Brand Strategy

Do I Really Need a Brand Strategy?

by Elizabeth West, Chief Strategist Branding+Marketing

Brand strategy. It’s a term we’re increasingly hearing as today’s market is demanding (more than ever) what we call “cut through branding.”

Regardless of the market, enduring brands today recognize that their success has little to do with their logo, tagline, products, services, or even their budget.

Rather, success lies in an empowering vision presenting a brand promise that meets the target audience’s deepest felt need.

How, you ask?

The power of emotional engagement

A strong brand strategy recognizes that facts are viewed, not felt. Facts tell. They inform. They support a bigger picture. But they won’t set brands apart.

Instead, the power of emotional connection is what drives behavior. It moves the hearts of people from being brand loyal to being brand advocates who want to talk about you and feel proud to be associated with you.

So… let’s look at a few successful brands that are built on a single-minded point of difference that emotionally engages their target audience.

Successful brand promises

Let’s start with Coca-Cola and the power of their Open Happiness campaign. The brand promise here is that when you open a bottle of Coke, you open up happiness. They’re saying that by drinking Coke, you’ll be happy inside.

And then there is the ever-popular Nike brand. When you wear or use Nike, you can just do it, and when you do, we are all witnesses. It’s the promise of a winning performance.

And how about Disney? Whether it’s interactive media, consumer products or theme parks, Disney means magic, and as Disneyland famously promises, it’s the happiest place on Earth.

These brands have tapped into the power of effective marketing. By identifying a brand promise in a way that emotionally connects with a target audience, they have provided a whole new relevance.

Why is brand strategy necessary?

Because you have more competition today than you did yesterday. We’re not competing for the kingdom of God, but we need funds to sustain our mission and to fulfill our call, right?

Let’s use a supermarket analogy.

I walk into the grocery store and I need to find the humanitarian aisle. I find it on aisle nine. Now I’m looking for humanitarian brands focused on feeding children. Suddenly, I see them all on the horizontal. All like products sitting shoulder to shoulder.

But here’s the thing: They all look the same. With no single-minded point of difference, I default rationally. It might be a price point that determines whether I purchase that product, or I might like the packaging.

A single minor point of difference will give a brand a reason for it to be set apart. It repositions the brand from a selection of one of many choices, into a vertical preference of first choice.

Again, it’s simply because you’ve set yourself apart with the secret sauce: a brand that shares the same values as that target audience.

For more practical help including a real-life case study on effective branding, check out our Dunham Institute course Brand Strategy Effectiveness by Elizabeth West.


More Insights from Dunham+Company: “Brand Strategy: Engaging the Head and the Heart”

Ready to take the next step? Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters. Contact Bethany Cranfield at 469-454-0100 to get more information. 

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