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What is the first step in building a brand strategy?


What is the first step in building your brand strategy?

Define your target customer. This will orient the rest of your brand strategy exercise. So begin at the beginning. Who are you serving? Who are you talking to?

Defining your target customer sounds so basic that I imagine it even sounds a little bit trite. And yet I know a lot of leaders who get really ticklish when they're asked to define their target customer. I hear things like, "It's such a diverse array of people; I don't know." Or my favorite, "We serve everybody."

You cannot be that vague. Not if you want a meaningful brand. So really force yourself to get clear on the person who is your target and then get really curious about this person, get to know them better. What keeps them up at night, what is the nature of this problem that your product or your offering solves for them. Be empathetic toward this person that you're serving and then channel this person throughout all of your decision making.

A couple of tools for channeling your target customer: the first is to make this person visible. Amazon famously keeps an empty chair in their meeting rooms, an empty chair that represents their target customer. Other companies I know will post photos of their target customers along their office walls. Visual reminders like these can make customer empathy immediate.

A second tool that I love for channeling the target customer is to name this person and then to invoke this name whenever you're making decisions that will affect this person.

Here are some target customer names that I've worked on: The Mindful Foodie, the Healthy Protector, the Chief Travel Officer. Actually naming your target customer like this can make them constantly alive and real, not just for you as the leader but for all of the employees who are ultimately there to serve this person.

Who exactly is your target customer? How can you give dimension and life to this person so that you can channel this person as you're building your business? Define your target customer. You'll orient the rest of your strategic decisions, and in doing so, you'll be creating more value for this person as well as more value for your business.

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