Brand Riffs Are Important.


Here’s the unbridled truth about brand strategy.  Brand strategy is not easy to implement. And oddly, many marketing directors don’t know how to do it.  Brand strategies are more apt to be employed by CEOs. They get strategy.  

My framework for brand strategy — one claim and three proof planks — is brain dead simple to employ. But it has to be shared and enculturated throughout the company. When well crafted there are already major hints of the strategy within the company. But there are also hints of many other things – too many things. Brand strategy culls out the non-essentials.

If brand strategy is hard to operationalize at a large company, what’s the point?  Here’s the point: Think of the output of brand strategy as a song – a song made up of notes, phrases and riffs.  Brand strategy, even at less than 100% compliance, still offers riffs that can improve company performance. Elements of the brand brief, understood and implemented can make a huge difference.  

I developed a target in a brand brief for a high-end Northwell Health home care company. I called the target “Kings of the Castle.” These so-called kings were rich males who used to be captains of industry, but now were infirm of body…not mind. They were actually still owners of the family purse strings.  This one element of the strategy, by itself, was enough to propel powerful “product, experience and messaging.” It was not the full strategy, just a few notes. A riff.

The best brand strategies are all or nothing. But this is the real world. So every riff matters.