When we buy a house, we don’t buy only the walls and roof, although that’s what we see first. When we buy a car, we don’t buy only the car body, windows and tires, although that’s what we see first. Walls and a roof with no foundation isn’t a house, and in fact, it’d be quite dangerous. A car body, windows and tires with no chassis and no engine would be useless.

We recognize the absurdity of thinking only of what we see at first with things like our house, and car. So why don’t we think of our businesses in the same way?

It’s necessary to think about having a product or service to sell; there’s no business without it. Some things like having a website, a location to do business from, accounting, IT, sales people, are obvious business needs. Hopefully, this post will help you to see that thinking through your brand is actually just as necessary, and it’s a mistake to ignore it.

In marketing, we often focus on the most visible things, like customer acquisition, lead generation, ROI on ad campaigns, and so on. These are the walls in our house analogy. But house’s walls don’t stand up by themselves, they rest on a foundation. You don’t see the foundation, but it’s critical.

In fact, the larger the building, the more important the foundation. How big do you want your business? A one level rambler? A three-story house? A skyscraper? The bigger the business, the more important the foundation. The foundation is a coherent brand and brand message.

We have a client that came to us with a need for improving their messaging in their landing pages and emails. They’ve been using a well-known software tool to create these for years. But it’s a mess, and now they know it. There’s a lesson here for us all to learn from.

They were so focused on getting the product offering out the door, that “good enough” became the standard operating procedure for a long time. The more hands that got on “good enough”, the sloppier it became. We did an audit of existing landing pages — no clear call to action, no clear statement what they’re offering their target market or why their audience would be interested at all (What’s In It For Me?). Bottom line, it isn’t clear to anyone who might make it any landing page why they should care, much less be motivated to actually fill out the contact form — which is why we bother with landing pages in the first place: offer something in exchange for contact information. What is the reason for your customer to buy from you? Why should they want to take the next step? Why you and not your competitors?

This particular client has lost revenue in the last couple of years as new competitors have surfaced; competitors with an inferior product. But not inferior messaging and brand strategy. My client shouldn’t be losing, but they are. They didn’t pay attention to their foundation.

This is what you want: all of your messaging – your website, emails, landing pages, your blogs, your social posts, all of it – should be unified under a coherent, well-thought out brand. What is it that you do, and why is it better than your competition? What’s your unfair advantage? If you don’t know what this is, your customers will buy from someone else. If you aren’t communicating this until you’re sick of hearing yourself say it, your customers haven’t heard it yet.

We’re helping clean up the mess that came from neglecting the foundation of a unified brand message for our client. In the meantime, they lost a significant amount of revenue, measured by decline in overall annual revenue over a couple of years. Was messaging the only factor? Of course not. New competitors and changing technology were also part of the equation. But the new competitors don’t have a better product, just better marketing. Our client could have mitigated some of their loss by addressing their messaging sooner.

This is why it’s a mistake to neglect your brand. Learn the lesson from someone else’s mistake, and present your target audience with your well-thought out brand messaging.