Before We Begin to Brand:
I recommend signing up for Pinterest account. It’s a wonderful platform for both generating traffic AND keeping your ideas, articles, branding and other business traffic organized and at your fingertips. (It’s also a great place to get sidetracked…so keep your focus and come back to me!!)
Why is branding important?
Having a solid brand will help your customers recognize your business. It will give you the ability to stand out in a saturated market, and it will give you a sense of love and enthusiasm for what you do. But more than anything…having a solid brand will help you build trust with your customer. EVERYTHING we do as business owners is about building trust…and your brand is where this trust starts.
Step 1: Get in the right branding mindset.
Working on your brand is all about getting in the right mind set. You can’t just start your brand by saying “I LIKE PINK AND SHINY THINGS!!!”. Granted…I do…and my brand INCLUDES pink and shiny things…but it’s evolved into SO much more than that!
You have to understand that your brand WILL change. It will change about 500 times…and if it doesn’t, you are doing something wrong.
You have to be ready for this!!
It’s natural to want your brand to be perfect and pretty in 1 day. And trust me…you’ll do it!! But, I guarantee you’ll wake up in three or four days and hate it. You’ll think “What was I thinking!!?? I showed this to my Facebook followers and family???” Head/desk.
Can I just say “BRAVO!!” You’ve taken the first step towards creating your Personal Brand!!
Think about building a brand like drawing a picture in pencil. You draw a picture of a little boy. It looks ok…but you don’t like his nose, so you erase it and draw a new one. You might do this three or four times before you get it right. Then you might look at the hair and want to redraw that…then the stripes on his shirt…and maybe he shouldn’t be holding a ball, so you change it to a tennis racket! By the time the drawing is finished, it’s a pony eating a pizza…But you love it, and THAT’S what counts.
THIS is what branding is. It’s creating a foundation for something that is mediocre…and changing it, polishing it, coloring it, erasing it and starting over…A LOT. You have to know that that is OK. That is part of being brave with your small business.
As an entrepreneur, you are about to spend the next few years telling your friends and family REALLY stupid ideas with enthusiasm. Get used to it. 🙂
Alright! With that mantra in your head….let’s get started!!
2. Naming your business.
Let’s talk briefly about names. What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…unless it’s name were “Cheryl’s Eat Here and Get Gas”. (Not lying…that’s the name of a real business.)
There are a TON of things to consider when naming your business. Firstly, what is it that your business is going to sell? If you are a photographer, artist or pretty much any kind of 1 on 1 service provider, I recommend you use your own name. When I was a photographer, I actually went by my first and middle name…leaving my last name out of it. It gave me a bit of privacy and had a better flow. Hell…that’s what I go by now. 🙂
If you are looking to work under a more “descriptive” name, that’s great! Just know that you’ll be adding a few more steps, uncertanties and changes to your to-do list.
First thing’s first, ultimately the final name is up to you…but it doesn’t hurt to poll an audience! Facebook Groups are WONDERFUL places for that! If you have a name that you are in love with, it’s good to run it across unbiased parties (not friends and family) just to see what their reaction is.
Sometimes, you’re trying to be too cute…so your name is too punny and confusing. Sometimes, it’s too boring. Sometimes…it just makes no sense at all. And sometimes…you’re audience loves it. In the end, you HAVE to love it yourself, but their opinions will give you a little bit of insight into how your customer will view it. Your primary goal is to make sure that the word “confused” is not in your customer’s vocabulary. Feel free to poll our audience in the Uncork Your Dork Facebook Community!!
That being said, sometimes you’ll INTENTIONALLY name your business something that makes no sense! Think about companies like Yelp, Uber, Google and Hulu. What the hell do those names mean??!! They’ve given their customer immediate clarity in other ways. Through taglines, logos and user experience.
If you have NO idea which way to take your name…it’s time to do your first real bit of research. Remember that Pinterest account I told you to start? Create a board (make this one secret) dedicated to similar businesses to you. This board is going to come in handy A LOT. After about 10 or so pins, you SHOULD start to see a trend in names. For instance, if you are a lawyer, you’ll see a lot of “last name” & “last name” type agencies. If you are a tech company, you’ll see a lot of short, one word names. If you are a mechanics company, you’ll see a ton of abbreviations and words like “Mecha” and “Onix” and “Automated”. As an artist, you’ll see a TON of people using their own names.
You don’t have to come up with a business name today…it’s a good thing to think on for a bit! BUT…it is kind of an important piece of the puzzle. So get collectin’ and crackin’!
Ok…let’s say you’ve got your business name. Let’s get moving on the rest, shall we?
3. Your Tagline
What is a tagline? A tagline is a one sentence reference to WHAT your company will do for your customer. It refers to either your product, or the feeling your product will give.
For instance…Skittles. “Taste the rainbow”. Without knowing what a skittle is (another one of those weird worded brands!) what does their tagline tell you they are? Something edible, most likely…and something colorful.
Well…I’d say that’s probably a pretty good description of a candy!
Your tagline works in conjunction with your name. Uncork Your Dork’s tagline is “Dorkify Your Small Business”. I am telling you EXACTLY what our products do. Our products help you dorkify your business! Your tagline should be around 5-10 words…and will be used on websites, social media banners, business cards…everything. You want people to remember this JUST as much as they remember your company name.
SOME companies don’t have taglines and they do just fine. But I recommend, even if you don’t plan on using it, come up with one anyways! It will help YOU to clarify your purpose a bit more.
Remember that Pinterest board of similar companies we just finished putting together? Go back and check out their slogans. How many in your industry even HAVE slogans?
4. What types of Products will you be selling?
This is an important question in your brand! There are four categories here. Digital, physical, coaching and service based. You may offer one, two or even all four types! But it’s best to get them organized now (again…they may change or expand later).
Digital Products are my favorite. The post you are reading right now is a digital product! It is a product that the business owner can create…upload…and pay significantly less attention to. Of course, this one is a little different since it is a blog post and I haven’t used it for monetary purposes.
Digital products can be e-books, worksheets, videos, workbooks, drawing collections, digital photo files, music files (Beyonce is a digital entrepreneur!), and more! If you can PRE-create it and release it into the wild with very little post maintenance…it’s a digital product. Sometimes, there are no costs associated with digital products…just time spent. Other times, you’ll need to consider recording equipment, editing programs, etc, into your pricing. Digital allows you to generate what entrepreneurs call a “passive income”. You can LITERALLY make money while you sleep.
Once your product is online, your customer can buy and read, listen, or take your course without you ever being a part of their initial process. I recommend MOST companies have this form of a product to begin with. Check out companies like Skillshare and Udemy, which allow you to upload a 30 minute video to a classroom setting…AND you can get paid! You can write an ebook and list it on your website and you can even create an online course!
Physical products are the opposite! They are created by a company (either by hand or by a manufacturer) and delivered physically to the customer, either via mail for via a brick and mortar store. There are ALWAYS costs associated with a physical product. Development, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, etc.
Coaching, (1 on 1 or group), is all about your time. Your knowledge and your time are the product here. Those are valuable things!! We will go over how to price and evaluate your time in a future section.
Finally...service and custom based businesses. Think cleaning services, house painting, custom artistry, etc. You are hired by a customer to get a specific job done. You will be charging for supplies and time spent.
Knowing your product model is important for your brand. PLEASE don’t think you are automatically great at every model!! I, for instance, SUCK at 1 on 1 coaching!! I’ve learned through previous mistakes, that although I value the customer’s time…I don’t value my own enough for it to be a profitable business model for me. And that’s ok! I’ve learned my strengths are in speaking to large audiences (that’s what I’m doing now), not individuals.
If you are purely a digitally based business now, but think you might be interested in a 1 on 1 coaching style (or other style mentioned above)…dip your toes in!!! Try it out!! You might be excellent at both, which will open up your income stream by a mile!!
5. Payment methods.
I know…the majority of you are thinking “Paypal!” duh!!
Producing every product style mentioned above for the past 10 years, though…I can assure it’s not that easy.
For example, as a wedding photographer, I charged $8k for my services. My services for one customer USUALLY went on for about 6 months! Think engagement shoot…then wedding 4-5 months later. The customer, generally needed to put down a downpayment, since A, no one just has 8K to hand over…and B, who would just hand over 8K to someone they’ve never met before!!??
My customer would usually pay through Paypal or Square Up in installments…with the final payment happening in Check on the day of the wedding. Not to mention tips…a lot of wedding vendors collect tips in cash on the day of the wedding (these need to be included in your income for tax purposes!). That’s four different methods of payment for just one service!
You’ll need to have these methods in place, and KNOW which one is appropriate for which service. For instance, if you paint a portrait…don’t accept a check for the finished work!! If that check bounces…you’ve handed over your product with for payment!
Knowing your payment process is a good security for your new baby biz.
We will talk about this in a little bit, but if you are offering a service, you might want to think about developing a down payment plan in addition to a monthly collection plan. A HUGE turn off for a customer is the thought of writing a check for more than $500 in one shwoop.
6. Describe your business in 5 words
MOVING ON! This section is pretty easy…but important! This is what will help you develop your visual brand! I challenge you to come with 5 words right now that describe how YOU visualize your brand. For Uncork Your Dork, my words were “Fun”, “Impactful”, “Playful”, “Knowledgable”, and “Trustworthy”.
From my logo to my color pallet to the way I write…these are the words that I want to be recognized by. Again, these VERY well may change over time…but this is a great starting point for your business right now. Refer back to those Pinterest boards! What do you love about the other companies? What adjectives would you use to describe them?
You already started this section! (Way to be an over achiever!) Head back over to your pinterest board and write down the top 5 companies who you would consider to be your competitors. If you haven’t really started this section yet, I recommend checking out websites like Yelp, Facebook and Pinterest to find them! Take stock on what they excel at AND what they REALLY suck at! What have their customers said about their experience working with this particular company.
Write the five companies down and refer back to these guys often for motivation and to stay on track! Remember, the point is NOT to compare yourself to these companies…the point is to figure out what gaps they are not filling in the industry and fill them. The goal is to see what they are doing INCREDIBLY well at, and determine if you can do it better…or do it differently. Use these companies as a motivator.
8. Target Groups
Quickly jot down the age of your perfect customer, what their life is balanced around (their job, their kids, their finances, their art, etc.) and how much money they make in a year. This will help you determine, later, how to price your own work perfectly for them.
(For example, my perfect customer is a Female, ages 25-39, whose current mental obsession is getting their small business off the ground. They are INCREDIBLY outgoing and weird. They may be working to get out of a 9-5, which means they are making anywhere between $40k and $55K a year. Not rich…but not poor. They have a little extra money to spend on fun activities and business obsessions.) How did I do? Does that describe who you are? Granted…I may have a few gents in the audience…this post is great for both!! But I guarantee you, 85% of my customers are women.
The next section is ALWAYS underrated and forgotten, but in my experience…it’s one of the most important.
9. Customer Service Statement:
This is a promise to your customer and a reminder to yourself. I recommend including a response time promise as well as a quality promise. Do you promise your customer that your product will be of the highest quality? That you will never let a customer’s complaints fall on deaf ears?
If the customer can’t be appeased, what action do you promise that you will take? This is GREAT to have on your website, but in all honesty…this is for you. This is a promise YOU have to keep.
10. Social Media
Which platforms will you use? DON’T YOU DARE SAY ALL OF THEM!! I recommend picking three to begin with. Not every platform is going to be perfect for your company!! For instance, LinkedIn happens to be the bane of my existence. It makes no sense for my industry…and I see the emails they send me and think of them as SPAM. BUT, I’ve heard magnificent success stories for other industries!! If you plan on hiring a team in your company, LinkedIn might be the way to go!! It is definitely a great team industry platform for both physical products AND service based products.
My product is VERY visual, so my platforms are EASILY Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Twitter is actually great for my company as well…but I’m not wholly passionate about the platform, so it’s not one I spend a ton of time on.
Think about where your customer will be hanging out online. Think about what type of product you are offering. These platforms will be how you communicate with your customers…so be sure the platform makes sense to you, and you are comfortable with how it works!! If you take a ton of photos…Instagram and Facebook might be the way to go for you!
Pick your three social medias. Start with those and shift and expand as needed.
Whew!! WE FINISHED!!
At this point, you MIGHT be wondering why I haven’t included anything regarding color pallets and logos. I haven’t for the simple reason, that they are only the cherry on the cake. Brand is ALL about the insides of the cake. The flavor, the icing, the softness, the ingredients…the cherry just makes all of it look nice.
SO, once you’ve worked on the above…you will have a MUCH better idea of what your brand should LOOK like. The looks of your brand should represent everything your company stands for AND everything your customer believes in.
Soo…let’s quickly touch on the visuals!! First, I want you to remember…YOUR BRAND WILL CHANGE!
IT. WILL. CHANGE.
PLEASE don’t think that what you come up with in the next 24 hours will be the end all, be all. Your business has to grow and evolve. It has to change and morph into what you think is perfect…and then it will change and morph some more. For goodness sake, Coca-Cola JUST changed their logo a few years ago and they’ve been in business for almost 150 years.
I recommend spending this year (yes year) building a cheap mock up of your brand. Create a Pinterest board and start pinning brands and websites you love! Eventually you’ll start to see a pattern. Every time I’ve gone through this process, I tend to lean towards bright colors…neon colors and handwritten fonts. I love clean, non-busy websites with tons of text.
You can start building your brand on less than $150 through websites like Fiverr.com (great logo designs that will help you decide if you like a style on $5 a pop…rather than custom $300 logos) and Wix.com or Squarespace.com which will help you build a quick branded website for around $15 a month.
Colourlovers.com is a great place to dive into the world of color pallets…and you can get logo inspiration on websites like Logospire.com.
We will get to websites and blogging shortly…so keep your pants on!!
For now…CHEAPLY play!! This is the time to determine what you like and figure out what personality your brand will represent.
Whew!! I don’t know about you guys…but my brain hurts!!! That was a TON of information!!!!
(Hurting brain…but SO excited to keep going!!!)
Create a Canva.com account and start putting together “brand boards” for various branding ideas. Color pallets…patterns…website inspiration…keep it all in one place!!
I also recommend creating a Google Drive account. Create a folder SPECIFICALLY for your brand and just start collecting everything! Collect your brand boards here. Collect your customer avatar and upload your final brand worksheet to keep it handy! (I keep my final brand board in my Google Drive so that when I am away from my computer, I can still access that information from the app to make sure that my products and purchases are keeping with my company’s representation.)
Whew!! Time for a nap!! You guys wore me out!
If you have any questions for me, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to answer them!! Leave them in the comments section below!!
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PS. One last thing before I leave you…coming Mid March, we are launching our biggest event EVER!!!! Our “Let’s Fix the Process” course, covering 30 different areas of small business is headed your way!! We will go through Branding, Finances, Social Media…AND SO MUCH FREAKIN’ MORE!!! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the official announcement and to see how Early Bird’s can catch the discount worm!!!!
I can’t wait to show it off!!