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Brand Strategy by Design

Companies in the mindset of evolving, innovating and disrupting, are best suited to defend themselves against being overrun and revolutionised by what is on the horizon.

But, what can be done right now if you are not one of them?

Andy Cunningham, the founder of Cunningham Collective, talked re-branding by design at an event held by Project Connect last night in Auckland. Andy started her career in 1983 with Steve Jobs and the Macintosh personal computer, and has helped many of Silicon Valley's most innovative entrepreneurs create categories, introduce new brands, and launch hundreds of products. 

Through her discussion it was clear that today businesses are operating in the throes of a revolution. I, myself, as a consumer, am now seeing the rise of shopper interest in a product’s company/brand DNA. It’s heady and exciting times but, as Andy points out - the troubling fact is… most companies are not prepared.

The talk last night was wound back to the fundamentals - about how branding requires a deliberate strategy to be effective. It starts with knowing who you are as a company and what your DNA ( what your vision, values and goals are). 

It requires knowing your product/services, and what makes them unique. It requires thinking about your company and identifying these unique selling points. It requires you to think about the future and where you want the business to be. 

The talk then led to a discussion about brand strategy and the three company DNA types: Mothers, Mechanics and Missionaries. As I had not heard of these strategies before, it was a good chance to do some more investigating to explain how brand decisions need to be guided by a company's DNA.

Consider the following examples:

Amazon is a great example of having a Mother company DNA strategy. In this model, the company is focused on building the best relationships with customers. And if you think about it, this is how they "win". 

Other companies that follow a Mother strategy? The ones that come quickly to mind are the likes of IKEA, Facebook and The Warehouse. Look at their websites and their product brand strategy and it is all about customer relationships.

Let’s look at a Mechanics company DNA strategy. HP is known for its well-built products, or Microsoft and Adobe for their intuitive softwares. Most of you would be familiar with these products, they "win based on building the best products or services", as Andy so aptly words it.

The final strategy is a Missionary strategy that combines the idea of a brand that wins based on their creative vision - they exist to change an industry. The company that embodies this is Apple. While predominantly known for their Macbooks, Iphones and tech accessories range, their soon-to-be launched Iphone X or Iphone 8 is set to be a whole new brand concept that revolutionising the Iphone predecessor's look.

So now you know company DNA brand strategy basics, which strategy does your company follow? Looking at these points in terms of evaluating RUSH and what we do as a creative tech company, potential to evolve further is highlighted.

Andy Cunningham argues that positioning isn’t the same as branding, which is a fatal mistake business leaders often make. Positioning is the rational, intellectual side and branding is the emotional side. A company must first know itself (establish its position) before it can express its identity (execute its branding). Andy presents a clear step-by-step framework that will help entrepreneurs determine their company’s precise position in the marketing landscape, and learn how to use this positioning to guide successful brand efforts that build market momentum.

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