Episode 195

Branding for Business

September 25, 2018

Consider this the episode that can serve as the Branding 101 guide to your business. We’ve done a couple episodes about branding in the past, but in this episode, we’re breaking down the terms, talking about how to develop your brand standards, going over when to invest in branding and when to bootstrap it on your own, plus all the nitty-gritty on stock photography, fonts, and marketing.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"A brand is helpful when you know what it is you're doing and you're ready to show up and be seen."
- Kathleen Shannon

Discussed in this Episode

  • Why Kathleen is excited to talk about branding right now
  • The difference between branding, marketing, and advertising
  • Where does your brand show up?
  • What are the ingredients that make up a brand?
  • How to develop your brand standards
  • Investing in fonts
  • Stock photos vs. custom photography
  • Creating a new branding vs. branding refresh
  • How to approach branding when you're just starting your business
  • When a brand is ineffective
  • When to DIY and when to invest in branding
  • Branding and business model


More from Kathleen

Braid Creative

More from Emily

Almanac Supply Co.


Kathleen Shannon 0:02
Hello, and welcome to being boss,

Emily Thompson 0:04
a podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm Emily Thompson.

Kathleen Shannon 0:08
And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Emily Thompson 0:15
In this episode of being boss, a Kathleen and I are diving deep into branding from what it is to how you make it work for you. As always, you can find all the tools, books and links we reference on the show notes at WWW dot being boss dot club.

Kathleen Shannon 0:33
Alright bosses Caitlin here works with us behind the scenes here at being boss. And today she's popping in for a minute here to talk about money. So you work over here on the beaten boss team, but you're also a freelancer, how do you use freshbooks to manage your client invoices?

Caitlin Brehm 0:50
Well, I send my invoices through freshbooks. And I'm lucky enough to not have to think about them from there because my clients pay me. But even if they didn't, I could set up reminders through freshbooks just set it and forget it. And then I don't have to feel like I'm nagging. How about tracking expenses.

If I have to buy something for a client or if I have travel expenses related to work I'm doing it's super easy to just upload a photo from my phone, they have a great app, or from my desktop, a confirmation email or something like that. And then just add it as a line item on the invoice.

Kathleen Shannon 1:26
Fresh books cloud accounting makes keeping track of your books so easy. Get Paid faster with their invoicing systems and keep track of your expenses year round. Try fresh books, cloud accounting for free today by going to fresh books comm slash being boss and enter being boss in the How did you hear about us section? All right, I'm excited about today's episode because we're digging into some branding, and I can geek out on some branding.

Emily Thompson 1:57
I'm excited to let you do so. But I also feel like maybe this episode was fueled by something. And I want to ask you, Kathleen, why is making this episode now. So important for you?

Kathleen Shannon 2:10
Well, okay, so I've been talking about branding for what, seven, eight years now. And this is even before that I was in advertising and didn't really know the difference between advertising and marketing and branding. But I've built my career. And my livelihood. And it's just this thing that I'm passionate about is branding. And I've been writing content and speaking content for years now about branding. And I realized as I was going through my website and auditing almost every single blog post, that I started to get a little bit more granular like I started going into these different little aspects of branding and realize that I need to zoom out a little bit and talk about branding in this holistic way help define what it is. And really, I just, I've been re engaging over at braid. I've been working with a lot of more of our clients one on one. And I've been doing some branding workshops. So I was just in Utah doing a whole 30 coaches summit workshop, talking to all these whole 30 certified coaches, about their personal brand and just realize that I love helping people blend more of who they are into the work that they do, and really establishing their own personal or business brand. So that they can attract more dream customers and make a living doing what they love. I think that branding is such a foundational component of being boss and being a creative entrepreneur. That is kind of just what I'm really passionate about right now. And it's what I want to come back to.

Emily Thompson 3:44
And we'll then let's do it. We're gonna start out with what I think is going to be my favorite question. What is the difference between branding, marketing, and advertising? Okay, this

Kathleen Shannon 3:59
is a great question. And I think that all branding, marketing and advertising, all go hand in hand, like their cousins, or maybe sisters. So the way that I think about it is branding is your platform. It is your identity. It is also maybe even, yeah, it's like more of who you are. It's your identity, and so maybe your business identity so that it can include your logo, but it's not just your logo, it's your messages. It's your positioning, it's your style and tone, which can be expressed through specific colors, fonts, typography, like these brand standards. But it can also come through even in your attitude or your in person conversations. So that's branding, branding is who you are, it's your identity. And whenever I say you, you can interchange that for your business if you'd like. Marketing is how you share who you are. So it's holding that megaphone up and saying what you need to say to the people that you need to say it to which is potentially your dream customer. So marketing can include blogging, podcasting, social media, it can include, you know, showing up in networking, it can, it can be a lot of different things. So that's the way I like to think about marketing. It's how you get your message out there. And a lot of marketing happens via advertising. And the way that I differentiate marketing and advertising is advertising as one component of marketing, where you're buying other people's space for your message. So you're buying a billboard space and putting your message on there. And that is marketing, you're buying Facebook ads, and that is advertising, but you're still buying that space. Whereas you could also do a post on Facebook for free. And that's more of just along the street marketing channel.

Emily Thompson 5:47
So good. Alright, I want to go particularly into branding. And I am going to challenge you to bring your expertise down on a layman's level, because you were just using words like identity and platform. And I think especially for a baby boss, those are going to cause people's eyes to gloss over. So what are the ingredients? Like what specific things that make up a brand?

Kathleen Shannon 6:14
Yes, this is a really great question. Before I get into the ingredients that make up a brand, I want to talk about all the places that your brand might actually show up, because sometimes it's easier to think about your brand, in terms of where it lives. So your brand lives online and offline. So let's talk about online a little bit. Your brand is on your website. This is one of the places most creative entrepreneurs think of first is sometimes even before they think, Oh, I need a brand. They think I need a website.

Emily Thompson 6:45
And what's funny here is it used to be I need a business card. And now it's

Kathleen Shannon 6:50
I need a website. That's exactly right. So you can think about your website. And on your website, you have a logo, you have photos, you have colors, you have words, those are all ingredients of your brand. You also have your social media. So your Instagram feed, you have your Facebook posts, your LinkedIn profile, your Twitter handle, you have your email. So email newsletters is a huge component of your brand, and one that we really believe in. And this is goes to show that you know, even if you send out an email that wasn't designed into a template, the words and messages and tone that you convey in that email message is a part of your brand. You have things like digital products where your brand might show up. So your online course or downloadable worksheets or opt ins. And then we have print stuff. So back to that business card, what is on your business card, that might be where your brand lives, you have brochures or folders or posters or books, these are all places where your brand can live. And then if you sell products, you have packaging. And so and we you know with Almanac, even literally the tin that you pour your candle in, or the box that you put your products in, it's a big aspect of your brand. So I love thinking about where your brand might show up first and then working backwards from there. And so it actually even makes me wonder Emily with Almanac supply which is your seasonal maker business where you have physical products, you probably actually start to think about those products first and the packaging whenever it comes to how do you want to execute your brand and to set the tone. For some people, it might be your Instagram feed, you might think about how would my Instagram feed look. And in fact, I recently did a brand upgrade for braid creative and just every couple of years I like to evolve things and reassess what what our identity is. So a good metaphor for this might be your wardrobe, right? You have some pieces that last forever. And then you'll might you might layer in some seasonal pieces. Or you might start to establish a different sense of style, but you're not getting rid of your whole closet, you're just adding and layering some pieces in and that's what a brand refresh kind of feels like as well if you have an established brand. I don't want to digress here. But I was recently overhauling the braid brand and really thinking of it in terms of a Instagram feed and what that can start to look like and really thinking about the photos that I would share the filters that I would put on those shadow photos, the borders, the colors, like if they're color blocking, what are those colors. So I think that's a really great place to start as well as thinking about an Instagram feed.

Emily Thompson 9:44
I love all of this and I especially like the idea that you can pick the place where you want to define it first and then go from there. I want to move forward with refreshing and the second but first I want to go back and talk about these brand standards. And how do you define them? And what does it look like to have them? Where do they live? And how do you use them?

Kathleen Shannon 10:08
This is a really good question. I forgot to mention one thing though about ingredients of a brand. Like visually, if I just had to break it down real fast, I want to say that it's a few major things. So one it is your logo, your brand is more than just a logo. But that is a big piece of the pie whenever it comes to your visual identity. It's also the photographs you use is a big part of your brand. And then I would say fonts and colors. So those are kind of some ingredients. So whenever it comes to brand standards and where that exists over at braid creative, we create a 25 to 35 page brand platform for every single client. And this weaves in some of the messaging so that positioning positioning language is the How to hire me language, the brand story language, it really sets the tone for the words, words can also be referred to as copy. That's another like kind of industry lingo. And those can be used interchangeably. So I say words, copy, and messaging, those are all the same thing. But then whenever it comes to the brand standards as far as the identity goes, so again, that's like the clothes that your business is wearing. I like to have one page, and it's usually a really long page that really details the logo, I love creating logo suites for my clients. So it includes a long horizontal logo, a stacked logo, an icon, or maybe even a mark, and then showing what that looks like reverse out in white, or what it looks like in full color. So if there's more than one color in the logo, what it looks like one color. And there used to be this kind of thing that you would do whenever it comes to brand standards where you set rules, like there can't be anything that's more than half an inch outside of this logo. Those are for probably more corporate standards or brand that's really expanding. And a lot of people are touching it like if you have more than, let's say three graphic designers on it, you need to have these rules across the board. For most creative entrepreneurs. And most people listening to this podcast, you don't really have to get that specific. Because usually it's just you and maybe one other person touching your brand for the most part and implementing it. And then you also want to detail your color palette, you want to show what the color numbers are in RGB. So that would be web or the color code. What's it called? hexadecimal?

Emily Thompson 12:37
Yes, hex codes.

Kathleen Shannon 12:38
Yeah, so your hex code, hexadecimal. If that did an age,

Emily Thompson 12:44
right? Please continue to call it that.

Kathleen Shannon 12:48
So you've got your RGB, you have your hex code, you have your cM YK. And so that's the color breakdown for print. And then you might have a Pantone color. So Pantone is a special one color blend. That's the same every single time. Whereas CMI K can sometimes vary in print materials. That's, I mean, the hats if you're getting a real, real picky, which I totally can go there, I don't always

Emily Thompson 13:16
write well, and I even want to say, as someone who takes brands that are designed by other people and turn them into websites, it's really important whenever you're finding someone to do your branding, or you're working through this, to know where your brand will live next, so that you can define standards for it. So quite often, like I remember back in the website, days, getting brands that did not have defined hex codes, or even RGB, they would come only in Pantone, which is nice if you're going to work with paint chips, but not really great whenever you are trying to translate them into web. So there can be or it's really important for you to know where your brand will go next. So the person that's designing it can define the standards so that you can move it into the place that you're going to next.

Kathleen Shannon 14:07
Yeah, that's exactly right. Like if I know that someone's going to have a strong web presence, but once a beautiful letterpress card with a one color imprint, I'm going to make sure that whatever Pantone color I pick also translates to a website, because sometimes they look wildly different. And that will definitely impact your choices as a designer as to what colors to pick.

Emily Thompson 14:28
Absolutely. Same thing goes for fonts as well, I have to throw out there as well, whenever someone does just all crazy, amazing, fancy fonts for their logo, but then they want to transfer it into web, you have to have some web safe font options to correlate. And anyone who's not design savvy will usually get a little bent out of shape whenever the fonts won't translate, but they just can't and they don't. So being very aware of making sure that everything can and will translate from print For example to web.

Kathleen Shannon 15:02
Yeah, so that's the next part of the brand standards I really like to articulate is the typography. So there's usually a logo, font, I, I typically like to keep the logo, just the logo, and then I have a secondary headline font. And usually I think about that being web friendly. And then I think about the body copy. And really honestly, Emily, since working with you, I've gotten a little even tighter in my font specifications, knowing how it translates to web, we've also started thinking more about when we're buying fonts for our clients, making sure that there is a web compatible version that they could then buy and hand off to their developer or using Google fonts. But for the most part, when it comes to my clients, I like buying really expensive fonts for their logos and headers. Because then it means that it's going to be something that not everybody has.

Emily Thompson 15:59
Yeah, I think that's really important I can that you know, can, there are countless examples of times when you know, rebrands have happened. And then that font goes on sale on my fonts calm, and everyone's logo is made out of that same font. But by really digging deep and getting some really exclusive font options, you can make sure yours will continue to stand out.

Kathleen Shannon 16:23
I mean, also, for example, if we spend $200 on our logo for being boss, people can ask us what our font is, and people can find it, are they going to shell out 200 bucks for it, probably not. Probably not

Emily Thompson 16:35
less likely to happen. So and I think that's a really great a really great reason to consider investing in funds. Again, back in my designer days, you know, especially creative entrepreneurs who don't understand this whole process won't see the value and doing things like that. It is very valuable to allow your designer to find you something that's that's not completely in the norm.

Kathleen Shannon 16:59
There's also a lot of finessing that happens. So for example, the almanac logo is a font that I've used for a client probably a year or two ago. And they look totally different. Because the way that you crafted that and it also had so many ligatures and style options, and the way that I crafted it for my client, it almost I mean, feels and looks completely different, you would never even really know. And so a skill designer is also going to do some things within your font, that they're not just typing it out, they're making these really little tweaks and adjustments that make it really special. And then size and composition of those fonts in comparison to each other is something that I like to lay out as well, because that's a big part of the brand. And then a final part of the brand standards that I like to include is a little thumbnail of a bunch of photography at the bottom of the brand standards. Photography is a big part of your brand. And it's a part of your brand that can continue to evolve as you have new photos taken. But really setting the tone is super helpful. So again, just using Almanac as an example, if you had a brand standards sheet at the bottom of it, it might include an image of a dark green Fern, and then it might include an image of a marble table with a beautiful crystal sitting on top of it, and it's super light and airy. But then it might be showing a photo of a crystal grid and what that looks like and really showing dark and light and greens. And like kind of smoky textures. That's kind of how it set the tone so that you can evolve from there.

Emily Thompson 18:34
Alright, whenever sharing images of a brand, how do you feel about stock photos versus custom photography?

Kathleen Shannon 18:44
This is a great question. I'm a big fan of stock photography, I think it is a very affordable option and sometimes free option for creative entrepreneurs. One of my very favorite sites for stock photography, you're getting it here is unsplash.com. It is a site where photographers are contributing their photos and they are incredibly high quality. But then there are also some paid sites that are really great for stock photography, including Death to the stock photo 20 twenty.com Shutterstock. These are really great options as well. You have to be careful whenever you're buying stock photography about usage and licensing, so you want to look into that. Again, it's just like fonts where the more you pay for a photo, the less likely it is that someone else has it. I also do a lot of tweaking to stock photography, I do really subtle shifts in the color to make it all cohesive within the brand and with the photo suite. I also do some fun overlays or I'll do interesting cropping so that it's not just straight from the site. That's the way that I like to do it. And then I also like to pull stock photography as inspiration for a photo shoot. So I love creating a mood board. My clients and saying, Hey, here's what you might consider if you are doing a shoot, I would recreate some of the shots that you're inspired by, either with you as a model or your actual clients as models or with the nature in your own area. So I really like to think about that. If you are hiring someone for a photo shoot, I would recommend getting candid working shots of like you working at your computer, or whatever your tools are that you use, I would get some kind of day in the life. documentarian shots. So maybe you at your favorite coffee shop or taking a walk through your favorite Park. And then we get some really solid headshots and make sure that you get some up close and wide, and both vertical and horizontal. And think about also, you know, like you said, with knowing what you're doing with your brand, next, think about where these photos are going, are they going on Instagram, you might think about cropping them in squares, and how that works, are they going in a book, if you do an entire photoshoot and all your photos are horizontal, but your book is vertical, you might run into some issues there. So think about that as well.

Emily Thompson 21:08
Right? And flipside of that, if you want them all on your website as headers, they probably need to be landscape as opposed to portrait or horizontal as opposed to vertical. I also want to point out here a little website tap, one of the things that I've learned is that there's something about including a human element in you know, all those like, what who's still life shots, where you're just taking a photo of let's say, a crystal, or a flower or whatever, you can definitely have some of those. But there's something extra engaging about having a hand or an arm or some other body part. If we need to, there's something about including that human element that makes people more engaged with the content for sure.

Kathleen Shannon 21:50
I would also say on the flip side of that some stock photo, things to be cautious about is like for example, if you live in the middle of the country, and your website is populated with people running on the beach, it might not rain authentic. Also, I noticed a lot of corporations use really stuffy boardroom, like dudes and blue suits, shaking hands kind of stock photos. That's the stock photography that has given stock photography, a bad name, there are so many beautiful options now. And I especially love stock photography sites that are becoming more inclusive whenever it comes to race and gender and just being overall a little more diverse.

Emily Thompson 22:33
Alright, I also want to talk about what it's like to create a new brand versus or maybe not what it's like, but what is the difference between creating a new brand, and someone who just wants to evolve or refresh their brand, because they think you and I have both run into a gazillion creatives who make a small shift in their business or you know, have discovered something new and amazing about themselves or whatever it may be. And they think they need to totally rebrand themselves. Do you think that's true? And if not, what do they need to do?

Kathleen Shannon 23:04
I really think about a brand, as if you were writing a book, and you've got these chapters. And as you're evolving your brand, you're just writing a new chapter, you're not throwing the whole book in the fire. That's what I like to think about a truffle metaphor. And I love I love creating brand new brands for people who have just started and maybe they have a few clients under their belt. And now they want to create this identity for these skills and services or products that they've been putting out into the world. There's something about building something from the ground up that is so exciting. And I mean, it's kind of like giving birth to a baby and you're finally seeing it in the world. And nothing gives you confidence like having that brand new brand platform. There's an i think that that kind of feeling is what makes people want to have an entirely new brand, whenever really what they need is a refresh or an evolution. So I also love working with existing brands that just feel like they've maybe outgrown their logo a little bit and they love some aspects of their brand, but see other areas that need to evolve. So you don't want to throw the book in the fire. You don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, we just want to take the best pieces that you love and then understand what you don't love and modify accordingly. So a brand refresh might be look might look like let's say your brand is red and blue, right? And you're like, Whoa, this feels this feels a little primary for me or a little to America for me. patriotic, right? So maybe you're just wanting to make it feel a little more sophisticated and a little more grown up. How can we add just a little bit of yellow to that blue and maybe make it an aqua and then shift that red a little bit and maybe it's more of like a burnt brick or a little bit of a you know Like a poppy color, and now all of a sudden, you've taken what was a very primary brand, and you've turned it into something that feels just a little bit more modern and edgy and unexpected. So that's just a pure example of just looking at colors, you can also refresh your brand with photography, I think that this is a way that we refresh our brand all the time over here at being boss, are our backbone of our brand, which might be our logo at this point, might stay the same. But then how do we evolve that we especially thought about that for our book? How do we evolve our book cover to feel like this fresh new thing, but still feel like it's within our brand family. So another thing that I don't talk about too often, but I do a lot for my organizational clients and my, my clients that like a university, for example, is they'll have promotional campaigns. And you can kind of almost think of it as a one off from your main brand like this fun, seasonal promotional thing that you can do. And I kind of think of our book at being boss like that. Or even our CEO day quiz. Like I wanted that to feel extra special, almost like this promotional thing that really stands out or our What do you value quiz, like, I really wanted it to feel a little bit different. So then we even took elements from our book and looped that in to our brand. And so whenever you're the designer of your brand, which we are the designers of our brand, we have that knowledge, we can get a little bit more playful with it, whenever you're working with a designer and trying to articulate that to them, it can be a little bit trickier. So I'm going to move off of the promotional campaign thing, because I don't think it's something that a lot of creative entrepreneurs are maybe even ready for whenever it comes to their brand. But they might be ready for a refresh or an evolution. So I would say look at your colors, look at your typography, and look at your photography, those are all things that could be updated. Also, maybe even the messaging and the tone, maybe you have more confidence, and your tone can become a little bit more edgy, and you are ready to drop f bombs. Like that's a part of your brand as well.

Emily Thompson 27:11
I love it, I always have made it part of my brain that I would like brand standards is the F bomb. And it's it's a fun way, it's a fun way to do those sort of brain exercises to really think about what can you say? And what will you not say, I know for you, it's all typography. It's what will your lettering be like? And what will it not be like, or whatever it may be, I think those brands standards are really important. And those are the places where you can sort of tweak and change things. I also want to want to point out for someone who's just starting out who wants to sort of get something basic up and going. You are capable of doing this very simply. But using all of these same structures. So I will speak specifically about Almanac and what I did with with that branding is whenever I greeted Almanac, I had no idea what that business would be in 369 12 months. So instead of going all in with some, you know, crazy branding, and really defining absolutely every aspect of my brand, I got really specific with a very simple typeface logo, not anything crazy at all, a very simple color palette of really what was about three colors, one being white, one being an off black, and one being green, and defined things very minimally so that I would have a room to grow in my business. So if you are someone who's just starting out, and he's kind of overwhelmed me about all of this, take all of the things that Kathleen sharing and pare them down to the basic minimums to get you started. And then you can evolve and refresh and grow your brand as you grow. And that's a really great way to start out in a place where later you're not in a place where you need to throw the baby out with the bathwater, or Burbank or whatever.

Kathleen Shannon 29:09
All of the weird metaphors. I also want to point out that for example, whenever we were launching being boss, we were getting up and running really fast. And while we have the skills and talents to make a really beautiful brand really fast, which is what we did, it didn't necessarily feel right. It didn't and

Emily Thompson 29:27
and it was also super minimal. It was like a logo horizontal and vertical and it was one image with an overlay. Basically.

Kathleen Shannon 29:37
Well and you know what, I'm not gonna say that it didn't feel right because it did it felt good at the time. But then as we were evolving our brand we asked Okay, what really is the tone that we want to set? What is the vibe, we actually took being bossed through the braid method to figure out what this actually was rather than just doing an on the surface quick design that looked beautiful but didn't quite feel Like it captured exactly what we wanted it to capture. So we took being bossed through the braid method. And through that figured out that we wanted this editorial field, but also this, Lisa Frank meets mystical magical which kind of feel. And so really thinking about that helped us set the tone that we've struck now with our brand. And I think that can be what's really scary about investing in a brand and investing with a designer is really not knowing Am I going to get something that feels like me. So I think it's really important to understand how to communicate with any designer that you hire, and asking them what their approach and processes so that you can feel like you're collaborating with them if that's what you want, or you know, even looking at their portfolio and seeing the other work that they've done. And, and I think making a visual is always a really great way. So start pinning things on a Pinterest board and share that with your designer, and literally talk through what you like and don't like about certain logos or photos that you're pinning, because sometimes even me as a designer, and I'm talking to my client, I might say okay, what specifically do you like about this logo, and while I thought that maybe they pinned it for the really minimal sans serif type autography, they actually like one little flourish in the corner. And they don't like the typography at all. And this is why it's good to really talk it through. And again, that just depends on your style, you might be someone who doesn't care at all, and you just need someone to make it look good. And you like their portfolio and hire them. But if you're wanting someone that will go through a more collaborative process with you, you need to make sure that they have a process that they can guide you through and that you're confident that they'll get you to where you need to go.

Emily Thompson 31:46
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Kathleen Shannon 32:53
Yeah, so this is a great question. What doesn't work in a brand is whenever you are vague, or whenever you are confusing your customer, or diffusing your offering. So I think that these are big threats to your brand and something to consider. So I would say when

Emily Thompson 33:12
I even want to point out here that that's not even the graphic designers job. Like at that point, it's your job even not that like I was posing that question as a way to like, how do I fire my graphic designer? But really, looking at it in terms of you have the things? What are your jobs next? And what you're saying is to communicate there? Yes,

Kathleen Shannon 33:35
that's exactly right. Because I'm thinking like, okay, you have your cool logo now. Now, how do you make it work? Right? Yes. And sometimes that can be super pointed. But if you have a very simple minimal brand, which is the look that a lot of people are going for? How do you how do you implement that in a way that hits your target audience and makes them want to hire you. And it's not a logo that makes people want to hire you. It's how you're communicating your messages. And this is where I think the copy and messaging and positioning portion of your brand really come into play. And so like at the beginning of our conversation, where we're talking about all the places that your brand lives, and how you might think about your Instagram feed, to start to visually daydream about what you want your brand to look like. Now you need to start thinking about the messaging and the copy and how you're sharing your content in a way that shapes what your brand is going to grow into. So I kind of like to think of this as almost naming your baby, right? So you give birth to a baby, you name it, and that baby grows into that name over time like Emily I can't imagine you being named anything but Emily and you have this certain style and vibe that is your brand. And the same is true for your business brand as well. And the way that your brand starts to grow into itself is through the content that you share. Now, I mean, we're specifically the kind of creative entrepreneurs that really have a content strategy. And it's really how we attract and shape not only who we are, but our dream clients, right. And so you want to start creating blog posts that are articulating what you do, or you know, maybe it's not even blog posts, maybe it's even social media, or a podcast or YouTube channel. Or maybe it's even just your About Me page and how to hire me page, and making sure that those are crystal clear, so that you're not confusing your customer. And they know exactly what to expect next.

Emily Thompson 35:40
Alright, so all of this talk about designing and implementing and all of these things. Do you recommend people to DIY their brand? And if so, where? And how does that happen? Or when is it time for someone to invest in a pro.

Kathleen Shannon 35:57
So my feelings on this have changed and gone in cycle I can't wait to hear. If you had asked me, I don't know, maybe two years ago, or three years ago, I would have said it doesn't matter. You can literally just buy a Squarespace and call it good. What really matters is what you have to offer and you know, your skills and maybe just focus on being the best of whatever it is that you are, whether that's a life coach, or a musician or a painter, whatever it is that you do, or maybe you're a writer, just focus on your craft, and the rest will follow. That said today, right now, I feel like the way that you look matters. And as the internet is becoming more saturated, and as it's becoming a little bit more noisy, the more polished and consistent and professional you look, the more you're going to attract your raving fans, and convert them into paying clients. It builds trust, and it builds confidence. So I also want to say because I said, you know, it will make you look professional, if you're consistent across the board, I want to make sure to say that professional does not mean necessarily buttoned up, it doesn't necessarily mean that you've got your pony or your hair and like a tight bun and you're wearing a crisp suit. What it means is that you're just consistent across the board. So your brand could look like a patchwork quilt. You know, your brand could look like I mean, think about anthropology, for example, think about how Tech's how that's so textured, and bohemian, but also so consistent and cool and polished, because it's the same across the board. And it's an experience. And that's what you want your brand to be as well.

Emily Thompson 37:42
Yes, this actually reminds me of something I wanted to say a moment ago about consistency and how you make a brand work for you. So you have a brand, you know you have these brand standards, you know how things are supposed to be laid out or presented to a dream customer, use them absolutely use them. Because consistency breeds legitimacy. Whatever those brand standards say it should be reflected in your business card, it should also be reflected in your website, it should be reflected even potentially, in your email signature in every place that your brand lives, it should reflect these brand standards, because that's how you make a brand work for you that consistency will breed legitimacy. And I do think that having someone professional to define those for you based on how it is that you want to present yourself will definitely put you above the rest. I will also add a small caveat in that if you just need to do something and to get going something real basic, it can surely serve you really well. And I like this idea of choosing one font face like one main logo font face, two or three colors, one being black, Navy, or brown, being white, and one being your favorite color. And using those consistently can definitely take you and take you to a place where you can invest in professional graphic design.

Kathleen Shannon 39:15
That's a good point. Like I don't think that you need to lay down 1000s of dollars in order to have a good brand or to get started as a creative entrepreneur. But I will say once you've got three or four dream customers under your belt, and you're ready to take it to the next level, it's probably a good idea to hire somebody to help you establish those standards. And to set the tone so that you can put it in all the places. So starting off, you might just have one place it might just be a website, and then maybe Instagram for example. Or maybe you just have one place and it's your literal storefront right. I think if you're opening a storefront, you need to invest in a brand because that's going to be a fraction of the cost of all the things but if you were If you were have low overhead, and you're starting with a website, for example, Squarespace, go live HQ, there are so many amazing places, I have so many good templates that you can use that look so, so, so good. So I would just stick with those templates and trust it. And then what's cool is that once you start showing up in more places and landing more dream clients, you can invest in a brand and your designer, or your branding agency can take what you've started with. And they can just take the ball and run with it and really push it to the next level in a way that makes it feel like you. So I wanted to mention on my website at breed creative, calm, and we can link to this in the show notes. I have a branding checklist of all the places that your brand might show up. And it might just remind you that your brand is living in more places than you think. And this checklist is totally free to download. You don't even have to give me your email address. Okay, so you can go download this checklist. And once you check this list off, right, I want you to go to all of those places and see what do they all have in common? and what doesn't feel quite right, like where are things differing. And this is good even for us Emily at being bossed there have been times where we realized that our iTunes description was completely off brand, because we just forgot about it as we were overhauling of other things. So it can even be just a good reminder to go check your About Me page to go check your Twitter profile. And let's see what these things say. And to make sure that it's consistent across the board so that you're not confusing, or, you know, diffusing your message.

Emily Thompson 41:38
I also want to say or we're talking a lot about graphic design. And though that's obviously going to be something that Kathleen and I are talking about, I also want to say how important it can be also to hire a copywriter. So let's say you have a basic brand that's getting you there. But the problem is positioning that is less about hiring a graphic designer and maybe more getting a copywriter to come help you really shape up that message so that you can pair the two of those together. And also braid does do a very comprehensive branding strategy for their clients. Not every graphic designer does their branding in this way, it's going to be significantly more simple. And maybe even no copy or words at all. In which case, having a copywriter help you finish fleshing out your brand is important. Because if you're just hiring a graphic designer to do your brand, you're only getting one piece of a larger puzzle.

Kathleen Shannon 42:36
Well, and that's why braid is a branding agency. This isn't why we're just a studio or just a freelancer or just a designer, because we do all of it, we do the graphic design aspect of it, we do the copywriting aspect of it. And we do the strategy side of it. So it really We consider ourselves consultants who execute. And if you're not hiring an agency, you're probably going to be cobbling one together yourself and hiring a freelance designer and a freelance strategist or consultant or business coach and a freelance copywriter. And that's okay, too. It's just Which one do you start with? And then where do you make sure that they're all communicating with each other in a way that is collaborative, it's just a lot more work on your end, or it takes a lot more time. And that's totally cool, too. One of my favorite copywriting, I have a couple of favorite resources that I really like I really like damn right on Instagram, her handle is de AM in WRI T, I just think that she drops these little copywriting gems in her feed, that are just good little notes to remember. And then I think she also offers products and services as well. And then I love copy hackers, and especially when it comes to email, copy and strategies for that, and converting your email list into buyers, I think that she's a great resource for that. And I've bought many copy hackers ebooks, to really up my game as well. But we breed creative we really focus on and this might be some elements of your brand that you consider. We consider that positioning statement. So this is kind of your elevator pitch, that really quick. Hi, my name is blank. And I do blank for blank, like real simple. And then we we give it a little bit more character and language but still keep it really simple. It's that kind of thing that would fit in your 140 character, Twitter profile, for example. And it might be something that appears on your home page. And then you have to think about your About Me page copy. And so for us, that's a brand story where we're really digging into your why, like, Why do you have this business and why should anybody care? And how do you emotionally engage your audience while also sharing the nuts and bolts of what you do? And then there's the How to hire me language. So this is your actual offerings and for a lot of creative entrepreneurs that we work With their offering a lot of different things and have a hard time weaving it all together under one brand. So we're looking at all these offerings and seeing how we can tie them together with language and copying. And then beyond that, we love creating these conversational slides for our clients. It's one of the their favorite things that we create for them. And this can influence what a website ends up looking like and a lot of the language that goes on there. But then beyond that, you're still going to have some copy that you need to write or hire an additional copywriter for. whenever it comes to your blog posts and the content that you create, and just there's all these little nooks and crannies, where things are showing up that you might need additional, not only copy support on but also design support.

Emily Thompson 45:46
So basically, what we're getting at here is that your brand is a very important part of your business, I think we just covered I mean, we literally just covered every major aspect of your business and like you why it is that you're here, what you're going to do with it, who it is that you're serving, and what it all looks and sounds like. So I think it's probably clear too, that branding is something you maybe don't invest money, and though we think there is value in that, but it is absolutely something that you should be investing some time in, you should have a good handle on your brand, with what it sounds like and what it looks like. I want to talk really quickly, or maybe not quickly, we can take as long as we need to talk about how your brand affects your business model. I think a lot of people struggle with, you know, investing money into their brand, because they're not sure where their business model is going to go next. So in your experience, how does a brand affect business model? And should you let not knowing where your business is going next stop you from investing in a brand.

Kathleen Shannon 47:00
This is a really tricky question because I have had some people invest in me personally, before they were ready. And so now my rule of thumb is I want someone to have three, like at least one, but ideally three dream clients under their belt before they invest in the kind of quality that breed creative is going to give you because a lot of people dream about being a creative entrepreneur. And then once they get into doing the work, they realize that they hate doing the work and that what they really want is something completely different. And the brand is that shiny outer layer. It's that beautiful piece of the pie that everybody wants. But not everybody is quite ready for. So whenever it comes to business model, I would say understand what it is that you're selling first and try to sell a couple of those things before you brand yourself.

Emily Thompson 47:54
And I even want to point out here two or three dream clients may be 50 clients. But three of them were dreamy, and it took you 50 clients to find the three that were the most dreamy, and you may be found those three because you tweaked your services along the way, maybe you thought you were going to be a nutritionist, and you found out you wanted to be an overall health coach. The branding for a nutritionist is going to be different from that of a health coach, but it took you 50 clients to get those three dreamy ones where you were doing work that you truly enjoyed.

Kathleen Shannon 48:28
I will say though, you know, for example, we took indie shot biography through the braid method, and your brand offerings and your business model evolved a great deal, right? But whenever you went back to that brand vision guide and your brand platform, you realize, Oh, I'm still the same person, my brand is still the same. I just have to tweak my how to hire me language a little bit, wouldn't you say?

Emily Thompson 48:54
Absolutely. And this is the advantage of hiring quality branders to do your work, because Absolutely. So whenever I started working with you guys, I was just doing branding and websites one offs for sure. By the end of it, I was creating courses and I was coaching and I was doing these very large, like agency style projects with my clients. It was a vastly different revenue model. But the positioning statement like the whole brand story was still completely spot on. So yes, that one piece of the puzzle completely changed or stayed the same. The design tweaked and evolved over the years. But that is like a high five dozen branding experts who knew how to brand for the evolution of a brand.

Kathleen Shannon 49:43
And I will also say Well, I'm not I shouldn't even say I'm not officially a business coach because I can do some business coaching, right. But I will say that through the branding process. Sometimes we're really able to see what's rising to the top whenever it comes to a signature offering And what we call also's and others. And so for this is for someone who does lots of different things. How can we really make an impact with one offering, we kind of think of this as the wedge that you're getting in under the door? And then how do we expand that out to include all the other things that you want to offer? So let's say you're an event planner, that also does photography and a little bit of styling, right? Maybe through the process, we realize, Oh, actually, the styling and you know, decorating an actual space for an event is what you really want to be known for. But then you can also hammer out the logistics behind the scenes like a planner would, and photograph it to capture it. Okay, I just listed off a person who has a very big job description. So if you're doing all those things, kudos to you. But you know, this is where through the process, we figure out like, what is it that you want to be known for? How do we position you for that thing, but also not keep you from evolving or doing the other things that you want to do without diluting your brand?

Emily Thompson 51:04
Absolutely. And I think this is where, you know, finding someone at some point in your business to really dig in with you can be so very valuable.

Kathleen Shannon 51:16
Oh, I also just did a post called Do you need a business coach or brand? Because a lot of times, I have people emailing me asking, Hey, I kind of want to hire you. But I think I need a business coach, or Hey, I think I need a brand. And I'm like what you really need as a business coach, because you have no idea what you want to do, like people who come to us and they're like, I know I want to work for myself, I have no idea what I want to do. I need you to brand me, well, there's nothing to brand like that's where you're you're not ready, right. And so that's where you might get a business coach who can help you set goals who can help you uncover what your strengths are, can help you with accountability to actually building out that business model. That's where a business coach is helpful. A brand is helpful whenever you know what it is that you're doing, and you're ready to show up and be seen in the way that you want to be seen. That is what a brand is. Beautiful.

Emily Thompson 52:08
Is there any last things you want to share about branding?

Kathleen Shannon 52:12
Okay, I want to talk a little bit about personal branding versus business branding. And I think that you've had a little bit of experience with this. In all of your businesses, I've had experience with this in my businesses. So the difference between a personal brand and a business brand, for lack of better words, is your personal brand is where you're using your personality and who you are like literally your name as your brand. For example, a business brand is where you might have a name like Almanac, supply company, or braid creative. Now, I have braid creative because it was more than just me starting my brand. And I knew I wanted to grow it into an agency versus just being a freelancer. So these are some deciding factors that go into using your name or business name. Emily, why, why did you not name Almanac, Emily Thompson,

Emily Thompson 53:05
because I also wanted it to be bigger, bigger than me.

Kathleen Shannon 53:10
But there's also some huge brands that use their own name Martha Stewart girl, there we go. So we know that Martha Stewart is a conglomerate Oprah. There are also some amazing personal brands that use their name that sometimes these people don't even own their brands anymore. They're sold off to Estee Lauder, or you know, whoever I see this happening a lot in beauty brands. And so I want to say that like even if you use your name, that's okay, too, you can still grow into something bigger than yourself, even using your own name. I will also say we both have personal brands, within the context of the companies that we create my

Emily Thompson 53:50
personal brand is taken up elsewhere.

Kathleen Shannon 53:54
Basically, right, but your personality, here's what I will say about personal brands within organizations. And I want to mention for those of you who still have a day job, you can have a personal brand within your day job and start to create and craft the job of your dreams. Even if someone else is paying your bills, that's okay, too. So what I want to say is, even if you're trying to build a brand that doesn't have your name, it's still going to be your personality and your values and your mission as the role of CEO as the person who's holding that vision for what you're wanting to create that is going to drive the personality mission and values of that brand itself. So it's totally okay, if you don't want to have a personal brand, but I would think about really injecting who you are still into that brand because that's what's going to make it real. That's what's going to make it personable and that's what's going to make it different and powerful.

Emily Thompson 54:53
I completely agree with all of that. Awesome. I'm so glad we came to talk about branding. I do know it is I mean visa is a very large and very important conversation for people in business trying to sell something to other people. So I'm glad that we were able to get together and break down some of these very big topics.

Kathleen Shannon 55:14
Yeah, and I've written a ton about all of this stuff over at braid, creative, calm. So check out the blog posts over there, because I still, I still put my keep my fingers to a keyboard from time to time and write some blog posts. It's not just talking. And then of course, if you haven't listened to the episodes with my sister, Tara Street, we have a bunch of episodes, if you go to being boss club, and just search terrorist Street, those will come up or we can link them in the show notes. Because she speaks a lot more to how to position yourself as an expert, and really crafting. She's the copywriter on our team and one of one of them. And so she's really thinking about that aspect of things as well, why while I'm thinking more about the visual look and feel

Emily Thompson 55:59
wonderful. And finally,

Unknown Speaker 56:02
I'm not going to ask you what makes you feel more?

Kathleen Shannon 56:04
Oh, I thought you're about to ask me that makes me feel.

Emily Thompson 56:07
And finally, if someone or if everyone here could do one thing to move their brand forward today, or after listening to this, what would that thing be?

Kathleen Shannon 56:18
This one is a little more top level, but I would say look at your About Me page, and your social media profiles. And make sure that they're all consistent.

Emily Thompson 56:29
Easy as that There you go.

Kathleen Shannon 56:34
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Emily Thompson 57:11
Thank you for listening to being boss. If you're looking for more help and being boss of your work in life accom check out our website where you can find Episode shownotes browser archives and access free resources like worksheets, trainings, quizzes and more. It's all at WWW dot being boss dot club. Do the work. Be boss