Brand building is an effective metaphor. You can waste a lot of time and resources if you don’t lay a strong foundation.
The foundation of your brand is your brand messaging. Without effective messaging, everything else is shaky and uncertain:
- Marketing campaigns are less potent.
- Product development is less targeted.
- Brand positioning is less focused.
The reason for this isn’t in your copywriting and words. It’s in your choices. Brand messaging is the clarification and explanation of your brand and what makes it unique.
I call it Simple Clarity, which is the first principle of Sticky Branding (the book).
Simple Clarity is the ability to describe your brand and what makes it unique — simply, succinctly and in the language of your customers. And the ideal is to be able to do this in 10 words or less.
Big Ass Fans, for instance, have their messaging baked right into the brand name. They make really big fans!
But the name also signals whimsy and a company that’s really confident in the capabilities of their products.
Patriot Software is a prolific advertiser in the United States. In every ad they always deliver the same message, “Patriot Software is accounting and payroll software for companies between 1 to 100 employees.”
In one sentence Patriot clearly articulates what they do and who they serve. This gives them a foundation to tell stories, advertise and connect with a defined audience.
Where companies make a mistake in the brand building process is they leap to marketing too soon.
It’s fun to promote the brand; attend trade shows; engage influencers; create content and build awareness. You can also jump to naming, websites, logos, or big picture ideas. But that’s like starting on the kitchen before you’ve poured concrete for the foundation.
The first step, the foundation, is in brand messaging and value proposition. Once you have Simple Clarity it gives structure to everything that follows.
In Sticky Branding’s methodology we structure brand building in three accelerators:
- Sales Accelerator: Develop and validate brand messaging that provokes your customers to buy. We call it a Sales Accelerator, because we develop brand messaging through sales. If your messaging doesn’t sell, it’s not working. So we refine and get it right through direct customer interactions.
- Marketing Accelerator: Once you have brand messaging that sells, the next step is to amplify it. This requires creating a marketing strategy that gets your brand messaging in front of the right customers at the right time with the right call to action. Marketing tactics can vary widely based on industry, buying processes, and the customers’ experience buying your products and services. For instance, some customers go to Google first to find a solution while others go to a trusted advisor.
- Brand Accelerator: The third stage is about growing your brand and creating competitive immunity. Brand Accelerator crosses over from marketing strategy to business strategy, because you are making strategic choices in your business model, go-to-market strategy, and where to invest in the business. You’re choosing where to play; how to win; and the infrastructure it’ll take to get there.
It can be counterintuitive to focus on sales first, but put this in dollars and cents terms. When you get your brand messaging right, it means you are closing deals and growing revenue. This is how to build your brand with a strong foundation.
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