why your branding work is never really done. and why it matters.

already have a biz you still need a brand.jpg

kay had a brilliant idea for a biz. she was already making gorgeous, customized artwork for kids bedrooms and every time she gave one of her fabulous pieces to a friend she heard the same thing. “i love that so much! it suits my child perfectly, now if only i could make the whole room that fabulous!” kay realized that there were mums out there who wanted something they could not find at target. they wanted unique, customized, whole-room solutions for their kid’s bedrooms, and they needed help doing it.

kay started her home biz, offering one-on-one consultations, custom-made one-of-a-kind décor, and a complete, fabulous look for the whole room. she came up with a marvelous name for her biz. she had a professional logo designed, professional marketing materials printed and a professional website created for her biz. she loved the look of her biz, and she felt it allowed her to compete as a professional. her first clients were people who already loved her artwork and were keen to have her expertise. kay was thrilled!

but then she had a lull in her schedule. she decided she needed to work on her marketing and her plans for her biz. one friend suggested she put up some flyers at the local mcdonalds and grocery store bulletin boards. another friend suggested she set up a stall showing some of her décor at the local market sale on the school oval. another friend suggested she start a facebook page to inform fans of what she was selling.

so that is what kay did. the community boards, the markets, the facebook page. and it seemed to work – she got lots of calls! but the folks that called from the flyers seemed to be intimidated by the price of her service. the folks that stopped by the market sale were only interested in the ‘fire sale’ bin she had of old sample pieces. she had a lot of people like her page, but none of them seemed to buy.

kay figured the problem was her price. so she held a big sale and promoted it on facebook and on those flyers and at the markets. she lowered her prices to compete with the budget department stores and described her fantastic one-on-one service to show why her stuff rocked. she got a number of new clients and was happy. that is, until she realized those clients kept looking for further discounts, and basically wanted more and more of her time for less and less money. she realized that after costs, after she calculated how much she made per hour, she was barely making anything with her biz!

where did kay make her mistake?

she was frustrated and discouraged. she wondered if she made a mistake in starting her biz. what do you think? was her mistake in starting her biz? was her mistake in the idea she had for a service & product? no. kay’s mistake was forgetting about her brand.

kay believed her branding work was done. she had a gorgeous logo, website and biz card! she backed up that brand promise of professionalism, expertise, and customized one-of-a-kind products and services every time she dealt with a client. but the thing that kay did not realize was that branding doesn’t end there. branding needs to continue for the entire life of your biz.

kay’s original brand message was fabulous, unique, custom-made, one-of-a-kind, one-on-one, exclusive & personalized. she was providing products and services to a specific niche group of mums. she was offering something that could not be found at target. her work was exceptional and magnificent!

then she created a marketing plan (flyers on the community board at mcdonalds and grocery store), a sales plan (stalls at the local school markets) and a social media plan (using facebook to post about sales and special offers) that did not match her brand at all. this meant that she was no longer targeting that perfect, ideal client she started with. this meant that the clients she was getting were not there for her brand, they were there for the deal. this meant that she had to change her prices & packages to compete, and they no longer matched her brand. this meant her ideal clients no longer trusted that she was the right fit for their needs.

what is kay to do?

kay needs to get focused back on her original brand message. and that message needs to be on the forefront of every decision she makes about her biz. some ideas for kay:

  • marketing plan – high quality, custom décor examples in the trendy, funky coffee shops her clients love to frequent; a referral plan to encourage her fabulous, favorite clients to pass her name on to more fabulous, fantastic people.
  • sales plan – participation in exclusive, high-end markets & expos showcasing handmade goods and one-of-a-kind services; no more sales or discounts that dilute the value of the service & product; packages and sales offer that speak directly to the client’s needs and encourage the purchase of a full package rather than a one-off item.
  • social media plan – showcasing unique, fabulous service by interacting with clients on social media; sharing testimonials and client photos to offer proof and attract further clients; demonstrating expertise by offering further help & decorating tips; standing out by showing passion & excellence.

the moral of the story.

  1. just because you have a professional logo, website, and business card does not mean you have a brand.
  2. you are sending a message about your brand whether you realize it or not.
  3. your brand exists in every element of your biz and in every interaction with clients.
  4. your brand message needs to be consistent if you want to build trust and attract the right people.
  5. your brand message needs to be a part of all decisions you make for your biz.
  6. your brand is something you revisit, refine, tweak and strengthen the life of your biz. it is not a one-off thing you do at the start and never go back to.
  7. if you have a biz, you need a brand.

even if you have a logo & a look for your biz that you love, your branding work is not done. you need to get to the heart of that brand message you have started creating. and you need keep that brand message in mind for the life of your biz.

if you need help with you brand, have a look at the "new and improved" build a brand blueprint - this is a step by step workbook for creating a stand out brand message. you can read more about this blueprint here.

the build a brand blueprint will also help you if you are just starting out with your little biz and also if you need to do some rebranding

can you think of one thing you are doing with your biz that doesn’t match your brand? how can you change it?