Ah, the joys (and horrors) of being a teenager and trying to figure out who the hell you are and even who you want to be. This all came back to me full force these last couple of months as I dove into creating a brand for Entwine Web Design.
Creating a solid brand is pretty critical to business growth, and this past year my biz had major growth as it went from infancy, through the gawky elementary years until landing solidly in the land of Biz Puberty.
This time through the murkiness of adolescence, though, the questions I was asking weren’t who do I want to be? But rather, how do I project who I am, who I serve, and how I do that, through my website, social media, and everywhere?
As I dove in, I had flashbacks to that awkward stage between 12 and 15 when so much of my attention was focused on either desperately wanting to fit in or determined to express and own my individuality, neither of which I did very well the first time around (but really, who does?).
This time, however, I had so much fun. I dug deep, going through the whole branding process that I use with my clients. This process takes quite a bit of reflection and introspection, but it was NOT about creating a brand that’s all about ME.
I see that a lot online, and I’ve had quite a few clients balk at putting pictures of themselves on their websites because they don’t want to plaster themselves everywhere with a me, me, me vibe.
Creating a brand is also NOT only about picking some cool colors and creating a fun logo (though that is a part of it, and I do love my new colors and logo).
A brand is about much more than that. As Tony Robbins says, your brand
“is a manifestation of your business’s values, goals, mission. It’s the catalyst that sparks the emotions you want your customers to experience. And it will become your north star – guiding every decision you make, from what design aesthetics you use to the tone of your content to the employees that you bring on to be part of your team.”
The key to creating this north star is to fully develop the three key pieces of your brand.
The First Two Parts of a Solid Brand
You + Your Client (and yes, it’s that simple). Unfortunately, quite a few brands forget the 2nd part.
YOU as your brand.
If you have a business that serves others or you are the face of your business, then you have a personal brand. You will probably want to have some images of you, but this is about WAY more than images.
Creating a brand is about connecting to, defining and projecting your personality, values, and beliefs. Doing this is crucial to building a brand that truly reflects you.
This is also the fun part. To really drill this down, I took three or four personality assessments, wrote copious notes in my journal, wrote a manifesto which I put on my new about page and reflected a lot about who I am, what I have to offer, what I believe, and what makes me unique in a crowded marketplace.
That was the ME part. The next step was to look at my ideal CLIENT.
Your Client as Your Brand
The second piece of the branding puzzle is your client. Remember that the goal of your brand is to appeal to and attract your ideal clients. You might create a gorgeous website and brand that captures you in all of your glory, but if you don’t manage to keep your clients in mind, it won’t work to serve your business.
Your brand is the visual intersection between who you are, what you offer, and what your clients need.
This is where you really dig into questioning what makes your offerings and services the perfect solution for your client?
For example, my website coaching clients want to create their own sites and be empowered to revise and update them on their own. They’re tired of trying to figure it all out. They know what they want, they’re somewhat tech savvy, they’re willing to dive in and learn.
My custom web design clients just want their site done and gorgeous. They may or may not update it themselves. Some hire me to do maintain and update it, or they have me train their VA to get it done. They want a website but the tech part is not in their zone of genius.
The next question is…What is it about my brand (my personality and business offerings) that will solve my client’s problems?
Well, when it comes to my coaching clients, I’m an educator which means I’m patient and one of my super-powers is breaking shiz down into understandable chunks. In fact, I think the longest video in my website coaching program is 10 minutes and the vast majority are 4-7 minutes.
For my custom design clients, I’m an extrovert and creator. I love designing new sites which means I really enjoy working with them to create a brand and site for them.
I’m an action taker – I don’t sit around much. And, I meditate regularly which means I quiet myself, listen, and trust my gut and intuition. I encourage clients to do the same. Ask for insight and then ACT on it.
The tricky part is the final part of this puzzle, combining all of this information into something visual that communicates clearly.
The Third Brand Piece – Getting Visual
How do I take my personality and strengths, my clients problems, and my solutions to create something visual that captures and conveys all of this?
The imagery and image style, the logo, the colors, the fonts, the icons, the copy and key words you use in the copy all work together to build a visual representation of your brand.
What I found as I was perusing brands online was that there are a ton of brands out there in which the entrepreneurs and imagery are truly gorgeous. They have stunning, professional images with pretty backgrounds. But I don’t get a sense of who they are which is key to a strong personal brand.
Your brand is also about how the visual pieces convey your message. This includes the image style, the colors, the fonts, the copy and keywords and even site structure.
I started the process by doing all of the above work, which I’ve been thinking about and diving into since I started my business. This winter though, I dug deeper and also created the visual assets.
For my website, I chose to create a simple structure. All of the information is on the homepage except for the blog and sales/program pages. My ideal client is a busy entrepreneur. She doesn’t have time to peruse a giant website looking for what she needs. I also like simple and uncomplicated.
For the visual elements, I chose bright colors to convey my positive and active personality. I also chose a daisy as my symbol for my logo and branding items. Daisies are my favorite flowers and to me they’re all about movement and fun. They’re happy flowers. They convey growth and joy.
The other symbol I chose was rocks and cairns. First, I have piles of rocks and crystals all over my house and office because I’m always picking rocks up and buying new gorgeous crystals. Second, to me they convey strength and patience.
For my fonts, I chose fonts with softer lines and even some swirls because I like to work with women and wanted a more feminine look.
Finally, came the images. This was the most difficult part for me. I didn’t grow up in the “selfie” generation, and I honestly am not super comfortable with it. I rarely if ever take pics of myself, so I didn’t have tons to choose from. I’m like some of my clients – putting myself out there doesn’t necessarily come easily, so I wanted to be sure that all of the images captured some aspect of my personality.
To solve this problem, I went on a photo shoot with a dear friend who is a hobby photographer. She knows me well and understood the personality and feelings I wanted to convey. We got some great shots, like me sitting in a pile of rocks, um, cuz, yeah, I like rocks.
I also sat cross-legged and on the floor – a casual, comfortable, meditator. That’s me.
We also took several series of shots to try to convey a “welcome, you got this” feeling. They didn’t work AT ALL. They were awkward and weird.
So, I shot a video. Is it professionally shot and edited? Nope. I recorded it using the webcam on my laptop.
Is it me? Absolutely.
Potential clients have already commented on it and shared that they like it. Which tells me that it’s doing it’s job. It’s conveying me AND attracting ideal clients. Win/Win!!
And that’s the purpose of a brand.
If you’re thinking of a rebrand or a new website, I strongly recommend that you work with someone on the branding process.
I work with clients all the time on their brands, but going through my own process was challenging without support. So, I worked with someone to help me develop my brand.
Having an objective viewpoint, someone to bounce ideas off of, is super helpful. My superhero in this department is Jessica Sunshine Christian of Photograph Your Brand. In her PYB program, she does an outstanding job of reiterating how every brand element ultimately must become visual. As a photographer, she focuses on the imagery which was my weak spot in terms of my own personal brand.
If you’d like to work with me on your re-brand, I’d love to chat about that as well. Click here to set that up.
The best part of my rebrand is that now I have a foundation and a roadmap of where to go. I actually started an Instagram account because I’m no longer completely clueless about what to post – I have a visual roadmap because I have a visual brand.
And, I’ve actually recently posted a selfie on it. Creating a brand that is YOU is such a confidence booster.
One final note – this is a process that I could not have done in full when my business was in it’s infancy. It needed to grow a bit.
We needed to get to know one another and develop before I could even begin to develop my brand identity. And, I feel like my brand new brand is also a baby, just beginning to walk.
The entrepreneurial journey is just that, a journey. If you are just starting out, pick some colors, write your biz name in a fun font for your logo and get going. Serve some clients. START.
Get a solid grasp on who you serve, how you serve them, and who you are in business. Then, begin creating your brand and honing in on that vision.