Your Go-To Guide for Building Your Best Brand in 2018 (With Free Checklist!)

I hear it all the time…

“I think I need to pivot.”

“I’m ready to scale but I don’t know how (or where to begin).”

“My brand’s going in a different direction.”

“I’m in a creative / professional funk.”

Whether it’s a pivot, realignment or rebrand one thing is common among any business that’s evolving: uncertainty of what’s next and fear of unchartered territory.

You know you need to re-assess your business model or messaging. You know you’re ready to earn more or expand markets. You know you might need to pivot your offerings or your niche to make a bigger impact.

You just don’t know how.

This week I’m sharing my favorite ways to get you aligned, centered and on brand when it comes to creating the business of your dreams in 2018!

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Build a Business and Brand You Love

Does this sound like you?

  • My message needs to evolve to include a new niche or customer segment

  • My message isn’t landing with my current target market

  • My branding seems “off”

  • I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to communicate in my marketing efforts

  • I’m not standing out against my competitors

  • Making sales is not my forte

  • Building my social media presence is really hard

  • I don’t like being seen as ‘salesy’

  • Systems and structures confuse me

  • I’ve tried Facebook ads and they don’t work

  • I don’t know what I’m doing wrong

  • I need help defining my niche

  • I want to make more money - and leverage my current products or services - but I have no idea where to start!

When business gets tough, I know the brand story isn’t fully aligned. No amount of marketing budget, content creation or snazzy graphics will fix a brand that doesn’t have a solid, clear and engaging core story.

Most often when things get ‘hard’ in business, it’s because the brand isn’t aligned with its core values, target market or message. (tweet this)

So what can you do?

When the Going Gets Tough: Audit! 

I realize I might be conjuring up images of the IRS knocking at your door but trust me, an audit is actually a good thing! Inquiry, examination, analysis...no matter what you call it an audit is your opportunity to review, evaluate and assess your brand’s current standing and compare it to where you want to go.

It’s also a great opportunity to get out of a creative funk! So many entrepreneurs and small business owners burnout by the end of the year. Their efforts to build their business might be waning, especially as the holidays approach, so just thinking about next year’s positioning seems daunting.

The best time to start a brand audit is now.

Performing a brand assessment before the new year gives you ample time to assess positioning, messaging and marketing efforts. I cannot stress this enough: every business must perform a brand audit before their fiscal new year for maximum success and potential!

4 Self-Auditing Steps for Major Brand Success

The great news? No need to feel lost when it comes to performing your own assessment!

I just put the finishing touches on this handy-dandy downloadable guide that walks you through the same questions I ask my BrandAudit clients each year.

Not only that but I virtually hold your hand through the entire process, making sure you walk away with a more in-depth view of what worked - and what didn’t work! - for maximum success next year. So what are you waiting for? Enter your email below and then keep reading to receive even more helpful tips on starting your own audit this very minute!

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Step 1 | Collect & Assess

Grab this year’s marketing calendar, branding collateral, social media images, and anything else you need to review your progress, pour yourself a glass of something delicious and turn off any distractions. This is your time to review your branding strategy to see if you’ve made waves!

A couple things to consider:

  • What were my branding/marketing goals this year?

  • Did I actively measure those goals (either weekly, monthly or quarterly)?

  • Was I consistent in my efforts?

  • How many clients did I sign?

    • Where did they come from?

  • Did I join or leave any social networks?

    • How many followers did I gain?

  • What’s my ROI on any paid advertising campaigns?

  • What’s my ROI on any organic/inbound initiatives?

Once you’re clear on what you’ve done, you can now review.

Step 2 | Review & Question

Review and question everything. What worked? What didn’t? How can you improve on what didn’t work for next time? Here are a few more questions I like to ask my clients:

  • Financially, what worked and what didn’t?

  • Energetically, what did you enjoy doing and what did you not?

  • Physically, how present were you in your business?

  • Mentally, did you suffer from burnout?

All too often I see clients do things they should do at the expense of what they feel is good for their business. And though I’m all for pushing outside our comfort zones to take our business to the next level (sometimes we have to get uncomfortable to grow), that doesn’t mean every strategy or investment was the right one for you.

Step 3 | Evaluate & Learn

Now that you know the numbers, collected the data, reviewed the systems, and have a clear idea of how far your brand has come this year, it’s now time to look ahead. Even if something didn’t work I can bet you learned a valuable lesson. Don’t be disheartened if you feel you took two steps forward to only go four steps back - progress over perfection baby!

That being said, this is now your opportunity to be honest with yourself about what is and isn’t working in your branding. Do you need to pivot? Realign? Rebrand?

Step 4 | Go Forth & Conquer

Grab a large sheet of paper (or my personal favorite: a whiteboard) and map out the next 12 months. Are you launching something new? Have a new opt-in? Placing ads? Hosting a workshop? Make sure all of these are in the calendar with ample lead-up time.

Also make sure you have your style sheet (a branding MUST!), branded keyword document (defining your brand’s language and tone) and any other branded images in one central file/location for easy access throughout the year. I prefer Dropbox and Canva for all branded images, text and styling. Adobe Spark is also a great option.

Have questions or comments about this article? Leave ‘em below! And don’t forget to download the do-it-yourself checklist to evaluate your brilliant brand before the year ends!