Branding is not just the work I do; it’s one of my obsessions. (Other obsessions include sequins, #vannin, and Back to the Future.) While there are certainly best practices for branding, I tend not to follow secret formulas or get uptight about tactics when I’m working with clients. The Jamie Leigh Guide to Branding Fundamentals is a five-part series that introduces you to some of the principles, psychology, and processes that I’ve developed in my 15+ years of working with online business owners. Whether you’re starting from scratch with a new business idea or contemplating a re-brand of your current business, this series will help you approach your branding project with greater know-how and ease (because we could all use more of that in our lives).
Which scenario best describes where you’re at with your business right now?
- I’ve got a new business idea burning a hole in my pocket and I can’t wait to birth it into the world.
- I’ve been operating an “offline” business and I have a hunch it’s time to bring it online.
- I’m staring at my current website and it doesn’t reflect the big vision I have for my business; I have a feeling I’m ready for a re-brand.
Whether you answered a, b, or c, you’re in the right place. In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the questions to ask yourself before you get started with a new branding project and help eliminate some of the misconceptions about branding questionnaires and “pre-work”—all in service to help you approach the process with excitement (instead of resentment)!
The 3 Questions to Answer Before Starting a Branding Project
A pro designer will guide you to answering these questions during the branding process, although it can be super helpful to reflect on the answers to these questions on your own before you even select a designer. (In fact, knowing your answers could help you in the decision making process to selecting a designer!)
How do I currently show up online?
Pretend that you’re one of your ideal clients and go through your existing online presence—your website, social media accounts, and so on. Take notes on what you observe. This is the “state of the state” of your brand. Those notes could include everything from colors to fonts to copy to feelings to values. Locate things that are dissonant from the overall brand and awkwardly stand out. Name what you like and what you don’t like. Try to capture the way you’d describe how you currently show up online in one to three sentences. (For a free step-by-step workbook on how to conduct this online brand audit, click here.)
How do I want to show up online?
Now close your computer and tune in to your intuition. What are the feelings and emotions you want to evoke as a brand? If you could start from scratch, what would you include (and what would you let go)? This is the time for your big vision to emerge. Write down some notes on the ways you want to show up online, including everything from your website header to your social media presence to your newsletter to your brand colors. Paint a picture of your ideal online presence and how you might show up differently there.
The gap between how you currently show up online and how you want to show up online is what the branding process is for.
What I am willing to commit to with my brand?
You’re a unique human with a different approach, vision, business model, and personality than everyone else on this planet. Here’s where you get really honest with yourself. What are you willing to commit to with this brand? It could mean trusting in the expertise of the designer, not second-guessing your gut opinions, participating fully in the design process, letting yourself be “seen” in a different way online, working through your fears with a coach or therapist, staying aligned to your business mission, and/or many other commitments. Anything that helps put you in the driver’s seat of your branding project and gives you touchstones that you can return to again and again as your project progresses.
Why Branding Questionnaires Are Important
Every pro designer has some form of questionnaire and process for gleaning the information she or he needs to create your magnetic brand.
Designers are not trying to waste your time or annoy you. Those questionnaires and assorted “pre-work” are a necessary part of the branding process.
If you would rather wait in line at the DMV than answer yet another question about what your business does, who your ideal client is, and if your brand was a X, Y, or Z, listen up.
Reiterating your business identity will give you clarity. Guaranteed.
Clarity = brand fuel
The first time you answered that question about who your business serves, it was likely pretty generic. The fifth time? You discover you have a niche audience that truly needs what you have to offer.
Every time you answer branding questions, you’re honing, shaping, distilling your thoughts and ideas to the essence—the most potent form.
Branding goes wayyy beyond just your colours and fonts. Branding is about your values, your audience, your story, your goals, and so much more.
The purpose of the branding process is to bring clarity to all the big and small branding decisions that are required for a magnetic online brand.
The branding process is where you uncover the elements that will set you apart online and build an unmistakable business.
The more visibility and clarity you have about your brand, the more attracted your most valuable client or customer will be to your business.
If you’re ready to commit to your brand in a whole new way, I’m opening spots for my Signature Design Package. Is 2017 the year you’ll finally show up in the way you want to online?