Undeniably, you will say, a customer oriented branding strategy is much better than a product oriented branding strategy.

What if, I’ll tell you that, as always when you have to choose between going East or going West, there is a third, sometimes better, way?

The Third Way – Combining Product and Customer Oriented Branding Strategies

As the title of this post says, if the product oriented branding strategy can be resumed as “Look at me!“, the customer oriented one would be: “Look at you!“, the third way is “Look at us!“, product and customer together.

But, before talking about this third, better, way, let’s take a step back and talk about the first two branding strategies and what they mean for us in practical terms.

Product Oriented Branding Strategy

The product oriented branding strategy – Look at me! – is very much criticized by those who prone a customer oriented strategy.

Are they 100% right?

Let’s put our biases aside for a second and follow this reasoning process:

It’s a good idea to be customer oriented, no denying that, but if you don’t understand your product or service and know it inside out, building a customer oriented branding strategy is like building a house from the first level up. Your house (and your business) needs a foundation, it you want it too last.

Instead, starting your branding journey by focusing on your product means building a solid foundation for your future business strategy.

By first understanding your product’s features, you will build yourself the first base and this will help you go a step further – define your product’s functions. When the functions of the product are well understood, the next step will be to understand what benefits are those functions creating for your customers.

Customer Oriented Branding Strategy

And now, with this new understanding, you can transition towards a customer oriented branding strategy – “Look at you!”.

As not each and every benefit of your product is equally important for all your customers, you will have to do the usual exercises of identifying your customers’ personas.

Instead of just doing the vane exercise of identifying only the Outdoorsy Toms who are 35 years old and like to spend time in nature and the Working Mum Marys who are 40+ and would like to have more time for themselves, try to go a level deeper and identify their real needs (why does Tom like to spend time in nature, why does Mary need more time for herself) by keeping asking “why” until you get to a deeper insight (maybe they want to live a healthier life, feel in control, or adventurous, show that they are confident, keep improving, etc.).

It is this insight that you get while defining your customer oriented branding strategy that will help you take your branding strategy a level up.

Vision Oriented Branding Strategy

Yes, a level up, because a customer oriented brand might not be the smartest most brilliant thing that you can do.

You went a step up from the “Look at me!” to the “Look at you!” branding strategy, from the product oriented to the customer oriented brand, but now it’s time to step up your game even higher and design a “Look at us!” strategy – a vision oriented branding strategy.

This vision oriented business strategy sits in between you (as a business) and them (the customers), and is an idea with which both you and your customer can identify yourselves with.

A vision is lofty and by itself it might not be very helpful. I agree. Let’s step down for a second from the lofty vision (for MLC1948, the vision is – A world where elegance is alive – can’t get loftier than that.) and get to the mission.

Put simply, a mission is how you are going to proceed to achieve that (lofty) vision.

And, a step down from the mission, you can define your promise towards your customers, promise that will help solve their problem.

Tone, Values, Enemies – The Practical Side of a Brand Strategy

All this is very good, you’ll say, but how does this help me with my brand strategy? With all the insight you have accumulated so far, you can establish three main elements to help you define your brand through the brand related content that you are going to create.

Your Brand’s Tone of Voice

Starting from your vision, mission, and going down to your brand’s promise and the problems you want to solve for your customers (and the benefits your product or service is bringing them) you can define your brand’s tone of voice.

For MLC1948 the tone is elegant, refined, modern, cool, confident, determined, bold, adventurous.

Your Brand’s Values

Simply put, this is what your brands stand for.

For our brand its elegance, simplicity, and good taste.

Your Brand’s Enemies

Not exactly real enemies. More like the opposite of the values.

We have identified our enemies as being: carelessness, bad taste, vulgarity.

Your turn

If you were to go through this exercise step by step and define your brand’s strategy, what would be the final result? Will it surprise you?

I can assure you that, for me, following this brand strategy building exercise from the beginning, the result was a pleasant surprise. I felt like, even if in term of concrete elements I haven’t discovered anything new, the way the elements were arranged brought a new, unexpected level of clarity.

It was also a very insightful journey of personal discovery. Pretty empowering.

Note: This is a summary of the notes I have taken while looking at a video on branding strategy by Mark Pollard. Highly recommended.

This Is the Result

If you wanted to see how we did it for MLC1948, have a look at the latest accessories collection and see for yourself: