saying no to one thing means saying yes to another

How the word no fits into brand strategy

When was the last time you said no to something? 

Imagine you are lying on a surfboard. It is in the middle of winter, you are freezing and the water smacks your face. You want to catch the next wave. But even though you’ve been practising all year, you still can’t stand up on the board. The other surfers make it look effortless. You secretly think that you could be sitting on your mountain bike, right now. Instead, you sit in the cold water and your ears hurt. You have no talent for surfing. Ultimately, you decide to give up and concentrate on hobby number one: mountain biking.

What does this have to do with brand strategy? A whole lot.

Our connected world throws endless possibilities at us. Without a plan, it’s easy to lose focus in our businesses. A brand strategy can serve as a roadmap for your business by defining your brand ecosystem (business, customer, market). The brand strategy defines a unique position for your business in the market and you get answers to questions like:

  • Which customers are the businesses ideal customers?
  • What is the businesses long-term vision?
  • What values does the business represent?
  • What topics does the business communicate?
  • What tone does the business communicate in?
  • How is the business presented visually?
  • What touchpoints will the customer have with the business?
  • What emotions should the customer associate with the company?
  • and many more

Your brand strategy lets you say no to most opportunities, making room for the right ones.

Deliberately rejecting customers, creates space for the right customers

You can’t target everyone with your marketing. This would lead you to reach no one. Instead, you should focus on a specific customer group. Your brand strategy drills down who your brand is intended for. It gives clarity about what your customers’ problems are, what unmet needs they have, what motivates them, etc. If you focus on a specific customer group, you can reach these people better and as a result, they will identify with your business. And here is the thing: If your product or service is good, the other customers will follow anyway.

Deliberately saying no to marketing channels, keeps resources for the right channels

Knowing what your company stands for and who you want to reach will make it easier for you to decide which channels will help you reach these customers. As simple as it sounds, television advertising is certainly not effective if your customers do not have a television. And if your company is committed to the environment, a print campaign is probably not the best choice for communicating your message. Maybe you should plant a forest and get your customers to share it on social media, instead. The limitations set by the brand strategy open up a whole new world of opportunities for your marketing.

Consciously rejecting talent, creates a better company culture

Your brand strategy outlines what values your company stands for. These values can also help when hiring new talent. Regardless of the skills of an applicant, you can decide who fits the company culture and who doesn’t. By hiring applicants who can identify with the values of your business, they not only feel that they are doing something bigger than earning money, but you are also creating a better company culture. And never forget that your employees greatly shape your customer’s touchpoints with your business.

Consciously rejecting ideas makes room for the right innovations

Even at the product development level, brand strategy can help to stay focussed. On the one hand, you get to know your customers through the development of the brand strategy. You can react directly to the previously unmet needs of your customers to develop products that sell. On the other hand, you can assess all new product ideas based on the brand strategy. Does the idea take the businesses values and vision into account? Are you moving in the right direction? Would your customers buy that? The principle applies to both physical and digital products, and can also be applied to services.

But be careful, a brand strategy is not set in stone. If the market changes, your strategy has to adapt. A brand is like an ecosystem, everything depends on one another. You just have to make sure things don’t get out of balance. This often requires a simple no.

The surfer in the introduction? That was me a few years ago. I’ve tried hard and just didn’t progress. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed surfing, but in the end, I decided that surfing was not for me. It stole valuable time from hobby number one: mountain biking. So I said no to surfing and spent all my money on mountain bike parts and trips. I was also surrounded by people with whom I can identify. A few years later I’m a better mountain biker and had a great time along the way.