Do you have a current and compelling brand strategy fueling your business’ growth?

authentic brand blueprintA small business CEO called me recently at the suggestion of a mutual associate. Let’s call her Sally. She was very frustrated and believed she had an urgent need for a new web firm. Turns out, she had spent months and a lot of money working with another firm on a new website. But she was very unhappy with the quality of work.

Sally shared that her firm had evolved quite a bit over the last decade – as a lot of businesses do. Plus, they wanted to expand presence and growth in one of their markets, while simply maintaining presence and revenue in what has been their primary market. So, their out-of-date website didn’t really represent them well anymore.

She then vented that the web firm’s suggested site navigation seemed confusing. But the bigger problem was their copy – she felt the writer wasn’t differentiating her business effectively. “We sound like everyone else – and it’s flat and boring! The writer expects me to tell him what to say to improve it. That’s why I’m paying him!”

That flat, boring web copy isn’t the real problem. The lack of an authentic brand strategy is.

 Sally is absolutely correct to expect a quality website that resonates with her targeted buyers. But what she didn’t understand was that her business was attempting to operate without a current, truth-based and differentiating brand strategy.

And, that’s why she, her team and the writer were struggling with how to communicate about the business!

A current and compelling brand strategy brings businesses the focus, clarity, and differentiation needed to succeed in today’s world of information overload and intense competition. How? It enables them to:

  • create much more cohesive, compelling, and differentiating marketing materials and campaigns
  • improve sales proposals, conversations, and results
  • build deeper understanding, connections, and relationships with potential buyers
  • recruit, hire, train, and more deeply engage the right team members
  • keep the business and team on track
  • consider and execute their next strategic business moves

So, what about your business? Does it need a brand strategy? It doesn’t matter if your business is 3 or 3,000 employees, is a start-up or has been around for years, or has numerous offerings or only one. Every business will benefit greatly from a brand strategy.

If you’re confused about what a brand is and why it needs a strategy – you aren’t alone!

Having spent decades helping a range of clients with their brand strategies, I’ve encountered many experts in their fields who know they should be doing something with their business “brand.”  But they weren’t sure what a brand even is, much less what to do with it. And, that’s completely understandable. That’s why the world has brand strategists like me!

So, let’s first answer “what is a brand?” Customers, prospects, employees, partners, and others have perceptions in their minds based on every interaction with your business. Think about that. How you and your team answer phone or email messages, what your website and proposals say, how your marketing materials look, how you go about delivering your product or service, if you actually deliver on what you promised, how you run meetings. All of that and way more.

Your brand is a perception in the mind of customers, prospects and others who are exposed to your business. It’s the sum of all their experiences – everything from what your business stands for, says, looks like, and actually does. That means your brand is everything.

So, then what’s a Brand Strategy and why do you need one? If developed correctly, your brand strategy is a blueprint for creating true understanding about and interest in your business. It helps shape and influence how your brand is perceived, helping to create positive feelings, trust, and connection with it.  And, an effective brand strategy differentiates your businesses in ways that resonate with your buyers.

So, which brand strategy approach is best for your business?

There are many brand strategists out there, and they have some similarities and some differences in their brand strategy approaches. Like mine, most consist of developing various components that come together as one holistic strategy. The true difference lies in which components your strategy includes, and the processes you use for developing them.

I call my brand strategy approach the Authentic Brand Blueprint. Catchy, huh? But, in all seriousness, those words mean something. To truly help your business, your brand strategy must be comprehensive – like a blueprint — in order to incorporate critical culture and brand identity components that unify your team and lead to a rich brand story. And, it simply must be authentic to your business in order to resonate with you, your team, and your targeted buyers.

Here are the 10 components of my Authentic Brand Blueprint approach:

  • Vision and Mission
  • Core Values
  • Target Markets & Audiences
  • Market Discovery Insights
  • Portfolio of Offerings
  • Brand Position/Promise
  • Brand Personality Attributes
  • Brand Message Themes & Proof Points
  • Company Descriptor
  • Brand Manifesto

Now, perhaps you’ve already developed some of these elements for your business. Maybe you already have a vision, or a clear portfolio of offerings, or some of the other components. That’s fantastic. It may be that some of your existing components can plug right.

However, I strongly encourage you revisit those components to see if you can improve upon them. In fact, as you develop your Authentic Brand Blueprint components, you’ll discover that some feed into others. That integration is exactly what you want. But it can be difficult if a component or two is outdated or not powerful enough.

Want to know more about those critical 10 components?

Download my Authentic Brand Blueprint Summary for the purpose and benefits of each one!

Now let’s talk about the secret sauce – the processes for developing each component

Too many companies out there just write down what they think sounds good for each component, which results in shallow “me too” brand strategies that don’t drive sustainable growth! It takes more time and effort than that to develop an effective brand strategy that will truly help move your business forward on multiple levels!

Instead, I encourage you to use a team-based development approach that accommodates:

  • introspective thinking and dreaming, with everyone on the brand team tuning into their thoughts and feelings
  • open and organized group brainstorming and collaboration
  • employee and market research data that leads to true inspiration and insights, making the brand-strategy group development sessions truth-based and productive
  • focusing and refining so that every component meets its purpose with crispness and resonance

Of course, your processes for developing each component should also be efficient as well as easy, interesting and enjoyable for team members to implement.

Now, you may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned your brand’s visual identity – like the logo and color palette. That comes after this work. That’s because your new brand strategy will smartly inform the graphics person so they can create a brand “look and feel” that helps express it.

Want to know more about those critical 10 components?

Download my Authentic Brand Blueprint Summary for the purpose and benefits of each one!

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