When discussing your new brand, the first thing anyone will ask is - what is your strategy?
Naysayers if you ask me! Let me bask in the sparkle for a short while. Even if we do not like to think about such integrated thoughts when dreaming of your new logo or beautiful soon-to-happen website (Not a service placement - I promise), we have to eventually get down to the nitty gritty of it all.
"By definition, brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments." (Introduction to Brand Strategy, 2013)
Now the difficult part comes when trying to figure out your brand strategy, and how it will fit in with everything you are trying to achieve with your new business.
Your consumers awareness and associations lead to perceived quality, inferred attributes, and eventually brand loyalty.
A strong brand provides a series of benefits to a service, such as greater customer loyalty and higher resiliency to endure crisis situations, higher profit margins, more favourable customer response to price change, and licensing and brand extension opportunities.
Successful brands provide consumers with a variety of functional and emotional benefits that positively influence their perceptions and subsequent behaviour related to that brand. It has been shown that such brands can be important intangible company assets with a demonstrable financial value.
A distinctive brand personality can create a set of unique and favourable associations in consumer memory and thus enhance brand equity. The real value is in its intangible assets, and first among these is its brand.
Let's have a look at the hotel industry as a case study:
Hilton Hotels have used branding to widen their market share by introducing new brands, such as Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn and Conrad when existing markets have become saturated. This has allowed each different brand to establish its own position within the market.
The endorsed brand strategy puts a well-established name on a cluster of products or services. By endorsing a range of products, the lead brand can lend its good name and image to the entire brand family.
Hotel organizations have successfully franchised their brands, whereby the owning company allows others to sell the product using their model and specifications in exchange for royalties.
Intercontinental Hotels group has successfully franchised Crowne Plaza Hotels, which enabled the rapid expansion of the brand. There are some doubters as to the effectiveness of hotel branding. It has been argued that the plethora of hotel brands and branding strategies may lead to confusion amongst consumers.
The UK market is now becoming saturated with many low budget chain brands such as premier inn which are ideally suited at the moment to survive the current economic recession. Their national advertising campaign with a well known celebrity has also clearly targeted its audience as a quality budget brand that has the potential to steal many customers from the more luxury brands. However Premier inn brand does portray quality at a low price.
Hotels traditionally have focused on describing their services and facilities. Malmaison focuses its marketing on the experience of 'mal life' and eats, drinks, sleeps philosophy, which again creates certain images and expectations, known as emotional branding.
Loyal customers may attach more importance to the perceived image of the brand and associations as a reflection of themselves rather than the hotel services.
No you may be asking me how is the hotel industry going to help me with my own brand? When it comes to a strategy, much like most things in the creative field - every great idea has been borrowed and warped for a new purpose.
Pull your brand apart, and piece it back together - use glue form Nike, Hilton Hotels, Apple, & Google. Each different externally, but internally they have been warped from another company as well. This down the line, is the try secret to crafting that epic Brand Strategy. Copy & Paste greatness, conceptualise old ideas with new flair, breath life into something that was never there.