As a creative entrepreneur, you’ve probably explored multiple marketing strategies to promote your business. Think back to those experiences. Maybe you don’t quite understand your brand—can you relate to any of the following?
- Talking about myself and then asking for money felt so uncomfortable…
- Nothing I tried really “fit” my business or made it stand out from the crowd…
- I had so much else on my plate, marketing just didn’t seem like a priority…
If you are connected with one (or all) of the above, you’re not alone! Distilling your beloved business into a marketing plan can feel nerve-wracking, creatively stifling or even unnecessary in the midst of juggling so many responsibilities.
The thing is, marketing is IMPORTANT. According to Forbes, the number one reason small businesses fail is that they fail to meaningfully communicate with their customers. And even though it may feel awkward or even downright sleazy to ask for money in exchange for what you have created, your products and services are an investment. They hold great value. So, you must ask for something of value in return. No one will value something that they don’t perceive to be valuable.
Long before you create your first logo, you can set yourself up for marketing success. With nearly 2 decades in the industry, we’ve found that there is one critical question you must ask before engaging in any type of external marketing endeavour: Do you truly understand your brand?
What does “brand” even mean? Why MUST branding precede marketing? What does it look like to create a brand reflective of YOUR company?
In reading this post, I hope you gain a better understanding of the topics addressed in all those questions. And, if you’re convinced that understanding your brand is well worth the investment, you can read more about the course we’ve created to help you confidently share your business with the people who will value it most.
In this article we’ll cover:
- What Is A Brand?
- How Does Branding Feed Marketing?
- How Can I Start To Understand My Brand?
What Is A Brand?
In order to understand what a brand is, let’s look at a few things a brand is not:
- A name, trademark or logo
- A website, social media presence or advertising campaign
- A mission, vision or values statement
The above are important components of marketing for many businesses, but they don’t make up the essence of a brand itself. Now let’s flip the script to see how brands have been defined:
- “The intangible sum of a product’s attributes” —David Ogilvy
- “A person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.” —Marty Neumeier
- “The set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin
What’s the common thread in all these definitions? The emphasis is not on a tangible project or platform, but instead on the experience a company creates for its customers and clients, whether that’s through engagement with its employees or use of its products or services.
At Inspired, we like to define brands as such:
An INSPIRED BRAND is one that is intentionally infused with purpose, heart and passion that attracts and connects with those it’s meant to impact.
Your brand communicates how your business is unique, what it offers, who your core audience is and why they should invest in your products or services. Whenever a potential customer engages with a brand, it also prompts a certain emotional response to the associated company. Brands can draw in customers who are seeking to meet specific needs…or they can fail to attract, or even push customers away. In short, brands are pretty powerful!
How Does Branding Feed Marketing?
So, how does branding propel marketing on a very practical level? The answer lies in one phrase: Unique Selling Proposition.
A unique selling proposition, or USP, is a short phrase or sentence that lets customers know what it will be like to engage with your business. Your USP should directly address the specific need your ideal customer is experiencing, emphasize what qualities make you stand out from the competition in meeting that need, and share how you can deliver the results you’re promising.
- UNIQUE=What makes you different?
- SELLING=What are you selling?
- PROPOSITION=What is your business suggestion?
Your USP can serve as the cornerstone of all your marketing efforts. If you hire someone to design a logo, build a website, or craft an advertising campaign, the USP can guide them in crafting content that fits your company.
In order to craft a stellar USP, you must understand your brand. Think about it: to create your USP you need to know what message you want to communicate. Before you write a message, you need to understand the feeling it should convey, in the exact audience who will benefit from your products and solutions. Before that, you need to know where you stand in the marketplace, and who else is speaking to your ideal audience. And in order to differentiate yourself from your competition, you must know your WHY—why you’re dedicated to the business, at the deepest level. Your “why” is unique to you, and it makes your business unique to anything else on the market.
Ultimately, all the elements of branding can be integrated into a robust USP, which can in-turn drive your marketing campaign into new territory: one that isn’t constrained by models or templates, but rather one that is strategically crafted to elevate YOUR unique brand.
How Can I Start To Understand My Brand?
That’s where our course comes in! Since her last years in college, 15+ years ago, our founder Maria Traino has been naturally and intuitively helping entrepreneurs, companies and non-profit organizations understand their brand. It wasn’t until about two years ago she challenged herself to finally map out my step-by-step process in an effort to scale her creative business… to multiply what came naturally to her and ultimately be able to help MORE entrepreneurs using MORE creatives. However, in the process of breaking the process down Maria realized even more business owners could benefit if they were able to do it themselves. And the Understand Your Brand Digital Course was born.
In this course, we’re excited to be able to walk through each component of branding, complete with examples, in a series of six videos. As you progress, you’ll also start building out your own brand with the help of worksheets and templates.
Here at Inspired, we believe that your brand is your company’s most important asset, and Understand Your Brand Digital Course can help you greatly maximize its potential. But don’t just take our word for it! Here’s an example of how the course has made an impact for our clients:
I really loved your course and found the prompts to be super beneficial not only for someone like me exploring a new avenue of their career but really for life goal setting. It was such a great deep dive into who I am, how I want to be perceived, how to articulate where my heart is, and what my work’s potential is for others. I think it is a universally beneficial program—your skills, heart and experience transcend many fields and stages of life.“—Hailee Tavoian, Marketing Strategist [haileetavoian.com]
Interested in joining the course? Now is a great time to sign up!
We’ve collaborated with our friends at 25-8 Productions Inc. to professionally shoot the training videos. And right now the first module is FREE. To learn more about how we’ve taken what we’ve learned spending tens of thousands of hours working with entrepreneurs and channeled it into a comprehensive, step-by-step program that helps you clarify an authentic, intentional brand inspired by your passion, visit understandyourbrand.today.