Sharing four brand foundation pillars that a business owner can answer to effectively brand their service based business right from the start.
As a brand new business owner, it’s easy to look at more established folks and feel like there is no way you’ll be able to reach that level. Or, perhaps you think you need to start, day one, looking like you’ve been doing this for-eh-ver.
Here’s the deal. The business owners who have a brand that you aspire to, have been in business for (most likely) years and years. And, as a friendly reminder when the comparison voice starts to creep in: they started at square one, too!
Brand clarity (which leads to consistency and cohesiveness) comes from taking action. To make taking that action easier, we start out by putting pen to paper and clarifying your brand foundation. These are four elements that set the stage for you to get out there, market your business and start getting booked.
I recognize that I’m slightly biased but the brand foundation is step two in getting your service based business ready for a reason – when you understand WHO you’re targeting, HOW you want to be experienced, WHY the work you do matters and WHAT you’re offering, you’ll be able to hit the ground running for steps three and four. So, without further ado, let’s walk through the four brand foundation pillars.
Brand Pillar One: Who You Serve
As a new business owner, your gut reaction is probably something like, “Well, I want to work with everyone. So, my ideal client is everyone.”
Let’s just squash that notion right here and now. And I say that with so much love.
You see, the point of honing in on an ideal client is so that your brand and marketing efforts have direction. Think about it like this: every message you share has a goal of reaching the dead center of the target – the bullseye. The bullseye is your ideal client. Sometimes, you’re going to miss and hit an outer ring. That’s okay, but the effort and intention behind the shot is to land in the center. Meaning, your goal is to always do your best at connecting with the ideal client, but it doesn’t mean you won’t attract others outside of that space.
We forget that as business owners, we have the power to say yes or no to clients. And, that not everyone is going to be a good fit. In addition, when you make it clear as to who you are for and who are not, you’re also empowering the potential client to make a decision on whether they want to reach out to you.
Let me repeat that one for those in the back: By clearly stating who you are for and who you are not, you EMPOWER a potential client to make their own decision. How freakin’ cool is that? So, if they decide that they still want to reach out, it’s because they’ve connected with YOU as a service provider and want to see if it’ll be a good fit.
All that being said, you do not have to stick with your ideal client forever. You’re not marrying them – you’re just deciding who you most want to work with and going all in. Work with people, gain experience, learn what you like and what you don’t, and then come back to revisit this ideal client profile. There is no shame in updating it and further clarifying who you want to work with because you’re doing it from experience – it’s an educated and intentional adjustment, rather than a guess or assumption.
Wondering where to start? Click here to read about the seven questions to ask in order to create an ideal client profile.
Brand Pillar Two: Why The Work Matters
I’m going to do something crazy and assume that there is at least a small part of you that has a strong belief, opinion or idea about the service you want to provide for this new business venture.
For example, you want to start a wedding photography business because you believe in capturing real, honest moments from a couple’s big day. Or, maybe you want to provide health coaching services because you know how powerful small diet changes can be without feeling restricted.
I understand that this is a BIG question and it might be something you have to sit with for a bit. But it’s important because it’s the catalyst for connecting with your community (and that ideal client you mentioned in pillar one) on an emotional level.
To help identify your own beliefs around the work, ask yourself: Why does this work matter? Or, why is this work important?
Brand Pillar Three: What Problem + Solution You’re Offering
Another benefit to narrowing in on who you’re serving is that you can better understand their specific problem and tailor your solution to said problem.
The key is to zero in on the problem that is relevant to the service you’re going to offer. I know that may seem obvious but it needs to be said.
It’s likely that your ideal client will have more than one problem that can be directly related to your service. However, for the sake of simplicity and because you’re just getting started, I’d recommend identifying the MAIN struggle that your ideal client is facing.
Simplifying the problem allows you to be extra-clear on your solution. Think about the problem as Point A and your solution as Point B. It’s the transformation you’re providing to clients because of the service you provide. Said another way, the transformation is what success looks like, it’s the main solution to their number one problem.
Brand Pillar Four: How You Want Your Brand to Be Experienced
Every touch point someone has with your brand – on social media, your website, at networking events, in Facebook groups, etc. – will lead to them being influenced in some way. As a business owner (and not a hobby-ist), you want that influence to flow in the direction of doing business with you.
I like to think of a brand as diverse and unique as a human. Meaning, your brand has personality and characteristics that provide a certain experience.
The benefit here is that you can be intentional about your brand’s personality. For example, when someone experiences your brand, do they feel fun and welcomed or elegant and refined?
The other benefit is your answers will guide the brand visuals. So, if you want someone to feel fun and excitable, your brand colors will be brighter and more saturated. Versus, if you want someone to feel calm and delicate, the colors will be more muted and relaxed.
The goal is to understand your brand experience so you can strategically use various brand elements (logo, colors, fonts) to enhance and reinforce the desired experience.
Getting these four pillars down on paper (or digitally in a doc) gives you a starting point. It’s called a brand foundation for a reason – you’re setting the intention and creating a baseline for your business.
I mentioned above that I view a brand like a human. Well, just like humans, your brand will evolve and change, especially when you start taking action and becoming more clear on what it is growing into. I feel like a broken record at this point but I’m going to close today with this: get out there and take action. The more action you take, the more clarity you will have and the better your brand can support your version of success.
All my best,
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