The Struggle is Real.
What makes a Strong Brand? What are the key factors that stand out to give your audience a clear view of the message you present? Do you have a niche, or are you all over the board?
This is a very common struggle. We are so diverse as humans that we want to include all the wonderful things we participate in onto our website. This is great, as long as the messaging remains clear.
My website and brand are heart-light studios. To me, this is about following your heart and living from that place. And I do! I write, I work with creatives, and I teach yin yoga.
My issue usually stems from Heart-light sounding more woo-woo new age than it actually is.
This is my struggle and the struggle of many. So as I swim through the learning curve of revamping my own brand. I figured I would share my journey with you. Maybe it will help. Like a lot of things, it’s so much easier for me to help others see and identify issues in their branding than it is for me to see in my own work. Ain’t that life.
So with that, I’ve come up with…..
The Branding Checklist!
- Clear messaging
To connect with an audience, your audience needs to be able to clearly identify with your message. It must be consistent. What is at the heart of your Brand? Have you written out your mission statement? What is the purpose? It might seem too big to identify in a tag line, but work your way down to that. Find your elevator speech. Wrap up a 30-second brand identifier so when people ask what you do the answer is clear. Once you can state out loud what your mission is, you can re-examine your brand and make sure that that message comes across in all that you do.
- Be Visually Consistent
A question I get asked a lot is if one should have a separate social media account for their business. This is a challenge because it depends on how and what your message is.
If you are the type of person who is on your website, Instagram, or Facebook a lot and likes to post political messages, photos of cats, or recipes, this might make you’re messaging a little jumbled. In this case, yes! Most definitely get yourself a separate account for business. That is of course unless your business is cats, recipes, and political rage.
If you are your brand, and many people are then it gets more tricky. Separate accounts or a decision as to what your online presence will look like. If someone who knows you is following your account and it’s strictly about your music than they are going to see a through-line in what you do. However, a fan of your music who’s following you might get uninterested if your feed is full of family photos or skating vids.
Ask yourself if an outsider would recognize similarities to your brand messaging on your Facebook, Instagram, or Website. If the answer is no then get yourself a separate account.
Remember, your new account is your business. It’s more work to move from personal to business, but in the long run, it will help your brand be more consistent.
- Be a Stand-Out
Does your brand look like your competition? How about your logo? Or your Website? Blending into what others are selling does nothing for creating a stand-out brand.
I’ve noticed that certain industries tend to suffer from more of the same. For instance, I struggled a long time with putting myself out there as a yin and breathwork teacher because I didn’t see anyone out there who looked like me doing it. All the teachers and workshops had Instagrams filled with pictures of themselves which I am not too interested in, looking gorgeous, in dreamy locations where it’s always sunny and filtered with a sense of nostalgia that I will never be able to grasp. Don’t get me wrong, I love this! It’s just not me. I’m more of a look at this mountain as I stand in the rain and breath through the pain in my back kind of a storyteller. It wasn’t until I owned my experience. Until I decided that there are others out there like me who are into all this breathing too, who might feel more inclined to take a class or direction from someone who looks more like them. Wow-what a concept.
So Stand out. Look at your brand long and hard and see what you bring to the table that is unique. Show that to the world. The world needs more individuals who are ready to lead, than ones that follow the crowd.
- Room for Growth
You are always expanding as a person, so naturally, your brand should be able to also. If you create a strong foundation then you will have room to build upon it. Allow yourself to be flexible enough to adjust your brand without losing the messaging.
As you age you might learn that your target audience has too. For instance, if you make baby clothes and sell online and at local markets, you might find that as your own kids get older you just don’t feel as motivated to continue with onesies. You might discover making dresses out of old sheets for 6-12-year-old girls is more your thing now. Your audience is changing, and growing with you, but it’s still inline with your branding of homemade clothing.
- Know the Nitty-Gritty
Whatever niche you are in needs to be approached through an understanding of what your branding is going to represent. Really jumping into the core of your brand. Why is this your brand? What got you interested in pursuing this particular niche or industry? Often the answers you seek will align as you dig deep.
A brand will feel stale if not tended too. If you are coming from a place of passion than it will come through. Whatever that passion may be, it must be present. Passion is what will carry you through when things get tough. Getting into the nitty-gritty will help you identify your passion. It will help give you an honest reflection of your motivations. Whether for love, money, freedom, whatever! Identify it so you can continue to grow in it.
Branding is an industry
I like to remember that branding is an industry. It helps me when I start to fall into the trap of self-doubt. I understand that I will never know all there is to know about branding, but I also understand that you have to start somewhere. Begin moving in the direction of your dreams and doors will open. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said,
”You don’t need to see the whole staircase, you just need to take the first step.”
Becoming an entrepreneur takes guts. There is a lot to learn and it may seem overwhelming at times. In those times I like to remind myself that working for someone else was overwhelming at times too. The internet has opened our world to so much information, and you can begin building your brand right now on your own with online guidance. You will also find what you enjoy, and what is worth paying someone else to do.
It wasn’t until I owned an art gallery that I discovered that I didn’t have time to keep up on a blog or anything online. When that dream ended I realized there was a downfall I experienced and that I could help others to not make the same mistake. moving my creative knowledge online to help other business owners who, like myself, were struggling in this was a natural next step.
Creative workers are all around you. Creating, growing, figuring it out. You have all the tools inside to begin your dream today.