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Why Today’s Business Strategy Starts With Brand Strategy

*This article is in response to the question: What is brand strategy?

While more and more people are becoming wise to it, there’s still a lot of misunderstanding around what “brand” really is, or does.

If you’re concerned with how consumers operate today, then I believe you should be taking the Brand-as-Business approach (see great brands do brand as business – Denise Lee Yohn).

This is to say that Brand Strategy is the same thing as Business Strategy.

The brand-as-business management approach involves using your brand to drive your culture, company operations, and customer experiences.  With brand as business, your brand is the central organizing and operating idea of your business — indeed, it is your business.
Denise Lee Yohn

While more traditionally, Brand Strategy has been a narrower proposition–a necessary but secondary business consideration–like hiring a PR guy. In many ways the Brand Strategy has become the north star and foundation for business success.

Brand Should Be Top-Down

To answer the question at hand, Brand Strategy consulting in today’s industry can, and should, cover a wide range of top-level business questions. Then, once the big questions about “who” the business is, “why” the exist (purpose), “how” that business serves it’s purpose, THEN strategy becomes tactical. It becomes about activating around the core principles using the right tools.

Ideally, these core principles should ripple outward across all facets of the business, from consumer touch-points to nurturing and authentic internal culture. This is how the strongest brands create a clear story in today’s marketplace.

So whereas “brand” used to be a siloed off as a marketing consideration that didn’t concern many facets of a company, it’s become something that innovative, forward-facing brands have realized to be a top-down, primary strategy to inform all other parts of the business.

Look at some of the following companies and consider how much the brand shapes your experiences with them.

Virgin (company), Airbnb (company), Netflix (company), Apple (company), Marriott Hotels, Target (company), Chipotle Mexican Grill


So while lower-case “brand strategy” may be dissected into smaller tactical consulting jobs, like say, how do we create new communication around a specific product, really upper-case “Brand Strategy” should be top-down, and holistic.

Google’s new look is a good, current example of how complex and big the idea of Brand Strategy is. While logo design is still often the common idea of what “branding” is about, this video shows that Brand Strategy is actually something much bigger. The new Google logo design is representative of a dynamic brand identity, which has built-in functionality to help drive the bigger Brand (read Business) strategy.

Watch: Google’s look, evolved