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December 5, 2018
Tis the season to plan for the new year! Entrepreneurs around the globe are squeezing in planning sessions with their planner of choice in-between holiday celebrations and wrapping up client work. (Side note: Are you team digital or team pen and paper?) Some of us may get into the planning spirit a little more than others, but even for the non-planner obsessed, the season lends itself to reflection.
Which makes December the perfect time for a branding check-up.
Wait, what’s a branding check-up, you ask? Well, if you’ve been following the Launch Brand Grow blog for any length of time, you know that a brand is so much more than a logo. It’s more about #allthethings that your business is known for. The things that make your biz special. (Cause it totally is special!)
A logo is just a tiny piece. Branding includes your visuals like a logo, color palette, typography, style of graphics, style of photography. It also includes less tangible things like tone of voice, writing style, ism’s, the emotions you inspire in others, and your reputation.
My philosophy on branding for entrepreneurs is that the whole thing is really personal. It’s vital to find the sweet spot between your own personality type and the values of your dream clients. I like to say that branding is all about communicating what’s going on inside your business to the outside.
With this in mind, it makes more sense to give your branding a check-up before you kick off your January goal-getting! I’ve got 6 questions to get you started. The first 3 are internal, and the last 3 are more external and measurable. A branding check-up is all about reflection and looking for patterns.
Some personality types are naturally gifted at recognizing patterns in data and statistics. Other types are better at picking out patterns in behavior, thought patterns, feelings. Both are valuable skills. And you can still get some actionable insights from this exercise regardless of your personality type. So here we go!
For these first three questions, I want you to forget the numbers. We’re looking at what was personally fulfilling, not what sold the most. What projects, campaigns, partnerships, etc. lit you up over the past year? Identify a few things, and write them down. Or type them out. The point is to get them out of your head, and somewhere you can look at them all together. Now look for anything that connects your favorite things. What’s the common thread?
Again, forget the numbers and stats. What made you want to pull out your hair and throw things. Or what actually made you throw things. No judgement here. The next step, you guessed it, is to look for the pattern. What connects all the things that felt like you were dragging a bag full of bowling balls up a hill?
At this point, maybe you’re wondering what this has to do with branding. Valid question. Here’s the deal. You won’t be able to keep up with these types of things long term. So, it’s important that they aren’t highlighted in your overall brand strategy.
A brand is a living, breathing, evolving thing. Well, not literally, but you get the idea. It changes over time, especially for an entrepreneur. Because YOU grow and change. So, take note of what you still love about your brand. Remember to think beyond a logo and colors; and consider voice, word choice, overall vibe, and aesthetic.
It’s okay to test out something new. Throw in a complimentary style of photography or a slight switch in tone or topic. Make sure it fits with everything else. Alternatively, find ways to highlight the things that you are still in love with. Because that excitement is contagious.
Remember when I said that I wanted you to forget the stats and numbers? We took some time to reflect inwardly. It probably felt really good to some of you and really awkward for others. Now, I want you to do the opposite. Crack open those analytics, and get real with your numbers. A detailed spreadsheet isn’t a must, but you need to find out what worked with your people, and what didn’t. Back to the questions.
Even though I firmly believe in rooting your brand in your own personality type, if it doesn’t appeal to your dream clients or customers, it won’t be profitable. Take a look at your email list stats, your social media analytics, your blog views, and your sales numbers. What did your people engage with the most? Now what connects it?
Remember, we’re looking for patterns. And if spreadsheets and all the numbers make your brain hurt, start jotting down trends and general notes in a pretty journal. It will make it a little easier for you creative types to pick up the patterns.
I know that this isn’t the fun part. I’m team feeler, and I get it. Revisiting the scene of what feels like a personal failure is no fun. But that’s really just a negative internal narrative.
Every business has failed launches or social media posts that get crickets. It’s normal. I repeat, it’s normal. Even if it doesn’t feel good. But there is valuable information to find here too. So, again, look for the pattern. What connects the things that didn’t take off in your biz this year.
Read through your testimonials and conversations with clients. What were their biggest takeaways from working with you or buying your product? How did the needle move in their biz? Because when it comes down to it, THIS is what you are selling. Yes, it needs to align with your personality. And yes, you need to market it in a way that connects with what your clients are looking for. But THIS is what you want to communicate with your branding.
I know these are big questions. But taking the time to work through them will help you see if you are on the right track. Before you start busting through those 2019 goals. Because every business is a work in progress.
Want more help fine tuning your brand??
Starting NEXT week, Katie will be leading a workshop in our Launch Brand Grow Community and leading us through all of this. All of our community members will receive a workbook with these questions + some ideas/prompts for the workshop during the second week of December. There’s STILL time to join if you want in! Sign up and find out all the details right here.
Katie is a brand strategist & coach for creative businesses and service providers who are fed up trying to fit into a brand or business model that’s out of alignment with your personality. She helps you through the work of building a profitable brand + biz that feels like you, honors your values & leverages your strengths.
(Photo credit: Ingrid of Atelier 21 Co)
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