Did you fall a little short from achieving your brand and business goals last year, and you’re starting the year wondering what 2022 will look like?
If you’re thinking that this year has got to be an improvement from last year, let’s talk about it for a second. Instead of waiting for things to happen for you in 2022, let’s create a plan around your vision…then execute.
So let’s talk about brand strategy…what is it and how do you even start?
Your brand strategy is like a game plan for your business so you can build it for long-term growth.
Just like building your dream home, you’ve got to have an overall idea of what you want it to look like. Why do you want to build a dream home? What’s missing from other houses that makes you want your own? How much land would you want to own? Where would it be located? How big do you want your house? How many rooms will it have?
Would it make sense to pick out your furniture for your new office before you even know what your house will look like? Probably not. You wouldn’t know how big your office space is or whether you’ll build out some cool features in it.
And just like having a plan for a dream home, you want to create a plan for your brand and what your business will look like. Sure, you could start a business without a strategy, but you’ll most likely end up wasting a lot of time and money guessing through the whole process…
And redoing, revamping, updating, starting over…trust me, none of that part is fun when all you want to do is focus on growing and scaling your business. It’s precious time and money you’ve already invested in your business, and you have to do things over again….
A common myth we hear a lot is “You don’t have to worry about branding your business right now.”
We’ve heard quite a few business influencers say this, and that the branding part of your business is something you should worry about later when you’re starting to establish yourself. And while we understand where they’re coming from, we totally disagree.
And here’s why…
Thinking through your branding should actually start from Day 1.
Establishing the foundations of your brand and your business is crucial.
As a business owner, you should clearly define who you are as a business. Figure out who your target audience is, and how you solve a problem for your customer…
And how you can position your business to stand out from the competition.
You don’t know how many times we’ve heard people say that their business is suffering because they don’t know where to find new clients…
Or that their market is too saturated to get business…
Or that they’re working a lot of hours but barely making ends meet.
Whether or not you realize it, but the root of those problems actually relate to how you brand your business.
Not knowing where to find new clients…QUALIFIED CLIENTS…could mean that you don’t quite understand who your target audience is…
Thinking that the market is too saturated could mean that you don’t quite know how to position your business in a way that sets you apart from your competition…
Working a lot of hours but barely being able to make ends meet could mean a lot of different things. Your pricing could be off. You could have a gap in your process…
And just those few things alone can make for a long and bumpy business journey.
Establishing your brand strategy should be one of the first things you work on as a small business owner.
Brand strategy goes beyond knowing what you want to call your business, what you want to sell, or who your target audience is.
And branding your business actually starts with your brand strategy.
Branding doesn’t start with your logo. It doesn’t start with your website. It doesn’t even start with your business name.
To know how to brand your business, you need to first work on your brand strategy.
So when it comes to brand strategy, where do you even start?
Know Your WHY
Everyone should start with the WHY of their business.
Your WHY is the reason you started a business in the first place…it’s the very reason your business exists.
The first kind of WHY should be personal. It’s more than surface deep.
This WHY should keep you motivated, inspired, pumped, excited [insert all the happy emojis here] when business is slow, when you’re having a bad day, or even a terrible year…and you’ll need your WHY to go back to. Because let’s face it, running your own business isn’t always easy.
Your WHY will help you stay focused on what’s important to you.
Our WHY (or WHYs) gets us pumped up because owning your own business allows you to build something that’s much larger than ourselves. It no longer revolves just around us as individual people, but it extends out to our families and the goals we’ve set for the future. It involves what things would look like for our community. It involves the legacy we all get to leave behind.
Our WHYs also affect the kind of impact we want to make on others through our business.
And when we face something that truly challenges us in our business, thinking about our WHY somehow makes things easier to face those fears…
And it definitely helps us to dream bigger!
The other type of WHY you should also understand is why you started your particular business in the first place. Why does your business exist? Was there a gap in the industry? Was there a problem you wanted to solve? Did you see a specific need that you felt called to fill?
Simon Sinek said it best, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”
Knowing your WHY might start out motivating you, but sharing your WHY with others can also inspire them to take action…
And when people take action, they can start a movement and make a massive impact.
Know and Understand Your Target Audience
We can talk about knowing your target audience until we’re in blue in the face. It’s that important!
We talk about how well you should your target audience in another post, but it really does need to be repeated. Defining your niche is super important for your business, and we wish we had learned that lesson a lot sooner.
Some people have a hard time grasping this concept because they want to do business with everyone. And yeah, we’ve been there! The thing is, not everyone will be a good fit for your service. And that’s ok!
If you’re a multi-passionate Creative or just talented in so many different areas, this is probably one of the hardest things you’ll do. There are successful businesses out there that offer a variety of things, but someone really smart once told me, “You have to build one bridge at a time or you’ll wind up dividing your energy into multiple places and never build one thing great.”
So let’s talk about who you’re targeting.
Being specific helps you define your niche.
If your business serves small businesses…what type of small business? Are they service-based or product-based? Are they an online business or a brick-and-mortar business?
The more specific you are, the better!
Pro tip: Make sure you truly understand your customers and what they need. What are the problems they’re facing? Why would they come to you for the solution to their problem? What is the result they want after they work with you?
Define Your Ideal Client Avatar.
For those of you who are not familiar with what an ideal client avatar is, it’s basically creating a customer profile for your brand.
It helps to think of your avatar as a specific person (or maybe you have someone particular in mind). You’ll name your client avatar and write out everything about this person.
You should think through why this person would need your service, what results he/she would get from working with you…
Think through their personality, hobbies, words they would use on a regular basis, what they do for a living, their marital status, what life stage they’re in…
It may seem like a lot, but you want to understand your customer so well that when you’re working on your marketing or the copy on your website or creating content for your social media, you’ll be able to connect with them and everything you say – all of your content – will resonate with them. They’ll say, “YES! This business understands me.”
Let’s review this last part again because it’s important that you understand how this affects everything you do for your business…
If you ever struggle knowing what to post about on your social media…
Or maybe you have no clue what to write about on your website…
Or maybe you’re not sure what services to offer or how you should price them…
Knowing your target audience, and more specifically your ideal client avatar solves all of these problems.
In fact, our brand strategy process includes a huge write-up on your dream client. It’s not a few sentences long. It’s PAGES long. If you can’t write at least 5 pages about your ideal client (single-spaced), we suggest you go back and dig a little deeper.
Establish Your Mission and Vision Statements.
After you establish your WHY and determine who your target audience is, it’s time to put your mission and vision statements together.
Your mission and vision statements should be short and sweet, and it should tell people what your business does and what it aspires to be.
We like to think of it as your mission statement is what your business is in the present day. It boldly states what you do.
Your vision statement is what your business will be in the future and states the “vision” of your business.
For example, if own a clothing brand, your mission statement could include selling clothing made out of sustainable materials. And your vision is to help people love who they are and empower them to change the world.
Figure Out What Makes You Different
As part of your brand strategy, how you determine what makes you unique is called brand positioning.
The rate of new small businesses developing is growing higher and higher every year. Which is awesome—there’s something special about people pursuing their passions and dreams—it’s super inspiring!
But that also means there’s more and more competition out there. Which makes it harder and harder for us to stand out. Which makes it even more crucial for businesses to establish a great brand for themselves.
So let’s think through this…
What makes you different from the rest of the businesses out there? What will convince someone to choose your business over one that’s similar to yours?
Research your competitors.
When we say research your competitors, we’re not saying you should research them to copy what they’re doing (because that’s definitely the opposite of being unique). You want to do your research so you can figure out how your brand can be set up to be different from theirs. Doing your competitive research will help you understand how to position yourself to stand out.
Think through who your target audience is. Are you serving a different audience than your competitor?
Are you using different marketing strategies to reach potential customers?
Do you have a service or offer that your competitor doesn’t have?
Do you see your business going more in the online space versus a physical brick and mortar?
Develop Your Irresistible Offer
This is where we get to dive a little deeper and really dig into your service or your offer.
Let’s think through your business and what service you provide for your customers.
How are you packaging your offer?
If you’re a website developer, for example, you may just have one offer. “I make a basic website for X amount of dollars.”
But we want to work on the details of your offer to make it irresistible to your customers.
So if you’re a web developer, maybe you offer your customers a basic website plus a monthly maintenance service.
Or maybe you’re a digital marketing agency…what could your offer look like? Maybe for you, that means creating and managing your customer’s social media accounts for a monthly rate…
Or maybe creating templates for your customers for one flat rate?
If you currently have OR are thinking of having all types of different offers, I’d encourage you to narrow them down to no more than three. Having too many options only leaves your potential customers confused, and they’ll go to a competitor.
There are a lot of business owners who are worried about narrowing down their niche and/or offer because they’re afraid they’ll lose a lot of business. However, when you give people too many options, they get confused and overwhelmed and eventually walk away.
The question we’d like to ask is…
Are you focused on an irresistible offer? Or do you offer so many different things, it leaves potential customers overwhelmed?
A better question is…
If a customer told a friend about your business, and that friend told another friend about your business, would they each be able to explain your business and what you offer?
It’s like playing telephone. If the friend of a friend of a friend is able to clearly understand and communicate what you do, you have a winner.
Having options is great, but if you give too many options, your customers will walk away. It’s not an opinion…it’s backed up by research. ?
When you have clarity around your services, customers will know to come to you for your specific skills and expertise.
The best way to attract your ideal clients is to be absolutely clear on who you help and how you help them.
If you want to work on developing your brand strategy this year, join us for one of our 5-day challenges! To learn more or to sign up, click here.
Until next time,