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Strategic Branding Success | Interview

Cherrie McKenzie, of CoActive Dreams , is a successful blogger who produces a twice weekly motivational podcast. Her blog and podcast also offer tips for business and personal development. She invited me to discuss branding strategy. Below is the original CoActive Dreams Imagine Radio podcast and an overview of our conversation.

Q What is strategic branding? Why focus on it?

A Well, first I’ll touch on what branding is, then explain a bit about strategic branding, and finally I’ll tell a bit about what lead me to offer branding services.

  • Branding is basically your promise to your customer
  • It’s what customers can expect from your products or services
  • Branding also differentiates what you offer from what your competition offers

Strategic Branding & Target Marketing

Since you can’t be all things to all people, you need to identify your target market and understand their needs. This is the basis for strategic branding. Once you identify and understand your target market, you need to develop the proper message. Your message needs to effectively speak to your consumer. The demographics of your target market, the designs you incorporate, and your copywriting all come into play.

You can sort of think of strategic branding as the who, what, when, where, why, and how of effectively getting your message to your target market.

The Process of Strategic Branding

So, it’s a pretty complex process that requires a thoughtful approach. Strategic branding encompasses quite a lot. It’s like a puzzle or conundrum that you need to solve: how to best connect and communicate with your consumer.

Why Focus on Strategic Branding

So finally, Why I chose to focus on strategic branding … I have a business degree in marketing and pretty extensive training in graphics and design. Plus, I have an degree in education. So, I’m really using all of those skills in my business. Strategic branding requires a lot creativity, design, organization, and marketing skills.

Q What are some of the things a small business owner should focus on?

A This is great question because it’s a tough one to answer.

The Challenge of Strategic Branding

Branding and marketing a service or product can be a difficult process. Before starting a marketing campaign, any business needs to consider several things:

  1. Their company’s mission
  2. The benefits of their product or service
  3. Their customers’ perception of their product or service
  4. What they really want their customers’ perception to be

Differentiating Your Brand

You have to understand what message is being conveyed to your consumer and how to make it more effective. You want to communicate the benefits your business offers and differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Adjusting Your Message

It can discouraging to find out your consumer has a completely distorted view of your business. It requires a thoughtful, creative approach to get your marketing message right. Sometimes your message just isn’t reaching your consumer, so you need to know what to do differently.

Strategy is an informed approach. You’re not just giving things a go and hoping for the best. So, researching, testing, measuring, and adjusting are all necessary.

Best Tip for Small Business Strategic Branding

I think one of the best things a small business owner can do is get an outsider’s perspective. Too often a business owner makes assumptions about what will work. Getting a fresh perspective can identify areas that just aren’t effectively communicating your marketing message.

It might be that your logo, your tagline, or your website just aren’t resonating with who you’re targeting. A business owner often isn’t really able to step back and take a really critical view of their branding strategy.

Branding Consistency is Key

To be more general, I think that small business owners need to focus on consistency with their branding strategy. Their branding and marketing message need to be consistent across the board. For example, from the business cards they share, to their email signatures, to their website design, to their social media profiles and posts … all need to be communicating the same message.

Building Brand Equity

Consistent, strategic branding builds equity. Brand equity is the added value brought to your product or service. Perceived qualities from brand equity allow you to grow your business. If your branding isn’t consistent, you won’t be able to build brand equity.

Q Are there particular missteps that some business owners make?

A I think a major misstep some business owners make is not investing in their business growth.

Invest in Your Brand

Business owners either think they can wing it, do it alone, or skip the details that make a difference.
Those logos, graphics, or copy that are rushed end up looking unprofessional. Or that DIY website isn’t a great as it needs to be, or it ends up looking just like your competitor’s.

Measure Your Branding Efforts

Another misstep is not evaluating or measuring in order to make improvements. If you aren’t measuring the effectiveness of your branding efforts, you can’t know what’s working and what’s not.

Q How do you stay motivated?

A As a small business owner, it’s challenging enough to consistently build my own brand.

Strong Web Presence Critical for Brands

Today’s marketplace really requires a strong web presence in order to stay visible and relevant. So, it requires a lot of effort to really understand your target market, develop a branding strategy, create a targeted marketing campaign, measure its effectiveness, and make whatever adjustments are needed.

Social Media Marketing

To build brand visibility a business needs to have a strong web presence and much of that is done through social media these days. Not only do you need a polished, professional web site, you also need reach consumers through social media. This also requires consistent and steady effort.

Staying Motivated

So … staying motivated. I love to learn. It’s what brought me to teach for nearly a decade. So, my love of learning motivates to stay on top of trends and new tools that might support my work. To some degree content curation also motivates me because I’m reading articles, appreciating other people’s perspectives and ideas and getting inspired by those.

The web is a fascinating area that impacts so many people and small businesses. The web is integrated into our lives in such a substantial way that it really can’t be ignored. The more that you learn and know about it, the better off you’ll be, especially if you’re a small business.

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Jon Whitbeck

As a web designer and developer, I have managed, built, launched, and maintained websites that meet my clients' objectives. I develop dynamic websites with content management systems based on the latest design trends. My background as an educator and instructor helps me create user-friendly interfaces and teach my clients how to update their own sites.

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