Building a business and building a brand are different things. The first is more transactional and the latter is more relational. While business is about selling a product, branding is about selling an idea, a story, a lifestyle.
Building a brand requires capturing hearts, creating culture, and cultivating a tribe. It’s less about the operation and more about the narrative. But like business, you can have a plan for it.
With the ever changing landscape of media and technology, it can seem overwhelming to keep track and keep up with the latest trends. Yet branding is ultimately about storytelling, and some aspects remain timeless.
This article will give you a plan for building a brand. It’s a bird’s eye view of the entire process so you can see where you are and plan your next steps.
I’ve built a lot of brands in the past decade – a range of rebranding large organizations to side projects to startups from scratch. From the successful ones, I’ve templated a process that helps bring clarity and progress when branding gets overwhelming.
I’ve broken it down into 3 phases: mapping, making, and marketing. There’s a lot of overlap, and you’ll find yourself doing all 3 or going back and forth at times. But it is a general progression.
Whatever stage you’re at in building your brand, use this to get caught up, cover your bases, and chart your path forward.
Also, I worked really hard to make all my points start with the same letter.
This is creative brainstorming and planning. You’ll do this all the time as your brand grows, but obviously a good portion is done at the beginning.
Sometimes it gets rushed and people go straight to doing the work, which can lead to doing a lot of activity but no real progress. Others can get consumed with planning out every detail that they don’t even start to work.
Here’s how you can get enough planning down to give you a roadmap to start working.
- The Problem: What are you trying to solve or improve?
- The Audience: Who are the people that have this problem?
- The Solution: What’s the product or service you offer that’s going to help this problem?
- Content: How are you going to tell this story?
- Messaging: What is the story you’re telling, and how are you going to tell it?
- Style: How will your visual/graphic style look to compliment your messaging?
- Workday: How much time each day or week are you able to commit to this?
- Runway: How long will you spend to map, make, and market your brand?
What you develop in your mapping process should be referenced constantly to make sure you stay on track, but it’s not set in stone. Revisit and readjust your brand map to adapt to your changing environment and goals.
Next, get to work.
This is where you do the actual work of creating the stuff needed for your brand. It can be fun as you see things materialize, but also exhausting as work goes slower than you anticipated.
It’s easy to get stuck in the making process forever and never actually launch.
Here are the essential things to have in place before you launch your brand.
- Where You’ll Tell: Setup the social media networks and media platforms you’ll use to talk about your brand.
- Where You’ll Sell: Setup the website platforms and systems for people to buy from you.
- Asset Library: Create and collect all the media and content you’ll need to market your brand at launch.
- New Assets: Make sure you have a sustainable way to continually generate new content for your brand.
- Minimum Viable Product: Get just one product or service ready to go, and work on the others after launch.
You will always be making, whether it’s new products, product improvements, or new marketing content. But in this phase, focus on the minimum needed to just get started.
Next, it’s time to launch.
This is telling the story of your brand, essentially the “branding” part. The brand you’ve built is put to the test as its success is dependent upon how people react to what you’re sharing.
Marketing should be a back and forth conversation, but can easily turn into a drone of tasks, and subsequently, a drone of noise. Equally, some people may not be talking about their brand nearly enough, and wondering why no one’s paying attention.
Here’s what to pay attention to so that your story is engaging for your audience.
- Consistency: Set a schedule to ensure you are creating and publishing on a regular basis.
- Get Ahead: Creating and scheduling your content in advance will help you stay consistent and free up time for more organic work.
- Organic: In addition to your pre-scheduled content, be sure to add sporadic, real-time posts that are more spontaneous in nature.
- Timely: React to news and updates within your industry to enter the conversation your audience is already having.
- Interaction: Generate content that actually elicits a response, and take the time to interact with those responses.
- User Stories: Gather and curate stories from your audience that you can reshare.
- Partnerships: Connect with other brands within your industry to cross-promote or work on a joint venture.
After you’ve invested the initial time in making, the majority of your work time should be spent marketing. After all, a brand is about telling a story.
Just Start Building
You’ve probably noticed there’s not a lot of detail here. This isn’t about tactics, it’s about strategy. This is for those who are stuck in the details and not making progress, or get too overwhelmed to even start.
Building a successful brand is an intentional process that requires forethought and execution.
Step back and look at the journey. Find where you are and start moving. I’ll be diving deeper and unwrapping each of these phases in later articles, so subscribe to the blog to follow along.
If you want more personalized help applying this strategy to your brand, let me partner with you through consulting.