When you hear the word “branding,” what comes to mind?
Your logo? The color palette for your website? Business cards?
Well, your brand is actually none of those things. (Don’t worry that’s what I thought branding was just a few short years ago, too.) In reality, those are elements of your brand, but overall, your brand isn’t a single, tangible thing. It’s a variety of factors that play together, evolve, and shift as you carry out business with your clients and customers.
Alright, by now you might be staring at your screen with a puzzled expression, so let me tell you, today we’re going to talk about your brand, or more specifically your brand strategy.
My hope is that by the time you finish reading and close out this blog post, you’ll leave with a defined concept of what a brand is and some action steps you can take today to clarify and develop your brand strategy.
Ready to get started?
So, first things first: what’s a brand?
One of my favorite definitions of branding that I came across was by Jay Baer in this appropriately titled post featuring 30 definitions of the term “branding” by industry experts.
He said, “Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa.”
So, as you can see branding is a little vaguer than you might have originally thought, however, there are plenty of tangible factors that you can create to guide the thoughts and feelings you want people to connect to your brand and business.
But, before you start creating those tangible pieces, you need to get clear on some key factors that should drive all your brand decisions whether that be your web design, your client management and customer service principles, all the way to the decor in your spa.
Four Questions for Brand Clarity
Similarly to treatments you perform on your clients, preparation is key to seeing successful results with carrying out your brand strategy.
Be sure to open up a fresh Word doc, or a notebook if pen and paper are more your style, and write out the answers to these questions. Don’t keep all the info swirling around in your head or else you’re going to continue feeling unclear in your brand.
The first step in making your brand take shape is keeping your ideas in front of you that you can repeatedly return to.
1) What industry are you in?
Your answer here isn’t the spa industry or aesthetic industry; your answer needs to go deeper.
Are you a lash specialist or a microblader? Do you focus on anti-aging treatments or acne? Are you a pro at laser hair removal?
Get really clear on your particular industry, or as you’ll also hear it referenced, your niche. If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one, so make sure you’re clear on exactly what it is you do best to help people.
The more you focus on your single or couple of select areas of expertise, the more credible you become for your audience.
2) Who are your competitors?
It’s important to know who your competitors are not so you can mimic what they’re doing well, but so you can pinpoint your differences.
This is crucial to understand because if you’re trying to craft the same offerings and services and appeal to the same exact people, you’ll be competing on price alone, which doesn’t bode well for the profitability of your business.
So, rather than looking at your similar qualities, examine the things that set you apart from your competitors such as the menu of services you provide, your client experience, the level of quality you provide or the types of people you aim to serve.
3) Who are your clients?
Naturally, you can see where the last question flows into this one, and that’s because you want to get super specific on who it is you serve.
Remember how I said if you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one? That doesn’t just apply to your specialty of work; it also refers to the type of person you’re trying to attract.
Do you find that you naturally draw in career women who also happen to be moms? Are you a magnet for adults suffering acne? Do you serve women looking to reverse the signs of sun damage?
Get clear on what your clients are suffering from, need help with, and their life situations. All these factors will play into how you draw them in and how you talk with them.
4) What do you sell?
So, we’ve talked about your specialty and who you appeal to, but believe it or not, we still haven’t covered what you actually sell.
What I mean by that is that although you’re technically selling services, you need not think so literally and instead focus on the benefits and results of what you’re selling.
For example, if you help reduce acne and diminish the appearance of acne scars, you’re selling self-confidence. If you provide facials that help your clients maintain a radiant and fresh appearance, you might be selling relaxation.
Focus on the benefits of your work over the features, and you’ll be able to pinpoint the emotions you can evoke to draw in your ideal clients.
Now that you’re clear on those emotions, I want you to make a word cloud. Write out all of the words that resonate with you and that resonate with you as well as your business.
Once you’ve gotten a few words down, I want you to sit with it for a minute and choose the one word that stands out the most. That one word will be the core of your brand.
For example, my word for AddoAesthetics is Inspire. For those of you who don’t know, “Addo" in Latin means to inspire, and everything I do in my business is done with the intention of inspiring aestheticians to reach their true potential and create their own success.
So with that in mind, brainstorm around your word and pick one that can be an anchor for your brand.
Making Your Brand Visual
With the four core questions answered and your word that is at the center of your brand, you are ready to get to the fun part of making a mood board!
Your mood board should include your brand colors, fonts, and image styles. (You can create a professional mood board and brand guidelines through Frontify.)
Personally, I like to have one primary color and two secondary colors, and I also use two separate fonts and have specific types of images that I feel connect with my word as well as the intention of my brand.
Once you have those core components, it will make the development of your brand much easier. Your social media content, your newsletter content, your website, even your spa decor are factors that can be decided by referencing back to your mood board so that everything looks consistent.
Alright, that’s plenty to start with even though this is just scratching the surface when it comes to your brand.
Keep the conversation going over in the Aestheticians Connect Facebook group!
P.S. In next weeks post I'll be announcing something really exciting - a Free 5 Clients in 5 Days Challenge. Be sure to stay tuned for that!