Brand strategy and your competition

For this issue we have a guest columnist: our colleague Faith Tomases. Since 1990 Faith has been a brand strategist and writer with expertise in the specific problems of image, organization naming systems, and marketing communications. She has a M.B.A. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and is a guest lecturer at New York University.

Brand strategy is the thinking process behind your organization’s brand. Brand strategy articulates your brand’s attributes and mission; positions you in relation to similar organizations; and specifies the needs you fulfill for clients and stakeholders.

It’s important to have an effective brand strategy because your organization is swimming in a very competitive environment.

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Here are some questions to ask about your brand’s competitive environment:

  • Does your brand compete successfully for attention? After all, your target audience receives between 3,000 and 5,000 marketing messages a day!
  • Does your brand make an immediate impression? Your marketing has a split second to attract your audience’s attention before they move on. For example, direct mailers know that a reader decides in 3 seconds whether to open an envelope or toss it.
  • Is your brand memorable? People can retain only so much information. Your brand strategy must focus on your unique attributes and target the right audience.
  • How does your audience categorize your brand? People place brands in categories they consider objective. For example, an organization that fights cancer might be categorized by a potential donor as “the most established” or “the most efficient” or “the biggest”. Brand strategy helps position your organization so you end up in the right mental category.


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