Marketing often takes a backseat when Time is the driver and Budget is controlling the breaks. And especially in uncertain times — when the horizon seems to be a moving destination, viewed through a blurry windscreen. (And thanks/no thanks 2020, for adding in a blizzard and a blind-fold!)
So now is as good a time as any to take out your brand-building squeegee and focus forward on your road ahead with clarity, purpose and direction.
In this brand roadmap I hope to help kick-start or re-start or revise or reinvigorate your brand-building journey in eight easy but essential steps. And whether you’re selling a physical product or any type of service, the same guidelines can apply. So let’s get started! Fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.
Step 1: Identify your Customer’s PAIN POINTS
The first step is to work out who you’re serving, and then identify their pain points. So ask yourself: What problem does my product solve and for who? Then ask: What are my customer pain points across the category? List as many as possible that are true and that matter. And to add to your list, ask a few customers directly.
For example, if you sell kids’ pyjamas, your customer pain points may be: Nothing’s warm enough. Nothing’s soft enough. I can’t find natural fabric. Unexciting designs.
Step 2: List Product ATTRIBUTES
Now you need to list intrinsic attributes. What makes up your physical product or service? Try to list at least five. Here are some for the pyjama example: 100% natural fibre, fun fabric design, free delivery.
Step 3: List Product BENEFITS
This is where you drill deeper into each attribute from Step 2 and extend each attribute into customer benefits. This shifts gears from an internal product focus to an external customer benefit.
Here is the pyjama example to help guide: One attribute of ‘100% natural fabric’ unpacks benefits like: responds to body temperature, breathability and less allergies.
Step 4: List Customer VALUES
Now go even deeper into extending each benefit from Step 3 into the end VALUE it holds for your customer. Let’s go back to the pyjama example to see how one product attribute can give rise to a number of product values. The diagram below shows how just one product attribute unpacks into seven additional things your copywriter can write about.
So if you start with just five attributes for your product or service, you can reach even 40 product statements for marketing material (but even if you get 10 end value statements, if they matter to your customer, that’s enough).
Step 5: Identify your TARGET CUSTOMER
Detail your target customer’s demographics and psychographics and try to step into their shoes as they seek solutions to their problem. And you may have more than one core primary target segment so you could write up individual worksheets for each customer segment. You may even have secondary customers e.g. maybe B2B beyond B2C, or vice versa. A good start is writing up target customer personas. Not only do these serve as a useful visual reference, they also keep your team’s thinking unified and on the same track.
Step 6: Do a SWOT analysis
Now it’s time to determine your brand’s strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O), and threats (T). Strengths and weaknesses are INTERNAL to your business and brand. Opportunities and threats are EXTERNAL to your business and brand.
Let’s go back to the pyjama example: Strengths may be: natural fabric, locally production, free delivery. Weaknesses may be: small business means longer delivery times, narrow range. Opportunities may be: gift registries, extending into the teen market. Threats: competitors outspend on marketing, can’t compete with big retailers on product width, depth and price.
Step 7: Analyse COMPETITORS
Consider both direct and indirect competitors which would then include equivalent and substitute products or services. For the pyjama example, direct competitors would be other similar products selling children’s pyjamas. Indirect competitors may be alternative solutions like heaters, blankets, and bed-socks.
Also try to work out your brand’s positioning compared to competitors. Depending on the size of your business, there are numerous approaches to doing competitor positioning grids. From simplistic to sophisticated, the overarching purpose of this exercise is to plot your brand against competitors, to analyse the industry dynamics, and to assess areas of over congestion and/or potential gaps.
Step 8: Crystallise your PURPOSE
This part can be hard – especially since it’s quite abstract with lots of diverse apporaches and definitions. So here goes in trying to keep things straight-forward.
First look at your overall purpose. Simply put, your brand’s purpose is about a common goal that speaks to both internal and external stakeholders – from staff to customers, from suppliers to agencies. So everyone knows what they’re ultimately working towards when they think of your brand.
But for all stakeholders to stay on the same page, it also helps to break things down further into your vision and your mission. This can be confusing but I came across some useful tips which may help crystalise the difference between vision and mission statements, summarised below.
Vision is future oriented, bold, and all about your brand’s destination. Think about what you’d like your business to achieve in the long-term.
Mission is what you’re doing today, grounded, and serves as your map. Think about what you do, who you serve, and how you serve them.
So for the pyjama example: The Vision may be ‘Striving towards a more rested nation, one night at a time.’ And the Mission may be ‘Fashion-forward 100% natural fabric pyjamas for kids that makes sleep time happy time for the whole family.’
Hopefully these eight steps can help you get to know your brand a whole lot better! But the road is long, often bumpy and uphill, with few shortcuts.
Creative Mix helps clients build brands through a blend of modern marketing solutions. To chat more about your business journey and refining your brand roadmap, make contact today.