Don’t be bland – rock your brand

Don’t be bland – rock your brand

Not bland, brand

Don’t look like every other business out there – do yours with style

It’s not easy to be individual.

I’m not a very interesting dresser. My wardrobe is full of bland clothes, jeans, comfy trousers, plain tops and a couple of hoodies (so I won’t be allowed in Lakeside then). None of this reflects my bonkers personality. If I was to wear my character out there I’d probably be dressed in multi-coloured floaty dresses with a hint of tutu about them. Plus long socks because they are comfy. With ballet pumps because I hate wearing them without socks.

I don’t, because I’m not five, but really, because I’m just not brave enough. At least, not on the school run. So I stick to my Mummy Uniform.

But my business is another matter! As my brand has developed from staid (ish) to beautiful and magical I’ve found that it’s been closer to the real me. I find it easier to sell, to shout about, to write and to connect with people who love the five year old in me. I know I’m getting it right when my Dad looks at my latest video offering and shakes his head with the smile that says, ‘that’s my Katherine’. Well, I was dressed up as a Christmas tree! Big grin.

I love my business. It feels effortless and amazingly simple. I’m just being me and creating things I love! Am I smug? – well, maybe a bit.

I’m sure you started your business because you were passionate about what you do. It’s part of being an entrepreneur (even if you don’t really think you are one in your own head). You’ve created something that is totally yours and completely and wonderfully you. At least, it should be…

I know, we are told we need to appeal to our ideal customer, that our brand should attract the right people to buy. And that is true. But it is also really important that you don’t lose sight of who you are and your own contribution to the business. Your unique selling point may be a revolutionary way of doing things, outstanding customer service, a stand out invention that is going to change the world but without your character driving your brand there will always be a disconnect between your brand and your business.

Do you love your branding? Does it make your tummy do little flips of excitement? Do you love showing it off? Do you find it easy to create new content, sell new products and shout about your business all over social media? Yes? Great – go and make a cup of tea. No? Read on…

Here are 3 ways you can align your brand with your true, underneath it all, if you could, you would character.

  1. Put yourself in the limelight and shine

I work with a lot of solopreneurs whose business is all tied up with their expertise but when it comes to having their face up there in lights they all want to hide in a corner. ‘What should I be doing?’ ‘What poses should I do?’ they ask me. I always tell them to show what they are best at and to show what they do.

So if you are a speaker, a communicator and a teacher then show yourself speaking. If you are a writer, show yourself writing or thinking with the tools of your trade before you. If you are a creator, show the behind the scenes you. If you sell beautiful things, show the moment you discover the perfect addition to your shop. That is the interesting stuff. Not the coiffured, suited and booted headshot we see on most websites.

  1. Choose colours that make your heart sing

Yes, I know, your ideal customers should like them to. But you will naturally attract the right people, the people who will buy, if your brand is aligned to you.

I teach how to find your brand colours at the very start of my Online Gorgeous course as colour is such an important part of your visual brand. It can create the right mood, make an impact, attract the right people and guide people around your website. One of my gorgeous ladies took inspiration from her favourite scarf, saying she always gets complimented on it and once she’d built up her new colour palette it just felt right.

If you are stuck for inspiration hop onto Pinterest and pin pictures you love. What patterns emerge? Or visit www.colorlovers.com and explore the fantastic range of colour palettes. If it catches your eye, it’s bound to catch your customers’.

  1. Pick images that do it for you.

We are all sick of the average, corporate looking, smiling twenty something model smiling at the camera. These pictures are everywhere and are nothing but space fillers. The images you pick to support your marketing should add to your content, or even stand on its own.

So how can you find the right sort of images? First, have a think about the character of your brand. Is it fun, quirky, elegant, traditional, playful or humorous? Jot down how it makes you feel. You’ll end up with a whole lot of adjectives that will help you to pinpoint the right images for your brand.

My key words for The Business Beautician are playful, magical, zesty, simple, colourful, straightforward, whimsical, storytelling, transformation and many many more. Then, when I move on to finding images for my marketing I will use these adjectives for the search.

So when I was on the hunt for an image to support this blog I typed into the image search, ‘dressing up play’, ‘colourful fairy clothes’, ‘magical transformation girl’. And I think this image says it all – both about me and about the blog itself. Perfect!

If you find it really difficult to find those perfect images for your brand, you can also download my free images cheatsheet so you’ve got a list of really handy and commercially useable images for your marketing. Helpful, eh?

 

Be yourself when selling – reveal the true you in your branding

Be yourself when selling – reveal the true you in your branding

Do you find it really hard to be yourself when selling?

video cover

I do. Find out how I created a more me way to sell my online course.

Launching a course is always a BIG job, even if you’ve done it before and have loads of fantastic reviews (thank you online gorgeous ladies). My latest course launch was no exception. But as I wrote the emails, posted the reminders and worked Facebook (in my limited way because Facebook and I are not best buddies) I just wasn’t feeling the love.

Nope. I hate selling. I hate posting on social media and I really hate sounding like every other person trying to sell yet another online course. So I got into a funk about it.

Until I went to the laundrette.

Maybe it was the spinning of the machines that shook me out of it or maybe it was just the chance to escape the madness at home (2 kids, 1 poorly husband, a broken washing machine and builders replacing the windows), but I started to think about how I could get more of ME across in my marketing.

I try to keep my teaching light and entertaining and really really fun so that my ladies enjoy the course enough to actually do the work and get the results they signed up for. So I needed to show that in my sales stuff.

THE video was born.

Da Da Daaaaaaah

Sitting there watching the wash I had a kernel of an idea that grew into a wacky demonstration of my approach to all things BUSINESS AND gave us all a giggle at the struggle of designing an online business. I had great fun making it and got to make a range of really silly faces (I excel at this and don’t normally find an outlet for it). In the end it got 9 shares, a reach of over 11,000 and over 4000 views. Who knew the laundrette could be so inspiring.

The best thing about it was that it really boosted my brand. It’s like nothing else out there and truly uber me. AND I’ve got a better understanding of what I want to say to my followers and fans and how I want them to feel about The Business Beautician.

I wanted to make it fun – does it make you giggle?

So what can you do to show off your youness to MAX effect? How do you want people to FEEL about your brand? Unsure? – maybe visit the laundrette 😉

The creativity trap – how not to launch your business

The creativity trap – how not to launch your business

launch your business, don't get caught in the creative trap

A good story has a beginning, a middle and an ending

This is harder than you may think.

My eight year old daughter loves to write. She uses her best pens and makes sure her writing is as small and neat as possible. All illustrated with her wonderful drawings of course.

Last week I bought her an A4 hardback notebook (like Mummy’s) and she has already filled eight pages full. No spaces. She loves it.

So I asked her if she would like to write a story for that 500 words competition for Radio 2. She shook her head emphatically, ‘no, you HAVE to do 500 words, that’s hardly any words at all and I want to write lots and lots’. Looking at her full notebook she had a point. She was enjoying the process of creating SO much she didn’t want it to end. She imagined a book full of her beautiful work to show off how much and how beautifully she can write (perfect for showing off to teacher and definitely worth a merit mark).

For her, the story didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if it didn’t end because she was enjoying the process of writing so much. Which is fantastic when you are eight and exploring your own creativity, but not so good when you are creating something for a specific purpose.

It is SO easy to get lost in the detail. Making something beautiful or perfect can be really addictive but can often scupper our chances of getting things finished, launched and sold.

Websites are the worst (or the best) for this.

There is SO much to think about and plan when you are creating a new brand and building your website. The pressure is really on to create something that will get noticed, sell your products, and be future proof and that is truly scary.

The temptation is to just keep creating, trying to get it absolutely perfect before you launch your business into the wild. What if it is a flop, what if nobody is interested in my lovely new business, what if nobody visits my gorgeous website, what if I don’t sell anything at all? I’ve seen it with so many new online businesses, they get stuck in the exciting stage of developing that new logo, fiddling with colour schemes or shuffling website content around before launching anything. They keep busy with creating pretty stuff even as business targets start to slip and that product never gets launched.

Don’t get stuck in the creative stage (great as it is), make sure every single stage of your business story has a (hopefully happy) ending.

Keep it simple and use my 4 tips to avoiding the creative trap to launch your business.

  1. Before you start launching into creating that website or that new brand, write down the first thing your business needs to achieve. Make it specific, such as building a list of 1000 super customers, launching your first 4 week programme or selling X no of widgets.
  2. Pin it to your wall and keep returning to that one goal – everything else you do now is just to get you there
  3. Forget perfect. It doesn’t exist. You just need your creative efforts to achieve that one goal pinned to your wall.
  4. Once you’ve achieved that first goal, you can start to work towards the next goal. Yes, you may have to start changing your website, tweak your branding, realign your marketing to appeal to a changing customer base, but this is part of a modern online business. Be flexible, embrace change and your business will be able to grow.

Have you got stuck in the fiddling stage of your business? It can be really hard to recognise that you are doing it and scary to get out of, to get out there and launch your new business to the world. GO FOR IT!

4 easy steps to planning a new website (that really works for your business)

4 easy steps to planning a new website (that really works for your business)

4 steps to planning a new website

Planning a new website can be fraught with decisions that leave most business owners running for the duvet

As business owners we have to be jacks of all trades but for those that know me well by now, I am useless at accounts. I’m ok once I’m gently shown what bit to fill in where and given some clearly written rules of engagement with my accounting software, but up until that point I haven’t got a clue.

Now, you may be an accounting whiz or just naturally know what needs to be done when a customer pays you, but in my non-accounting brain a nice gift of money in my Paypal account spurs a series of confusing accounting tasks that I have ABSOLUTELY no understanding of – the why and the how alludes me to this day. Luckily (you will be relieved to know) I have a lovely accountant to sort it all out for me and make sure all my columns, invoices, accounting do dahs add up … or whatever it is they are supposed to do.

When I started up my business, and knowing that I should try to get all my accounting sorted out for me, I ran straight to the experts and got help, listened to their recommendations and let them get on with it. They knew what I (and my business) needed, what software was right for me and how it could support everything I planned to do in the future. They asked me questions about my customers and future plans that I hadn’t even considered and certainly had no idea would effect the way I set up my accounting. And I’ve really noticed the difference – my business has grown and expanded into new markets and everything still runs like clockwork in the background. Perfect!

In the same way as setting up my accounts made me want to hide under the duvet not even knowing where to start, planning a new website can be an impossibly daunting task if you haven’t done it before.

You’re desperate to get your business online but don’t know where to start, how to hire a website designer or how to build one yourself?

You’ve no idea which of these options would be best for you anyway.

You’ve no idea where to start with planning that new website or even what it needs to achieve.

AND it all seems to involve investment.

ARGH! It can seem like a mountain to climb!
 
Many business owners decide they need a website, are determined to build it themselves, choose WordPress to build it on because they have heard great things about it and then have just been daunted by the amount of choice out there – themes, widgets, plugins, bells and whistles!! WOAH THERE!
 
So to help you figure out exactly what you need from a website before you get hopelessly confused by the HUGE amount of choice,  I have put together a really simple step by step guide to planning a new website to make sure you have the essentials in place before you even think about hiring somebody to build it, or start thinking about creating it yourself.

 

Your easy guide to knowing what you want AND need when planning a new website

1.   Who is your website for?

I know, you’ve heard it all before. You need to focus on your ideal / super dooper customer who you LOVE to work with. But really, this is the stage of planning a new website that underpins EVERYTHING it will do for your business. After all, your business is nothing without those customers.

A well planned website will convert visitors and get them to take action. The more you can focus your website in converting those people, the harder your website will work for your business. And the trick of converting as much traffic as possible is to make sure that your website appeals to and talks to your ideal customer. You need them to feel as if your website is made for them. You need them to fall in love with your business simply by exploring your website. You need them to make that connection with you and your business without you physically being there to shake their hand and explain what you are all about.

Try these 4 quick tricks to get started and return to them throughout your planning:

  • Pinpoint the person you love to work with, who never quibbles on price and who loves what you do. If you already work with somebody like this GREAT! If you don’t then pick somebody you dream of being able to work with. This is the person you will be writing to, appealing to and helping when you write your content and design the look of your site.
  • Describe your ideal customer. What do they love to do, where do they hang out, what do they love to hate? Social media profile pages can be wonderful places for inspiration. Find a few good matches with your chosen ideal customer (or actually your ideal customer if you are already working with them) and explore what they are saying, what groups they are in, what they share and what inspires them.
  • Visit your competitors’ websites – who are they trying to speak to? Is it the same sort of person or can you differentiate your business by talking to a slightly different customer base?
  • Visit the websites that your ideal customer shops from. You’ll start to see similarities in colours, patterns, spacing, fonts, images they use. Steal these ideas (not the pictures), they work!

 

2.   Jot down everything your website needs to do

What will visitors to your website be looking for?

  • Information about your business
  • A solution to a problem
  • A particular product
  • New ideas and inspiration
  • A community
  • Advice from an expert
  • An answer to a specific question

What problems will your website seek to solve for your visitors?

Think about your ideal customer, the person who loves your products and is a pleasure to work with.
What can you help them with and how can you help them get the answers they need through your website?

 
What is THE SINGLE MOST important role of your website?

  • Selling a product / service
  • Getting them to sign up to a membership club
  • Getting visitors to sign up to your list so you can sell to them later
  • Building your brand identity
  • Giving your visitors information

How will your website make your business money?

  • Selling physical products
  • Selling downloadable products
  • Selling your services
  • Membership
  • Sharing discount vouchers to encourage real world purchases
  • Affiliate links

What is your main marketing message?

It is SO important that your website introduces what you do straight away, up front and not hidden amongst reams of text. Keep it short and sweet, no jargon and straight to the point.

What is the most important thing visitors should learn about your business? Try thinking:

  • What results can your website’s main focus get your ideal customer?
  • How will that make them feel?
  • What problem does it solve for them?
  • What questions does it answer?

How do you plan to attract people to your website?

I’m afraid that getting good (and the right) traffic to your website involves a lot more than publishing it and waiting for people to find it. But the good news is that there are lots of free and easy ways to get new people to ‘discover’ you online. Plan these tactics into your website early on and you won’t be sat waiting for somebody, anybody to arrive once you’re ready to launch.

  • Consider a really helpful and regularly published blog. Create a very social site that encourages comments and share posts within social media to get people interested and visiting your site.
  • Talk to other business owners who are aiming at your ideal customer. Could you share information and link to their website?
  • Share your marvellous blogs to other websites, such as The Huffington Post
  • Have a good root around google to find out what people are asking and answer those questions on your website.

 

3.  How will all this work together?!

Make a map

Draw a little map of your website showing where all your pages are going to go. I use powerpoint most of the time as it is easy to draw boxes, but a biro and paper does just as well.

  • How will your visitors find their way through your website?
  • If they were to land on your home page, how will they get to the page where they can sign up for that membership club or buy that product
  • If they land on one of your helpful blogs, how will they get to the page where they can sign up for that membership club or buy that product
  • Make sure your products are easy to find and easy to buy once they get there

The truth is that a well-designed site is not necessarily the site with all the bells and whistles, but the site that is the most user friendly.

What action will be taken?

Now, for each page, make a note of what call to action needs to be included. This might be a read more button, a sign up form, a guide to which section of your website would suit your visitor most or a buy now button. Make sure every page asks them to do something.

 

4.   Get an idea of the look you want

Sketch out your home page

Just on an envelope, with a crayon, stick men and plenty of scribbles if you must, but this will really help you to visualise what you are looking for before you spend hours of your precious time cruising through reams and reams of website designs.
 
Where are your calls to action going to be and where is all that precious information going to go? Don’t go into too much detail, you needn’t write it all out now. Get a good idea what information, what amount of information and what the purpose of the homepage is and you will start to understand what sort of design will suit your new website best.

 

And now it’s over to you. It may be that you decide to get a website professional to help you out on your journey, but by going through this little guide you will have a MUCH better idea of what your business needs and a MUCH better idea of what you are buying.
 
Start off with the basics and you won’t go wrong.
 
Love Kat x
 
PS: Have fun planning your new website, there is no right or wrong at this stage. Don’t limit your imagination. Create something that works for you, your business and your ideal customer. Then, and only should you think about building it 🙂 
Have fun!

Rebranding your business? When, why and how

Rebranding your business? When, why and how

Is it time to rebrand?What do you do if your brand just feels ‘wrong’? Is now a good time to think about rebranding your business?

When you first set up in business the pressure is on to just get it out there, get it done and start earning money. And not many of us get to start will a big pot of money in the bank to invest in our new enterprise so branding gets left WAY down at the bottom of the list. It’s easily done.

Often the first thing entrepreneurs think they need is the logo. So the poor little logo has a lot of pressure to say EVERYTHING about the business. As a graphic designer, I often get a design brief that sounds like this, ‘it’s got to be friendly, professional , international, for women age 30 ish, from London, interested in dogs, cats, elephants and tea parties on the moon. Oh yes, and it needs to have the WOW factor!’

er……No wonder first logos can be confusing.

But as your business grows (which it will, I promise), that initial brand that did a great job of getting you off the starting line, can start to hold your business back. This is the time to consider rebranding your business.

As your business develops, your brand character WILL change. Your business will start to mean something else to people. Your business will start to mean something else to you. Your reputation will grow and change, your experience of your market will flourish, you’ll be more focused and have different goals. That little logo will start to inhibit those wonderful plans and business ideas that come only from experience. Time for a change!

Case Study

Rebranding your business. The transformation of a brand from ‘meh’ to ‘WOW’

Back in 2015 my client Emma Holmes set herself a challenge – to build a 100k business in one year. With little more than her own experience of managing fantastic product launches, a packed contact book and a couple of hundred pounds to get the ball rolling, Emma set out to prove it could be done and help other entrepreneurs achieve that ‘OMG, I really did it moment’.

The Launch Queen was born – 12 months, 1 mission!

Did she do it? OH YES! and then some, but as the last few months of 2015 ticked by, The Launch Queen started to feel a bit stale to her. The brand she had built up to earning her that 100k had done its job, but was now holding her back. Her visual branding, and even the brand name, just wasn’t reflecting the growth of the business or embracing the new product ideas inspired by her ever growing following.

So she took the leap, gave me a call and decided to rebrand (gulp). We released her brand new sparkly business, Coaching Rockstars with Emma Holmes, into the wild in Jan 2016 with the new name, new look, new logos, colours, imagery, more character and tons of content that completely summed up what Emma’s coaching is all about, how she teaches and her target market.

You might be tempted to shout ‘are you mad – you’re throwing a 100k business away!’ and it was a scary thing to do at the time but Emma knew that unless she stopped hiding behind The Launch Queen brand, her business wouldn’t grow and may start to fizzle out. So together, we set out to design a visual brand that SHOUTED Emma’s brand message and would support her BIG BIG plans for next few years.

And so far she hasn’t missed a beat, her business is continuing to grow, her followers and fans LOVE her new branding and she has been able to finally release those FAB new products she’s been thinking about for months to the right crowd at the right time. YAY!

The Launch Queen

Coaching Rockstars

brand message

Helping small business owners to launch online products and services (like they really mean it!), to learn to launch in a successful way and make their business work, make more money & do it all on their terms!

brand message

Helping coaches develop ridiculously big businesses, take on their own Coaching Rockstar persona, gather crowds of raving fans, build a list and make a difference and make money whilst doing it.

Logo

Launch Queen logo

Designed by Jakenna Designs

The Launch Queen logo was all about the bling and making money. The little gold stars and twinkles were repeated through all her marketing. The swirly lettering mixed in with a bit of traditional was both girly and authoritative (queenly) and really appealed to her target market of female entrepreneurs looking to launch their brand new products and make lots of money quickly.

 

Logo/s

coaching rockstars words logo colour

Coaching Rockstars needed to be FAR louder, more quirky and more in line with Emma’s no-nonsense go get it personality. We wanted her new logo to be unique to her brand and show a northern honesty and straightforward attitude to getting things done.

I went for a really punchy, rock styled font matched with a friendly rounded and hand drawn font in bold and bright contrasting colours with a few girly decorations to appeal to her target market. No sitting on the fence with this one – this logo means business!

 

Fonts and Colours

The traditional Cinzel font based on classic proportions for titles (often in colour).

Emma also used a wide range of swirly fonts to mimic the one in her logo in her marketing, although new products were designed up professionally to look like the main logo.

As Emma built the brand she started to use more quirky images in her marketing which was her through and through but having only really had a logo designed up at the beginning, different styles and colours were beginning to creep in by the end of the year and it was all feeling a bit confusing.

 

 

Creating a style guide for Coaching Rockstars

We created a style guide with lots of choice of fonts and colours for Emma to play with, all based around the rockstyle fonts and colours in the logo.

style guidelines

 

Website

launch queen header

As with most start ups, Emma learned how to do build her own website, got it going, designed it up and ran a very successful business from it, thank you very much. But it never felt as if it matched her ambitions for the business and half way through the year I came on board to give it some professional TLC.

Taking the original logo and the messaging for The Launch Queen we developed a look for the website that had the bling, the girliness and incorporated the quirkiness of Emma’s own choice of images in her marketing. A bit of reshuffling of products, adverts, menus and signups was needed as Emma’s business had moved SO far and we ended up with something that represented The Launch Queen at its most successful – yay!

 

The new Coaching Rockstars website

coaching rockstars header

What a difference!

The new website is designed with listbuilding in mind. It’s immediately clear what Coaching Rockstars is all about and visitors are guided through the site from landing to signing up for her amazing freebies, via the kick-ass content or the helpful where to start page.

We used a full screen, very modern look with HUGE photos (the lovely photos of Emma courtesy of ???), HUGE titles and HUGE colours for a HUGE presence. Each page oozes character and is direct and to the point with fab calls to action. This is a website to grab attention and get things done!

Check it out for yourself at www.coaching-rockstars.com (and sign up for one of her amazing freebies while you’re there)

Are you thinking your brand just isn’t doing it for you anymore? Are you thinking of a rebrand but scared of losing your hard won business? I’d love to know – join in the comments below…