In any initial branding conversation with clients, I ask about their mission statements or their core values. What do you believe? Why do you believe it? How do you practice it?
Sometimes they have these concretely written down, they just need help executing them. And sometimes they are executing them, but haven't written them down. In the last few weeks I've realized that my own business falls in the latter category.
If you are in either one of these categories - the good news is you already have one half of the puzzle piece.
Marketing and branding is organic - it moves, it breathes, it changes as your business grows. But those core values should keep you in a straight line. Otherwise, you're throwing spaghetti at the wall - and that doesn't make for a pretty picture.
When I realized that I was also operating with only one half of the puzzle piece, I took a minute to sit down and think about my core values (which are all related to writing in some way, but what else do you expect from a woman with an M.A. in English?):
1. Action (We help you turn the next page) - Yes, that's our tagline (and our website address), but it's physically what we're trying to help you do, too. Keep moving forward. Move you towards your marketing goal. Learn from what's on the previous page and that helps us inform the page in front of us. Then keep moving forward. I can't stress this enough. Marketing is one of those things that you can discuss and brainstorm to death without ever reaching a conclusion. Not on my watch. We're going to discuss and brainstorm and plan - strategically - and then we're going to take action.
2. Empowerment (Your story is yours alone) - Often times, when clients are really lost, they'll just look over to me and say, "OK. What would you do?" I hesitate to tell them what I, personally, would do - because I am not the one who will need to live, write, work and breathe their brand for the next several years. I give options. I give suggestions. This is what has worked well for a client of mine in the past. This is what I would recommend if you are looking to achieve this. Your brand is your story to tell - I'm just here to help you realize it.
3. Consistency (With some organic elements...) - What I mean is, marketing should always be consistent with room for organic growth. Once we establish your Plan and your Story - building from there should remain consistent - within reason. Does that mean every single flyer needs to look exactly the same? Nope. That will numb your audience. Should it tell the same story? Yes. We help you stay consistent, and we do that by maintaining as much consistency in our own brand as we are able. It's a work in progress (for all of us), but we, personally, schedule our marketing emails at a specific time every month. We make sure we're using the right shade of yellow in our marketing materials. We reinforce our brand and our story - whether explicitly or implicitly - in everything that we do.
Do we execute these core values flawlessly day in and day out? Not at all. But it's our goal. At the end of the day, we're trying to lead by example. We don't have a magic genie in a bottle (Sorry 'bout that), but action, empowerment, and consistency is how we'll keep growing.