What if I told you, you could reverse engineer the success of your brand? That you could use the strategies of brand development to predict the success of your business? Sound too good to be true?
Well, it isn’t, friend, but first, let me back up and tell you how I came to that understanding. When I started Heart & Vine Creative- I was taking a leap of faith.
Sure I had over 7 years of experience in marketing and sales psychology.
Of course, I had almost a decade of analytical research training/experience which honed my ability to recognize patterns and the strategies that work.
Yes, I had already helped numerous friends and business owners with brand strategy and design before H & V opened.
But I hadn’t tracked those results and didn’t know if my methods would actually work.
And so I started H & V and implemented my expertise and methods I derived on my own to help creatives build intentional brands that actually converted. What I saw lit me up!
My clients were booking discovery calls, consistently-with dream clients.
They increased their web traffic by an average of 250%.
Were booking out their services.
And were getting the results they wanted in their business.
So in true scientist fashion- I went to work to understand what was really happening here. Were they just unique or was there something in the process I had built that was helping them get those results?
I turned what I learned from that research into a signature framework – The Brand Blueprint ™. Today I’ll be walking you through the overarching building blocks within my framework that my 1-on-1 clients go through so that I can show you how to develop a brand that converts!
PS: This blog post contains a ton of info and your head might be spinning after reading all of it. I wrote this to be something that you walk through as you build your brand. Save it, pin it, whatever you have to do so that you can come back to it when you need specific pieces!
1. Core: The First Brand Development Building Block
The dictionary defines core as: “the central or most important part of something” In other words- the foundation.A strategic brand needs to be built on a firm foundation. One that sets the stage for the rest of the business.
The Core helps you implement marketing and growth strategies that actually work because you will always be referring back to it to make decisions within your business. In my framework, this part includes determining your why and defining your business’ mission, vision, and values.
These 4 elements are the core of any strong brand. If you are able to know and understand them you’ll be able to build upon them for a business that actually yields results. Now each of those steps could (and will be) their own blog posts, but I want to dig deeper into the WHY for the moment because the rest of them build off of it.
Truth bomb: many people teach defining your why the wrong way.
When I start working with clients they will start off with whys such as:
Wanting to pay off debt and live debt free
Pay for their child’s college
Be able to retire their husband
I call these “The Internal Why”. They are the reason you get up each and every morning and head to your office, dining room table, or stay up late after your 9-5 to make this dream a reality.
However your Dream Client doesn’t really care about that- I know gut punch, right? The thing is when someone encounters your brand they have no idea who you are and are evaluating your brand based on how they feel you will serve them. We are selfish as consumers and we look at businesses and brands through that lens.
Over time we form attachments to these brands and people and will be open to learning about your internal why because we are already invested, but that happens as a result of how you serve them.
So how do we do that and reverse engineer that attachment and investment form our dream clients?
We need to have, what I like to call, a “The External Why”. The External Why should be an outward facing why. It ties in your brand’s core values, your services, and your Dream Client’s, and parts of your internal why into a message that your audience can also get on board with.
For an example, because I’m an example learner myself:
My Internal Why: To be able to retire my mom because she’s amazing, travel, and to be able to give generously to causes I am passionate about
My External Why: To empower and encourage women in business to take control of their business and know that their dream life and business is possible, to help them see that we are capable of being the change through giving initiatives within my business
As you can see the client becomes the main focus of my external why and incidentally that is the best part of my job- empowering and encouraging women in the strengths and gifts they already have.
It also ties in my deep desire to give back, which I do, through the services I offer.
So how do you think through this for yourself?
- Write out your internal why and what that looks like for you
- Think about the breakthroughs and transformations you get your own clients. What about that lights you up? What things are your clients saying that make you so excited to get back up and do it again?
How can you relate your internal why to your audience? Here’s an example of this one:
You started your virtual assistant business so that you could be at home with your kiddos and not miss out on those precious moments. You often work with mompreneurs within your own business. Your External Why could be that by serving those moms within their businesses you’re helping free them up to be able to spend more time with their little ones and that really lights you up!
See how that works? Focusing outward in terms of your why will drastically change the results you see in your business. You obviously want to back up your whys with the remaining building blocks but starting off with that External Why that will help your audience feel connected to you, excited about how you will serve them through your content and services, and eventually into clients and brand ambassadors. This my friends is a brand development power play!
2. Client: The Second Brand Development Building Block
I’m sure you are so tired of the Dream Client avatar exercises and still not feeling like you’ve nailed your dream client and who you want to work with.
Well, the reason is that we are doing it all wrong, friends, so let us correct that!
Many times people start off by giving their Dream Client a name and then working through the demographics like where they live, what kind of car they drive, what are their hobbies, and so on and so forth. This doesn’t actually help you meet your Dream Client where they are in terms of messaging.
It most certainly does not help you convert them at all. Don’t get me wrong- building out a Dream Client avatar with that type of information is vital especially for market research, SEO keyword targeting, and ads building and targeting as well.
But too many people get caught up in the Persona Profile as I like to call it and then they are confused about who they want to work with and how to connect with them.
There are two different Dream Client profiles I like to have my clients build out- the Persona Profile (demographics and all that good jazz) and the Problem Profile.
In the Problem Profile, we focus on their Dream Client’s specific problem and how that problem affects other areas of their life. Let’s do an example of this too:
Your Offer: Bookkeeping for Creative Entrepreneurs
Your IC’s Problem Profile:
Specific Problem: they have a hard time keeping their books straight and are confused about categorizing expenses and what they should be tracking
How it affects them: They are stressed because they don’t have a firm understanding of their finances, they aren’t sure if they can hire out so they don’t even though they need the help, they miss important tax deadlines which causes even more stress, they are overworked because they don’t know how many people they can actually take on and be ok finance wise, they aren’t paying themselves enough which may be causing problems within their personal life, etc.
Can you see how having a profile like this would be infinitely more valuable than knowing the type of car your IC drives? This profile would help you build out an offer that addresses those issues head-on, create a sales page that speaks directly to your client, and enables you to communicate much more effectively with them.
The persona profile becomes incredibly helpful in building out the personality of your brand so that you can build relationships with your audience, but the problem profile helps you convert them. Both are necessary and work together but spending more time on the Problem Profile will actually help you see results.
I only had a Problem Profile of my clients when I started out and was able to book out my services within the first 3 months with dream clients because I was speaking to how I could serve them well.
3. Convert: The Third Brand Development Building Block
Ok so we’ve built out our the Core foundation of the brand, we understand and know our Dream Client and where they might need help. Now it’s time to build out the piece that will help convert them: our offers and services.
Now, obviously, if you’ve started a business or are going to you have an idea of what things you’ll be offering and what general niche you’ll be occupying. However, many people build out their packages before they even understand their DC’s Problem Profile (also how much do I love alliterations? A LOT obviously). You want to make sure your offer meets them right where they are.
It should not be any more or less than what they need. If you want people to effortlessly say YES! to what you have to offer then you need for it to be right in the sweet spot in terms of value.
Value can be a bit arbitrary in terms of how to calculate it for your service, product, or course, but there is a general formula (love me some formulas) for you to think through
VALUE = BENEFIT- RISK- PRICE
So the end goal of this equation is to make sure that price becomes irrelevant by addressing the other two- benefit and risk- really well through other areas of your business. The important one to focus on in this stage is the benefits piece so let’s dive into that a bit.
The benefit is ultimately the transformation they will receive from working with you. The closer your specific solution is to their specific problem then you will hit the nail right on the head with the benefits piece.
The way to do this is to make sure you are building out your services in direct response to your clients’ specific problems. Let’s do another example of this using the Bookkeeper business above:
They are stressed because they don’t have a firm understanding of their finances, they aren’t sure if they can hire out so they don’t even though they need the help, they miss important tax deadlines which causes even more stress, they are overworked because they don’t know how many people they can actually take on and be ok finance wise, they aren’t paying themselves enough which may be causing problems within their personal life, etc.
- Personalized 90-day money plan after a 90-minute 1-on-1 meeting where you go over their personal and business goals and come up with a plan moving forward that will help them start paying themselves
- Organization of their business finances
- Weekly/monthly reports and growth charts and indicating areas of improvement
- This service package level addresses all of your clients’ needs and will meet them right where they are in terms of the benefits. The specific services and features you offer them ultimately address the bigger underlying issues they are facing and stressing over in their businesses.
- I know this is a simplified view of what this would look like when working with my 1-on-1 clients but it does help you start thinking about how you can address the needs of your client through a very specific solution.
- The person wanting website copywriting support is very different from the person wanting launch copywriting support and so will the packages (in terms of pricing, features, and benefits) that address each of these needs.
4. Connect: The Fourth Brand Development Building Block
This piece is the one that most people begin with which is why they are getting wrong in terms of being able to see the results they are looking for.
Once you have the first 3 brand development building blocks built out, you can move onto the Connect element. This is the part that will allow you to take the internal strategy you have built out over the last four steps and connect it externally to your audience. There are 3 parts to this building block:
I couldn’t help myself with the alliterations if you couldn’t already tell. These 3 elements come last because to be executed well they need all the other pre-work we’ve done before. Let me explain what I mean by diving into each one a little bit.
This is the most important of the three because without nailing your messaging you’ll struggle to get conversions regardless of the marketing strategies you are using.
Your brand’s voice and how you talk to your audience and what you talk about is directly tied to all three of the main building blocks- Core, Client, Convert. By understanding those fundamental pieces you can easily pull together copy for your website, sales pages, and even Instagram captions.
This section could (and will be) its own blog post because of how important it is (and also because this post is already getting long enough). For now, though I will urge you to think about the following 3 questions:
- If someone were to peruse your brand for 30 minutes (your IG, your website, etc.) What top 3 words would you want them to say come to mind about your brand?
- What transformation/breakthrough do you provide your clients and how can you communicate that to them?
- What are some other areas they struggle within their life or business where you can shed some light and encouragement? I work a lot with creatives and so outside of my services I know we all struggle with imposter syndrome, fear of failing, juggling life and business. So I try to bring those topics into some of my communications so that I can form bonds with my audience and connect with them outside of what I offer.
Then start putting together a bank of words and phrases that you frequently use so that you have them for when you are writing copy or even IG captions. Connect those phrases and words into stories and meaningful messages that support the answers to the previous 3 questions.
Now we can finally create a visual brand that speaks directly to the people you want to serve. Want to know a secret?
You could hire 3 different designers to create a logo for you and all three would design something different, with varying color palettes, and it STILL would work for your brand. Why? Because there is more than one way to visually connect with your audience.
The styles might be similar and so might the color palettes they all select (if they are using your IC’s psychology to build out your brand identity) but the design of each logo would be different.
You see how that can be problematic if you start with your brand identity as opposed to your branding as a whole?
Your Dream Client will not buy because they love your logo. They will buy because your offer serves them right where they are, you understand them, your business mission is one they can get behind, and your brand messaging/voice is on point.
Your visuals are a way to support all of those things. It also allows you to build up brand recognition easier and faster because of how the human brain works.
The visuals you build out should support and enhance the brand you are building through your services, your messaging, and your overall brand personality. Your logo and brand visuals are not the beginning and the end of your brand. In fact, they are a very small part of a much larger system that works together beautifully to build a sustainable and profitable brand.
When I tell my clients that through this process we will be able to build out an effective marketing strategy that yields them the results they are always shocked. No one ever thinks that the marketing strategies are tied to your brand, but they are.
Your marketing or visibility strategies are directly tied to your Dream Client persona and problem, your specific offer, and your brand messaging. If you don’t take those things into consideration when you build out marketing strategies you will struggle to connect with the right people consistently.
When I first started out, I knew my client and my offer. I was able to employ marketing strategies that leveraged my strengths, offer, and knowledge of my IC’s problem to book out my services in 3 months. I was not actively on Instagram or endlessly in Facebook groups because I knew I did not need them to get the clients I wanted. In that season, I created a networking plan, made strategic investments, and leveraged key pieces of content I created to get in front of the right people.
That is the power of building out a brand strategy that will help you effectively market your business. You need to take into consideration all of the building blocks that come before and then formulate a plan that will actually work.
Many people start using all types of strategies without knowing if they will work for their audience or not and then feel down about themselves and their business when they don’t see results.
It is not you or your offer! It most likely is that you don’t really know who you are talking to, what makes you and your offer different in your industry, and a plan to build a community around your brand. Without a solid knowledge of those elements any marketing strategy you try will be minimally effective at best.
Is your head spinning yet? Not sure where to start? I figured that would happen and I came prepared. Take this 60-second quiz to get a personalized plan of where to get started with this framework!
If you’re looking for an even more personalized experience and someone to hold your hand through this process then head here to learn more about my brand strategy and design process. I only have 4 spots left for 2018 and would love to support you in building a brand that converts!