Most entrepreneurs are familiar with the need to create a business plan for their company. While your business plan is important, what’s just as essential is creating a brand plan. A brand plan sets goals for your organization and creates a roadmap for making your brand shine brighter than the competition.
There are some significant differences between a brand plan and a business plan, and it’s important to understand the function of a former. These are complementary documents, but each serves a specific purpose in achieving long-term success for your company.
Understanding the Differences Between a Brand Plan and a Business Plan
There are five questions to ask yourself as you create a brand plan.
- Where are we as a company?
- Why do we find ourselves in this current situation?
- Where could we be in the future?
- How do we get there?
- What steps do we need to take before employing our strategies?
Your brand plan will also take measure of what factors are driving your the success of your brand and what’s inhibiting it. It’ll also make an outline towards the future and direction for your brand, analyzing the various risks and opportunities your company faces.
Through this analysis you’ll be able to identify key issues and create strategic initiatives to enhance the drivers of growth and build your brand. From the strategic imperatives, you’ll create tangible executional tactics to achieve brand growth. You’ll set a target audience, identify ways to convey your brand message, and entice them into action.
The other very important document used for dictating the future of your company is a business plan. This is a document which is created for new businesses or companies that are undergoing major transitions. It describes how your business will be successful and how you’ll go about achieving goals.
Plans for your company’s marketing, accounting, and operations are detailed in specific terms. Quite often, a business plan is a prerequisite for any new company seeking financial backing from a bank or venture capital firm.
Your business plan will include a description of the product or services offered by your company. It’ll also include figures such as financial and budgetary projections. Also included in most business plans is an outline of day-to-day operational activity. With a business plan, you can provide your company and investors with a clear picture of how business decisions will be made and the effect they’ll have.
Launching a Product Versus Launching a Brand
When you are starting a new business, you need to understand the notion that a product isn’t a brand and why. In simple terms, a product performs a function or meets a need, while a brand elicits an emotional response in consumers, filling a want. A brand builds value for your company, overcoming the wall of consumer indifference by assuring them they’re paying for a premium product or service.
Kleenex is an excellent example of the difference between a brand and a product. Tissue companies generally offer the same products. But only one brand has become the generic byword for tissues. Kleenex was able to make customers fall in love with their products, but more importantly, their brand, which has been imprinted on the minds of consumers.
Conversely, companies with ground-breaking new products that fail to establish brand encounter the harsh reality of this phenomenon. A commonly-cited example is Contour, a point-of-view camera company that launched in 2004 at the same time as Go-Pro. While they provided a great new product, they didn’t make consumers fall in love with their brand like their main competitor and suffered because of it. Go-Pro focused on building a brand that could make any athlete feel like a “pro” and has become a household name while Contour suddenly closed in 2013 (though it’s since been revived).
Brands Stand the Test of Time
There’s one more big difference between brands and products. Products have a shelf life, they become obsolete, and they’re subject to the trends and whims of consumers. Brands stand the test of time. Regardless of current trends, for over a century Chanel has been considered one of the most luxurious clothing brands and Cartier one the best jewelry companies.
People are risk averse. If they use a product and it provides a positive experience, they’ll go back. Over time, they’ll fall in love with the brand and want to share their experience. The digital age, with social media and customer review sites has made interactions between brands and consumers easier and more shareable than ever. This can be a good or bad thing for a business, depending on how they capitalize on the opportunity. With a strong brand plan, you can use social media and the internet as a powerful tool for growing your market share.