If you’re one of those small business owners who knows you need to brand your business, but maybe you’re thinking, “Where do I even start??” this post is for you.
More often than not, as soon as someone wants to start their business, they kind of have an idea of what their business will look like and quickly jump to building their logo and then usually their website shortly after.
And I get it. It’s super exciting to start a new business, and you just want to get it up and running.
But I’m going to challenge you on this…
Don’t start your logo or any visuals until you have your brand strategy in place.
Your brand strategy is like a game plan for your business so you can build it for long-term growth.
Sure, you could start a business without a strategy, but you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money guessing through the whole branding process. And then you will most likely have to go back and redo different parts of your business later.
Redo, revamping, updating, starting over…trust me, none of this is fun when all you want to do is grow and scale your business. It’s precious time and money you’ve already invested in your business, and now you’re doing it…again.
Wouldn’t you rather take the most direct path to success?
They say that the fastest way to grow a business is to follow in the footsteps of someone who knows how to get you there. And that is sage advice.
If I could go back in time, I’d do things a little different…but that’s a story for a different time.
We’re here to talk about brand strategy.
Brand strategy goes beyond knowing what you want to call your business, what you want to sell, or who your target audience is.
I met a woman who was so excited about starting her own business. She wanted to start a fitness program to help people get healthy! Her program was a high-ticket program so her price point was higher than the average.
She hired someone cheap to create a logo for her. It was nothing fancy. And it definitely didn’t reflect the high-end look she was going for. So already, from the get-go, her logo didn’t align with her vision.
Then she paid someone a few thousand dollars to get her website all set up.
She spent the first few months wondering if she’d get any clients other than the family and friends who hired her (at a super cheap rate). She was already spending a lot of time helping these people, but wasn’t even making enough money to be worth her time. Yikes.
I asked her if she had her brand strategy in place (of course), and she told me she didn’t need one because her fitness program was for everyone!
If her fitness program was truly for everyone, could everyone actually afford her program?
Was her fitness program for kids or adults?
Was it for males or females?
Was her program designed to help people lose weight?
Was it designed to help people become healthy?
Did it focus on creating a lifestyle more than forming a habit?
What did the results look like for her customers?
When it came down to it, she actually didn’t know who her target audience was, and she didn’t know how to connect with her ideal clients…
And because of that, her messaging was all over the place.
And that’s just one reason why her website wasn’t converting – it didn’t bring in any sales…
The leads she did actually get for her business thanks to her friends and family who wanted to support her business were not actually sending her qualified leads.
Although getting leads is amazing, none of those leads were not looking to invest in a high ticket program. So instead of enrolling new clients, she spent hours and hours of her time talking to people who weren’t ready for her services….
…because her friends, who were spreading the word, didn’t fully understand her business.
If you don’t clearly define your business, it will confuse a lot of people.
And when you confuse people, they end up just walking away from your business.
A common myth I’ve heard a lot is, “You don’t have to worry about branding your business right now.”
I’ve heard quite a few business influencers say the branding part of your business can wait…
But I totally disagree.
Thinking through your branding should actually start from Day 1. And here’s WHY.
Establishing the foundations of your brand 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 I’ve had people come to me frustrated because they didn’t know how to be different from everyone else.
Not knowing what sets you apart or how exactly you solve a problem will not only prevent you from taking the most direct path to growth, but it will also confuse your potential customers…
And it’ll make for a long and bumpy business journey.
Mapping out your brand is all part of your strategy which should be established from the very beginning.
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.
There honestly should be two different WHYs of your business.
The first kind of WHY should be personal. It’s something that’s more than surface deep.
This WHY should keep you motivated, inspired, pumped, excited [insert all the happy emojis here] when business is slow or when you’re having a terrible day…and you’ll need that 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.
I’ll be honest, my WHY (or WHYs) gets me pumped up because owning my own business becomes bigger than me. It no longer revolves just around me, but it now involves my family and the goals we’ve set for the future. It involves what things would look like for our community. It involves the legacy I’ll leave behind.
My WHYs also affect the kind of impact I want to make on others through my business.
And let me tell you…when I face something that truly challenges me in my business…something that terrifies me…thinking about my WHY somehow makes it easier to face those fears…
And it helps me dream bigger!
The other type of WHY you should also know is why you started your particular business. 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
I jump into defining your target audience in another post, but it needs to be repeated. Defining your niche is super important for your business. Some people have a hard time grasping this concept because they want to do business with everyone. The thing is, not everyone will be a good fit for your service. And that’s ok!
If I could go back in time, I would have done this a lot sooner!! If you’re a multi-passion Creative, this is probably one of the hardest things you’ll do! There are successful businesses 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 need help with? 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.”
Establish Your Mission Statement
After you establish your WHY and determine who your target audience is, it’s time to put your mission statement together.
Your mission statement should be short and sweet, and it should tell people what you do and who you help.
“I help [who – be specific with the type of person you’re helping] with [result – what would be the specific result your customer wants] so they can [benefits of the results].”
Understanding your target audience is crucial for this part of your strategy because you should know what your ideal customer needs and what results they want and how your particular business can help them achieve those results.
Figure Out What Makes You Different
The rate of new businesses developing is growing higher and higher every year. Which is awesome – I love the entrepreneurial spirit. I personally love that more and more people are pursuing their dreams. It’s so inspiring!
But that means there’s more competition out there for us business owners. And it’ll be 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 I say research your competitors, I’m 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 different from their business – how can you 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?
I ran into someone who owned a bakery in her small town. She was the only bakery for a really long time so her business was doing great…
Until one day two more opened up.
She confessed that it stressed her out because she was worried that she’d lose all her business to her competitors. Up until that point, she hadn’t really done much strategizing.
She felt her business slow down, and saw and felt all the excitement customers had for the new bakeries.
It’s easier to have success if you have no competition, right? But what do you do when there’s more like you out there? How will you stand out from the competition?
For Kate’s bakery, she never had a strong brand strategy in place. She made whatever people wanted and after a while, it took a toll on her business. And with two new bakeries in town, her business was declining fast.
This is why branding your business is so crucial…and how positioning yourself in a unique way will help the growth of your business. Because you’re no longer like everyone else, you stand out from a crowded market by being different from everyone else.
Develop Your 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.
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.
I went to the farmer’s market one day, and I walked up to a booth that had a few really cute things that caught my eye.
As I picked one of the items up to take a closer look, the vendor greeted me and started talking to me about the item I had in my hand.
Before I could ask her any questions, she continued to tell me that if I wasn’t interested in that particular piece, I’d definitely be interested in her other products. She made bags, gloves, hats, scarfs, etc…
She also sold a few hand-lettered signs.
And also essential oils.
I wish I had a longer attention span, but she lost me when she was telling me about all the other things she sold.
I got so overwhelmed with #allthethings, I even lost interest in the item that originally attracted me to her booth.
So, my question for you is…
Are you focused on what you sell or offer? If someone were to ask you what services or products you provide, would it overwhelm them?
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?
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 about your service or product, customers will know to come to you for your specific skills and expertise.
Instead of being a generalist, become an expert in your specific industry.
The best way to attract your ideal clients is to be absolutely clear on who you help and how you help them.
If you need help getting clarity with your brand strategy, book a free discovery call with us!
Until next time,