One of the biggest mistakes I see new business owners making is they think they need a logo when they're just starting out. Heck, that's what I thought when I started out too. And having a logo is important but what you really need is a game plan. A strategy.
I feel like we shy away from the word ‘strategy’ but strategy is the one thing you need for a powerful and profitable business.
If you think branding and strategy are unrelated items, think again. The essence of branding is that it’s being strategic with your visuals to usher in the right audience, to speak their language, and for your brand to represent the lifestyle you’re selling.
So how can we begin with strategy? Today I’ll be going over the beginning of my branding process, which is basically answering questions so that you can position your business as thoughtful, intentional, and strategic.
Ask some questions
My branding process begins with 3 different in-depth questionnaires to give me a good idea of the target audience, goals for the business, and about the the business.
This may seem like a lot of thinking from the get-go, but that’s what strategy is.
Dictionary.com defines strategy as "A plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result:
And the goal is to get the interest of your ideal audience in order for them to purchase your goods or services.
When I first started I was only interested in my photos, my colors, and my website. Which are important things to be concerned about, but those should be the secondary to why you’re choosing those things.
So what are some questions you should be asking? Here are some of the basics:
Define your why?
This phrase gets tossed around A LOT in the creative and online business space, but this is crucial when you’re starting out.
The reason this is so important is because this phrase will keep you going when you want to give up. Your 'why' will carry you through the difficult times and be the reminder you need that extra kick of motivation.
Why are you starting this business / venture? Why is it important to you? And after you answer that question, ask why again. This may seem a little redundant or useless, but it’s necessary to get to the root of your intentions and your mission.
What do you offer?
What is it that you’re offering. What do you have to share?
In the beginning, I would offer any artistic service. As a graphic designer and an artist I have a unique set of skills and I would want work, so I would offer to design wedding invitations, I would offer to draw baby portraits, I would offer to do watercolor art pieces… but this isn't the way to go about it.
Even if you're skilled in a variety of areas, it's important to get specific on one main service and be brilliant at that one thing. Spend time working on that one service and be awesome at it.
Narrowing in makes it easier for people to pinpoint what you do and it also gives you some restrictions so you can hone in on that offering.
Who is your audience?
Who is your target audience? Better yet, who is your is your ideal client?
This is also a concept that gets thrown around a lot, but once you know who your ideal client is you can phrase all that you put out into the world like it’s meant only for them. Because it is.
It's so much easier to write to one person than write to a group of people who you think might be interested in a topic.
When you think about that one person as you're writing that blog post you have the opportunity to speak directly to them, in their language, that allows you to connect better and more accurately.
How do you stand out?
How are you offering your service or product? How are you doing it differently from everyone else? Answering this question defines your unique point of view (POV).
In this article from a blog all about improving your marketing, it says “A point of view is a valuable content strategy that allows companies to tap into the minds of consumers. Since consumers are generally more connected to one another than they are to a company, developing a business POV is a great way to market directly to consumers and increase relateability.”
Among the companies they reference with a strong POV are ones like Patagonia and Apple. And we all know they’re doing quite well.
In the example of Apple, a lot of companies create tech-related items; phones and computers and software. Apple's unique point of view is they combine creativity, elegance, and intelligence to make a product that is sleek, stylish, and intuitive. And their ideal client relates to their point of view and most Apple users are faithful to the brand for life.
Whatever you choose as your unique point of view, you have the opportunity to be passionate about it and that will help you stand out.
Understand how you're helping
A great way to keep your purpose and mission in mind is to think about how you’re helping people
When you put your audience at the forefront of your mind, naturally you will have a product or service worth a great deal to those you’re helping.
Entrepreneur and online business expert, Pat Flynn uses the phrase “Serve First” as the model for his businesses, which is a great way to look at your own business.
If you’re looking to add value and truly help your ideal audience naturally you will want to find out what their frustrations, greatest challenges and problems are which will lead to a wealth of information to you as you craft your services.
So, putting this into practice, start off by asking the people you would love to work with. Ask them what frustrates them the most with the industry you’re in. If you’re a graphic designer, ask what your ideal client’s design struggles are, if you’re a health and nutrition blogger, ask what the struggles are for eating healthy.
You can do this for any and every industry.
I did this for my own business, I asked my newsletter list what their main design or branding frustration was for their business and the result was one of my most popular blog posts and another one that was also on my top ten list.
When you offer help, especially in result to a question, you are identifying exactly what people want and need. This can dramatically help you connect with your audience, provide valuable information in your content marketing, and ultimately selling your service or product to an audience that is eager to buy.
When you have the answers to these important questions, you can then move forward with branding, which includes logo design, with clear goals and strategy and behind the pretty photos and color palette.
Do you find it hard to answer these questions when you're starting out?
Which one of these questions is difficult for you to answer?
What would be the most helpful thing to you right now in your business?