I sat down with a client recently to talk about their brand. It was a new business and they had been working feverishly on their products. Now it was time to start talking about the brand itself, how they wanted people to see them and where they wanted to go.
The enthusiastic woman waved her hands as she talked about her heart behind the products and the process she went through to creating unique designs for her customers. When we delved into where she wanted to go and where she saw herself in a few years, the conversation went deeper and got harder.
There was an awkward silence.
“I don’t really know,” she said. “I don’t like to think about it.”
It took some work, but we did identify where she wanted to go and wanted to accomplish. It was a crucial point in the process of styling her brand. Where you want to go is part of what makes you who you are and your business what it is.
Many people don’t think about where they want to go or end up, especially women. We’re in the here and now and considering what we might do when we start to grow can be a little overwhelming. I see many of us, and I suffer with this too, afraid to play too big.
Start with the Bigger Vision
When I work with clients on designing their brand, there are a number of things we go through together before we start talking about what colors to choose or the fonts we like best. I want to hear what the brand is about and who they owner is trying to connect with. If they have a picture of their best ideal customer, I listen to that and we discuss specific nuances that may be particular to their buyers.
We talk about what they want as a business. Where do you want to end up?
Brian Buffini, a real estate trainer, was the person who taught me the difference between a telescope vision and a microscope vision. Both are necessary. A telescope vision helps you to see where you’re going and you need this! Otherwise you’ll flounder and get sidetracked. Think about jumping into a lake and starting to swim. You have an endpoint, right? It might be the big rock several hundred feet out or the other side of the lake, but there’s a goal.
Imagine if you jumped in and started swimming one way, then turned to the left and swam a few feet that way, then turned to the right and swam three dozen feet that way. Frustrating right? And you’d probably get a cramp and be in serious trouble if you were far out in the water away from any goals.
Without an end point, our businesses will flounder. IF we don’t know where we’re going it’s incredibly easy to turn this way and that, chasing shiny bright objects and losing the whole point of starting a businesses in the first place. Even the goal of I want to build a XXX figure business in three years will demand certain actions that will keep us on step and help us avoid going crazy by changing our mind.
Your Vision for Your Business is the Starting Point for Your Branding
Figuring out who you are as a business and the contribution you want to make to the world is essential to creating a strong brand. I consider my initial work of listening to dreams and goals and creating a vision for the brand to be paramount in developing an emotionally expressive brand personality that will connect the business with their best customers.
It can also be a ton of fun. If this feels uncomfortable for you, I encourage you to make a vision board for where you want your business to go. You can check out the post about how to create a collage for your business here.
The long term goal directs our day to day activities, it’s the vision that is bigger than we are right now and it propels us forward.
Vision is a big word, but according to the Oxford Dictionary it means, “the state or faculty of being able to see.” We have to see where we want to go. Examples of visions could be:
- I want to write and produce high quality books for middle schoolers that give them a sense of adventure and a desire to explore the great outdoors with their families and friends.
- To create jewelry in collaboration with women in third world countries so they can sustain their own business and I can do work that is both profitable and purposeful.
- I want to bring back dinner parties and help people lose their intimidation about hosting events in their homes so we can create a greater sense of community along with a bit of culture.
- I want to teach 1,000 creative entrepreneurs how to build $80K businesses through online courses and in person events.
- Teach people with diabetes how to shop for food and cook delicious meals that won’t break the bank through in person events, cookbooks and video.
Your vision is your vision. It doesn’t have to be huge or world changing, but it should change YOUR world and make the lives of the people you serve better.
The jewelry designer who wants to create artistic high end pieces and the jewelry designer who wants to collaborate with women in Haiti for jewelry collections have two very different visions, brands and audiences who will want their products.
The skin care company who is highly concerned about the ingredients in our skin care and creates products 100% organic is going to have a different vision and audience than the high end skin care line who caters to people primarily interested in anti-aging regimens (and will pay a lot of money for high end, clinically-backed products).
Use Your Imagination to Dream a Bit Bigger
Next I like to use a bit of imagination. I want you to get excited about the possibilities of what could happen as you grow.
What magazines would you want to be featured on (or in). Pretend you’ve been asked to speak on a panel at your favorite conference. What conference is it?
If you’re the shy type who is scared to death of speaking in public, flip the stage. You’re the conference director in charge of finding speakers. Who do you want to key note at your event? Who do you want to speak?
The magazines you chose and the people you’d like to speak are indicators of the kind of business you are creating. It’s also indicative of the people you want to connect with. If the three magazines you’re wanting to be on the cover of are all luxurious, glamorous lifestyle magazines, you’ll want to create a business brand personality that reflects ideals (and not the ideals of Runner’s World or Mingle).
After you take a glimpse into the future with a telescope, you can dial back and look at your business. That’s the microscope vision. The microscope represents the daily activities we have to do in order to get across the lake and get to the other side.
In my work this includes writing content for blogs and upcoming books, planning workshops, marketing workshops and the content, working with clients, keeping track of my finances and sending out my email newsletter.
Notice there were only a handful of things that are essential in my daily and weekly activities. Often small businesses get overwhelmed with a multitude of things to do. Ultimately there are only a few things that move the needle forward. What are the essential activities that you need to do each week to see your business reach the next goal?
As you can see from the page, the rest of the page is the specific parts of the brand styling that have to do with identifying what season your business is in and choosing the best colors, fonts, patterns and icons that will work for you.
My goal is to create a brand for my client that is a little bolder and bigger than they see for themselves. I want them to grow into it and be incredibly confident as they share their marketing materials, packaging, website, and any other visuals their brand touches with other people.
If you’d like to get a downloadable copy of my Beautiful Brand Blueprint, sign up for the newsletter and it will be on its way to you.
Have you identified where your business is going? It can be exciting and intimidating to think about the possibilities, but I encourage you to think about the next year or two and what you want to accomplish. You’re putting your heart, soul, time and energy into your business, let’s see it thrive! As one of my favorite quote by Howard Thurman that states, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to get back to you.