Hey guys! I'm not going to lie, I was super excited when some of you guys asked about branding in the Q&A. Probably, because I really enjoyed the "branding" process and still do. I know trying to brand your business can seem overwhelming, but I promise it's worth all the effort. I don't by any means consider myself an expert in this area, but I do feel like I've gotten off to a pretty good start. Here's a few things I've learned on my branding journey. I hope they are helpful to you!
1. Know who you are
Build your brand on who you are. It's really that simple, but it doesn't mean it's easy. Take some time to figure out what makes you tick as a unique individual. Go look in your closet. What colors and themes do you see? Look around your home and evaluate your style. A super helpful exercise is to make a "branding" board on Pinterest. (The collage above is from mine.) Look at image after image to figure out what makes you swoon. Then compare what you love to your own work. Do they match up aesthetically? If not, you may not be creating art that is true to yourself.
It's also important to know and write out your core values as a person. Why do you do what you do? Fully understanding the why behind your life and your business is absolutely essential. Steve Jobs once said, "To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world, it's a very noisy world. And we're not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us." Really, branding is all about identifying your own story and who you are deep down. Once you know those things, the task is to clearly, simply and consistently communicate who you are, what you stand for and the experience you are offering to the world. Most people focus on what they do, instead of why, because honestly, it's easier. But you can only hold people's attention for so long with the what. Focus on the why, get people to connect with it and you'll do well. (Again, this is hard to put into practice.)
2. Figure out your target market
What type of client are you trying to reach? Who are they and what do they look like? Think about specific demographics: age , gender, income level, education level, family status, occupation, ethnic background, etc...Also consider their personality, attitudes, interests, lifestyles, behavior and values. How does what you offer fit into their lifestyle? Again, this goes back to your core values. Who you are will help determine who they are. To me, this is the hardest step. It takes a lot of research to be sure. Don't get discouraged if you can't figure it out right away. It may take a few years in business to truly understand it, but if you keep it in mind as you brand you'll be leagues ahead of the competition. Be purposeful in everything you do, making sure you target the right audience.
3. Keep it simple at first
One of the biggest mistakes a beginner can make is to start branding everything immediately. It's hard to know who you really are as an artist right off the bat. Give yourself time. If you go all out and brand immediately, you may find that what you've done isn't really you a few months down the road. Such drastic change in branding could be detrimental to your business. If you're just starting out, find a simple logo and design that will work until your business matures a little more. Gather more information and develop slowly. This will give you time to find out who you want your clients to be and what you like to do. For me, I knew I wanted natural colors and calligraphy, but I kept it pretty basic until I knew I was ready to fully brand myself. Once you figure out what your brand looks like, stay true to it! Always communicate the same message. Make sure everything has the same look and feel, your website, your blog, your facebook page, your marketing materials...everything.
4. Invest in your online presence
In this day and age your website is of vital importance. It is the often the only thing prospective clients/ brides will look at to determine whether or not to hire you and buy into your product. It is so important. If you're like me and not willing to go in debt for your business, you may have to wait and save for a while. I had something super basic at first. I hated what I had because it was simple (again, take it slow at first), but I saved and save until I could hire Jordan to create a consistent image for me. It was worth every penny. Now, I have a brand that I feel truly represents me and my work. However, I'm not just talking about monetary investment here. Make sure your personality comes across. Put as much you into it as possible. Invest your time updating your blog, facebook page and twitter. But don't make it all about your product - make it about you, the why. I know that seems silly, but in all honestly people will hire you because of you, not your work. Good quality product is a given. People will buy into you because of what makes you different. For the most part, people will only see that online. Invest in it!
Ok, I know that was a lot, but if you're serious about your business then you'll get serious about branding. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comment section and I'll do my best to respond! I'm very glad you guys asked about this, because I needed a refresher on it myself!
Was this helpful to you? What are the best tips you've heard about branding?
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