Companies that want to export usually begin with writing a business strategy. Good, but not great. Better it is to start with defining the brand strategy. This is why.
A business strategy is the company management’s long-term plan of intent and action to reach objectives and goals. In my practice I see many companies struggle to enter new markets or fail to succeed in getting foothold on new markets. Not because they lack a good business strategy or export plan, but because the customer experience they give leads to friction and rejection. They fail to make and deliver an attractive promise of the distinguishingly enjoyable relationship that they will establish and build with their customers. As, in general, business strategies tend to disregard emotional benefits as part of the company’s proposition.
A branding strategy aims to set you apart from others not in ‘what you do’, but in ‘how you do things’. It is the result of understanding the real customer needs and experiences. In competition with others – when products or services are equal – this ‘how you do things’ makes the difference. Through solid branding target groups will attribute to you emotional benefits on top of the functional quality of your product or service. Benefits that are truly valued, uniquely attributed to you and that cannot be copied. When you then base your business strategy on these emotional benefits, you will in your market entry choose operational strategies and actions that will fit you and your brand. Leading to higher acceptance, enthusiasm and sustainable loyalty.
Therefore, if you want to do market entry first time right, put your brand before your business strategy. Start with why you are, who you are and how you want to do business. Start with understanding and defining customer experience. Based on that determine your strategy to create and keep functional and emotional value with customers.
Having a hard time accepting the idea of putting brand before strategy? Just think about it that with emotions precede logic. Always.
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Published: 17 February 2021
Author: Ton Willemse, international business consultant
Intraservice BV, Nederland