Building a Strategic Brand in 2024

Building a Strategic Brand in 2024

Unlock Your Genius, Unleash Your Brand Power

In the dynamic and competitive landscape of 2024, building a brand has never been more critical or daunting. With the mind-blowing volume of content on every social media platform, how can you, as an entrepreneur, effectively engage with your target audience and differentiate yourself in the marketplace?

The most common suggestion is to lean tactical: create content, post on every social media platform, and engage with your audience.

But what content should you create? What social media platforms will serve your goals best, and who exactly is your audience?

We’ll cover three steps that will make creating, posting, and engaging with your ideal audience infinitely easier:

  • Identify Your Core Strengths: Discover how to leverage your unique skills, passions, and experiences to create a brand identity that resonates with your target audience.
  • Align Your Brand with Your Market: Learn how to integrate current market demands and industry trends into your branding strategy, ensuring relevance and competitiveness.
  • Create a Consistent Brand Narrative: Develop a cohesive narrative that aligns all aspects of your branding, from marketing materials to your online presence, reinforcing your unique value proposition.

Identifying your core strengths, aligning your brand with market trends, and crafting a consistent brand narrative will allow you to create a powerful and resonating brand that sets you apart in today’s saturated market.

Step 1: Know Thyself

It might sound like a waste of time, but it is an essential first step to differentiate and position yourself in a way that doesn’t lead to creating endless content on platforms for people who don’t notice or care.

Many entrepreneurs skip this step, not understanding that it involves knowing who you are at your core and how you fit into the broader marketplace.

Identify Your Core Strengths

Identifying your unique skills, passions, and experiences requires a deep and introspective look into your personal and professional journey. This process will help you pinpoint the strengths and abilities that set you apart. Once these are identified, you can incorporate them into your brand, creating a distinctive identity that truly reflects you and resonates with your target audience.

Skills are the simplest place to start. Over time, you’ve accumulated a skill set that’s easy to list. These might include things like copywriting, graphic design, coding, website design, or other hands-on service skills like hairdressing, interior designing, or home organizing. You might also have verifiable degrees or certifications showing your expertise in an industry or discipline like coaching or consulting.

Take action: Make a list of your skills.

Once you have a list, circle the skills that you emphasize in your business. You’ve likely built your business on the skills you feel you excel at.

Next, list your passions. The word “passion” is overused and has become synonymous with everything from a passing fancy to a complete obsession. So instead, let’s create a list of your sustained interests. These are things that you return to repeatedly, leaning more toward the “obsession” side of the scale.

Here’s the qualifier for your “passions”: You’re a competitor or professional in the arena; it’s been part of your daily routine for more than five years; or you’re new to it but are obsessively focused on it.

Not sure? Review your social media: what channels have you followed and subscribed to? Review your book and course purchases. What courses have you taken that weren’t required for your job or business? What are the themes of the books you’ve purchased? These are your interests.

Take action: Make a list of your sustained interests (aka passions).

Finally, make a list of your experiences. I’m not talking about experience in a field or skill here. I’m talking about lived experiences.

Make a list of the unique challenges or opportunities you’ve experienced that have given you new skills or perspectives, shaping how you do business. This list should look something like this:

  • Challenge: How I overcame it and what I learned that applies to my business solution.
  • Opportunity: How I embraced it and what I learned that applies to my business solution.

These experiences can differentiate you from others in the marketplace, even if they might seem unrelated at first. Your lived experiences are some of the most uniquely “you” things you have.

The List Match Game

Now that you have your three lists, combine the elements to create different pictures of how what you offer in your business is truly unique. This introspection about brand differentiation can affect not only the products you offer but also your messaging and how you communicate that message in your content.

Step 2: Future-Proof Alignment

Let’s face it: part of the overwhelm your brand is feeling comes from trying to keep up with what’s trending and popular.

Ensuring your brand’s relevance and competitiveness relies on two factors that we’ll cover here: current market demands and industry trends.

Does Your Market Want What You Have to Offer?

You’ve gotten to know yourself better and have created interesting combinations of your skills, sustained interests, and lived experiences. The next question to answer is, which of the combinations aligns with what your ideal customer is looking for?

Your People

You have something to offer that is perfect for someone. Someone is desperately searching for a solution only you can deliver. Who is that person?

Let’s define your audience. One of the best ways to do this is to embody the character of the person you can help the most. Sometimes this is easy because that person is who you were last year, five years ago, or three months ago, when you decided to start a business that could solve your problem.

Let’s say you’re a personal finance coach. You help people get out of debt by developing a positive money mindset and creating a budget.

It’s not enough to just think about the general avatar or persona, not even if you give them a name. For example, “Cathy is a 23-year-old female college graduate, living at home, unmarried, and making $50K per year.” You can list her interests and problems, but does that mean your brand messages will resonate with Cathy?

Instead, become Cathy for a minute:

“I’m Cathy, and I’m in a panic because my college degree that cost me $45K in student loans isn’t turning into a job that can pay it back anytime soon. I feel frustrated and stuck. I have a job that isn’t in my field of study, and I don’t love it. I’m not making enough money to move out of my parent’s house. I spend time on social media as a distraction, but it only makes me feel like I’m far behind where I should be at my age.”

Your Genius

I define your Genius Thread™ as the specific interests, talents, skills, values, experiences, goals, and aptitudes that make you a unique brand of one. In the Core Strengths exercise, we considered three elements of your genius: skills, interests, and experiences. Now that you’ve embodied what Cathy is experiencing and feeling, let’s go to your results to see how you can help her.

Look back at your combinations. What skills, interests, and experiences can you combine that will resonate with Cathy?

Here are two examples of combinations that might have seemed disparate but will stand out to Cathy:

Example 1:

  • Skills: Coaching (certified life coach), writing, interpersonal communication
  • Interests: Personal financial literacy (Dave Ramsey books), productivity (Atomic Habits)
  • Lived Experience: You have a bachelor’s degree in English literature, but by the time you finished college, you were broke and had to move back in with your parents. You took personal finance courses online to get out of debt and worked with a life coach. You enjoyed working with your coach so much that you became a certified life coach.

Example 2:

  • Skills: Coaching (certified life coach), writing, interpersonal communication
  • Interests: Personal financial literacy (Dave Ramsey books), fitness (follows fitness accounts on YouTube, has a gym membership, and works out daily)
  • Lived Experience: You became a personal trainer at your gym. You became certified and worked part-time to supplement the income you were making to get out of debt. You love coaching others to become healthier.

How you combine your skills, interests, and lived experiences can be expressed in how you communicate your differentiation in your industry or the products you offer. Cathy might find a video about “5 Habits for Financial Freedom” intriguing. She might be acutely interested in joining your “Debt Busting Bootcamp.”

At this point, the most important question is, “Are there enough Cathys in the marketplace?”

The answer lies in understanding that, as a brand, you must “own a problem.” In this example, the problem to be solved is how new college graduates can overcome debt. Overcoming debt is a big problem, and narrowing it down to new college graduates makes it a specific audience in need.

Do the same exercise to find your people and the problem you can own. Next, we’ll define how to keep your brand consistent and future-proof.

Step 3: A Concise, Compelling, and Consistent Story

Your brand is who the public says you are. Therefore, your brand strategy consists of activities to influence this perception positively. Part of the strategy includes the overall messaging of your brand and how and where it is distributed to your ideal audience.

Creating a brand strategy that supports gaining identification and favorability in the marketplace depends on three factors: telling a concise, compelling, and consistent story about your brand.

There are three stories related to your brand:

  1. Your story
  2. Your customer’s story
  3. The story your customer needs to hear

Your story is your brand story and includes elements of your unique genius. These elements serve as differentiators and position you in front of the right audience who needs what you offer.

However, your brand won’t stand out or stay relevant if all you talk about is yourself. Look back at the exercises you’ve done so far. There’s information about how you are different and unique, and that difference is reflected in the products you offer and how you communicate your offer. But

that communication is about your customers and the problems you can solve for them.

Your customer’s story is considered in your mission and messaging. You need to know who you can help (your target audience) and why you must help them (your mission).

The story your customer needs to hear is created by positioning your customer as the hero and your brand as the guide who can help them solve their problem with your ideal solution.

Don’t Confuse or You Will Lose

As a StoryBrand Certified Guide for over five years, the main message I repeated to my small business clients was this phrase coined by Don Miller, the CEO of StoryBrand: “If you confuse, you lose.”

It’s noisy out there.

The digital marketing and content creation landscape is an ever-increasing cacophony of information, entertainment, and advertisement. To be heard and understood, your brand doesn’t need to be louder; it needs to be clear.

Clarity is created not by more explaining but by using the fewest words possible to create a message that resonates with your audience and one they want to repeat.

When you create your messaging through a narrative story framework, like the one offered by StoryBrand, you create clarity for your customers with messaging that’s easy for them to remember and repeat.

What’s Compelling is What’s Real

Why is reality TV so popular? Because the audience believes it is what it proclaims—real.

This sentiment can be carried through to how your brand is represented in your marketing and content. The term for this is “authenticity.”

Remember that your brand is built on your unique genius, as we covered in the first exercise. The reason for going through that work is to ensure that, whether you’re just starting, growing, or scaling, you stay true to the essence of your brand, which is you.

This is why copying the type of content that works for another brand isn’t a solution for building your standout brand strategy in 2024.

In other words, dancing on TikTok might not be for you (it certainly isn’t for me or my brand).

If you need permission to focus on just one, relevant-to-your-brand platform, you have it.

Trying to market your brand by creating content for every platform is like being the “I’m for everyone” brand. If you are for everyone, you are for no one. The outcome is exhaustion on the way to failure.

Focused, Aligned, and Consistent Action

Every strategist will tell you that consistency matters. But trying to duplicate another brand’s 100 pieces of content per week strategy is a recipe for inconsistency for most entrepreneurs.

Let’s return to our previous exercises to put this step into motion.

Now that you know what makes you different in the marketplace and you’ve embodied the character of your ideal client to identify your audience, the key to resonating with that audience now and in the future is this:

  1. Create a message they can hear: Make it a story about them, their problem, and how you’re the brand that can help them with a solution. Write or talk about what they care about related to the problem, and paint a picture of what’s possible when they have the solution.
  2. Choose the most relevant platform: You know who your audience is. Now, where are they hanging out, and what are they doing there?
    1. Is Cathy on Instagram distracting herself with pretty pictures? Is she on TikTok seeking entertainment from funny cat videos, or is she doom-scrolling on X (Twitter)? The type of content you create and on which platform is both brand- and context-dependent.
  3. Create a system that delivers: Starting with or prioritizing one platform allows you to create a brand-aligned, customer-relevant content production and distribution system that you can become consistent with (in the way you’ve always known you could be).

Focusing on one message to one audience on one platform is the quickest way to consistently reach your audience, increase brand awareness, ensure attention, and ultimately convert your true fans into happy customers.

The Future Demands Strategic Action

These are the building blocks for a consistent brand strategy in 2024, but unlike the tactics you’ve likely seen, heard of, and even tried to implement, they will still be the foundation for a solid brand strategy for years to come.

You may choose to implement AI into your content creation system (here’s a link to my free Notion template to help you do just that), but you’ll still need to know what your unique genius is, who needs the solution you offer, and how and where to communicate with them.

Building a powerful and future-proof brand strategy is easy when you understand these three important elements: differentiating with your core strengths, creating alignment with your market, and crafting a clear and consistent story that continues to engage your customers now and in the future.

5 Steps to Use Your Unique Zone of Genius and Enhance Job Security for Freelance Workers Amidst AI Dominance

5 Steps to Use Your Unique Zone of Genius and Enhance Job Security for Freelance Workers Amidst AI Dominance

  1. Define your unique skills
  2. Amplify your strengths
  3. Identify a new problem
  4. Use AI as a tool, not a replacement
  5. ***Adapt! Constantly learn and evolve.


Start with Your Skills

First, list your unique skills. Over your lifetime, you’ve acquired a unique combination of skills.

This is everything you have learned to do for any job you’ve had. Make a list!

Now, review your list and figure out every possible way you can combine two or even three of your skills in new, innovative ways.


Next, List Your Talents

List your talents—you know, all the stuff you are naturally great at doing.

These are the unique abilities or gifts you have. What can you do easily that others struggle with? What do people come to you for help with that doesn’t apply to your job?

Combine your talents with your skill list.


For Every New Technology, New Problems Arise

What problem has AI created that your zone of genius skills and natural talents can solve inside or outside of your industry?

Example: Many creative entrepreneurs may be worried they will be replaced by AI.


Use the Tool That Caused the Problem to Solve it

You are using AI for content creation, but, AI can do so much more!

Revisit your list of skills and talents and cross-reference it with the problem list. What combinations of your skills and talents can you identify where AI would be useful to amplify, or solve a problem more efficiently?

Example: I created The Genius Thread™ AI to match entrepreneurs with creative branding and marketing opportunities of the future tailored to their unique genius skills and talents.


The truth, as always, is to adapt or Lose

If you’re worried about your business losing to AI, go back to your zone of genius. Your unique combination of skills, talent, and experiences may just be the solution to problems created by AI in your industry.

To your future success!



Want help defining your genius, clarifying your brand advantage, and creating messaging that positions you to win?

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