Set Your Marketers Up For Success: Strong Brand Foundations Drive Growth

Every seasoned marketer knows that at the heart of every successful marketing strategy lies the solid foundation of a brand: comprehensive guidelines, content strategies, and a unique tone of voice, all anchored by a functional and impactful website. This foundation is not just the starting block; it’s an essential must-have to fuel marketing efforts, enabling brands to connect, resonate, and engage deeply with their audience.

However, the journey to building this foundation is never smooth, particularly when leaders undervalue the complexity of marketing roles, expecting a single marketing manager to be a jack-of-all-trades. It’s not uncommon for a marketing manager to be expected to succeed in the role of copywriter, graphic designer, digital marketer, event marketer and data analysis expert. You only need to scour the job sites for a mere five minutes to find a business looking for a ‘strategic marketing director’ who also ‘must be an expert of Adobe Creative Suite’. Oh and ‘must have exceptional copywriting skills’ to boot. 

This misconception can lead to burnout of valuable talent (and often resignations), place undue pressure on the marketing professional and also risk the brand’s coherence and effectiveness when expert advice is sidelined in favour of rapid content production. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the leadership either; they’re usually left wondering why they didn’t see any results and why they bothered investing in a marketing professional. On to the next one they go. 

With a long career and a passion for communications and brand strategy, I feel urged to highlight the critical need for strong brand foundations to achieve marketing success. I also encourage leaders to appreciate the value of specialised expertise and the strategic shaping of their brand’s digital presence. You’ve hired an expert, listen to them. 

I speak from experience. At the beginning of my career, I was a graphic designer and was often mistaken for a professional photographer, copywriter and web designer. Needless to say, these are all very different skill sets. But to the leaders above, they all blended into one magical unicorn. 

Then, as the founder of a creative agency, focusing on brand and animation, I was sensitive to the misconceptions and made sure we hired specialists for specific tasks and roles. An animator isn’t also a brand designer. A copywriter isn’t a concept artist. 

More expensive? Sure. More people to manage? Sure. A team of experts highly experienced in their specialist areas, working collaboratively for maximum impact. You bet. 

Set Your Marketers Up For Success: Strong Brand Foundations Drive Growth

Importance of Solid Brand Foundations

The foundation of a brand are like the roots of a tree; essential for growth and stability. Sure, it can be swayed and damaged while it weathers a storm or two, but ultimately it means resilience. Robust brand guidelines, content guides, and a consistent tone of voice are the nutrients that feed a brand’s growth, ensuring it stands tall. A statistic often ignored reveals that consistent branding across all platforms can increase revenue by as much as 20%, (source). And yet, it’s not something that seems to be a priority for businesses. 

On a positive note, 85% of companies have brand guidelines. However, only 30%  of organisations say they are enforced. As a result, 77% of brands end up with off-brand content. The inability to provide a consistent brand experience makes it harder to build brand recognition and more challenging to connect with customers. (source) This gap highlights the urgent need for businesses to commit to their branding strategies rigorously, as consistency is not just a preference but a significant revenue driver. In all likelihood – your marketing professional has been attempting to drive this point home. 

Based on years of navigating the nuances of brand strategy, it’s evident to me that the most successful brands are those that treat their brand guidelines as gospel. There’s a reason they’re known to us in the industry as ‘bibles’.  These documents shouldn’t just be filed away but actively ingrained across all teams, becoming the backbone of every communication, induction, and strategy meeting.

This consistency ensures that all communication with the audience, regardless of the platform or the team member leading the conversation, reflects the brand. Yet, despite the clear benefits and my relentless advocacy, convincing business owners to adopt and enforce these practices remains a significant challenge. The disconnect often lies not just in understanding the importance, but in the commitment to its rigorous application—a commitment that can fundamentally shift a brand’s trajectory. The most infuriating sentence I can hear from leadership teams is, ‘Oh, we don’t need those, we’ve got our logo, colours and a nice slide deck we can use as a template.’ 

Set Your Marketers Up For Success: Strong Brand Foundations Drive Growth

Where to start with building a brand

If you are in the camp of; let’s do this properly and know it’s time to solidify your brand foundations, the first step is to listen to the experts you’ve brought on board. If you haven’t engaged with one yet, it’s crucial to partner with a reputable brand agency known for comprehensive discovery sessions and meticulous research to craft your mission, values, and positioning statements. And yes, they cost money. 

A thorough brand style guide is essential—it goes beyond just having a logo. It should encapsulate your brand’s visual elements, tone of voice, core values, and the essence that makes your brand unique, ensuring consistency across all platforms. It’s not just a ‘nice to have’ for your marketing team, it’s a crucial tool for the entire business. 

It ensures that everyone in the business, regardless of their role, communicates with audiences in a unified manner, embedding the brand’s ethos into every interaction. Yet, securing buy-in for these foundational elements often remains a challenge. Business leaders need to prioritise and invest in their brand’s identity and strategy seriously. 

The Role of a Functional Website

Building a great website without first establishing robust brand guidelines is like building a house without a blueprint. Often business owners rush to “just get it done,” resulting in a website that falls short of its potential to truly represent the brand and convert visitors. 

This oversight sets your expert marketing hires up for failure; they require a well-defined, compelling “shop window” to which they can direct traffic from other campaigns. Without this vital step, even the most skilled marketing leaders are handicapped, unable to fully leverage the website as the powerful conversion tool it should be.  And then you’re left with frustration on both sides, understandably. 

Creating a functional website is not just about aesthetics; it’s about crafting a hub where brand credibility and conversion optimization converge. A well-designed website acts as the keystone in your brand’s digital presence, profoundly impacting first impressions— with 94% of these based on design. The interplay between a website and social/email marketing strategies is vital, as each platform feeds into the other, enhancing overall brand consistency and messaging.

Yet, many brands ignore this, leaving their websites unattended with outdated posts, eroding credibility. Consider that 75% of users judge a brand’s trustworthiness based on its website design, and good UI designs can skyrocket conversion rates by up to 200%. A seamless integration of images, colours, and videos significantly enriches the user experience, with visuals prioritised by 59% of global website users.

A website is often the first and lasting impression a brand makes. It’s crucial, then, for marketers to have a stronghold—a well-maintained website that mirrors the brand’s core values and mission, supported by robust brand guidelines. (yes, back to those essential brand guidelines again). 

Without these guidelines, maintaining a consistent brand voice across all platforms becomes a Herculean task, potentially leading to a 95% drop in conversions due to cluttered web pages.

A great website, aligned with comprehensive brand guidelines and seamlessly integrated with overall marketing strategies, is indispensable for building brand awareness and driving conversions.

Side bar; Dear CEOs: Understanding the distinct roles within a marketing team is crucial. A marketing manager’s expertise lies in strategy, not in executing every tactical detail such as copywriting, web design, or creating brand guidelines. Their role is to identify what needs to be built, understand why it’s essential, and effectively brief the appropriate experts to accomplish these tasks. Asking a marketing manager to “knock up some brand guidelines” or design a website undermines the specialised skills required for these tasks and dilutes the potential effectiveness of your marketing efforts. It will leave them frustrated and unfulfilled. 

Set Your Marketers Up For Success: Strong Brand Foundations Drive Growth

Content Marketing as a Strategic Tool

To build a comprehensive content marketing strategy, it’s no secret that we need to start with a deep understanding of your audience, crafting audience personas to guide your content creation. This is followed by defining your brand story, which should resonate through all content, ensuring it aligns with your audience’s values and interests. Your content marketing mission must articulate the unique value your content offers, targeting specific audience benefits and outcomes. 

A successful content marketing strategy also (you guessed it) hinges on robust brand guidelines and a functional website to ensure consistency and credibility. Shocker. 

With 39% of marketers emphasising keyword optimisation for SEO and a documented strategy being a hallmark of 80% of successful content marketers, the importance of a cohesive brand voice across all platforms becomes evident. 

Companies with active blogs see a 67% increase in leads, illustrating the direct impact of strategic content creation. Content marketing isn’t just about creating content; it’s about building a narrative that resonates with your audience, supported by a clear understanding of your brand’s mission and values. This strategic approach enhances web traffic and sales, underlining the importance of a marketing leader’s role in utilising a well-defined brand and website to drive significant growth.

Ultimately, every facet of your content marketing should funnel towards a destination primed for conversion: your website. If your social media followers, email recipients, or podcast audience have nowhere compelling to be directed to, it’s time to reassess the foundations. 

An ineffective landing spot not only squanders potential conversions but sets your marketing team up for failure. Before embarking on broad content marketing campaigns, ensure your website is equipped to captivate and convert; otherwise, revisit and strengthen your foundational assets first.

The Misconception of the ‘All-in-One’ Marketing Manager

The misconception that a single marketing manager can juggle all marketing roles, from creative design to intricate data analytics, is a prevalent oversight. It’s vital to recognise that a seasoned marketing manager, while versatile, may not possess expert-level skills in graphic design or copywriting. 

Their true strength lies in their ability to craft comprehensive briefs, guiding specialised professionals to align their talents with the brand’s vision. 

Going back to that previous job description, your marketing manager may be skilled in strategy, but if they are, unlikely to be a dab hand at video editing for social media. It’s like asking a plasterer to come and do your plumbing. Yes, on the broad view, they’re both involved in making a building run smoothly, but they have very different skill sets. 

The real secret sauce to a brand that stands the test of time is its strong foundation. Think of a brand as a building—the sturdier the base, the taller and more impressive it can grow. This foundation isn’t just about having a catchy slogan or a pretty logo; it’s about setting clear guidelines, knowing your voice, and having a website that draws people in and keeps them there. 

But building these foundations is tougher when there’s a misunderstanding about what marketing pros are supposed to do. Business leaders must get that a strong team or, at the very least, a well-supported marketing guru, can make a world of difference.

It’s about bringing together a mix of talents or making sure your marketing maestro has the budget to call in the cavalry when specialised tasks come up. This is how you set your marketing efforts up for real success.

Set Your Marketers Up For Success: Strong Brand Foundations Drive Growth
Set Your Marketers Up For Success: Strong Brand Foundations Drive Growth

Let’s start seeing marketing for what it truly is—a team sport where every player is vital. 

By investing in our teams, listening to them,  and giving them what they need to succeed, we’re not just making their jobs fulfilling and long-term, we’re building brands that connect, resonate, and ultimately, stand the test of time in a busy marketplace. 

View our portfolio here.

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