This is a guest post by the amazingly talented Celia Lockley. She’s a marketer helping female entrepreneurs create the business they’ve always dreamed of with website design, brand design, brand strategy and social media strategy.
Defining your brand strategy as a business or person of influence is a crucial activity to help you start off on the right path. A solid brand direction and identity truly sets the agenda for the rest of your business to prosper, and reassures you that you’re heading exactly where you want to go!
If you haven’t yet created your brand strategy or you’re feeling as though you’ve missed a few steps, don’t worry! It’s quite normal for many entrepreneurs to go into business with only a partly-formed plan. But if you’re starting up your empire and are passionate about ensuring true clarity and focus on what you’re doing, this process will help you immeasurably.
As a marketer and brand strategist of 15+ years, I really love taking entrepreneurs and their teams through the entire process. The effects are very cathartic inspiring – we create a real sense of calm and a structure that can ultimately trigger new ideas and strategies that can supercharge the next phase of business.
Today I have created a super short, summarized version of my preferred approach to help kick start your thinking as a brand – however of course in reality, this work dives into a whole lot more detail!
Your vision is the first step in defining your brand strategy. For the purposes of this piece let’s say we’re strategizing for a professional home organizer and productivity expert. She specializes in helping stressed-out eco-conscious mamas create calm amongst the chaos in a sustainable way. Let’s call her Paige.
Paige’s VISION is a transformative end goal; it’s the ultimate end result she wants to achieve from her mission.
To create a world where all home organization is carbon-neutral.
Remember that her vision may be far-fetched – and so can yours – but this vision is your North Star and a compass to your core intention.
We then move on to your mission statement. This describes what you do, who you do it for and why you do it.
This should ultimately be an expansion of your purpose: what you set out to do in the first place and the task, approach or solution you have created that benefits your customers and addresses their problems – all wrapped up into a few sparkling sentences!
Let’s check in with Paige again. Paige’s MISSION is:
To create happy, calming homes and lives for earth-conscious mamas whilst championing and educating communities on sustainable living practices.
The mission gives us a really specific idea of what Paige’s business means to her, and rather refreshingly, we don’t have to write a tonne of stuff to define it. The mission statement should be super succinct in my book – don’t get all hyperbolic here!
Brand values are a really exciting element of our strategy. They’re a bit like describing our personality; how we act, how we think, how we like to do business, our morals and ethics, and our priorities for our audience.
In order to define our values we need to get deep for a moment!
What do you stand for?
What is dear to your heart as a business?
What qualities are my audience looking for?
How does your product or service make your customers feel?
What is your approach?
Make a list of 8-10 keywords.
Back to our main girl, Paige for a second. Of course, she’s got herself some super positive and punchy values that echo her green credentials:
I’d advise you to purposefully refine, review and hone these values into a summary of what they mean to you. Don’t be afraid to describe why they are important to your business – especially if you have or are intending to have a team. You’re going to want them to study and learn your brand strategy, so that they can professionally align with the mission plan of the business!
Commonly confused as the whole ‘brand’, the identity is specifically the elements that your customers see, touch, interact with and crucially, form an opinion on within fractions of a second.
Your identity can be defined by just a few key rules and principles or, if you’re a larger organization who needs to police the brand across teams, agencies and third-party contributors it could be a more detailed and instructional brand manual.
Either way, the identity typically manifests itself as follows:
Main logo – the logo you will use most commonly, shown in full. The main logo appears on most materials, except where space is restricted.
Sub marque – a smaller, more succinct version of your logo; often a monogram, icon or combination of iconography and text.
Typography – the fonts and weights of typography to be used in your materials.
Palette – the color palette your brand will carry; this is often 3-5 complimentary colors and tints.
Patterns & textures – any specific patterns or textures that may play a part in your brand materials e.g. chevrons, circles, metallics, natural stone. Iconography – hand-drawn or designed shapes, icons or artwork that can be used to represent processes, services and products – for example a seedling to represent growth or a lightbulb to represent ideas.
Photography – the image style and mood of photography to be used across your brand materials.
Tone of voice – how you will speak to your audience on each platform, the style of your communications, your brand vocabulary and your specific approach to grammar and mechanics. This information is often omitted from brand guidelines as so much focus goes into the visual identity, but I highly recommend creating visual and verbal guidelines as a synergetic piece. Words typically need to live alongside logos, colors and photography, after all!
Brand materials & collateral
Print – business cards, flyers, brochures, price lists, signage, packaging etc.
Digital – website, social media, PDF downloads, e-books, courses, 3rd party apps used by your brand, digital advertising etc.
Overall, you should be looking to work with a designer and copywriter who can skillfully produce a creative outcome for your brand that aligns back to your core values, mission and vision.
5. Customer Journey
Now that you have the clarity and confidence to tell the world what it is you offer, you can begin to map out the way in which you will execute it.
The customer journey and user experience are often overlooked within the context of the brand – however I truly believe you need to be in a brand headspace to build out and fine-tune the customer journey accurately.
No two businesses are likely to have the same customer journey, however they all tend to follow some key phases:
AWARENESS - The desire for your product or service; browsing for options
CONSIDERATION – Considering your product or service;
ACQUISITION – The buying phase;
SERVICE – After-sales experience;
LOYALTY – Championing your brand; repeat business
The customer journey cuts across many layers of a business – from marketing to accounts and design to logistics.
When we map the full journey, we ensure every possible touchpoint has been considered from a brand perspective and truly builds or nurtures a customer relationship:
If a customer visits your website is it obvious for them to subscribe to news and updates?
When a customer receives your product or service, how do you present yourself or the product, and does that key in to your brand values?
When you email your loyal customers, how do you speak to them and what kind of offers do you make to persuade them to purchase from you again?
This is obviously a super quick tour of how to build your brand strategy, but hopefully you’re inspired to make the next move to define yours into a framework that gives you both the clarity and the confidence to succeed.