7 Steps to Building a Solid Brand Strategy
A Simple Step-By-Step Strategy for Building and Implementing a Solid Brand Marketing Plan to Grow Your Small Business
Have you ever landed on a website and knew instantly that you wanted to work with that company? You receive an email from them and can tell right away what business sent it. An ad pops up on your social media and you immediately recognize the business. You already know who they are, what they offer, and if you are interested.
That feeling of instant recognition and piqued interest is the result of a solid brand strategy.
As a copywriter and marketing strategist, I have worked with companies with both strong and weak strategies.
The difference is noticeable immediately.
Take these two example companies:
The first business has well-put-together marketing content. There is a single color scheme and the tone of voice all sounds the same, all written in the same font. They track the performance of their marketing content and make adjustments when things are not working as well as they would like. Their customers are confident in working with them, knowing what to expect, and trusting the business to make good on their promises.
The customers of this business love working with them, and tell others about how great their experience has been.
The second business puts out content sporadically. They have tried a social media ad campaign that was put together in a rush, a “monthly” newsletter emailed for two months and then forgotten about, and a single blog post on their website. They send an automated welcome email after a sale, but no other emails ever go out to past customers. They try different things but don’t really know what is working or why. Their lack of consistency confuses customers. This makes the customers hesitant to work with them, and not sure if the company will do what they say.
Feeling unsure about the business, customers go elsewhere.
Do either of these scenarios sound familiar? As a customer, who would you rather work with?
The difference between a trusted business and one that is not is consistent, clear messaging across all platforms. This can be achieved by creating and implementing a strong brand strategy.
A brand strategy can be simple or complex, depending on the needs of your business. Larger businesses may have an entire team dedicated to studying keywords to improve their ranking on Google. Smaller businesses can put together a solid brand strategy with a creative team consisting of a copywriter, web developer, and a few other key professionals.
Let’s take a look at what a branding strategy can do for your business.
How a Brand Strategy Can Help Your Business
Putting together a branding strategy for your business can seem daunting, especially if you are new to marketing. Keep in mind the benefits gained by having and executing a plan, such as:
- Help your customers immediately identify your business.
- Build loyalty and trust among your target audience by communicating a clear and consistent message.
- Align your marketing efforts to achieve larger goals.
- Attract your ideal customer or client.
Sounds pretty good, right? Organizing and tracking your marketing efforts will have a big payoff.
Now let’s dive into the steps1 to building a brand for your small business.
7 Steps for Brand Strategy Development
Ready to get started? Take a look at the steps below:
1. Understand your business: get real clear on who the business is, what it stands for, and what is the purpose of its existence. Ask the following questions:
- Why do we exist? The answer to this question will determine the purpose of the business and what it was created to do.
- What future do we want to create? This will paint the vision for the future of the business.
- What are we here to do? How do we create that vision? The answers to these questions will help to determine the mission statement.
- What principles guide our behavior? These will be the values of your business and will help to guide all future decisions.
Knowing your business is essential for guiding all decisions. Think of it as a road map, and these answers are signposts, pointing you where to go.
2. Find your voice: What voice, vocabulary, and tone will your messaging convey? Who will be speaking for your company?
Think about how you want your customers or clients to feel when seeing an ad for your business. Confident? Comforted? Excited? Keep that in mind when creating the copy for outbound communications. This will help you find the voice for your business.
Once you have found the voice, be sure to keep that voice consistent. Using a consistent voice and tone in marketing material will help your clients identify your business quickly.
3. Find your message: What message should come to mind when a customer thinks of your business?
Coming up with a succinct message that sums up everything the business stands for can be tough! It is not something that is usually achieved overnight. Here are a few questions to ask to get things started:
- What are the benefits of using your product/service?
- Why would a customer pick you over a competitor?
- What questions will your customers ask? Expect them and provide answers before they ask.
The results of these questions could be a tagline that is attached to your brand. Don’t be discouraged if finding the message takes longer than you expected. It is a trial and error process and may need several brainstorming sessions before landing on something that feels right.
4. Develop visual image: How do you want your brand to look?
The visual image for your business is not just the logo you choose. It also includes all the content that comes after the logo, what colors are used, and what style of imagery is included.
Things to consider for a visual image:
- Type font/size
- Color scheme
- Illustration style
Also, keep in mind that representation matters! If images and illustrations are part of your visual image, be sure to include people from all demographics and abilities. If people cannot see themselves using your product or service, they won’t.
5. Establish Brand Guidelines: the guidelines that everyone on your marketing team will use when creating content.
A marketing team can include people from different backgrounds, with ideas that may not align with the larger goal for your business. Having guidelines laid out that everyone can follow is essential for keeping your brand and message consistent.
Brand guidelines should combine the message with the visual image.
It is important to communicate these guidelines to all affected employees or outside contractors, so everyone is on the same page.2
Remember to update the brand guidelines as your business grows or if changing the brand strategy. Communicate these changes clearly. You don’t want to end up with a mish-mash of different styles and have to pay someone to redo their work.
6. Implement: all the pieces are in place, now it is time to play the game.
You’ve built a strong team that has put together a solid brand strategy. Now is the time to put that plan into action and watch the results.
Align marketing content with the guidelines laid out in the previous step. You will also want to put into place a way to track the results of each piece of marketing that is published.
A few metrics to think about are:
- What are the open rates of emails?
- What are the click-through percentages of an email sequence sent to previous customers?
- What traffic is being driven to your website by consistent blog posting?
- What is the conversion rate of the latest social media campaign?
This is a very small list of possible data points. The amount of data available is vast, so narrowing down what is important to the growth of the business is key.
One of my favorite business adages is: You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
Know the industry standards for the metrics you are measuring. Use this as a baseline when establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This will tell you if what you are doing is working, and what may need tweaking to achieve your goal.
7. Refine: adjust and pivot based on what the data is telling you.
The brand strategy is in place. Content is being created according to the established guidelines, and the data is in!
Review the data and break down what is and isn’t working. Celebrate what went right, and learn from what didn’t. What was driving the success behind a campaign that increased sales? What was in that social media ad that caused people to scroll right by? Why was the open rate so low on the last sales email sequence?
Remember, this is a trial-and-error process. Don’t be afraid to make changes when something doesn’t work. Some of the biggest brands in the world have gone through a rebranding. Going through a rebranding is outside the scope of this article. But when done correctly, can have an immediate positive impact.
If rebranding, be sure to roll all the changes out at the same time. Be clear about what is changing and why. This will let your customers know what is going on and further their trust in your brand.
Building the Right Brand Strategy Team
When starting your business, you may have been doing everything on your own. But growing a business requires help.
Recognize when it is time to bring in outside help. You may be spending more time trying to figure out how to build a successful branding strategy than you want to. Your time is valuable! The cost of hiring an expert may be worth the hours you would have spent putting it all together alone.
Who do you want on your team? A few pros you may want to consider:3
- Copywriter: writes polished copy that includes SEO, incorporates your voice, and compels your customers to take action.
- Web Designer: a web designer will ensure your site is current, works seamlessly, and fixes any technical issues.
- Graphic Designer: develops your logo, imagery, and illustrations.
- Video Content Creator/Editor: creates and edits videos that are in line with the brand strategy.
- Social Media Manager: manages content, analyzes results, and interacts with customers through social media.
Working with a team of professionals will speed up the time required to get your business to where you want it to be. If you are working within a budget, look for pros who offer value by combining a few different roles.
A perfect place to start is with a copywriter, like Maggie with MWC. She is a talented writer who can craft a strategy that can be the basis for your business’s brand strategy development. Knowing the plan will help you decide what team members will add the most bang for your buck.
Putting It All Together
Your business is your brand.
A solid branding strategy is the key to a successful marketing plan. This plan should communicate your message consistently across all platforms.
This consistency attracts your ideal customers and establishes trust over the long term.4
Your brand strategy ensures that your marketing team is on the same page. It is the signpost along the road telling team members how to get the business to its destination.
Having the right team in place will close the gap between where your business is and where you want it to be. Building a rock star team will free up your time so you can focus on what you do best; serving your customers and fulfilling your business’s purpose.
Hiring a copywriter and marketing specialist is the perfect first addition to your team. A copywriter can create a strategy into which all the other pieces will fall. They will start you down a path to a solid plan to grow your business.
Schedule a call with Maggie Writes Copy to get started putting your brand strategy together!