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The Future of Email Marketing for Online Business | Braid Creative

Kathleen here trying not to freak out about the future of online business. You too?

If you’re a creative entrepreneur who does business online, you may have heard about the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

This new regulation, as I understand it (and it’s been really hard to wrap my head around), means that you need to be fully transparent when it comes to collecting emails and explicit about what you’ll be doing with those email addresses. So for example, if you collect emails with an “opt-in incentive” or “content upgrade,” you’ll also have to receive consent to add that email to your general list.

This means that lots of businesses who have opt-ins or lead generators that put a potential customer into a fancy sales funnel are freaking out right now…

All of this has me thinking about the future of email marketing.

But first – let’s do some reminiscing:

  • Here at Braid Creative we didn’t even have a newsletter list until THREE YEARS after becoming a business that primarily found it’s customers online.
  • We created a newsletter because it seemed like a convenient way to deliver our weekly blog articles to you. The intention wasn’t to sell but to connect.
  • We were giving away PDFs and worksheets on our website as a direct download without even collecting an email address. I didn’t know “content upgrades” or “opt-in incentives” were even a thing until a creative peer told me!
  • We didn’t have an auto-responder sequence (with the standard formula of information, soft sell, information, hard sell, information) – you just got the most recent broadcast that went out as we sent it.
  • We had no tagging system, triggered actions, or sales funnels
  • We never relied on our email list as an explicit way to make income (and we’ve managed to be profitable and sustainable for the past seven years)

Most of the bullet points above were out of our own lack of skills, knowledge, and/or awareness. And while we’ve become slightly more sophisticated in some of our email systems, the strategy has remained the same: our email list is about freely sharing gifts of knowledge with our subscribers, exploring content-creation in a new way, establishing our position as experts in branding, and connecting with our audience in a (more) meaningful way.

And of course we want you to hire us and buy our stuff – but not for us … for you. And that has always made selling feel really easy. By openly sharing our expertise in our articles (and all the other places we show up for free) we hope you’ll think of us when you’re ready to invest in your brand.

But let’s get back to the future of email … the GDPR is forcing all of us to reassess our email marketing strategy. I think this can be a great opportunity to do email marketing in a new way.

Which, for us, looks a lot like the old way of doing things.

THE FUTURE OF EMAIL MARKETING:

  • Newsletters will be used to sharing useful information more than selling products
  • Transparency will be rewarded with trust
  • Clear intentions will convert avid consumers fans of your content into loyal customers
  • The size of your list will not determine the success of your business
  • The more generous you can be with your gifts of knowledge, the more you will see (cash money!) compensation
  • So if you want to join our general mailing list scroll down to subscribe. We’ll send you an email every time we write an article like this and every once in a while we’ll tell you about a product or service we’re offering. But trust, you’ll never feel pressured by us to buy.

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Brand Clarity for Coaches | Braid Creative & Consulting

We work with a lot of coaches. Coaching (life coaching, leadership coaching, wellness coaching… the list goes on) is only picking up speed, and that’s why it’s more important than ever that—as a coach—you are able to clearly articulate what you want to be known for, who you best serve, and what your dream clients can expect when working with you.

One of the first life coaches we branded over five years ago had to spend a lot of her brand footprint on educating her potential clients on what a life coach even is. Now that the industry is a little more mainstream, we think it’s really important that a coach is not only able to explain their expertise, but they're able to confidently and authentically differentiate themselves in a crowded market.

We’re typically branding coaches at two different stages of business:
  1. The “newbie” coaches: These are coaches who are just starting out and need their brand to help clearly articulate and share what they do. These might be professionals who have a lot of experience and have been natural helpers their whole lives—the person their co-workers, peers, and friends always turn to when they need solid insights or a non-judgmental sounding board.
  2. The coaches who are ready to scale or narrow in: These are coaches who have been doing this for a while. They know what they’re doing, and now they are ready to have a brand that not only matches their experience and what they’ve been able to create, but they could also use some help in better framing up their approach, process, or content they are ready to share on a whole new level. Or perhaps they’ve been coaching enough to really know where they best help their dream customer – they want to narrow in on their speciality, niche, or dream client so they’re not spreading themselves so thin.

Our goal when branding a coach is always to help them get clear and get authentic. That means we are going to help them say what they mean without confusing their customer and do it in a way that feels wholly integrated with their values and personality. Because we get it – it can be hard to grow a career around something like coaching when the results are powerful yet sometimes intangible. When you’re not selling a product that you can see and touch you might run the risk of coming across as vague. Or if you’re using the same fluffy jargon that seems to be working for that other six-figure coach you’ve been following, you may come across as disingenuous.

Today I’m going to share one of my favorite branding exercises that we guide our one-on-one clients through for getting more clear and for putting more of who you are into the work you do:

BEFORE AND AFTER

With a service like coaching, it can be difficult to really explain how you help your clients. The deliverables aren’t always obvious, which can make your offering a hard-sell for customers who are on the fence. So this exercise will help you better describe the shifts, transformations, and evolutions you help guide your client through.

First, draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On the left side write “BEFORE” and on the right “AFTER”.

Now describe your dream client before they work with you:

  • What is their biggest challenge?
  • What kinds of thoughts are holding them back?
  • Describe their behavior.
  • Where are they most stuck? Why?
  • What are they not seeing clearly?
  • What do they desire or want most?

Now describe your dream client after they work with you:

  • What kinds of goals do they have?
  • What is their attitude like?
  • Describe their behavior.
  • What kind of changes are they gaining momentum on?
  • What are some small (or large) successes they’re seeing?
  • How are they overcoming their hurdles?
  • What do they desire or want most?

Extra credit: Now that you’ve mapped out their before and after how would you describe your coaching process and how it helped them bridge the gap?

Want more branding exercises? Download our free eBook: 7 Ways to Brand You and What You Do.

DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK for tips, exercises, scripts, and worksheets
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How to Say No to a Dream Customer | Free Scripts for Business Owners

One of the best things you can do for your business is say no to clients who are a bad fit. Saying no to a bad fit clears not only mental space, but literal calendar space so you can say YES to the jobs that are a good fit – and in turn, deepen your creative expertise and the work you want to be known for.

Saying no to a bad fit is easy

Here’s a script you can use to say no to the kind of inquiry that raises all the red flags for you:

Hi _______ [potential client],
Your company sounds really [use a nice adjective here], but unfortunately I don’t think [my company / services / etc.] is a good fit for your project. We typically best help [describe your dream customer here] with [describe your typical offering or service here].

You might check out _______ [resource or friend] – they may be able to help you with what you need.

Thanks!

Saying no by still describing what you do can actually get you the work you want. We’ve used this exact script to say no only to have the rejected potential client send someone who IS a good fit our way.

Saying no to the dream client who can’t afford you is a little trickier

This is harder because you know the project has the potential to be perfect – but keep in mind that if you say yes, you could potentially regret it down the road when you’re not being compensated for all your hard work. Because even the coolest projects are still work … and worthy of compensation.

Here is a script you can use to say no to a potential dream client who can’t afford you:

Hi _______ [potential client],
Your company sounds really cool, and I think what [my company] offers is a great fit for what you need, but I totally get it that our services are out of your price range.

If you’re still interested in our work, you might check out my more affordable [or even free!] _______ [ecourse / ebook / digital product / blog posts / podcast / newsletter].

And if you find that your budget changes in the future, we would love to work with you in a one-on-one engagement.

Thanks!

Saying no to the dream client who wants what you don’t offer

As a creative entrepreneur, you’re probably resourceful and really great at figuring it out as you go. So when a dream client asks you to do something you can technically do (or figure out how to do) but don’t want to do, it can be really hard to say no. But just because you can do it all doesn’t mean you should. That would only distract you from what you’re best at and what you really want to be known for. When you say no to this kind of dream customer, be sure to let them know what we’re best at – they may just hire you for your expertise anyway!

Here’s a script for saying no to the dream client who wants what you don’t offer:

Hi _______ [potential client],
Your company sounds really cool, but unfortunately I don’t think [my company] is a good fit for your project. We typically best help [dream customer description] with [your services or offering]. So if you ever find yourself needing [examples of deliverables you do offer], I’m your person.

Otherwise, you might check out _______ [resource or friend] – they may be able to help you with what you need.

Thanks!

Want to dive in a little deeper? Download our free 7 Ways to Brand You and What You Do eBook:

DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK for tips, exercises, scripts, and worksheets
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Brand Consistency Matters for Business Owners | Braid Creative

Your brand is what makes you memorable—from the first impression on someone who has never heard of you, to a raving referral from a past client. And when you have a reputation to uphold, it’s imperative that you are reliably showing up in all the places your brand touches. This means that your business name, logo, colors, photography, tagline, offering, messaging, and tone are consistent and cohesive on your website, in your advertisements, on your stationery and print materials, on your social media, in your speeches and talks, on your windows and signage, at your events, or in your webinars. It should even reach into your own company culture— not only in how you make your customers feel, but in how you train your employees and how you work with contractors and vendors.

IT BEGINS WITH A BRAND PLATFORM

One of the first steps to creating a consistent and cohesive brand is with a brand platform that outlines at-a-glance who you are, what you do, how you do it, and what it looks like. Here at Braid Creative, the brand platforms we create for our clients often include:

Brand identity standards: this is a document that details all the visual components of your brand—including your logo (or logo suite if you have multiple versions), brand colors, typography and fonts, branded icons and / or patterns, and brand photography.

Brand messaging: this is anything with words—including your business name, a tagline, a positioning statement (often known as an “elevator pitch”), a brand story that connects the emotional “why” to the business offering, scripts or copy for how someone can work with you, and your creative process or steps you take along the way.

Your brand platform is the backbone of your brand that can then be applied to all the places your business shows up. You’ll want to revisit your brand platform any time you’re creating something new for your business—from marketing and PR efforts to client on-boarding.

TAKE STOCK OF ALL THE PLACES YOUR BRAND SHOWS UP

Once you have your brand platform visually defined and outlined, it’s time to implement that look, feel, and messaging to all the places your brand shows up. The first thing you’ll want to do is take stock of where you’re showing up.

ONLINE & DIGITAL:

Website - make it a habit to read through every single word on your website at least once a year to make sure your design and copy are still properly reflecting your brand and business offerings.

Social media - not only in your daily posts that make up your ever-evolving brand, but your avatar, cover image, and profile copy are also opportunities for consistency and cohesion.

Email - from your newsletter template to your email signature and even your actual email address—no little detail should go unturned when it comes to where your brand appears

Digital products - if you have online courses, downloadable worksheets, or eBooks, they should all be consistent with your brand platform.

Digital advertising - from TV commercials to Facebook ads to native content and PR opportunities, you need to make a compelling impression that accurately reflects your brand so there are no disconnects when your dream customer clicks through wanting more.

PRINT:

Stationery - are your business cards, letterhead, and envelopes up to date and on point?

Brochures, folders, posters, books, and informational pieces - all of these are branded pieces that need to feel connected and consistent with your brand platform.

Packaging - if you sell products, is your packaging delivering the experience you want your customers to have?

IN PERSON:

Spaces and events - when it comes to in-person events, think about engaging all the senses of anyone who experiences your brand: what are they seeing, smelling, tasting, and hearing? These are often things that aren’t defined in your brand platform (especially if you’re primarily an online business), but they are considerations that can make or break an experience for your customer.

Signage and touch-points - from your logo signage, to window clings, to car wraps, to informational or directional signage, and even printed memos, these tactics—no matter how small—are deserving of brand consideration.

Your personal style - if you’re a personal brand, the way you show up to networking events is a reflection of your brand. If you’re not a personal brand, you (or the employees you are hiring) are a reflection of the company you represent.

PHOTOGRAPHY:

Photography is an aspect of your brand that can show up across all of your brand platforms in person and online. Photos can really set the tone for your brand, and as you know—a picture speaks a thousand words. We always recommend a series of photos for our clients including headshots and candid working photos that help make the work you do feel real (especially if you are a consultant, educator, or coach), styled shoots for products or services, and conceptual or environmental images to help illustrate brand stories or style beyond the literal. We recommend hiring a photographer once a year for a branded shoot—including updated headshots and supplementing with stock photography that is treated with your brand standards in the interim.

YOUR CUSTOMER’S EXPERIENCE IS A ROAD MAP FOR YOUR BRAND

Once you’ve been able to take stock of all the places your brand shows up, it’s time to audit and assess what needs to be updated to reflect your most current brand standards and identity. I recommend prioritizing the entry point for a customer and using their next steps as a map to determine what needs your attention next.

For example, if you are selling an educational course and are running a Facebook ad campaign, the ads will be the first thing your customer sees. Those ads need to make an impression that is consistent and cohesive with what they’ll see next—which is probably a landing page to your course or your website. From there, they may sign up for your newsletter or a series of free training to learn more.

Or perhaps you are a leadership coach who is giving a talk at a conference. Your slides, your talk, and your personal style will make the first impression for your brand. From there, your audience may try to find you on Twitter or Instagram so they can tag you with quotes from your speech. Then, they may buy your book or sign up for your newsletter.

The experience your customer is having is a road map that will show you which stops or turns your customer can take next. You’ll want to be sure you always know which direction they’re headed so there are no brand disconnects or confusion along the way.

HOW DO I MAKE IT ALL LOOK GOOD?

Okay, so by now you’ve assessed and audited all the places your brand lives, and you know how and where your potential customer is engaging with your brand along the way. Now it’s time to make sure all the pieces look consistent and cohesive with your brand platform and with each other.

My best recommendation is to hire a graphic designer and copywriter—ideally the person or team who helped you establish your brand in the first place—to implement your brand platform on all the pieces and places your brand shows up. If it’s the person who initially created your brand, you can trust them to make decisions on the fly when it comes to how your brand is applied across different platforms. If you’re working with a freelance designer or copywriter, you may need to give them more direction until they’re more familiar with the look, feel, and tone of your brand.

When you’re working with a designer and / or writer, the more you can batch your projects together, the more efficient you can be with your budget and time—though this means you’ll need to be more organized with your marketing efforts. However, if you develop an ongoing relationship with a designer or have someone on retainer, you can throw projects their way as they come. It really just depends on your needs and style.

Now the DIY-control-freak in me wants to tell you that you can learn to do it yourself, but I’ve seen too many people butcher their beautiful brand by trying to become a graphic designer instead of focusing on their core genius. It might be a little bit of an investment to hire help, but I promise it will save you money in the long run.

YOUR BRANDING CHECKLIST

The point of this worksheet is to help you assess and audit all the places your brand exists. It’s for you to use however you like, but I recommend:

  • Cross out anything that is not applicable to your brand
  • Highlight or circle any high-traffic touch points
  • Check the boxes to the left after you’ve checked in on those parts of your brand. That check in might be a series of questions including but not limited to:
    • Which tactics have the most impact on my business?
    • Is this consistent?
    • Could I systemize this?
    • Can I delegate this?
    • Where are there disconnects or inconsistencies?
    • What’s working well? What do I like about this?
  • Use the space to the right to make notes on what needs to be updated or refined

You can also use this worksheet to help you decide which tactics you can add or omit from your brand and even use it as a checklist to know what you need to delegate.

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The Threads of Your Brand | Braid Creative & Consulting

Last week we took a bird’s eye view of branding and defining the function your brand serves in your business. You can read that here.

So now let’s zoom in a little and look at the different threads of your brand and business that make up who you are and the work you do. These threads can pose a challenge when they feel tangled and jumbled, but when you can connect the dots and weave the different aspects of your brand into every platform, interaction, and presence you will build trust, impact, and credibility with your potential customers and peers. You’re able to create a rich and layered story that makes sense (P.S. We’re called Braid Creative because it’s our job to help our clients and students take the threads of their business and weave them together in one cohesive brand story.)


Your clarity of purpose

When you know your mission, what you offer, why your dream customer needs you, and the problems you solve… you’ve got clarity of purpose. This crystal clear perspective of who you are and what you do and why might feel like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses have overlooked this part of their brand and business vision. And that clarity of purpose can take you far when it comes to how you position and differentiate yourself in your market. The confidence that comes with knowing who you are will attract dream customers.

What’s your mission? What do you offer and for whom? What problems are you solving? And why?


Your personal style

Most branding experts will tell you that your brand begins with your customer… but we think the best place to start is with yourself. We believe that when you can blend more of who you are into the work you do, you will be more fulfilled in your job. A lot of creatives think that having a personal brand means taking lots of selfies and posting them to Instagram, and while we think that’s okay, that’s not the point. The point of a personal brand is allowing your values, intentions, and personal expression to have a place in your business. It’s letting personal experience and story have a place at the table just as much as your talent, skills, and business model. Because the truth is – no matter how big your business grows at the end of the day, people hire people. Your customers are looking to connect with something human.

How is your personal style reflected in your business and outward facing brand?


Your dream customer

While we like to start with you, we know (and you know) that your brand isn’t just about you. It’s about how you communicate what you do and for whom in a style that resonates with your dream customer. A disconnect between who you think you are and who your dream customer thinks you are can be detrimental to your success. Plus, it’s not just about them liking who you are – it’s about reassuring that you’re for them by articulating what you offer without confusion.

Do you know who your dream customer is? Do they know who you are and what you offer?


Your expertise

Expertise can be a loaded word that doesn’t land with everyone in the same way, but it’s as simple as staking a claim for what you want to be known for. Becoming a reliable guide and “go-to” for the thing you offer will elevate you beyond a commodity and position you as a sought-after problem-solver.

What do you want to be known for? What’s your expertise?


Your offering

Your brand is how you tie the story and emotion of what you do to the nuts-and-bolts deliverables you offer. If you lean too heavy on the emotional side of how you connect to your dream customer, you risk confusing your clients as to how you’re actually helping them … which leads to hesitation when it comes to closing the deal. When it comes to your deliverables, use branding language with a light touch and just say what you mean.

When it comes to your offering, what do you deliver? If it’s not tangible, try to paint a before-and-after picture of your client before and after they work with you.


Your content

Your content—whether that’s a blog, a podcast, a YouTube channel, or a social media presence—is one of the best ways to establish your expertise, share your story, and attract dream customers. It’s also a place where you can explore and evolve your brand. What you create along the way shapes who you become in your brand and business vision.

Does the content you create support your expertise with the tone and style of your brand?

So here we’ve shared a few of the threads that create the bigger picture of your brand and business vision. No one thread is more important than the other – they all work together to tell a cohesive and clear story about who you are and the work you do.

Want to dive in a little deeper? Download our free 7 Ways to Brand You and What You Do eBook:

DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK for tips, exercises, scripts, and worksheets
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What Exactly Is Branding? | Braid Creative & Consulting

I think we all know what the word “branding” means at-a-glance, but have you ever really tried to define it? It’s a little tricky to nail down an exact meaning of what a brand is—which can be complicated for you as an entrepreneur, small business, or marketer when a big part of your success depends on having a good brand. So in this article, we’re going to share a few of our definitions of what a brand really is.

Your brand is the first impression you make

One of the biggest pitfalls we see from our clients is when they try to fit too much of everything they are into that very first impression. Information overload can be confusing and overwhelming to your dream customer. So when it comes to the first impression you make, consider how you can set the tone and style for what you do and for whom in as little words as possible. This means making an impression with the look and feel of your brand, a short tagline, and a concise “elevator pitch” or positioning statement.

Your brand is what makes you different

Believe it or not, competition is a good thing for your business! When businesses have similar offerings it means there is a thriving market for what you have to sell. However, the more competition you have, the more you have to differentiate yourself within the market. Your brand is how you communicate what makes you different and why that makes you a perfect fit for your dream customer.

Your brand sets the expectation of what’s next

If your brand is the first impression someone receives, it also sets the stage for what they can expect as they begin to move from simply being aware of your presence to becoming engaged with your business. Brand disconnects happen when a potential client expects one thing and receives another. But when your brand is cohesive, consistent, and totally aligned on all levels, you are delivering on the expectation and promise you set from the first time someone set eyes on you.

What is the first impression you make? What differentiates you from the competition? Is your brand consistent as your dream customer moves deeper into your business model?

Other articles you might like:

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Three Things That Threaten Your Brand | Braid Creative & Consulting

If I had a rallying cry, it would be something along the lines of “Just be who you are 100% of the time!” I can’t help but believe that blending your true personality into the work that you do will make the world a better place—or at the very least make the desk you work at a better place.

But the problem with bringing authenticity to your brand is if you don’t really know who you are, that will be reflected in your business as vague, confusing, and bland.

Vague, confusing, and bland don’t instill a lot of confidence or trust in your dream customer—and that’s the whole point of a brand. Now, I feel like “vague,” “confusing,” and “bland” are my own worst nightmares, but they can also pose a big threat to your brand. Let’s dig into these monsters a little more and start to unpack how we can keep them out of our brands.

VAGUE: You might describe Vague to a friend as, “You know the one! With the hair. And the mouth! You know!” (Your friend doesn’t know.) Our monster Vague is just too… vague.

CONFUSING: At first glance, Confusing is the opposite of Vague. They’re wearing something very fashion forward that you either absolutely love … or love to hate. Now, this is actually a really great branding tactic and an outward display of authenticity and being who you are. But Confusing’s problem isn’t his outward style—it’s how he talks about how he affords all the clothes (not to mention vacations to Dubai) he buys. Nobody knows how Confusing makes a living even though he’s constantly networking and saying things like, “Call me! We’ll disrupt something together!”

BLAND: Bland is a lot like Vague. If you get seated next to Vague at a dinner party, you might get one-word answers to your brilliant questions or a long-winded work story with all the wrong details and dead-end plot lines. The difference between Bland and Vague is that you’re never trying to describe Bland to your friend. You just never think about them again.

The antidote to all three of these brand boogeymen:

Get specific. One of my favorite ways to get specific in business is to paint a before and after picture of my dream customer. What were their problems before they hired me? How were they describing these problems to a friend? What do they think they need help with? But where do they actually need help? And after working with me what results did they achieve? What will they do next?


Say what you mean. Being authentic boils down to saying exactly what you mean in your style. We see far too many professional creatives hiding behind vague jargon or the same corporate speak everyone else is saying. We see creative entrepreneurs espousing big ideals without really saying anything at all. Try starting your conversations or blog posts with “What I’m really trying to say is…” for a while to bring real conversations to the surface.

Be consistent. When you consistently show up as who you are with your style, specificity, and authenticity, people will begin to trust you. Consistency is what will keep them coming back and evangelizing your brand to their friends.

P.S. In The Braid Method Branding ECourse we share all of our best branding tips, philosophies, and tactics so you can better articulate what you do to attract more dream customers eager to buy. This self-guided online course is now open to new students. Learn more and see if it’s a fit here.

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What's Your Core Genius as a Creative Entrepreneur? | Braid Creative

I recently read this “fluffy” statistic (you know, the kind that always shows up as a cute infographic on the front page of USA Today) that said an alarming number of first-graders, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, respond with, “Famous.” Okay, but how? As an actor, the president, a professional athlete? They don’t know—they’re still only first-graders—they just want to be famous. We laugh, but as grown-ups, we’re sometimes just as vaguely hopeful.

The hopeful part is fine—it’s the vague part that gets us in trouble. Here’s what well-meaning but unspecific creatives tell us all the time:

  • “I want to inspire others to create and live an authentic life.”
  • “I want to inspire people to not give up.”
  • “I want to inspire and empower creatives to be brave.”

Those all sound nice—empowering and inspiring sounds like a dream. However, inspiring others shouldn’t be the only goal. Fame, recognition, money, and even something as noble as inspiring others shouldn’t be the things that drive you or your brand messaging. If they are, you’ll never measure up and you’ll always be chasing a moving target.

There is probably a broad label, or even job title, for what you actually do—like marketing, photography, graphic design, interior decorating, coding, writing, yoga, or cooking. That refers to your skills and talents, which are a huge part of what you do.

But can you get really specific about what makes you a great marketer, designer, photographer, writer, developer, or cook? Maybe it’s your use of color or typography, or your knack for capturing light or blending really interesting flavor combinations, or the way you hear what people are really trying to say and then capture that in words.

Here are some questions to get you thinking:

  • What comes easily to you that seems to impress the people around you?
  • What isn’t so easy but is something you want to be really good at?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What can you do that people will pay you for and that you will enjoy?
  • What have your current clients been asking for?
  • What do all of your clients have in common?
  • What could you stop doing that would make you feel like more of an expert?

Take a few minutes to jot down some of your answers to these questions above. This is going to help you warm up for the serious work that’s waiting for you in the worksheets coming up in this lesson.*

How do you share your gifts of knowledge?

Now that you’ve got the paper and pen handy, here’s another quick warm up. Take just another five minutes (time yourself, that’s ALL you get) to go with your gut and fill out your gift tag. We call it a gift tag because creative experts share their gifts of knowledge with other people—whether that’s for free (in blog posts, newsletters, emails) or something they are hired for (consultation, ecourses, program, products).

So if you think of your creative knowledge all wrapped up in a package, what do you write on the tag you tie on top?

Fill out your Gift Tag:
How to _______ [advice, know-how, or inspiration you share]
From a _______ [your field of expertise] Expert!
To a _______ [your dream client or audience] Like You!

This is a great way to just jump in and really start practicing saying what you do in that creative expert voice and style. Try it a few different ways, and then experiment with what you come up with.

*This excerpt comes from the Braid Method Branding ECourse. It’s a DIY self-paced course that will help you articulate what you do, and position yourself as a creative expert with brand messaging templates and scripts. The Braid Method Branding ECourse is now open to new student. Click here to learn more and see if it’s a good fit.

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I recently received an email from a follower of Braid who admitted to wanting a career path very similar to well, what we do here at Braid. And then she said this:

“I can’t do that, you [Braid] are already doing that.”

She followed up by asking for a no-nonsense response to how you make it in a saturated market where it feels like everyone is doing the thing you want to be doing.

Whether you’re a coach, photographer, painter, marketer, leadership consultant – or even a whole team of people working toward a common goal – it can be easy to question whether you’re adding to the noise or actually contributing something special with your services and talent.

The feel-good response to this self doubt would be: “Only you can combine your personal + professional experience to offer something special (like a unique snowflake!) that nobody else can”

And while there’s truth to that sentiment, I can think of far more practical and straight-forward insights that will help you cut through the noise and stand out among your competitors. And that’s what I want to share with you today.

FIRST, LET’S TALK ABOUT TALENT + EXPERTISE

If you follow Braid Creative, it’s probably because you value how branding and marketing help grow your business. And yes, they’re totally necessary! But what’s even more crucial than branding what you want to be known for is working toward becoming the best at what you offer.

Yes, we’re all unique snowflakes, but the momentum comes from rolling that snowball up that hill! Then you see what sticks, what’s working for you, and what you can really start to build.

We all want to be different and “brand” what we do best, but are the hours and attention you’re putting in focused on creating what you want to be known for?

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Outliers, says that it takes 10,000 hours of intentional and deliberate practice to be an expert or leader in your industry. So don’t be so concerned about what everyone else around you is doing – start putting in the time.

THERE’S ENOUGH ROOM FOR ALL OF US. BUT ALSO, NARROW IN ON YOUR NICHE

The world is a very big place and there is enough work for all of us. Even here at Braid Creative there is no way we could meet the demands of every single person who needs branding. Branding itself can be a pretty elusive word that we’re constantly defining in order to attract the best fit for the work we do.

If you can get incredibly clear about what you do (and don’t do) and what your customers can expect along the way, then you’re going to be able to serve the people who very specifically need exactly what you offer.

Fit matters for the clients you attract. It’s not just what you deliver, it's your philosophy and how you work together. If specializing on a niche is unrealistic for what you offer – then “fit” can help you narrow in on who you work best with.

FINALLY, YOU HAVE TO ARTICULATE WHAT YOU DO & WHO IT’S FOR

This is where our expertise (that would be branding) comes into the equation. There’s a lot of pressure to be completely, wildly different from everyone else to cut through all the clutter – and that’s just not true. You don’t have to be one-of-a-kind to stand out. You just have to be able to articulate what you do and for whom.

When you clearly articulate through your messaging, design, photography, tone – both your practicality and purposefulness – you will absolutely stand out from the competition. You will attract the people you’re for and repel the ones who might be best served by someone else.

Don’t take for granted the impression a cohesive brand makes. From your website to your storefront to your social media feed – your dream customer is smarter than you think, and they’re seeking too – not just for the “stand-outs” but for the simple, clear, confident message that helps them really decide where their dollars go.

Need more ideas on how to articulate your brand to stand out?

Download this PDF: 7 Ways to Brand You and What You Do
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What's Next for Braid Creative & Consulting | Branding for Businesses

Over the past 5+ years at Braid Creative we’ve helped hundreds of creative entrepreneurs blend more of who they are into the work they want to be known for by collaboratively and methodically designing and writing their brand platforms, identities, positioning, and messaging.

Braid started as two sisters who harnessed an untraditional combination of experience: strategy methodology + creative execution. Our vision was to carve out our own work and life so we could help others do the same for themselves.

After five+ years, we’re proud to say mission accomplished. The vision we launched with has grown into something much bigger, and we’re looking forward to what’s next. (“So what’s next?!” you say. I’m glad you asked!)

We’re now working with businesses and organizations

We’re known for the space we’ve carved out helping hundreds of creative entrepreneurs with their personal brands, but what you might not know is that behind the scenes we’ve been working with people-driven businesses and purpose-driven organizations to bring more clarity and personality to their brands as well. From A Good Egg restaurant group in Oklahoma City to Brené Brown’s Daring Way and Courage Works to the University of San Francisco to a credit union in Texas. More of that, please!

We’re bringing on a partner!

We’re proud to announce that Holly Arter is joining Braid Creative as a partner. Holly Arter is a marketing and media strategist that not only brings research, goal-setting, and big picture guidance to our clients, but rounds out our capabilities as a branding agency now offering advertising on TV, radio, and web with her extensive background as a media director. We love the confidence she brings to decision-making here at Braid and the businesses we work with.

“Branding begins from the inside out – so my favorite thing about taking organizations and companies through the Braid Method is getting their team on the same page and leaving them with a deeper understanding of their brand and what their business can really accomplish.” - Holly Arter, Braid Creative

We’re expanding our team and capabilities so we can offer full service beyond branding, but what’s staying the same is our own brand of bringing who we are to the table – we’re insightful, generous, and smart (if I do say so myself). We’ll continue to bring our logical and collaborative method to every client we work with – whether or not they define themselves as creatives, entrepreneurs, or companies – and we’ll continue to share our gifts of knowledge and insights through our articles and newsletters.


P.S. If you’re a company or organization be sure to sign up for our newsletter – we’ll deliver weekly articles on branding, marketing, and company culture straight to your inbox.

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