Brand Offense, Defense or Nonsense?

“Your most tenable strategy is to attack yourself, not the market leader.”

Kinetically, the subject of just how to build a shiny new brand or super-fuel a current in-market brand is the most debated subject amongst Chief Marketing Officers. Imagine the rough and tumble task an entry level company faces to build a completely new brand within the “x-widget” product category. Imagine this in a rough and tumble, over-exercised North American marketplace: clearly not for the faint of heart, surely not for the faint of investment capital. Let’s intently explore this most important brand leadership debate to cleanse, clarify and expose successful brand offense and defense strategies.

The basics: we recognize a brand is a promise. It is inclusive and righteously positioned on an x and y-axis. The x-axis correlates with brand value/equity while the y-axis represents shelf line logic and bearing competitive market pricing. Brands are also content. Brand content is defined smartly as: products, packaging, user interface, manuals, service, support, consumer reviews, product returns, SEM, CRM, SCRM, SEO… even word of mouth defines a brands content.

As an extension of this most important “what is content” with respect to a brand please see this video interview with the incredible Frank Radice of Red Touch media watched by over 10,000 generous brand hearts and minds:

Brands are built on foundations of products and services juxtaposed smartly and relevantly versus competitive offerings. Brands do not make products. Products make brands. With this comes the formula to measure any brand versus competitive market dynamics:

Price divided by value (brand and or product value) equals the real competitive cost the market will bear, the cost a consumer is willing to pay versus your shelf space competitors. Of course the greater the competitive value, the greater the willingness from consumers to pay a few extra pennies for your product, for your brand experience. The less your brand and or product value, the less consumers are willing to dig deep into their pocketbooks for your brand, for your wishful profitable product future.

Successful, focused brand offense and defense strategies, especially when entering a new market, especially with keen sagacity with respect to the importance and value of brand content includes:

brand strategy on the offensive:

  1. Over expose, aim and ignite your product, brand and packaging advantage versus the number one market leader’s position you wish to gain and attain over time.
  2. Attain net price profitability through a smart modicum of SG&A overhead versus the market leader’s hefty and mature infrastructure.
  3. Explore, discover and study the market leader’s brand weakness and strength to construct and catalyst changing product, pricing and market dynamics to your advantage.
  4. Focus resources to fight smartly. Core down, heavy up all pertinent assets, narrow cast and focus intentions for high impact, fast time to volume gains.
  5. Attack briskly through uncontested product areas, packaging differentiation and channels, whenever and wherever possible.
  6. Move swiftly, secretly and aggressively to build key customer relationships and opportunities within your competitors’ camps. Speed and communications are the weapon of choice against formidable brand Titans.
  7. Advertise and communicate consistently, frequently and equally to your three core (as example) market drivers: 1. Retail Merchants. 2. Editorial & Analyst community. 3. New & current consumer opportunities.

brand strategy on the defensive:

  1. New brands entering the market should not play defense. New brands must stay focused aggressively on offense; no exceptions. If you are forced to a bulwark position in your early stages, it will surely be time to stop and go home.
  2. Expect and plan for the market leader to turn and play defense against your offense efforts. Pre-plan for these expectations, but again, do not defend the leader’s defense, stay sharp on your calculated offense.
  3. Your best tenable strategy is to attack yourself, not the market leader. Learn and earn from your smart, self-inflicted wounds, caused to strengthen your brand resolve, to fortify your defense strategy and tactics.
  4. Your best defense is to focus on customer opportunities. Focus intently on your customers’ success and they will in turn focus on you, your brand, and your product. They will focus intently to ensure your success.
  5. Advertise and communicate consistently, frequently and equally to your three core market drivers: 1. Retail Merchants. 2. Editorial & Analyst community. 3. New & current consumer opportunities (exactly the same as on the offense).

Target, lock and load a single, aggressively coherent vision to approach and quake the market. Combine sales and marketing strategies, assets and enabling tactics as one united offense and defense. Align and plan the best way to build and make your targeted market your best brand friend. Build short and long-term best friends based upon better products and services, with unyielding customer care, customer centricity, smart advertising and marketing. This strategy will fuel your brand promise, your brand equity, your brand competitive advantage to drive both push and pull.

In essence, your declared brand strategy should be clayed and cemented to attract, convert and retain targeted customers, early and often, aggressively and profitably. Of course building a new brand, with the cold steel of forecasted expectations in a mature and hyper-commoditizing marketplace includes conventional core structures and levers under the sturdy ribs of your sales, marketing, advertising and organizational leadership.

Uniting, calculating and strategizing with your team on the offense, defense and core brand-content strategy before, during and after launching is always the right competitive formula designed to build and take market share as well as lasting profitable results.

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