Let’s get right to it! This article is direct, honest, and what every business owner, entrepreneur, and marketer needs to read and absorb. Somehow in the midst of all the hyper-specialization of marketing and all the social platforms out there, the true motivation for consumer loyalty was lost.
My goal is to clear that up for you by revealing valuable information that will give you a strategic advantage. You may already have an advantage due to your products/services, your position in the marketplace, or other winning details about your business.
But does your messaging reflect why the heck anyone should care?
Are you inspiring action with ALL of your marketing and creating loyalty? And yes, I do say ALL of your marketing because all marketing should be working towards bringing in more sales and inspiring undeniable loyalty among your consumers and employees.
So make sure you always apply the lens of “how is this helping me accomplish my business goals?”
As a heads-up, if you feel sensitive, offended, or triggered at any point in this article, I recommend leaning into that feeling and figuring out why. Typically when those types of strong emotions come up, it’s because there is some truth we are not thrilled to acknowledge. And just remember, strategy is not easy! If it were easy, this article would be pointless because everyone would already be applying this game-changing info. So give yourself some grace and get ready to learn about the other side of the marketing coin! The side most people forget because it is tougher to capture.
Now Back to Marketing!
Ready for newfound confidence, motivation, and clarity in your business?
Ready for your growth path to finally become clear?
Ready to get buy-in from your entire organization?
Ready to have all marketing clearly deliver an ROI for sales (and for finance!)?
Ready to get your idea turned into a business?
This solves all of these issues and so much more. A brand strategy is how the most successful brands make tons of money and maintain loyalty!
EVERY BUSINESS NEEDS TO BUILD A BRAND STRATEGY
There are 2 sides to the marketing coin: tactical execution and strategy. Everyone knows about the tactical execution side. There are thousands of companies and marketing experts working hard at tactical execution every day. And this part is essential, but it does not work by itself.
Tactical execution in marketing includes all of your actions-based marketing efforts: digital marketing of all kinds, influences, all social media posting, email marketing, tv commercials, signage around town, digital ads, events, trade shows, merchandising, SEO, and every other specific action based marketing initiative. As I said, these are vital, of course! But they are only 1 side of the marketing coin and the other side is what guides and dictates whether or not those efforts inspire action and loyalty. You can take action all day long, but if you don't know WHAT you are working towards, WHO you are talking to, and WHY anyone should care, do you think your actions will produce results?
Before I dive into why strategy is essential to get right BEFORE you try to build any of the tactical, execution-based marketing, let me first help you understand why it seems like you can jump right into execution and why there is a misconception that it can work without the strategic foundation.
For starters, tactical marketing is the “easy to see” stuff.
Meaning, you can see a clear result from work right away and there are tons of metrics to track immediately. Additionally, and especially with certain types of marketing, leads will come through based on how the platforms work. But you are sacrificing quality leads.
You may get 100 clicks on an advertisement or gather 5 million views on TikTok with your efforts or your tv commercial may be guaranteed to be seen by 1 million people. But the true value of those leads lies in what happens next. All of the following examples I will use to explain this are real examples from multiple businesses out there (some are my clients and some I am watching from afar).
Views mean nothing if people are not taking action. Unless you are in the entertainment business, those views need to clearly communicate your brand’s message or inspire action. And how can you clearly communicate a message that inspires action if you do not know who your target customer is, what they care about most from you, how they think and want to be talked to (because these are 2 different things), AND how your brand can inspire an emotional connection with them (not by using puppies, kids, or cute images). All of these are essential and when you ignore any of these components or take a shortcut around them, your messaging suffers, and your lead quality drops. Now you may say, but what about content creators? Don't views matter for them? Yes, they do, BUT content creators are trying to make money. They are trying to say their content provides value and then translate that value into income. This means they too are focused on using their content to CONVERT, not just have people look at it.
Let’s talk about those 100 clicks on a social media ad. They are a great indicator that those 100 people were curious about what the ad said. But the next questions you need to answer are “were those 100 people part of your potential purchasers”, “what was the main value they took away from the ad”, “did the value clearly communicate why they should care about your brand”, and “did your ad inspire loyalty or inspire thoughts of commodity”? When I say thoughts of commodity, I mean did it focus so heavily on features that a customer is focused on the details of your business as a first introduction to you? Did it focus so heavily on details and features that they may not actually be able to understand what kind of value you could provide for them? And the worst thing is, did it focus so heavily on features and details that it potentially caused confusion as to what exactly your business does? As consumers, at our core, we want to FEEL connected to a brand or product. We want to FEEL good about buying it. We will use logical reasons to justify the purchase or our decision to be loyal to a brand, but the FEELING it gave us is why we took action.
If you want to create a tv commercial, you certainly can! But think through what action you want to inspire and then remove your personal opinions entirely and focus only on what inspires your customers to take that action.
For each of these examples (and countless more just like it), the answer is not to pick apart all of your marketing efforts one by one. That is tedious and will waste your time. The answer is to take a step back and set your strategy! It is quite literally that simple!
What is not so simple is the actual work of setting your brand strategy. But don’t worry! The rest of this article is dedicated to explaining how we do that.
ISSUES CAUSED BY NOT HAVING A BRAND STRATEGY
Ultimately, if you’re feeling confused or stuck trying to grow your business, it’s not because the colors of your brand aren’t just right or you didn’t have the perfect CTA (call to action) in your last post.
If you are unsure what marketing to pursue or what opportunities are best for your business, it is not because you have not created enough content or your logo is perfect.
If you are struggling to get buy-in from your partners and to show a clear ROI for your efforts, the issue is not the people or the ideas. The real culprit is that you don’t have a crystal clear brand strategy and your brand strategy is the foundation for all your marketing and business development.
Brand Strategy services and the incredible brand development strategies that come with them are the solutions to nearly every business issue, but certainly to every single marketing one. Here’s a list of common problems I hear from business owners that a brand strategy will solve:
you can’t seem to get buy-in internally
you are just starting to build out a marketing team
you are trying to get marketing and sales to work together more effectively
you need higher-quality leads from marketing efforts
your creative team is wildly inspired but their work is not resonating with sales
your finance colleagues question nearly all your marketing efforts and their return
you consistently hear new potential customers misrepresenting the true value of your business
you cannot, in 1 sentence, clearly explain the unique value of your business and why someone should care
you are launching new marketing and have no idea what the messaging should be (this particular one makes my insides turn!)
you have plateaued and can’t seem to reactivate growth
you feel scattered or unsure about your value to customers or what your customers think
you’re not sure which marketing opportunities to pursue
you’re confused about what content works
you feel like you are spinning your wheels or not using your time as efficiently as possible when it comes to marketing or content creation
you aren’t seeing the growth in your brand like want
you are trying to decide what product or service to launch next
you are frustrated by the lack of engagement with some content that you thought was great
you can’t seem to inspire the kind of action you want (from customers or within your company)
you are just starting out and want to turn your idea into a business
Are you getting the feeling that no matter what stage of business you are in, you need a brand strategy? If you picked up on that then you are already lightyears ahead of your peers who are still determined to ignore the most important part of their business. So congrats to you! That acknowledgment and awareness is the first valuable step.
If you are still on the fence, here’s a bit of tough love for you: marketing, content creation, and business decisions become an incredibly expensive (time and money-wise) way to make money if you do not take the time to do the foundational work of building your brand strategy.
Until you are clear on your WHY, customers will continue to expect the minimum from you and measure your value on features and price because they have yet to build an emotional connection with you. You earn loyalty and customers’ trust by showing consistently what you believe and why you believe it. Your WHY, also called your purpose, is what draws people in and keeps them. And that purpose is identified by refusing to cut corners and being disciplined enough to start at the beginning to build your brand foundations. BEFORE YOU HAVE A BRAND STRATEGY FRAMEWORK
If I could set off alarms for you every time someone is trying to convince you to jump straight into posting, writing, photoshoots, new products, a new social media channel, Canva/creative templates, caption purchases, and countless other ideas, I would! But the best way I can think to set those alarms off for you is by giving you access to the tools to build your brand strategy so that you always know exactly what opportunities to pursue and what to ignore.
By filtering decisions, opportunities, and options through your brand strategy, you spend less time and less money! How good does that sound??
Investing time now in identifying your brand’s strategy will guarantee your marketing will work and help you stop second-guessing yourself. With a clear brand strategy, you will no longer feel unsure or like your efforts may not pay off. Your plateau will turn to growth. You will stop wasting time on content or actions that get you no results or poor quality results. And you will finally build unwavering loyalty that can only come from people developing an emotional connection with your business due to a clear understanding of your WHY.
Without a why, customers do not know what to expect from our business, so they automatically start assessing our businesses on the bare minimum: what we do and how we do it. These factors include price, quality, service, and features. All 4 of these factors are important, but when customers start measuring our business on these factors alone, there is no loyalty and they are ripe for stealing by your competitors. As marketers and business people we get around the commodity game but understanding our clear value for customers and speaking to them in a way that resonates and inspires action (and emotion).
For these reasons, I recommend every business owner and entrepreneur start with their brand strategy framework before creating any marketing. If you are already down the road of creating marketing you can pause while you do this brand strategy work or be ready to pivot your efforts quickly once you get the answers you need. Download your copy here.
When done well, this work is a ton of fun! The difficult part comes after this work when you have to apply discipline to stay true to your brand strategy.
Passion and energy do not create focus and direction.
Focus and direction come from a strong brand strategy and the discipline to follow it. If at this point overwhelm is creeping in because you feel uncomfortable working on, let alone thinking about, how to develop a brand strategy, I have you covered!
You can always hire a brand strategy firm (like mine!) to kick off your killer brand development strategies and get all the simple and organized answers you need. If you are ready for that conversation, I would love to talk with you! Use this link to select time on my calendar.
If you are not yet ready to commit to brand strategy services, keep reading because I’ve filled the rest of this article with helpful direction to kick off your brand strategy work yourself.
WHAT BRAND STRATEGY DOES FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Starting by developing a brand strategy provides clarity and cohesion for your business which makes it more likely you’ll get the results you want and grow your business. Any marketing tactic works well with a good strategy supporting it. But your strategy is not created by looking ahead and figuring out how to get there. You build your brand strategy from a process of discovery and value.
A clear brand strategy will help you understand and specify your target consumer and the unique value you provide to them. This will give you a guide for the rest of your business development and your marketing. It will also make your decisions very clear so you’ll stop wavering, feeling confused, or doubting yourself. As you grow your business you will want to keep coming back to your brand strategy and be sure it’s still in line with your goals and your target. Your brand strategy should adapt and evolve over time.
Building your brand strategy will give you the clarity to always know exactly which opportunities are right for your business and when to spend resources for the best return possible.
WHAT IS A BRAND STRATEGY? AND WHAT IS A BRAND STRATEGY FRAMEWORK?
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably convinced of the value of a brand strategy, but are dying to know what exactly goes into a brand strategy and how you can build yours!
I’ve heard so many different characterizations and elements for a brand strategy framework. Every time I think I’ve heard it all, a new set of elements pops up. I even heard a colleague and businesswomen say that she was told a logo and color scheme were part of a brand strategy. I was so tempted to ask her who told her that so I could reach out to them to beg them to stop spreading those ideas to hard-working small business owners. Instead, I’m adding it here to try to caution all of you about this type of misinformation. A logo and color scheme are part of what we call your brand style guide. Like all marketing, this too should communicate your brand strategy and be developed from it — but it is NOT your brand strategy.
To correct the narrative, I aim to share the tools to build a cohesive brand strategy that will provide all of the answers you need for your marketing. This format is used for major international brands and new-to-the-world businesses. It works across all industries, all types of businesses, and all stages of maturity, and I can safely say it is a tried and true method for building excellent marketing. In fact, I have even called the development process I take my clients through The BOM Method, which stands for The Business of Marketing Method.
I personally use this with every single one of my clients, for my own brand, and for every past brand I’ve worked on.
Rather than just telling you I believe in this method, I will explain why each element matters and why working through them in order is critical to building your brand strategy. There is also a very handy template and guide I created for you that you can download using this link. I encourage you to download it and then use it as we go.
DEVELOP A BRAND STRATEGY FRAMEWORK
Before you dive into each of these elements I want to take a minute to tell you that a brand strategy is not consumer-facing. So no part of the elements identified in your brand strategy framework needs to be the language used to speak with consumers. It should influence and guide the content you create, the channels you show up on, and the way you write your messaging. But, and I cannot stress this enough, you need to be showing your customer all the elements of your brand strategy and not telling them.
For real-live examples of this nuance, you will have to work with me!
And now, as promised, here are the 10 elements of a rock-solid brand strategy. For a deeper dive into each of them check out this article on a guide to the elements of a Brand Strategy.
The best way to jump right into figuring out your brand strategy is to download the brand strategy template I linked above (it is also linked again right here!), read through the guide I wrote also linked above (and linked here again), and then determine if you want additional brand strategy services and are ready to hire me as your brand strategy firm!
After you’ve downloaded the brand strategy framework and read about how to develop a brand strategy and all its elements, set up a free strategy session with me and we can talk through what is best for your business.
The tough love I will leave you with is that if you continue to try to use marketing without strategy (build an email list, make another lead magnet, spend money on paid ads, hire a content creator, set up a photoshoot, create a new website, design a new logo, or any other tactical marketing action), you will fall into the same pitfalls and traps.
You owe it to your amazing business and all the customers you could reach to spend the time working through your brand strategy now to set yourself up for success. The rest of your marketing will fall into place naturally once you’ve determined your brand strategy. You will stop second-guessing yourself, your marketing will be cohesive and impactful, and you will easily reach your goals.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR DEVELOPING A BRAND STRATEGY
Before you get too deep into any marketing, focus on establishing the foundations of your brand. While it is possible to build a brand without creating a firm foundation, it will be inconsistent, feel scattered, and lead to a lot of confusion on your part and for anyone who works with you. There is an immense amount of value for your business in clearly identifying a brand strategy to guide all your marketing and business development. Your brand will be significantly more successful with consistency and purpose in all your marketing efforts. A brand strategy will give you that and provide the roadmap for building your business based on your target and the unique value you bring to them.
When you’re ready to work with a brand strategist, I hope you and I can work together! If you’re ready now, go ahead and pick that free spot on my calendar and let’s talk during a 15-minute free strategy session.
Thank you for reading this post and for choosing to learn a bit more about marketing! We need more good marketers out there and you're taking steps to be part of that elite group. If you have any questions or want to learn more, feel free to check out the rest of the free articles published on this site and shop through the self-guided materials created for you.