I've oftentimes used various analogies for our brand building process, and to no surprise the phrase "building a strategic foundation" is referenced. However just today I had a bit of an epiphany as I was driving north on Charles Street back toward my office. As I crossed over Mt. Royal Avenue (kicking myself for not getting my car's A/C fixed yet) I said aloud, "Wow! They really got that up in a hurry!"
I was referring to the framework on the University of Baltimore's new law school that seemed to appear overnight. It took me by surprise because I travel that route everyday, and for months all I've seen is a giant hole in the ground and a bunch of guys in hard hats inside of a tall, chain link fence. I'm sure they've been hard at work all this time, but the progress wasn't visible until today. Likewise building a brand takes time, as well as a little bit of faith in the outcome.
You Have to Dig In, Before You Can Build Up
Our three-step strategic process takes about 4-5 weeks to complete, and we recommend that our clients finalize that phase before any design work begins. Sometimes we get push back from our prospective new clients who say things like, "I can tell you everything you need to know in a matter of minutes. We just need a logo and a brochure."
I understand their concern. It's hard to justify something you can't see or touch. However gathering the perspectives of both internal and external audiences is essential to creating a message that will be authentic, believable, and profitable. Gathering this information and developing a core strategy isn't very sexy, but just like that giant hole I referenced above, you have to dig in before you can build up. You also need a blueprint. In our world, that's called a marketing action plan - the "who, what, where, when and how much" tactics needed to build your brand.
After 11 years in business and with over 125 unique client relationships, I can guarantee that one person — even a card-carrying member of the C-suite — cannot alone adequately provide the insight necessary to build a sustainable brand. He or she is critical to the process, but just like it takes a team of inspectors, surveyors, developers, engineers, architects, electricians and other professionals to create a law school, it takes a quality team comprised of executives, salespeople, administrators, customers, referral sources, marketing consultants and creative designers to construct a strong brand.
Before You Break Out the Bulldozer, Pull Out Your Mirror
As a business owner, it’s easy to get caught up in the routines of life and the fast pace in which we’ve all grown accustom. At least once per year, however, it’s best to put the business on pause just long enough to allow yourself to take an honest look at where it is, and where you want it to go.
Seldom is one person or one thing the culprit for something good or bad. Certainly these can be a catalyst, but the net result tends to be more cumulative. Therefore, before you plow ahead into hiring or firing staff, buying new equipment, or relying on technology to tweet yourself to the top, think about your business and ask yourself:
If you need help arriving at the answers, call or email me to set up a Positioning Workshop where just three hours out of one day, could impact your business for a lifetime.
Dina Wasmer is President of Incite Creative, Inc., a marketing and graphic design firm that specializes in strategic positioning, brand development and creative implementation services including print and online solutions for small and middle-market businesses and organizations. For more information call 410.366.9479 ext. 2# or email email@example.com