I asked on a few Facebook groups what a struggle was for people when they started their branding process and found out that most people feel “stuck” about their visuals and the overall look of their brand.
But I’m fairly confident it’s not that you are stuck. It’s that you aren’t ready to work on visuals yet. But don’t worry - I’m about to help you get ready!
When I start with a client, before anything visual even crosses my mind we talk about goals. Goals of the company, personal goals, target client goals, timeline goals, money goals…the whole thing. It helps me to gain perspective and then help lead the discussion towards figuring out someone’s why. Why they are going into business? From there, we can start to analyze and figure out who they serve and how they serve. Understanding the answers to these question is absolutely essential before anything in the visual department can happen.
When someone reaches out and asks me to build them a site, I get a little nervous, honestly. I don’t want to just build someone a site! I want to create an overall brand and brand identity, which requires more time and effort on both client and my part, but garner more success.
So if you are feeling stuck on your visuals, my question to you is can you answer the following questions:
Why are you going into business in the first place? Is your goal to help people with the knowledge you have? Do you have a product that makes someone’s life so much easier? Do you just want to get rich quick?
Knowing your why fixes a lot of issues. First, unrelated to visuals, but still important - determining why you are going into business will allow you to develop a way for measuring success. If you are going into business because you have a product that will transform someone's life for the better by making them more productive, then you can measure your success by how many products you sell and the reviews/testimonials from clients.
But, what I am going to focus on is that determining your why is the first step to defining your target client and defining how you are going to help them. This might take some introspection on your part, but somewhere tucked away is the whole reason you wanted to start in the first place. Maybe you have a strong connection with a natural lifestyle and want to help companies that create and promote that flourish. Maybe you love weddings and marriage and want to create systems that make it easier for wedding photographers to work. Whatever your original spark was - find that, and hold onto it.
I’ll use myself as an example. You won’t find this in my “about me” or “design” page - and that’s okay. It’s more valuable for you to know this and have it rooted in your mind so that when you are defining your “who” and “how” you don’t forget the original goal and ambition. Why I got started is because I realized I had a skill set that would help women achieve their business goals and give them independence to create their own success, wealth, and happiness. I wanted to offer my knowledge and help grow a community of powerful, smart, and independent women. Plain and simple.
Who do you serve? I’ve struggled with this one in particular. A recent discussion with Devan of DevanDanielle.com taught me something that I think deep down I knew, but resisted following through with. What she taught me was that narrowing down your target client to a specific person doesn’t limit you, it defines you. It makes creating visual content SO much easier when you are working towards attracting one very specific type person.
So with that lesson, I pass onto you: DIG DEEPER. Don’t say, “millennials” or “online entrepreneurs”. Say: “women, aged 20-35, who started their own business after graduating from college with a less traditional degree, and value hand-made, real leather handbags over knock-offs.” I want to literally be able to envision the target client you describe them so well. In doing so, you will be able to create a brand identity that appeals to this target and promotes you as the expert that they need.
Defining how you serve your target customer comes last for me, but should be the easiest of the bunch. How you serve them is basically, what do you do? Do you write amazing copy that will benefit their website and newsletter and bring them more views? Do you implement systems to make their workflows seamless and efficient? Whatever it is that you are aiming to do in your business is your how.
Once you have established answers to WHY, WHO, and HOW you can develop a quick sentence explaining this. Here’s mine: I work with creative individuals and companies to create cohesive and clean branding to better their business and online presence.
How do I serve? I create cohesive and clean branding. Who do I serve? Creative individuals and companies. Why? To better their business and online presence.
Now, in my head, I know that my target client is really women, 20-45, who head up a more organic, creative-based businesses and value the power of social media and quality work. That’s a little long for my one sentence, though, so I try to appeal to that ideal client through my visuals. I use a softer, but more luxurious color palette. I use simple designs that are visually impactful but simple, streamlined, and clean. And then, not necessarily visually-related, but I create blog content that is geared towards a creative-minded person and someone who runs a business. I offer free resources to someone that is starting a business. All of these things are working in tandem to appeal to that woman that I want to work with.
So consider that when you are “stuck” on your visuals. It might not be that you are stuck at all - it might just be that you aren’t ready to do visuals because you haven’t answered these essential questions first.
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