Brand Words – who needs ’em?! How do you choose the right ones for your brand?! Have you thought about this before?
Well, let me tell you, friend, YOU DO! (oh I am sorry did I just yell that?)
Let me try again, YOU DO! Whoops, I just did it again. #sorrynotsorry.
Take a seat at my virtual table and have a little chat over coffee, shall we? I promise I won’t yell anymore. I just get super passionate about “words,” is that even possible? Here’s the deal, I have always loved to read even in school, I was the one who would rather write a 10-page paper then take a true-false test. I can be a real big grammar snob.
I knew that while finding my way in life and settling into a career I needed to find a path that used both my artistic side and my love for “words”. In college, I pursued a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising and a Minor in Visual Arts. What I didn’t know then was how much my worlds would collide when I started my own business. That might make this blog too long so I will try to stay on track here. It’s a story for another day friends.
When I first started designing professionally for clients at my corporate jobs, I was taught to take direction from the clients. I was a sort of dancing monkey when it came to designing. Designing just what they asked for. Sometimes knowing it was not the best direction, but the motto of the company was – the customer is always right and we are to make them happy. What I didn’t realize then, is that I was not helping them. I was not leading them in the direction of a good investment. If I am being brutally honest, we might have been holding them back in their business growth by not stepping up and being the expert.
I knew that when I shifted my business to focus on brand design and styling I was not going to be a dancing monkey anymore! I wanted to be a leader and an expert. My goal was to really help my clients grow and evolve. Using my strengths, I went back to the basics, or I could say the foundation of who I was – my love for art and words!
When I shifted the focus of my business to Brand Design and Styling I wanted to make sure the past was in the past. Refusing to be a dancing monkey anymore, I wanted my clients to get the most out of their investment. Investments can feel heavy and exciting all at the same time, but when it comes to branding I really wanted my clients to feel empowered and even at ease throughout the process. How could something so BIG be easy? Business decisions are hard right?
They have worked hard to become the professional that they are, and they want their branding to reflect that. My clients are ready to step into a new light and become the person they know they have always been. To make the process as easy as possible we have to go back to the basics.
1. How their own personal style and the things they hold dear can inspire them.
2. How they want people to feel when they come in contact with their new brand.
Sure these may sound really basic. When my clients answer light-hearted but thoughtful questions that pull out their values, without putting the pressure on “why” behind everything, it is as easy as can be. I have found that when we are asked the questions directly pointed at the “why” behind everything we often try too hard to come up with some elaborate answer or we try to sound more eloquent than we might really be. The same goes if I asked you, – “What are the words you want to represent your brand?”
You would probably clam up and toss out some answers that you think are the “right answers”.
The truth is – most often they are not and they have no deeper meaning other than some words you tossed around that have big meanings. I wanted more than this! No longer did I want to be told what they thought they needed to be saying. I wanted the deep-down truth from them. The answers they would tell themselves in the shower (is that too invasive?).
It could be simpler. I could get the answers that I needed to create a powerful personal brand through everyday conversation just like you were talking to your best friends!
So get ready because we are going to sit down and have a quick chat over a cup of coffee. I am going to be sharing with you a few of the specific questions I ask my clients, to make it easy to pull out their very own brand words!
If you need a fresh cup, go get it now because we are digging into the very questions that I ask my clients to help determine their brand words. These questions are fun to answer but don’t just laugh them off. I want you to really pour your heart out and share what you feel deep down.
For this to work and give the best results you have to start talking about your brand openly like talking to a friend. To create a genuine connection with potential clients they have to be able to get to know you, and I mean the real you. Just because we see others throwing around words we think are the “right words to use” doesn’t mean that they fit us. You won’t create the connection you desire by using stiff words that your audience doesn’t relate to.
There is absolutely NO pressure to have the right answer…
Ask yourself this: If you could have anything you wanted in an office space or brick and mortar store, what would this space look like?
What emotions would customers feel when they walk in the door?
By asking these questions, visualizing your client’s reaction will help you pinpoint the emotion you want them to feel. Do you want them to feel comfy, inspired, or accepted? The way you make people feel is the most important part of your brand. Think deeper than decor, colors, and physical traits.
Ask yourself this: If my brand was a person, how would she behave?
How would she dress?
What values would she live by?
How does she interact with others?
You are not only defining physical traits but also looking for insight into your brand’s engagement style, which is a key piece of the whole experience. At your core, is your brand youthful, elegant, focused, or luxurious?
Now, it’s time to ask 5 people to take a couple of seconds to describe you. Have them write it down and send it to you via text or email. Take a look at what they said. Does their description line up with how you described your brand? Was their feedback eye-opening?
This step may seem like one that you will want to skip, and while I call it a bonus it is so important. Seeing how others view you as a person can bring new light to how you can present yourself as a brand. Your loved ones, past clients, and friends probably know best how you are presenting yourself in public. If their responses are not in line with the brand words you are selecting you might need to go back and take a deeper look into how you are describing the brand you want to create.
What did you think of those questions?
Did you take the time to work through them?
Did you have any big breakthroughs that surprised you?
When I first did this exercise I was pretty surprised at the side of my personality that was more prevalent. My brand personality was the outgoing energetic side of me. Most days I am an introvert and highly value quiet time and being at home. I have an outgoing side that wants to come out and play some days. I guess my brand is that “girl” LOL. What made it feel right was the responses that my friends and past clients had sent me to the bonus question. They spoke only of the outgoing side of me.
Now that you have answered the questions its time to narrow your descriptions down, then choose the words to represent your brand. Go back and review your answers. Are there words that you had used more than once? Can you group together words that have a common theme? If you have answered these questions honestly, you will find that your values will shine through in the brand words you have used in both descriptions. PLUS in the bonus answers about you!
Don’t stress about doing the work, just pull out the common thread, brainstorm additional words that fit into the mix, get messy, and feel comfortable with the words in front of you. The hard work is done!
The time has come to choose 3 words to represent your brand!
Select the 3 words you feel best to describe the direction you want your personal brand to go in!
When you are faced with making a decision in your business, you can always come back to your brand words to see you through. You can filter your decisions through these brand words by asking yourself questions like, ”If I choose this, does it reflect my three brand words?
Is this decision in alignment with my brand words?
Am I still laser-focused on my goals and remaining true to my words?”
Your brand words ultimately serve as the core foundation for your brand. You want to always be cohesive in your branding and having brand words to rely on and reflect on can keep you cohesive and on track. The whole point of having a good brand is to be consistent. Consistency in your image helps people remember you. Your audience will associate certain feelings, colors, thoughts, and words with your brand.
BUT that’s not all!
Did you know that your brand words can also help you with your visual inspiration? If you are still working on finding the right inspiration for your brand you can now use these words to filter your searches on Pinterest (or google). Head over to Pinterest and use one of your brand words to help you find more specific inspiration for your brand. For example: if you have selected elegant for a brand word you can now search for: elegant + fashion, elegant + home decor, elegant + wedding, elegant + florals, etc. I think you get where I am going here.
Now you will be using very specific searches to help you hone in the visual representation of your brand that will ultimately convey the emotions you want your new brand to share with the world!
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