What is strategic brand management
We live in a world where products are rapidly commoditized and services can be cheaply outsourced. Furthermore, anyone can publish negative articles, reviews or social media content about your company. Those practices threaten to dilute brand value, shift your preferred narrative and siphon revenue.
The most effective way to combat those attacks is to take control of your own story and differentiate your company by managing your brand’s image and reputation. When you communicate the value of your product or service to potential buyers you create brand advocates and lasting relationships.
Before we move on, let’s level-set with a more technical definition.
Defining brand management
“Brand management” is the influence of brand perception within a company’s target market. The goal of an effective brand strategy is to measure and control credibility, perceived customer value, satisfaction, customer loyalty and brand awareness.
To be honest, what we’re actually talking about here is enterprise-scale brand reputation management. But to really understand the scope of this term, let’s explore some of the guiding principles that underpin it.
Strategic brand management process & principles
In my mind, these are the four most important aspects of a successful brand management plan:
- Awareness – Customers know about you
- Reputation – They like you
- Equity – They see value in buying from you
- Loyalty – They can’t live without you
I think of them like stages of customer engagement to build an effective brand management strategy around.
1. Brand awareness
Does a brand exist if nobody knows about it? Brand awareness separates your brand name from the sea of sameness and helps to grow your market share. Therefore it’s arguably the most important principle of digital brand management.
Marketing teams can improve brand awareness by examining target market research and segmenting buyers. They can then leverage that data to connect with target audiences across multiple customer touch points.
However, don’t drown yourself in data. This is also the perfect opportunity to show off your brand personality. Take time to develop an emotional connection with customers that will shape their perception in future interactions.
2. Brand reputation
As you increase market share and awareness, you’ll begin to develop a corporate reputation. Whether it’s good or bad depends largely upon customer experience. However, even the best companies can be blindsided by bad press and negative reviews.
Brand managers must be acutely aware of their company’s search landscape. Do your Google search results accurately represent your company or are they irrelevant, negative, neutral or nonexistent?
Brand reputation influences the next two principles of brand management, so it’s absolutely critical that you take it seriously. In fact, customers admit they’ll pay 22% more if a company has a positive reputation, and that directly feeds brand equity.
Check out my in-depth guide on how to find the best online reputation management services.
3. Brand equity
Brand equity refers to the value of having a strong brand name. In other words, it’s what prompts customers to reach for your product on a store shelf even though the generic one is cheaper.
The pinnacle of brand association is when consumers begin to refer to your brand name interchangeably with the product category (think Xerox or Kleenex).
As you can imagine, brand positioning (what makes you distinct in the market) is directly tied to brand equity. Customers are willing to pay more when they perceive that your product as special, unique or better.
Reputation marketing techniques are often used in this phase of brand management. Marketing teams may leverage company core values, CSR programs or even positive reviews to showcase a company’s brand promise.
Here’s the bottom line: Positive brand equity allows you to charge more for your products and makes it easier to repair your reputation after damaging press.
4. Brand loyalty
Of the four brand management principles, this is the only one that falls outside the scope of your marketing department. Why? Because brand loyalty is primarily driven by experiences with products and customer service rather than intangible assets like marketing exposure.
However, that doesn’t mean it exists in a vacuum. On the contrary, brand experiences impact your reputation through online reviews which in turn affects brand equity. See how they’re all connected?
If you focus on customer satisfaction and you build good relationships with buyers then you’ll convert them into loyal customers. But if you really want to shine, take it one step farther. When you provide an exemplary experience you’ll create unshakable brand ambassadors. That means they’ll sing your praises across social media, online review platforms and digital news outlets.
Bringing it all together
Strategic brand management is a detailed process that requires many levels of coordination. Marketing teams and brand management companies build awareness. Reputation management companies like ours establish a positive online presence. Your customer care department works to retain buyers and develop brand loyalty.
No matter what your company does, an organized branding strategy will reduce reputational risk, improve margins and boost revenue.
See how we help Fortune 1000 companies manage online brand image and reputation.