Phase One is all about developing a solid platform on which you can build your brand and market your business. It requires defining, articulating, and declaring your brand and then translating that into places (online and off) where people can effectively engage with your business. That probably doesn’t come as news to you; however, if you are like many of my clients, your tendency is to move quickly past this first phase and jump headlong into the more exciting work of spreading the word.

The problem is that I have seen far too many people haphazardly rush into building buzz for their brand (Phase Two), only to drive traffic back to a website and/or social media sites that don’t hit the mark. Whenever I speak at a conference, the most common statement I hear is “I’m spending all this money on PR and marketing, but I’m not getting the results I want for my efforts.” In many cases, a big part of the problem is a lack of clarity about the brand as well as web and social media sites that are:

• Sloppy (bad writing, grammar, and spelling)
• Poorly designed (ugly and/or not user-friendly)
• Badly branded or lacking any brand feel at all
• Inconsistent in message and look
• Unclear in their brand message (vague, confused, unclear)
• Not using marketing best practices

The path to thought and industry leadership must start with a solid platform. Before you begin any PR, marketing, or buzz-building campaigns, three critical actions, taken in a specific order, are required:

  1. First, clearly articulate your brand and messages.
  2. Next, develop a modern, marketing-oriented, up-to-date website.
  3. Finally, create brand consistency on social media.

Building a website before determining the specifics of your brand message is always a mistake. Your brand is what drives the website design—not the other way around. My mantra is “Brand Before You Build.” The first thing to do when creating your platform—before you build a website or go all hot and heavy on any social media site—is establish a clearly articulated brand and messages.