I want you to answer this question without cheating: When’s the last time you looked at your brand strategy?
If you answered in any of the following ways:
- It’s been at least a few months
- It’s been more than a year
- What brand strategy?
You need this blog.
If I took all my clients and put them in two piles, the pile of clients that didn’t have a brand strategy beyond some very basic goals would be much, MUCH larger.
Today, we’ll talk about what you should include in a brand strategy. Creating a strong brand strategy can not only help you with vendors, prospects and internal team members, but it can also help you reinforce your values and goals to yourself. Let’s dive in.
What is a brand strategy?
Everyone follows a different framework and may include different elements in a brand strategy, but from a high level, I see it as a roadmap that outlines where you are, why you are there, and where you want to go within a certain timeframe. It’s important to include the present state of things and what your surroundings look like before you decide to drive further down the road.
What should be included in a brand strategy?
Again, these included elements will look different depending on who you work with, but I see the brand strategy as a smaller piece of the brand manual I create for clients, and this particular part has three main areas of focus: a SOAR analysis, SMART goals, and a tie to the HubSpot flywheel.
Shout out to Miller for recommending the SOAR Analysis. Prior to the recommendation, I was using the standard SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), but I’ve found that moving to something with more of an optimistic outlook has been helpful for me and my clients.
For those who are unfamiliar, a SOAR analysis gives you a chance to step back and look at your business from a few different angles, exploring the strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results you see or would like to see.
- Strengths: Where does your business stand out? What can you do better than most, or you’re so familiar with it, you require no preparation to get started? If you sell a product, what do you offer that gets rave reviews? Is there a service tied to a product that customers seem to love? These could all be strengths.
- Opportunities: What do your target personas need that you can deliver? Maybe there’s a gap in the market that you’re uniquely qualified to fill – this is something you can also explore when working on your unique selling proposition. Are there new market or service opportunities you could look into?
- Aspirations: I usually start with clients by taking them through an exercise where they identify their core values, which then folds into their unique selling proposition. From there, we can look at aspirations – why they do what they do. Think about what you care about the most. Why are you running your business in the first place?
- Results: When you work on a campaign, how do you measure results? Decide on 3-5 metrics to start that will help you determine whether you are on the right track. This could be an increased follower count, more engagement, more emails, more purchases, or anything else that helps you see the progress is being made. In the SOAR analysis, there is also the “triple bottom line” consideration of people, profit, and planet. If that is something you are looking to balance (and I sure hope you are), how are you conducting business in a way that achieves that makes moves that are good for all three of these pieces.
Whether you think SMART goals are cheesy or not, I’ll tell you this much – they are super helpful in breaking down a goal.
A SMART goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. What does that mean? Here is how to expand a goal using “SMART”:
Original Goal: Get more traffic to the site
Specific: What will you use to reach the goal?
Through regular blogging and promoting blogs on LinkedIn
Measurable: Instead of just saying something like “make more money,” what trackable, numeric parameters can you add to your goals?
Average 500 pageviews per month through regular blogging and promoting blogs on LinkedIn
Attainable: What’s something you can plan for that’s ambitious and not unrealistic?
By finding organic keywords to shoot for that are attainable for a new website, adding up to about 5,000 searches per month or above, and high relevance to the brand, we stand a chance at achieving this goal of 500 pageviews on average per month over time. Expect to write 25 posts using low-competition, high-relevance keywords to start and evaluate to determine attainability every few months.
Relevant: How does the goal affect your business and bottom line?
Building notoriety on LinkedIn and bringing in quality traffic via organic search are both relevant to the business because they are forms of lead generation. They will also help solidify my specialties and serve as reference materials for prospects and clients.
Time-Bound: What can you accomplish based on your current bandwidth? When should you evaluate how you’ve done and maybe decide to change your tactics or keep going in the same direction?
I would like to achieve this goal by the end of 2024 at the latest. This would mean writing at least 15 new blogs by the end of 2023, using the beginning of 2024 to evaluate performance, drafting 10 more, and deciding if we are on track for 500 average pageviews or need to retool and reconsider our efforts. We should see upward momentum by Q1 2024 to make that decision.
Complete SMART Goal
Reach an average of 500 pageviews per month by the end of 2024 primarily through organic search and social traffic by focusing on writing 25 high-quality, relevant blogs that use appropriate, low-competition keywords (average of at least 200 searches per month per target keyword). The goal will be revisited and evaluated in Q1 2024 after 15 posts have been published.
Tying to the Flywheel
Some people like funnels, others like journeys. I’m partial to HubSpot’s flywheel, for a few reasons.
First, I really like the idea that you can add things to speed up the flywheel and build momentum. I’ve worked with clients who feel like they’re losing ground, and I like to remind them that anything we do, even if it’s small, can build momentum if it’s done regularly. If you don’t have time for 4 blogs per month, 1 is better than nothing. In fact, doing too much can even slow down the flywheel.
Speed can be added through tactics like improving customer service, engaging in business development activities, building a content strategy, or launching paid advertising campaigns. Friction that slows down the flywheel can come from a mismatch between your messaging and the clients you’re trying to serve, internal processes that need improvement, poor communication, or confusing content.
The three main phases of the flywheel include attract, engage, and delight:
- Attract: Strangers become prospects here
- Engage: Prospects move to become customers
- Delight: You keep customers coming back, turning them into promoters that attract more strangers
You want to take your goals and figure out where they fit into the flywheel, and the tactics that will help move things forward.
For the goal above, I’m mostly trying to move strangers into prospects, so I’d be putting blog writing and LinkedIn promotion into the “attract” phase. If I needed more speed in the flywheel, perhaps I’d do promoted posts or write more blogs.
Most businesses don’t take the time to walk step-by-step through a brand strategy process, but I promise, however long you spend contemplating where you want to go will pay dividends and save you so much time that would otherwise be spent trying and failing to launch several random campaigns.
Do you have anything you like adding to your brand strategy? Add a comment here or email me about it!