Right now, there are so many distractions going on around us it’s easy to get lost in the noise. There is now a magnitude of social media platforms, algorithms, different content executions, and economic challenges, and for SMEs, it can all get a little overwhelming.
So we’re here to lay down the best way to charge through the clutter and maintain brand growth. How? Stop focusing on the small scale rubbish and go back to basics. And, if you haven’t got those basics in place, you’re in for a treat.
Lay the foundation
It’s common that brands begin without laying down a proper foundation, and that can serve you well until you hit a point where you find that things start to unravel. This may be 2, 5, even 10+ years down the road. If you’re a newer brand you’ll find you’ll hit that wall towards the earlier years, but if you’re an established brand that’s been in business for more than a decade, you might be finding things harder than they used to be (Read our past blog How strategy can make or break your brand here). Well, there is a reason for that. Today, there is an everchanging landscape with the way we’re expected to portray ourselves as brands, and if you have a rock solid foundation you’ll find it a heck of a lot easier to move with the change.
So, what do we mean by the foundation? Your who, what, where, why, and how.
These components are key in setting you apart from the rest. They enable you to build trust, set the narrative, and create consistency for brand recognition and reputation. Think of it like meeting someone in the street who knows nothing about you, it’s up to you to introduce yourself, they will make the assumption on whether or not they’d like to be friends with you based on how you sound, how you look, what your interests are, what your values are. It’s the same as branding (to learn more check out our Designs Cool subject: How to map out a simple brand strategy).
Let’s break this down.
- Brand personality: This is a framework that helps to define your brand persona which will shape the way you present the brand and build a connection with your audience.
- Culture: Your brand DNA, the characteristics that enable you to build relationships and interactions both internally and externally.
- Core Values: What you stand for and align with as a brand. The belief system and principles are at the core of the business and its decisions.
- Brand Story: The storytelling aspect of the start of the business, and its evolution, can build an emotional connection with your audience.
- Brand Tone: The way you sound and speak as a brand. This ties into the personality and the way you would articulate the voice. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
- Who is your audience? Constantly deep dive into your target audience’s demographics. Build out customer personas/avatars to know what they need, how to speak to them, and how you can solve it.
- SWOT Analysis: Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These help you to find where to focus and where to improve.
- Are you a product or service-based business?
- What do you sell?
- What’s the process? Where is it made? How do you do it?
- What is the price point?
- Visual Identity: What do you look like? Logo and marks, colours, elements, graphics, typeface, guidelines, and marketing collateral.
- What problem are you solving? List it out, and provide insight. Demonstrate how you’re a leader in your field and how you know what your customers want.
- Where are you located? Are you a fixed business?
- Where should you be positioned? Eg. If you sell coffee, are you more suited to Woolworths or to a hipster cafe? Both have very different audiences.
- Where can people find you? What channels? Channels aren’t just social media, check out this blog here by AppSumo for an example.
- How are you going to solve the problem?
- How do you associate yourself? Who are your suppliers?
- How do you measure? How will you know what’s working or not? How do you plan to track this?
- Content plan: What conversations will you have? What are your content pillars? How will you implement this?
- How are you different? What is the distinct difference between working with you or someone else? Something that people can choose from which doesn’t narrow down to price.
- How will customers remember you? What is your customer journey? How do you plan to create a great customer experience?
- Why do you exist? Was there something missing? How are you offering something different? What things did you want to change?
- Your purpose: The sole reason for wanting to start the business. This is your internal driver when things get hard, the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. For those who haven’t seen it, watch the Simon Sinek Ted Talk ‘How great leaders inspire action’.
You could really drive deeper into the above, but these are key starter points in creating the initial building blocks of a brand. Most people assume that starting a business requires a product/service, a logo, and some colours, and honestly, that doesn’t even scratch the surface. Branding involves psychology; buying behaviours, thinking patterns, and emotional connections. In order for you to build trust with your audience so they buy, you need to build a reputation through strategy and design thinking (read how design thinking can be key to brand growth here).
When you’re clear on the above, you have a guide to refer back to instead of shooting blind and winging it. It can help with business decisions, hiring people, attracting the right audience, understanding where you do well and where you don’t so you can improve, and so much more. After the base has been made then you begin to look at how to execute content on whichever platforms/channels serve your brand well, so you can get the most bang for your buck.
Investing in good branding and understanding the process can completely change the way your business grows.
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