Branding with No Strategy
Who’s guilty? Raise your hand.
That was a great idea wasn’t it? You’re such a visionary. You see yourself making six figures doing what you absolutely love but you don’t even know where to start.
It happens to the best of us. It happens to many us. Too many of us are guilty of stopping and starting our businesses because we are trying our best and hardest to brand ourselves but you don’t even have a plan, let alone a strategy. Let me be the first to tell you – You cannot wing it in business, you just can’t. It won’t work it will never work.
I’m on the phone with new and seasoned business owners daily and many of them haven’t even taken the time to create a strategy for their idea, they don’t know where to start and instead of starting with A – Step One; they have skipped a few steps and want to start at D – Step Four. And if they do have a strategy they are not following it, or it needs to be updated and revamped to serve their tribe. Either way they are looking for answers on how to take their business to the next level but they skipped the A, B, and C which are fundamental and the most crucial.
So, let me ask you this… When was your last strategy session? Just think about it. No judgement. We’ve all been guilty.
How often do you strategize – daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly?
Let me break down what a Brand Strategy is just so we’re clear: A brand strategy is your long-term plan for developing a successful brand to achieve specific goals. Your brand strategy IS NOT your logo, brand colors, your website, or your name; it so much more than that. Your brand strategy defines what you stand for, it’s your brand promise, it’s your personality; while it includes your logo, brand colors, tagline, website and graphics these are your digital assets that convey your brand. Your brand lives in the day-to-day interactions you have with your tribe.
Most people come to me thinking that I’m only a graphic designer and I am but I am a strategist as well. I can definitely help business owner make a statement online and in print but my first question is always what is your overall brand strategy? How do you want to be perceived and why? Who is your audience? What have you been doing to brand yourself? What is currently working/What isn’t working? Most may not think that these questions even matter because I make things pretty BUT they matter! Your graphics are not the sum total of your brand. They never will be.
Here are two things I find most business owners struggle with: having a brand but it is all over the place OR they have taken the time to define their brand but what they are currently doing isn’t working for who they really are, what they really do and who they truly want to serve. No coach, consultant or strategist can come up with this for you. We can however, provide you with the tools and guidance to help you figure this out for yourself and for your business.
That’s why I’m here to help. You don’t have to hit the panic button.
Before you contact a graphic designer to help you create your logo, print business cards, create your Instagram and Facebook accounts let’s look at the bigger picture.
Here are my top 5 Tips to creating a brand strategy:
1. Know your purpose. Write it down and make sure it’s authentic to who you are as a business owner. Every brand makes a promise. What’s your brand promise? How does your brand promise separate you from your competition? Does it resonate and connect with your audience? Please understanding that your brand promise is necessary, BUT knowing why you do what you do day in and day out and you can articulate it is so much more fulfilling. Your purpose is more than a tagline that differentiates you from the competition. Your purpose is somewhat of a call to action to get your tribe to move. To get them to be more than just a fan or follower. You want them to be your brand ambassador on the low. We are all in business to solve a problem and to make someone else’s life better at the end of the day. Your purpose should be functional – why you’re in business and how you will make money; and intentional – the ability to make money and change lives in the process.
2. Consistency is critical. Consistency doesn’t just mean posting all day every day and having a sales funnel you’re promoting and sending people through day in and day out. Being consistent also means avoiding all things that do not relate to or enhance your brand. Ensuring that everything you post – your messaging, your graphics, your content – live topics are all in alignment with your brand and you aren’t just posting random things for posts sake. Doing so will confuse your tribe. You never want to confuse your tribe. Confused consumers never purchase anything. All of your messaging should be cohesive and consistent – together they result in brand recognition and fuels customer loyalty.
3. Connect Emotionally. Take some time to list the features and benefits of your products and/or services. How does your product or service provide a solution to your customer? Just turn on your T.V. and watch a commercial – every commercial you watch is trying to connect with you on an emotional level. Just look at the commercials for Farmers Insurance, Progressive, State Farm or Nationwide. These insurance companies pride themselves on going above and beyond to make sure you are covered properly and they are all in competition with one another. They do an excellent job at connecting with us emotionally because guess what? An accident can happen at any time and we all know how inconveniencing it is to be in an accident let alone not have the proper coverage we thought we had. They are great at pointing out:
– The benefits that are most important to your customers.
– Connecting emotionally – buyers are emotional and if you look around brands are now tapping into the emotions of buyers. Customers are not always rational, we want to feel safe, important and appreciated. This is why you have some people that will only shop at Target and not at Walmart. Price sometimes isn’t a factor – it boils down to a customer’s emotional connection.
4. What’s your story? Develop a personality. Sometimes we get caught up in what everyone else is doing and listening to everyone else’s story that we don’t truly develop our own or we think our story isn’t worthy for whatever reason. The first step to developing your brand personality is to think of your brand as a person – create a description to describe and convey your brands traits and weave it into everything you do and create. This is where your creativity will need to be bumped up a few notches and you will need to think outside of the box. Take some time to write a few positioning statements and a story about your brand this is where you will incorporate your colors, fonts, and other visual elements that match your personality.
5. Remain Flexible. Never change the goal, change the strategy and plan. Remaining flexible in today’s technological business landscape allows you to switch things up, implement new strategy and stay relevant. With all the tools available now to create brand awareness you can get as creative as you desire. Have fun!
As you can see creating a brand is more than just creating social media accounts, logo’s coming up with a color scheme and having business cards. Creating a sustainable brand takes time, planning and strategy. This is why some of us have success while others do not. If you don’t plan, you plan to fail. This is true for just about everything in life. Use the tips above, take some time to create and implementing a brand strategy that works for you, that allows you to connect with and serve tribe.