Define the ultimate brand strategy foundation for your business in five steps...
Fellow solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, freelancers, makers, photographers, artists, stylists, healers, bloggers, kick ass #girlbosses… this is for you. Whatever your niche, chances are you’ve landed here because you’re building a small business in a BIG way. Or, you’re dreaming about it. And, that is amazing. I’m here because YOU inspire me and I want to help you build an incredible brand that propels your business into the sweetness of continued success.
So. If you are a slice of the 47% of small business owners handling marketing efforts on their own (Blue Corona), I want you to know you are not alone! Maybe you are just starting out. Or, maybe you are struggling to gain traction. In either case, let’s be real about what you have to work with. Every penny has a job. One day, you’ll be bringing in that fancy marketing design agency. Right now, it just isn’t in the cards… Pssst! Hi. Let’s be friends.
Over the last seven years, I’ve built a freelance marketing business by creating a family of clients. From servicing agency retainers to helping start-ups open their doors, it’s been an honor to be a part of so many incredible stories. Before all of that, I wore my corporate marketing shoes working and growing with some pretty amazing peeps and teams to whom I’ll always be grateful. And before all of that, I checked off a B.S. marketing communications degree, teeing up said journey. Friends, long story long, this adventure has filled my cup with so much to share in this blog space. I am beyond excited to launch and grow this Morgatize community of doers where we can talk about and share marketing, business building and brand development tips, processes, strategies and resources that propel our business stories forward. Besides, you are a genius at what you do. Let me help you be a marketing genius too.
Still with me? Great. Top off that cup with whatever you’re drinking and let’s dig in.
Before launching any Morgatize client project, we always kickoff with a "strategy discovery" consult. Following suit, I couldn’t think of a better stepping off point for this blog launch series. Let's make this article, the first of ten in the Brand Discovery Series, our kickoff!
Digging in and pushing up my geek-chic glasses, let me ask a straight question to those of you who have an existing small business:
How does your online brand presence look these days?
Why does this matter? Studies show that between 70-80% of people research a company online BEFORE visiting a small business or making a purchase with them (Blue Corona). Think about it. Your online brand presence matters because practically every Jane and Joe is going to pop your name into Google before they swing into your shop for a visit, buy your product, hire you for a service, invest in your venture... or convert in any way as your customer. The takeaway here is that your brand strategy is just as – if not MORE – important than your business plan. Your unique brand tells the story of who you are, what you do and why. It’s a beacon to your ideal target client. It’s the foundation of your business and each touch point you share with your clients. It’s not just a logo... it’s a promise that embodies the core values of your business and all the feels your clients will experience when interacting with you. If your brand strategy is inconsistent, lack luster or nonexistent, chances are your clientele is too. On the flip side, if you’re gearing up to launch your business and you don’t have your brand strategy in place, hold.the.fort!
So what does a solid brand strategy even look like?
A solid brand strategy is your means to aligning business functions like marketing, sales and product/service offerings under a pretty umbrella with resources, tactics and measurable goals. It is the work you lay ground with before designing a jamming logo, picking all the right colors or falling in love with fonts for your business. It is the strategy that leads you in building that ultimate online brand presence... Now, of course there are about a gazillion-and-a-half stellar tutorials, courses and templates out there to help you in your quest of laying down the perfect brand plan. As awesome as all of that is, it can be totally overwhelming. Today, my goal is to help you cut through all of that dizzying clutter with a simplified, five-step process to focus and define the fundamentals of your brand strategy. These are:
Brand Strategy Fundamentals:
Target Client Profile
Unique Value Proposition
Because I wholeheartedly believe in you and genuinely want you to succeed, one of my personal goals in this blog space is to provide FREE, superior quality resources compared to other bloggers’ paid content. Cue curtains and enter:
This free workbook is designed to help you dig deep and ask the right questions that bring the foundation of your brand strategy into focus. Download this sucker and open.it.up! By the way, did I mention it was free!? :)
We’ll follow along each step together, right here, to guide you through this process:
STEP 1 - MISSION: What is your purpose?
The key to an inspiring brand mission statement is tuning into the genuine authenticity of your business. You want your brand's mission statement to roll off the tip of your tongue to clearly dictate your purpose and how you do it. If it’s too complicated, or too broad, or too cliché it won’t hold any meaning to you as the driver of your business, let alone to your ideal target clients.
Let’s break this down. On a split screen or separate browser, flip over to page 3 in the Brand Discovery Workbook. If you have a current mission statement, jot it down. Now, put that aside in your brain for a moment and wipe the slate clean. Using direct and succinct language, jot down your answers to the following prompts. I'll do it along with you right here.
/ What you do: brand designer and photographer
/ How you do it: create remarkable brands that capture and illustrate unique personality and value
/ Who you do it for: small businesses
/ The value they get: captivate ideal customers and transcend business goals
Next, string those deliciously focused points together. For example:
I’m a brand designer + photographer who leads small businesses in creating remarkable brands that capture and illustrate unique personality and value, so they can captivate ideal customers and transcend business goals.
If you had an old mission statement, compare it to the new one you just wrote. Which one clearly articulates your sole purpose as a business and the direct value you deliver to clients? That’s right, genius. Nice job.
The purpose of your brand's mission is to attract the ideal people you want to do business with. The first step to doing that is being able to articulate who you are and what you do... your newly coined, beautiful mission is the heart and soul from where you'll build recognition around your brand.
STEP 2 - TARGET CLIENT: Who do you attract?
Having a successful brand is all about attracting the ideal clients that we want to do business with. Remember when we said that if your strategy is inconsistent, lack luster or nonexistent, chances are your clientele is too? Hop to page 4 in your workbook, friend, and let’s look at your customers:
1. Who is your ideal target client?
2. Who is actually currently using your products and/or services?
To those who are budding business owners establishing a foundation: Focus on answering #1, listing the ideal clientele your business would service and then continue to #3. If you're struggling to create that answer, take a pause and dig back into market research and examine your business concept. Consider your offer/product/service, what existing need or painpoint it serves, and who/where the viable customers are in the areas you seek to do business. If you can't articulate your target client, you'll need to step back to define your business concept. If this is where you're at and because I'll never leave you hanging, I wholeheartedly recommend reading Pat Flynn's brilliant book, Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don't Waste Your Time and Money, as you explore your business dream!
To those who are growing an existing small business: If your answers are aligned to #1 and #2, you are a rockstar! If you have a disconnect, I am so glad you’re here. In order to shift and scale your business to your ideal target client, everything about your brand has to speak to and serve them. We dive deep into how to do this in How to DIY Brand Design: Audience Targeting & Personas. But first, for the purpose of developing our brand strategy foundation, we have to clearly map out your high-level ideal target client profile. Focusing in here to lay out who you’re targeting ensures that as we move deeper into developing your messaging, these target clients will hear you:
3. Detail your ideal target client profile:
Demographics (Age, Gender, Income, Occupation):
Location (Country, Region, Area, etc.):
Background (Experience related to your business):
Top Painpoints (What does this client need? What problems do they have?):
Okay, there it is in black and white. These are your people. This is whom you’re talking to in your marketing messages. These are the humans you’re building relationships with to propel your business forward. From here, every message you coin, product or service you offer and brand decision you make should be in their best interest… and hence, your business’ best interest too!
STEP 3 - UVP: What sets you apart?
Now, let’s move on to what makes you so great and why your clients, customers or readers choose you. This is your unique value proposition (UVP). That’s just a fancy way of saying what benefit/service/product you provide to who and how you do it uniquely well. A UVP is your marker against the competition, why you’re in business and should be a competitive edge in getting clients through your door. While it’s uncommon for any one business to be entirely one-of-a-kind, what we’re looking to uncover here are your company’s differences that resonate with your target. Here are a few questions to help you noodle this out; see page 5 in your workbook and let's capture the core pillars of your business:
/ What does your business offer? Brand design resources and services
/ What sets you apart from other businesses like yours? I offer brand and business development resources and services to small business clients who need it most, before they can typically afford to have it. By helping the DIY solopreneur brand their business well from the ground up to attract ideal customers and grow, these business owners can scale their business with confidence, trust and support in being part of the Morgatize community.
/ What value are you creating for your customer? An agency relationship that grows with their business as well as the ability to hit the market with agency quality brand design and strategy that attracts ideal clientele - without the price tag.
/ Why would an ideal client choose you over the competition? Because I grow their business with them from the ground up, regardless of their budget capacity.
Now that we have our minds focused, let’s coin your UVP. Again, bajillions of ways you can write this, but my favorite UVP’s are s i m p l e. Take all that awesome mojo you just penned and hit it home with a short, clear and memorable “what, how, why” statement.
[WHAT] Morgatize leads small businesses [HOW] in authentic DIY to full service brand designs [WHY] that capture ideal target clients and drive growth.
Boom. Read that UVP again and digest how awesome you are. The next time someone asks you what you do, THIS is what you say.
STEP 4 - KEY VALUES: What are the key elements of your brand experience?
Your brand’s values set the tone and mood for the experience your clients, followers and/or readers can expect when engaging with your brand. Let's get into the mindset of thinking about your brand as if it were a person. How would you describe them? We're looking for all of the qualities you want your brand to embody and consistently express to your client. Hit up page 6 in your workbook for a fun key values discovery exercise. I'll do this one with you too:
/ If your clients were asked to describe your brand, what words would you want them to use?
Inspirational. Valuable. Creative. Talented. Thoughtful. Dedicated. Savvy.
/ Think of 2 to 3 brands that you admire and write down a handful of qualities that describe them.
Beautiful. Talented. Focused. Poised. Creative. Authentic. Effective. Inventive. Inspirational. Modern. Minimalistic. Refreshing. Pretty. Welcoming. Sophisticated. Edgy. Ethical.
/ Peruse through the list of these common brand values. Circle all of the qualities that you strive for your brand to embody:
Next, study your answers to all three questions. Do you see any consistencies between the qualities of brands you admire --> to what you want clients to say when they describe your brand --> to all of the qualities you circled up!? Beautiful. This is the good stuff because before we know where we want to go, we have to know what kind of destination we're looking for. Keeping brands that we admire and how we want to be perceived by others top of mind helps guide our decision making along the way to bring it to reality. Keep that toe in the water and continue to notice and admire what other brands do well, or not so well. It will help you maintain your compass, aspirations and propel your business growth in the right direction.
Now, the tricky part. I challenge you to pare the list of all of the qualities you’ve brought to the table in this exercise to the TOP FIVE KEY VALUES for your brand:
This first-string-huddle-of-words is your compass in designing your brand and developing your brand voice and style. Stick ‘em on your walls with post-its, add them to your favorite desktop background and hold them close. We’ll be coming back to them later on in this blog series.
STEP 5 - YOUR WHY: What spells out your WHY?
Okay so you’re probably hearing this, “What’s your WHY?” all over the place. From network marketing bosses calling for the masses to join their teams (get-it-girl, it’s just not my jam!), to self-love mindset coaches pushing you to be your best self... When it comes to your business, your “WHY” is the key to a grounded mindset for making important business decisions. It’s a combination of your mission+UVP+IdealClients+KeyValues to define:
/ What is the driving force behind your business
/ The type of relationship you want to have with your client
/ How you want to be perceived in the market
/ What type of experience you want to deliver to your customers
In order to finally set your newly poured brand strategy foundation, turn to page 7 in your workbook. Here, you are going get on with your bad self and compile all of your beautiful work into one big, fat WHY page. Fill in your newly polished mission statement, UVP, ideal client profile and top five key values. Then, jot down real and honest answers to the core WHY questions. Whenever you waver on a decision for your business, come here. Read your words. Ground yourself. Consider your choices and how they align to your WHY. Trust your strategy foundation and chances are, you’ll know what to do next.
So. How did it go!? Uncover a big ah-ha!? Stuck and need help? Let me hear from you and please comment below, I am happy to answer any questions!
P.S. My wish for you is that you found the work done here empowering and that you are inspired to continue your DIY brand design journey. Keep with me bosspants because I believe in you. We’re just getting started and YOU got this:
Brand Discovery Blog Series:
[You're Here!] 1. How to DIY Brand Design: Strategy Discovery
COMING SOON... subscribe and check back for link updates as they go live!
9. How to DIY Brand Design: Must Haves Roundup
10. Exclusive Brand Showcase: Stay Tuned!