Every great adventure begins with a very important first step. Whether you’re stepping out onto the path for the first time, slaying your first monster, or setting out to build the perfect Brand, every story has a humble beginning. In this series we’ll be guiding you through that humble beginning, and toward building the perfect Brand with our Branding 101 Guide. So grab your adventuring gear, rusty sword, and dented shield, and let’s embark on this grand adventure together! Our first step out the door is Step 0: Building your Brand with Research.
The first step toward building a reliable and long lasting Brand is Research. Just like any humble Adventurer preparing to embark on an epic quest, you first need to take stock of your strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Building a Brand and a startup can be difficult, but by doing the proper research you can prepare yourself for all of the most daunting aspects. Don’t forget to pull out your trusty Adventuring Journal (or wherever you keep your documentation) and document everything! Documentation is KEY when building a brand and what you discover about yourself and your Brand here will inform your decisions throughout the rest of this journey. Ready to embark on this quest, adventurer?
Whether this is the farthest you’ve ever set foot out of the shire or you’re an old wizard looking to rebrand, here are seven aspects of your Brand that you should research BEFORE striking out on your own:
Whether it’s the monsters that lurk in dungeons or even other adventurers you have to compete with, conducting research on your main competitors is vital. Identify those competitors and discover what products or services they offer, how they market themselves, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. Their initial blunders can be things you avoid, and their weaknesses can become things you focus on. This information will help you differentiate your brand and develop a unique value proposition. Competitors don’t always need to be seen as adversaries either! Reach out to others who have made a name in the industry you want to break into, they may just have some tips of their own!
2. Target Audience
It’s important to understand your target audience, including their demographics, interests, and behaviors. Who is your product/service marketed towards? How will it help them, and most importantly, how will you reach them? Marketing toward Gen Z is vastly different then marketing toward Gen X! This information will help you create products and services that meet their needs and develop marketing campaigns that will resonate. The worst thing you can do is alienate your target audience!
3. Industry Trends
Every adventurer needs to know where the best equipment is made! Stay up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry, including changes in consumer behavior, emerging technologies, new products/services, or even new marketing techniques. Use this information to help you adapt your brand strategy and stay relevant and competitive. Modern industry trends change fast, and if you don’t stay on top of them, they could leave you behind. You don’t want to be the only adventurer using last year’s vambraces!
4. Potential Problems
Tap into your inner divination wizard and try to foresee problems before they happen! Don’t know divination magic? Instead you can conduct a SWOT analysis to identify your brand’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This is a handy framework that will help you visualize where your company may be headed. Here are a few example questions you can ask yourself for each category:
- Strengths: What are your Brand’s good qualities? What achievements have you accomplished? What resources are at your disposal? What sets your brand apart?
- Weaknesses: What challenges stop you from achieving goals? How can you improve? What resources are you lacking?
- Opportunities: What product/service/marketing is popular with your target audience? What current trends can you benefit from? Are there any external resources you can tap into?
- Threats: Is the future market health expected to be turbulent? Is your product, service, or marketing technique growing a bit stale? Are there competitors that have a substantial edge over you? What could put your brand at risk?
Be as honest with yourself as possible when answering these questions, and remember that acknowledging threats and weaknesses can only lead to growth and innovation. Conducting this analysis will help you anticipate potential problems and develop strategies to address them before they become major issues, even without tea leaves and fortune telling.
Define clear and specific objectives for your brand, including both short-term and long-term goals. Do you seek treasure? Fame? Glory? How about financial security and the ability to work from home? Setting realistic goals will help you stay focused and measure your progress as you build your brand. Map out where you want to be within the next few months, years, and possibly even the next decade. Set both minimum and maximum goals you’d like to reach. Be reasonable, but don’t be afraid to shoot for that Dragon’s hoard, either!
6. Brand Positioning
Develop a clear brand positioning statement that communicates your unique value proposition and differentiates your brand from competitors. This will represent the value you bring to potential customers and clients, and allow you to focus your strengths internally. If your brand is still in its infancy, this will be an important step to iron out. Ask yourself: at the very core of your brand what do you want to offer? This could seem like an easy question, but you should still ensure you spend some time thinking about it! At this point you should already have put some research into your target audience, trends, and goals, so use those to guide your positioning statement. This two-to-three sentence statement will lay down the building blocks for who your brand is, what you want to do, and who you want to reach.
An easy breakdown is to identify: 1). Who you are and what you offer. 2). Who your target audience is. And 3). What uniquely sets you apart from competitors.
Here’s an example from our wise half-orc friend, Grognar the Barbarian:
“Here at Grognar’s Adventuring Group we offer unbeatable protection for a competitive price (1). Our unmatched martial prowess make us the go-to choice for puny wizards and bards who cower in the face of danger (2). If you hire us you can rest assured that you’ll reach your destination safely, and if you don’t hire us, we’ll just be the ones raiding you instead (3)!”
Wow, thanks for the help Grognar! If you loosely follow Grognar’s format you’ll be on your way to having a great competitive positioning statement.
7. Brand Messaging
Finally, make sure you develop a clear and consistent brand message that communicates your brand’s values, personality, and unique selling proposition. This message should be tailored to your target audience and should be communicated consistently across all marketing channels. Tap into that inner bard and practice your persuasion skills, because researching your Brand is only the first step. We’ll talk more about this one next time in… Branding Step 1: Language!
Building your brand can be a daunting quest, but it’s sure to be rewarding. It requires research, strategy, and a clear direction, but like all the best quests, it usually ends with some kind of treasure! As you set out on your quest to build the perfect brand, keep the above steps in mind, and remember to stay brave, smart, and determined! The journey may be treacherous, but with the right tools and mindset, you can achieve greatness and become a truly legendary brand.
Thanks for joining us for the inaugural first step of our Branding 101 series, and thanks for allowing us to be a part of your adventure! If you want some personalized branding help, check out our Brand Pre-Accelerator or head over to our Website for a FREE brand consultation! Want to read more of our branding tips and tricks? Head on over to The Village!
Be sure to join us next time for Step 1: Language.
Written by: Michael Demmendaal