How a little planning can help your brand
My husband and I are celebrating our fourth anniversary tomorrow. (Cue the confetti!) My mom is coming to watch her for two whole nights so we can have some time away together.
Sounds glorious, right?
The thing is, as of this writing, we do not know where we are going.
I'm starting to panic a little. Everything is booked up. I am unsure if I am supposed to pack for a camping trip or a stay in a cabin or for an Airbnb. I haven't gone grocery shopping for this trip because <<see previous sentence>>. So this supposedly restful, restorative trip is stressing me out.
This is not that uncommon for my husband and I when it comes to weekends away. One year, on BOTH of our birthdays, which are a month apart, we didn't leave until about 3 p.m. on Saturday for our weekend getaways because we were still looking up options at 2 p.m.
A couple months ago, we were all packed up for a backpacking trip with our toddler but weren't sure until the last minute where we were backpacking.
This is not a good practice.
To be fair, between a major deck restoration project, two businesses, my husband's full-time job, and our little one, our summer has been bonkers. Still, I wouldn't recommend this path for vacation planning.
I also wouldn't recommend it for your business.
Too often, I see businesses use our fly-by-the-seat of-our-pants approach to their brand. They grab random fonts and colors for every new advertising piece. They change directions several times a year on their messaging. They start a new project, only to stop and let it languish until it becomes an emergency, and they need to ramp it up again.
Listen, I get it. Like I said, I'm not always the best planner either. (Case in point above). But I have experienced the value of forethought both in my personal and business life. When I take the time to plan, it takes the stress out of whatever I'm trying to do. It also opens up more options for me. (Like for example, a lake-side cabin that is now booked up).
Here is some ideas for how to use planning for better branding.
1. Take some time to go through a branding process in the first place.
I know that all businesses, especially new ones, can't afford a full fledged branding process with a professional. (If you can, check out my branding package!) But that doesn't mean you can't go through the process on your own. I'm not just talking about choosing a logo, fonts and colors, though that is part of it. This is the time when you establish who your target market is, write your mission statement, and come up with the words that you want to describe your brand.
In short, what are you about and how are you going to going to communicate that to the people you want to serve?
Make this a fun process. Grab your favorite beverage, get out a white board, and do a little brainstorming. Who is your ideal customer? What are adjectives that describe what you want your brand to evoke? What is the main thing you are trying to do and the ideals that are important to you?
Write this all down.
Now, spend some time picking fonts, colors and designing a logo that matches with the vision you established above and resonates with the target market you are trying to reach. This part of the process might look a little different for everyone depending on your budget and who you have available to help. Keep a record somehow of your choices so that everyone who touches your brand will use the same materials and can make sure that everything you produce aligns with your message.
2. Spend some time once a year mapping out all of your upcoming business-related events and goals.
Make this an annual weekend or several-day event where you brainstorm what is is you want to do the coming year in your business. To make those goals happen, what will you need for branding materials? For example, if you are a spa service and you want to offer a Mother's Day special in May, you will need some sort of graphics or advertising. Set deadlines for this piece. Who will design it? What do you want to offer? How will you promote it? Map all of these events out on a calendar and the tasks that go with each one. Assign those tasks to the right person and set deadlines.
If you have your brand established, this part will be easier because you already have the foundational items in place to use for the pieces you need to make your plans happen.
3. Set aside time monthly to check ins with your team and make sure you are staying on course.
Monthly check ins help us take the big grand plan and dice it up into smaller, more manageable pieces. If your annual plan is like a road map, then your monthly check ins are the stops on the map. They help you get from point A to B and from B to C.
Wherever possible, batch and automate (or schedule). Batching is when you block off time to do a month's worth of one task. For example, you can batch all of your emails or social media posts by creating them in one chunk of time for the entire month. You can automate by using scheduling tools to send out posts or emails at specific times in the future.
How would your business change if you could place all your marketing efforts on autopilot and concentrate on what you do best within your business?
A little planning can help bring an order and vision to your brand. It will help keep your brand cohesive and on-message. Your followers will notice.
Don't be like my husband and I when we plan trips. Give your branding direction and focus with a little planning.