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 Episode 34

Brand Strategy with Leah Kaufman

by | Feb 26, 2021 | Guest | 0 comments

If you’ve ever struggled with talking about your offer or how the visual elements of your brand tie into your service, it’s probably because you don’t have a clear brand strategy. 
Don’t beat yourself up about this! Many businesses make it to seven figures and beyond before realizing why their marketing efforts aren’t aligned with their vision for their business. 

Hosts & Guests

April Hardeman

Laura Langfitt

Leah Kaufman



Brand Strategy with Leah Kaufman

Truly successful brands evolve based on the needs of their people. A brand strategy is a constantly changing thing that keeps your audience’s needs at the forefront of your marketing.

Tons of experts talk about finding your “why” and rooting your marketing efforts from that place, but a brand strategy takes it one step further to meet your audience’s needs.

Defining your audience is essential in your marketing. If you don’t determine who your product is for, then you can’t craft a message that will be successful.

What does your customer want?
What motivations and desires do they have that will lead them to purchase your product?
How can you position your brand to help these two things intermesh?

Companies often define who they are and what they stand for, their core values. These are great! But if you only use your core values in your marketing, your customer is left wondering what’s in it for them.

Leah helps brands shift their why and their core values into a brand strategy designed to serve their ideal client. Successful marketers solve problems for people. Step one of this is understanding the audience so you can figure out what those problems are.

Get to Know Leah with Dapplebay

Outside of marketing and graphic design, Leah is a horse person and owner of Dapplebay. At her day job, Leah is a graphic designer. She’s done graphic design at agencies and as a freelancer for her entire career. Most recently, she’s a creative director at a design and marketing agency in Tacoma, Washington.

Throughout her years working with small and large organizations, Leah has learned that they all had the same problem. They struggled to communicate their service offerings becuase they didn’t understand their audience. Her brand strategy approach is based on solving this struggle.

Leah and her team at M have developed a systematic process that uncovers the ideal positioning for brands. It’s a series of interviews and surveys that help her extract key ideas and themes about the business. From there, she puts together a strategy that outlines everything she heard from the customer and the results of researching the company’s target audience, market, competition, and local landscape.

The brand strategy is the first step towards developing the brand and marketing for a company. It functions as a blueprint for success and then builds into campaigns, visual elements, and content depending on the business’s goals. Every experience is custom to the client.

When it comes time to define the brand’s visual elements, they don’t create three logo designs and let the brand choose. To achieve the goals outlined by the business and brought to life in the brand strategy, the visual elements must tie into the theme. The brand itself is wrapped up in a bow and delivered as “this is what will get you to the place that you want to be.”

Brand Strategy Details

Leah’s team educates their clients about the process of creating a brand strategy, so they are fully on board with following the process once they get rolling. This avoids a lot of back and forth when it comes to designing the elements of the brand.

She loves incorporating elements with subtle meaning into the logo and design elements, as long as they align with the strategy’s goals. The more embedded purpose there is in a brand, the stickier it becomes, both for the business and their audience.

Part of having a brand that resonates is loving it and feeling like it’s an accurate representation of your business. This is where your brand culture comes in. It’s so important to make sure that your brand’s internal culture flows with your brand strategy becuase that’s what makes your brand magnetic.

The Elements of a Magnetic Brand

1. Products and services designed for your target audience
2. Messaging that communicates the brand culture to your audience
A well-developed brand will have a snowball effect that fuels its audience. That is the secret sauce and the road to get there is never one size fits all. It’s different for every business, but the system that Leah helped develop at M helps bring it to life for their customers.

A magnetic brand has an emotional connection with its audience. You may be wondering, “Does it even matter? Do they even care? Is this going to affect my bottom line? Why would I spend $30,000 on a brand and a website instead of going to GoDaddy?”

The brand strategy system at M was born out of needing answers to these questions. They start by asking what challenges the business is facing. For example, an employee retention issue may be becuase the brand isn’t being held up inside the company, creating a disconnect between employees and customers.

Good Brand Strategy Vs Bad Brand Strategy

As a business owner, you need to take the time to get super clear about your brand strategy for yourself, but also don’t be afraid to bring in an expert to help you. Your business is your baby, and sometimes we struggle to see our business’s faults, and an outside perspective helps with that.

Most freelance graphic designers don’t go into the depth that we are discussing here. Typically they only focus on messaging, or they only focus on visual elements. That’s why it’s your job to take yourself through this process. If you have a solid brand strategy in place, you can ensure your outsourced work aligns with your overall design and keep everything cohesive.

If you skip this step, you’ll end up with the person you hire’s interpretation of who you are and what your business is, and that may not be an accurate representation of your brand.

Your Brand Strategy Can Change Over Time

Many people resist setting up their foundation or strategy because they worry about the cost of having to change things as their business grows and evolves. That’s part of managing a brand. The strategy you have now will hopefully change in two years; your business will grow, and your goals will change.

It’s still important to have something to start with, so you have goals to build campaigns around, and you can analyze what works and what doesn’t as you go.

You’re not just going to put a campaign out there and have wild success and do cartwheels and become a seven-figure business overnight. Unfortunately, many marketers set their clients up to expect this, but it’s not true. You’re going to launch your brand strategy, watch it fail, figure out why it’s failing and change it until you discover what works for your business.

If you’re just starting your business, one of the last things you should do is spend a whole bunch of money on a logo. It’s easy to spend a ton of money on your business before you’re making any money at all. There’s such an allure with having your own business, printing business cards and building a beautiful website.

It’s an over-marketed trap. The whole boss babe mentality is a slippery slope. What they don’t tell you is the number of businesses that fail. There’s a crazy statistic about how few women-owned businesses ever make over a million dollars. So there’s this appeal to be a business owner but not have a successful business or make money. It’s like a hobby, and we see that so much.

Leah knows how this feels first hand. Dapplebay was her main form of income when she first started it, but it became an expensive burden over time. At one point, she sold the business and ended up repurchasing it. It got to the point where it was just, it was costing her money and was weighing her down, and she resented it.

Since buying Dapplebay back, Leah is putting less pressure on herself. She is just enjoying it, using it to test out her marketing ideas, and not spending a lot of money on it, so it doesn’t feel like a burden.

You get to choose what success looks like in your business. Not an Instagram influencer or a marketer in your industry. Once you know your goals, get really serious about creating your brand strategy and following through with implementing it. We can’t wait to see what you create.


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