An essential starting point for any organization’s brand strategy is to clarify exactly what it stands for. The company’s key internal management team needs to nurture development of a brand based on internal values and culture. The second part of the brand equation is aligning internal values with those held by target customers. By aligning these viewpoints — the internal expressing the aspiration and the customers the reality of the brand — we can be assured of a consistency of expression that is the hallmark of all successful companies. For the Internal Brand Platform, we will lead the Client through a three-step process that, when completed, will serve as the strategic foundation for marketing communications. In a very real sense, the completed Brand Platform will be the filter through which the development of the brand identity and subsequent marketing communications will be judged to assure a consistency of message and brand image.
The Brand Platform consists of the following elements:
The forward-looking statement of how you want your brand to be positioned in the hearts and minds of your customers. It is a straightforward expression of your Vision and Mission.
An expression of the organization’s guiding principles and philosophies that provide a foundation for what the company is and stands for.
An overview of what your customers want, need and expect from your brand.
A list of the attributes you want associated with your brand that helps people understand who you are at an emotional level.
The primary benefit you provide that your customers can always depend on and that differentiates you from similar and directly competitive products or services.
Support for the Promise
What you have, offer, or do that allows you to make the brand promise with such confidence.
The Brand Process we’ve developed clarifies the brand perspective of stakeholders to understand where there are agreements and differences. Once we have these insights we then finalize the Internal Brand Platform. To that end, the Brand Platform process is executed in three steps, as follows:
Step One: Internal Brand Platform
This step begins with seeking the individual brand perspectives of key stakeholders. Each is asked to provide answers to a series of brand questions that identify individual perspectives, as well as surfacing areas of agreement and disagreement. It’s important there is no collaboration or discussion of the questions or answers by members of the team to ensure that responses truly reflect the individual’s own perspective. This step consists of roughly four or five questions answered directly with the Agency, as follows:
Core Focus. The first question will surface the company’s reason for being. As with the individual questions, it is best answered in a more immediate fashion to avoid overthinking. The intent is to generate an instinctive response that is generally the most accurate and true reflection of one’s beliefs.
Brand Platform Perceptions. Following the Core Focus exercise, the participants will be asked to individually provide answers to some of the key sections of the Brand Platform. Again, the purpose is to discover both the perceptions of each participant and the degree of alignment among the people with greatest influence on the direction of the company.
Once the individual answers have been provided and reviewed a meeting and moderated discussion with stakeholders is held to review and discuss inputs. The goal is to reach a consensus on the Internal Brand Platform. As you can imagine, this can be an interesting and passionate meeting with strong opinions shared.
Step Two: Consumer Alignment with Internal Brand Platform
Following development of the Internal Brand Platform, the team reviews the document against the findings of consumer research. This step results in the identification of the primary target audience and clarifies what the internal document reflects and satisfies the target audience category wants and needs.
Step Three: Final Brand Platform
Following the Agency review of the Internal Brand Platform, a final meeting will be convened with the Client to review the research insights, identify where there may be any concerns, and develop a final Platform for use going forward. This is another meeting filled with passionate discussion as it should be. The intent is to get complete alignment and support for the platform which will influence all future decisions by the company from design to product innovation to customer service, and beyond.