Customers have many options when making buying decisions.  A clear Brand Strategy built on solving consumer needs cuts through the white noise in the market place. I’ve always been fascinated by why some brands connect with consumers while some brands don’t.  One of the main reasons:  not enough critical thinking went into developing the Brand Strategy.

Determining Brand Success

Successful brands are the ones at the head of the line when it comes to how customers evaluate purchases. Your job is to make sure customers easily understand the value you offer.

Success is determined by how well you and your team step outside of your own world and think deeply about what problems or challenges you help the customer solve.

Answer four simple questions about your Brand Strategy.  It’s like running it through what I call “success filters”. Seek honest, straightforward answers to these questions. If you get mostly “yes” answers to these, your brand is in good shape.  If you get more “no” responses than yeses, it’s time to re-evaluate your brand.

Question #1: Does the Brand Strategy communicate a unique or very special alternative? Warren Buffett put it this way: “Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.”

In our digital world, customers have access to many choices. Consequently, your brand has to offer unique value.  That value is defined by what’s important for the customer.  Being unique and special is essential for successful revenue growth, especially from newly developed products.

ACTIONABLE TIP: Plot competitive brands along with yours using a Gap Analysis.  Don’t worry about trying to plot every competitor. Just focus on the primary ones. Then consider how much white space there is between you and them.  Unique products are the ones that have a greater distance from the pack.

Question #2: Is your Brand Strategy genuinely customer-focused? It must be based on what’s going on in the marketplace. Marketing based on what’s going on inside your company is marketing that is ego-driven. That kind of marketing will fall short of connecting with the consumer.

Instead, make sure your Brand Strategy is based on what’s important to the customer, not the folks inside the company.

ACTIONABLE TIP: One of the best tools for uncovering what’s going on in the market is observational research.  This form of customer research requires you to be in their environment ready to watch and absorb how they use your product in their world. For example, a medical device manufacturer sent marketing personnel and industrial designers into clinics to observe how nurses used their products.

Question #3: Does your Brand Positioning reflect why you’re in business?  In other words, is it a good reflection of your Mission Statement?  Your company’s Mission Statement concisely spells out who your customer is and what it is you do for them.  It should be clear and easy to remember.  The same goes for your Brand Positioning so if your company’s mission is ambiguous, your Positioning statement may also suffer.

Question #4: Will your current customers find your Brand Promise believable? Customers get burned all the time by brands that fail to deliver on their claims. Don’t take it personally if they aren’t ready to immediately put their trust in you. Instead, put in the energy and time to provide evidence for skeptical consumers.

ACTIONABLE TIP: A good way to test the believability of your Brand Promise is to find a small set of close customers you can actually ask. Select the ones that are representative of your target market. You can also seek feedback from advisers.  These two groups have to believe the Brand Promise before any prospective customers will.


Successful Brand Strategy requires a clear definition of the business you’re in.  Great strategies are based on the problems you solve for your target market.

This means you have to accurately identify customer pain points.  Next, align those pain points with the solutions you provide.  Then translate them into the marketing messages you deliver to your audience on social media, advertising, email marketing, etc.

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