An integrated brand strategy is like a flock of geese. When flying in V-formation they cut through the wind, reduce drag and make more progress than when flying alone. It sounds simple but it requires making hard choices.
This is more than program integration, which just puts your ducks in a row. Developing a brand strategy requires that you choose your main point of differentiation and lead with it. Print, social marketing, web media, PR, direct, video and interactive all need to drive it home. This creates the “V” and concentrates more force behind one idea.
The Romans used this principle when they went into battle. Their "wedge" formation allowed them to cut through enemy lines. It's basic physics—V-shaped configurations penetrate more efficiently.
The Hard Choice That Makes Everything Else Easier
Choose one brand position and make sure that it resonates with everyone. This sounds easier than it is, but keep it simple and true to who you are. For example, “We are the innovators” or “We stand for durability” or “We are the friendly service company.” Choose well but choose only one.
Once you’ve centralized your strategy, it’s time to re-energize your creative. Everything should flow from one idea. The key is to fuse messages and visuals into concepts that embody one idea. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Print and online campaigns within web-centric programs should share the same concepts, just expressed in different ways.
It always surprises me when B2B marketers don’t take advantage of the portability of these concepts. A print ad is basically a rectangular communication tool, but so is a trade show wall or an iPad. The brand experience expressed in one medium should, in some way, inform other elements of the program—one brand strategy woven through all tactics. This isn’t a cookie-cutter solution where one-size-fits-all, it’s more like a brand wardrobe that all works together.
Today’s marketing managers work in slimmed down departments where their budgets are often stretched. Their job is to keep the brand engine running. That’s tough if their advertising, website, online media, PR and social marketing are out of sync. The result can be three small programs bolted together instead of one powerful one.
So, as you get your ducks in a row for next year consider the V-formation. There’s no reason not to. You’ll fly faster, easier and take your brand farther.