Branding amplifies marketing.
It’s common for businesses to put the mule before the cart but you shouldn’t build a house without blueprints nor furniture without instructions. Why? Because you’ll waste valuable time and money. Most business owners intuitively know they need advertising and marketing to run a successful business. Afterall, it’s tangible and often generates results.
What many business owners don’t see is the clarity that a solid brand strategy creates. They may assume they need a billboard, but do they really know it will help (or are they merely assuming)? Do they know where to put it? What to say to those specific people driving past it every day? Identifying the answers to these questions becomes significantly easier when you have a well-defined brand strategy.
For a quick reference…
Marketing is saying you are the best.
Advertising is investing in telling people you are the best.
Branding is people understanding you are the best because of how you make them feel.
When businesses market before branding, they often wonder…
- What social platforms to invest time in.
- Where to spend their ad bucks.
- To post this funny thing or to keep it professional.
- How come everyone wants the cheapest option?!
- Why didn’t they hire us? We’re the best!
- Is my marketing working?
All of this is considered in a brand strategy.
Branding changes the game
When I went out on my own as a freelance graphic designer, I wanted to be the best…
But I wasn’t. But i was different.
This ultimately launched me further than I could have imagined than if I had chosen to blend in. I didn’t realize it yet, but I built my first business around one brand idea: “Authentically different.” It’s what I tried to be and what I aimed to do for my clients. I realize now, it was all branding. Here’s how I did it (before I knew I was doing it):
Step One: Research
I spent time studying the market, figuring out what my business could be good at and understanding if it could help people. I asked myself, “could it help people make money?”
Step Two: Positioning
Brains love to organize themselves by categorizing and labeling things. This is a tactful way of saying, “people can be judgmental.” They will naturally put you in a folder of their choosing, unless you tell them which one to put you in.
As a graphic designer, I know many other graphic designers and I wasn’t looking forward to competing with any of them! I knew I was a better artist than a designer… So I knew I had to position myself as such.
Step Three: Archetype
Now that I knew what I did, I needed to know how to do it. I started by looking into what marketing agencies feel like. They’re usually business casual, which is correct for them and it works. Knowing I could barely punctuate an email, I needed something casual casual (so casual it has to be articulated twice). What I ended up finding fit me like a glove.
I leveraged a less-used archetype combo (outlaw and everyman). Together, they help clients take business risks with a friendly grin. I wanted my target customer to feel like they were riding a Harley with me in their sidecar yelling, “Throttle it!”
Step Four: Identity
I planned my “uniform,” my logo, and my writing style. Everything was pretty close to how I was doing it already, but this time…
I cranked it to an 11.
Anything corporate was donated or thrown. I needed to be consistently and professionally casual.
Step Five: Marketing and Advertising
Once I had a clear vision of what I wanted the business to be (and I knew business owners wanted what I could build) I had no fear. I knew:
- Who to meet
- How to engage
- What to say
- Where to be
- When to sell
- How I could be the best for them
and that made all the difference.
Is your brand Selling for you?
Branding is what happens when you curate your business’s reputation, define what it stands for, and discover who it serves. With this information, you’ll never have to worry if you’re wasting your money, effort, and time. You do this by being consistently you. No matter who you are; show up loudly.
Not sure where to start? Get ahold of us.
We’ll share additional brand assets in a future post. Until then, discover your brand’s strength by taking our Branding 101 Quiz.