Your brand is the heart of your business – A chat with Josette Verwijst
Josette Verwijst is an experienced marketing and brand strategist based in Barcelona. She helps early-stage startups and solopreneurs discover the core of their business and build a simple but significant brand. She’s built a three-step brand strategy approach that guides entrepreneurs towards claiming their spot in the market.
We sat down with Josette to learn about the importance of having a clear concept, using your brand strategy as a compass and choosing to stand out instead of blending in.
Barna Hub: Why startups need to focus on building their brand strategies
“I help entrepreneurs build a profitable brand by exploring the heart of their business and translating that into a simple but truly significant marketing strategy.”
Down to business
How did you get into marketing and building brands?
I was always a creative girl, but I didn’t want to make a living out of art. To stay in touch with my creative side, I wanted to study something that’s a combination of creativity and business. So I did a BA in Fashion Management and then went on to get my masters in Business Management with a specialisation in Marketing.
Once I finished school, I started working in marketing. I became a Product Manager for international brands and also worked in the food and home accessories industries, covering many different aspects of marketing.
“ I believe your brand should be simple but significant.”
What made you start your own brand strategy consulting business?
When I moved to Barcelona, I decided that I wanted to specialise and start focusing on what I really enjoy doing: building brands. I’m not talking about your colours and logo. I’m talking about: what drives the brand? What can it give to the world? What makes it different? Why should people care? I believe a brand should be simple but significant. If you simply focus on what truly matters, it will be significant to both your business and your customers.
After a lot of thinking, I realised that that’s the part I’ve always loved to do most. Defining the brand and translating that into a smart positioning. And once I’d found my why, my story, I wanted to help entrepreneurs do the same. There are so many young entrepreneurs here in Barcelona who have the passion that it takes to run a business, but they don’t have a background in marketing and they often find themselves getting stuck.
What types of entrepreneurs do you work with?
I work early stage entrepreneurs who are struggling with the marketing side of their business and are in one of these situations:
1) They have a business idea, but they don’t really know how to shape that into a commercial concept. How to get business clarity?
2) They already have a good idea of what they want to do and they’ve just started a business, but when they try to convey their message they realise that it’s wobbly. It gets lost in translation. They need to work on their marketing. But where to start?
3) Entrepreneurs who find it hard to connect with their audience. There’s a lot of competition out there and they feel like they’re screaming but nobody seems to care. How to stand out in the crowd?
When entrepreneurs hit these roadblocks, they get lost in the marketing jungle. There is so much you can do, so many ways to go. But what they don’t realise is that what’s missing is a clear brand strategy. Because that’s the starting point of all of your marketing and communication efforts.
“ I want you to be extraordinary. Dare to be different from everyone else.”
How would you define “brand strategy”?
Your brand strategy is about you, your customer and the market. It defines how you want to let these three elements interact and complement each other. If you have clarity on your brand strategy, you will have a business compass, which guides you in your day-to-day business.
Your brand is what makes you different. With so much competition out there, everyone is trying to blend in. But blending in is driven by fear. My motto is: be extraordinary. Don’t blend in, but dare to stand out. Every brand has something different, but sometimes it’s hidden deep inside. I can help you peel back the layers and find what’s unique about you. It’s already there, I just reveal it.
Describe your method.
I started by doing one-on-one coaching sessions, but I soon realised that they take a lot of time and most early-stage entrepreneurs can’t afford so many of them. I wanted to build a solution that’s accessible to everyone – and more scalable from my point of view.
So I created a three-step brand strategy approach in which you can prepare yourself by completing 12 prep assignments. With the outcome of these, I’m able to get to the core of your brand really quickly, and we’ll just need a couple of one-on-one sessions to pinpoint a clear marketing and brand strategy. We can do this route either live or online, so location is no issue.
Here’s what it looks like.
Step 1: In-take session
We start with a one-on-one consultation (approximately 2 hours) where you share with me the raw version of whatever is in your mind about your service or product. Once we have this chat, I’ll already have a sense of what you’re doing and what you need help with.
Step 2: Hands-on session
You will have prepared this session by making the 12 prep assignments, so we can dive deep directly. You can complete the prep assignments by watching my 12 explanation videos and filling out the assignments in my workbook. I suggest you take 2-3 weeks to fill out everything. During our session, we will reveal and pinpoint all elements, and translate it into a brand and marketing strategy.
Step 3: Review session
We both let everything we learned sink, and after one week we will review it together and define the final document: your brand strategy.
What are the three parts of the approach?
First, you explore your core. This part is about you. I don’t want you to get distracted by looking at what others are doing. I help you explore your brand personality in an introspective way.
Next, I ask you to look at your customers and your ability to solve their problems. I guide you through the process of defining who your ideal client is, as specifically as possible. This phase is about getting key insights and translating them into a connective way of communication.
And last but not least, we map the market. Who else is out there? What are they saying, what’s their story? You investigate their message and compare it with yours. This is the strategic part where you discover how to differentiate and position yourself. And finally, you pick a spot and you claim that spot.
Find Josette online
Are you an entrepreneur based in Barcelona? Would you like to be featured in a Barna Hub interview? Get in touch with us!