Conversation With a Brand Coach: Being Bold
- 1. Why is a brand strategy important for SMBs/startups?
- 2. What are some of the main considerations to arrive at a brand strategy?
- 3. What are some of the tools you use to inform your work?
- 4. What is your favorite SMB branding design or marketing initiative?
- 5. What are your three top tips for a startup or SMB who is starting to think of a brand strategy?
In our ongoing interview series, we spoke with Zach Lamb about brand strategy and his tips for SMBs.
Zach is a brand strategist with experience working in a wide variety of industries such as fashion, food, fitness, cars, financial services, sports, retail and even agriculture. He enjoys developing brand ideas in early stages of a business’ life. He highly values getting to work with smart entrepreneurs and help provide them with perspective.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
A brand strategy guides everything you do with your business. It sets a differentiated vision that informs what you are all about, how you position your offering and your product, how you go to market, how people experience your brand, and the actions your brand takes in the world. All those touchpoints work together to build the meaning of your brand in the minds of consumers.
Your brand is not only a set of values, but a set of behaviors as well. It all has to come from the same place. A brand strategy is built from a consideration of four main inputs:
- Your company and your vision
- The category you operate in and your competitors - what they are doing, and how they are positioning themselves
- People - what makes them tick emotionally, what do they want from your category, how are they using the brands and products you offer to say something socially about themselves
- Culture - what are the big macro trends that are influencing people today at the cultural level. At the center of that Venn diagram is your brand idea.
The number one tool is your gut, your intuition. But you need to feed your intuition with data. And you need to organize your thinking in a systematic way. I find ZeBrand’s Strategy Boards and Persona Boards a good way of getting all the necessary information in one place in an orderly way and then using it to inform insights and subsequent strategy work.
For a SMB, personality is key – I admire brands that are not afraid of being bold, making people laugh, or doing things differently. I think of brands as people, and aren’t the people with the most personality the kind of people that you want to hang out with and hear something from? SMB brands doing this well are Casper, Sir Kensington’s and Hendrick’s Gin.
- Go inside yourself - Never lose sight of the original passion you felt to start your business. That passion and that emotion is the foundation of WHY your business exists, and it’s that passion and that reason that will excite your customers.
- Remember that people are people - They don’t walk around thinking as intensely about your brand as you do. 71% of brands could disappear and it might not make an impact. You always have to put their true needs at the center of everything you do to succeed.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks to get noticed - You can’t blend in with the category because you’re scared. It's better to have a strong POV and be bold. Remember that you’re not for everyone.
Want to know more about Zachary Lamb, check out his introduction video.