In all my years of being a business owner, I never thought a lizard would help me with growth.
Ok, technically it was a chameleon, but when I was in the process of redefining my brand, never in a million years did I imagine that such an unusual image would become part of my visual identity.
Here’s how it happened. A few years ago, I decided to move from solopreneur mode to business owner, and create a business that lived beyond me as an individual. I wanted to grow my book of business, and I wanted to do it in a way that wasn’t based on my name. I hired someone to help me with the visual brand elements, and she landed on a chameleon as the main brand image.
For anyone who knows me, choosing a lizard-like creature was decidedly not me. I was tempted to send the designs back to the drawing board, but something held me back.
In the brand strategy work that I did ahead of the visual elements, the key differentiator for my business was consulting in “continuous change strategies,” vs project-based, one time change work. What else could better represent the mode of continual change than a chameleon?
Sure enough, I noticed that using this new visual meant people understood more easily what I did, and the distinct value proposition I offered. It was amazing.
Of course, visuals are only one element of your brand, but it’s definitely one piece business owners focus on. You might be afraid of being too different, too extreme. Or worried that the visuals you land on aren’t going to resonate with your target client audience.
Brand development takes time and careful thought, and often it’s put on the back burner in order to address more pressing client and pipeline building activities. But more often than not, I hear from consultants and business owners that their website and brand are “outdated” and “no longer reflect me or my business.”
Big mistake. If this is the year that you want to really see business growth, you’ll need to take some time to think about other elements of your brand that might be holding you back. If you don’t accurately reflect your image, brand, and more importantly, the value you bring to your clients, you’ll struggle with business growth.
It’s important to take some time to analyze key elements of your brand, and reflect on where changes might be needed as you build your business growth plans.
Does your brand reflect your (current) Value Proposition?
“You need to communicate the promise, not just to make the sale. You need more values in the promise to make the brand successful.” – Martin Goldfarb, Affinity: Beyond Branding
Your business changes and evolves, and the products, services, and descriptions of your brand need to evolve along with it. Your brand promise must include the value that is delivered in every touchpoint of your work. Having a brand that reflects an older, outdated version of your business is going to be confusing, and likely turn away prospects.
Is Your Brand Conveyed In Compelling Stories?
“The best brands embody mythic archetypes. They literally are stories.” – Debbie Millman, Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits
In her book, Millman, who interviewed leading business thinkers like Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell, and Tom Peters, notes that it’s the emotional elements, through stories, that truly elevate a brand and draw your customers in.
Take time to think about the most compelling stories from your recent client experiences. Why did the client struggle with this issue? What was the impact of your work? How did individuals benefit on a personal level?
If building compelling stories is something you want to dive into, our recent blog post on How to Ask the Right Questions and Craft Pitches that Sell, and the accompanying worksheet will help you get started.
Does Your Brand Have The Right Reach?
“When I ask them to clarify the type of brand they want to be, I’m not asking them to limit their options. I’m asking them to tell me which type of brand will give them the most competitive advantage.” – Laurence Vincent, Brand Real
If you are looking to compete on a global level, your brand needs to reflect that audience. Similarly, if you’re looking to kill it in a local market, you need to develop a profile that will resonate in your community.
Too often, I’ve seen consultants “amp up” their profile to feel more corporate, when their growth priority is to stay competitive locally. You need to know who your audience is, and build a brand that will resonate with them.
Is Your Brand Consistent With Your Clients’ Experience?
“Your brand is the experience that is actually delivered and communicated through every single thing you do, every day, around the clock. – Denise Lee Yohn, What Great Brands Do
For those looking to grow beyond your immediate borders, does your brand also reflect the mechanics of how you’ll accomplish this? If your website copy speaks to bespoke service delivery, or training sessions that are personally delivered by you, your prospects are quickly going to feel that your ability to deliver your brand promise may be difficult.
I know there’s never enough time for all the marketing activities you know you need to do, but not taking time to make sure your brand is keeping pace with your growth could be holding you back. Whether you go the “lizard” route, or something that sends a different message, make sure it’s consistent with the message you want your growing business to convey.
Are you a business consultant or coach looking for new ways to scale your business while staying true to your brand vision? Take our Fit Assessment to find out if partnering with Actionable is right for you!
Stay tuned! Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing other blog posts and resources to help you build a compelling, cohesive brand identity that will help you grow your business.