Transform Magazine: Which comes first: corporate strategy or brand strategy? – 2023

Mohamad Badr is Director of Strategy and Head of Growth at Brand Lounge, based in Dubai. He sets out here his belief that a company’s business strategy should follow its brand strategy, and not the other way around.

As brand strategists, we are always seen as intruders on the business side of the equation. Business strategy, after all, is about the things a company can control and easily measure; it usually lays out a long-term game plan to achieve a specific set of goals. It is driven by market research, guides all resource allocations, defines the business model and way of working, and establishes the metrics by which a business measures its success. So, in short, it’s what a company does, how it does it, and where it does it.

The Brand, or the brand strategy precisely, is on the other hand seen as the game plan that ends up shaping the public image of the company, which minimizes the role and value of the key internal and external initiatives that have a direct impact on the commercial dimension. .

Lately I’ve come to see it differently and I know this may be considered unpopular opinion but here goes: I believe that a company’s business strategy should follow its brand strategy and not the other way around.

As a consultant working with clients from different backgrounds and within different industries, I have come to this conclusion after witnessing first hand how many companies struggle or fail because they run the company by emphasizing the internal workings and the financial performance of the company while ignoring the value that a brand can bring to them in terms of growth, development of culture, innovation and image.

If you only focus on the business side (even if you have the most innovative products, services, or solutions), you won’t be able to connect with the right audience and control your perception the way you want.

Any solid brand strategy will first answer the golden question “Why do you exist?” and why is it important for your customers and stakeholders? Meanwhile, the business strategy will ask questions about how this goal and the overarching goal or ambition could be achieved.

Brand strategy (and how we approach it at Brand Lounge) is a multidimensional framework that goes beyond information about market conditions and how to respond to them. It’s a total experience that attracts new customers, builds loyalty and enhances a company’s reputation in the eyes, minds and hearts of all stakeholders.

A strong, well-designed brand strategy drives demand and ensures better customer retention while maximizing overall business value.

But consider the other scenario, what if you start a new business? Or are you launching a new product or service or do you have a revolutionary idea? The implications of what I am stating are radical in my opinion.

If you start simply by developing a strong business model, investing in the technology and capabilities you think you need to make a unique contribution to the market, you can catch the attention of a customer or two. But I can guarantee you’ll struggle to connect and capture the attention of a large and demanding audience that judges businesses emotionally and functionally.

However, if you start by uncovering your true purpose as a business, identifying the real reason you exist beyond making money, why customers need to buy into your brand, and to your story and your offerings, your chances of creating a successful business and business strategy will multiply.

Before spending hours and days developing your business plan, ask yourself these questions that influence your customer experience:

  • Who are you targeting?
  • Why should they care?
  • What do they really need from you now?
  • And how can you meet their needs better than the competition?

Answering these questions honestly and transparently should be your first priority. When you really know why you exist as a brand and a business, and you’ve decided how you’ll serve your real customers better than anyone else, you’ll be ready to write a business plan that makes your projections — and those of your customers. dreams – a reality.