Does every business need a brand strategy? The short answer is no.
Brand strategy is the art of shaping the way people think, feel and talk about your brand. It isn’t something that you need at all stages of your business journey, especially if you are just starting out or if your brand is in great shape.
Understanding brand evolution will help you better understand when the time is right to create or revisit your brand strategy.
Your business will naturally evolve over time and your brand will too. During this evolution process, you will experience ick phases where you start to feel a sense of disconnection from your brand. It may mean that your brand is falling behind and it's time to put a strategy in place!
The exploration phase
I don't believe that business owners should invest in a brand strategy in the early days. The first few years of business are all about exploring and experimenting. It’s all about learning who you want to work with, how you can best use your skills to make an impact, and discovering what you want to achieve with your business. Without this learning stage, it is nearly impossible to know what you want the future of your brand to look like.
Without much budget in the beginning, usually there is a lot of DIY’ing in this phase of business. Maybe you have created your own website, whipped together a logo on Canva and fluffed your way through your key messages. There probably wasn’t much thought going into decisions around marketing or branding but that’s ok! You need to go through this phase of winging it and learning before you can really find your magic.
The ick phase
Usually, after a few years of business, you start to feel the brand ick.
What does the ick feel like? You start to feel disconnected and slightly embarrassed by what your brand represents including the visuals, the words and your marketing messages. You’re not clear on how to communicate with your audience and you’re lacking confidence when it comes to sharing your message with the world. You’ve lost your sense of pride and are ready for a shift.
After a few years in the exploration phase, you have learnt a lot and you know what you want from your business. You're ready to step up and take it to the next level. You want to build a brand that aligns with your vision and personality, and one that instantly connects with your dream customers.
Although you continue to receive referrals, you want to become a recognised leader in your space and make a bigger impact through your skills and expertise. You want to be perceived as the go-to in your industry and be proud of what your brand represents.
This is exactly when you need to work on your brand strategy! A brand strategy will help you position your brand in a way that allows you to be seen as the go-to in the eyes of your target audience. It allows you to create a brand that aligns with your vision, values and personality, as well as one that aligns with the goals and desires of your ideal clients.
The growth phase
Now that you have created a brand strategy, you need to implement your strategy and start owning it. This will look different for every business but may include new photos, updating your tagline and messaging or reshaping your social media content. Your strategy will map out exactly what you need to do across all brand touchpoints to bring it to life.
Implementing your brand strategy will lead you into a growth phase in your business, where you will start to become known as a recognised service provider and attract aligned clients who are on the same page. Your brand strategy will support you in attracting leads outside of referrals and allow you to connect with like-minded people.
There’s no doubt that this phase of business is an exciting chapter! You not only start to build deeper connections with your ideal customers, but you also have complete confidence in what your brand stands for and pride in the impact that you are having through every brand touchpoint.
The next ick phase
After a few years of growing and maintaining your brand, you may find that you are ready to revisit your brand strategy. This next ick phase is likely to surface again if you have seen some shifts in your business strategy.
There are many reasons why you may wish to change direction. Maybe your audience has evolved since your first brand strategy. Maybe you are changing the way you serve your audience. Maybe you are thinking about switching to a personal brand or moving to an agency model. It can be overwhelming and tiring, but having an ick is a good sign because it means that you have outgrown your brand and are ready for growth and re-evaluation.
Without a brand strategy at this ick phase, you may start to create a disconnect from existing clients and confusion among potential new clients. At this phase, you should seek support from a brand strategist to make sure that your brand direction is in line with your business strategy and your vision.
Do you need a brand strategy?
If you are experiencing an ‘ick’ phase within your business, creating a brand strategy will give you the clarity you need to move forward confidently. It will support you in shaping the way your customers see your brand and feel really proud and inspired by your next chapter of growth.
If you sidestep the brand strategy process during an ick phase, it will take you a long time to take your brand from where it is now to where you want it to be.
If you are still unsure about whether your business is ready for a brand strategy, book a free intro call with me and we can chat through it together!
Learn more about my brand strategy process.