Today I've got a guest post for you from designer + branding extraordinaire, Kaitlyn from The Crown Fox. She's sharing the cold-hard-truth about what branding is + what it really isn't... with the first three steps you should take to branding your business. Take a peek...
I’m not going to lie to you, starting a business is hard. Like, really hard. There’s a never-ending to do list, so many resources to consume, blog posts to write, social media channels to manage, people to connect with… yikes. But, here’s the thing, none of that really matters until you have branding.
And, no, I don’t mean a logo.
I mean a strong foundation, effective visuals and content, and a strategy to get you closer to your goals. Branding is a super huge umbrella term that covers everything from your mission statement to your brand colors, to your voice on social media. If you’ve got the idea for a business, great! Next step, figure out how the heck you’re going to make it work.
I tend to work with other creatives, and I totally understand what you are thinking right now. Yes, you are creative and visual and very talented – but we’ve got to use those skills effectively, or you’re going to end up wasting time (and probably money).
Here’s what we need to figure out first: why do you want to do this, who do you want to work with, and how do you want to work with them?
These three questions will inform everything you do in your business. I use the answers to create my client’s mission statement, so I recommend you do that too.
This might come across as “woo-woo” thing to some people. You ask, “why are you going into business?” and the answer is, “money.”
Excuse my bluntness, but no. That’s not going to fly. There’s a bigger reason you are willing to take this risk. Maybe money is a part of it, but what else motivated you? You are going to have to get introspective on this one. So, WHY? With clients sometimes we go back and forth, they keep responding with barely-surface-scratching answers, and I just keep saying “but, why?” Try that with yourself.
Do you want to help people? What kind of people? Is your skill something that will bring success to another business? What kind of businesses? Do you like supporting non-profits, or female-run businesses, or businesses that give back to their communities? There’s a real motivation under there that we are trying to get too.
In my free e-course #1WkBrand we get into this more, with a worksheet to help you. You can check that out here!
Uncovering this serves a few purposes. In large part, it helps you to then understand what your goals might be. So if your why is that you want to help women gain independence (mine), my big goal could be to create a community of women who support each other and share their knowledge and skills to grow and be more successful.
I’ll let you in on secret: your “why” statement can be really personal. You don’t have to tell people about it. But, on the days when you feel so stressed out and overwhelmed and want to throw in the towel on your business – that “why” statement will be this small reminder of what made you willing to try. It will be the kick in the butt that will make you try harder to reach your goals.
This is the most challenging question for people. Even more challenging then “why” is “who are you going to work with?” As a new business owner your instinct will be to say “everyone.” I get it. I did that, too. You don’t want to turn away money! But “everyone” is not possible. You can’t appeal to everyone.
When you were thinking about your why statement, chances are you envisioned a person you worked with. Who was it? If you didn’t envision a person you worked with, do it now. Imagine your dream situation. Someone contacts you for your product or service, you say you could do it for X price, and they say “Fantastic! Where do I sign? You’re brilliant!” … Who says that to you?
And really get in there. I wrote a more elaborate post about this topic here that includes a workbook, so if you are feeling stuck check that out.
But to summarize: you need a target client. You need a person that is your best-case scenario. If you don’t have one, how would you even begin to go about appealing to them? If you want to work with creative women who work from home and appreciate the finer things – great, now create content and visuals that appeal to them. If you want to work with men, who left the stuffy, corporate world, and now are focusing on outdoorsy activities and living clean – fantastic, what would appeal to them?
A good metaphor might be to think of college degrees. We don’t get ‘general degrees’ because why would that matter? Then you and every other person you graduated with would go into this workforce, equal in all regards, and no one would stand out. People wouldn’t hire any of you, because none of you would have any kind of specialized focus or experience that they need. So, you get a degree in fine arts, and you focus on graphic design, and you do internships with advertising agencies, so that when you are done with college you can say “Hi, I am specialized, equipped, and a good fit for you.” Same with your business.
For you more creative or visual folks, this question should really help you. The answer to this should inform your creative decisions – from styling to colors to typography, and so on.
Who do you want to work with? Who can most benefit from your skills and expertise? What are you good at, and what do you enjoy doing, and who would be able to value that?
This one is the easiest, so you can breathe a sigh of relief! The last question to foundationally start your branding is your “how”. How do you work with your target client? What do you provide them with?
This might seem kind of basic. It is! The reason I want to know the answer to this question is to make sure that you know the answer. If you can’t succinctly explain what you do, how are you going to tell your target client what you do?
I hear it happen all the time, especially on Periscope when people are put on the spot. Someone says, “what do you do?” and the person responds with a stuttering, muttering, rambling hot mess of an answer. If you are a photographer – what do you do? Do you capture milestones in family’s lives to print and hang on their walls? Do you capture a newborn’s first days in the world and create albums that will last a lifetime? You can get detailed. You are not just a photographer. You DO something for your clients. You SERVE them in some way. They leave a project with you with something they didn’t have before – so how do you accomplish that?
I hope that you don’t feel disappointed that I didn’t tell you how to choose your company name, or pick your brand colors, or design your logo. That part of branding is important. I love doing those parts of branding, but I can’t start that until I know these foundational elements.
If you want to dive more in depth, check out #1WkBrand. You will get seven days that will put you on the right track to cohesive branding, strong business foundations, and goals for growth. See you there!