makes the reader smile? It shouldn’t read like a dry strategy document, but like an inspiring playbook that wills the reader to engage and play along.

10. Integrity
And lastly, do the company’s business decisions and actions consistently align with the stated purpose and positioning? Highly aligned brands benefit from a multiplier effect – when the purpose is reinforced in every stage of the customer and employee experience, investments in everything from marketing to recruiting to R&D just go further.

Ready to learn whether your company’s brand is positioned to generate long-term business value? Reach out and we'll make make sure you're on track.

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