The day I realised that I knew my business better than anyone else was a day worthy of endless fist pumping and champagne showers.
I am the only person who can rock my own socks, float my own boat, ping my own pong and coca my own cola. Nobody knows my biz better than me.
Nobody. Not a $500 an hour business mentor. Not a hoity-toity group of mastermind CEOs. Not my accountant. Not my therapist. Not my best friend. Not my Mum. Not my dog. Not the ghost of my wise and dearly-departed Nan.
Nobody knows my business better than me. Not really. Not completely. Not for all the grains of sand on the longest beach or the moon or the stars or any body of water on the earth’s surface for that matter. And certainly no divine being or ephemeral goddess.
Phewww. Well, that’s bloody good news. Because, afterall – I am the one steering the ship and losing sleep at night.
And so, with this realisation, you would think branding my own business would be as easy as microwaving popcorn, especially given my experience and extensive list of university courses tucked under my belt…
Mais non! Branding my own business was hands-down one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced since starting this thing I call Smack Bang Designs.
Why? Because I realise that branding is one of, if not the most important piece of the puzzle when starting your business, and I know you’ve got to hit the nail on the head with a 12-tonne concrete boulder to really lay the foundation for all the magic that follows.
So… how do you do it?
- PUT IT ALL ON BLACK
You need to positively bury yourself in the depths of your own heart, soul, mind and spirit – then dig those goods up and deliver them to the world. Your brand is a total reflection of your vibes and your values – it exposes your loves, desires, needs, and idiosyncrasies that are usually reserved for family Christmas meltdowns and padlocked diaries. Everything is on show.
When you anchor your brand in your values, you’re anchoring your business in authenticity, and it will become a magnet for other like-minded people. So instead of having a string of Random Randy’s that only buy you once, you instead invest in developing ties with the Faithful Franny’s and Loyal Larry’s who are 100% on board with you, all the way. They don’t just like your product, they love your values.
- YOU GOTTA ZAG
When everyone else is zigging, you’ve got to zag. Don’t be afraid to challenge. The human brain is hard-wired to notice what is different, so if you want to get noticed – be a little daring. So, you want to open up a bakery? Good for you, Sir Ben the Baker, but I can swing a dead cat and hit ten bakeries in my immediate neighbourhood (and cop a delicious bagel to the face), so what is going to make me want to buy your cinnamon scrolls over the ones two doors down?What’s the number one thing that’s going to set you apart from everyone else? If you’re not swimming upstream against the current of sameness, you’ll find yourself smelling more and more vanilla when you were meant to be baking savoury.
- CHECK YO’SELF TO EXPRESS YO’SELF
Get that mini mirror out from under mum’s vanity, and take a close look. Before you can engage your people and take them on an adventure, you need to figure out how you want to express that excellent person staring back at you in the reflection. Only then can you pour your soul into the brand and ask people to follow. Check yourself with the million dollar questions: What am I freakishly good at? What gets me bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? What do I want to be known for? What legacy do I want to leave behind? How do I want to be described to my ideal customer? Answers to these questions will sort you out with a great starting point for how your branding should look and feel.
- EXAMINE YOUR GREATEST HITS
Take a look through your trophy cabinet and remember all the wins you’ve already nabbed. They might be gathering dust in a dark corner of a cluttered spare room, but a little reminder of your top hits will inspire and instill a fresh drive to keep going. What are you already killing it at? Every now and then my team and I look back at our portfolio pieces, our instagram feed, our blog posts, our general path of destruction leading to now, and figure out where our pockets of gold have shone the brightest. Once you uncover the work that people are already swooning over, you can use that to steer the direction of your branding.
- KEEP THE MAIN THING, THE MAIN THING
It’s not that the we’re ever short of ideas – lord knows we have them positively spilling out the sides of the studio onto the street. Our most stagnant times arise out of having way too much of a smorgasbord to choose from that we end up eating nothing. Or worse, trying to stuff it all in our mouths at once.
It’s so easy to get caught up in all the swirling, shiny and sparkling options, and forever try to be and do everything at once. But you know what they say – ‘if you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no-one’. Narrow down what it is that you want to be, choose the dress that fits perfectly and brings out your damn best, and wear the bloody garment as often as you mindlessly scroll through Insta.
- SIMPLE IS THE NEW BLACK
Being understood is a beautiful thing. And if you’re in business, like me, it’s also a mighty profitable thing. Entrepreneurial types tend to love bells and whistles (and gold foil this, and letterpress that) but I’m here to poop your party and tell you to tone it all down. Nobody’s retinas can handle excessive fluros, dancing baby gifs, seventy-two different fonts AND gyrating drop shadows all on the one landing web page. Simple is king. You only need to take one look at Steve Jobs’ black turtleneck collection and minimal branding to realise that most empires are built from very simple branding foundations.
- CRYSTAL CLEAR IS THE ONLY WAY
When your brand communication is clear, your message goes directly to people’s brains without them having to think too much about it. In our crazy, chaotic world, we crave ease of accessibility and we want our information hard and fast. By creating a crystal clear brand message and simple story, you focus your message and it hits home hard. A focused brand knows exactly what it is, why it’s different and why people want it. The simpler the brand, the clearer the message. The clearer the message, the bigger the response.
(As seen in the April issue of Latte Mag, by Business Chicks)