4 Brand Development Strategies for when you feel stuck in your creative business
It’s 6 am in early August, and I sit cross-legged on the couch with a laptop and blank pad of paper. An episode of Schitt’s creek that I’ve seen one too many times murmurs in the background. I reach for my coffee, only to find one cold sip in the crude mug I threw by hand in my junior year of college.
It’s the second week I haven’t posted a blog or sent a newsletter. Not because I don’t want to, because I know I should (ugh, that word). Call it procrastination, the 88 portal, or being slightly burnt out from a packed summer schedule – but my business was feeling off, and for the first time in a long time, I was struggling to take creative action. So I decided instead of blaming the algorithm, buying another course, or creating a new offer to feel excited about, it was time to go back to the drawing board. Aka – The CJ Core 4 Brand Development Strategy.
Whether your brand is a pipe dream coming to fruition, in its first year of business, or making the journey from solopreneur to creative small business – strengthening and clarifying your Brand’s Strategy is the most impactful way to evolve and grow your brand.
So, where to start? Brand strategy can feel overwhelming & intangible. But, inside my 1:1 Brand Design Service, creatives like you learn that four core pieces of their brand work together to help even a solopreneur build their brand sustainably.
The Brand Blue Print – A framework of your brand’s products or services are fulfilled, who they are designed for, and how much your business makes from them. This blueprint serves as a jumping-off point for your Brands strategy.
The Brand Strategy – A guide created to help confidently evolve your brand. Your brand strategy should include a breakdown of your audience, market positioning, differentiation, and how you want your brand to sound and feel.
Brand Voice and Messaging – Marrying brand strategy and copywriting designed to empower you to articulate your brand’s and services’ value in a way that will resonate with your ideal client or customer.
Brand Identity – More than just a logo and a headshot, at Cedar June, we dive deep into imagery, illustration, meaning, and how to get the most out of your Brand Kit as a creative entrepreneur.
A framework for developing your brand takes the guesswork out of marketing, content creation, and creating offers. The Core 4 are like the vital organs of your brand. When something is off with one of them, your business goes into survival mode. Refining and revisiting your core four as your brand evolves can help you to find clarity and take action.
The dreaded Niche. A word I find stiffens the jaw and shortens the breath of most creative entrepreneurs. And I get it, in the beginning – you need two things, money, and experience. But to evolve as a creative brand, you need to become more specialized and position yourself as the go-to in your corner of the world.
“But Catie, I want to help/serve everyone”!
Trust me, I’ve heard it, and I’ve been there. There is a difference between inclusivity and throwing spaghetti at the wall. Instead, consider who you can best serve based on your innate strengths, circumstances, and existing products or services. Another way to think about this is – Who can you be the most helpful to? While choosing a niche can feel like you are leaving people who might need your help out of the equation, what it is doing is helping you to hone in on your ideal client, talk their talk, and walk their walk, positioning you as a specialist vs. a generalist in your field.
Is the problem the Instagram Algorithm, or is it you and your messaging? Knowing where you vs. where your client belongs in the story that is your brand can make or break a website, blog post, and, yes, even an Instagram reel. Is your website failing to convert and marketing falling on deaf ears? Your brand messaging could be a piece of the problem. How can you make it more about them and less about you?
Could you count how many pieces of visual information your brain encounters each day? I sure can’t! As a brand designer, I know the power of a scroll-stopping visual, especially in the age of visual content marketing. Chances are you are consuming visual information in some way, shape, or form from the time you wake up until the morning until the time you go to sleep. But, keep in mind that the consumer is too. Your ideal client or customer’s eye has been trained by our visually communicative culture to recognize and self-select their design aesthetic. This makes your brand’s identity (aka your photos, graphics, logos, and more) so important. It’s your Brand Identity’s job to capture your audience’s attention and the strategy’s and messaging job to engage them. Would you pin/like/comment on your image/video/graphic? If not, then why would you expect your client to take the time to engage with your content or website?
Especially when they are personal, feeling like it’s time to revisit strategy is a good thing. So instead of hitting panic mode, burning it all down, or investing in a new course, you hope will change your business overnight, invest your time, energy, and money in the Core 4 and Develop these aspects of your brand. I call them the core four because they develop your brand from the inside out. Spending time and energy here will directly affect and create clarity and guidance throughout your brand and help you grow as a leader and become a more intentional business owner.
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