If your marketing is somewhat all over the place and your branding not as effective as it should be, then your brand strategy, or lack thereof, is probably the issue.


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Brand vs marketing

There was a vibrant and somewhat divisive discussion on Twitter recently about the differences between brand and marketing. One point of view was that branding is distinct from marketing and the other view was that branding is part of marketing. The discussion then turned to what comes first, brand or marketing. What do you think?


Brand strategy aligns everything

Brands are some of businesses’ most valuable assets and therefore a business should focus on building brands and not just selling products. This school of thought is called brand orientation. As an example, brand strategy should inform brand visual identity design, website design and communication. Without a common and clear brand strategy visual design turns into a “I like it” or “I do not like it” situation. If preceded by brand strategy the design can be more objectively judged on whether it represents what the brand wants to stand for and enhances the brand positioning. Also, it is proper brand strategy that aligns the marketing mix elements.


What brand strategy entails

What brand strategy entails is often not well understood and its importance undervalued. We think that what we like will be aligned to our brand strategy because we know our brand. But this is not so. Brand strategy is a process with specific steps during which we seek clarity and focus. The brand strategy process should be a collaborative process and involve stakeholders to develop a shared understanding of the brand. Brand strategy is part science and part art/creativity. From this a brand strategy brief can be provided to designers to give them focus and to allow for measuring whether the design is aligned with brand strategy. The same applies for product, price, place, people, processes, physical evidence and all brand communication that need to be aligned with brand strategy.


The BrandDoctor Brand For Success Framework consists of three steps, namely Clarify, Focus and Align. The Clarify step entails brand strategy and involves, you’ve guessed it, clarifying category identification, need satisfied, brand personality, values, target market, brand associations, money statement and other elements.


You will not save time and money by skipping the brand strategy phase. Doing so will lead to misaligned marketing elements and ineffective branding. It is brand strategy first, then the rest of the marketing elements can be aligned.


Challenge to you

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, why not plan a session with your team to work through what your brand stands for so that you recommit to a shared brand identity and get everyone focused on living your brand identity. While you are at it, audit your brand touchpoints so that it can be adjusted to align with your brand identity.



“Until you’ve lost your reputation, you’ll never realise the true value of good branding” – Stacey Kehoe

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Pieter Steenkamp, BrandDoctor


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Meet Dr Pieter Steenkamp, your BRAND FOR SUCCESS guide.

I am actually a brand doctor with a PhD in brand management from University of Stellenbosch Business School. As a brand management lecturer and researcher at a university in Cape Town South Africa and a regular visiting professor at universities in Germany, I stay up to date with the latest brand management developments. This affords me the incredible opportunity to consult with leaders of some of the most admired brands.

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