The spray and pray approach to marketing is dead.
With the rise of social media and inbound marketing, it is no longer enough to throw large quantities money into advertising.
In today's world, a solid brand development strategy is essential for any company's long-term success.
It is not just for uptight corporates.
Designers, Freelancers and other creatives need to take the time to develop a brand strategy for their services.
Without one, you are putting yourself at risk of becoming irrelevant.
This results in you giving your competition an opportunity to scoop up potential clients without much of a fight.
Here are ten steps to creating a successful brand development strategy for your business.
1. Identify Your Buyer Personas
One of the most valuable exercises any freelancer can do is to create detailed buyer personas.
You may think that you know who needs your services, but how well do you really know them?
Humanising your target audience and identifying their pain points will help drive the strategic content creation, product development and crafting a unique sales pitch.
Ask yourself how old they are, what do they do for a living, how much do they earn, what are their interests and where do they hang out online?
By putting in the time and effort to understand them on a deeper level, you will be in a better position to target them with effective messaging.
2. Research Your Ideal Customers
Once you have created one, two or twenty buyer personas, the next step is to study them.
Reach out to your established clients, prospects, referrals and third-party networks, then interview them.
Find out about their challenges, what they like about your services.
Offer them an incentive to take the time to give you this valuable information.
This can be something simple like a gift card, free consultations or even a discount on your services.
Your established client base will love that you care about their opinions and strengthen their Brand loyalty.
3. Determine Where Your Business Sits In The Market
Great brands are easy to recognise.
When we think of Nike, Starbucks or Spotify, we immediately know what they sell and how they can meet our needs.
From stylish, quality footwear to an easy to use music streaming app, each brand has crafted a unique identity.
Designers need to be able to achieve the same thing.
But before you can attempt to define your brand, you need to do some market research.
By doing a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, you can pinpoint what makes you unique.
This brand development process will help you create clear brand promises.
It helps you develop a positioning statement. This tells potential clients immediately what sets you apart from the crowd.
Finally, it tells them why they should choose you.
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4. Develop Your Brand's Personality
What kind of personality do you want to put forth when people interact with your brand?
Are you quirky and fun? Or is your brand more sophisticated and serious?
In the world we live in, it is not enough just to have a great product or offer a stellar service.
People are attracted to a brand's relatability and want to interact with businesses that have a personality.
The success of this approach can be seen time and time again on social media. Brands like Innocent drinks or Oreo's news jacking of the Super Bowl when the power went off are two examples.
People do not want to interact with brands that are bland and dull.
They want to get to know you and fall in love with your company as a whole person, not just a convenient service.
By spending the time developing the personification of your brand, it will set the tone for everything else you do.
It will make stylistic choices and interactions on social media that much easier.
5. Craft Your Brand's Messaging Strategy
Once you have steps 1 to 4 done and dusted, it is time to put it all together with your messaging strategy.
Your messaging strategy should consist of your target audience's most pressing problems, and how you can solve them.
While this core message does need to be the same across all your buyer personas, it still needs to be tweaked.
Each target audience should have a unique pain point addressed.
By creating an effective brand messaging strategy, you will ensure that you are relevant.
Furthermore, you are meeting individual needs instead of trying to be something to everybody.
6. Decide on Your Brand Name
It can be a stressful task naming your brand, especially as a freelancer.
Do you use your name or not?
You do not want to pick a name that can hurt your business in the future and you want something that is evergreen and can grow with your business.
When deciding on business naming, you need to ensure it is memorable, supports your position and appeals to your target audience.
Despite frustration or procrastination, you may find brand name creation a straightforward process.
The first step is to create a list of keywords that describe your business and get brainstorming.
Once you have a list of names, check to see which names have available domains and keep narrowing it down until you five brand names you love.
Once you have reached this stage, don't go and ask your friends and family for advice.
Ask your audience.
Let them help you pick a name that speaks to them.
Use their response to help you make the final decision.
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7. Create Your Content Marketing Strategy
A content marketing strategy helps to draw in your audience and develop the story of your brand.
It focuses on creating engaging content that will attract, nurture and qualify prospects.
Whether you are creating gated content – like eBooks, whitepapers, checklists or printables – by taking the time to come up with content that your audience finds valuable, you will help position yourself as a brand that can solve their pain points.
By having a solid content marketing strategy, you can increase the visibility of your brand, improve your reputation and become more relevant to key brand personas.
8. Design and Launch Your Website
What is a brand without a website?
As the world becomes more and more digitalized, not having a presence on the Internet is self-sabotage.
Think of your website as your lead funnel.
Content like your blogs and eBooks will be used as a means to attract potential clients to your site.
It will help qualify them and nurture them from lukewarm prospects to customers who are ready to part ways with their hard-earned cash.
But all that content will mean nothing if it is not searchable.
This is where your website and search engine optimisation come into play.
With all the other designers and freelancers out there, competition is fierce.
You need to be visible to attract clients, and you need that spot on the first results page of Google.
Companies like SEOservicesUSA offer brand development services for websites and identify weak points to help you rank higher, gain referral traffic and become an influencer in your niche.
9. Measure Your Brand's Performance
By step 9, you will have your strategy in place, a live website and you can sit back and relax.
Now is the time to start analysing your efforts.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Are you meeting your website traffic goals?
- How many new clients have you picked up?
- Is your gateway content attracting potential clients?
While it can be tough to look at the numbers, you need to know where you are at so you can work on the final step in your brand development process.
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10. Adjust and Improve Your Brand Development Strategy
Your brand strategy is not going to be perfect.
It is an evolving asset that requires continued care and attention.
As you learn about customers, grow your brand and market demand changes, you are going to have to return to your brand strategy and make adjustments.
This is why measuring your results in the previous step is so important.
As creatives, getting bogged down in the analytical details is less than exciting – but it is necessary.
Analysing your brand's performance can show you how well you are doing, which areas have room for improvement, what your clients like, and any market trends you can exploit.
But developing your brand strategy is a gift that keeps on giving.
You want to present your clients with a beautifully packaged gift that meets their needs and in return, you get their continued business.
Once you have followed these ten steps, you will have a solid brand development strategy in place.
This allows you to target your ideal customer and improve your position in the marketplace.
All that is left to do now is to put in the hard work to make it happen.