10 Sep Ep. 34: Is Your Brand Keeping You Stuck?
Branding is such a powerful thing. We’re all surrounded by it on a daily basis, but it’s often such a back-of-mind subconscious item that you don’t even realize you’re interacting with it. Now, as a branding nerd, a businesses brand is usually the first thing I’m evaluating. But these things are happening so subconsciously in the back of most people’s mind/
So you might be thinking, Okay Laura, if it’s so subconscious, then why is it so important? Well, that’s what this episode is all about. Because while great branding often happens in the background, it’s what leads us into X, Y, Z establishment in the first place.
When branding is completely on point, it can work wonders for your business, for your clientele, for the atmosphere you’re in and creating. But when your branding is off, it can do just the opposite. Today on The Gutsy Podcast, we’re going to identify some things to find out if your brand is actually doing more harm than good and, ultimately, whether it’s your branding that’s keeping you stuck.
Branding Agency With a Brand Disconnect
So, I’m going to walk you through the story of how we realized as a branding agency that our branding is actually the very thing keeping us stuck.
Over the years, we’ve gone through several variations of our branding (and by branding I mean color scheme, fonts, logo, the tone, visuals used like illustrations and photos — the entire client experience from the office/atmosphere people interact with you in all the way down to the granular levels of scent, smell, touch, and texture).
As a branding agency, we have gone through several variations of our own branding. And over the years, we’ve always felt like there could be more. But we would go through these phases of gas and brake. We’d have a meeting with our business consultant or would brainstorm within our office and talk about leveling up our brand.
But then guess what happens? We go back to work.
A couple of those items get executed and then timelines, expectations, meetings, just standard business stuff get put in the forefront and those really big ideas start to sift off into the background. Which has left us with a lot of mismatched items over the years, a lot of in the moment I need to do this or I have a cool idea so I’m going to throw something together real quick and see if it sticks.
I Was Falling Short
Where we were really falling short was on me as the business owner and leader. I have made myself small over the years. Yes, I have accomplished a lot of really incredible things in my career that I’m extremely proud of, but there’s always been a part of me that I’ve held back because of a core negative belief.
If you listen back through Liberation Week, you can hear a little bit more about that. But I’ve always felt if I put myself out there, I would be quote-unquote too much. So, the further I’d move into my light — the more I’d retract; convincing myself I’m unworthy of the things I desired.
And I honestly ended up scared to pursue any of it.
Your Business is a Reflection of You
The way a business is operating is often a reflection of the owner or the person in charge. And yes, there are a hundred other items that go into that mix, but ultimately — my business was attracting the energy that I was putting out.
So, if I’m putting out into the world that I’m unworthy and hiding behind a portion of myself, my business will attract clients and markets likewise unwilling to step out into their full light and potential.
Coming into this whole LauraAura brand has been nothing short of a fucking challenge. I mean, I have fought it tooth and nail, I have talked about it, and then I’ve gone completely silent about it. I’ve wanted to do it and there’s this burning urge inside of me to just completely evolve into this speaking, traveling moneymaking, CEO awesomeness, right? But the world has taught me those desires are selfish and rude.
Why would you do that? Oh, now you’re just going to be above everyone?
So, I minimized myself and played at about half of my capacity for the last 12 years.
GET REAL WITH YOURSELF
Now let’s jump back and tie this all together: How did my branding agency end up with a brand identity crisis?
- The owner only plays at 50%
- There isn’t enough time built in ensuring our brand was cohesive across the board.
This resulted in not only mismatched marking materials but — the bigger issue — financial stagnancy and being in a loop of attracting the wrong clients. I’ve been completely and utterly exhausted and stressed out trying to hold myself back, my brand has kept me stuck financially and emotionally.
There are so many things we can all achieve if we would simply release those damn self-doubts and self-limiting beliefs and start being who we truly are.
So the first thing I want you to do is I need you to get real with yourself and think:
Which aspects of your life or your career have you unintentionally held back from? What has been calling you so loudly on a daily basis? What things are holding you back and why? What are you holding onto that no longer serves you? What were you told when you were little? What things were told to you along your business journey? Who is whispering in your ear that no longer has the right to tell you those things?
Stepping Into My LauraAura
Stepping into the LauraAura brand has been nothing short of a challenge. But I have never been more ready. And this has all come about because I am surrounded by some of the most powerful, beautiful, amazing, talented women in my office.
I remember one of the very first things that Kelli said to me when she started at worx. She kind of leaned back in her chair, got a little shifty with her arms and legs, looked at me and said, “Laura, I think that we need to see you more.”
And that was honestly the first time anyone had ever said that to me.
So, we started making these subtle changes where I would step out, make videos, nudging my way in, still wondering what it’d feel like to fully step into my brand and show up. And then I’ll never forget, I was working in my office a couple of weeks ago and all of a sudden I just felt this really intense energy to my right. So I look over and I see Kristin and Kelli looking directly at me. Kristen takes her pointer finger and curls that like, come, come to us, come here.
So I walk out into the office and I plopped down on top of a desk like I normally do and they look at me and say, “Laura, it’s time. We need you to win so that we can win.”
See, what happened was, they were trying to put together a media kit to help grow our sales with the podcast to start offering sponsorship opportunities and grow my engagement with speaking. But they hit a brick wall because our brand was disjointed. We didn’t have a clear direction for the audience we wanted to target. We didn’t have a clear direction as far as geography. Where do we want to attract these people from? What type of messaging? How do those two brands work together?
(At worx, we have three core brands: worx&co, The Gutsy Podcast, and LauraAura. Prior to our blackout week, none of those were speaking fluently between one another. They felt siloed and it became confusing as hell to try and create anything new.)
Spark of BOW
It was honestly in that moment I realized if I didn’t make changes, this company would slowly die and we’d continue to struggle our entire way through it. So we decided big changes required big changes — and that meant treating our brands as if they were a client.
We quickly realized this was not a one or two-day project. We were not going to go into another superhuman powerful meeting and have a lot of great ideas and then have just a little bit of time to execute those things. No. If we wanted to see #milliondollar2020 we needed to start showing up like a million-dollar 2020.
So we scheduled an entire blackout week, which meant we were open but closed to the public, giving us time to rebrand ourselves from start to finish.
Gather materials. I want you to spend some time gathering every single piece of your brand. I want you to print out your processes (and if they are not documented, there is the very first place that you need to begin — because how on earth can you grow a successful company if your processes are not documented in a way that allows you to properly train future employees?).
Part of branding is cohesiveness and that goes all the way down to how you answer the phone, how you handle a customer, client, or process, how you’re onboarding them, how you’re thanking them after they’re finished.
Know your audience. Which leads me to the next piece: You have to know your audience, your core customer, like the back of your hand. If your answer is I want to market to everyone, well, you’re probably not alone. But that approach typically leaves brands with a diluted message.
Hero/Guide. Once you know your core client/customer, set them up as the hero and you guide. Assure them that, Yes — I see you, I hear you, and I can fix that for you. Don’t confuse yourself as the hero because that will only attract a few people.
Let me give you an example. If I set our brand up as the hero (instead of the guide), I might say, “Welcome to worx. We’ve been in business for 12 years and have a growing team of four women. We specialize in branding, websites, space branding, and ongoing campaigns.”
That may attract a few people, and it has, but what if I flip it around and I become the guide and I talked to our client — our prospective client — as the hero? What if instead I say, “I know that you’re tired. You’ve been growing a business for years. You’ve probably been handling your own branding and marketing by yourself, and feel you’re wasting a lot of time trying to figure those things out. You’re ready to grow and expand and you’re not really sure how. The great news is we’re here to help you. We’re going to take those marketing efforts off your plate so that you can get back to the reason that you started your business in the first place.”
Do you feel that emotional difference where I switched myself from being the hero to the guide?
360° cohesion. Another way your brand may be keeping you stuck is if your visuals are not aligning with that audience that we just defined. Let’s say you’re a female therapist and want to work with other women who are hardworking and completely stressed out, but your marketing materials, website, and social media all have dark colors photos, your messaging is inconsistent, and all you discuss are your credentials. This is what we would consider a brand-disconnect.
If your customers cannot see themselves in your business, you’re missing out on huge opportunities.
Know your finances. And lastly, I want you to know your financial goals as quickly and easily as you could identify your children’s birthdays. Because believe it or not, your financial goals are just as much a part of your brand as your logo is.
Part of why I believe our brand had kept us so stuck is because I had never clearly identified where we wanted to be financially as a company. Because of that, I wasn’t charging properly and because I wasn’t charging properly, we were attracting the wrong clients. And since financial goals are part of your brand, if they’re not clearly identified — they’ll keep you stuck as well.
When you get clear on these items, your business and branding can actually become a force to be reckoned with. You can start working with clients that make you smile. When you see their name come across your email, you can pay off that debt and actually have commas in your bank account. You can reduce your stress and actually sleep at night. And you get to do more of what you love on a daily basis.
Branding is a hell of a powerhouse that goes way beyond the colors in your logo; it’s really one of the primary reasons why businesses are either stuck or thriving.
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