Euro-FEM Module 4: Marketing and Branding Techniques
1. Strengthening the Civil Society and Business
Networking of FEMale Entrepreneurs and
Exchange of Experience (Euro-FEM)
This project is funded by the European Union
2. 4 Steps to Building a Brand
Building an effective brand is vital for any company’s success. There are many different
interpretations of the term “brand:”
For some, it is the relationship between a business and its current or prospective clients,
while others view it as a specific feature that differentiates a company from its
In this article, we explain why building a brand is important, followed by a step-by-step
approach a company’s marketing team can follow when building a brand.
Why is it important to build a brand?
The way a company builds its brand will determine how the public perceives the business
and its products.
Successful brands can influence the way people perceive a company’s name, story, logo
and marketing campaigns. In many cases, the brand is just as important as the quality and
price of a product.
When people buy a product, they are also buying into the lifestyle that product
If a company creates an exciting and memorable brand, the public will recognize its
products or services more easily and have a clear understanding of the value that the
goods can add to their lives. Branding is also one of the most effective ways to gain the
trust of customers.
3. How to build a brand
If you are part of a marketing team tasked with building your company’s brand, you can follow these four steps:
1. Determine your target audience
The first step in building a brand is determining your target audience. To create your preferred client base:
•Determine who is most likely to buy the product.
Consider several factors like age, gender, location and income to create a demographic. If, for example, you are
planning to sell expensive and fashionable eyewear, your target audience could be middle- to high-income earners
under the age of 40. However, if your product is a new sports drink, your audience will most likely be athletes.
•Consult available sales statistics and data.
This information will be helpful in providing you with valuable information concerning the shopping habits of
consumers. Statistics could also help you decide whether your company’s product will appeal to a certain
demographic. For instance, statistics could show that millennials tend to be very price conscious and prefer buying
products online. If needed, you can also gather your own statistical data by means of surveys, or contact a
marketing firm to gather data on your behalf.
•Study similar companies.
You can learn from established companies that offer similar products or services. Try to gather more information
about how they create marketing campaigns targeted toward certain groups that buy their products the most.
Compare different companies’ data to develop a thorough understanding of their brands.
•Talk to your target market.
Consider engaging with people who fit your company’s ideal client profile to determine what their likes and needs
are, as well as what brands appeal to them and why. You can create a more detailed outline of exactly what your
customers want. After you have decided on a target audience, you can start creating a brand that will attract them.
4. 2. Position your product and business
Positioning a business involves deciding how to distinguish its products or services from other similar offerings in
the marketplace. To do so, you first need to gather as much information as you can about your company’s direct
competition, such as details about their products, prices and markets, as well as their marketing strategies.
Try to determine possible shortcomings in their products, services or areas in the market that they are not satisfying,
and use this information to your advantage.
After you have investigated your competition, you should develop a unique selling proposition. A USP is a
statement that informs clients what the company is offering in a clear and concise way. Your USP should highlight
the features of your product that make it unique and add value for clients.
3. Define your company’s personality
To a large extent, a brand conveys the business’ identity. An important step in building a brand, then, involves
determining the company’s personality. Apart from a company’s products and services, its target audience will also
help establish its personality. If your target audience is cycling enthusiasts, you would most likely want an active
Deciding on your company’s personality will require creative brainstorming with other members of the branding
team. You can start the process by thinking of the company as a person. For instance, if the company is a backpacker,
you could describe what this person looks like and how they act. The use of descriptive words such as “traveler,”
“independent,” “revolutionary” or “fun” will help you and the branding team to verbalize your abstract thoughts.
You could also try to associate your product or company with any image or idea you think of. For example, if the
company produces running shoes, you may think of a gazelle and use this image to generate more ideas.
These kinds of creative thought processes will allow you and your team to provide your company with a distinctive
5. 4. Choose a logo and slogan
An effective logo can make your brand visually appealing, while a successful slogan can help customers
remember your product.
•Logo: A logo conveys the image and personality of a brand. You may want to consult with a professional
designer or brand agency during this process to ensure that your logo is tasteful, effective and well-crafted.
A professional designer will advise you on things like font, color, logo size, iconography and general
design. They will also help you to design a logo that reflects or complements your brand name.
•Slogan: A slogan is a short, catchy phrase that you can employ during marketing campaigns to give your
brand an extra edge. It’s not a permanent feature of your brand, so you can adjust and change it for new
marketing campaigns. For example, if you sell snorkeling gear, your slogan could be, “Get the best view
under the seas.”
Your brand should inform the culture of your company. You can market your brand internally by aligning
your dress code, professional behavior and voice to the image. Your behavior will set the standard for other
staff members, which can translate into your company’s culture.
6. 7 Ways to Market a Small Business
Small businesses often offer more personalized solutions and attentive service than larger competitors, but
they need to first connect with customers.
To market a small business effectively, create a targeted strategy that will establish it as a competitor in its
market. If you are marketing a small business, there are several approaches.
How to advertise a small business effectively
You can advertise a small business both online and in person with a diverse approach to your
marketing efforts. These steps may help you establish a solid presence in several key areas:
1. Establish your brand
Good branding sets your business apart from competitors and makes it easy for customers to recognize your
products. Establish a clear and identifiable brand image that includes a clean logo, distinctive typography
and a visually appealing color palette.
Use these elements consistently across all your marketing materials and online promotions to create
familiarity and establish a clear connection between the company and its brand.
2. List the business in local directories
If the business has a physical location, make sure you list it on local internet directories. Ensure that all the
company’s essential information is accurate, including the:
•Social media links
7. 3. Build a webpage
A webpage is important for any modern business to establish credibility. At a minimum, the company’s
webpage should include contact information and the products and services it offers.
You can add links to any social media pages that you establish for the business so you can cross-promote
offerings across different platforms. Creating a blog, sharing videos or establishing an online marketplace
will give customers a better experience.
4. Create a social media presence
Social media provides an interactive platform for small businesses to connect with their customers. Create
pages on social media platforms so promotions will appear in followers’ feeds. Maintain an active
presence on these pages, adding new posts frequently and responding promptly to comments, mentions or
messages. This gives you a way to interact directly with your customers and gather valuable feedback on
your marketing efforts.
Most social media websites offer extensive analytics that will help you understand how your page is
performing. You can also promote your posts with the built-in advertising options available on many
platforms. This offers a simple way for a small business to start with early marketing efforts.
5. Select a marketing strategy
Establish clear goals for your marketing strategy, such as generating more leads, increasing sales for a new
product or gaining new social media followers. Measure your progress against these goals to determine
which campaigns are most successful. It can take a new business some time to find the most effective
approach for its market, so it’s important to evaluate how your efforts perform.
8. Some marketing strategies that you might try include:
•Email marketing: Send promotional emails to customers on your mailing list, then track click-throughs and
purchases made using exclusive email promotional codes.
•Event marketing: Host or participate in a local event to generate brand awareness. During local events,
connect with new customers and offer samples or live demonstrations.
•Free product marketing: Offer free samples on-site or by mail to give more customers the opportunity to try
your products. Giving free samples allows individuals to become accustomed to your product and brand.
•Content marketing: Create a series of blog posts on the business’s website and social media pages. If visitors
learn more about you, they may be more likely to become loyal customers.
•Mobile marketing: Create an application or mobile-optimized site that provides value and functionality.
Offering an intuitive mobile application can make it simple for customers to access information from
•Direct mail marketing: Send fliers, letters, catalogs or other printed material to potential customers through
the mail. Sending physical materials can make it more likely that customers will remember the brand.
6. Form local connections
For a small business, making strong local connections is a valuable part of the marketing process. Find out if
your community has a business association that your employer can join. You can also look for networking
events available within the industry. Seek partners who can refer customers, such as realtors who might
recommend house painting services to new buyers or wedding venues that might partner with a catering
You can also seek charitable connections. Find local non-profits with similar values. Consider offering
promotions where the business gives a portion of its proceeds to these local organizations. If you form
connections with your community, you’ll gain visibility for the brand.
9. 7. Demonstrate thought leadership
A thought leader is an individual or group that is an authority on a specific topic.
Establish the small business you work for as a thought leader in its area so it can become a valuable
resource for its customers.
Demonstrate thought leadership through well-written informative posts on the company’s blog.
Write an in-depth e-book on a topic that’s important to your industry and distribute it for free to
new email subscribers.
Showing that your company is knowledgeable in its area will give more credibility to its products
and services which will help convert new customers.
10. How to Become a Brand Ambassador
Brands are becoming more and more innovative when it comes to marketing and advertising.
Consider brand ambassadorship.
Through this method, brands pay people to market their product or service online to as many social
media followers as possible.
Here we define what a brand ambassador does, how to become one and answers to some frequently
asked questions about being a brand ambassador.
What does a brand ambassador do?
A brand ambassador is an influencer who represents a company and whose role is to engage
audiences through social networking or in-person to build partnerships, foster relationships and gain
The brand ambassador aims to educate, inspire and engage other influencers as well as media
audiences about products by using unique and impactful techniques. In essence, a brand
ambassador is the face of a brand.
Brand ambassadors are responsible for being the authority for the brand, providing stunning visuals
to market the brand, appearing in retail locations and consumer events and working with a team of
marketers to deliver compelling brand messaging to their target audiences.
11. A large part of being a brand ambassador includes building social media networks around the brand and its
products, taking ownership by managing posts and activities that align with the brand's objectives to increase
engagement and brand awareness.
It's important for a brand ambassador to be constantly connected to social media platforms to reach key markets
and execute strategic brand campaigns.
Companies seek out brand ambassadors to boost their marketing efforts, personify their brand and connect with
a wider audience.
Ambassadorship is a technique that has been around since the 1950s, and really became popular in the late 1960s,
when "modern marketing" became the main resource in terms of competing against other brands and growing
the company's bottom line.
At this time, they referred to these marketers as "brand managers" or "product managers" and gave them the
responsibility of building the brand and increasing the company's ROI.
By the 1990s, the system had begun to evolve to incorporate the internet into brand marketing by capitalizing on
the era's primitive social media and blogs.
Today, brand ambassadors aren't just celebrities, in fact, some brand ambassadors technically don't exist, as the
advancement of technology has brought us AI and CGI influencers who have their own entire brand, including
social media, websites, music videos and more.
These influencers are responsible for impacting up to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions, making this
technique increasingly valuable as virtual reach stretches worldwide in a matter of seconds.
12. How to become a brand ambassador
Brands are seeing bigger returns than ever from influencer marketing, but to become a brand ambassador you
must prove yourself by utilizing the very skills that will make you a good ambassador: branding, fostering
relationships, engagement, advertising and professionalism.
If you think you'd make a great brand ambassador, following these steps can help get you started in looking
for your first ambassadorship.
1. Market yourself
Brands want ambassadors who can personify the values of the company and represent the brand.
What this entails will depend on the brand, so when you're looking for an ambassadorship, you'll want to seek
out the brands that you relate closely to and show them why you're a good fit.
It helps if you're already a loyal supporter of the brand with a decent-sized, engaged social network.
2. Build and engage a following
On the topic of social networking, it's up to you to figure out what your followers want from you as an influencer.
Likes, comments and shares are benchmarks of engagement and can tell you what posts are a hit and which are a
miss. Sincere, favorable comments about you and whatever you're doing, wearing or eating shows a genuinely-
engaged following, which means that you have the influence to provide recommendations and advice to your
Be sure to engage back, responding to comments and showing your followers that you're dedicated to them. This
type of relationship with your following is a marketable feature when pitching yourself to brands. Use what you
have, stay active and keep building on it.
13. 3. Brand yourself
The most important step is to create a recognizable, cohesive brand of yourself. This is an opportunity for
you to identify what makes you stand out against other influencers. Use that to get recognized.
Recognizable influencers get the most attention because your audience knows what to expect from you, in
terms of personality and content.
This continuity is desirable to brands as well, as your brand will become associated with the company's
brand, creating more engagement and sales.
Build your own hashtags or branded keywords for added recognition.
4. Be professional
Keep your social profiles controversy-free, and always respond to your followers graciously. It should go
without saying, but brands will not work with problematic influencers, so keep your reputation unblemished.
5. Post great content
Staying active on social media is crucial, but you also must be discerning about what you post.
When it comes to content, focus on quality before quantity. If you post simply for the sake of posting, it'll
show and your brand will be watered-down.
Keep your feed interesting and relevant and most importantly, relatable to you.
This will help you keep your followers, gain more new ones and catch the attention of brands who'll want to
work with you.
14. 6. Find brands to work with
T here are a few ways to get star ted:
•Utilize brand network services. Seek out brand deals by signing up with a brand network site that facilitates
the process of matching you with brands that align with your persona.
To begin, you will need to have an established social profile with a quality following and high engagement stats.
Once you've achieved that, create an influencer profile on a brand network website and let them bring the brands
•Reach out to small businesses and start-ups. Those just starting out or on the smaller end of the spectrum
aren't willing to pay huge influencer prices, but they may be swayed to pay you a small influencer fee to promote
As a micro-influencer, this type of deal is mutually beneficial, as you're getting experience and exposure as well
as providing genuine, organic exposure to the brand.
•Seek relationships with brands you love. When an influencer genuinely believes in a product they promote,
their promotion is more well-received by their audiences.
Followers can tell when an influencer is being genuine in their promotions. The best way to make sure you're
genuine is to partner with a company whose products you actually use or incorporate into your lifestyle.
15. 7. Make it easy for brands to contact you
Create an info page that introduces yourself, explains which types of brands that you'd want to
work with and gives the brands a way to easily contact you, whether it's via email, phone or
This is where you want to outline your social stats and highlight what you have to offer to the
16. Become a Networking Expert in 7 Steps
Finding your next job can be tough. In our technology-driven world, applying for jobs online while in
your PJs is a convenience that’s hard to resist.
But a crucial component of a successful job search involves networking: getting out there to expand
your professional contacts and discover opportunities.
How to network effectively
Networking skills come easily to some, but this is rare. For most of us, they’re an acquired talent and
require practice over time. And that practice is well worth the effort: the research consistently
shows that internal referrals are the top source of hires, meaning those personal relationships can
have significant payoffs.
17. 1. Start by determining your goals.
Ask yourself what you are looking for from the relationships you hope to develop. Are you
anticipating making contacts with a specific future employer?
Meeting a new mentor who can provide career guidance or industry expertise? Meeting new
people in your industry? Perhaps all of these?
Intentionally identifying your networking goals will help you structure questions you want to
ask, prepare your elevator pitch and determine requests you have for your contacts.
2. Talk to your friends.
Friends can play a valuable role in your networking efforts. Whether you’re an introvert, new to
networking, or having trouble focusing your goals, begin with people you already know.
Take them to coffee or lunch and learn the story of their career paths and choices.
Focusing your conversation on their professional experiences will reveal new perspectives and ideas,
even if you’ve known each a long time.
Ask if they can connect you to someone in your field or at one of your dream companies, and build
18. 3. Attend events to meet new people.
Step away from the computer screen and shake some hands. Online networking is a powerful tool, but
there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction. If employment is your goal, the networking events you’ll
find the most productive are ones that include a diverse mix of job seekers, industry reps, recruiters, and
companies seeking talent. If you’re looking to meet peers in your industry or learn more about a new
field, you can easily find industry- or career-focused groups and meetups in your local area by searching
social media channels.
You can use these networking events to make new connections and then, you’ll be able to follow up and
cultivate those relationships with meaningful one-on-one conversations.
Pr o tip : T hink quality over quantity.
Networking is not about trying to meet as many people as you can. It’s not a numbers game. Seek people
who will make a difference in your life—and those you can inspire as well.
4. Ask to understand.
Amidst the stress of the job search, it’s easy to become so focused on yourself that you forget to really
pay attention to others. When you network, whether at an event or a one-on-one coffee, ask people
genuine questions based on your goals and listen closely to their answers.
Clear your mind and focus on listening empathetically and with curiosity rather than with self-interest.
You’ll learn a lot in the process and make an impression with your attentiveness.
Active listening is a skill we should all practice, and networking events are the ideal opportunity.
19. 5. Build a network matrix.
Target the companies you’re interested in, and seek out people who work for each company or who
know someone there. Build a “Who + Where” matrix that matches who you know with where they
work and use their name as referrals when you apply for positions at those companies (be sure to ask
their permission first). A contact who can provide insight into the hiring manager’s personality or
preferences is a real asset. At some companies, employees receive a bonus if their referral is hired; if
your friend is lucky enough to work for a company that rewards referrals, you’ll both have something to
Below is just one of the ways to organize your network matrix. This example highlights an individual
focusing on jobs in the technology industry because they include more contacts from companies in this
area. As this example shows, you also can organize your network contacts by relationship and how well
you know each individual (in this case, by tier) to understand and prioritize how your contacts can help.
20. 6. Volunteer in your community.
If you can, donate your time to a good cause and mingle with people who aren’t in your industry. It feels good to
give your time to others in need, and if you’re unemployed, it’s wise to get out of the house and not spend too
much time in isolation. Pick a cause or group that resonates with your values and donate a few hours each month.
Volunteering can help you grow your social network by exposing you to people who share your passions and
You can also volunteer for a professional association to grow career-related contacts as well. Along the way, you
may meet mentors and new friends with fresh job leads.
7. Follow up and don’t forget the basics.
After an event, send follow-up emails to your contacts, thank everyone you spoke with, and complete any promised
tasks. Even if you haven’t made commitments, stay active and develop your new relationships. And don’t forget to
always carry a printed version of your resume and business cards, if you have them. If you’re inviting people in
your network out to coffee or lunch, always offer to pay for the meal and send a thank-you note following the
Increasing your visibility as a job candidate is the primary benefit of networking, but it’s also just the beginning.
Building relationships with people who you feel are knowledgeable and reliable can provide guidance and help you
get where you want to go.
And these relationships aren’t a one-way street: you will also meet people who can benefit from your support. In
this way, you’ll build a professional circle over time, one based on the idea that goodwill should be paid forward.
By coupling networking with your online job search strategy, you will exponentially increase your opportunities for
21. How to Create a Brand Strategy
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that a successful business can’t survive if it doesn’t have a strong
Without a unified identity, everything from your content, to your culture, to your core business can
But there’s a reason why this problem is so pervasive:
Building a strong brand strategy takes time, effort, and commitment.
And that’s where many people can get stuck.
22. What Is a Brand?
There are a million definitions of a “brand.” Often, when people talk about a “brand,” they’re
referring to the physical mark (or logo) imprinted on something to identify the business that
But a brand is more than a physical mark. It’s an emotional mark—more specifically, an emotional
experience, strengthened or weakened through every interaction with that business.
We define brand as what people think, feel, and say about your business. (This differs from
marketing, which is what you say about your business.)
23. What Is a Brand Strategy?
A brand strategy is “a plan for the systematic development of brand in alignment with a business strategy.”
A brand strategy helps you understand who you are and acts as a blueprint to help you communicate it.
The brand strategy process is broken into three distinct parts.
It starts with your Brand Heart (the core of your brand), to the articulation of your Brand Messaging (how you talk
about who you are), to your Visual Identity (the visual expression of your brand).
By the end, you’ll have a full brand strategy, summed up in fresh brand guidelines to help you bring your brand to life.
24. Why Do You Need a Brand Strategy?
When you don’t know who you are, why you exist, what you believe in, or what you’re trying to achieve, your
From customer communication issues to employee retention, a lack of brand strategy causes problems at
every level of an organization.
When you have no brand strategy:
•You don’t understand your purpose, vision, mission, or values, so you make marketing and business decisions
that don’t reflect them.
•You don’t have a documented marketing plan, but you hope that whatever you’re doing will work.
•Your team is fractured by disunity, confusion, and conflict, making it hard for employees to feel engaged and
•You don’t have cohesive brand messaging, so your content tends to be inconsistent at best, and
contradictory at worst. As a result, it’s difficult to attract people who share your values (customers,
•You can’t clearly articulate your brand, and as a result, you can’t carve out a discernible place in the market.
In short, without a brand strategy, you lose.
25. What Team Do You Need to Build Your Brand Strategy?
You can’t build a brand strategy alone. You need a brand team to craft, revise, and bring it to life at
every level of your organization. Without this designated team, the work you do here will likely get
sidetracked or steamrolled.
Luckily, you don’t have to hire a ton of people to form your brand team. You can even have a
two-person team, so long as both people can cover these essential roles.
26. What to Know Before You Start Your Brand Strategy
If you’re starting your brand strategy from scratch (or trying to do things the “right” way this time),
there are two key pieces of information you need to know beforehand. (If you’ve done your
business strategy, you know these already.) They are:
1) Who You’re For
Who are you trying to sell to? What do they need/want? How are their needs not being met?
To build a brand strategy that helps you genuinely connect with people, you need to know exactly who
you’re selling to.
Knowing who they are and how you’re trying to serve them can actually bring clarity to who you are
(e.g., your Brand Heart) and how you communicate with them.
2) Who You’re Against
Who shares your space? Who will you be competing with for attention? How might they outshine you?
This is invaluable information to help you identify who you are and who you aren’t, how you fit in or
stand out, and how you can communicate your differences through your brand strategy.
27. How to Build Your Brand Strategy
Follow these steps sequentially (as each builds on the prior), and you’ll end up with a comprehensive
brand strategy that helps you share your story impactfully and effectively at every touchpoint.
Part 1: Find Your Brand Heart
Every brand holds a basic set of beliefs that influence everything they do. We call these beliefs your
Knowing what these principles are and why they matter is imperative, as they are a powerful, potent
force that can actively support or sabotage your business. When your brand’s beliefs and business are
aligned, you can successfully bring people together, cultivate community, and create the future you want.
When you have no beliefs (or those beliefs are toxic), you can easily alienate both employees and
customers, cripple your culture, and make decisions that derail your long-term goals.
Your Brand Heart is comprised of four elements that help you clarify who you are, what you do, and
why it matters.
•Purpose: Why do we exist?
•Vision: What future do we want to help create? What does the future look like?
•Mission: What are we here to do? How do we create that future?
•Values: What principles guide our behavior?
Note: While your Brand Heart is often an internal document, it can be translated into
external-facing messaging everywhere from your website to your packaging, which is why
it’s so important to have it nailed down from the beginning.
28. Part 2: Articulate Your Messaging
Now that you have your Brand Heart documented, you know who you are.
Next you need to figure out your Brand Essence (how to express who you are) and your Brand
Messaging (how to talk about who you are).
When you distill and document these elements effectively, you can ensure your brand will communicate
honestly, authentically, and consistently.
Note: Some brands are tempted to skip straight to designing their visual identity (logo, colors,
etc.) once they have their Brand Heart, but we would argue that there are a few crucial steps to
complete before that. Things like your logo, colors, and typography are vital to your brand, but
they’re ultimately a visual translation of your brand’s essence and messaging.
If you don’t know what you’re trying to communicate, it’s difficult to create a visual identity to embody it.
That said, you may already have created your visual identity before you solidified these elements.
But if you’re doing this work now, it’s important that your heart, messaging, and visual identity align—no
matter the order in which you tackle them.
29. Create Your Brand Essence
Your Brand Essence consists of your:
Identifying these elements can seem intimidating, but it’s not a chore. It’s not even a hunt. Your essence
is inherent. It doesn’t need to be manufactured; it simply needs to be unearthed and documented with
1) Identify your personality.
Your personality is basically your brand’s human characteristics and attributes. Are you curious and
enthusiastic? Elite and sophisticated? Wild and crazy?
Your personality is a reflection of your Brand Heart, influenced by your beliefs and demonstrated in
When you have an intimate understanding of your personality, you can infuse it into every aspect of your
brand, from your customer service process to your product descriptions.
This is a powerful way to differentiate yourself and cultivate relationships.
30. 2) Identify your brand voice.
This is the way your brand sounds and speaks. Remember that every brand voice is unique.
A yogurt brand doesn’t speak the way a car brand speaks, and one car brand sounds different than
Your personality already influences your brand voice; you just need to articulate it so that you can
communicate consistently in your content.
Remember: The words, phrases, slang, and jokes you use communicate your
identity in both direct and indirect ways.
Think about how you want to speak—and how your customers want to be
31. 3) Identify your tone.
You brand’s tone is basically your general attitude.
Your voice may be authoritative, but the tone is respectful.
Think of your brand’s voice as how you talk, and your tone as how you talk in different contexts.
You always use the same voice, but you may shift your tone depending on who you’re talking to.
If you’re not sure exactly what your tone is, think of how you want to make people feel.
Should you talk to them like you’re a helpful and kind neighbor, or a mysterious and aloof lover?
To start, choose at least 3 words to describe your tone.
With your Brand Essence articulated, you have formed a basis for communicating who you really
are at every touchpoint, from the pop-ups on your site to your Twitter feed.
(The brands that do this best are the ones we love the most—no matter what they’re selling.)
32. Create Your Brand Messaging
There are many ways to talk about who you are, what you do, and why people should choose your brand
over your competition. For the purposes of this brand strategy, we’re starting with the most basic
messaging: your value prop, tagline, and messaging pillars.
1) Articulate your value prop.
Your value prop is a succinct explanation of both the functional and emotional benefits your product or
service provides to customers. It’s not just who you are and what you do differently (your positioning);
it’s also how you solve their problem and why they should choose you over the competition.
You can also think of it as the promise of what your customer will receive if they buy from you.
If you want your brand to succeed, you need to have the answer to this question before anyone asks.
Going forward, it’s what all your messaging will ultimately support and reinforce.
33. 2) Distill your tagline.
Your tagline is a sentence, phrase, or word used to summarize a market position.
Coming up with a great tagline isn’t like the movies. Most companies don’t have a person to simply
feed you the perfect line. It’s usually a long slog through brainstorms and iterations.
Luckily, researchers are discovering the keys to a great tagline, offering interesting insights that can
help you choose the perfect one.
3) Identify your messaging pillars.
Your messaging pillars are the key stories you want to tell about your brand—what makes you unique and
different. Every piece of content you create should reinforce these core messages across all touchpoints.
Depending on your brand’s needs, you may want to articulate additional messaging
•Origin or founder story
34. Part 3: Design Your Visual Identity
When most people think of branding, they think of a brand’s visual identity: the logo, colors,
typography, and other elements that act as the “face” of the brand.
Now that you’ve crystallized your heart and messaging, it’s time to visualize it with the
A strong visual identity is meant to be purposeful, first and foremost.
You aren’t just designing for today.
You’re designing for your brand’s future.
35. Thus, a good visual identity is:
•Flexible: It should be able to grow with your brand, whether you’re branching out into new
products, services, or even new industries.
•Comprehensive: It should provide brand designers and content creators with the tools they need
to properly do their job.
•Intuitive: It should be intuitively designed and well constructed so that each element complements
Note: Depending on your brand, you may need to expand your visual identity over time. If
so, you might consider adding guidelines for additional visual elements.
A good logo is a memorable logo, and research shows that the most memorable logos are the
You want it to reflect your brand, yes, but keep it simple if you want it to make an impact.
You also need to consider how people visually process and assign meaning to images, as research has
found that people assign different attributes to different shapes.
Typography is an extension of your logo; hence, we start with logo design first.
However, typography is more important than ever, as people are consuming words in multiple
That said, something that works on your packaging may not work well on your website, so it’s
important to consider not only how your typography aligns to your brand but the many applications
it will be used for.
Color is one of the most powerful yet mystifying elements of branding.
Research suggests it can affect everything from brand perception to purchasing intent, yet it is a bit
of a tricky science.
Not all colors evoke the same things in everyone because our associations with color are very
Imagery is more important than ever, now that so much of your brand is communicated through
visual media. Whether you choose photography, illustration, or a combination of both, everything
should align to your brand.
Developing a unique illustration style is a smart way to visually brand your content, but don’t go
You want a style that is clear, distinct, and on-brand.
Also, don’t mix styles or clutter illustrations with visual junk.
Photography is an effective, versatile tool that is less time-intensive to design.
However, you need a clear aesthetic to keep it consistent with your brand.
You should also consider the resources available to you.
Luckily, there are plenty of sources to choose from.
•Stock sites (free): There is a ton of free, high-quality stock photography online, and you can easily create
unique design treatments that turn a bland stock image into a photograph that communicates your brand.
Just make sure you clearly lay out the dos and don’t for things like filters, design treatments, resolution, etc.
•Image licenses (paid): There are a variety of photo services that let you license photos individually or
as a subscription. They’re less likely to show up on your competitors’ site, but it can still happen as anyone
can purchase them.
•Custom (free or paid): We are living in a golden age of creation, thanks to the amount of creative tools
available to everyone. You can commission photography or let your team handle it, so long as they have
the skills and tools to create high-res images.
39. Part 4: Create Your Brand Guidelines
Your brand guidelines serves as a playbook for how to use your brand, specifically in the content and
communication you create.
Maintaining quality and consistency can be a challenge, especially if you work freelancers or outside agencies.
Thus, your brand guidelines should include enough direction to empower any creator to produce work that
strengthens the brand instead of weakens it.
To ensure your brand guidelines are comprehensive, include direction for both your visual and verbal identity.
1). Verbal guidelines
•Brand essence (personality, voice, tone)
•Anything else helpful or relevant
40. 2). Visual guidelines
• Imagery (photography, illustration)
• Data visualization
• Interactive elements
• Video and motion
Remember: A brand’s strength is determined by its consistency, or lack thereof.
Once you’ve completed your guidelines, make sure you have a designated point person who can answer
questions about applying the brand guidelines correctly, and make sure your guidelines are accessible to
41. How to Bring Your Brand Strategy to Life
Now that you’ve completed the full brand strategy process, you can take a damn nap.
Thanks to all your hard work, you officially have all the tools you need to communicate your brand
story, align your brand and your business, and build the lasting relationships you need for long-term
Of course, that work is never done.
To implement your brand strategy effectively going forward:
•Keep up on best practices.
•Create content that’s aligned to your brand.
•Master your content creation.
•Tell your brand story at every touchpoint.
•Maximize your content reach.
Of course, we know this can all be a lot for any brand team, especially if you’re short on time or
If so, consider bringing in help.
42. A 10 Step Brand Development Strategy for Your Professional
Your brand is perhaps your professional services firm’s most valuable asset. If this is true, then
developing a stronger brand is your most important task.
Your Brand Defined
A professional services brand is best understood as your firm’s reputation and it’s visibility in the
marketplace. The strength of your brand can be measured as Reputation X Visibility.
There is another important dimension of your brand as well: how relevant it is to your target client
Brand Development Defined
Brand development is the process of creating and strengthening your professional services brand.
We divide the process into three phases.
•The first phase is getting your brand strategy right and aligned with your business objectives.
•Second is developing all the tools you will need to communicate the brand, such as your logo, tagline
•Finally, there is the phase of strengthening your newly developed or updated brand.
43. Your brand development strategy is how you go about accomplishing these tasks.
To make the task a bit easier, we’ve broken the brand development strategy into 10 steps.
A 10-Step Brand Development Strategy
1. Consider your overall business strategy.
A strong, well differentiated brand will make growing your firm much easier. But what type of
firm do you want? Are you planning to grow organically?
Your overall business strategy is the context for your brand development strategy, so that’s the
place to start.
If you are clear about where you want to take your firm, your brand will help you get there.
2. Identify your target clients.
Who are your target clients? If you say “everybody” you are making a very big mistake.
Our research clearly shows that high growth, high profit firms are focused on having clearly
defined target clients.
The narrower the focus, the faster the growth. The more diverse the target audience, the more
diluted your marketing efforts will be. So how do you know if you have chosen the right target
That’s where the next step comes in.
44. 3. Research your target client group.
Firms that do systematic research on their target client group grow faster and are more profitable
(see figure below). Further, those that do research more frequently (at least once per quarter) grow
Research helps you understand your target client’s perspective and priorities, anticipate their needs
and put your message in language that resonates with them.
It also tells you how they view your firm’s strengths and your current brand.
As such, it dramatically lowers the marketing risk associated with brand development
45. 4. Develop your brand positioning.
You are now ready to determine your firm’s brand positioning within the professional services marketplace
(also called market positioning).
How is your firm different from others and why should potential clients within your target audience choose to
work with you?
A positioning statement is typically three to five sentences in length and captures the essence of your brand
It must be grounded in reality, as you will have to deliver on what you promise.
It must also be a bit aspirational so you have something to strive for.
5. Develop your messaging strategy.
Your next step is a messaging strategy that translates your brand positioning into messages to your various target
Your target audiences typically include potential clients, potential employees, referral sources or other influencers
and potential partnering opportunities, to name a few of the usual suspects.
While your core brand positioning must be the same for all audiences, each audience will be interested in
different aspects of it.
The messages to each audience will emphasize the most relevant points. Each audience will also have specific
concerns that must be addressed, and each will need different types of evidence to support your messages.
Your messaging strategy should address all of these needs. This is an important step in making your brand
relevant to your target audiences
46. 6. Develop your name, logo and tagline.
For many firms, a name change is not required. But if you are a new firm, are undergoing a merger or are
burdened with a name that no longer suits your positioning, a name change may be in order. Even if you don’t
change your firm name, a new logo and tagline may make sense to better support your brand positioning.
Remember, your name, logo and tagline are not your brand. They are a part of your brand identity, the ways to
communicate or symbolize your brand. You must live it to make it real.
And don’t make the mistake of showing the new logo around internally to get a consensus. The name, logo and
tagline are not for you. They are for your marketplace and should be judged on how well they communicate, not
how much the partners like them.
7. Develop your content marketing strategy.
We could have called this step “develop your marketing strategy.” But we didn’t. Instead we call for a content
Why? Content marketing is particularly well suited to professional services firms in the Internet age. It does all
things traditional marketing does but it does them more efficiently. It uses valuable educational content to
attract, nurture and qualify prospects.
Remember that your brand strength is driven by both reputation and visibility. Increasing visibility alone, without
strengthening your reputation, is rarely successful.
That’s why traditional “awareness-building” advertising or sponsorships so often yield disappointing results.
On the other hand, content marketing increases both visibility and reputation at the same time.
It is also the perfect way to make your brand relevant to your target audiences.
47. 8. Develop your website.
Your website is your single most important brand development tool. It is the place where all your audiences turn
to learn what you do, how you do it and who your clients are. Prospective clients are not likely to choose your
firm solely based on your website. But they may well rule you out if your site sends the wrong message.
Further, your website will be home to your valuable content. That content will become the focus of your search
engine optimization (SEO) efforts so that your prospects, potential employees, and referral sources will find you
and learn about your firm. Online content is central to any modern brand development strategy.
These days, professional services websites come in two varieties.
The first is a branding site. Such a site tells your story and conveys who you are, who you serve, and what you do.
In short it conveys your brand message. The other variety does the above and also generates and nurtures
potential new clients. We call these High Performance Websites.
9. Build your marketing toolkit.
The next step in the process is to build out the remainder of your marketing toolkit. This might include
one-page “sales sheets” that describe core services offerings or key markets served. In addition, there may
be a brief “pitch deck” that overviews the firm or key offerings and an e-brochure about the firm.
These are rarely printed pieces anymore.
Increasingly this marketing toolkit also includes videos. Popular video topics include firm overviews, case
studies or “meet the partner” videos.
Key services offerings are also very useful. If prepared appropriately, these tools serve not only a business
development function but also are important for brand development.
48. 10. Implement, track, and adjust.
This final step in the brand development process may be one of the most important. Obviously a
winning brand development strategy doesn’t do much good if it is never implemented.
You might be surprised at how often that happens. A solid strategy is developed and started with
all the good intentions the firm can muster.
Then reality intervenes. People get busy with client work and brand development tasks get put
off… then forgotten.
That’s why tracking is so important. We strongly recommend tracking both the implementation of
the plan as well as results.
Did the strategy get implemented as planned? What happened with the objective measures, such as
search traffic and web visitors?
How many new leads, employee applications and partnering opportunities were generated?
Only by tracking the entire process can you make sure you are drawing the right conclusions and
making the right adjustments.
There you have it — a 10 step brand development process to drive the growth and
profitability of your firm.