It’s extraordinary how few companies, big and small, long established and new, successful and less so, have a really good and properly documented strategic vision.
With smaller, more entrepreneurial businesses, this is often because they have grown on the back of a vision which is held in the minds of a small number of key individuals, but which is never written down or meaningfully shared with the rest of the organisation. However, when they get to a certain size, getting the best out of a growing company is much harder without a clear strategic vision.
In the case of bigger organisations, whilst there are a surprising number that have simply never gone through a comprehensive strategic development exercise, in many cases there is a strategy in place, but one which was produced a few years ago and has not been meaningfully reviewed since.
Given the speed with which modern business and technology is evolving, it’s imperative to keep a finger on the strategic pulse to avoid pitfalls and get or stay ahead of the competition.
The UK property industry is a good example of an industry in which so many companies are failing to adapt to changing market conditions.
Having done two stages of qualitative research (2013 and 2016) on consumer attitudes to UK estate agents, it is no surprise that property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla now dominate online property postings and that online sales options such as Purple Bricks and Tepilo are growing rapidly.
On the back of a completely myopic approach to customer needs, market conditions, competitive options and the need to create value and differentiate their brands, it would be surprising if the online sales options didn’t continue to grow market share and the number of UK estate agents fall dramatically in the next few years.
Different types of strategy
A corporate strategy sets of the vision for an entire organisation. A great example of this is Google. When Google came onto the scene in 1998, Yahoo and AOL were the leading search engines, with enormous market share. However, upon closer analysis, Larry Page and Sergey Brin realised that they were trying to control content and distribution and thought they could own customers, relationships and attention, i.e. serve their own needs rather than those of their users. Hence Google set out “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” and let revenue streams follow. The rest is history.
Brand strategy encompasses all areas of any brand’s operation, both internal and external. It covers brand purpose, positioning, personality, tone of voice and a number of other key dimensions. Done well, it inspires both internally and externally, creating a brand that staff feel proud to be part of, that competitors envy, that investors fight to participate in and that customers like and value.
The Virgin brand is a terrific example. The 100% customer focus of the brand in all areas from rock music to finance, supported by a truly empathetic brand personality and tone of voice, has led to exceptional business success.
Marketing strategy is different to brand strategy and is more specific, being primarily focused on external communication.
For example, the brand strategy for Red Bull drives a marketing strategy, which is designed to deliver the brand objectives and is translated into a marketing plan, full of specific marketing activities, such as their advertising, air shows, sponsorship, etc.
The Dent Consultancy specialises in giving brands a strategic edge.
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