Brand and Strategy - two sides of the same coin
News | 7 Sep 2021
"Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do – it’s a matter of being different at what you do.” Michael Porter
The father of modern strategy hit on something very fundamental when he equated strategy with competition. Frames of reference such as competition and customers provide the directional component to strategy. They also force Enterprises to think in terms of differentiation, in product, in approach and in brand. But relegating one's brand to a provider of differentiation is not doing it justice. A brand is much more than that. It is the vehicle that drives strategy forward.
At the outset it is important to define “Brand” in simple terms. It is not a logo or a visual design or tag line. It is a multi-dimensional platform that captures and articulates the core values, vision, points-of-view and differentiation of an entity. If your resume is your product (or service) catalog, then your brand is how your best friend feels about you and would describe you. Carrying the same analogy forward, if your best friend knows that you are a gregarious extrovert who thrives on change and on human relationships, your life strategy should align to it. You would be great in a sales (or marketing;or HR) job, but maybe a desk-bound accountant might not be the career for you. Your friends and significant partners in life would also have similar characteristics to you, because your "brand" would attract people with certain qualities that align. Your strategy should align to your brand, and vice-versa.
While self-transformation is possible (if you would like to change your brand), it is more relevant (and easier) in the case of business. At Zensar, we recently transformed our Brand. The new identity is contemporary and fresh like a sea-breeze on a hot summer day. But during the Brand transformation process it was important for us to draw lines around what aspects of our core we would like to retain, discard or modify. It is a complicated, involved process that requires an incredible amount of dialog and negotiation with various stakeholders. For example, we were clear that our "People First" culture would not only remain intact in the new brand, but even be amplified. So would be our relentless focus on customer satisfaction and innovation.
But what needed to change was an image of steadfastness. This is where we brought the best strategic minds on to the table, with our CEO himself driving the deliberations. We discussed our competitive differentiation, and our go-forward strategy based on customer trends and world events. We realized that our customers wanted not only to be fast, but also agile and resilient. We understood that the definition of speed was changing. Thus, was born "Think Velocity". But as our Brand took shape, we adjusted our company strategy as well. We made guided investments in competencies around cloud, data and software engineering - all elements of what would bring velocity to our customers. Because the brand and the strategy were in step, the result was a cohesive and clear visual and verbal identity.d in
Brands, by definition, are long term platforms. But strategies can shift with changing times. As strategies are relooked at and tweaked, successful organizations should also revisit alignment with the brand. And make tweaks on the brand elements as well, if necessary. After all, they are but two sides of the same coin.
The author is the chief marketing officer of Zensar Technologies. Views expressed are personal.