Effective marketing begins with understanding your brand. But what is your brand? Let’s clear up some branding terminology today.
Your “brand” is not your logo
Your brand is the set of attributes, qualities, and ideas that describe your unique business or organization. Your brand identity is the outward expression of your brand including its name and visual elements like logos, icons, symbols, typography, color, etc.
Let’s look at a quick example:
Nike’s brand is not the swoosh or even the “Just Do It” slogan. Nike’s brand centers around a core message of overcoming the internal struggle we all face—think about their memorable commercials. Elements of the brand identity such as the swoosh and slogan merely reinforce the brand’s unique attributes for their customers.
As a person interacts with your business as a customer or hears about your business through marketing or word-of-mouth their experience, reaction, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs will form an impression of your brand. Part of this impression is formed from the alignment (or misalignment) of their expectation and experience.[clickToTweet tweet=”Your marketing materials set expectations about the experience a person will receive if they become a customer.” quote=”Your marketing materials set expectations about the kind of experience a person will receive if they become a customer.”] Clearly defining your brand will help you keep these expectations aligned with your customer experience.
Because your delivery must meet or exceed the expectations your marketing sets!
Dollar Tree cannot brand itself as a high-end retailer without first changing the experience it delivers to customers. If they tried to change the expectations without changing the experience they would run the risk of alienating both of their target audiences. The “discount shoppers” audience would no longer resonate with the new high-end marketing message while the “high-end shoppers” audience would not receive the experience they were promised that they expect and demand.
How? Know thyself
How well do you know your brand? How much of that knowledge is on paper? It needs to be somewhere outside of your own head.
At Louder we begin each engagement with a Discovery process to learn about your brand, your market, your competition, your goals, and your audience. This ensures that we create solutions that accurately reflect your brand identity, engage your target audience, and actually move your business toward your goals.
While I can’t walk through a full Discovery process in this article, here’s a series of questions that will help you better understand your brand. Take 10 minutes to fill this out and don’t get caught up on any one question—80% done is better than zero!
1. Target Audience
- Who are you trying to reach? Why?
- What defines a qualified lead for you?
- Do we have a customer persona (avatar) for each group?
- What makes a person not your target audience? Why?
2. Brand Identity
- What is your unique value proposition? What makes you different than others in your space?
- What is your 30 second elevator pitch? Now in 10 seconds. Now in 8 words or fewer.
- Who are your top 5 competitors? What do they do well? What do they do poorly?
- What is your unfair advantage? What do you have that nobody else does?
- What brand story are you telling? How do you move a customer from a state of need to success?
3. Brand Purpose
- What problem are you solving for your target audience(s)?
- What is your solution to this problem?
- What is the story behind your solution? How did it start? Why? How does it work?
- What is the #1 benefit of your solution for your audience(s)? What do they gain?
- What happens if they don’t get your solution?
- What risks do they face by choosing your solution if it’s a bad fit for them?
- What are the main objections that would keep your target audience(s) from choosing your solution?
- Are there specific incentives available to entice people to choose your solution?
- How can scarcity be used to entice people to choose your solution?
4. Marketing Channels
- What marketing channels (outgoing) have you pursued? E.g. Paid search, organic search, paid social, organic social, blogs, podcasts, email marketing, etc.
- Where is your target customer online right now?
- What traffic sources (incoming) do you expect to drive people to your brand? How will your target audience(s) get to you?
- What are your key performance indicators (KPIs)?
- What are your goals for each KPI? (Remember to keep them S.M.A.R.T.)
- How can you utilize A/B testing or other forms of ongoing assessment and optimization?
6. Website Content
- What is your primary message in one sentence?
- What voice/tone is most appropriate for your target audience(s)?
- Do you have an expectation for your website’s page structure (information architecture / sitemap)?
- What are the primary calls to action for each page? What one thing do you want someone to do on your website?
- What types of content do you expect to use? (Text, videos, images, animation, infographics)
- Who will write & maintain the content on the site?
- How will you engage with your audience? Who’s responsible? Support? Social media?
If you can write down answers to 80% of these questions, you will be further ahead than many small businesses today. Committing to your answers will dramatically increase your efficiency when creating any new marketing materials. It will help you forge a path toward your goals and more easily recognize unfruitful rabbit trails in your business.
Take an imperfect action… but take action today!
(Then let me know how it goes.)