7 Steps for rebranding your creative business

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How do you feel about your branding? Does it feel like the best possible reflection of who you are, what you do and why, and how your ideal clients benefit from working with you? Or does it feel a little all over the place, and not as effective as it could be?

Branding is a term that gets thrown around a lot, and can feel overwhelming, so let’s break it down. Branding is NOT: A logo, color palette, new website, copy etc. (though these are elements you’ll certainly review and possibly re-fresh)

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Branding IS how people feel when they engage with you. That’s it! While it’s beyond exciting to come to the realization you have the power to evoke certain feelings and actions in others, I totally get how overwhelming getting from understanding, to putting it into practice can be. Perhaps you’re thinking:

  • That sounds great, but I have no idea where to start
  • That sounds expensive and I don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to invest
  • Who am I to inspire and motivate the people I consider to be my dream clients?

Worry not, I’ve got you covered! I re-branded my own business last year and have put together a checklist to making it as drama-free, fast and effective as possible to connect with, and attract, the high-quality clients you want.

1) List your objectives – what you want to achieve and how a re-brand can help you do that

Have you ever thought a new haircut, pair of shoes, partner, or job will solve all your problems, when really, the work lay elsewhere?

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It can be tempting to think all your business problems can be solved with a new website, so before you invest your time and resources into a re-brand, ask yourself the following:

  • Where is your business now? Where do you want it to be?
  • Where are your clients now? Where do they want to be?
  • What do they need to see, hear and get from you to get there?
  • How will you give them what they need?

Answering these questions will (a) help you decide if you need to re-brand and (b) to develop a strategy that factors in, not just what your brand looks like, but what services you offer, your pricing, how and where you market your services, and what content you choose to create and share.

2) Know your brand touch-points

Your brand is the series of touch-points prospective clients use to form an opinion about you and, ultimately decide whether you’re the right fit for them. The goal is to have your prospects get the same feeling, no matter where they encounter you.

Your next step is to take an inventory of where your customers like to engage with you most and put those in order of priority. For me my list was:

  • Website
  • Newsletter
  • Social media (mainly LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook)
  • In-person, including speaking, panels, workshops or networking

Think about how all these touchpoints fit together. For example, if you’ve got a high-end, sophisticated identity and website, yet you turn up for a networking or speaking event looking schlumpy, there’s going to be a disconnect.

One of my mentors used to say “always be creating an impression of increase,” meaning, people feel they will increase something in their lives (money, clients, peace of mind, well-being), as a result of working with you.

3) Do the work

Before you get caught up in the fun stuff such as color palettes, fonts and hiring a personal stylist to spruce up your look, do your homework to ensure your positioning is spot on. Ask yourself the following:

  • Who are my ideal clients?
  • What is the number 1 action I want them to take when they encounter me?
  • What is the outcome they seek from working with me?
  • Who are my top 3 competitors?
  • What does their branding convey?
  • What brands inspire you and why?
  • What services will I offer my clients immediately?
  • What services do I plan (or hope) to offer down the line?
  • What pages will your website include?

4) Find your partners

Can you do this all yourself? Maybe, but the foundation of a great career, business or brand is one’s ability to outsource the things we’re not so great at to the experts. Self-awareness is key here, so take some time to review your objectives, brand touchpoints and audit, and assemble your dream team.

You might choose a one-stop-shop, or you might put together your own team and creative direct the brand yourself as I did. Play to your strengths.

Once you’ve decided what approach to take, do your research. Email people who have websites you like and ask who designed it, ask your friends and colleagues and get at least 2 quotes. More expensive doesn’t always mean better, so use your judgement (and read testimonials or ask for references).

5) Create a budget and timeline

Like weddings, re-branding costs can add up. Have a budget and stick with it. There will be some things you absolutely must have and others that are nice to have. Knowing where you stand with your budget will help take the anguish out of those decisions.

Next up is your timeline. List everything that needs to happen (from your side as well as your partners), connect with them and see if it’s feasible.

From my experience, a complete website re-design takes about 4 months from kick-off call to going live (and that’s after you’ve got all your content together). Get everyone on the same page, have due dates for each phase of the project and make sure you give your partners everything they need so they can do their work.

6) Create a roll-out plan

You don’t need to do everything all at once, so this is where step 1 and 2 start to pay dividends. Based upon your priorities you can do one bit at a time which allows you to manage your resources accordingly.

For example, phase 1 of my re-brand was my identity, website, newsletter and social media platforms. Phase 2 will be member ship site for online course (which is already created). Phase 3 will be a store to sell products (which are not yet created but will one day!)

7) Write your content

Let’s go back to our mantra: Your brand is how other people feel when they engage with you. Now is the time to build content around that feeling you want to inspire.

Whether you want people to feel hopeful, confident, reassured (or anything else), your brand touchpoints will be how prospects engage with and, hopefully, hire you!

Your next step is to put pen to paper and figure out what this looks like. I find that doing it within the context of a website can be helpful because it challenges us to get to the essence of what we’re offering very quickly. Start with this basic set up and add as you feel necessary:

Home page – think of this as a tasting menu of what you offer
About page – this should communicate who you are, what you do, and who you do it for. The goal is not to share your resume, but to connect. This is the perfect place for your compelling story!
Work with me page – how can your prospects buy from you?
Testimonials page – because it’s a lot more effective to have someone else say how awesome you are instead of just you saying it!
Contact me – this is a great place to include a questionnaire that will help you and your prospect figure out what they need and how you can help them

The goal of this checklist is to help you gain clarity around what you offer, who your ideal clients are, and how you want them to feel about engaging with you.

Share with me in the comments the biggest takeaway from this article. I’d love to hear from you!

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About Justine Clay

Justine Clay is a speaker and business coach for creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. Through a series of clear, actionable steps, Justine will teach you how to identify what makes you stand out from the crowd, create a marketing message that resonates with your ideal clients, and build a successful and fulfilling creative business or career. Sign up for Justine’s free guide: How to Find High-Quality Clients and Get Paid What You’re Worth and start making monumental changes in your creative business or career today.

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