As business owners and corporate leaders, which would be more important to your organization – strategy or execution? Most business leaders associate strategy with analysis and execution with getting things done. Viewed from this perspective, strategies such as “being customer focused” and “becoming the global market leader” don’t contribute much to producing results.
But strategy is much more than just a rally call during annual planning. It is a conscious set of decisions you make on where to play and how to win, to maximize long-term value. Strategy is making a decision on which direction to pursue. And equally, a decision on which path to let go. Execution is producing results within the context of those strategic choices. So strategy needs to precede execution if you are to maximize long-term value.
Morris Chang said it best when he said “without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.” Brand strategy and execution go hand in hand. You cannot have consistently good results without a good strategy. Neither is your strategy any good if it cannot produce consistently good results.
We all know and love Air Asia for bringing flying to the masses. Its tagline ‘now everyone can fly’ is widely known and much copied. But when Tony Fernandes took over the airline in 2001, they made a conscious set of decisions on where to play and how to win over the national incumbent. It may seem like normal operations now, but the set of decisions was a big risk 11 years ago. To bypass travel agents completely and to put all information and purchase transactions online was a strategic move which paid off big time. Now travel and hotel bookings are what Malaysians purchase the most online.
What about our local retail banks then? Can you differentiate one retail bank from another? Sure, customers want dependability and stability but those are the very prerequisites to the game, table stakes in order to play in the field in the first place. How else can a bank stand out from the others? Maybank has done very well in the e-commerce space by making it easy for businesses to facilitate online transactions. The brand’s decision to excel in the e-commerce space is followed by its strong technology execution, making it easy to integrate Maybank’s infrastructure with mobile and web apps.
So spare more thought for your brand strategy, for with good strategy comes good execution. When a good strategy is well understood, it can be well executed. When your business is not executing well, take a look at your strategy. Improving your strategy and improving the understanding of it could make all the difference.
Have you taken a look at your brand strategy lately?
Julia Koh is the Executive Director of Brand 360 Degree Sdn Bhd and believes good strategy and good execution needs to go together for a sustainable brand advantage.