Brand Strategy

The Brand Strategy Ultimate Guide | Kickass Techniques For Your Creative Business

This week I’m giving you a deeper dive into brand strategy, sharing the three main steps for getting clarity about your brand, and somehow relating strategy to cake! I talk about what brand strategy is, why you need it, and how to do it.

In a recent post about what branding is, I gave you a brief breakdown of what brand strategy is, and I described it as a plan for how you're going to implement the rest of your brand. A plan for who your brand is, what you do, how you explain what you do, and everything that makes you unique.

Today I wanna go a little bit deeper into that and explain really what goes into a brand strategy, why it's important, and then show you the three main steps that you need to take in order to build your brand strategy.

Brand strategy is your recipe for success

To me, building your brand without having a strategy is like going to bake without having any idea what you're going to bake.

You have no idea what ingredients you need. You don't have a vision of what it's going to look like in the end. You don't know the recipe, so you don't know the steps that you need to take. You don't know what it's supposed to look like, feel like, or taste like.

You have no idea and so you go into baking this cake feeling straight-up lost and confused. You have no clear mission at all. Maybe you open the pantry and you're staring at it for hours thinking "Oh, maybe I could use this ingredient, or maybe I'll just grab this and this, and see what happens." And you just feel lost and all over the show.

If somebody came into your kitchen and saw you with all this kind of chaos and no plan of what you're doing, with you all over the place and confused, then they're going to think "Err... I'm not sure if I want to try whatever it is that you're baking because you don't seem confident or like you have the experience to make something delicious." right?

Whereas, if you do have a strategy, or in this case you do know what cake you want to be baking, you'll have a clear vision of what it’s supposed to look like. You have a set recipe to follow with step-by-step instructions, you have goals, you know at what point things need to happen, you know what time they're supposed to come out of the oven. You have things to work towards, you know what it's supposed to look like and feel like and taste like. You can see that in your mind, and then you can tell that to people who come into your kitchen. "Hey, I'm making a vanilla sponge with raspberry and cream and this is what it's' going to look like." and you’ll get super excited and pumped about it because you know exactly what it's supposed to be. You have a clear vision of where you're going, and you can share that cohesively and consistently and clearly with whoever comes into your kitchen.

So, this little baking metaphor explains why you really need a strategy in the first place, because you need the clarity, vision and goals, and to know what’s gonna make your cake unique from any other cake.

This is why you need a brand strategy.

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Brand strategy workshops are the Marie Kondo of branding

I also describe the brand strategy process as a little bit like Marie Kondo for your business. If you've ever seen Tidying Up with Marie Kondo or heard about it, then you'll know that it's all about taking everything out of your cupboards, everything out of your house, dismantling it, throwing it all in the middle of the room, analysing everything, picking up things and seeing if they spark joy or not, and if they do you keep them, if you don't then you thank them and you let them go. Brand strategy is like that. It gets a little bit messy because we have to pull everything out of your business cupboards [laughs] and really get down to the foundations of your house and see why was this built in the first place, what made you build this house, or your business in your case. Then we gather all these things and we look at what gets you the most fired up and passionate about. And anything else we can, say, okay, thank you, that's not for me anymore, or that's not for me but these things are, so thank you, and we let them go. Then we bring all of the things that have sparked joy back together and those are the things that form a really clear powerful brand strategy.


The Make Your Mark Framework

So let's talk about how we do brand strategy.

I have a framework for the whole branding process – I call it my Make Your Mark model – and brand strategy is all about the first pillar, which is Clarity. So, brand strategy is really all about getting clarity for yourself and your audience about who you are, what you do, why you do it, and everything that makes you unique.

The Make Your Mark Model
The Make Your Mark Model

There are three main steps within that. So, in order to get clarity, what you need to do is:

  1. Uncover your Identity
  2. Pinpoint your People; and
  3. Find your Voice.


1. UNCOVER YOUR IDENTITY

Uncovering your identity is really about finding out everything that makes you unique: everything that is behind your business, and everything that forms a really strong foundation of who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

It covers your mission and your vision, your values, your goals, your story, and more. Your story is key here because that's really unique to you and who you are. It helps you to see what's informed all of the other things and helped form the business that you've created. For example, maybe you were creative as a child, or your parents were super creative and that informed where you're going. Your story is really important.

Then, there's your unique selling proposition, your unique selling point.

  • What is super unique about you?
  • How do you stand out against everybody else?


And your zones of genius.

  • What is it that you are really excellent at?
  • What is it that people come to you for?
  • What is it that makes you super special?


These are some of the things that you can do when it comes to uncovering your identity and getting really clear on:

  • Who are you?
  • What are you all about?
  • And how do you communicate that clearly with your audience?
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2. PINPOINT YOUR PEOPLE

Step number two is Pinpointing your People. This is all about finding those amazing people who are in your audience who love your work, connect with you, want to buy your products, subscribe to you on YouTube, follow you on Patreon, or support you in other ways.

We want to find those people and really get to the ones who you want to be talking to, and who want to hear from you.


Audience

Clarifying your audience is not necessarily always about kind of stereotypical things like age or gender or race, – these are really important things to be aware of, especially if your audience does include people who are minorities in any way because it is important to acknowledge that – but finding your audience is really not about building a stereotype of a person.

It's more about getting to the root of what their dreams and desires are. What are they really needing? What are their core struggles? These things are really going to be powerful in helping you communicate with them and connect with them on a level that really grasps them. Rather than saying "My brand is going to be pink because I want to attract more women," you can instead talk to “what are my struggles? What do I dream about every day? What do I really need?” These things are what's going to connect with them, rather than the colour pink.

Positioning

Also within pinpointing your people you can look at what other people around you are doing. I don't really like to call them competitors, because I 100% believe in community over competition, so they’re not competitors. But you can look at:

  • What are they doing?
  • What are they offering?
  • What prices are they selling their things for?
  • What marketing techniques are they using?
  • What people are they connecting with?
  • What messaging are they using?

Looking at their brand and how they're doing that is really helpful and can help you to position yourself in a gap in the market. Or maybe you will think "oh, these people are doing this thing up here and that's where I wanna be" and that can inspire you in growing your own brand. So looking at other people in your industry who are doing similar things can be really helpful in pinpointing your people as well.

And then you can position yourself in terms of what offers you're gonna have, so are you selling products or are you offering services of any kind? These things are all going to help you position yourself and attract the right people, and for the right price.

FIND YOUR VOICE

Finding your voice is all about finding your unique personality, how you speak and communicate with your audience, how you're gonna make them feel, what you're gonna talk about, and what platforms you're gonna use.

Within finding your voice we need to find out your voice, your tone, your content and your platform.

Voice

Your voice is your personality – everybody has a different voice right? I speak completely differently to how somebody else is going to speak, and they speak completely different to the person next to them. We all have a different voice.

Tone

Within our voice, we have different tones. I am not gonna speak to a person who is coming to me about customer service in the exact same way that I'm gonna talk to a client who has just finished one-on-one coaching with me and we're celebrating. Those are completely different tones of voice, and it's important to think about what those tones of voice are. Maybe you have moments where you speak in a more educational and teaching tone, and then in other moments you speak in a really inspirational, celebratory and excited tone, and you might have your customer service tone which is a little bit more serious and caring and personal.

Content

Then there's the content. So, when you use your voice and your tone, what are you talking about? Are you teaching someone about painting? Or building a business as an artist? What are you talking about? What are your content pillars? What are the things that are your main topics to discuss? These are the things that you want people to get to know you for. Things that people will come to you for because they know that they're gonna learn about painting from you, or they're gonna think "Oh, that person, they're gonna teach me how to build my business as an artist, that's who I need to talk to".

And then lastly is your platform. Where are you speaking to these people? This will come from doing the research on who these people are, where they hang out, and figuring out what platforms are they gonna use. Am I gonna do a podcast? Am I gonna be on Pinterest? Am I gonna be on Youtube? Where are these places that I'm gonna be talking and communicating with my audience where I can speak about these different content pillars that I've just decided on? And I can use my different tones of voice, and I can use my personality and my unique voice on them.

Clarity

Just to recap, we're talking all about clarity. To do that we need to uncover your identity and figure out who you are, and what your mission, vision and values are. Then we need to get clear on who your audience is and what their desires, struggles and needs are, and how you are going to position yourself to attract those perfect people. Then we need to find your voice and determine what your unique personality is, how you are gonna speak to these people, what you are gonna talk to them about, and where you are gonna talk to them.

This is an overview of brand strategy and I really hope that it's helpful in giving you some perspective on what goes into a brand strategy. And if you want to start thinking about your own brand strategy, you know where to start. You can start with uncovering your identity, pinpointing your people, and then finding your voice.

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Hollie stands resting her hands on the white desk behind her, wearing a black t-shirt tucked into orange pants and clear glasses, and smiling into the camera.

by hollie arnett

The brand coach for creatives, hand-lettering artist for herself, and cup of tea lover forever.

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