‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ Doesn’t Make For A Strong Brand Strategy, So Why Do We Still Do It?

Generic New Business Client: "Our sales aren’t on track to reach our goals for the year. We’ve got to turn this ship around…and fast. HELP!”

 Advertising Brand Strategist: *Reviews client current messaging strategy + key assets shared by client* “It appears the brand identity is shaky, lacking a distinct point of difference for your target audience. Additionally, the current work suggests a lack of understanding of your audience's deeper needs.” 

Generic New Business Client:  “That’s good to know, but did you hear me?! We need sales! We don’t have the luxury of time to think about our brand issues right now.” 


The reality is that if an agency is selling a ‘get rich quick’ approach to turning a business around when it’s evident that the brand’s strategy is waffling…RUN. It really is too good to be true.

 Marketing teams feel the pressure to move quickly. Some rush into executional work to gauge audience response and figure out what sticks. Others opt for modest investments in a competitive audit or customer personas before diving into execution. However, both approaches overlook a crucial issue: the absence of a clear understanding of a brand’s purpose and unique value proposition. Without this clarity, marketing teams are essentially gambling with their brand's success.

 What’s the key to building a strategy that drives results for the long haul? The answer lies in the concept of: Consider your brand as we consider people.

 Let me explain.

 You’ve got two people, ‘John Smith’ and ‘Paul Jones’.

John Smith was eager to find employment anywhere after college. He has hopped from job to job annually in search of his passion. However, a decade later, he still questions his skillset, interests, and career goals, sticking to his strategy of frequent job changes, hoping to stumble upon the perfect fit.

Now we have Paul Jones. Post-college he felt pressured to follow his peers into a career. Recognizing the importance of introspection, he opted for an unconventional path. By taking on a part-time job and dedicating several months to self-discovery, Paul defined his long-term career vision, strengths, and unique value. Today, he thrives in his field and is respected as an industry expert.

 What do you think has led to Paul Jones' success and how was his approach different from John Smith’s?

If you guessed it's because Paul had a solid foundation and a clear understanding of his purpose before investing his energy elsewhere, you're right. Paul intentionally focused on himself, outlined his unique strengths, chose a career that aligned with his long-term goals, all BEFORE taking action.

Applying this to brands, we observe that when they rush into execution for short-term gains, it's akin to sabotaging their own success. Or, said more dramatically, it’s like shooting themselves in the foot.

 Should brands stop all activity to focus 100% on building their strategy? No, that’s wildly unrealistic! It's far simpler to steer a moving train than to restart one that has stalled. Companies need to acknowledge that brand building and sales go hand-in-hand for sustained success. It takes discipline and a willingness to take risks on an uncomfortable and counterintuitive approach. But, let’s be honest with ourselves, when do the best outcomes in life ever come without a little sweat on the brow?

What does this look like in practice? 

  • Go back to the basics. Create a list of foundational questions to ask about your brand. (e.g. What problems do you solve? If your business didn’t exist, what would your audience be missing?)

  • Engage stakeholders. Discuss your foundational questions in a roundtable conversation with key company stakeholders. Goal: uncover your brand's true point of distinction.

  • Understand your ideal target. Beyond demographics, know the mindset/needs of your target audience. (i.e. Why does your customer care about what your brand has to offer?)

  • Listen to current customers. Reviews, blogs, focus groups—they reveal what draws people into your brand. Use these insights to attract new fans.4

  • Inform action with strategy. Once you know your value, audience, and message, act on it consistently. Thoughtfully infuse your brand strategy across every channel and platform.

Brands – much like people – that understand who they are and the value they add to their customer’s lives have the greatest potential for long-term success. Take the time to pause and focus instead of flail when feeling the pressure to deliver results. Your brand strategy is a worthwhile investment for lasting success.