Ah, the entrepreneurial journey… It’s fast-paced, crazy, intense, fun, and stressful – sometimes all at once. But what do you do when the stress goes from motivational to overwhelming? How do you know when that stressful week, month, or quarter is a sign? A sign that you’re ready for more. More help. More automated systems. More *time* back in your zone of genius. Time working *on* your business instead of *in* your business.
Far too often, the stress of operating a business can make you stay stagnant. That “I’m not ready” feeling creeps in and forces you to do the opposite of what would really relieve the pressure – scaling and expanding your business.
The truth is, the one fatal flaw that many entrepreneurs encounter is never shifting the focus away from themselves. And there’s a reason why… When you first start out, it’s natural. You’re selling your unique talent and building up your public profile.
But there’s a pivotal point in this model, and it’s the moment where you just don’t have enough time in the day.
You’re past selling yourself; it’s time to sell a process. A unique way of doing things. And in order to grow exponentially, you’ll need to pass the torch and hire help.
So, how do you know when you’ve arrived at this point and it’s time to scale your brand?
This looks a little different for everyone, but here are some clear signs that you’re ready for more…
You handle every aspect of your business.
When you’re in charge of everything, you can’t excel at anything. You’re stretched too thin – juggling client work, marketing, finances, and day-to-day operations. Instead of spending your time in your unique zone of genius, you’re doing menial tasks that, frankly, aren’t likely to propel you forward unless something changes.
More importantly, doing #ALLTHETHINGS is essentially a one-way ticket to burnout-ville – population YOU. It isn’t fun and it isn’t serving you to be stuck in the grind, day after day.
Plus, when you’re responsible for too many tasks, things naturally begin to fall through the cracks. After all, we’re only human. We forget. We make mistakes. We don’t always get everything right on the first try. We run out of time. It happens to all of us. But with extra hands on deck, it’s *SO* much easier to reach your goals with momentum and focus on the things you do best.
Your customer service standards are slipping.
Have you noticed that your response times have gotten slower over time? Are small details slipping through the cracks? Have you gotten too relaxed when it comes to meeting deadlines? These are all indications that something is wrong. In order to build your best business, you NEED to offer a great experience and timely deliverables. No ifs, ands, or buts!
The best way to win your clients’ hearts is to set clear expectations from the beginning, anticipate their needs and/or questions, deliver everything as promised (on time and fully complete), while putting out work that you’re incredibly proud of.
If you find yourself feeling deflated by client calls, scared to ask for feedback or testimonials, or otherwise at odds with your customer experience – take a step back and identify where the problems and stressors are coming from in the process. Once you can pinpoint the issue, you can solve it!
You’re working a TON, but your profits don’t reflect your efforts.
If you find that you’re always nose-to-the-grind hustling, and yet your bank account hasn’t gotten the memo – it’s time to shake things up. If you were paid out on effort, you’d be ready to retire, right?! This is a big ol’ red flag that you aren’t charging enough for YOUR time. You either need to find a scalable way to work with clients without the 1-on-1 work, or you need to charge a lot more for that dedicated time. Or even better – do both!
Think of it this way: if you’re constantly booked, clearly you aren’t having any issues landing clients… and as such, you could probably stand to raise your prices. Less work. More money. Win-win!
Your big audacious goals are permanently on the “back burner.”
When you’re stuck going through the motions of the day-to-day, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. As an entrepreneur, there’s a good chance that you’re miserable without something bigger on the horizon. You need help running your business so that you can step back into the visionary role and get ready for what’s to come.
If you have programs you’re looking to build, memberships you’re planning to implement, new services you’re desperate to launch, etc… Ask yourself why it is you aren’t working toward these goals. Is it *actually* the best use of your time to be doing all of the things you’re doing instead? Could any of that work be outsourced or cut to make room for the future business of your dreams?
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You’re growing your team.
Maybe you’ve already realized that you need help, but hiring is harder than it sounds. If you’re spending tons of time training team members or contractors, you need to develop an onboarding process that gets you the end result you want, but requires far less of your time. Training is key – otherwise, you’ll be spending money on contractors to do work but constantly needing to edit…. And that’s not a good use of anyone’s time.
I very much recommend creating a solid training manual (and Brand Book!)that will help new hires and contractors get acclimated without a lot of hand-holding. Obviously, you’ll still be there to answer any lingering questions – but why not knock out the “getting to know you” period in one fell swoop and never have to repeat it one-on-one again? (We’re working smarter, not harder!)
You’ve outgrown your current target audience.
Have you made changes to your business, and suddenly, you’re getting less sales? This often means that your voice, service, or expertise have shifted enough that you aren’t even targeting the correct ideal client anymore. With every major shift in your business, you need to reassess your ideal client and ensure that your messaging will still appeal to them.
The same way our relationships with friends grow and change over time, so the business to client dynamic. Your brand is a bit like a human in that way! It ages and goes through several stages of growing pains. It’s very unlikely that you’ll be attracting the same exact audience 5 years in that you were when you initially got the ball rolling. That’s okay! As long as you’re clear on who your ideal target is and your messaging matches, you’re golden.
Here’s the deal: When you’re making these pivotal changes in your business, it’s essential that you deep dive into your brand standards. There are a lot of elements to examine here, but setting clear and consistent standards throughout your brand will improve everything – from your workflows to your customer experience, and ultimately, your life-work balance!
Define your values, goals, and message.
Without this knowledge in place, you’ll never reach brand clarity and consistency. Your values determine both how you operate as a business and who your ideal clients or customers are. Think about the companies you love, and ask yourself what it is that you love about them? What overlapping values do you share that keep you coming back as a loyal customer? Values may seem unimportant or irrelevant, but they are ultimately the driving force behind forming bonds with your audience. Plus, when it comes time to hire new team members, values will show up time and time again in your company culture.
Goals help you to grow and scale steadily, rather than aimlessly going through the motions or losing sight of the big picture. They also serve as benchmarks to track your company’s growth and progress over time. As entrepreneurs, having something to work toward is crucial. After all, you can’t succeed if you don’t know what success looks like!
Obviously, messaging plays a HUGE role in attracting your best leads. Consider what makes YOUR brand unique, compared to your direct competitors. Why are YOU the one for the job? Your messaging should build trust and give your audience a reason to choose you over the other guy.
Create SOPs for the everyday tasks you know like the back of your hand.
The whole idea here is that you can’t be the one doing everything forever. But in order to pass the torch with confidence and not constantly have to micromanage or make edits to your team members’ work, you need a clear and dedicated process for how you do things.
Before you can keep your standards intact, they first need to exist. Sit down and come up with a list of the promises you offer your clients or customers, as well as the different processes that go into acquiring and working with them.
How do you follow-up on leads? Is there an application process? Do you have a standard contract set in place? How and when do you accept payments? Do you work designated office hours when clients can expect to communicate with you? How do you deliver work to clients and what’s your preferred method of feedback? Is there a set number of days after turning in a project that clients must request edits within? Do you have a limit to how many rounds of revisions you’re willing to offer? What’s the go-to format for blogs? What about videos? How do you post to social media, and how often? What tools do you use to work with clients?
The questions above and SO many others will help you develop easy-to-follow standards within your business. Once these rules exist, it’s your job to make sure every single person on your team is on the exact same page. They need understand these processes like they wrote the book themselves!
Redefine the strengths of your brand as a living, breathing asset – separate from YOU!
There’s a reason why clients and customers flock to you instead of your competitors. The sooner you can identify that reason, bottle it up, and share it with your team (AKA teach them your magical ways), the better! But that isn’t the only way that you can expand your reach without burning out.
Another great way to increase your revenue is by creating a path for passive income. This could be an online course or web series, a membership platform, or any other resource that will help others achieve the results they are looking for without hiring you personally to take it all on. Sure, we all want to keep our talents top secret – but passive income opens up a whole new world of income possibilities on autopilot. Consider it!
Here’s the bottom line:
Can you do it all alone? Maybe. But not forever, and certainly not if you have any intentions to really grow! Moving your brand from a one-(wo)man show to a full-blown multi-person company can be intimidating. There’s a lot to figure out, plan, implement, and teach. But the good news is, you don’t have to do it alone.
Our newest program, The Clarity Code, exists to help you map the way with our defined brand development process. With this proven framework for defining, refining, and expanding your success – you’ll learn how to assert yourself as an industry leader, push beyond bottlenecks that may be holding you back, and set a realistic path to your most audacious goals.
Think back to when you *first* started building your brand.
Back then, you weren’t sure what your brand even was yet. You never thought to ask yourself: “Is this on brand?”
The colors in a photo, the shapes within a pattern, the *voice* of a social media post…
But you figured it out!
Over time – through trial and error, freedom and frustration, and richer and poorer – you reigned in your branding. You blazed your own trail and built a successful, profitable, and cohesive business!
But every time you climb, the ceiling gets a little higher. There’s still room to grow – to reach larger audiences, double or triple your income, release new products or services, etc.
And you’re ready to get your scale on.
In order to move your business forward successfully, you’ll need to be strategic.
Question: Now that you’ve gotten to know your brand, do you still spend time really considering what “on brand” means?
I ask because, just like your potential, the definition of on brand grows with time.
We need to keep asking ourselves:
Is this on brand?
Is this a smart decision?
Between growing my own business and working with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to scale strategically (and alternatively, how NOT to scale).
So without further ado, here are my Top 8 Growth-Stunting Mistakes to avoid…
8. Joining forces with the wrong brands or people
When you were a newbie, you had to pitch yourself for even the most basic interviews or podcasts. But these days, you’re getting more requests than ever!
Instead of hustling to find customers or clients, you’re upping your game to keep them interested. You may even be ready to hire a PR person to establish your street cred with the major news outlets. Just remember – getting your name out there does NOT mean taking every opportunity that comes your way. Focus on the relevant ones. Those are the ones that will have the greatest impact.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before forming a partnership or participating in interviews, podcasts, webinars, or other public events:
Will this reach my target audience?
Will the intended audience offer new exposure?
Will it appeal to the majority of my audience?
Affiliates + Partnerships
Do I believe in their business model?
Do they share my values or beliefs?
Does the partnership complement my products or services?
Do I trust their services enough to refer my clients to them?
If the answer to these questions is NO, then you’re probably wasting your time. The best partnerships will have you saying YES across the board!
7. Basing decisions on trends
It’s tempting to follow the fads and trends you see popping up in your market or on social media. After all, your brand should be part of the conversation, right?!
Maybe. It honestly depends…
There are so many trends emerging daily, but you need to make sure that every decision you make for your brand – whether it’s the topic of a blog post or an element of design – is on brand.
For example, you may be thinking, “Everyone is using Instagram now. I must need one, too!” But, do you? Is that where your audience is hanging out? Is Instagram an effective platform for promoting the kind of content that you share? It’s important to remember that there are very specific tactics that work for each platform, and it’s better to have a strong presence in a few places than to be spread too thin everywhere.
Here’s another example: You’re a service-based entrepreneur (like a copywriter or designer) and you’ve noticed that LOTS of others in your space are offering coaching as a service. Before you decide to add another service offering, take the time to consider if it’s right for you, your brand, and your audience. Does it stray too far from your core idea and services? Does it genuinely excite you? Quick money doesn’t mean a long-term profit if you’re doing work you’re not passionate about.
It isn’t enough to be trendy – and chasing too many trends can actually be a detriment to your brand. Before you commit to following through with a new trend, be sure that it aligns with your brand messaging and archetypal guidelines.
Any brand can say that X tactic is working for them, but without the foundational work to align X tactic to their specific brand, it’s a fruitless exercise.
6. Moving forward without letting go of old systems, designs, or content
As your business progresses, you’re most likely finding better, faster, and more efficient ways to operate. You may have outgrown systems you once used, content you once shared, or designs you once connected to… so it’s crucial to keep up with these changes!
Last time I updated my website, at least ten blogs were scrapped. Do I like throwing out content? Of course not! But, it was simply no longer a reflection of my brand, and to maintain a strong identity, it had to go.
Maybe when you were starting your business, you spent hours pouring over fonts to find the perfect style for your logo… and maybe it even served you well for quite a while! But, as your brand matures, your design should be a reflection of where you’re at. If your logo no longer works and it’s time for a professional to step in and give your brand a more upscale and professional look, don’t be afraid to say goodbye to outgrown assets.
When you’re scaling your business, it’s especially important to update your standard operating procedures. Even if you don’t have them officially written up, you probably have processes in place throughout your business.
Maybe you’ve been manually sending out invoices and following up, but it’s time to invest in billing software, like Harvest or AND.CO. Maybe you’ve been using MailChimp for years, but there’s a more robust automation software out there that’ll get you further. Whatever it is; don’t be afraid to change your processes for the better. Your clients and customers will have a better experience for it!
5. Hiring too quickly without a strategic plan
You’ve got steady contracts coming in and can finally afford to expand your team. What an exciting time! There are so many different avenues to hire help within your business – copywriters, virtual assistants, designers, social media experts, SEO gurus, business coaches, and more. So where do you spend your money?
I cannot stress this enough: Make a plan. It’s easy to get hire-happy when you have certain offerings or deliverables in mind, but it takes strategy to avoid unnecessary spending and make your hiring worth it in the long haul.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before taking on any hired help:
What tasks take up most of my time?
What’s the MOST important thing to get off of my plate right now?
If I hire _____, what’s the ROI?
What’s the opportunity cost of hiring, say, a designer over a copywriter?
How will the new hire help me afford to hire someone else in the next 3-6 months?
By asking these questions, you’re taking the necessary caution to grow strategically and in a way that promotes further growth.
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4. Compromising your message to attract other audiences
In the quest to run our most lucrative, successful business, it’s far too easy to present a more corporate image than your brand may actually identify with. Just remember: you can be professional AND personable, and your audience will ADORE you for it!
Don’t lose your stories! Some may buy into the idea that brands can be too personal and opt for cookie-cutter messaging in an attempt to attract the most new customers or clients. But what most of these companies fail to understand is that if they were true to their core personality and offered transparency around their success and failures along the way, they’d attract a much more engaged customer base because they’d be forming emotional connections.
Another easy way to stay true to yourself is to practice what you preach. For example, if you’ve always HATED cold calls, call that out in your values and find other ways to build awareness. If you’re not a fan of the ultra-professional business attire look for team photos, plan a more personable photoshoot outside of the office. Whatever you do, stay true to your own values and inclinations.
3. Introducing new products or services that don’t align with your brand
This is a key pain point for many of my one-on-one intensive client projects, and usually falls into one of two questions: How do you brand out to a new target market? + How do you add a service that’s radically different from what you’ve previously offered?
Here’s my advice: if it’s not something you’re passionate about, don’t do it. If you’re passionate about it, you can make it work, but you’ll need to revisit your branding and ask yourself the following questions:
Is it worth creating a branch of your business that targets a totally new audience?
If so, how do I need to change my language/messaging to reflect this new target?
Would it be better to build a completely new brand for my new idea?
Can the new services or offerings complement what I’ve already built?
For example, Coors once tried to market a sparkling water. The product packaging was very similar to their branding for beer, which probably should have been their first red flag that it would fail. Their “rocky mountain cold” slogan and beer-lover branding didn’t fit their new product and didn’t effectively sell to their new target market.
2. Losing sight of the big picture
Preparing for the long-term can be a giant PITA (and I’m not talking about bread for gyros here). That being said – it’s totally necessary. In order to remain strong as you scale, you need to decide where you want to be in 6 months. But, more importantly, where you’d like to be 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years from now.
How are the decisions I make in my business affecting my brand down the road?
If I hire this person, will I still need their help in 5 years? Or should I stick with a contractor, since I’ll only need short-term help for 6 months?
If I make X number of dollars, how much should be going towards ad cost, ownership cut, employee payroll, overhead, etc.?
How much do I need to sell next year to ensure that I meet my goals?
How much do I need to scale to be where I want to be in 5 years?
How can I setup my products and services for future success?
All of these questions (and so many others) will help you keep the big picture in mind as you’re navigating individual decisions for your business.
1. Not having clearly defined brand standards
I cannot stress this enough.
The biggest growth-stunting mistake you can make is not taking the time to clearly define your brand in the first place. (I mean, obviously, that’s what I’ve built my entire brand around – so this one is especially near and dear to my heart.)
The truth is, you *NEED* to understand what’s on or off brand for your business, or else you’ll never be able to scale appropriately. Just think of it this way: if you don’t know what’s on brand, how can any of your employees create effective products, copy, or designs on your behalf?
The absolute last thing you want to do as you’re growing is micromanage every aspect of your business. You hired people to be a help; not a hindrance, so it’s imperative that you can trust in their work.
Every single decision you make in your brand is easier when you have your standards outlined and written to hold you accountable. You’re the one making the final decisions, so it’s crucial to always ask yourself if you’re being consistent with your message and values.
Lucky for you, helping entrepreneurs avoid branding mistakes is my specialty.
If you need help reigning in your brand standards so that you can move forward (without taking steps back), check out the Clarity Code. With my help, you’ll get to know your brand inside and out, so every choice you make will be rooted in understanding and propel your brand’s growth.
You’ve put in the work to create a successful brand. You’ve managed to outshine your competitors and build lasting relationships with your customers or clients. And now, you’re ready to step out into the spotlight.
…Or are you?
When business is thriving, it’s totally natural to crave more. More visibility, more sales, more interviews, more success! After all, you’re crushing it – and that confidence propels you forward.
But before you go sending out press releases or pulling publicity stunts, my advice is to take just a teeny step back and ask yourself,
“Is my brand ready?”
Recently, a client of ours found himself in this exact same position. Scott Oldford helps high-impact entrepreneurs become the most relevant and omnipresent choice in their industry. He came to us as he was transitioning away from his LeadCraft business and into his personal brand, seeking to improve his overall quality and clarity.
There was no doubt about it – Scott had credentials and expertise in spades, but he lacked the cohesive brand to sell his position in the industry, and wasn’t quite “stage-ready.”
You see, in order for your brand to fully capitalize on the increase in traffic that comes along with major press, you’ll need a brand that turns heads – and more importantly, turns traffic into warm leads.
The following *five* steps will help you ensure that you’re putting your best brand forward when you land that guest article (that you SO deserve) on Entrepreneur.com or Forbes.
FIRST: Take a loooong, hard look at your branding.
Be critical. Now’s the time to determine if your brand is cohesive. Do the outsides match the insides? Is your modern, intelligent, clever, or professional tone showing through to your audience? Or is your brand more like a scrapbook of ideas, messaging, and design that don’t quite align?
It seems simple, but it’s crucial to pay attention to even the tiniest details. For example, I recently audited a website that had a very well done and cohesive home page… but the further into her site I dove, the more inconsistencies I found. The fonts alone were cause for a red flag – with more than 5 different fonts used in graphics, text, and accents throughout the site. While it may seem like no big deal, this is just one of several elements that can make or break the professional appearance of your brand.
SECOND: Audit customer touchpoints.
You know how they say that you only get one chance to make a good impression? Well, when it comes to cold traffic, this couldn’t be more true. It’s absolutely essential that your brand is connecting on the most important levels, each and every step of the way.
Let’s start with your website. Does it look professional and legitimate? Do you offer testimonials from clients for that extra bit of social proof? Are you showcasing reputable brands that you’ve worked with? Is the flow intuitive and easy to navigate?
Social media is important, but remember: nobody expects you to show up EVERYWHERE. In fact, it’s better that you don’t. Trying to reach every corner of the web will leave you spread far too thin and will prevent you from showing up as your best self.
Instead, choose the platforms that drive traffic and leads for YOUR best brand. Even if the first thing you do every morning is check Instagram, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Instagram is the best avenue for your brand to connect with your audience. Consider which social networks best align with your ideal audience, and pick 2 to 3 max to run with.
Those few platforms you just chose? THOSE are the ones you should be linking to on your website and devoting your time to. Show off the channels that let you shine!
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THIRD: Develop your stories.
Personal stories make connecting with your audience about a million times easier. But even though you know your stories like the back of your hand, it’s important to be strategic in how and where you tell them.
Just like the oh-so-many other elements of your brand, your stories should support your strongest values and help you stand out. We encourage our clients to use their brand archetypes to shape their stories in an impactful way.
For example, a Sage Archetype may write about their moment of truth – that sudden epiphany that cleared doubt and confusion, and made way for clarity. This is a story we tell often, especially as it relates to the moment I found archetypes.
How can you make it interesting to your readers? We build this story up by detailing the many experiments (and failures) of shaping the Kaye Putnam brand before archetypes came along… Back when I was mimicking my favorite entrepreneurs and scratching my head, wondering why what worked for them wasn’t working for me. It wasn’t until archetypes came into the picture that I realized I wasn’t seeing success because I was taking an inauthentic approach. By copying someone else, I was hiding away my own personal strengths, values, and beliefs.
The opportunities for brand storytelling are endless, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I suggest identifying the stories you want to tell first. (Your origin story, a disappointment, your biggest success to date, etc.)
From there, consider the different angles of the story and tell it in a way that suits your overall brand personality. For example, if you’re a Caregiver, your origin story might be about a time in your life where you witnessed others suffering and sprung into action… Whereas a Hero Archetype may write about overcoming a huge obstacle in life, and what motivated them to reach the stage they’re at today.
What’s YOUR story, and how can you tell it to resonate strongly with your audience?
FOURTH: Revisit your content… ALL of it.
It sounds daunting, I know – but it’s a worthwhile task!
Content helps your people find you – whether it’s web copy, blogs, social posts, or podcasts. It brings traffic to your site and allows you to draw connections to your visitors (and get them to convert!).
As you’re looking over your content, consider how it relates to your brand’s core personality and offerings. Are your product descriptions unique and captivating? Do you present different levels of your services or rely on one signature offer? Are your opt-ins optimized and ready to roll? Is there one cornerstone piece of content that you could use to drive opt-ins to your email list?
Remember: the written word is still your word. If you’re going to gain the trust of your audience, you’ll need to give them a reason to latch on and give your content the attention it deserves.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: Do your research!
Getting your name out there in front of new audiences is appealing; believe me, I get it. But one of the best pieces of advice I could possibly offer you is to be picky about where you’re published or promoted.
It may *seem* like a smart idea to get featured everywhere you possibly can, but in all actuality, you should be just as critical of your press as the people deciding whether or not you’re a good fit for their podcast, blog, or news site. It should feel like a good match.
The bigger your brand gets, the more and more important this becomes. The truth is, with more success and followers comes more responsibility to your brand. At a certain point, it just isn’t okay to say “yes” to everything anymore. Instead, you need to leverage your best press – the partnerships that are a natural fit, where you can be found by your ideal clients, and maintain the same level of professionalism that your audience has come to expect.
To find your best outlets for press, research brands and media sites with similar or complementary audiences. Will your audiences overlap? Or, more importantly, will you get in front of new ideal leads who may not have previously known that you exist?
For partnerships with other entrepreneurs or brands, ask yourself if their products or services complement yours. How can you work together to bring both of your audiences additional value?
Preparing for major press isn’t a science. (Or, if it is, I guess I need to add Scientist to my job title.) Fortunately, with careful attention to detail, a little time and patience, and the right priorities, getting your brand ready for the spotlight doesn’t have to be a huge hurdle.
With a professional and cohesive web presence, a client-centric experience, relatable brand stories, and highly selective partnerships, you’ll be well on your way to the *RIGHT* kind of major publicity.
… and let me tell you – ideal press opportunities (and the connections you’ll forge through them) are more than worth the wait.
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You built a successful business from scratch.
Made a name for yourself by putting out awesome content on the reg. Attracted a steady stream of clients to come a’knockin’ on your (digital) doors. You’re constantly being asked to speak as a guest expert in summits, podcasts, and interviews.
Essentially, you’re off to an amazing start.
It’s time to bring your brand to the next level.
That might mean expanding your team. It could be tripling your revenue. Maybe you’re looking to reach major press, or form partnerships with industry influencers. Whatever your goal may be, it’s CRUCIAL to be opinionated in your brand as you grow and scale.
Take Ash Ambirge, for example. She’s the talented and feisty entrepreneur behind The Middle Finger Project. Her message is that you (YEAH, YOU) can create your own career, your own rules, and your own fortune. Or, as she lovingly refers to it, become “Unf*ckwithable.”
You might be thinking, “Well, she’s a MAVERICK archetype. Being opinionated is in her nature! It’s on-brand for her, but that isn’t me.”
Okay, fair. Let’s take a look at a traditional, feel-good brand, then. Campbell’s Soup. We’ve all seen the commercials… A shivering snowman enters a warm and cozy home, with a roaring fireplace in the background. As the snowman enjoys a steaming bowl of Campbell’s Soup, he begins to melt, revealing an adorable little boy with a big smile on his face!
Campbell’s is your classic Caregiver archetype. They aim to make their customers’ lives easier with delicious, quick, and easy-to-prepare soups. Their belief is that tasty food doesn’t have to be fancy or take forever to make… and that works for the busy, hectic lives of their consumers. Are there people who wouldn’t think about eating canned soup? Of course! But that doesn’t matter, because those aren’t their ideal customers.
There are lessons to be learned here – whether you’re a Maverick, a Caregiver, or any other archetype.
Further Define Your Ideal Clients
The same way that Ash’s bold branding and risqué copy attracts her best clients, Campbell Soup attracts theirs – busy, budget-conscious families. By sharing your opinions, your intended audience will naturally gravitate toward you. Think of it like the old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together.”
We choose our friends in a similar way. We find people who we find interesting and share our same values. So when a brand is able to appeal to a consumer on an emotional level, they have the opportunity to build (or break) a meaningful connection.
PSST… It’s OKAY to repel some people. Businesses are not one-size-fits-all, and you wouldn’t do your best work for a client who is outside of your wheelhouse or doesn’t fit your personality.
In fact, working with a client who isn’t the right fit can actually take a toll on your business (and let’s be honest – your mood). Maybe there are tons of communication problems, maybe you don’t understand their style or motivation – regardless of the why, a bad partnership almost always ends in resenting each other.
It’s hard to say no to money, I know. But sharing your opinions straight off the bat is a great way to say NO less, because you will eliminate potential clients or customers of resistance.
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway… there’s a LOT of competition out there. Not just in general – in YOUR marketplace. A LOT. Right now, it’s easier than ever to start an online business, so there are lots of other brands out there singing the same old song we are. (And some of them have bigger budgets for ad spend.)
Okay, now before you get overwhelmed – take a deep breath and ask yourself this question:
What are YOU holding back?
It takes courage to break through the noise and not only find your voice, but let it be heard. It’s scary to be LOUD. But truthfully, these strong, unapologetic opinions are a pattern interrupt in the online space. Imagine how BORING it would be if we were literally all wearing the same mask.
People admire bravery. Don’t be afraid to share yourself in your brand.
What are you NOT?
What are you afraid to admit?
What do you believe in above all else?
These things matter. As humans, we crave connection – and even the tiniest details can help tell your story.
I’ll give you an example. Me.
I’m not just a Brand Strategist, I’m a Psychology-Driven Brand Strategist. That sets me apart from the competition (and gives me an opportunity to get paid for nerding out about psychology).
But it isn’t just a marketing tactic.
I wholeheartedly believe that you simply can NOT build a brand properly without examining the core elements of the brand personality that go beyond your design.
So speak up! Stand out. Voice your opinions, and branch out beyond your direct audience by guest speaking on podcasts or writing guest blogs for other industry pros. It’ll help you gain recognition, and give you an extended platform to share YOUR unique opinion.
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Solidify Your Company Culture
Creating a strong company culture deserves a whole blog series of its own, but as it relates to being opinionated – the success of your company depends on it.
Take a look at Brit + Co, for example. Their entire brand platform is designed to inspire their audience to find their creative side or, as they put it, “use creativity to shape her future.” But that isn’t only who they want to reach – it’s who they want to hire.
They want employees who share the same strong opinions and values as they do… both because it results in highly motivated employees, and because the work will come more naturally to those who share the same ideology.
Having a great company culture encourages people to become fully invested in your company. These die-hard brand fans will stick by your side, even when things aren’t perfect. The connection that they share with your brand makes them feel like they’re part of something greater than themselves. Never underestimate how powerful that is!
Form An Emotional Connection
There’s a big difference between a one-time customer, a return customer, and a brand evangelist. The latter have formed such a connection with your brand that they not only buy from you, they genuinely root for you. They recommend you. They open your emails. They comment on your Facebook posts. They care.
Patagonia is a great example. Patagonia, if you’re not familiar, is a lifestyle and retail brand for the outdoorsy and adventurous. Their brand position is built around the idea of how life should be and how we should treat the environment.
Take a peek at their Black Friday ad from back in 2011. Their “Don’t buy this jacket” ad, placed in New York Times, was easily one of the most clever advertisements in the last 10 years. Why? Because it allowed their values to shine through: Don’t be wasteful. Don’t buy what you don’t need.
This very public opinion made a promise to their consumers (and potential buyers) that their products would help them to reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle. For those with minimalism and sustainability at heart, this bridged a connection between the customer and Patagonia.
Increase Your Credibility
We all want our audiences to be engaged, right? So ask yourself, why should they keep up with you? What do you help them accomplish? What do you help them realize about themselves or their own lives? How do you lead them to success?
In order to be a leader in your industry, team, or movement – you literally have to speak up. With as much information available on the internet as there is, we don’t just blindly buy things or ideas anymore. We depend on credible sources to back up our thoughts and opinions. We want to feel connected and build trust before we buy.
So don’t just show up – be LOUD. Be you. Be consistent. Share your opinions.
By allowing your audience to know you, you’re giving them a reason to like you, to trust in you – and opening up the door for not only a conversion, but a genuine connection.
Just look at Gary Vaynerchuk. Love him or hate him, he’s gained his spot at the top in the marketing world by showing up… loudly… for years. He’s built an empire because of it. And whether or not you agree with him, you have to respect that kind of tenacity!
TL;DR? Say Your Piece.
Whether you’re sharing your favorite dog training techniques or building brands with a psychology-based approach – it’s important to KNOW where you stand and VOICE it.
Don’t shy away in attempt to please everyone. It’s impossible. Instead, tell – no, yell your truth. Be bold, and don’t apologize for it. Ground yourself in your beliefs and build stronger ties to those who share your beliefs rather than trying to appeal to everyone.
With the fierce competition that is the digital world, you need to have confidence and clarity in your message… and if you aren’t there yet, don’t worry. This isn’t a quality that we’re all born with. (I sure as heck wasn’t.) It takes time, process, and patience to draw out your most compelling messages.
Craving Message Clarity?
If you’re struggling to nail down what your message even *is*, let alone share it – reach out to me.
I help clients uncover their strongest opinions and build demand around them all the time! It’s one of my very favorite things about my job and something I feel blessed to do.
So, like I’ve been saying this whole time – don’t be shy.
Send me a message and let’s see what I can do for you and your message!
In the beginning, when you’re running the show all alone, building your business is a lot like wearing a million different hats when you’ve never really considered yourself much of a hat person. You’re the boss, the content creator, the customer service provider, the designer, the accountant… You get the idea. It’s an awful lot to expect one person (ahem – you) to be responsible for.
Instead of focusing on what you’re great at (the reason you started your business to begin with), you’re stuck in an endless sea of answering emails, invoicing, working on client projects, and diligently avoiding spoilers for that new Netflix series that, at this rate, you’ll probably never get around to watching.
Your friends and family have told you on more than one occasion that you need to take a break. But you’re like, “What is this elusive ‘break’ you’re referring to? Those don’t exist in my house.”
Finally, you decide it’s time to reach out and grab a lifeline, so you hire your first team member (or your first few contractors) to help you out.
Not quite yet…
Like anything else in business, onboarding and delegating to new team members takes strategy and finesse. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself scrambling with thoughts like these…
HOLY CRAP, how does having extra help result in being busier than ever?!
So-and-so is so talented, but I’m just not utilizing him/her enough.
Delegating is hard! It’d be quicker if I just do it myself…
UGH. Why does it take so long to train someone? There’s no way I can hire more!
How do I help them better understand my brand so I can cut down on editing time?!
What you need is a brand SourceBook. It’s your single source for upholding your brand standards, and is soooo much more than your visuals.
It’s the key to seamlessly hiring additional team members that actually *get* your brand. They understand your values, your personality, and what makes you and your brand unique.
It’s basically the best possible onboarding tool you could hope to have, addressing all areas of your brand.
Check it out…
Ok, back to the brand SourceBook!
Regardless of the role you’re hiring for, every single team member needs to understand your brand culture and overall identity. After all, they’re another face of your company, even if they’re in the background (or the backend of your website).
To make your life (and work) easier, you need people who sound and create like you WITHOUT you running behind them, editing everything after the fact. They need to know who you are and who you are NOT, and have a rock-solid idea of what it is that you want to gain from their work.
Do you want a hands-on experience?
Do you want your clients to find answers for themselves BEFORE reaching out to you?
Do you want to show up flawless to your audience, or do you believe in putting your imperfections on display to learn from them?
There are SO many different aspects of your brand identity that your employees need to understand. Your SourceBook will hold their hand through the getting-to-know-you stage so that you don’t have to.
Your SourceBook’s got you covered.
What You’re NOT
Your Unique Strengths
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Not a copywriter yourself? Welp, then this is one of the most valuable areas to hire a pro. Think about it: copy affects nearly every aspect of your business – your website and branding, your emails, your social presence and ads. From a marketing standpoint, this is generally where the sale comes from, so it’s important to make a great pitch!
Finding the right copywriter for your business isn’t the easiest task in the world; I won’t lie. You need to find someone who really understands your brand and voice, and who can create killer content without requiring too many edits. But trust me, when you find the right writer(s), you’ll be able to consistently put out content that really resonates with your audience, and it’s SO worth it.
Again, the SourceBook’s got your back.
Tone of Voice
What to Avoid
Words to Use
It may seem like a given, but there’s a lot more to design than meets the eye (ha!). Design gives life to the vibe of your brand, it complements your personality, and like the Big Lebowski’s rug, it just really ties the room together, man.
That being said, there are a whole lot of pretty objects out there that aren’t “on brand” for you. If you aren’t a professional designer, it can be easy to get sucked into what’s trending instead of sticking to your guns about what represents YOU and your brand.
A professional designer will help you keep consistency in your branding with decisions like:
Specific hex codes for your brand colors and where they should be used.
The style and composition of your images.
Coloring and saturation levels.
…and a bunch of other tiny details that all come together to give your brand that beautiful wow-factor.
Luckily, your SourceBook makes it easy for designers to understand your look, covering:
Colors, Fonts, and Patterns
Image Dos and Don’ts
Wouldn’t it be nice to have less emails to respond to? Wait. Understatement of the year. Let me try that again…
Wouldn’t it be LIFE-CHANGINGLY GLORIOUS to have less emails to respond to? Ahhhh, it feels like I’m on vacation, just thinking about it.
Passing the client correspondence torch is a big deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whoever is in charge of fielding emails and calls is representing your brand and, oftentimes, closing the sale. You need to have a lot of trust in this person, and they need to know what they’re talking about so they can handle ALL THE THINGS on time and on-brand.
Here are some things to consider when hiring for this oh-so-important role:
What brand standards do you have set?
Is there a certain period of time that they should be responding to calls/emails in?
What information do they need to gather from leads and clients?
When can clients set up a call with you personally?
Is there an online community in place where they should be accepting and answering questions?
Your SourceBook explains some of your biggest selling points and customer-care habits.
How You’re Different
Point of View
Tone of Voice
Essentially, the SourceBook exists to make everyone’s lives easier – yours and your employees’. With a single source, you eliminate uncertainty around your branding, simplify decision-making, and SIGNIFICANTLY cut down on time spent training and editing. Who knew it was so easy to get everyone on the same page?
Ready to create YOUR Brand SourceBook?
I’ll guide you to total brand clarity!
The Clarity Code, my improved one-on-one program, is designed to help you completely transform your brand to ensure you put your best brand forward for growth. In just 12 weeks’ time, we’ll work together to create a crystal-clear brand strategy. You’ll emerge with a comprehensive brand SourceBook to guide all future decisions on your brand… whether you’re deciding what niche to dominate next or you’re off-loading tasks to your team. You will move forward with confidence that every decision is on brand. You will be *ready* to focus on your next big, “audacious* goal.
Last year, when we developed the 12 Brandfluency courses, Kaye and I researched fitness brands to find one that represents each of the twelve archetypes. This was the perfect exercise to show how very different brands actually sell very similar products. Think about why the YMCA attracts a different clientele than CrossFit. Or why Lululemon and Under Armour both sell athletic apparel, but focus on very different target audiences. There aren’t a lot of hunters going out in the woods sporting Lululemon apparel. This is what intrigues me the *most* about branding. I *nerd out* over understanding why two brands that sell the exact same product can be so different with their messaging, target audience, and values. The best part…they’re different without sacrificing quality or price. They use brand archetypes.
During our fitness brand research, we found the women’s *technical* clothing brand ADAY. Smart clothing for everyday life. Since then, we’ve been watching this brand. We love how they’re mixing the Sage and Innocent brand archetypes to create this inspiring, yet “back-to-basics” clothing line.
Which is why I’m focusing this month’s Unlocking Big Brand Genius brand analysis on ADAY.
The first thing you realize when you visit ADAY’s website is how they value the talented and unique lives that women are living in today’s society. Further, you realize ADAY is readying these women for the future of our society. Technology is more important than ever, yet simplicity is highly valued by today’s population of young adults. We value experiences over possessions. But how can a product-based company place a higher value on experiences? Shouldn’t they be convincing us why we NEED their clothing above all else? And lots of it? Not for ADAY. They aren’t just about selling a product, they are creating something bigger. They’re about simplifying life and getting back to basics. You don’t need closets full of clothing rotated out every season. You need the basics you can wear for 5 hours on a plane because they’re comfortable. Then you wear the same outfit to a business meeting because it’s not wrinkly or sweaty. You need “the best shirt ever” that works no matter what your day brings.
Entrepreneurial Tip #1: Branding is about building something bigger than your product or service.
Remember that we found the brand ADAY while doing archetype research? We were looking for a fitness company that applied Sage themes and stories to their branding. We found ADAY.
I must admit, we missed the mark when we looked at lumping ADAY into *just* a fitness apparel company. But I’m glad we did, because it allowed us to start tracking this phenomenal Sage brand. It also allowed us to see deeper than Sage. ADAY also has Innocent Archetype themes and wording seamlessly weaved into their branding.
First, let’s discuss how ADAY applies the Sage Archetype to their branding. Right on their homepage, ADAY calls out…
“Tech made our lives easier. It’s time our wardrobes got an upgrade too.”
Think about this for a minute. Genius. How often do new models of computers or phones come out? Yet, we’re still buying the same fabrics that show armpit sweat or need to be ironed after sitting on a plane for 2 hours. Or, worse… we’re buying “dry clean only” clothing and throwing them in the wash. This is why ADAY was born. To bring tech to clothing. To create a “wardrobe of the future.” This futuristic and technology savvy point of view demonstrates a very Sage way of thinking. This brand values research and reinvention to create something better for their audience.
Entrepreneurial Tip #2: Find a way to make the ordinary different, and you’ve found a way to brand your product or service.
The co-founders of ADAY (Meg He and Nina Faulhaber) recently did an interview on the Millennials Don’t Suck podcast. One of the questions the interviewer asked was if their “smart” clothing measured your heart rate. Their response could not have been more Sage. They immediately answered… not yet, but maybe in the future. One of my favorite Sage point of views is that there is always more to learn. One of ADAY’s top values is invention. They’ll never stop researching what will make their clothing better for their consumers.
Another theme you find in ADAY’s branding is simplicity and getting back to the basics. This demonstrates their Innocent personality. Nina and Meg have explained that in sci-fi movies of the future, everyone wears the same functional clothing. Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. I LOVE this comparison. Partially because I’m currently nerding out over the newest Netflix release of Star Trek: Discovery. And yes, they wear the same simple, functional clothing for fighting and socializing. This explains the very core of ADAY. They don’t have 50 different styles of shirts or 20 different leggings with bright floral patterns. They don’t need that. They are creating the staples. The basic clothing you need in your closet that’s practical for all occasions. Comfortable, yet stylish. Trendy, yet functional. High quality, yet machine washable. (That one still shocks me.)
Entrepreneurial Tip #3: When you define your most important values and beliefs, you also start to define your ideal client.
ADAY’s Innocent Personality also shines through on their “Our Story” page. They paint a picture of the lifestyle they live and how similar they are to their target audience. This is smart for two reasons. It helps their audience humanize their brand. Yet, it also ties in why their clothing line is the best fit for that lifestyle. They sell clothing that can help you simplify your life. Clothing that helps you spend less money on “things” so you can spend more on experience. Yes I’m still talking about clothes! This is the brilliance in this brand. ADAY does an exceptional job of creating something more than their product. It’s a movement. It’s a way of life. And it’s one their ideal clients value.
Entrepreneurial Tip #4: Develop your brand around a lifestyle.
One of the most important branding lessons you can ever learn is to tell stories. Incorporating stories into your brand will bring your business further than any sales tactic. This is one of the core values Kaye and I stress with our clients. This is why we started paying such close attention to ADAY. They understand the importance of stories and this helps their brand thrive. They share why they became a brand, why they wanted “technical” clothing, why they visit their factories, how they source materials, and more. They write and TALK about it – on their website, in interviews, and through guest speaking opportunities. They even share stories of their influencers. They have models that wear their clothing who are also entrepreneurs and world travelers. They’ve given life to their brand.
Entrepreneurial Tip #5: Bring your brand to life through stories. It doesn’t matter if you’re a solopreneur or rebranding a company of 100 employees. Stories are the key to relating with your audience and humanizing your brand.
Like many other tech-savvy brands appealing to today’s modern consumer, ADAY has a strong social media presence. If you’ve been following the *Unlocking Big Brand Genius* series for long, you’ll notice a common theme. Brands that “get it” are utilizing social media. ADAY has a heavy presence on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter. They are posting minimalistic imagery which is on-brand with their Sage and Innocent Brand Personalities. They are partnering with influencers that hold similar values and live similar lifestyles. They consistently post on each of their three social media platforms. Plus, they’re utilizing strengths of each of the different platforms. (Ex: Gorgeous imagery with minimal text on Instagram and retweeting any time they’re mentioned on Twitter)
Yes, that was the quickest summary I’ve ever written on social media presence, but for good reason. ADAY is acing social media. But, I wanted to call out a different area of marketing that ADAY is utilizing that sets them apart. This is a tactic that all budding entrepreneurs should take note of.
Speaking opportunities! More than ever, consumers want to know the faces behind their favorite brands. ADAY understands this and tells stories to help their customers humanize their brand. Further, they get out in the public and talk. Try googling ADAY. You’ll find countless interviews. ADAY’s co-founders talk about entrepreneurship, their brand, values, fashion trends, and personal failures. You also find their employees interviewing within their areas of expertise.
Now, visit ADAY’s Twitter account. They’re constantly retweeting live speaking events where Nina or Meg are present. Plus, they share recent podcasts where Nina or Meg guest interview. Try Facebook. You can see photos of live events where Meg and Nina are joining in and meeting other entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurial Tip #6: Get visible. Often. Take advantage of every relevant opportunity that comes your way. Live events, written content, social media posts, podcasts, guest interviews, expert requests… be loud with your brand and your expertise!
ADAY describes their target audience as the “conscious customer.” They don’t target towards impulse shoppers. They target customers that understand we need to change how we live our lives. We need to lessen our impact on the earth to improve our future. They draw in conscious women who understand that everything we do today impacts future generations. Their target audience VALUES that ADAY’s clothing is “machine wash cold” because this “saves over 2,000 pounds of CO2 per year vs. hot wash.” Their customers buy because ADAY is transparent about where their materials come from. They holds their factories accountable to high ethical and environmental expectations.
Entrepreneurial Tip #7: Identify what’s important in today’s society that you are also passionate about and apply that to your branding.
So would you spend a bit more on a piece of clothing that is sustainably manufactured? Or that’s cold wash only instead of dry clean? Or that you can wear no matter what the season? Would you own less clothing if you had the essential pieces of *smart* clothing that you can wear no matter where the day takes you? If yes, then you are one of ADAY’s target customers.
ADAY understands something very valuable. Investing in your brand is the key to success. They understand the value in creating more than just products. They value the art of storytelling for their brand.
That being said, there’s always room to bring things to the next level. With that in mind, I have a few recommendations I’d make to the genius minds at ADAY.
Further Utilize Email List:
When I first visited ADAY’s website, they offered “8 Tips that help you put fitness into flying” for anyone that travels a lot. This is the original opt-in I used to sign up for their email list. I received this e-mail right away, but that was almost two weeks ago and I hadn’t heard anything since. So, I tried a couple different opt-ins throughout their website with different email addresses. Now I’ve received a welcome email and a separate welcome from Nina & Meg. The first recommendation I’d make is to focus on developing all opt-in leads equally. Welcome sequences are one of the key factors for developing and nurturing audience relationships. ADAY has mastered it’s ability to tell stories. So why not tell those stories to new leads? Right from the start, ADAY could share why their clothes are different. They could give more detail to Meg and Nina “behind the brand”. Additionally, they could talk about influencers that love the products as much as ADAY does.
Entrepreneurial Tip #8: Use your e-mail list to create raving fans that understand your expertise.
Further develop influencer campaigns:
ADAY has a fabulous network of entrepreneurs and influencers that wear their clothing. This is demonstrated through Instagram and Twitter. Influencers may use the hashtag #thisisaday or #adreamaday to share Instagram posts wearing ADAY’s clothing. They also feature models/entrepreneurs, but don’t fully develop those stories. It would be a fabulous addition to their website to have an area where they talk about these individuals in more detail. They could do interviews or publish articles. They could “tell their story” about the modern lives these influencers are living and why they value the clothing ADAY creates. It would be especially interesting to do an interview series on real-life entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs who value simplicity or living an unconventional life. Many modern day entrepreneurs would fit perfectly with ADAY’s values. It could be a fabulous way to deepen the importance of those beliefs.
Entrepreneurial Tip #9: There’s a power in other people telling stories on your behalf that reiterate your strongest values. It’s also a strong way to add credibility to your brand.
More details on their technical clothing:
I *love* the idea of “technical clothing for the future”. I was so interested that I especially scoured the website for *why* their clothing is different. ADAY mentioned that they find and create “technologically advanced fabrics” chosen for specific qualities such as “thermo regulation” or “wrinkle release”. They also explain that their textiles are breathable, pilling resistant and quick drying. They could take this further and provide details of the fabrics or the process behind these qualities. I know this would be a complex balancing act. They can’t get too complex or spill competitive secrets. But the theme fits perfectly with BOTH of their brand archetypes. The Sage side of their brand wants to educate their consumers to why they are the smart, sustainable choice. Their Innocent personality wants to be transparent about processes surrounding manufacturing and sourcing. This creates the perfect opportunity to give more facts behind the product.
Entrepreneurial Tip #10: Use your archetype to further develop your stories and content.
ADAY was founded in 2015. At first glance, it’s amazing how far the company has come in two short years. Yet, when you analyze their branding… you understand why success is their only option. They understand the value of building a brand that connects with their customers on an emotional level. They realize the value in stories. Their passion about their product shines through in everything they do. I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing amazing developments from this brand in the upcoming years. Plus, I can’t wait to see how much “smarter” their clothing will become!