• Thomson Dawson

Investing in Brand Strategy Before Marketing Tactics.

Without first investing in brand strategy for your early stage business, you'll be throwing marketing money down the drain.

For early stage CEOs the idea of investing in brand strategy is a leap of faith. It’s difficult for many to place a financial value and project a return on the investment in advice, guidance and intangible ideas to build the value of their brand.

That’s why marketing tactics are so appealing to early stage CEOs. They want everything in a simple do-it-yourself templates coupled with data and metrics to hedge their bet and show near instant returns.

If it were that easy, every business would be successful.

Business leaders in their early growth stages typically aren’t in a position to appreciate the value of investing hard cash in the mental exercise of creating strategies such as customer segmentation, positioning, architecture, storytelling and brand voice.

It’s easier for early stage CEOs to express their marketing needs in the form of tactics, like logos, paid media campaigns, SEO, websites, lead generation, social media,  email and marketing communications.

Without a unifying strategy, marketing tactics just burn precious time and money.

I don’t think I’m overstating the fact most marketing stuff simply gets ignored at best, and worse blocked. We are drowning in tactical marketing stuff. Just look at your Facebook feed. Every third post is an ad. Everywhere is noise and clutter.

Companies that are truly great and remarkable bake their marketing into a designed customer experience that is beloved. To accomplish that requires an investment in and a commitment to strategically building their brand.

Developing a brand strategy not only guides and informs marketing tactics, but it’s even more critical to the decisions that are made to build a culture based in shared values of higher value customers your enterprise seeks to serve.

The earlier a unifying brand strategy is adopted and flawlessly executed within an organization, the better prepared business leaders are in making the tactical moves necessary to take advantage of the right market opportunities.

The diagram below illustrates how brand strategy is the natural extension of the business strategy and serves as the foundation for every aspect of the tactical ecosystem of your marketing.

It’s like having a magic wand!

After struggling for a year with a branding initiative in house, this is how one of my CEO clients described the result of our accelerated brand transformation work.

Brand innovation is art and science–only the results look like magic.

I’ve witnessed many early stage CEOs struggle to transform their business to the next level of success. Within their growing organizations there can be a lack of clarity, objectivity, confidence and creativity necessary to build the strategic and creative foundation of a successful and enduring brand.

For early stage CEOs, particularly those with revenues of $1-10 million, it’s critical to properly define the purpose, architecture, value and expression of your enterprise at this early growth phase.

In an age of clutter, noise and abundant choice, how will you distinguish your unique value to the marketplace and create a “one and only” brand your customers will love for a lifetime?

To influence the marketplace in the digital age, your brand must represent an experience so valuable in the minds of your customers they would never consider to purchase an alternative.

Building a remarkable brand is a high bar indeed. Anything less and you’ll struggle just to crawl your way to the middle as you watch more agile and forward thinking players lead the market.

There are two business realities facing startup and early growth stage CEOs in the digital age:

  • innovation is more important than process.

  • move up the value chain or be cast aside.

If you find yourself evaluating the cost of creating a disciplined brand strategy, you might ask yourself, how much it’s worth to insure your future success.

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