Why your mission, vision, and values are essential to your brand strategy
COHN has offered brand strategy to our clients since 2010 and has always been passionate about developing brand stories that resonate deeply with consumers. Our founder, Jeff Cohn looked into the future and envisioned how pivotal brand authenticity would be in the rapidly changing marketing communications ecosystem. During that time, we’ve developed or evolved hundreds of brands for our clients, and we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes successful brands last.
Believe it or not, there are actually (at least) two differing schools of thought on how to best develop a brand strategy.
Some brand agencies believe the market opportunity should dictate the direction of your brand. strategy They will conduct rigorous research on the competitive landscape, analyze what is currently working for these competitors, identify where their client has an opportunity to own “brandshare” in ideas, colors, type, emotions, etc., and then deliver a brand strategy for their clients to occupy this vacant space in the market.
This approach can work, particularly with startups that are building a story from the ground up. However, this approach will fail spectacularly when the agency tries to fit a square peg in a round hole. The market opportunity should not prescribe the brand strategy.
COHN builds brands from the inside out, meaning we believe the brand strategy must be 100 percent authentic to the legacy, people and values of the company first. We will never tell a Toyota to be a Ferrari, for example, even if there’s an opportunity to shift the overall business strategy to fill a luxury gap in the market.
Building Distinction: Authenticity at the Core of Brand Strategy
Distinction is, obviously, the most important component of brand strategy—we want our clients to stand out with what makes them special and unique—but those distinctions must be true and authentic to the company at a DNA level. The market is always changing, but these internal building blocks of your brand will always be central to who, what and why you exist.
When we begin the brand strategy process, our first meeting with be the brand discovery, where we will invest a half-day into trying to get inside your perspective to see the world from your point of view. We will dive deep into your origin story, stress-test your mission and vision to ensure we fully understand your WHY, and conduct in-depth interviews with your team and stakeholders to truly absorb your values. We have to see, hear and feel the authentic YOU internally before we even begin to look externally at the market and how your competitors are faring.
Incorporating Outside Influences: Balancing Internal Authenticity with Market Dynamics
Make no mistake, building a brand from within, like we do at COHN, does not mean you ignore outside influences. We simply want to know what makes you “authentically you” before refining our message to what makes you distinct and special compared to the competition.
In fact, this is what differentiates “core values” from “unique selling propositions” in our world. Core values serve as an operating system that protects and promotes the characteristics that make your company what it is today. Unique selling propositions (one of the key brand strategy components) are characteristics that make your company distinct. Pairing these two ideas together—core values and unique selling propositions—is how we build brands at COHN.
Your Collaborative Partner in Revolutionizing Brand Strategy
If you can’t tell by now, we are brand nerds, and we love to get into the nitty gritty of the brand process and how it can revolutionize your marketing efforts. Whether you’re a multigenerational company with decades of brand equity and legacy to build on, or simply a startup that wants some help defining its “why,” COHN is a collaborative partner that listens and puts in the effort to really see you, before throwing together a strategic marketing plan.
Emotional connections, symbolism, word of mouth, customer service, and social media all play pivotal roles in the journey to brand authenticity. Our genuine messaging and brand consistency in all marketing campaigns help build credibility with consumers, encouraging them to endorse brands they like and support.