When I first started I said yes to everything. I said yes to small projects that I hated doing and large projects that I wasn’t yet ready to do. I said yes to projects where I charged flat fees and allowed endless revisions. I said yes to any and every job because I was scared not to. I was scared nobody else would care about my business. I was scared I wouldn’t get another job. I was scared I was an imposter pretending to be a real designer. I was scared nobody would pay me what I knew my skill and time was worth.
I ran around doing every project that came my way and I was feeling burnt out and honestly really demoralized about my career choice. I wondered if I was even cut out for the life of an entrepreneur at all. After all, who was I to be a brand designer? I had no formal training as a designer and taught myself through books, online tutorials and a bunch of trial and error. Who was I to think that anyone would pay for my work and advice? I had a hard time wrapping my mind around how to actually attract my ideal clients.
If you are anything like me I’m sure you’ve had some doubts along the way in your journey too. Questions of why your business isn’t attracting clients how you thought it would. Or why that other designer’s (videographer, course creator, author, stylist, or insert your thing here) business is flourishing when yours isn’t even though you are doing the same things they are.
Take a minute and think about the people and companies you follow online. It can be that yoga instructor whose youtube videos you adore. Or that baby store owner whose outfits are on point and children are the sweetest. It can even be a major brand like Apple. What made you follow them? What made you like their brand?
We all have them, the Instagram pages we actually turn on the post notifications for, the youtube gurus we go to for advice on our makeup and hair, the blog we check religiously every Thursdays because we can’t wait for the next installation of how-to goodness.
What is it that stood out about these brands? The reason they stood out is because they resonated with who we are or who we want to be. We see some version of our past, present or future of self in that brand. We see potential to connect and be or become who we were meant to be.
Luckily creating a brand that resonates is pretty simple once you figure out your brand platform. What exactly is a brand platform you might ask? Well, a brand platform is the written expression of what your business is, what it does, how it does it and why. Your brand platform is your business’ philosophy. It helps guide the company, by holding it accountable for its choices and challenging it to strive for excellence. Your brand platform is comprised of 5 main parts: Values, Positioning, Mission, Vision and Story. These five things are the reasons people love the brands they do. Let’s take a closer look at each.
The main question here is what values do you prioritize in your business. We all care about a lot of things but to give our business a solid structure we need to define what matters the most to us. When we make a decision about what matters the most we can build our business around these things. Our defined values become the bones of our business. It helps to support all of our decisions. The skeleton of a mouse can’t support the weight of an elephant. Just like a company who values connection and community couldn’t support the weight of business decisions solely based on speed and efficiency. Prioritizing a small list of values (no more than 10 things) doesn’t mean that you don’t care about other values it just means that your company does things a certain way. And the way that you do things resonates with the way your ideal clients likes things done. Which leads us to your positioning.
Now that you know what your business values you can use those things to determine your positioning. Positioning gives your business focus. Your positioning states who you are, what you do, who you serve, how you serve them and why. Creating a position statement helps you get specific about what you do so that you can focus on what makes your business great and not waste time and energy on all the things you could possibly do. Brands that stand out and resonate do so because people easily understand who they are for. They are remembered as the go-to for a certain thing.
The previous two reasons gave you structure and focus but your business is a living entity that can grow and change even within your values and positioning. So we look to our mission to give guidance. Your mission statement aligns your values with your positioning by highlighting why your business exists and exactly how you serve your audience. Brands that stand out provide consistent value through their commitment to their mission. They continually do what they say they are going to do, how they said they were going to do it.
As I mentioned before your business is a living entity that will continue to grow. Your mission is how you do what you do but your vision states the impact you would ultimately like to have. Having a clear vision gives you business purpose. Purpose gives context to your efforts and aligns your business with the legacy you would like to leave. The goal of any business is to make money but brands that resonate understand that the larger and more important goal is tied to creating things that matter. Your vision allows you to be intentional about your business journey and gives your audience a reason to believe in and support your business.
Lastly, you have your story. Your story shares how you got where you are and gives your brand authority. People are hardwired to tell and understand stories. So having your own story to tell engages your audience. Your story discusses how the problem you solve gave birth to your business. It lets your audience know that you are invested in being the solution to their problem or pain point just as much, if not more than they are. Brands that stand out have a compelling story that highlights their values, positioning, mission, and vision. These brand stories speak to the emotions of their audience. They alleviate their client’s fears and/or promote their client’s happiness. Story provides an excellent opportunity for connection and lets your audience being to know, like and trust you.
Once you’ve mastered these five reasons you’ll have the answer to all the questions you’ve been asking yourself. You will understand the value you bring. You will know who you serve, how you serve them and why you serve them. Creating a strong brand platform gives you the confidence to pursue your dreams wholeheartedly because you have a plan that gives you structure, focus, guidance, purpose, and authority. You will no longer need to doubt yourself, your work, or the value you provide. People are attracted to confidence because it demonstrates the ability to lead and allows them to feel safe following you.
If you’re ready to have a brand that people love and can’t help but to follow grab your free workbook and get to figuring out your 5 reasons now!
Next week, I’ll be showing you how Apple uses it’s 5 reasons to communicate with its customers and inspire a cult-like-following.