A lot of my clients come to me saying they have been changing their brand colours multiple times, paid for their website to be re-designed, but they still don’t feel like home.
Their brand doesn’t reflect their business personality. There’s a glitch.
Without getting clear on who you are, who you want to work with and where you want to get, you will be only marching in circles and feel like you don’t make any progress, or even sabotage your success.
Even the best design won’t fix a lack of strategy.
Design is a powerful tool, but behind every website, logo or even a color scheme, there’s certain thought process, that we, designers, learn at schools and over the years of doing our jobs.
It may not be obvious for non-designers, so it’s often overlooked. If you feel like you need something more than pretty logo and nice colors to make your brand stand out, read on. I’ve got an awesome post for you today, where you’ll learn the process of creating a Brand Strategy for your business.
Behind every good brand there is a story.
It has to be told in a certain way, so it attracts the right audience and resonates with them. To really make an impact with your brand, you need to decide on what you do best and focus on it entirely. You need to know your vision and mission and make sure that whatever you do, is aligned with it.
I know it’s hard, especially for multi-passionate entrepreneurs, to choose one or two things and then focus all their energy on it. We don’t want to be restrained and put in a box. But believe me, there is a power in simplicity!
Entrepreneurs hire designers to take your story from a rough draft and translate it into something visual, that sends the message across and it’s easily understood by your audience.
We can’t create a captivating brand, though, without getting clear on your Brand Strategy first. If you skip this important step and go straight to design: design a logo, choose your brand colors, fonts and create mood boards you like, you will be inevitably tempted to change them pretty soon.
Something won’t sit. You may not attract ideal clients. You may feel subconsciously something’s wrong and will try to change it.
If you skip the Brand Strategy part, you will never be able to know what doesn’t sit and how to improve it, to reach your goals.
Getting clear on your goals and vision
What is a Brand Strategy? It’s a set of very important aspects, like your brand mission, vision, voice and goals, your perfect client and unique selling point.
All this helps you understand why you want to go in a certain direction, how you’d like to do it and what will you do to achieve your goals and reach your destination.
When I start working with my clients, I always send them an in-depth questionnaire, that helps them get clear on all those important aspects. Then when I read their answers, I am able to imagine their perfect brand and bring it to life.
My questionnaire consists of few sections:
1. Where you’re at
In this section, I ask about their business, their skills and where they’re at. I ask questions, like:
What’s your story – why have you started your own business?
What kind of person, are you often told you are?
What excites you the most about your business?
2. Where you want to be
Here, I want to know all your wildest dreams and goals.
What do you expect from your new branding and website?
How do you envision your business in a year, 2 and 5 years from now?
What would you like to do more, or less of?
3. Your ideal client
It’s really important that we recognise who your ideal client is. Those could be clients you’ve had in the past and enjoyed working with (you know the ones who love what you do and are willing to pay for it? The one’s who know you’re an expert and let you do your job to the best of your abilities?).
As months and years go by, we all learn about who our perfect clients are. So this may be different to what you set for yourself 2 years ago because now you’ve learned and see what kind of people are not the best fit for you and your business.
If you are only starting out and have no idea about who your perfect clients are, there are two ways of approaching this. You can either have a look at your competitors and see what sort of clients they have, trying to figure out if they’d be perfect for you too, or simply imagine what kind of people are they. Where they live, how old they are, their gender, taste and work ethic.
I ask questions, like: Where does she/he live?
How her/his house looks like?
Where do they spend their free time?
How old are they?
What do they value the most (eg. quality over quantity)?
What’s their work ethic?
Which social media do they spend most of their time on?
5. Your brand voice.
For many entrepreneurs, (like designers, or photographers) business is very personal. We sell a piece of our soul each time we create something for others. Our creativity comes from deep within.
Therefore it’s crucial that our brand represents who WE are and is true to us. Otherwise, we will not feel comfortable with it and want to change it.
Your brand voice should be aligned with your overall brand personality. How do you figure out your brand personality?
By asking yourself these questions:
If your brand was a person:
What sort of friend is your brand?
How do they communicate: are they open and direct? Or a little shy and distanced?
When your brand meets new people, how does it act?
What does your brand home look like: describe the vibe, style and feel.
By imagining your brand to be a person, you let yourself see the personality traits and feel its energy. From there forward, you will be able to move on to choosing the right visuals, to represent it.
5. Your personal preferences and taste.
Even though your brand should represent your business and be aligned with your perfect client’s taste and expectations, it’s very important that you feel good with it too. That’s why I have a section where you’re able to tell me what style you prefer. We can then work from there.
In this section, you’ll find a few multiple choice questions: it’s packed with sample visuals, so you’re able to show me what you’re drawn to.
Please note, your final brand may not be the same as the ideal mood board you choose in this section.
My job as a designer is to take all the information from you, and then create something that will work for your business. Your new brand should attract your ideal clients, build their trust and make them resonate with it, so you can grow your business.
The Starbucks owner’s favourite color doesn’t necessarily have to be green, but it is a perfect color for their brand. A good designer will help you choose the perfect colors and style for your brand and explain why will it work for you, so you’re clear on the strategy.
Branding is the most important aspect of marketing.
It’s also one of the biggest investments for startups, but it’s something that shouldn’t be ignored or skipped. We often jump straight to the advertising and going out there, without crafting our brand personality and strategy.
This is a big mistake that can cost you months, or even years. You will reach your goals a lot faster if you do your homework first. That is what the biggest, and most successful brands do.
Brand is the experience.
It’s how we influence the buyer. It’s the emotions our brand evokes. It’s how it makes our clients feel. It’s how we stand out in a saturated market.
How to create a killer Brand Strategy
After my clients fill out my questionnaire, I go dip into it and try to take away a few buzzwords that come into my head when reading the answers. This gives me a better vision of how your brand should look, talk and act like.
Then I create a presentation, that is a summary of what you came up with in your questionnaire filtered through my mind and creativity. It’s a statement of what we want to achieve and each time we need a reminder, we can go back to it. It also helps us be on the same page during the entire design process.
1. Your brand goals and mission statement..
Here, I state what’s the goal of the project: do you want to start attracting a different audience? Do you want to stand out more from your competition? Maybe you’ve grown and evolved and your brand doesn’t match your business anymore, so needs to be re-adjusted?
Did you add new offers or products?
In my questionnaire I ask you about your mission statement, so you have the chance to re-think it or create a brand new one if needed. I place it in this section as a reminder of what’s important.
2. Ideal client.
This is a perfect place to insert your perfect client’s persona/s (you can have two, or three!). I summarise what you’ve told me in my questionnaire and make it visual, so it’s easier for you to imagine. We need to have a clear image of your perfect client in our heads the entire time we create your new brand and website.
3. Your unique selling point.
This is a very important part of the presentation, where we discover your uniqueness: what are your similarities to your competition? What are the differences? And where’s the sweet point that makes you unique?
Those are the words that come to my mind when I read your questionnaire. For example, your brand might need to be: classic, elegant and timeless, putting quality above quantity. From there, it will be easy to choose your perfect fonts, colours, visuals and create your perfect logo.
5. Inspiration board.
This is the last part of the presentation. It’s a mood board I create for you, that represents all the above and translates it to visuals. You’ll get the taste of your future brand style and feel. Usually, my clients are surprised how close is it to what they wanted to achieve. Sometimes they are also stunned because they didn’t realise it’s possible for them. It is possible for you to have an amazing, unique brand created for your business.
This is also a moment when my clients realise I understand them and their vision. It helps them relax and trust me, which in turn allows me to do my best work and exceed their expectations.
When your brand lacks strategy, you may encounter problems like:
Attracting the wrong clients
You mostly have clients who expect something you don’t offer or have different work ethic, therefore, are a nightmare to work with.
Struggling to earn what we’re worth
People judge the quality of your work by the quality of your visuals. This happens in about 5 seconds after they’ve interacted with your brand on your website, social media or Facebook Ads. Lack of professional branding leads to people undervaluing your offer and not seeing your true worth.
Not getting referrals
Your clients might be disappointed with the experience they’ve had with your brand because they expected something different. By lack of proper brand strategy, you yourself might be confused as to what your brand experience should feel like and try to deliver something that’s out of your zone of genius.
Earning less money
You may struggle to sell what you do. Without a clear brand strategy and captivating brand, you will struggle to build people’s trust, position yourself as an expert and show your true colors. If something’s clashing people can sense it, even though they may not understand it. If they sense a discourse or conflict between your offer, personality and actual brand, they will immediately lose trust and interest. It will be very hard for you to sell, even if your services or products are high quality and great value.
Growing your business at a snail’s pace
All the above in turn will translate into growing your business in a very slow pace. This can mean for you actually going out of business if you don’t grow quickly enough and increase the number of sells.