One of the first questions I ask organizations that I work with is “What is your brand’s vision?” I ask this question because if the organization has a vision for its brand, then I can begin to understand where and how I can help them. Unfortunately, most of the time, I get a blank stare in response to my question, or something along the lines of “Well, we aren’t really sure.”
Not having a brand vision but trying to do marketing and brand building is like jumping into a car and driving to go somewhere without knowing what or where the destination is. How do you know if you are headed in the right direction? If you don’t know where you are going, how do you even know that a car can get you there?
Before an organization can start to tackle challenges like growing a brand with existing customers, extending a brand into new categories or driving awareness and interest with new customers, it needs to be clear on its long-term brand vision. The brand vision is the destination for the brand that the organization should be striving to reach. As a result, a well-defined vision helps the organization narrow its focus to the critical objectives, strategies, and tactics that will ultimately help the organization achieve what it is trying to accomplish. Additionally, when it is communicated, embraced, and reinforced in the organization, it is a valuable tool that aligns all of the brand stakeholders to working towards the same goals.
The components of a brand vision are in theory straightforward, but can be very challenging to formulate and assemble into a complete brand vision. The components are:
- The brand’s core essence. This is what the brand ultimately stands for or its ‘reason for being’
- The key functional and emotional benefits that the brand provides. (For more detail on benefits, check out Marketing & Branding Mistake to Avoid #1: Communicating Features Instead of Benefits)
- What the brand will be known for in the future. This is also where critical goals and metrics should be incorporated such as, “Brand X will be a Million Dollar brand by 2015”, or “Brand Y will be present in half of the households in the U.S. by 2020”.
- The brand character. This is the personality of the brand.
The components are challenging to develop because ideally an organization should designate a group of internal brand stakeholders (a brand team) to devote a great deal of time, thought, and discussion to make the vision as strong as possible. Typically organizations do not prioritize brand vision development for these reasons. However, if an organization can devote resources to and prioritize the development of a vision, it will be in a much stronger, more productive, and successful position moving forward. The resulting brand vision becomes a powerful guide post that aligns the organization, making the marketing decisions and challenges it faces much easier to navigate because the organization knows where it wants to go.