Want to Create a Better Brand? Ask Yourself These 7 Questions
How well do you know your brand? Are you making it up as you go along, or have you taken the time to clarify the strategy behind the business you’re building?
Brand strategy is more important than your logo, your website, your social media presence, your email marketing. In fact, brand strategy is what makes any of those things (+ everything else you do to grow your business) actually work.
The clarity that comes from mapping out your brand strategy will make growing and promoting your business easier and more effective.
We go through an in-depth brand strategy process with each of our brand and web development clients, and last year we made a portion of that process available (for free!) in our Brand Planner Workbook.
In this post, I’m going to focus on 7 of the most important questions from the Brand Planner Workbook + my insight into how best to answer each question. Grab yourself a free copy of the workbook below, and then read on for a primer!
in just one sentence, what is it that you sell?
This question is deceptively simple. How hard is it explain what you offer? Probably not too tricky.
But what if you only had one sentence? Just a handful of words? Could you get across clearly what you do? And would it grab someone’s attention and make them think “I’d love to know more”?
When I go to networking events and everyone gets a chance to stand up and say what they do, the introductions are often long-winded. And it makes sense – most marketing advice suggests that you script out some contrived “elevator pitch” that – in an effort to be different and creative – ends up so full of jargon and clever phrases that nobody really understands what is being offered.
Practice writing out your introduction explaining what you do/offer. Then start cutting words. How concise and simple can you make it? Keep editing until there isn’t anything left to remove that isn’t essential to getting your point across. Creativity is a good thing – and showing how you’re different is important – but clarity should always take first priority.
who is your ideal client?
Most business owners I know have done an ideal client avatar exercise or two. They know they should know their ideal client, but they’re still serving (and marketing to) everyone.
It’s hard to identify your ideal client and it can be even harder to commit to them once you have. Most commonly, people feel like they are limiting their opportunities if they narrow down and only target a certain type of client, or that they will turn prospects away if they don’t fit the mold perfectly.
But in almost every case, there are plenty of clients out there looking for your services, and the more specific you can get about what type of client you serve best, the more likely you are to stand out.
But keep in mind: defining your ideal client doesn’t mean placing restrictions on who you’ll work with just for the sake of being specific.
You should seek out your ideal clients purposefully. Who do you work best with and who will get the best results from your services? Is it people in a specific industry (if you’re b2b) or people in a specific life situation? Is it common values that unite your ideal clients?
I’ve talked with business owners who chose their ideal client based on something that turned out to be unimportant for their business, just because they felt pressure to narrow in but didn’t know how.
Take the time to figure out who is really a great fit for your services, and then put your time and energy into reaching and serving those people.
Committing to a certain type of ideal client also comes with a bunch of other bonuses, like making it easier to write engaging content for your business and speeding up your efficiency in delivering your service.
Don’t know where to start in defining your ideal client? The Brand Planner Workbook includes several prompts that will help you get started.
what’s the main benefit of your service?
The benefit you’re offering is not that you are passionate about helping people (though, I’m sure you are!) It’s not that you’re the quickest, or the most fairly priced, or have the most awards in your industry (even if you are/do). All of those things – and similar details – could be great features of what you do, but none of them are the main benefits.
The benefit is more intangible and emotional and generally revolves around bringing some sort of relief, achievement, or happiness to your client. And it’s incredibly important to be able to articulate what that benefit is.
I’ll use my own agency as an example. I could tell you about the features of what I offer (a mobile responsive website, a custom logo, a streamlined process) but those aren’t benefits. In contrast, the benefits would be: gaining more confidence in your business, the relief of stress that comes from having a reliable brand and website in place for booking clients, and the lifestyle and freedom that comes with a successful business.
Hint: depending on your business set up, you could have multiple “levels” of benefits. Your brand as a whole may have an overarching benefit/promise, and each of your service offerings may have their own set of benefits. The Brand Planner Workbook helps you think through and map out all of those.
what desires, challenges, and frustrations do your ideal clients face that you can help them solve?
If you’re struggling to answer the “benefits” question, this will give you a BIG hint. If you can identify the main struggle or frustration you help your clients solve, or the desire or goal you help them fulfill, you’ve landed on a highly motivating benefit.
As business owners, we are so close to what we do that it can be hard to separate the service itself from the result. But our clients don’t care about the “thing” we do – they care about solving a problem or reaching a goal. Show them how you can get that done for them, and they’ll be intrigued. Your service is just the vehicle that’s going to get them there.
what do your ideal clients value?
Crafting an ideal client avatar commonly includes a lot of demographics: How old are they? Where do they live? What’s their income? What’s their occupation?
Some demographics are super useful (and others are just distracting), but one question that’s even more important is: what do my ideal clients value?
People spend money on things they value – plain and simple.
I could market my website design services to all businesses that make a certain amount of revenue each year (demographic), but some of those business owners won’t value website design services. They’d rather save the money, use a cheap website builder, and spend the cash on something else. Other business owners from that group – and even business owners who make a lot less than the specified revenue – put a high value on custom website design, so they’d be willing to pay our rates to work with us. These business owners have a set of values that would motivate them to spend money on website design – and figuring out what those values are will help us market more effectively (and to the right people).
While a marker like annual revenue may give me some great insight into who could theoretically afford our services, it doesn’t give the full picture. If I put more effort into marketing to business owners who value what I’m offering, I’m much more likely to attract interested prospects (and happy clients).
What do you ideal clients value? What motivates them? What do they consider essential? What won’t they comprise on?
what’s the Big Idea?
What kind of business would you be building if nothing were standing in your way? If you couldn’t fail?
I love this question because it opens up so much potential and creativity. The things you write in response to this question might not be things that happen right away. Or next year. Maybe you don’t even start working on these goals for quite some time.
But by keeping a grand vision in front of you – by knowing where it is that you really want to end up – your everyday business decision will become more calculated. You’ll keep innovating and creating and moving toward the “next thing” because you know where you want to go. You won’t as easily get caught in the day to day minutia and stop moving forward.
where is your position in the market?
Knowing how you stand apart from the other options your prospects are considering is essential information.
Depending on your industry, your potential clients may have many paths they could take to solve their problem or reach their goal.
For example, let’s say you’re a health coach and a prospect wants to improve their diet for more energy and weight loss. They’ve got options: buy a self-help book on Amazon, sign up for a local gym membership that offers a bonus meal-plan, or hire a health coach (you!).
It’s important to realize that you’re not just running up against other health coaches. You need to know how you compare to other health coaches AND how you compare to the other types of solutions your potential client could make use of.
What’s the benefit of hiring you, specifically? What’s the benefit of going with your type of service vs. other types of solutions? What makes you different and better equipped to deliver the result your client wants?
The Brand Planner Workbook will help you answer this question – plus related ones like ‘what’s your unique Point of View’?
These questions – and a handful of others – are a smart starting point for creating a brand strategy that will help your business grow + thrive. Your brand strategy impacts everything you do – from writing marketing content to delivering services – so investing time to clarify (and re-clarify) the ideas in the Brand Planner Workbook will pay off for years to come. Grab your free copy below and happy brand planning!
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