Branding design has been my focus for over a year now. I recently underwent a bit of a revamp in regards to my services, though. I had one of those moments where I know what is right and can coach others, but hadn’t revisited the ideas for my business and myself. Here’s what kept happening: I’d work with a client who would need more than what we had originally talked about or was included in my package. It would be random tasks, not directly design related, and I was always unsure of how to tackle the awkward “well I don’t really…that wasn’t included…money…” conversation. I thought I had landed on the answer in developing a coaching package, because to me it made sense that most of the questions fell into the realm of starting a business, what to do, where to post, how to make opt-ins, etc. But that didn’t feel quite right either; I couldn’t find a way to organize the package enough to have a detailed end result but also leave it open enough to feel flexible and customizable.
I’m being transparent with this process because I think it’s good to point out that owning a business isn’t all hashtags and retweets and big launches, but instead there are moments of confusion, trial and error, and so on.
Moving forward, I kept thinking on it. Usually at 2am when I couldn’t sleep. How could I make sure that my time and energy were being compensated, my packages were clear cut and made sense, and my clients were getting everything they actually needed to be successful?
It dawned on me the way best ideas do: in the shower.
I was thinking through my design process. Thinking of ways to make it more efficient, more explainable, and more approachable. I was thinking through ways to differentiate myself from competition, but actually provide something useful and needed.
When it hit me, it hit me in a total “omg, duh” kind of way, because if I look back at the evolution of TheCrownFox, THIS is what I initially started out wanting to offer. I started out using a tagline that said something about “strategy and design” but then somehow along the way abandoned the strategy portion and lumped myself in with all the other designers out there. Oops.
I’ve mentioned this story in another blog post, but that’s not the point of today’s blog post. What I wanted to talk to you about is why having a branding strategy is important and why I now include three strategy sessions in my signature process. Edit: as of 2017 I no longer offer branding + strategy design. But this post would still be helpful to learn why strategy plays an extremely important role in design.
DESIGN DOESN’T DO EVERYTHING
Let’s be real for a second – design isn’t the end all, be all in business. I obviously think design is very important and valuable and necessary for how you position your business, but it’s not going to solely grow your business.
I hear you, as a designer what the heck am I talking about? Hey. I have a business online and I can tell you that there is more time put into social media, content, and client work than into actual design. There are tasks I do every day to grow my business that don’t require me opening Photoshop or Illustrator or anything like that. I know that design is important, but it’s not the focus.
You do need good design when it comes to having a memorable and impactful logo, having cohesive social media graphics, having a kick-butt website, and so on – but just having those things isn’t going to do enough. It’s not going to make people come to your website, subscribe to your list, buy your products, etc. It might help those causes, but you need more than design. You need strategy.
You need a strategy to get your blog content shared and accessible, a strategy to know what and when to post on social media, a strategy for your newsletter, for your list, and for growth. Having great design with no strategy is like me baking a cake: it might look really good on the outside, but when you cut into it there’s a weird sound and it deflates and looks both gooey and burnt at the same time (how!?). Maybe that’s a bad metaphor, but I think you see my point.
BRANDING IS ONE HUGE UMBRELLA
Here’s where I get kind of mind-flippy – BRANDING is important. But branding does not equal design.
Branding is a big deal. First you figure out your groundwork – your foundation or base for your business, then you work on the visuals… but what next? That’s when we focus on strategy. In Set Up For Success there are three strategy calls throughout the entire process – they help inform the visual development and help clients get a vision for moving forward and answer the terrifying “what next?” question.
Strategy is kind of an intimidating word, right? Like it sounds like it might be manipulative, or skeezy – but it’s not. It’s just creating and having a plan for business growth. I want clients to end our time together knowing where their leads are coming from, what interactions they are going to have with these leads (through newsletters, funnels, etc.), and how they are going to get their business noticed and growing. If you don’t know the answers to this for your own business then you need to revisit your overall strategy.
IT’S NOT: BUILD IT + THEY’LL COME
Something that basically sucked to learn in online business is that it’s not “build it and they’ll come” in regards to customers or leads. It’s more like “work, work, work, work, work” and then maybe pause for a snack and work some more. Creating content, interacting on social media, writing newsletters, hosting webinars, doing Facebook live… there is a ton to do.
Navigating that and having a plan of action to accomplish all of those tasks (and more) falls under strategy and falls under what I want to help clients do. My main goal is have people be successful after we work together and at this point, just designing isn’t enough.
So, all of that to say that strategy is essential for your business growth and figuring it all out on your own is tough. It took me nearly a year of perfecting my process and packaging to figure it all out and I don’t want it to take you that long. Even if you already have a killer website and beautiful logo, you can still work on your strategy moving forward and make sure your business is ready to blow the end of this year out of the water.
I’m Kaitlyn, your design assistant! I work with successful creative entrepreneurs to create cohesive, clean, and compelling visuals for their businesses. You can keep being the #girlboss you are (but with more time to focus on growing your empire)! Let's set up a time to chat!