Photo by Cecelina Photography
Branding makes a lot of creative businesses nervous. As a business of one, your business is you; customers and clients buy… you. So spending time and money on building a brand can feel a little bit unnecessary, possibly even presumptive? Stop right there!
Creating a strong brand especially as a business of one, is about designing a vision for your future. It’s how you build better relationships, and help your customers connect with a cohesive, meaningful identity.
We ask the same questions when it comes to telling our brand story. How much of myself should I inject into my brand? How much personality’s ok to shine through?
I spoke to some incredible women – each influencers in their fields – who have created brands that enchant their audiences every day. There’s also one from me in there. Thank you to the wonder-women who generously shared their tips below:
This is from me. “Authentic” has become an over-used word but it’s essential. Be true. Get super-clear on your values and what your brand represents. Watch you don’t get led off-track; easy to do when you’re in it alone. You crave connection and want to collaborate; make sure your yes-es are whole body yes-es. I’ve recently had to take myself off an event panel that initially felt very glamorous and exciting, but ultimately didn’t sit with my values. It was awkward and the conversation was uncomfortable.
You know what feels authentic to you, intuitively. Trust that. It’s how you make your brand a true reflection of who you are – your product or service, as well as a person.
Be the expert
One of the best ways to integrate more you into your business is to establish yourself as an expert in your space. This takes time but we’re playing the long game after all; people will always choose to work with experts.
My lovely friend, Sam Burgess AKA Social Mouth Sam has cornered a segment of a market as the go-to retail marketer, helping small businesses build their presence through Instagram.
She advises, “To build your brand and become the go-to, identify your niche. You can’t be the go-to for everyone. For example, I’d do myself a disservice if I helped all small businesses with social media. Instead, I’ve niched myself to just retail, which is my background. By being visible in this industry – Facebook groups, speaking at tradeshows, joining in Instagram hashtags – your stock rises. You’re quickly the name on everyone’s lips when looking for help.”
Sam adds, “I show up every day in at least one of my client touch points and give away advice for free; I am open and approachable and willing to help and support anyone looking for help. This further grows trust with my target audience and builds on my personal and professional brand.”
We immerse so much of ourselves in our business, we can forget that we’re a separate entity. It’s something I for one am guilty of.
If there’s anyone who knows about elevating a brand, it’s Fiona Humberstone, The Brand Stylist. Fiona encourages us to think beyond ourselves when we’re building our brands.
“One of the biggest challenges when you are the business is creating something that’s bigger than you,” she explains. “The temptation is to build a brand in your own image, to bring every aspect of your personality in to your brand and the way you communicate. That’s hugely problematic. For starters, not every aspect of you is relevant to your clients, so your message becomes muddled and often, watered down. Secondly, branding becomes an impossible task as you try to balance the many facets of you and your business. Finally, it’s impossible to switch off, to get the down time and the rest you need to go on and produce brilliant work.”
She adds, “Even when it’s your name over the door. Even when you are the business, you are not your brand. Separate the two. Focus on what your clients value about what you do, the impact you want to create and how you want your clients to feel.”
Build a team around you
Even as a business of one, we need a team around us – an accountant, website designer, coach. Look at how you can simplify and delegate to grow your business. This brings you closer to Fiona’s guidance to ensure you have downtime too. Identify where your business takes you out of your “zone of genius”. Then outsource these.
Olivia Tripp, founded Weekend:IN to help independent brands connect, engage and grow their audiences. She now runs an enviable event series alongside this. She recommends being smart about making your resources go further.
“So many business owners have a strong product, but forget to think about everything else,” Olivia explains. “Building a successful brand means being consistent across your social, website, blog, graphic design, any correspondence with customers, and so much more!”
“I’d always recommend getting freelance help to develop the things you can’t do yourself, then once it’s all working together it’ll be easier to get your message across and attract the right audience.”
Have faith in your dream
Finally, believe in your brand. Being a business of one is lonely. In the busy-ness of doing the work, it’s easy for self-doubt to set in. Magical Lucy Sheridan is the first and only Comparison Coach. She helps her clients live #comparisonfree and create success on their own terms. And has become a global brand doing it.
“Be really careful who you go to for advice or who you allow to give you feedback,” Lucy cautions. “If they haven’t done what you want to do then it’s not going to serve you. Your family and friends want to be supportive but their questions or advice won’t be helpful unless they have a run a business so shut it down and change the subject. You need to create a protective bubble – your dream is too important to be open to chit chat and you need to preserve your confidence.”
I hope these golden tips set you on your path to creating an incredible brand. And I’d love to hear your comments below.