photo by

Right now, you do everything and your #1 strategy is simply to keep your business alive.

Spending most of your time in Facebook groups, fiddling around with Instagram’s feed and expecting Pinterest to explode your website traffic overnight is proving to be a path you’re not willing to commit to.

There’s got to be a better way to get clients and grow your biz beyond survival stage!

You'll need a cohesive brand that represents not only your services & info products but who you are, your message and what makes your brand unmistakable.

You just realized, you've been winging it this whole time and don't truly have a brand strategy in place. Nothing that accurately reflects the passion for your business at least.

Growing beyond where it is --is your next logical step.

Simplifying interactions with clients throughout the buying process, how to handle difficult ones, mastering the art of charging premium prices and creating systems to productize your service.

It's all information overload.

You're holding out for a hope & a prayer to finally create passive income products and more hands-off time. But what happens, if you don't get your brand strategy together, a sound marketing plan in place and a design others would kill for?

It becomes even more difficult to find the right kind of clients, your digital product’s dream is deferred and that family vacation you promise you’d devote your time and undivided attention --off the table.

Before you hire a Branding Strategist here's what to expect (no mood board required).


1. They Have Receipts (Proof)

Don’t allow smoke & mirrors of the internet cloud your judgment.

Theses raving testimonials you see on their site could have been written by a friend. It’s really easy to say how awesome the service is but having case studies, raises the playing field.

Hire someone with real live case studies and before & after’s of successful outcomes. A confident strategist may even offer to let you contact previous customers on their experience working with them.

They’re usually the ones who’ve proven themselves time again, working with other creative businesses.

You want to look for someone that understands your market and has experienced it before. Someone with a strong background in working with not-for-profits --may not be a good fit for you.


2. They Drink Their Own Kool-Aid

If you go on their social media channels and they lack consistency in tone, look and style. Dead giveaway, they lack the capability to transform your brand too.

Basically, they should look the part or --what are we doing here??

In terms of following the fads, the magenta, confetti, and that illegible calligraphy font, NOPE. Smart strategist don’t follow fads. Flawless brand strategy and design is timeless. If you see this, exit stage left!

You want to locate a company that provides all 3 services: branding, marketing & design to move forward. This is rare but not impossible. *waves*

A Brand Strategists that specializes in marketing and visual execution will ensure consistency throughout.

Last word of caution! Designers that say “I can design your brand”...please speed walk your way to the nearest exit. Your brand is your reputation, and cannot be styled like an outfit of the day.


3. They Don’t Claim To Be The Holy Grail But Have Holy Water

You can luck up and find a brand strategist that does all 3: branding, marketing & design equally well.

In same cases, you may find a strategist that works with a team.

This means the strategist is aware of their strengths and weaknesses but most importantly, dedicated to providing you with the best service.

They work with the best of the best to provide top notch service all across the board.

They work with graphic & web designers, developers, copywriters, etc. to provide you with a well-rounded brand experience.

Aka Holy Water.


4. They Keep Their Pinky-Swear Promises

Your go-to-strategist would provide, clearly outlined branding deliverables in a fancy branding strategy document. This would be loaded with marketing tactics all the way to design execution.

Here’s what the document should include:

- Unique Selling Proposition

- Competitive Analysis

- Your Positioning

- Target Audience/Ideal Customer

      Since branding is intangible, their job is to layout the pieces you need. Then walk you through the process.


      5. They Balance Pricing & Value Like a Jedi

      There is no true way to comparison shop when it comes to branding, as there are too many variables to consider.

      As long as you walk away from the project with your expectations met or exceeded, you should feel that your money was well spent. Over time, with your brand firmly established and promoted, you will attract more of your dream clients and a solid return on investment.

      You want to be sure the Brand Strategists you choose, their pricing reflects the value you will receive. Striking a massive gap between missing the mark and needless perfection --in the center of that is your happy medium.

      How much are you willing to pay to have someone dig into your company's soul, distill its essence, and promote it to your followers to attract your dream customers? How much is that worth to you? Could you do it better yourself?

      I’m guessing, not.

      6. They Know Communication is ALL CAPS, MAJOR!

      At the launch of your project, you should receive a clear outline and timeline of what to expect and when.

      You should never be left wondering “What next?”.

      A good brand strategist should keep you abreast of the project status. Clear expectations are set to ensure both you & them are on the same page from the start.

      What is expected of me?

      As a client, you have to be ready, willing and involved with the birth of your brand.

      Know that your brand isn’t something the strategist will hand to you. You have to push that baby out! Think of her more like a midwife standing in formation to help with delivery.

      She will work alongside you to discover what is needed in order to complete the process and stay on schedule.

      You will need to be mentally and financially ready to commit to the process because that’s what it is, a process.

      There is no going back now, that brand baby is closing in on its due date.

      7. When to Hire a Brand Strategist

      You probably should hire one before the conception of your business name.

      The strategist will help you name your business based on your goals and intended target audience. You want a name that appeals to your tribe.

      But most people don’t start there.

      By the time they realize they need a Brand Strategist, they’ve named and rebranded their business 3 times already.

      An unmistakable brand precedes its visual identity.

      Many designers add it as a nice feature to their “branding packages”. They may ask a few questions but this “pseudo branding” never really gets to the heart of your brand.

      A good Brand Strategist has experience building brands not just designing visual identities. They will pull out your best stuff and bring clarity to your brand.

      Use this as a guide to weed out the amateurs, pseudo “brand strategists” hobbyists, the self-taught designer turned branding pro’s. And you’ll be able to attract your dream clients without ever having to haggle about your price because you’ll be speaking to those who are ready to buy.

      Bonus Stuff!

      Questions to ask before you hire:

      - How many years have you been doing brand marketing?

      - What was the most successful brand project? Why?

      - What was the least successful? Why?

      - How many years have you been working on brands?

            I began my career in design before computers dominated the industry and a tweet was another word for a bird's chirp. I graduated from the High School of Art & Design in NYC, had a yearlong internship working as a designer in a design studio during my 11th-grade year, studied at the School of Visual Arts and then graduated from Syracuse University’s prestigious Communication Design program. Adding up to 20+ years designing for the some of the country's most recognized brands. *pops collar*

            Some branding strategists will make a lot of claims but no mention of why they're qualified. Knowing what to expect and questions to ask will help dodge frustrations and feeling like you're starting from scratch.

            Do you know how big you could be??

            I help creative entrepreneurs (like you) birth a brand, market their message & design their dreams. Download the FULL Brand Experience checklist to birthing an unmistakable business through your branding, marketing & design (and shake copycats).

            • Posted byKimberly Lofton /
            • Branding


            Leave a comment