May 17, 2019

10 practical reasons you need a brand strategy for your business

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1. Focus and Team Harmony (Organization and Efficiency)

When you are a new business owner, there are many hats to wear, decisions to make, and new opportunities on which to capitalize. You don't often have the luxury to stop and explain your vision, business goals, or make sure your new hire has all the tools needed to succeed. It's GO time. When you have a targeted, well thought out brand strategy for your business, it quickly and efficiently can corral all of your team players onto the same page. With a focused brand strategy, you could deliver one document that covers your brand guidelines that include your vision, mission statement, tagline, logo details, positioning statement, benefits and features, and value propositions.

When we start working with a new client, we interview not just the employees and owners, but even their vendors and other partners to ask what the company does, stands for, believes in, and/or delivers…and we have yet to hear a clear answer. Some had no idea what the company's core purpose is, yet they are the direct link to their customers. This is definitely cringe-worthy!  If you begin or evolve your business without planning out your brand focus, you miss the opportunity to solidify your company's foundation. This brand strategy is your team's guide map and will keep you all on the right path.

2. Sales (People)

Ok, so you created this new product or service and are ready to get out there and sell the heck out of it! But how and with what? We have worked with amazing entrepreneurs that are super passionate about their new idea, and function like hell to make it a reality. But something occurs to them when it's time to launch; they don't know how or what they need to start selling. All of a sudden, you went from being the creator to the VP of Sales! For some new business owners, this is very scary, now you have to get out there and sell!

We help to make that easier by developing a brand foundation that targets your direct customers, visuals that represent your company values, selling tools, presentations, packaging, and collateral, etc. - all with the same tone and focus. We ask our clients: How do you approach social media campaigns? What do you leave behind after a meeting? What do you email and when? What are your value adds, your key benefits and features that need to be promoted? All this can quickly happen with a solid brand strategy.

Co-Founder of Misadventure Vodka, Whit Regal, puts it best:

"I would say that the benefit of finally establishing a brand is that it acts as a guidepost for the company, making decisions much easier. A well thought out brand is absolutely essential for companies who want to be competitive in this day and age. The founders won't be able to talk face to face with every customer. It's important for the brand to summarize and symbolize the ethos of the company in their absence."

3. Content (Organization)

This next reason may be apparent to you but when you have to sit down and write new material, sales pitches, blog posts, summaries, profiles, books, website articles, social media posts, etc. etc. How and where you start can be a challenge, kind of like a deer in headlights sensation. However, if you know who you are as a company, your core values, what your audience cares about, and why your key differentiators matter to them. You have the right tools to start. Starting is always the hardest. It's very empowering to know who you are and what you want to say and share with the world. That usually triggers a flow, growth, and a following with consistency and tweaks as you learn from getting yourself out there. The goal is always to work smarter, not harder.

4. Marketing (Creative)

This next reason can go both ways. It's a little bit of a slippery slope. Let me explain. When we develop a client's brand, identity, packaging, selling tools, website, etc. they have everything they need to manage their brand themselves or with an internal team. // See post here on what makes a compelling brand identity package.//  We do this because they need to use these tools daily. They need to update profiles, send logos, make last-minute stickers, promote a new campaign. We go away, yet they need to keep creating. Here's where it gets sticky. If you do not have an internal team that understands how to manage your brand standards and content effectively, your marketing starts to slip. It's so tough to keep your level of creative and marketing going when you are managing 50 other things. We offer our services monthly to help execute ideas, track goals, and plan out new campaigns.Your team can be set up for success with all the tools needed to manage and evolve your brand, OR we are here to help guide, build, and be that external team for you.

5. Competition (People)

Have you studied, evaluated, and compared what your competitors are doing? It is baffling, but I have seen it time, and time again, new business owners are only slightly aware of their industry completion. This is such a HUGE benefit. When you study your competitors, you learn what they are doing wrong, you can find the gaps and the wholes you should be filling. It's a map showing you what's working or not working. You can learn what they are doing correctly, showing you the level of your business has to meet. You can talk to their audience and find out what they love or think should change. You can apply these insights to your own business. This evaluation should be 1 of the first things you do before you finalize your products or services, before you get out there and sell, and definitely before you pitch to any investors.

I have told a handful of very different clients that we will not work with them because they have not done enough market research (which I did) and saw that there is no way they would survive or should continue because they did not have a viable product. Industry truth: no amount of smart marketing, beautiful designs, or fancy packaging will save a horrible product.

6. Innovation (People / Organization)

This one I love! It's so interesting to see how a brand can evolve because their core foundation was solid from the beginning. There is nowhere to go but up. When your vision and customer needs are established, your products start to evolve and innovate right away. This gives you 2 advantages. 1. you are a company that listens, ideates, tests, learns, changes all for the better. Innovation and growth will happen easily when you keep your eyes on the road ahead. Your road might twist and turn but taking hard lefts, or hard rights will ultimately make everyone confused and get your whole business off track. When you and your team have a laser focus on your goals, there is no limit to the products or services you can create. The second thing that happens is extreme brand loyalty. Your customers see that you listen, understand that you care, and will continue to need your products and services. They will come back for more because you have earned their trust.

7. Loyalty (People)

Innovation leads perfectly into allegiance. Your consistent tweaking builds trust, and that ultimately means your company has developed brand loyalty. Your customers, clients, vendors, all know they can count on your business continually delivering. When a company's products, marketing, social messages are all over the place, your customers will instantly lower their perceived "value" of your business. We all know those first impressions are essential, but so are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th brand experiences. If you deliver your message cohesively throughout all your dedicated "touch-points," (To learn what touch points are and how they are useful, click here.) people will start to pay attention. They see you mean business. Ha, Literally! I recently read such a poignant and straightforward piece of advice. A young woman was working on her social feed and asked a marketing/branding specialist why she is not getting any traction on 1 of her Instagram accounts vs. the other. And he simply told her because no one cares about your dog. And the different account had targeted, consistent, focused content, so people started showing up more and more because they knew what to expect. It's that simple, keep your account focused based upon your brand strategy goals, and you will build brand loyalty.

8. Recruitment (People)

A consistent and focused brand strategy not only brings loyal customers but also loyal employees. You want to build your tribe filled with positive and pro-active people that have your back as a business owner. These team members are imperative when it's time to push to the next level. They are your brand as well. They are your voice, they are who your customers and clients talk directly to - not you - them. So if you do not do the work first, there will be a lot of extra coaching, controlling, rewiring, and rehiring in your future. Set your company vision early on- who do you want to grow with? What do you want to offer them? How can you empower them to carry your torch? At the end of the day, employees want to feel validated and inspired that they are part of something bigger, and then they will go the extra mile for you and your business.

9. Money (Value)

I left this to the end - because its the reality of things but not the "feel good" part. You need to make money. (even though that does feel good- we do not talk about it enough) You will make money if you do everything above, but here is an industry truth: people can suss out a low budget, indecisive, or half-assed brand like a dog to a bone. So having a secure and trustworthy brand that you put time and money into will give you all the above advantages PLUS allow you to charge the amount you deserve. It takes less than 5 seconds for a person to judge if they think something is expensive, cheap, exciting, fresh, legit, or just plain dumb. If you have all your ducks in a row, you can and should charge for the value you deliver. AND here's the best part, customers will gladly give you their money because you have checked all their boxes. So invest in yourself and your brand because in the end you do need to make at least a living wage and there is nothing at all wrong with making more if what do gives value, joy, beauty, trust, and peace of mind.

10. Funding (value)

In summary, you now have all the research, vision, competitive data, target audience, goals, branded visuals, on-point messages, and a sales strategy all you need is to package this up into a tidy presentation and start pitching it to investors. You have all the work done. Adding in financials and projections is the last and most challenging task to incorporate, but with everything else figured out - you have a fantastic foundation to start from. You have the well-planned mission, the seedling is ready to grow, and you believe wholeheartedly in your company, now all you need is to get out there and pitch. It's not that easy- I understand, but it's a hell of a lot easier if you have all of these steps figured out when you are in the hot seat, and the sharks are circling. Our goal and wish for you is to guide you through building a strong brand strategy, so everyone wants to take a bite!