Branding & Marketing Blog

3 Steps to Creating a Brand Strategy

The Art and Science of Branding

Why You Need a Brand Strategy - and How to Create One

Are you struggling to get results from your marketing campaigns? If your marketing ROI falls short of expectations, your first thought may be to change up your message and try another campaign. And then try again, and again — until something works.

The problem is, if you’re just throwing something at your customers to see what “sticks” and you don’t understand your long-term trajectory, you’re going to miss the mark. Every single time. We guarantee it.

The reason? Marketing doesn’t work without one key ingredient: the “why.” Why someone would buy from you; why a customer should be loyal to your brand. And you can’t have a solid understanding of the “why” without branding.

Branding is not the same as marketing. Branding is who you are — what your stand for, believe in and behave like, and how you are perceived. Branding helps you create and express a brand message and communicate it in a clear, concise and compelling way.

Marketing is simply execution, the short-term delivery of that message. It doesn’t work without branding as an underlying guide.


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3 Steps to Creating a Brand Strategy

Three Steps to Branding

Intentional branding is about managing your customers’ expectations. And there’s both an art and a science to that process.

We apply a three-step method that helps uncover all the factors necessary to creating a successful brand:

Step 1. Plan your brand strategy: This is your action plan that will establish your positioning and your place in the market.

Step 2. Distill your brand essence: You need a core concept that explains your brand in the simplest, most single-minded terms and is fundamentally rooted in the basic customer needs.

Step 3: Create the brand expression: Integrating the brand strategy and the brand identity, the brand expression is the brand as defined and articulated by your organization through your communication and marketing messaging.

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Distilling Brand Essence

Planning the Brand Strategy

The goal of the brand strategy is to express your competitive advantage by leveraging your unique strengths and offerings so you can build sustainable relationships with your customers; create positive, lasting impressions; and build loyalty.

The strategy should answer three main questions:

  • What is your positioning?
  • How do you differentiate?
  • Who are you?—or, what is your brand?


Positioning determines how you stack up against your competitors and what makes you different and better. By knowing how you’re different from your competition, you can tell you customers and potential customers what your position is in the industry relative to competing brands.

Customers use positioning to evaluate your brand. They’ll assign a position for you in their minds even if they don’t share this with you.

Positioning looks outward and is a customer-centric process. To evaluate and create your positioning, ask yourself:

  • What niche are you filling?
  • What need are you answering?
  • What are your customers’ needs, concerns and pet peeves?
  • What insights do you have into your customers?


Differentiation is what sets you apart from other brands similar to yours. You’re now turning inward to figure out what separates you within your category. Typically, a company will embrace a minor characteristic as its signature difference.

To choose your brand over another, customers need an obvious or expressed and declared differentiation. To determine this differentiation, walk through these questions:

  • What are the current trends in your industry and what are the challenges?
  • What makes you different and what are your strengths?
  • What are your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is your one unique thing?

 ‘The’ Brand

Once you understand your positioning and differentiation, you need to dive deeper to understand your values and beliefs. This final step in the brand strategy will help you uncover the idea behind it all — who you are and how you’re perceived.

The questions you should be answering at this stage should include:

  • What do you stand for?
  • What are your core beliefs?
  • What are the reasons someone should buy from you?
  • How do you resonate with your customers?

Once you’ve gone through the journey of discovering who you are and why customers should buy from you, you have the solid foundation for your branding. You still need to dig deeper to distill your brand essence before you can start communicating your message to the world — but now you have a clear understanding of how you’re different and what you stand for.

Keep in mind that branding is not a fixed concept. Think of it like your personality. While the core values that shape you will stay with you for a long time — perhaps for your lifetime — how you express those values and put them into actions will grow and evolve. You may even develop new quirks.

Branding works in a similar way. As your company evolves and grows, your branding will evolve along with it. What matters is that this evolution of the brand is strategic rather than accidental. Your success depends on being intentional in everything you do.

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7 Steps to Inbound Marketing with Automation

Inbound Marketing with Automation

Supercharge Your Marketing with Automation

Any brand looking to break through the marketing noise knows that inbound marketing is a smart strategy. That’s because potential customers — even B2B ones — have become desensitized to in-your-face advertising and marketing speak.

Using a consumer analogy, inbound marketing is a little like ditching that road sign for $5 pizza and instead offering passersby a free slice just for coming in. Why compete with all the other road signs (ads)? Give away a taste of pizza (content), and if people like what you have to offer, they’re much more likely to choose you instead of a competitor next time they’re hungry for pizza.

The problem with inbound marketing is that it has limitations. Inbound leads often times aren’t ready to commit. It’s hard — not impossible, but hard — to target a specific segment. And inbound marketing doesn’t give you good metrics on who’s a hot lead and who’s just window shopping.

Enter automation. The concept of marketing automation is not new. But many brands don’t realize that it could be applied together with an inbound marketing strategy. In fact, it’s a perfect union that maximizes the value of inbound marketing and increases your marketing ROI.

Learn more about Inbound Marketing Tactics


Leads vs Qualified Leads

As any sales person will tell you, there’s a big difference between a lead and a qualified lead. If your sales staff chased random leads all day, they’re not going to be very successful at generating sales, are they? Inbound marketing does drive prospects to your website but without automation it can loose many potential leads worth nurturing. Some potential customers, that need a little more nudging to become a hot lead, simply get lost. Automation gives you the tools for nurturing leads and moving them down the funnel until they’re ready to engage in the conversation with your sales staff.

 7 Steps to Inbound Marketing with Automation


7 Steps to Inbound Marketing with Automation

1. CONTENT: Create awesome content.

If you don’t have high-quality content that’s valuable to potential customers, you are wasting your time and money on your inbound marketing. There’s just no way around this. B2B buyers, just like consumers, are constantly being deluged with content, and if yours doesn’t impress, they’ll bounce off as fast as they landed on your website.

2. ATTRACT: Attract potential customers.

You have awesome content, great! Now how will people find your website? SEO is great but you know that’s not going to be nearly enough. This is where you have to get creative with a mix of strategies. Consider all your options, including earned, owned and paid media.

3. CONVERT: Turn visitors into prospects.

At this stage, automation technology begins to close one of the inbound marketing gaps we brought up earlier: You get to uncloak visitors. Instead of inbound marketing only bringing you anonymous, possibly noncommittal would-be customers, you get some real intel. Not just on how people found you and what pages they’re visiting but also how they’re interacting with your content and what actions they’re taking.

4. NURTURE: Turn prospects into qualified leads.

Nurturing prospects into qualified leads is as much science as it is art. You are taking specific steps to get them from opening your email to clicking through and eventually interacting with your content. You’re automatically engaging with your contacts and intelligently delivering personalized content to move them through the funnel. It’s like putting your marketing campaign on an intelligent autopilot.

5. CLOSE: Close the deal.

Now you’re ready to get the sales staff involved. They will take your hot, qualified leads and turn them into customers. They will continue nurturing the relationship and keep your brand on their radar — because even qualified leads may take some time to commit. You must continue engaging these leads on other channels, too, and be a resource.

6. RETAIN: Wow your customers.

Digital technology may have changed the way we do marketing, but it hasn’t changed the fact that word of mouth is still your best advertising. Keep your customers satisfied — and not just because gaining new customers is much more expensive than retaining existing ones. Create brand loyalty and your customers will become your evangelists. No advertising, no matter how clever or creative, can beat that. Remember that loyalty and satisfaction come from many factors, so continue to nurture through various channels.

7. ANALYZE: Crunch the numbers.

One limitation we didn’t mention earlier for inbound marketing is analytics. True, you’ll get some numbers from your inbound campaigns. Automation technology, however, takes that to a whole new level. You are tracking data in multiple ways, turning it into actionable information you can use to measure effectiveness, analyze trends and behaviors, understand your prospects and improve your strategy.

If you’re still asking yourself whether you should use inbound marketing with automation, you’re missing a new world that technology has opened to you. If you want those inbound visitors to translate into sales — and we’re guessing you do — you’ll find an automation platform to be an indispensable tool. The question you should be asking is not which one to use, but how to maximize their combined effectiveness.

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Contact us to start an Inbound Marketing Campaign for your company.


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Intentional Branding. Creative Marketing. Strategic Design.