Wanna be a brilliant brand strategist? Do this one thing.

We spend a lot of time thinking about how we are going to position our brands. We do research. We run tests. We strategize how we’re going to maneuver.

We get tunnel vision, focusing on everything that we think ought to be done. As a result, a dangerous thing happens. We start to try and solve the problem before we really understand those that we hope to serve.

Now, the argument I get is, “That’s why were doing research.”

Doing research means formulating questions. If we don't make the effort to deeply understand those we hope to serve first, then we very well may be asking the wrong questions.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Well, the research confirms our assumptions.” There was many a time that this happened and I couldn't help but feel like we were missing insight that could lead to something significant. Maybe even game-changing. All because we asked the questions that we thought were important. Not necessarily the questions most important to those we hope to serve.

The brilliant brand strategist's secret

So, here’s that one thing you need if you want to be a brilliant brand strategist: empathy.


Empathy can give a brand an unfair advantage. It helps us develop an uncanny relevance with customers and prospects.

But it takes restraint. Before we run off and do anything with our brand, we must first develop incredible empathy for those we hope to serve. That means before we do research to ask them what they think, we need to understand who they are, how they act, and, most importantly, how they think.

If we do that, those we hope to serve start to feel like our brand ‘really gets them’. And in a way, we do. Because we’re less focused on what we want and more focused on who they are and what they desire.