Three Things That Drive a Performance Brand Strategy

Nike logo as shown through a phone screen

What do really successful, well-performing brands have in common?

In our experience, regardless of the industry or size of the organization, the most successful brands all have a brand strategy rooted in three things:

Truth, Simplicity and Emotion.

Developing a brand strategy through the lens of these tenets creates the right foundation for a successful performance brand–a brand that really works hard for your company internally and externally, with your customers and your team.

Truth

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Oscar Wilde

We love this quote. Nothing could be more poignant when it comes to building a brand. While authenticity is a huge buzz word, if you don’t have a brand strategy based on who you truly are as an organization, you will never have a performance brand. So authenticity is crucial.

These days, customers and internal teams are equipped with next-level bullshit detectors, and if you claim to be something you’re not, you will be exposed. Internal teams have to attach to brand platform concepts like purpose, principles, promises and positioning. They have to live them and breathe them for those concepts to emanate outside of an organization and connect with customers. A brand can’t just be marketing spin. It has to embody the essence and DNA of a company and that’s what should come to life in marketing.

For instance, if you suddenly decide you want to be known as a “pioneering” company, but the truth is that as a company you are risk averse and fairly unimaginative, that will never work.

That’s obvious, right? But so many of us get fooled into trying to be something we’re not, chasing customers’ whims or competitive moves. If you are yourself, you will stay consistent, stay the course and attract customers who believe in you and stay with you over the long run. That doesn’t mean don’t try to be aspirational and evolve. Companies should be a little aspirational and have to evolve to compete, but it’s important to remain true to who you are during that evolution, and leadership has to be bought into believing, living and breathing what you are striving to become.

Simplicity

“The core of beauty is simplicity” - Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

To create a brand strategy that is simple is complicated. There’s a lot of diligence and deep thinking that goes into establishing a strong brand that resonates internally and externally. You have to come up with concepts that are true to who you are and inspire behavior and vision within your team. You have to make sure your products meet customers’ needs and that you’re communicating clearly to your various customers how those needs will be met. And you have to keep the competitive set and overall landscape in mind, so you can shine with differentiation and distinction. There is a lot of dimension to well-performing brand strategy, so there is a lot of deep thinking time spent, diligence applied, sophisticated execution delivered and discipline involved.

That doesn’t mean all that hard work has to show. In fact, it’s best if it’s not on display for the world to see. It should look and feel natural and effortless. You want people to understand it intuitively and say, “That’s so simple. That makes so much sense.” Hell, maybe it even feels obvious to people by the time your brand strategy is fully baked. You know it wasn’t obvious when you started, though. So, we’re talking about “simple,” not “simplistic.”

Why is simplicity so important? Because a performance brand platform is useful and actionable. It shouldn’t be words in a book that sit on a shelf. Internal teams ideally understand it completely, passionately embrace it and know what to do with it. A company is made up with many levels of employee, from the front-lines, day-to-day team to the C-Suite, and it’s really important that everyone understands the brand at its core. So a successful brand strategy will have been distilled down to core concepts that everyone on a team, big and small, can remember and that resonate with them.

You shouldn’t need a Master’s Degree in brand strategy to understand a brand platform and what to do with it. If people can’t wrap their minds around a strategy, they won’t wrap their arms around it, embrace it and bring it to life.

Emotion

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was describing human dynamics, but it’s the perfect quote to describe the emotional power of brands.

If you provide real value to someone, fulfill their needs and even go beyond, give them an incredible experience through your product or service, and inspire them with who you are and why you do what you do, they will not only engage with your brand, they’ll embrace your brand.

And having people emotionally embrace your brand is the ultimate goal, because feeling guides brand loyalty, brand reputation and buying decisions more than we generally think. Emotional connection actually leads to conversion, so an emotional brand is a performance brand.

What does it mean to be an emotional brand? Emotional brands are transformational rather than transactional. Emotional brands are dimensional rather than superficial. Emotional brands are special and distinct rather than commoditized and generic.


Just like the most interesting people you come across in your life, they are memorable.

If you’re wondering about the strength of your brand strategy, look at it through the lens of these three tenets. They will lead you to a performance brand strategy.

Is it based in truth?

Is it founded in simplicity?

Is it rooted in emotion?