Happy February Friends! It’s time to shift our focus from Interior Design to a more digital side of design: the topic of branding and creating a presence for yourself online. Read on for insider tips on the branding process from LE Professional Consulting‘s own, Dannie Fountain.
Creating and maintaining a brand identity is a key component of giving your business focus and direction. In fact, brands are specifically defined as “a name, term, design, symbol or other feature that distinguishes one seller’s product from those of others.” Cultivating a brand identity provides the framework for your differentiated value proposition, sets you up with opportunities to gain experience and credibility, and eventually will help mark you as an expert in your field.
In the beginning though, branding can seem daunting. Looking at a white piece of paper and trying to understand what your brand should stand for can be impossible, without a clear place to start. There’s a pretty simple and trusted method that exists for getting these initial ideas out on paper.
(1) Identify your motivation. Your motivation will help drive key elements of your brand, such as the tone of voice in your copy, the visual aesthetic or theme that you choose, and your overall brand personality. Identifying what you want your brand to achieve, how long you need your brand to last, and what your motivation is for being in business will set you up for success in this realm.
(2) Identify your ideal target. When you’re getting started, there’s often a natural desire to take any and every client that comes your way. In the beginning, that’s okay. You and your business need income to start building your dreams! However, once you’re ready to get specific about your brand, it’s time to get specific about your ideal target too. You should identify their: general age range, gender, education level, employment type, lifestyle, challenges, dreams, and motivations. Basically – who “needs” the solution that you and your brand aim to provide?
(3) Verbal and Visual. Once you have an understanding of your wants and your customer’s wants, it’s time to start identifying how you’ll express both. This is where things like brand voice, visual representation, etc. start to come to life. Whether you choose to design a logo and brand identity yourself or have someone else do it for you, it’s important you start from a “mood board” or other similar brainstorm process and then funnel down into the nitty gritty like specific fonts, colors, styles, etc. Your brand voice should be documented, including key messages, “keywords” (specific words that you use in place of the common terms), and approachability/evidence of expertise/etc. ThinkCreative has an awesome blog post on creating a style guide for your business.
(4) Tools and Resources. Identify what you’ll use to build your brand. Will you choose Squarespace or WordPress? Will you blog? What social media platforms will you focus on (hint: choose one as a main focus, all others should be supplementary)? Make a list of everything you’ve identified and start to understand how they work and how you’ll use them.
(5) Put client-first processes in place. You’ll want to write a client welcome packet (Erinn Flynn hosted an awesome webinar on the importance of welcome/intro packets). You’ll need to set up your client contracts (Annette Stepanian has awesome pre-written contracts). You’ll want some kind of system to manage all these new leads, bookkeeping, projects, etc. (and 17hats is an absolutely awesome platform!).
(6) Have fun! You went into business for yourself because you love what you do! Don’t lose sight of that.
Dannie L. Fountain is the Founder and Lead Marketing Consultant at LE Professional Consulting, an omni-marketing agency serving YouTube celebrities, Fortune 100 companies, small business owners, and private individuals since 2012.