I recently walked a small company through creating a new Go-To-Market (GTM) plan. They had struggled for years with multiple marketers and salespeople and had struggled to develop their own pipeline.
They were getting a ho-hum response from prospects because:
- They hadn’t committed to who they were,
- Prospects didn’t understand what they did, and
- They hadn’t proven that there was a market that fit their product!
That’s a pretty serious situation. Fortunately, they had a good revenue source for other reasons.
But the priority was to establish a new pipeline so that they could be more secure and independent, and that all the development work they’d done on their unique offering would pay off.
The cool thing was that they were a Google Partner and we got to work with some Stanford M.B.A.’s who worked at Google on this new GTM plan.
And, look, I’m no noob…
I’ve helped a lot of new businesses and created a lot of marketing plans before, but this experience helped me hone my process and finally figure out something that had been vexing me for years…
The Problem With Old Ways of Branding
As a digital marketer focused on driving leads and sales (they call that a direct marketing or direct response marketer) I’ve had several run-ins with traditional branding folks that had bugged the hell out of me!
Their brand definitions were too narrow and didn’t allow us to fully leverage modern marketing, social media and advertising. It seemed like such a missed opportunity, and “branding” seemed like this holy priesthood based in who-knows-what. I couldn’t figure out why they had so much power and why they hadn’t gotten in step with digital marketing.
I’d even been through a number of branding exercises with different facilitators that left me feeling confused, like, “OK, but what about the rest of the info and clarity I need to do real, current digital marketing? There’s so much undefined and we have no foundation!”
Now, I’ve finally figured out how to create a brand definition that works for digital and social and isn’t stuck in 1995.
Here are my top 5 steps for how to create a digital brand that drives a big customer response.
STEP 1: Start Either With Your Strengths or Your Ideal Customer
You can start one of two places. I’m not going to tell you which. I’ve seen both situations. You may be more certain:
- Who you are as a company and what you do well, what makes you exceptionally valuable to customers, or
- Who your customer is. Who do you want to serve?
You’ll notice I don’t talk about “Starting with why,” but if you have a “why,” that’s great! Use it to clarify your strengths and your ideal customer.
STEP 2: Look At The Other Thing From Step 1 That You Didn’t Do Yet
Given what you clarified in the first step, let’s look at the other!
If you have a very clear strength, you need to look at who has the biggest need for that, and who doesn’t. Who really wants what you have?
Or, as my friend Garrison Wynn likes to say, “Go where people suck.” Who sucks at what you’re great at?
If you know exactly who you want to serve, what is their biggest pain point? Let’s talk shark bites- what is causing them to bleed in a mortally wounded way? Don’t try to solve mosquito bites. For example, in our business, clients are more motivated to go from no exposure to awareness than to lower their post promotion costs. And many companies are more motivated to improve their revenue than to improve their breakroom. What is keeping your ideal customer up at night?
Or, what is your ideal customer’s biggest goal? What do they want to achieve? Whatever that is, you need to have the ability or strength to make that valuable thing happen for them.
STEP 3: Figure Out Your UNIQUE Value To That Ideal Target Customer
Make sure you got the foregoing down in writing: Who’s your ideal customer? What are your unique strengths that provide a tourniquet to their shark bites or will rocket them to their goals? These absolutely have to match and make sense.
Now, put all of this into a value proposition that’s no more than 2-3 sentences. If you have trouble, use this formula:
[BRAND NAME] helps [IDEAL CUSTOMERS] with [WHAT?] so that they an [CONCRETE CUSTOMER GOAL OR ACHIEVEMENT].
STEP 4: Turn Your UNIQUE Strengths Into 5 Brand Words
Now you want to make sure that you have good words for who you are and what you do. You’re not quite writing copy yet with this, but you’re getting close.
What 5 words best describe your company’s strengths? These are things like: professional, bold, agile, creative, plucky, systematic… et cetera. If you have trouble coming up with them, there are many lists of strengths and values online you can start from.
Next, take a look at your competitors and see what words and value propositions they’re using on their websites. By now you should know what keywords people might be searching for what you offer. Google them. When you check out 5 competitors websites, what words do they use to describe themselves? If you’re seeing the same words you just wrote, then chances are, you haven’t found a unique position or strength. You’ll need to go deeper or get more specific or make some tough choices.
It’s OK if 1 or 2 of your words are used by competitors, but try to get 3 that are unique. Use thesaurus.com and see if you can find variations that seem to apply to you even more. The synonyms you see should make a difference- some will look wrong and others right. If they all seem the same to you, you may have the wrong word, or you may not have a clear enough idea of who your are and how you’re unique.
STEP 5: Choose Fonts, Colors, Images, etc. According To Your 5 Brand Words
Take your five brand words:
- Check out Google’s fonts, and look for fonts that fit your 5 brand words. You can choose your sample text for the fonts, so I like to type in the 5 words. First choose a possibility list of 10 fonts or so, and then narrow it down – if you used your 5 words as the text, you should see if the font is consistent with them or not. Does each font fit all of the brand words? Keep eliminating fonts until you have the best one.
- Use this color-generating website to look for colors that fit your brand words. Keep in mind that even if you have 5 colors, you may mainly use 2 or 3 and the others may just be accents.
- Use Google’s image search to find images that fit your brand words. Start putting them into a Powerpoint / Google Slide deck / Keynote deck as examples of what you like.
Relax, Now You Have a Killer Brand
Now you have come a long way. You have:
- Uniqueness that sets you apart in the marketplace and provides a competitive advantage.
- A brand core that is directly tied to what your customers need and what will drive you revenue.
- Basic fonts, colors and images that will make your website and ads more powerful and more aligned with your brand.
You can use this core to hire designers to come up with a new logo, new website, and whatever else you want. And now your brand can be extended in all the ways we need to today with 100’s of social media posts and ads and emails and content pieces.
As long as you keep asking these questions about what you have created, you’ll be fine:
- Does this fit our brand words?
- Does this fit our value prop?
- Does it fit out font and colors?
Brian Carter is a popular business expert and keynote speaker with Fortune 500 clients like NBC, Microsoft and Humana as well as small businesses. He delivers motivational keynotes with practical takeaways with the comedic flair of his stand up comedy background. His agency, The Brian Carter Group, creates marketing that excites customers and increases brand visibility, sales and loyalty. Brian is a bestselling author you’ve probably seen on Bloomberg TV or in Inc, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. He has over 250,000 online fans and reaches over 3 million people per year.