No company sets out to fail but few really plan on being number one in their field. The reasons for this vary from brand to brand but it almost always boils down to a lack of planning.

Sure, the well-known companies can rely upon their brand’s good looks and large presence at various tradeshows, ad campaigns and direct marketing programs. That used to be almost enough to push a product into a crowded market space, such as proofing, scanning or software, to make it a success.

Today is different though. With the Internet came a thing called a level playing field. Great for smaller brands with excellent niche products, not so great for large brands who are relying solely upon their image.

The challenge for both is to have an action plan that starts with the key customer’s needs and builds every single brand message, image, campaign, interaction and services to drive that benefit to the ultimate customer. Anything less is mediocre and usually ends up in what sales managers call the underperforming sales category.

So the top three ways to build a successful brand strategy is to plan, plan, plan based on your best customer’s needs. Ignore them at your own peril.