Rethinking Brand Strategy – Designing the Brand Experience

In today’s cluttered marketplace, a powerful brand creates a clear signal that cuts through the static. This requires a new approach to business strategy, one that integrates branding as a crucial component of corporate strategy. Creating a compelling customer experience is increasingly what makes or breaks a brand. A strong brand that can forge a durable psychological bond between a company and its customers, investors, and employees, is the most effective form of strategic control available to a wide array of businesses. Such a change involves the entire organization, including the senior managers.

Many companies fail to deliver on the promise that their brand, implicitly or explicitly, makes to customers. This brand “bait and switch” – raising customer expectations that are then dashed – quickly and seriously erodes the power of a brand. It does more harm than simply delivering an unsatisfactory experience without having promised something better.

A brand promise can be unmasked as a hollow boast at any point during a customer’s experience with a company, product, or service. Each interaction represents a “moment of truth” that can enhance or erode the brand, heighten or undermine customer loyalty, and affect business results for better or worse. Especially difficult is aligning the brand promise and the human interactions between employees and customers. It is these interactions that can bring a well-designed customer experience to life.

To make employees effective brand ambassadors, executives must understand what employees value and how they experience the brand, and they need to overcome the barriers from:

Inefficient business processes and misplaced incentives that typically impede even the most capable and committed employees
Employees merely selling products instead of becoming involved in customers’ needs
Underutilizing the employees’ capability to deliver the experience customers expect

Companies seeking to align their human capital practices and investments with the brand must address six interrelated areas that together determine the customer experience that employees, from the top down, deliver:

People – the experience and competencies of employees, and specific policies aimed at selecting or developing them
Processes – how work gets done
Structure – how management assigns roles and responsibilities
Information and knowledge – the availability and timeliness of critical business information
Decision-making – how decisions get made that affect the customer
Rewards – the motivation of people through pay and other incentives

The most effective strategies employ all six simultaneously. An integrated human capital strategy, linking each area to a common and coherent purpose, creates enormous brand value among customers and employees. This creates a virtuous cycle of engaged, committed employees who deliver what customers want, leading to higher customer satisfaction, spending, and improved business results, which in turn makes

4 Strategic Planning Tools For Business Model Innovation and Business Strategy Design

There are strategic planning tools for pretty much any objective a business executive can conceive of. However, for managers and entrepreneurs wishing to innovate their business model, it can be challenging making the leap from conventional thinking to the sort of creative but realistic thinking from which the next generation of sustainable profits can develop.

Knowing the types of tools you can use for various kinds of business strategy tasks can you get far more innovative results from your strategy development sessions while cutting the time it takes to arrive at good business models.

Tools for Mapping and Dominating Uncontested Market Spaces

1. Strategy Canvas

The Strategy Canvas is a tool first introduced in the book, “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. It is a chart that plots the positions of business competitors relative to the factors important to the customer marketplace. The horizontal axis plots the factors of competition (hopefully established through customer knowledge), and the vertical axis plots the degree of offering or service level.

Using this chart differences between current and potential business competitors can be graphically portrayed. The primary point of the strategy canvas is to illustrate divergence between market and business strategies as it relates to customer needs. By using a strategy canvas, you can create a new value innovation that breaks the conflict between low cost and differentiation – the heart of blue ocean strategy.

The strategy canvas is also a great tool for USP development.

2. Strategic Control Point Index

This is a tool used to assess the level of strategic control a business has in its industry relative to competing businesses and organizations. It was best articulated by management consultant Adrian Slywotzky in “The Profit Zone” (a book which I highly recommend). The strategic control point index classifies these control points according to the level of “profit-protecting power” they confer to a business.

Simply put, it is a simple description of the path to monopoly power (or at least near-monopoly) in any business design. The profit protecting power of these strategic control points go from “None”, “low”, “medium” to “high”. Some examples of strategic control points given by Slywotzky include:

10 to 20 percent cost advantage in commodity product (low)
One-year product development lead (slightly higher, but still low)
Two-year product development lead (medium)
Brand, copyright (slightly higher, but still medium)
Customer relationship ownership (High)
String of superdominant market positions (Higher)
Management of the Value Chain (Even higher)
Standards Ownership (Highest)

3. 6 Paths Framework

This analytical tool is another from “blue ocean strategy” and masterfully gives strategists a way to think across the “six conventional boundaries of competition” to systematically construct new assumptions and stimulate product or business design breakthroughs. The idea is that one of these unconventional ways of looking at the competitive landscape may crack open a strategic breakthrough.

a) Look across industries – Compete with alternatives and substitutes for your product/service rather than those you think are your competition.

b) Look across strategic groups – Look at how your new strategy can be developed between the naturally assumed strategic boundaries in your industry.

c) Look across the chain of buyers – Consider how you can change the game by changing the defined “primary buyers.

d) Look across complementary products and services – Thinking about the whole system of your customer’s typically solution (in which your current offering might be just a small part).

e) Look across functional or emotional appeal – Examine how you may be able to create a new value curve by adding emotion to a functionally oriented industry, or removing stripping out emotion and reducing a product or service to its functional core.

f) Look across time – Adjust your time horizon to a different point or cycle than is typical in the rest of your industry.

4. Business Design Matrix

The business design matrix is a great analytical tool that you can use to help understand and analyze “at a glance” the business models of your competitors. It is largely derived from the work of Dr. Adrian Slywotzky. The criteria across which you analyze your competitors as well as your own organization include:

Customer selection
Profit Capture System(s)
Differentiation / Strategic Control
Scope of offerings and presence

These core four considerations provide a foundation for deciding marketing strategy – a foundation upon which a larger business strategy can comfortably rest.

Trading Strategy Design – Testing & Trading the Strategy

Once you have designed all of components the strategy, you may then want to test it. In order to test a strategy, you have to test each part by adding it to the strategy one at a time, to see if there is improvement and, if so, how much.

The first part would be the set-up to see how profitable it is on its own. The next is the entry and see what the improvement is. This is the backbone of the strategy. When you have proven that you have a viable set-up and entry, then you can move on to test exits, and then money management stops. If the strategy is not profitable at this point, you have either picked the wrong indicators or still have some design flaws that need to be fixed.

Amateur traders think that they can fix a strategy through optimization. They think that even if a strategy loses money, they can fix it by optimizing the lengths of the indicators. It is wrong. Optimization should never be used to make an unprofitable strategy viable. It should make a profitable strategy more profitable. It should only be used for tweaking the profits. Optimization should never be used to make a bad strategy good.

When you have designed a viable strategy and improved it through optimization. You are now ready to trade the strategy. If you are truly going to run our trading like a business, you have to implement the strategy as designed. Do not beat the strategy, try and second-guess the strategy, by personally filtering the trades based on your own ideas.

Corrupting the strategy through filtering trades with personal bias is a major problem that beginners face. There are many possible distractions during the trading day, unusual market action, and important breaking news and etc. But reproducing the strategy in real time is a bad idea. You have to trade it exactly as it has been designed and tested in the past. The distractions during the day may make it difficult to implement the strategy exactly as it was designed.

If you have trouble putting on your trades as your strategy, you should make sure that the characteristics of the strategy fit your own trading style, that you can accept the risk and drawdown and comfortably take all of the losing trades. If you cannot take the losses and drawdown, you must either fix the strategy or find a new one that is more in harmony with your personality.

Taro is an experience trader who trades in stocks, futures, forex. He strongly focuses on technical analysis, trading systems and money management.

Trading Strategy Design – Choose Trading Time Frame

After making the decision on what type of market you will trade as I talked about in a previous article, you now come to the making decision as what time frame you will trade. This decision is also an important one when you are designing a trading strategy.

Firstly, you have to decide decide whether you will trade intra-day or not. If you trade intra-day, you will become a day-trader that means trading full time. It may be possible to trade intra-day while yiu have a day job but it is very difficult. So, I would not recommend that you to trade intra-day unless you can devote your full attention to trading.

Generally, most people want to trade only part time and still hold down a day job. Therefore, it is better to trade daily or weekly charts. Since you will only be able to look at the market after hours so you have to take this into account when you do your strategy design.

The designed strategy should not require checking the market during the day. However, I believe that the more bars you can trade, the more money you can potentially make. That means trading intra-day is potentially more profitable as there are more bars condensed into a unit of time.

For example, in a period of month, there are 280 bars in 30-minute charts, 20 bars in daily charts, 4 bars in weekly charts and only 1 bar in monthly charts. So, there is potentially more money in the 30-minute charts than the daily charts, potentially more money in the daily charts than the weekly charts, and potentially more money in the daily charts than the monthly charts.

Then, to make $10,000, it should take less time on the 30-minute chart than the daily chart, weekly and monthly chart. When trend trading on 30-minute charts, you may trade through 5 or 10 days of directionless market before the relatively big move occurs while on a daily chart, the chop may last six months or longer, and on the weekly charts the sideways market could last for years.

In addition, the risk per trade is generally greater when you trade with the longer time frames. Most entries and exit orders are based on market action. Since we usually put an exit order below the low of the previous bar, this could be 30 points on a 30-minute chart, 500 points on a daily chart and 1500 points on a weekly chart. The difference in risk is substantial, but the reward should be proportionally as large.

There are no right answers in choosing the time frame. It depends on a personal decision. And you have to make this decision before you start looking for indicators, as the choice of indicators is influenced by the time frame selection.

Taro is an experience trader who trades in stocks, futures, forex. He strongly focuses on technical analysis, trading systems and money management.

10 Strategy Design Goals

Your idea is fabulous and you want to make progress on it but you need a strategy to execute your vision as it relates to long-term success or it needs to be reevaluated to ensure that it is on course. Strategy is, “a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time,” per Merriam-Webster dictionary. However, we need a functional definition as it relates to your companies vision and goals. Therefore, I would say that strategy is, “the intent to act, the volition to act, and the design to achieve plans of action as they relate to the direction and future of your business.” Strategy development is a long-term process that is evolutionary and it should be evaluated yearly, quarterly, and more if conditions warrant a strategy session.

We will evaluate briefly the ten major areas of strategy creation as they relate to you achieving your goal. These ten areas will be listed and broken down to help you evaluate and reevaluate your current position in strategy design. They will be listed logically as they relate to an idea in your head and build upon that. In addition, the creation of a strategy is not a single day event. It takes time to gather what you know is needed and what you find is needed once you begin. We begin at the beginning. You should at this point have a vision and goals developed to help guide your organization in fulfilling its purpose.

Products/Services Offered

Your product or service is what you offer the world to add value to the lives of others. This can be either qualitative or quantitative but you should be aware at this point. Ask these questions and others that help define this category well.

  • What product or service do we sell or plan to sell?
  • What does it look like?
  • What is the outcome of its use?
  • How do we update our products/ service to stay competitive?

For instance as a consultant my product/service is the ability to improve my clients condition based on over a decade of experience helping organizations professionally. This relates to you because you have to list your products and services that are offered in there fine detail. They must but listed in a way to allow rapid access to the information for future needs as the strategy secession progress.

Customer/User Groups

You have to serve by helping customers or clients in some way. Your invention, technology, pastry, picture, music or designs have to connect with others. Asking ourselves a few questions clarifies that for future understanding.

  • Who is buying our product or service?
  • What organizations are buying our service?
  • Who uses it regularly?
  • How do we expand the diversity of the group?

Your target customer is the person you have identified as the one who is most likely to purchase your products, according to This is a specific person, who is elated to use your product/service when needed or desired. Be very narrow in your description here, as it will provide clarity. Examples would include specific age, specific education, and specific income. These identifiers are so spot-on that a picture could be painted of the individual without negating the various individualities of who uses your service.

Market Served

This is an expansion of the above and is a broader category of client or customer base. This will be larger demographics through a range and not specific. Each product or service may cater to different aspects of the market served and they should be listed in conjunction with your product/service. Target market should also list the reason why these specific customers are likely to buy. In addition, this information will help in creating a primary component of your marketing plan.


Technology is how you use information to create and maintain a competitive advantage. The planning associated with this is a tie in for numerous other aspects of your organizations success. Technology is used in commerce, in design, and much more. Your organization marketing will also take into account the use of technology to deliver your value proposition.

  • How is technology changing that we can grasp early?
  • What changes in technology make it more affordable to deliver our goods?

Use technology as a multiplier of your organizations success. Evaluate what you have been using and determine if it needs to be upgraded, eliminated, or in line with current competitors use.

Production capability

Creating knowledge, a teddy bear, a balloon, a house all have production element that deals with methodologies useful to arriving at a final product.

  • How will we create our product?
  • How will we produce the intellectual capital for our services?
  • What needs to change to produce of product/service faster?
  • What needs to change to produce our product/service less expensively?

Evaluating production on a constant basis ensures costs are controlled, quality is maintained, and your customers/clients are happy. I would remind you that, quality in gets quality out. This has been how Apple, Inc has maintained lead over its competitors. Production can be done with a planned ramp up to the best quality. Plan to find the most expensive means of production first, then scale it back your companies’ production budget.

Natural/Human Resources

The ability to create tangible or intangible goods and services are always acquired in there rawest form. Whether it is raw intellect, precise hands, or machines, they will need to be accounted for. A few examples to ask of the executive leadership team deal with the following questions:

  • What is our companies’ raw material needs to produce goods or services?
  • Who is needed to create the value in our goods or services?
  • What automated systems can create this value?

This subset deals with elements that are inputs to production and delivery. This group must be managed to ensure it is efficient, effective, and motivated. In addition, the natural resources have to be measured per there influence to the environment and there frequency of price change.

Methods of Sale

This can be an extensive list of varying options but they will deal with financing on store credit (Macy’s Credit, Home Depot, Dillard’s, etc.), third-party credit (American Express, Visa, MasterCard, etc.), cash or other arrangements. Cash will be king but credit cards speed up payments. Ensure you have both options.

  • What impact does our method of sales have on future profits/returns?
  • How will we accept payment?
  • What needs to change in the future to increase revenue from sales?

Ensuring that this subset is managed well will provide the resources, data, and fuel to innovate internally with information based on the organizations initiatives.

Method of Distribution

Moving goods from manufacture, to warehousing, storage, and in store handling, etc. is a sophisticated dance of timing.

  • How will the product/service be delivered through manufacturing, shipping, retail options, shipping again, and varying other combinations?
  • What are retail distribution options?

These questions ask a lot out of a leader but being stretched is why you are here. “How will item p get to y and both be happy?” This is a measure of logistic sophistication and there can be multiple routes. The best choice is better than the perfect choice. There should always be a balance between quality and cost. Erring on the side of higher cost to ensure quality is delivered.


This micro strategy subset deals with using past data of the size and speed of growth of your organization and comparing it to where you would like to go.

  • What is our target in growth?
  • Have we prepared for a boom in our business?
  • How will we know we are on the right path?

These question deals with the future as well as benchmarking the present state. Thru analysis of vital KPI’s we would compare your organization to your peers so we can ensure that your leadership is thinking of growth.

What is the most useful size?

This deals with people, facilities, customer base served by projection, and more.


This is where all the hard work pays off for shareholders in for profit organizations; in addition to where nonprofits determine where they can return more to the individuals that are served.

  • Where do we reinvest the profits?
  • What expansions can be completed now?
  • What needs to be saved?

The likely outcome of a for-profit venture is a profit if you plan for success and are vigilant in guarding and executing your plans. In addition, non-profits can benefit from strategy planning to enable an orderly creation of the means to return funds, goods, services, etc to the recipients.