Comment

Why Branding is So Important for Your Biz

What is Branding

Branding is so much more than a logo. Branding has the power to set your business apart, to make it stand out above the crowd & competition. Branding is the experience that resonates with your customers. It is one of the most important pieces that explain to people who you are & what you do as a business. It is your business elevator speech. It can set you up for success or can set you up to fail.

Logos are an important piece to your brand, but just having a beautiful logo will not resonate with people & make your brand one that is memorable. What many people do not know is that your voice & mission are JUST as important to your brand as you logo is. Every detail comes together to make your brand unique. Everything from your color scheme, your logo, your images you use, your personality in your content, your social media posts, your email signature, your website, etc.

Did you catch why branding is so successful for your business? I’ll repeat it. Because it can either set you up for success or for failure. Your brand is what gets people’s attention & makes you the conversions you need. Let’s look at an example. If you claim to be a sophisticated clothing brand for women, but your website is basic HTML with no styling, your Instagram is full of cute kitty pictures, & your business cards use the comic sans font in a rainbow of colors, would you be screaming high-end? Most definitely not. Your brand needs to be a tool that represents your business in an attractive way to get your dream-client’s attention.

All the elements of your business come together to create a brand image that people learn to trust.

what-branding-is-and-why-it-is-important.jpg

Elements of a Successful Brand

To have a successful brand, you need to consider a few things; consistent visuals, uniqueness, relatable content, genuine character, & value.

Consistent Visuals & Brand Awareness

Let’s talk consistency first. You know when a commercial for Nike or Apple comes on the TV & before you even see the logo of who it is for, you just know? “This is a Nike commercial.” Or, “This is for Apple.” That is all because of strategic & cohesive branding, my friends. I am guessing that your businesses are not as big as Nike or Apple, BUT when your photo on Instagram pops up on someone's feed, you would love for them to know it came from you, right?! This is called brand awareness. Consistency in visuals, style, & voice help with brand awareness. The more you are consistent, the more people learn what to expect from your business. They become aware of your brand & it’s visuals. What it has to offer. And brand awareness helps with conversions. And that’s ultimately what you want. More clients, more customers, more buyers.

Uniqueness

To be able to stand out in your competitive field, you need to be unique, not just go with the trends of today. You need to brand with your ideal clients in mind, not just slap a trendy logo together. People like uniqueness. That is why the whole hipster movement started & got really big a few years back. People want to stand out. They want to attract attention. Your brand will just fall into the background of all the other companies who do what you do if you look just like their brand. Catch people’s attention by being real and unique.

Relatable Content & Genuine Character

People also look for a brand with a face that represents it. A face that they can relate to. Nike features athletes because their ideal audiences are athletes. And they want to relate to them. Car commercials do not sell cars. They sell family road trip memories in their car. They relate to their audience by letting the audience picture their family in that new car on a road trip creating memories. Same with your business. You need to be relatable to your ideal client. One way you can do this is by being a little vulnerable. A lot of successful Instagram accounts share behind the scenes pictures so that their audience can relate to the messiness and the realness of life. Perhaps they are assured that their messy office is normal. People like to see genuine character in a brand. Be real about who you are and what you do. Don’t fake who you are because that is not making your brand unique.

Value

Brands that lack value, lack a true engaged tribe. Your tribe will be engaged with you & continue to come back to you & remember you if you are providing them with value. With great customer service, with great products, and  free content that is actionable. Zig Ziglar once quoted, “If people like you they will listen to you, if people trust you they will do business with you.” Creating consistent value for your tribe will create business for you.

Remember, starting a business is hard. But it is nearly impossible to do without branding and digital marketing strategies in place. Not sure where to start? Take my free quiz!!

Comment

Comment

Branding Your Online Business: 5 Reasons your Online Business is Different from a Traditional Business

Getting your online businesses services or products in front of people can be HARD! Especially when you are first starting out and have no client base, it can seem almost impossible. You are struggling to be seen and heard. You may feel like you are the smallest fish in the online entrepreneur sea!

To be able to compete with all the businesses that seem to do exactly what you do, you need to be able to understand how online businesses are different from the traditional sense of business - brick and mortar, or storefront businesses. The online world is forever young and constantly changing. Here are 5 reasons why your online business is different from traditional businesses and how to use this knowledge to brand your online business.

branding-your-business.jpg

 

1. Online Businesses Have No Storefronts or Signage

Brick and mortar businesses seem to have a strict advantage right off of the bat, because they have a storefront. They literally have big signs that make it clear what they do and/or sell. They have marketing done in the background right from the get-go! Everybody who lives in the surrounding areas and drive by on routine basis have them in the forefront of their minds. When someone needs something that the particular store can offer them, they know exactly where to go!

Your online business has no big sign up front. Your marketing has to be strategically set in place to BE your sign for you. Nobody is “driving past” your website at any given moment unless you DIRECT traffic to your site. It is vital and absolutely crucial to have a well established brand and digital marketing strategies set up so you can guide people to your website.

2. Online Businesses Can Target Better

Because your online businesses has no signage upfront and requires digital marketing strategies, you can target the exact kinds of people that you want to be directed to your site! So you have way more control with who sees your products and services.

Brick and mortar businesses are almost left to chance with who choses to walk into their store. Often times the “customers” that walk in are not even interested in the business's product. They may  want to kill time before they meet their friend at the coffee shop across the street. We have all done this, right?

3. Online Businesses Have More Chances of Attracting their Ideal Client

Storefront businesses have no choice but to serve everyone that wants to just “kill time” and decides to walk into their business. The result is a lot of people who are not serious about being buyers.

However, as an online business owner, you can make sure that your blog posts, your FB Ads, you Social media posts, etc., are all marketing to your “ideal client”, or the people that you know are more likely to buy your product!

4. Online Businesses Have More Control Of Their Potential Buyer's Eyes

Online Businesses have the advantage in guiding the customers once they get to their site. You can ensure your website viewers see what you want them to see first, by guiding the customer through your website and leading them to the product or service page that you want to sell. (This can all be done with strategic web design and copywriting)

However, in storefronts, customers act as their own guides. They guide themselves around the store in no certain order because of all the variables at hand. There is some strategy that can be put into place with how the store is set up, but most of the time, the customer just goes to the parts of the store they want to see the most.

5. Online Businesses Have to Work Harder to Educate Potential Buyers

Brick and mortar businesses have the in-person customer experience advantage. Potential buyers that walk into the store can immediately see and feel the quality of the product they are inquiring of purchasing. They know the price of it by looking at the tag and they usually know right away if they want to buy or not. Sometimes feeling or holding the product is just the right amount of nudge for them to make the leap into purchasing it.

Potential buyers in storefronts can also have the option of getting face-to-face help and a personalized customer experience. This may be the biggest difference to remember about your online business. Potential buyers for online businesses cannot simply touch or feel your product. There is not as easily an immediate desire formed - like there is in a storefront business.

It is your job to educate them as best as you can about what they will be receiving if they chose to purchase your service or product. And you have to do it without all of the potential buyers senses -- since it is all online! It’s extra effort on your part, but this is crucial to making sales.

Some online businesses insert videos on their website to build more of an authentic and personalized feel to their brand and products or services. FAQ pages are also nice when it comes to potential buyers who have questions. An easy place for them to be able to contact you with any special concerns or questions before buying can also put them at ease. Maybe you should even display a webpage that gives them the terms of conditions before they buy?

It does not matter really how you chose to do this as long as you do it to the best of your ability. Online business customer experience is all digital so you need to be active in creating a awesome and trusting experience online!

How to Brand Your Online Business

Now that we know the 5 ways your business is different from the traditional businesses, one of the most important things you can do for your online business is to make sure that you have a strong brand that is unique! The 3 main elements of a brand are:

1. Visuals and graphics that are consistent

Remember your brand graphics and visuals portray the quality of your product or service, so get help from a professional designer if you are not strong in the design area.

2. An attractive, user-friendly website

It takes just a few quick seconds for someone to decide if they want to stay on your site or leave. If you don’t hook them in those first few seconds, you could miss a sale.

3. Copy that is strong, authentic and unique

All of these brand elements play together in the only experience customers get with your business. Use EVERY piece of your brand to educate, be memorable, stand out, and be unique.

After customers buy your product or service, the experience isn’t over, so make sure your brand experience carries through the entire customer process.

Comment

Comment

3 Reasons You Need a Brand Mood Board and How to Make One

I’m sure you have seen those beautiful mood boards posted all over Pinterest or Instagram. It has become a big trend to post these & no wonder why. Seeing a collection of images, textures & colors that all come together to bring a unique & beautiful mood is an awesome thing. It spikes your creativity & imagination. It takes you to the place & feeling that the person who carefully chose those images want you to be.

Mood boards set the mood for everything else to come in your brand. They set the mood for which fonts to pick & pair together. They set the mood for the color scheme. All important choices of your brand come from your mood board. Think of mood boards as the rough draft to your brand. I have listed for you today 3 reasons why should you take the time to make a mood board for your business.

1. You Can Keep Coming Back to Your Mood Board as Your Business Evolves

One of the most important reasons to have a mood board for your brand is to make sure that your branding stays consistent, cohesive, & on track throughout the creation & changing of your business. If you are an entrepreneur of any kind you know that as time presses on, your business changes. It evolves. You make new products, you discontinue some, you get a deeper understanding on how to best spend your time, you delegate more things, etc.

If your business does not have a mood board, there is no baseline to look at to constantly make sure that you are staying on track with your brand. To make sure that you are succeeding in publishing the same theme, feelings, & content for your tribe. This is why creating a mood board is one of my first steps in creating a brand for one of my clients.

2. It Keeps You & Your Client On the Same Page

If you are a designer like me, it is crucial to the branding process to create mood boards. It is to make sure that your client & you are on the same page on the look & feel of the brand. There have been times where I thought I was completely understanding what my client wanted when they said words like “rustic”, “elegant”, “urban”. However, the truth is those descriptive words are still pretty broad & can mean something different to your client than they do to you. Mood boards are very easy to switch out pictures & get on the same page quickly if you end up on the wrong page. Starting off right away with logo concepts only to find that none of them are liked because you and your client have different understandings of what they had in mind, is setting you up for frustration, time loss (and probably for your client too). It takes a lot more time to come up with logo concepts then it does a mood board.

3. Mood boards Become Your Brand Baseline

Like I said before, your mood board is kind of like the rough draft to your business brand. The baseline or guide if you will. It will help you decide on all the visual branding for your business. The color scheme. The fonts chosen, the personality in your content you create, the feelings you want your target audience to feel, etc. Your mood board is the image that represents the feelings that you want your brand to portray to your audience. When you keep turning back to it, you can make sure everything you put out there is consistent with it. All your Instagram posts, all your content that you create, all your blog posts, all your sales pitches and email newsletters. Everything can be consistent when you keep that mood board in mind. It keeps you on track. It creates brand awareness.

How to Make a Mood Board

Don’t have a mood board but you are stuck on how to make one? This is where Pinterest comes in hand. Figure out your ideal audience and what you want your brand to say to them, the feelings that you want to invoke on them.

Not sure how to even get there? Sign up for my free brand building workbook to get super clear on the foundation of your brand.

When you find images that make you think what you want your brand to say on Pinterest, ave them to a private board. Then go ahead and save 10 or so images and and create a collage into canva.com or photoshop. All the images will come together in the end to create a unique, one of a kind brand baseline. It will give you clarity on your brand’s look and feel.

charleneMOODBOARD.jpg

Above is an example of a mood board that I did for a client. Charlene, my client, is a hard working mother from the UK who quit her 9-5 job & started her own business. She helps women entrepreneurs ramp up their business using her experience from her previous job of many years.

She told me that she wanted a high-end brand that was feminine & sophisticated. This mood board was put together through a collaborative Pinterest board & confirmed we were on the same page. Her logo and brand board shows how I was able to pull styles & the overall feeling from the mood board. The result? A satisfied client & happy designer. Want to see more of my work for past clients? Head over here.

Comment

Comment

How to Stay Passionate as An Entrepreneur

Remember when you first started your business? It was all you could think about. It gave you extreme feelings of excitement & nervousness all at the same time. It was the idea that you could not let go. You were setting off to change the world, pursue your dreams, help others, make money, & be successful. You were motivated & enthusiastic. You stayed up to the wee hours of the morning planning, researching & getting stuff done. 

Fast forward to today. Perhaps your passion has diminished to almost nothing. You are no longer motivated to answer emails or get your to-do list done. Instead of getting excited to further your business, you feel like you have no motivation & would rather watch Netflix 24/7 instead.

Before I started implementing these 3 things I am going to discuss today, I was going through one of these times of un-motivation & the blues often. My passion was zapped. It came out of nowhere. I am usually a extremely driven, motivated & hard working person. I love crossing things of my to-do list. I hate going to bed knowing that I did not accomplish much. I take pride in getting things done. Then, BOOM. Out of nowhere that passion & drive was diminished. My hardworking spirits left me & were replaced with the pajamas all day & Netflix craving spirits. I knew I needed to do something about it & make sure it did not happen again or at least very often.

So here are some things you can do:

How-to-Stay-Passionate.jpg

1. Create & Target for Your Target Audience

Do you remember being in school & not minding to do the homework assigned to your favorite subject that you enjoyed? But doing the assignment for the class that you hated (mine was math) was just dreadful & made you hate school entirely? This concept is the same with your business.

If you are not working for the people you love to work with & they are leaving you drained & wondering why you even do what you do in the first place, then you need to rethink who your brand is targeting & who you say yes to. If you need help with who your brand should be targeting, click over to my brand building workbook to get you on the right track! It is totally free.

Let me tell you a little secret. I cannot stand making flyers, billboard designs, or powerpoint presentations. When I first started out with my so-called business, this was about all the work I would get. And I would take it. Because it was a client. Because it was a project. Because it was money. I did not realize the value of my time, my mindset, my passion & my energy. I was not earning much money with these odd jobs & I was working with clients that drained me. I was doubting the Graphic Design degree I worked so hard to get.

Once I niched down to branding (the thing I enjoy the most) & re-branded myself to target my ideal clients, I started LOVING my business & work. I enjoy it so much that sometimes I struggle to get it out of my mind. It became more of my joy rather than my task or project on my to-do list. And it was also a HECK ton more successful.


2. Price Yourself What You are Worth

You need to decide what your time & your energy is worth & stick to it.

If you are underselling yourself than you are not going to get the clients who value what you do. Instead you are going to gain clients who just search for a good deal & most of the time demand a whole lot more than your contract stated you would do for them. So please, please, please my friends. Do not make the mistake of thinking that pricing yourself for what you are worth is going to get you no clients. If you are putting out valuable services or high-quality products, then you WILL get clients. And they will be the right ones.

What fuels your passion is helping people with your services or products & see how much they value & appreciate what you do. Experiencing someone who truly values what you do is so rewarding. When you sell cheap services, you have to sell a whole lot more, exhort a whole lot more energy & KILL your passion in the process to even come close to the amount of money you would get with just a FEW clients with your services priced correctly. AND, those few clients will keep your passion fueled.



3. Surround Yourself with a Community of Other Entrepreneurs

Ladies, if you do not have a community of like-minded entrepreneur friends who uplift you, celebrate with you, & give advice to you. Please find them. This is so important to the success of your entrepreneur journey.

This ride can get lonely and discouraging at times. Especially when it feels like no one understands what it is like owning your own business and trying to make it grow.

My dear fellow entrepreneur. Don’t let your drive & passion for your business dissipate. Let it thrive. Let it continue & let it grow. Blues are normal. It is a part of the roller coaster ride that we are on. BUT these 3 things will help you from getting your passion zapped altogether. Being an entrepreneur is so rewarding but also HARD work that takes a community to surround you who are like minded. Who get it. Who get YOU. Who can give you advice & point you to resources in tough times. Who can help test out your market.  

And for that reason, I created Beautifully Branded Bosslady Community. Come join us.

Comment

Comment

Top 10 Mistakes Creative Entrepreneurs Make in their First Year

It's amazing how much you can learn in just a year of being an entrepreneur. Many do's and don'ts. Owning your own business is hard and it takes faith that success takes time and does not happen overnight. Here are a few things that I learned from my first year of being an entrepreneur. Hopefully these tips can help save you time of frustration in your own journey.

top-ten-miskates-creative-entreperenuers-make-in-their-first-year.jpg

1. Have Systems for EVERYTHING

Ok. This sounds like super DUH. But there is more to it. I have always been a pretty organized person. At least to the average person’s standards. I was never really OCD, but I knew where everything was & I was never late to things. Always five minutes early. Always prepared.

This all sorta went down the drain when I had my twins. I found myself talking on my phone to my husband all frustrated & complaining to him that “I can’t find my phone!”. I know really dumb sounding but, that’s what happens when you’re a new mom of twins. I lost my keys like all the time, only to find they were in the bottom of my purse or in my pocket the whole time.

It was not so much that I was not organized, because everything had a place. But there were no defined systems in place. Whenever you go through a transition in life you have to figure out what works best. I was still moving things around in my kitchen cabinets a year into the house to find a better flow.

The same goes for your business. You should have a defined system & order of doing things, even down to writing your blog posts. For instance, perhaps you outline it first, then you write it, then you create your graphics, then you post it & email it out to your list, then you post it to social media. Whatever that system is, write it out & follow it. Things will go a lot smoother. I promise.

2. You Have to Invest Money to Make Money

Okay, this one took me probably the longest to realize. I heard people say it over & over again but I was too stubborn to really understand why & listen. With our family wallet being pretty tight with school loans, & the twins hospital bills from when they were short-lived NICU babies, even investing $5 for something that I could easily take the time to do myself seemed so crazy. I have always been a money saver & spending what seemed like unnecessary money to me was just out of the question. I have heard those stories of multi million dollar companies that started out on their own & only invested a few hundred dollars. They did it! Why couldn’t I?

What I did not understand was the time factor. Of course you can probably grow your business without spending money & doing it all on your own but, the amount of time to get you there is CRAZY more than if you just invested. PLUS the thing with investments are, if they are good ones, they will get your money back & much more. That’s why they are called INVESTMENTS.

3. You Cannot Do It On Your Own

A lot of new entrepreneurs see people on Instagram that have HUGE followings & think that they can get there too with smart promoting & marketing. The truth is, everyone started at the bottom sometime. AND guess what? Those people you envy that are big now? Well, they did not get there on their own. The best way to grow your audience is through sharing, supporting, collaboration & networking. To get in front of another audience, start sharing other's work that you admire & that is something your audience would like too. This will build relationships with them & most of the time, after you build relationships, they will start sharing your work to their audience in return.

4. Don’t Price Yourself like Your Client Has your Wallet

I know it is really easy to underprice your work as a creative entrepreneur. We feel like if we put our prices at what we think we are worth, we won’t get any clients. That is not true at all. When you price your services or products what they are worth, you will gain you IDEAL clients & loose the ones that are so doggone hard to work with - you know...the ones that suck the life out of you. Yes, them. You won’t have to work with them. Stop pricing yourself like you are the one having to pay for it. Because not everyone’s wallet is the size of yours.

5. Niche Down

Honestly, this was such a hard concept for me to grasp but once I did it, there were no regrets! It was downright awesome & freeing. Instead of having all these different projects floating around in your head, you can focus on your passion & put all your energy & time into that one thing to make it great quality!

Niching down also allows for you to hook up with the most awesome people - AKA your target audience. When you niche down, your services or products appeal to only a certain type of person instead of having a whole bunch of services that a whole lot of people are interested in. You end up getting to work for the people you WANT to work for. You become a better creative entrepreneur & your clients are happier. I found that once I niched down, I felt like my purpose was really clear. Your time is so valuable so do what you really love, not everything you know how to do.

6. Only Take Jobs That Fit

I used to take every job I could get. Like I said, our wallet was very tight. However, once I niched down, the less job inquiries I got that were NOT what I wanted. When I did get one, I had to learn to say, “I’m sorry. I do not do that type of work. This is what I do. I can do this for you or here is someone who is really good at that.”. Always refer them to someone else. Don’t just leave them hanging. Even if you have to do some research.

7. Create Detailed Contracts

A lot of new creative business owners are afraid to email out a contract in the beginning of a project because they are afraid it will look or sound really cold hearted. Well, tough love. You are a BUSINESS. Every business has to deal with the legal side of things & protect their own butts. I don't have too many client stories where I had to pull out the contract over an issue but boy I am glad that my butt was covered when I did have to.

Make sure your contract covers everything you can think of. When I drew up mine, I googled some examples. Make sure you do not copy someone else’s though because a lot of times that is illegal in itself. Many businesses sit down with a lawyer & write their contract, paying big money. So please, don’t steal their property. Use it as a guide to see what issues to cover in yours.

8. Be Upfront that Your Services are not Free

Believe it or not, I have been offered jobs before where someone heard what I do & asked if I was interested in working with them doing XYZ, & it turns out it was voluntary work. The offers that seemed like obvious pay work were always super exciting & it is so easy to say “YES! Absolutely!” However, I want to caution you not to agree to that too soon. Instead, say a more professional answer like “ Yes, I would love to sit down with you & discuss my process & package pricing to see how I can help you.” This makes sure that there is no miscommunication over your work being for free for some ridiculous reason. Don’t learn the hard way like I did. It does not have to be awkward at all. Just be confident & straight-forward.

9. Don't Get Too Excited Until the Money is in Hand

I have had many potential customers tell me they are very interested in XYZ. I get super excited & tell my husband that I just got a new client. Well, I learned not to get excited until you have a signed contract & a check in hand to start. A lot of times these seemingly very promising clients just drop off the face of the earth & never return your emails or they come back & say that they don’t have the money at this time & they will get back to you. Then they never do. Even when you follow up a month later. It is always frustrating to me when businesses do not respond to emails but all I can do is make sure I respond to mine.

10. Be Active About Searching & Promoting

Don’t think that every customer is going to come to you. They won’t. You need to be engaging with your audience & following them through social media & emailing. You NEVER need to be all promotional & no value. Make sure you are not one of those annoying multi-level marketing people who never leave you alone & just promote, promote, promote with no value. :)

Comment