Anyone who knows me (personally and professionally) will tell you that I am overly obsessed with aesthetics.

I’m not sure where my desire of beautiful things originated, but it’s a fascination that reveals itself in various aspects of my life. In fact, the moment I realized that I could turn this appreciation for beauty into a profitable career; I made the transition from traditional Public Relations to Digital Art Direction. While I always found pleasure in simply consuming beautifully constructed visuals, being able to participate in the development of creative assets, social media content, and graphic design was the icing on the cake.

Working with top consumer brands taught me that there is a great deal of effort that goes into developing something that people love. Most times, we just see the end product and fall in love with the way it looks, but we don’t get to see the research, strategy, planning, prototypes, failures, late nights and other laborious tasks involved in the process.

For new entrepreneurs who are building a brand, it’s important to remember that whatever you create will have a better chance of being successful if you start with a sound creative strategy. As “better chance” is the operative part of that sentence, keep in mind that some strategic approaches don’t always get the intended results, but it’s better to have a plan, than to aimlessly create without a purpose.

So, before you capture your product photos for Instagram, create a look book for your clothing line, or develop any form of marketing collateral, be sure to develop your creative strategy before you begin.

Here are a few things your strategy should address:

Deliverables: First things first – What are you creating and why?

Goal: What are you trying to achieve and how will it help your company?

Target Audience: Whom are you trying to reach? What do you already know about them? Knowing this information will tell you what to say, how to say it and how to deliver your message.

Promise: What’s in it for your target audience? Think beyond the attributes and facts and focus on the features and benefits of your product or services. Know how it will help them and be sure whatever you create clearly depicts this promise.

Positioning: How is your product or service different from your competitors? It’s critical to determine what you want your target audience to think about your brand in comparison to other brands. Do this early on and constantly remind them what makes you unique.

Message: What do you want your audience to know or learn about your product or services? You may have multiple messages – some primary and some secondary. Try creating a messaging doc with a running list of your brand’s key talking points. As you develop new products, services or programs, add them to the list.

Tone: What will be the look and feel of your deliverables? Your output will say a lot about your brand, so be sure to think long and hard on this one. Look at creative assets from similar brands and companies that you aspire to emulate. Create mood boards and begin to visualize your desired outcome. Sites like Behance, Instagram, Tumblr and Niice.co are great for finding creative inspiration.

Mediums: What channels will you use to distribute your creative assets? Social Media, Website, Live Events or all of the above? Although you will have the same goal, you may need to tailor your creative to fit the medium.

Measurement: How will you know if your creative assets were successful? Use your goals and objectives as guides to how you will measure success. I create SMART goals at the onset of a new project, and I ALWAYS develop a measurement report after completing a creative project. It helps me determine if I should stick with a similar approach or optimize and revise for future creative projects.

This might seem like a lot of work, but if you’re trying to build a successful brand, it’s exactly what you need to do.