First, Look at the Company Strategy – Who are You? Does your Brand Match your Strategy?
Inwardly, strategy provides direction and guidance for all decisions made in running the company. Outwardly, strategy should be reflected in your brand and how customers – your market – perceive your company. It is critical that your strategy aligns with your intended branding for the company. If it does not, you are wasting resources in either product development and services creation or wasting sales and marketing effort in go-to-market activities.
Clear strategy and clear branding creates focus and context for the entire organization and stretches across functional groups. Think about the classic company defining categories: Differentiator, Low Cost Leader and Nicher. Or alternatively, according to Phillip Kotler’s definition of company value disciplines: Product Leader, Operational Excellence and Customer Intimate. From my experience, the best approach here is to clearly understand what area you want to be the best at and ensure that your strategy and focus reflect that decision, but you must also be at least adequate at the other two and take actions to be appropriately invested in those dimensions as well. The main point is that execution and operations – as well as overall company behaviors and operational execution – need to line up with and support the overall company strategy. Otherwise, realignment is needed.
Make no mistake about this: no matter what your company is doing, it is essential that there is something special about it. Maybe you are only one of many used car lots. That’s OK as long as you’re the best at something. Be the most convenient, provide the best value, have the highest quality, have the most service, be the most honest – something. That something needs to be clear to you and your team, evident in your company strategy and clear in your branding and messaging to your customers. It is also essential that your strategy inform your marketing as your messaging must uniformly align with what you actually do! The business strategy of your company and the products you deliver need to be clearly messaged to your customers.
Juxtology goes into considerable depth in providing a library of tools, and how to use them in the Strategy & Execution section of this website. “Classical” and “Agile” strategies are both needed. The former, to set direction, and the latter, to make you agile in dynamic markets. We also have strategic planning workshops to help you be sure you get this right.
But, the first order of business is to be sure that you have a well understood strategy and plan of attack. The next order of business is to make your company brand, image, marketing and sales efforts resonate with that strategy so that your customers understand your value proposition clearly. If this is out of line, it needs to go into the list of priorities to be addressed quickly. This must be a top priority, but it will be easier to set right after you have completed the rest of your company assessment and better understand your company’s strengths and weaknesses.