State of Brand Management Tools 2024

What is Strategic Brand Management?

I am always amazed at how many business gains can be traced back to strategic brand management:

Greater brand equity. Strong brand recognition. Customer loyalty. Higher sales. Stronger pricing power. Bigger market share…And those are just the tip of the iceberg.

But such is the power and impact of a strategic approach to maintaining brand identity and positioning. 

It’s that incredible. 

But it is also incredibly difficult, particularly if you’re moving from a non-strategic approach. It can also seem intimidating at first. 

That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you better understand strategic brand management and how to get started implementing it in your organization. 

So, without any further ado, here’s everything you need to know about strategic brand management. 

Table of Contents

What is strategic brand management?

I admit that the term – strategic brand management – can seem a little ambiguous. Granted, the word “strategic” does hint at several possible explanations. But it doesn’t really say much, does it?

And yet, that’s exactly what’s at the core of the concept. Let me explain.

So, first of all, when we talk about strategic brand management, we usually mean the long-term approach companies take to developing and maintaining a cohesive brand identity and consistent brand image. 

In practical terms, this means ensuring that the brand is represented in a unified way, regardless of a platform, marketing or distribution channel, or customer touchpoint. 

Take Nike, for example. Its iconic “swoosh” logo, the inspiring and motivational tone of communications (“just do it”), or the use of bold and dynamic in visuals, make the brand easily recognisable. And that’s regardless of the type of messaging you encounter. 

But that comes as no surprise when you hear Phil Knight, Nike’s co founder openly stating the company’s approach to marketing and branding (via HBR):

 

For years, we thought of ourselves as a production-oriented company, meaning we put all our emphasis on designing and manufacturing the product. But now we understand that the most important thing we do is market the product. We’ve come around to saying that Nike is a marketing-oriented company, and the product is our most important marketing tool. What I mean is that marketing knits the whole organization together.

Patagonia, Coca-Cola, IKEA are other examples of brands with incredibly cohesive brand image, and strong strategic approach to how they manage the brand.

But why is it so critical to develop a strategic approach to brand management?

The short answer is that strategic brand management helps gain clarity about your brand, develop consistency in brand image and communications, and aligns the company’s identity and messaging. 

But naturally, there is far more to it, so let’s dig a little deeper into the benefits of strategic brand management. 

Increased brand equity

There is an undeniable connection between a brand and a product. The product on its own offers certain value to customers. But couple it with a strong and unified brand reputation, recognition, and perception, and you create a situation where customers desire it even more and are willing to pay a premium price for the product. 

And needless to say, such is the effect of increased brand equity resulting from strong strategic brand management practices.

Strong customer loyalty

Similarly, a unified brand image and recognition and emotional connection that go with it will help create a loyal customer base that will constantly choose your products over competitors. 

Once again, companies like Nike, Coca-Cola, Amazon, Disney, or Samsung enjoy strong customer loyalty, and that’s not a coincidence. All of those brands take a strategic approach to their image and identity, after all.

Stronger market differentiation

I suppose this goes without saying. A strong and cohesive brand image will immediately distinguish a brand from its competitors. And that will happen on many levels:

  • Overall brand image will make it impossible to confuse it with another brand. 
  • It will boost brand recognition and recall. 
  • A unified brand will communicate its unique values which, once again, will make it unmistakable.
  • It will create a unique emotional connection with customers, too, and that will be impossible to replicate for competitors, and more. 

 

And since this is going to happen across all touchpoints, marketing and distribution channels, and communication methods, the strategic brand management will only continue to strengthen that differentiation over and over again.

Supporting long-term growth

This benefit comes as a result of the three benefits I mentioned above. Strong equity, loyalty, and differentiation will result in a consistent and recognisable market presence, growth in sales, repeat purchases, referrals, word-of-mouth, and more. 

Who is responsible for strategic brand management?

Let me start by dispeling a common misconception. Strategic brand management isn’t a practice you just hand over to the marketing or creative department. 

Quite the contrary. To implement a strategic approach to brand management, your company actually needs a person dedicated to overseeing it – a brand manager. 

A brand manager oversees practically every aspect of strategic brand management: 

  • First of all, brand managers develop brand strategies. Sure, there might be other people involved in the process but it is the manager who initiates and oversees it.
  • They conduct market research and identify how to position the brand within target markets. 
  • They oversee how the brand is being portrayed in advertising and marketing campaigns, and very often, also oversee those campaigns. 
  • They manage brand identity and positioning, and monitor brand performance. 
  • They are the ones who work towards ensuring consistency across all brand touchpoints, and more. 

 

There is one more question that I’m sure you’ve been asking yourself while reading this guide.

How does strategic brand management differ from brand strategy?

It’s a fair question. Both terms sound quite similar, after all. The focus word in both terms is strategy. As a result, we often see them as identical, or at least having many overlapping activities. Both terms focus on brand development, too, albeit differently. 

And yet, both brand strategy and strategic brand management are distinct aspects of a company’s brand operations. 

Let me explain.

When we talk about brand strategy we simply mean the long-term vision for the brand. 

The strategy defines what the brand stands for. It lists all its core values that the brand wants to communicate through its image and communications. It also outlines the brand mission and vision, and sets the foundation for how the brand wants to be perceived by the target audience. 

Strategic brand management, on the other hand, focuses more on day to day brand operations. 

As part of the process, the brand manager oversees marketing campaigns, manages brand consistency in all brand and product-related communications. They track brand performance and metrics, and generally, ensure that the brand is portrayed consistently across all touchpoints. 

As a result, both activities deliver different outcomes. 

 

Brand strategy

Strategic brand management

Role

Strategic planning

Execution and operations

Focus

Long-term

Day-to-day brand operations

Components and activities

Brand purpose, brand vision, target market analysis, brand roadmap development, and more

Overseeing marketing and advertising campaigns, brand communications, monitoring performance, training

Outcome

Roadmap and guidelines to making brand-related decisions

Building a cohesive and unified brand image

For the same reason, neither could replace the other. In fact, a company should focus on both simultaneously, and run them in parallel. 

This brings us to the actual implementation of the strategic approach to brand management.

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How to implement and oversee strategic brand management

The first thing I need you to understand about implementing a brand management strategy is that you can’t do it without a dedicated brand management platform. 

As you’ve seen above, the strategic approach focuses primarily on day-to-day operations and execution. And that, usually, involves overseeing, and being actively involved in quite a number of projects and tasks, something that would be impossible to do without a dedicated tool. 

So, as part of this overview, let me show you how to do it using our brand management platform CELUM

What is CELUM?

CELUM is a complete brand management platform that helps organisations unify their brand experience, making brands understood and thriving.  

Or to put it simply, CELUM is the tool you use to take a strategic approach and control over your brand identity across all channels and touchpoints. 

And the platform offers a whole range of capabilities to help you achieve it:

Brand asset management

With this feature, you can centralise all your brand assets – logos, color schemes, typography guidelines, brand guidelines, templates, images, videos, and more. 

Want to learn more about how CELUM can help you streamline brand management? Book a demo, and let us walk you through the platform.

Portals with brand guidelines

CELUM Portals let you create dedicated repositories of brand-related content, information, and guidelines. This way, you can communicate how to use the brand correctly to all stakeholders involved in brand-related communications. 

NOTE: Portals let you create dedicated repositories for specific audiences, and share with them what they need to know to portray your brand correctly. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT CELUM PORTALS.

Content collaboration features

Capabilities like Kanban boards, online proofing features, control and compliance, and more will help you create on-brand content with ease. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT CELUM’s CREATIVE CONTENT COLLABORATION FEATURES.

Brand templates

We brought this feature in direct response to an enormous challenge brand managers faced with branded content – Teams and employees not following brand guidelines when creating their own branded content. 

With Templates, the challenge becomes a thing of the past. Your colleagues across the entire organisation will still be able to create their own branded content. However, with Templates, they can only do it based on pre-defined templates, ensuring absolute consistency of the brand image. 

Want to see how CELUM can help you manage a brand strategically? Book a demo and let us show you CELUM in action.

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