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10 Key Strategies for Successful Brand Management in 2024: A Guide for New Business Owners

Updated: Jan 23

Kiah Moreya Small Business Branding with Superior Shelbie

I was recently interviewed on Superior Shelbie's YouTube channel where we dove into some of the key aspects of brand management for new businesses. From the critical first steps to the future of branding, here's a comprehensive guide summarizing my answers to the great questions Shelbie asked me during our interview.

1. Starting Strong: Market Research as the Foundation

Critical First Steps for Entrepreneurs

Your first move should be market research for 2 reasons:

1) to understand your target audience

2) to understand your competitors. 

It’s so common to see enthusiastic entrepreneurs come up with an idea that they think is brilliant and dive right into taking the steps to start a business without establishing a solid foundation. You need a full understanding of who your target audience is and what your competition is up to. By starting with research, you’re able to hone in on a clear brand purpose, your brand values, objectives, and unique positioning. From there you can focus on the fun stuff like coming up with a memorable name, designing your brand aesthetic, creating a catchy slogan, and so on. 

Quick note: your research should also include legal considerations. Do you need an LLC, a certification, insurance, etc. to begin this new business venture?

2. Brand Identity: Unveiling the Unique Value Proposition

Navigating Brand Workshops to Articulate Value

For me, understanding my client’s “why” is the key. So when I sign on with a new client, the very first thing I do is schedule a brand workshop. 

A "brand workshop" is a collaborative and structured session or series of sessions where key stakeholders, such as company leaders, employees, and sometimes external consultants, come together to work on defining, refining, or aligning the various elements of a brand. The primary goal of a brand workshop is to establish a clear and unified understanding of the brand's identity, values, goals, unique value proposition, and messaging.

Through collaborative exercises, we determine key messages and qualities that set the brand apart. This process aids in creating a cohesive and compelling brand identity that resonates with the target audience.

3. Target Audience: Precision in Engagement

Strategic Approach to Understanding and Reaching Audiences

Understanding and reaching a brand's target audience involves a combination of market research, creating buyer personas, and analyzing consumer behavior. Tailoring communication channels and messaging to align with the audience's needs ensures effective engagement and connection.

Many new brands fall into the trap of trying to be everyone's favorite, which sounds like a good idea at first. However, there are some serious drawbacks to that approach. Let me illustrate this with an example.

Consider the reviews on Amazon for hair products. You're a black hair care brand looking to amplify your reach. Your products are specifically made for people with kinky, coily hair types and use all-natural ingredients. Over time you find that people with bone-straight hair are finding your brand based on an ingredient search and are ordering your products but they are not getting the results they hoped for. Now you're getting negative comments from people who don't have the targeted hair type, and their bad experiences end up messing with the product and store ratings. This not only affects your brand's reputation but can also lead to a bunch of refund requests, costing your company a significant amount of money. So, even though expanding to a big platform like Amazon seems like a smart move to reach a broader audience, it can turn out to be more costly than creating an ad campaign set around the demographics of your intended user.

It's comparable to using ads that target everyone. Sure, you might get more views, but you're essentially spending money on people who will never be genuinely interested in your product. That's not a very efficient strategy!

It is absolutely crucial for a brand to have a clear understanding of its target audience. Where do these people usually hang out? How do they prefer to receive information? Having this knowledge enables the brand to communicate directly with the right audience, avoiding unnecessary expenses on the wrong demographic.

4. Digital Presence: Elements for Online Brand Impact

Crafting a Strong Online Presence in the Digital Landscape

Key components for establishing a powerful online brand presence include a user-friendly website, content consistency, and brand authenticity. This involves maintaining a strong presence through consistent engagement on social media, content marketing strategies, and effective search engine optimization. Real and authentic storytelling and visual coherence across various platforms play a pivotal role in elevating brand recognition.

Adopting a value-based approach in all endeavors is also super helpful. While it's common for companies to focus solely on selling products, setting yourself apart involves providing value that deeply resonates with your target audience. This approach builds trust, making it a no-brainer for your audience to support your brand.

Digital analytics serve as a valuable tool for refining strategies based on data, ensuring a vibrant and impactful online presence. For example: Your content calendar initially outlines two "how-to" posts, one storytelling, and one testimonial per week. After three months, the data indicates minimal engagement on the "how-to" posts but significant views on storytelling and testimonials. It might be beneficial to adjust your strategy. Consider reducing "how-to" posts to once a week and increasing storytelling and testimonial posts to twice a week, alternating as needed. This adaptability based on analytics ensures your online presence stays dynamic and resonates effectively with your audience.

5. Challenges and Solutions: Navigating Branding Hurdles

Addressing Common Challenges with Strategic Conversations

Common branding challenges often involve attempting to compete in an oversaturated market, lacking a clear understanding of brand identity, and making suboptimal decisions due to this lack of clarity. Successfully overcoming these challenges typically begins with initiating a conversation and formulating a comprehensive plan. Engaging in open dialogue, conducting market research, and analyzing relevant data are essential steps in devising strategies to stand out in a crowded market and directly target the intended audience. This proactive approach helps navigate common pitfalls in brand development.

6. Brand Evolution: Adapting without Losing Core Identity

Guiding Brands Through Strategic Evolution

It all goes back to that initial branding conversation. Being rooted in core brand values while staying on top of and adapting to market trends. Regularly obtaining consumer feedback, getting into the data you've collected to tailor your approach based on analytics, and conducting periodic market research inform gradual changes, ensuring your brand stays relevant and true to those who remain loyal to the brand. 

7. Measuring Success: Metrics Tailored to Business Goals

Customized Metrics for Brand Strategy Success

The metrics for evaluating the success of a brand strategy vary based on the nature of the business. Fundamental indicators include brand awareness, customer engagement, and conversion rates. Valuable insights can be gleaned from social media analytics, website traffic, and customer feedback. Furthermore, tracking brand consistency and perception over time offers a comprehensive view of the overall effectiveness of the brand strategy.

However, it all boils down to the specific needs and goals of the business. What holds significance for a real estate agent aiming to drive potential clients to submit forms on their website may not carry the same weight for a Jamaican restaurant seeking to increase foot traffic. Tailoring the metrics to the unique objectives of the business ensures a more meaningful assessment of brand strategy success.

8. Innovation in Branding: A Creative Approach

Unconventional Branding Strategy Example

In a recent conversation, I connected with an insurance agent who brought a unique perspective to the industry. Despite being relatively new to the insurance world, this agent revealed an unexpected dimension—he's a member of a motorcycle gang, spending weekends on a Harley Davidson with his son. This intriguing detail immediately captured my attention.

While I lack extensive experience in the insurance realm, our discussion sparked an unconventional idea. I shared a personal story about my uncle, who has been in a coma for over a decade due to a motorcycle accident. This tragic event led to considerable costs for his family, as he remained responsive but non-communicative. Recognizing the agent's firsthand experience with the thrill of motorcycle culture, I suggested a novel approach: niche down and focus on insurance policies for individuals engaging in risky activities like motorcycles, speed boats, drag racing, etc. These are the daredevils—individuals with families and responsibilities seeking a comprehensive insurance policy for unforeseen circumstances.

While admittedly uncomfortable, these conversations, when approached by someone immersed in the lifestyle, become more relatable for the audience. I encouraged the agent to craft blog articles centered around success stories—narratives of individuals who faced unfortunate accidents but had the security of a robust insurance policy. The agent found the concept appealing, and I considered it a creative way to tailor insurance solutions to a specific and often underserved audience.

9. Advice for Entrepreneurs: Authenticity and Customer Service

Key Insights for Successful Brand Management

Stay authentic! People buy into you and how authentic you come across. This builds trust and a trustworthy brand forms long-lasting connections with its audience. I would second that with ensuring you provide a high level of customer service. Listen. Mistakes in business happen. Orders get lost in the mail, items get left out of packages, etc. If you are known for handling your customer interactions with attentive care regularly, when you do trip up, your customers will be more understanding and more willing to extend a little grace before attacking your business all over the interwebs. (LOL)

10. Future of Branding: The Role of Brand Managers

Elevating Brand Management in Business Priorities

I really hope that seeking the help of a brand manager becomes a priority. Especially for those who are just starting a business. If you start strong, you’re more likely to hit your goals and avoid costly mistakes that will set you back months or even years. When you listen to successful people talk about how they reached where they are 9 times out of 10 they attribute it to some sort of mentor or business coach. Someone whose expertise they can leverage and use to avoid those common pitfalls. This is so important! I truly hope the future sees more entrepreneurs factoring in the cost of a brand manager or business development coach as a first step and not as a last-ditch effort to save a business that has been operating with no direction for a while.

Conclusion: In a nutshell, the emphasis for successful brand management is on the foundational steps that are crucial for entrepreneurs diving into the world of business. From the vital role of market research in understanding the audience and competitors to the practical insights shared on conducting brand workshops, this guide offers a roadmap for strategic brand development for long-term success in the dynamic business landscape.

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