Brands are a very essential aspect of businesses. Often, the stronger the brand, the stronger or better the company performs financially as well as in other aspects. Companies like Nike, Apple, and Walmart have developed so strong brands that customers have come to believe strongly in what these brands do. Consequently, they are worth billions, and Apple has gone forth to become a Trillion dollar brand.
Most Ghanaian brands are still young and are still developing into what they are meant to be. I know we have the potential to create world-class brands right from Ghana, Africa. However, if we are to get there we need to get the basics right and commit to long term strategies. Local brands like iSupreme are leading the way while helping their clients create strong, resilient, and enduring brands that can stand the test of time by communicating well.
For this reason, I decided to engage Clinton, the CEO, and Creative Director at iSupreme regarding what exactly brand strategy is and how Ghanaian brands can develop world-class brands like Nike, Walmart, and Apple.
The following is a transcript of our conversation.
Enoch: Can we get started
Enoch: So I’ll basically center the conversation on brand strategy but will evolve into what you do at iSupreme too.
Clinton: Okay great
Enoch: Feel free to go deep when you see fit and I’d also encourage case studies or examples
Clinton: Sure.. I’ll do so
Enoch: Okay great. To start with, what do customers usually have in mind when they come to you for a brand strategy
The perception of Brand Strategy
Clinton: Usually, a lot of customers do not come in for brand strategy. They come in looking for some form of marketing. They want to do digital marketing. Or they want to market some product or service.
Enoch: I see
Clinton: Especially with startups the whole brand strategy thing is new to them
Clinton: They are in a hurry to get straight to marketing. The bigger brands want more entrenched and consistent marketing communication across various channels so they go for it. So more startups need to be educated on the essence of a brand strategy and how relevant it is to have a long term brand strategy right from the launch of the startup
Enoch: I see. That’s actually why I asked the question. I sensed that there is a sort of deficit in understanding. So basically what you mean is that what customers expect is usually way different from what a brand strategy is
Clinton: Yes. They want to market. Some are more specific. Say they want to develop a brand identity, or they want social media marketing, advertising, a brand experiential, or some other form of marketing
Enoch: Okay, I see
Clinton: Others also approach you that they want to market their product or service and leave you to decide with channels works best for that product or service
Enoch: So which means brands in this space need to do more awareness
Clinton: The agencies need to let the brand know what the brand strategy itself is
Enoch: Okay, that’s imperative for both to benefit
Clinton: Because without an entrenched brand strategy there’ll be no consistency in the execution of the above-mentioned channels
What is brand strategy?
Enoch: Once we both agree there’s a deficit, I’d like to ask, what is brand strategy or identity? Are they even the same?
Clinton: No. Brand strategy is not a brand identity. Brand strategy is like a universal set Which all the other forms of marketing pick from Including brand identity. The brand strategy includes the brand story, brand positioning, brand tone/voice/personality, messaging, Target audience, brand promise, brand values, brand perception and messaging
Enoch: Ok. Can you then define them individually, Brand Strategy and Brand Identity
Clinton: So elements like brand strategy, digital marketing, experiential marketing, PR, and all other forms of brand communication are influenced by the brand strategy. If everything is identified in the brand strategy it’s easier to craft a meaningful marketing or advertising campaign. Brand strategy is a long term plan on how a brand is supposed to be perceived by an identified target audience and how to influence the audience’s decision and reactions towards the brand Whereas brand identity is the overall visual appearance of a brand or business. So the strategy is the overarching components that dictate the smaller bits including the visuals like logo, artwork, etc.
Brand identity includes elements such as logo, colors, typography, imagery
And not only that, but it also dictates messaging for advertising, marketing, PR
Enoch: Awesome. You have a good understanding of what you do
Clinton: It’s very important to know what you’re selling to your clients.
Clinton: The better you know the better you call sell. And better help clients grow their brands as well.
Enoch: Sure. That’s the main aim
Clinton: Let me give a case study on how strategy affects all the other elements
Enoch: Sure. I’m interested in that
Clinton: Say after identifying the target audience, brand positioning, values, voice, brand promise, and perception, which make up the strategy. Then we need to develop an identity.
So since the strategy has helped us identify our target audience, we pick colors and fonts that appeal to
A brand whose target audience is the elite may use more classy fonts and subtle colors
Now the positioning also counts. If the brand is trying to position as a luxury brand it’ll inform the fonts and colors
Say black or gray with very classy fonts
Clinton: Now for advertising, if you want to appeal to elites your messaging may be a bit sophisticated. The story of the ad is also supposed to reflect your brand’s purpose and positioning
Tone and everything matter
You don’t use too sophisticated language if you’re trying to appeal to 7-year all children, You speak in their language, Like how a 7-year-old will speak
At the end of the day, you’ll realize that having a brand strategy with all these elements already identified will trickle down all your other branding, marketing, PR and advertising efforts
Clinton: Without an underlying strategy, your identity will mean something else, ads saying something different, social media something else. And you may not even be…
Brand Strategy: Ghana in focus
Enoch: So looking at the Ghanaian market, would you say brands utilize this concept well and why your answer
Clinton: The problem with the Ghanaian market is inconsistency, Some begin well and lose track with time. They begin to deviate from their original strategy Or rather don’t communicate it well
Enoch: So most brands understand strategy but fail to maintain consistency in implementation
Clinton: Look at some of the biggest international brands like Coca-Cola, Apple, McDonald’s,
Clinton: Nike. They’ve consistently let us know who they are and what they stand for so much we don’t buy them for what they do but what they stand for
Enoch: Do you have an idea why this is so?
Clinton: Some brands tend to ignore strategy for tactics.
They are more interested in getting people to patronize their products and services so all they do is talk about the product and experience
Clinton: Instead of getting people to fall in love with the brand.
Enoch: I see
Clinton: If people love you they buy whatever you sell
Enoch: Playing the short term against long term
Clinton: Exactly. But if you keep selling the product to them, they’ll always get another alternative. A better alternative
Enoch: Especially in this wildly competitive time
Clinton: There are a lot of instances where people have patronized relatively fewer quality products or services because they have a more loveable brand
Yes. People will always have options.
What is iSupreme?
Enoch: Let’s come back to your company
What does iSupreme do in a nutshell? Let’s say you meet someone who needs a short intro to your world.
We help startups and emerging businesses develop and execute brand strategies that get their audience to fall in love with them.
I see your works and they’re awesome. You must put a lot of work into your job
Enoch: What drove you to start such a company
Clinton: Our strengths with respect to execution include brand identity, digital, experiential and advertising
If it must be done it must be done well
Clinton: So iSupreme started as youth-focused events, multimedia, and publishing firm, which later pivoted to a brand strategy agency
What happened was in growing our small business we started off right
From our identity to our social media content, to our brand communications
We did this so well and so consistently everyone begun noticing us
We were growing a very strong and enviable brand
So other smaller businesses begun asking us to do the same for them
This strategy always works. Consistency
That’s when I noticed the lap, small business can’t afford the bigger marketing agencies. But growing a good brand is relevant for both small and big business
So we decided to make this our business, to help small businesses grow their brand.
Once you’ve built it for yourself, you can always build it for someone else
Clinton: Yes. I always say we were our first client.
Enoch: I share this with you.
Enoch : 😃
Enoch: I’ve covered my questions. Is there anything else you’d like to add
I think it’s very important for emerging businesses more specifically to commit to developing a brand strategy. If you’re looking to grow a strong brand, a brand that stands out and connects with your audience then having a good brand strategy is a sure way to get people to love your brand.
Enoch: I’ve got answers but with even more questions now.
Clinton: All the other stuff will just fall inline
Enoch: I see. I’d like us to have more sessions. Thanks for your time bro
Clinton: Definitely. Always available to do this again
Enoch: Sounds great
Clinton: Anytime sir
Building a strong brand isn’t as cumbersome as it seems. However, it takes consistency, long term vision, and commitment to the original compelling message and story of the brand in question. Ghanaian businesses or brands can also become world-class but it starts with good foundations and that shouldn’t be a problem because iSupreme is at the top of their game and ready to engage with you to create a strong brand strategy.
You can reach them via +233 55 483 6786
As a form of revision, the key take away from the conversation is that as a growing brand, you need to build a consistent story that you implement to the letter. It also takes a good understanding of your audience, positioning, and how you can help your audience considering your position. Brands are meant to be trusted before they can be patronized which should be paramount among your goals. As Clinton said, if it must be done, it must be done well.