Truth time! Branding is NOT only about websites, spending hours choosing the right color palette (hello designseeds.com! My new best friend!) or picking the perfect font.
These are the activities most of us spend AGES on and we go down a wormhole of font hunting or generating new color combos, while what we REALLY should be doing, is focusing our attention on something else. So let’s dig into the non visual part of online branding strategy that is the root of your business identity online.
Yep, YOU are the key representation of your online brand, and the VISUAL side (our favorite) has to reflect:
- Your mission (this is your WHY)
- Your values
- Your voice
- Your story
- Your personality
As a solopreneur, entrepreneur or blogger (or all 3 if you’re a badass like me 😉 you are the face of your business. You are the unique, incredible person who is creating and growing your business. Your online branding strategy should reflect YOU and what YOU bring to the table as a business owner.
So let’s jump into the 5 key, non visual elements of online branding strategy that you need to use in order to stand out online.
1.Your Brand Mission – popularly known as your WHY 😉
This is something you’ve probably heard about, and a lot of entrepreneurs who are just starting out don’t spend much time pondering on the WHY behind their online business. Their “why” is usually “I want to make money online” or ” I want to work in my PJ’s” – they scratch the surface.
Hell when I was in corporate, MY DREAM was to work from home and work in my PJ’s and NOT have to see my damn boss every day. Or hear her. Or interact with humans when all I wanted was peace, quiet and Netflix.
Well my friend, as someone who’s been in business for 3 years now, let me tell ya – the “I want to work from my couch” motivation does NOT hold up long. You get so used to working from your couch AND there are many, many days when all you’re doing is working from your couch, ALL THE LIVING DAY LONG and into the late hours of the night, that you want to murder your couch. Literally.
I’ve had my online biz buddies tell me they felt like the couch will swallow them whole, eat them up and spit them out. Because “entrepreneuring”, just like “adulting”, gets really fucking hard.
There are days you want to rip your hair out and come crawling back to that bitch boss in corporate for a steady paycheck and a list of instructions on how to do your job. No thinking required.
Seriously, that’s how it gets, and it’s gonna get like that for you some days too. Not to say that you’re not gonna love it – I LOVE being an online business owner and entrepreneur.
Some days I hate it, but most times I can’t imagine my life any other way now. But those days when I feel like my couch is out there to get me, what I NEED to keep coming back to is my WHY.
That’s why your mission is so important. You need to dig deep into WHY the fuck you want to be in online business in the first place. What comes useful is the “5 why’s” exercise, it’s really freaking sweet. Asking yourself WHY until you get to that core want, need and desire.
For me, it’s FREEDOM. Ultimately, that’s why I’m in the game in the first place.
I want the freedom to make my own decisions when it comes to my career. I want the freedom to wake up when I want, go to sleep when I want, do things how I wanna do them. Have the freedom of no financial ceiling, the freedom to take sick days without having to “ask”. I want the freedom to stay home with my kids and watch them grow up, not missing a damn think. I want the freedom to spend time with my husband whenever I want to.
Now that being said, these freedoms don’t come one sided – there’s the other side of things with the couch and the late nights and the ripping of hair on the floor crying. But which career path DOESN’T have these “perks”?! (well, maybe aside from the human eating couch).
What gets me through the tough times is remembering why I’m doing this, what the good days look like and what this whole entrepreneurship things is allowing me to do. Also – a whole lotta support from my husband, my online biz buddies and WINE. Lots and lots of wine.
If you’re thinking about how this contributes to my brand – look no further. I’m on a mission for FREEDOM + EASE in my own business AND the businesses of my clients. These are my drivers and I want to help and work with people who are also driven by FREEDOM + EASE, I want to help them get there. We’re in it together. Freedom & Ease are goals that define my business, my brand and ME.
YOUR TURN. Download this workbook and nail your WHY with the 5 x Why’s exercise – it’s a keeper! It will help you DIG DEEP into why you’re in the game in the first place. Keep it for those days when your couch is eating you alive or when you feel like the next client is not ever coming, ever. You will need it!
What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What is your unique point of view on the most common, prevalent issues or questions asked in your particular niche?
Example: As an online business strategist and marketer, I believe that you should only “do” and implement the strategies that FEEL DAMN GOOD. I believe you should never force yourself to use tactics you don’t feel GREAT using, even if EVERYONE is screaming about the incredible results they’re getting using those very tactics.
I believe that you should have the FREEDOM to choose how you want to run your business, what you want to do and how you wanna do it. I believe that true success is a combination of RESULTS done in a way that is ALIGNED and feels GREAT, RIGHT and EXCITING!
Sure – you can get results by hustling your heart out and feeling burned out and literally like shit.
You can get results using tactics that make you feel so icky and sick that you dread every morning when you have to start working.
You can get results by offering services you hate offering, just coz they bring in the dough. Is that the definition of success? Not in my book – if you keep going down that alley you’ll be done within months. That is not the definition of long term, sustainable success.
Freedom & Ease, again, defining my values and how I do business. See how it’s all coming together nicely? They’re driving me to do this and they’re defining and shaping my core systems and beliefs in my business.
YOUR TURN. What is your stance on the key pain points in your niche? What kind of mindset do you stand behind? What are your core beliefs? What is your method to this madness?
Now this is when it gets personal. Using your authentic voice is a true game changer when it comes to online business. WHY?
Coz it gets you noticed. Unfortunately, comparasonitis is a real plague online and it breeds gazillions of “same – same, matchy – matchy” business owners who are all emulating each other.
Comparasonitis – the art of scrolling social media and comparing yourself + your business to everyone else, then going to their website and comparing it to yours, comparing their offers and prices, their colors and their fonts, their mission and their photos, their mother and their dog. Then feeling like you will never be “as good, as convincing, as experienced, as funny, as gorgeous” or never have “such a beautiful website / fonts / colors / footer / dog / mother” and deeming yourself “not good enough to achieve your goals and dreams”.
So when we feel like we’re worse than everyone else in our niche, we automatically shut down and subconsciously make that decision to “be more like them/him/her”. We emulate the people we see as successful, in hopes that if we become more like them, we’ll see that same success.
Because obviously we can’t get it just being the plain, little old ME.
THIS IS A TRAP. It’s wrong on so many levels and you will find many successful entrepreneurs tell you that they have fallen into that trap themselves. That the only way to “make it” is to be authentic.
To build your brand using your authentic voice, even if it means that fucks are flying around all over the place and you keep mentioning how great your cat is.
People LOVE people that are quirky, original, different, honest, forward, TRUE, REAL, AUTHENTIC, RAW, HONEST. It really does show and it makes you SHINE, when you let us see the real you. That’s when you get the real, true and raving fans who LOVE your personality and your approach to business, your niche and your cat.
There are a gazillion entrepreneurs, bloggers, strategists, coaches, dietitians and other online magicians out there. One sure fire way to stand out from the crowd is to be YOU because there is only ONE of you and you are incredible, unique, original and that will attract your people.
Not being another copycat on FB who posts another mind-numbingly boring and predictable post their coach told them to post and just switch up the name and details, because once that posts made them 8k in 8 minutes.
You don’t wanna be that person, because nobody interacts with that person. We all scroll past thinking “OMFG not again.”
Instead, try just being you, and talking about the stuff you wanna talk about, in a way that is innate to how you tell a story. Your passion will show, your excitement will shine and you will feel great for it.
People will notice and they will LOVE you for it. There is so much “sameness” online, be the one who stands out from the crowd by starting with showing YOUR TRUE COLORS BABY. That’s how the stars are born!
YOUR TURN. Start by taking the censorship off and just write / post / talk / teach about things that light you up, in places that light you up. Don’t force yourself to engage like mad on FB if you prefer Instagram. Don’t drive yourself nuts with Twitter if you’d rather be pinning your awesome posts on Pinterest.
Aaaah the story, story marketing – so damn popular across the internets. There’s good reason for it – people love a good story, especially if it’s a fact based, real life story and there’s some sort of hardship in there.
People love to hear about other people struggling, so they don’t feel so alone in their own struggles.
They also love to hear about other people overcoming their struggles, because that gives them hope that one day, they will too be able to overcome theirs. It gives them hope and often – a good kick in the ass to start doing that thing that they’ve been putting on their new years resolutions list for ever.
Your story is the inspiration behind your brand and often – the transformation that you teach your people, your audience and your ideal clients.
It’s the notion of you going from point A to point B via a winding road of ups and downs to get to this point where you are right now. It’s about your trials and tribulations, your wins and your shortcomings, your problems and the solutions you found. It’s ultimately the real, raw YOU that has come a long way to create this thing called your brand.
Example: I was feeling trapped in my corporate job. I was making great money, but working 16 hour days and seeing my husband on the weekends was not my jam.
I never felt at home with having a condescending boss and playing by someone else’s rules. I hated being told what to do and how to do it, working late nights to make someone else’s dream come true.
By age 29 I was earning 6 figures and have been burned out twice with a severe episode of burnout that ultimately ended my corporate career.
I ended up in hospital and desperate to change my life.
I took a long leave of absence and while trying to pick up the pieces, exhausted and depressed in bed every single day, I looked for inspiration, for a way to make a difference in the world while making a sustainable income.
I discovered blogging and started my journey with a fashion blog (because I have always loved fashion) and built up my Instagram following to 10k in a couple of months. I became obsessed with social media marketing.
I discovered Pinterest and built the traffic to my website to 40 k unique views a month.
I was hooked on creating websites and blogs that helped people solve problems.
I discovered making money online when I sold my first website for profit – that I built from scratch! I was thrilled and my new career took shape – I became an online entrepreneur. I decided to help people build and grow businesses that help other people overcome their obstacles and achieve their dreams.
This was my passport to freedom and I wanted to help other people have that freedom too. Freedom + Ease while helping other people? That’s the perfect job description if you ask me.
See what I did there? I told you how I got to where I am today.
This is the short version, but this is my story.
This is how it started for me and how by working hard and experimenting, I discovered different strategies to creating an online business. I tell you how I overcame my obstacles, how I met my goals, I describe the evolution of my process.
I show you that I went from broken and sick to successful and making money and impact in a totally different setting, different role. That I managed to fight for and get that Freedom + Ease I wanted. That you can do the same, if I could do it depressed from my bed.
That my friends, is how YOUR story defines your brand and helps your people make a connection to YOU.
They start FEELING something when they think about your and your brand, they become INSPIRED, they become HOPEFUL, they become MOTIVATED. They become certain you are the person who can help them because you have been there done that.
You know the journey and you can show them how.
YOUR TURN. What is your story? What is your journey that brought you where you are today? How did you make your way here? What problems did you face? How did you solve them? Are you still on that journey? Share your experience, what do you want to teach others by sharing this journey with them?
This is what ties it all together nicely – your personality, the way you are, what you are like, what you like and don’t like.
How you roll, what your quirks are, your hobbies, interests, family life, your dog, cat, hamster and your obsession with watching Bravo TV.
This is how people make an emotional connection to your brand and what it represents.
The person standing behind that brand is you, and the more they know about you, the more they feel your personality and see it shine through, the more connected they can become with your brand.
It’s just like “real life” – people either like you or they don’t. And your people will LOVE you, if you let them find YOU, the real raw you. They will want to read your take on fitness or losing weight or how to take care of a newborn or how to train your dog because they LOVE your personality. You don’t piss them off ,you “get” them, they feel connected to you and would love to throw back a martini or 10 in your company. They love your brand.
Your personality is what shapes the feelings and emotions people have around your brand.
It filters out the unideal clients and attracts the dream, absolute biz bestie type of audience you will love interacting with and clients you will love working with. It attracts the people who you can help the most.
The people you will LOVE helping the most. It’s a win win.
That’s why it goes without saying that you cannot hide your personality from us baby.
You just can’t – you’re doing everyone a disservice.
Your personality = your brand.
Don’t feel like you have to hide because you’re an introvert, or you’re not particularly funny (or you don’t think you are – others might find you hilarious), or you think you’re boring, too much of a potty mouth, to little of a glamour puss, < insert other self conscious shitty belief >.
You are the best version of yourself and among the 7 billion people on the planet, there is a tribe of peeps who will absolutely fucking adore you and want to read your every word, watch every video and download every workbook, course and training. There are people who are dying to find a coach, dietitian, light worker and blogger like you to help them help themselves. Period.
Want to give your brand some oomph and some much needed definition? Make a decision TODAY – YOU SHALL BE YOU AND NOBODY ELSE FOR THE SAKE OF AUTHENTIC, KICK ASS BRANDING. Deal? Deal. Embrace your quirks starting 3, 2, 1!
And so my friends, we come to the end of this super long post about branding. I really hope you found this super helpful in understanding what the non visual part of branding actually is and WHY it’s so damn important to get it right.
If you have any questions or want to share YOUR experience with branding, please leave a comment! Please share this post if you think it can help someone get their branding on the right tracks!
Much love and support,