Now more than ever, startups, entrepreneurs and companies-of-one are popping up all over the place. Technology has made it so easy for us all to turn our passions and side-hustles into careers—which is truly incredible.
This landscape of opportunity, however, means there is an influx of businesses just like us. So much so that there is a new business fatigue happening as our social feeds regularly bombard us with new brands and businesses, all competing for our attention.
So how do you create a business today that people will actually get excited about?
It starts with a brand strategy.
WHAT IS A BRAND STRATEGY ALL ABOUT?
Nowadays, with 1001 different brands to choose from that can solve our problems, what we now seek from brands is a connection. We are looking for a reason to care about a brand, some unique quality or value that draws us in and makes us feel good. When brands give consumers a reason to connect, those are the brands they feel good about buying from.
So if you want your business to gain the recognition it needs to grow, you need more than a baller brand identity. You need to focus on the ways in which you can forge a connection with a particular audience.
You Need to Start at the Beginning
And this is where brand strategy plays such an integral role in the success of your business. Strategy comes ahead of any aesthetic decision making.
Through strategy, you need to start at the beginning—to that pivotal moment that led you to start your business—and remember why you started your business in the first place.
Why do you do what you do?
Your why holds so much value that is worth exploring. There’s typically a good story there. Is it relatable? How might this story influence the direction of your brand? These personal stories allow us to infuse humanity into our brands.
Consumers want to know the people behind the brand. Part of this connection we seek as consumers is to know that there’s a real human behind the business.
The Problem versus the Solution
Next up, is the problem people have that your business solves. I think it’s super important here to emphasize that we aren’t focusing on the solution you have to offer, but rather the real emotional problem someone has that you happen to have a solution for.
This is one of the biggest missteps new businesses make: they focus on the solution— the thing they have to offer that you just HAVE to have.
But the thing is, the solution doesn’t have the answers, because it’s not about you; it’s about your client or customer.
Through strategy, you work to identify the problem that your specific target audience is faced with and work out from there. This is how you are able to create a strong, clear message and vision for what your brand and business is really all about.
We aren’t focusing on the solution you have, but rather the real emotional problem someone has that you happen to solve.
Who Are Your People?
A big mindset shift you can make that will directly impact your brand messaging and ability to connect, is to regularly remind yourself who you’re in business for. This means dedicating time to understand who your ideal customer or client is.
What does that look like? Well, start building a profile of this individual:
where do they live?
what do they do?
what’s their lifestyle like?
what would make their lives easier?
what values do they have?
what keeps them up at night?
what occupies most of their time?
This is just the tip of the iceberg but the specificity of this phase of brand strategy is so integral (and can be quite fun) to begin focusing your brand towards a persona that struggles with X, loves to Y, and needs more Z.
The point is, without clarity on who will actually buy your product or benefit from your service, you’ll struggle to build a brand that fosters connection. When you spend time getting to know your target audience, you will have a clear foundation for your entire business.
Finding your Voice
When you know who you’re talking to, what they need, and what they value, your brand messaging becomes less of a chore and more of a reflex.
Your brand strategy will allow you to build your messaging architecture. Imagine the time you’ll save by having a series of content pillars that keep your content creation on brand and are designed to deliver your key message, attract your ideal customer and position you as an expert in your industry?
Furthermore, you’ll establish the tone of voice your messaging will have that aligns with your brand’s mission and the personality your target audience is seeking in a brand.
These are just some of the building blocks of brand strategy that work together to create a sustainable business.
IMPACTFUL BRANDING STARTS WITH CLARITY
Ultimately, the goal of brand strategy is to gain clarity in your business and work to build its solid foundation. You shouldn’t be throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Brand strategy eliminates all of the things you aren’t doing by narrowing your focus to the things that do. You’re growing before you even launch.
Strategy also means creating a vision for where you want to take your business. Factoring in your goals and trajectory of your business will keep you inspired and motivated. Not to mention, a business will evolve naturally—it’s inevitable. So if you can account for change in the beginning, you’ll be able to avoid a costly rebrand in the future.
IDENTITY FOLLOWS STRATEGY
To just be given an attractive brand is one thing, but to have a strategy that influences the identity, which in turn supports your messaging, positioning, and your content strategy—that’s where success lies.
Your brand strategy will directly guide the outcome of brand identity. With everything you’ve clarified and defined, it becomes far easier to design a brand identity that empowers your business and just feels right. There’s no more guess work because it’s all backed by an in-depth strategy.
Beyond that, it allows you, the business owner, to better understand the creative direction a designer takes. It’s an enlightening experience that teaches you about your own business in a new light.
So why brand strategy?
Because without clarity, a business will struggle to stand out and make their mark. Consumers want a real reason to spend their hard earned money on one brand over the next. And it takes work to create a brand that fulfills that.
But once all is said and done, your brand strategy becomes the foundation on which you build your business. Everything you’ve come to realize and formalize, it’s all right there. Your strategy reminds you why you do what you do, who you do it for and gives you a framework to guide your business forward.
So the question is, are you ready to start?