As a graphic designer, I’m supposed to tell you that your business needs professional graphics. That better design is the solution to all your problems. That a new logo will get you where you want to go.
At least, that’s the myth I came out of design school believing. I don’t remember whether my instructors even said all of that, but maybe it was the whole “design will save the world” attitude that had rubbed off.
And don’t get me wrong. I love design and wholeheartedly believe it plays a role in saving the world. But I also know it’s not the answer to everything.
And it’s not what every business owner needs.
You can grow a strong business without “good design.” Without a custom logo. Without the right fonts.
What I do believe every business owner needs is Brand Clarity.
Brand Clarity started off as just a part of my process. A more in-depth version of the questionnaire and design brief that’s standard practice in the design world. But now it’s grown into so much more than that and has become my favorite part of the process.
But what is Brand Clarity, anyway?
And why do I believe every business needs it?
Today I’m sharing a breakdown of each step to Brand Clarity and explaining how each one can help you grow your business.
Brand Clarity Step 1: Your story
This first step is all about getting back in touch with the story of how you started your business. Of the events and inspirations and ideas that got you where you are today.
It’s funny that almost everyone I’ve ever worked with has mentioned they’d never put their story down on paper before. Some had never even really thought about their story or how their business had gotten to this point. And I think that’s how most of us function. We just kind of dive in without overanalyzing and overthinking what the whole story looks like.
But taking a pause to look at that story lays the foundation for clarity in every other area. Knowing your story makes it easier to pinpoint what you really do – the one thing you want to be known for right now. And it helps you figure out why it matters, why your offering is important in the world and to you.
Being really clear about both keeps you from getting distracted by shiny new ideas and helps you feel confident and comfortable with selling. You can focus all your efforts on growing your one business instead of trying to grow all your passion projects at the same time.
Brand Clarity Step 2: Who is your ideal client?
Once you’re clear about who you are and what you’re offering, the next most important step is to get really clear about who you’re trying to reach.
A good place to start is basic demographics. What age is your ideal client? Where do they live? That kind of thing… But you also have to dive deeper. What is important to them? How do they spend their time? What are they passionate about? The deeper questions help you really narrow in on what resonates with your people and why they will care about what you’re offering.
Knowing your ideal client on this deeper level helps you take effective steps in your business. You don’t have to guess at where to offer your product because you know where you’ll have the most success. You can stop spending so much time writing professional sounding emails because you know your clients want a personal touch.
And you recover so much time and energy when you can stop trying to guess at what will work.
Brand Clarity Step 3: Who do you fit in with and stand apart from?
I think one of the most intimidating questions you can ask someone is, “how are you unique?” I freeze and stumble on my words and my mind goes totally blank.
And I think that’s because there’s so much pressure out there to be completely different from anyone and anything else. But that’s not really how we (or our businesses) work. We’re all influenced by each other.
So maybe instead of looking inward to figure out what makes your business unique, take a look around you. If the world were a high school cafeteria, who else would be at your table? And who would not?
Sorry to get all Mean Girls on you
But really, high school ridiculousness aside….
Knowing who you fit in with and stand apart from can help you figure out what makes your business different. It brings your values into focus and makes it easier to see the things that are unique to you. Plus, from a branding and marketing perspective, it can help you figure out what to do to position your business where you want it to be.
Brand Clarity Step 4: What are your goals?
Getting clear about your goals is another step that seems really simple, but is so so valuable because our goals can start to feel muddled when we’re so focused on the day-to-day.
The best way to do this is to find some quiet. Away from the daily workload and social media. And especially away from all the voices on blogs and podcasts and newsletters. Because those can really mess with us when we’re least expecting it.
Revisit your story. Why did you start this business to begin with? Then, think about your daily life. What does your ideal day look like? And think about the future. What do you want to be doing in 5 years?
Being clear about your goals helps you build your brand intentionally so that you’re using all your resources to arrive where you want to go. So you can feel good about keeping things small if your goal is to work at home and have lots of family time. Or feel good about playing really big if your goal is to hire a team and become a big name.
Brand Clarity Step 5: Your values
The best way to culminate all this work is by picking out your values. Your values serve as a really concise summary, usually 3-5 words, of your entire brand. They make it really easy to remember what you’re about, who you’re for, and where you’re headed.
To find your business values, go back through the first 4 steps and see what passion words you can pick out. What are the strongest words you used? Which ones stand out as particularly emotive? What do you keep repeating over and over?
You can keep your brand values on a post-it note on your desk so they’re always on your mind. That way, you can look at them whenever you have a decision to make, a post you’re not sure about, or if you start feeling overwhelmed. They can help keep you centered and focused on the things that are right for for brand and will move your business forward.
So, what is Brand Clarity?
It’s being clear in each of these areas so you know what your brand is all about. And that makes growing your business so much easier.
Because Brand Clarity means no more guessing, no more staring blankly at your screen, no more wasted time. It means knowing what the right path is right off the bat because you know what you’re about and where you’re going.
Want to start 2018 with Brand Clarity?
I’m hosting the first online Brand Clarity workshop from December 11 through the 16th. It’s gonna be amazing! Find the full details here: