Strategy Strategy Frameworks

How to build a brand presence online

Most business owners are focused on building a business and not a brand. This myopic view of selling products/services and making profits rather than building a strong brand will lead to an inevitable exit. The products/services that a business offers are only relevant till there are better substitutes in the market. And in the current competitive world, there are new and improved products hitting the market every couple of years.

On the other hand, brands are more resilient to short-term market changes and stand the test of time. In a report published by the Bank of Korea that looked at 41 countries, there were 5,586 companies older than two centuries. Moreover, your brand identity will serve as your key competitive advantage. Focusing your efforts on increasing brand awareness can help the target users recall your brand, leading to the purchase of your products/services. In addition, your brand will add intangible value to your business with the reputation, feel and experience that the customers associate with it.

So, how do you build a solid online brand presence? Below are a few tips that can help you systemically approach this process:
• Identify your business goals and strategize your brand positioning
• Personify your brand
• Build a captivating website
• Create value-adding, high-quality content consistently
• Take advantage of infographics and video content for visual storytelling
• Demonstrate your expertise or unique offering(s) through your content
• Devise a solid social media strategy
• Use different social media tools to achieve specific actions from your customers
• Be responsive online and show up on forums where your audience is present
• Optimize your site for search engines using SEO techniques
• Encourage customers to write online reviews
• Include paid advertising as a part of your marketing strategy
• Ask for signups on your site and build an email list
• Experiment with referral programs and influencer marketing
• Analyze the results from your online marketing efforts to optimize them regularly

What are some steps you have taken to boost your brand awareness? Let us know in the comments below.

Strategy Strategy Frameworks

Explainer 3: BCG Matrix

BCG Matrix

Boston Consulting Group’s growth-share matrix, popularly known as BCG matrix, is designed to help companies in portfolio management. This four-celled matrix helps companies prioritize their different businesses as a function of market share and market potential. The matrix is divided into four quadrants based on each portfolio’s market growth and relative market share, as shown in the figure.
Dogs: Products with low growth and market share
Question marks (problem child): Products in high growth markets with low market share
Stars: Products in high growth markets with high market share
Cash cows: Products in low growth markets with low market share


BCG matrix serves as a strategic management tool that is highly relevant to larger businesses with multiple products or services. However, smaller businesses can still use BCG analysis to explore the potential of new products and to provide an overview of all their products. If the market share is small, you may base the ‘Market share’ axis on your competitors rather than the entire market.
The BCG portfolio matrix uses the logic that market leadership results in sustainable superior returns. The market leader ultimately obtains a cost advantage that sets them apart from their competition. Thus, high growth rates examined in the BCG growth-share matrix can signal which markets have the most growth potential for decision-makers to manage the product portfolios.


Step 1: Identify the products or services you would like to analyze using the BCG growth matrix strategic framework.
Let’s take Google as an example for our analysis. Google has many products in their product portfolio beyond their dominant search engine, including web-based tools, advertising tools, developer tools, operating systems, mobile and desktop applications, hardware, and other assisting services.

Step 2: Analyse the expected growth rate and the relative market share to fill in the BCG matrix.
Let’s inspect each quadrant of the BCG matrix for Google’s products and services
Cash cows: Google’s advertising business is a revenue cash cow. Google’s search engine and Android OS have a high market share, but there is little scope for further market growth. Therefore, we can categorize them as Cash cows.
Stars: Stars are fast-growing market leaders who have the highest profit potential. Apps like Google Maps, YouTube, and Google assistant (for mobiles and home automation systems) are some of the stars generating large profits and demanding huge investments from Google.
Question mark products: Google Drive and Docs are examples of question mark products. There is a high market growth potential for these products, but the scope to generate profits is low due to the higher market share of their competitors.
Dog products: Hardware products like Google glass and social networking sites like Google Plus can be labelled as dog products, as they have less market growth and low market share.

Step 3: Understand the potential for each of your products and evaluate them objectively to make investment decisions. Based on the results from your BCG matrix, you can make the following decisions:
• Build – Increase investment in a product to increase its market share (e.g., Push a product in question mark quadrant to star quadrant)
• Hold – Stop investing in a product if you cannot afford further investment (e.g., Products in any of the four quadrants)
• Harvest – Decrease the investment in a product with low market growth potential (e.g., Products in the cash cow quadrant)
• Divest – Divert the investment to other products from a product that is not profitable (e.g., Terminating products in dog quadrant)

The BCG model can also be applied to areas other than product portfolio strategy. For instance, it can be applied to plan investments in marketing channels to divest the dogs or invest in the stars.

How does the BCG matrix apply to your product portfolio? Let us know in the comments below.


Porter’s Five Forces: Strategy Framework Explainer

Porter’s 5 forces model helps analyze an industry by understanding the attractiveness, profitability and intensity of competition in the industry. 


While every industry is different, the underlying drivers of profit are the same. The industry structure and the company’s relative position within the industry are two key drivers of company profitability.
First described by Michael Porter in his 1979 Harvard Business Review article, Porter’s five forces is a strategic planning framework for understanding the competitive forces at work in an industry and how they drive the way economic value is divided among industry players.
According to Porter’s five forces model, an industry’s competitiveness does not only come from the competitors. Porter’s five forces template is a tool for analyzing a company’s competitive environment, including the number and power of a company’s competitive rivals, potential new market entrants, suppliers, customers, and substitute products that influence a company’s profitability.


The structure of an industry is not static. Over time, buyers or suppliers within an industry can become more powerful or less powerful. Innovations in an industry can make new entry or substitution more likely or less likely. Regulatory changes can impact competitive intensity or affect barriers to entry. New pricing or distribution approaches taken by competitors can also affect the path of industry competition.
Porter’s five forces model serves as a competitive strategy that helps companies anticipate shifts in competition, shape how industry structure evolves, and find better strategic positions. Thus, companies can make informed decisions about which industries they should compete in and how to position themselves for success within those industries.


Step 1: Preparation for the analysis
Porter’s five forces analysis requires detailed knowledge of the external environment. It should be done by a cross-functional team of experts from operations, product development, sales and marketing, customer service and finance. Before starting the process, you should be ready with answers to most, if not all, of the questions pertaining to each section of the five forces.

Step 2: Threat of New entry
The threat of new entry maps out the degree of difficulty for a new player to enter the market and make a profit. The less time and resources it would take for a competitor to enter your market, the easier it is for your company’s position to weaken. An industry with a strong barrier to entry is ideal for an existing company since it would charge higher prices and negotiate better terms. The airline industry is an example of an industry with a strong barrier to entry.

Step 3: Threat of substitution
This refers to the potential for your product or service being replaced by an entirely new product or service, like electric-powered vehicles to internal combustion engines. Companies that sell goods or services with no close substitutes will have more power to increase prices and lock in favourable terms. Currently, electric vehicles (EVs) are posing a threat of substitution to Autogas vehicles.

Step 4: Supplier power
This factor addresses how easily suppliers can drive up the cost of inputs. It is affected by the number of suppliers of core inputs, the uniqueness of these inputs, and the switching cost to another supplier. The fewer suppliers in an industry, the more power they would have to charge more or push other advantages. An industry with high bargaining power of suppliers is computer hardware manufacturers who need specific microchips from their suppliers.

Step 5: Buyer power
This factor determines how much power customers have to drive prices lower. It is affected by how many customers a company has, its significance, and the cost of acquiring new customers. The smaller the customer base, the more power customers have to negotiate for lower prices and better deals. An example of an industry with low bargaining power of buyers is the pharmaceutical industry.

Step 6: Competitive rivalry
The larger the number of competitors and their offering, the lesser the power a company has. In a highly competitive category, both suppliers and customers can shop around, which puts downward pressure on prices and profits. Hair shampoo production is a highly competitive industry with several players in the market.


Threat of New EntryThreat of substitutionBuyer power

Competitive rivalry
Economies of scaleNumber of substitute products availableBuyer volume (number of customers)Number of competitors
Product differentiationBuyer's propensity to substituteSize of each buyer's orderDiversity of competitors
Brand identity/loyaltyRelative price performance of substitutesBuyer concentrationIndustry concentration and balance
Access to distribution channelsPerceived level of product differentiationBuyer's ability to substituteIndustry growth
Capital requirementsSwitching costsBuyer's switching costsIndustry life cycle
Access to the latest technologySubstitute producer's profitability & aggressiveness
Buyer's information availabilityQuality differences
Access to necessary inputsBuyer's threat of backward integrationProduct differentiation
Absolute cost advantagesIndustry threat of forward integrationBrand identity/loyalty
Experience and learning effectsPrice sensitivity
Switching costs
Government policiesIntermittent overcapacity
Switching costsInformational complexity
Expected retaliation from existing playersBarriers to exit

Step 7: Decision making
Now analyze each of the factors for the industry of your choice and rate them as high, low or medium. Look out for any quick wins, flag internally any concerns, and consider what it teaches you about your future direction. You can then make a decision about how you are going to position yourselves to take advantage of the market, equipped with porter’s five forces framework.

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