Someone needs to say it: you’re the worst person to create your brand.
As a branding-focused creative agency owner, I even thought DIY-ing my own brand was a good idea. It’s what I do for others (so in theory I know what I’m doing) and it’s cheaper, right?
Yes, but then there’s the old adage: you get what you pay for.
In case this now has you wondering about the legitimacy of my agency, my brand is my brain-child–as it is for most business owners and entrepreneurs–but my logo, website, copy and some strategy is all from other creatives.
You’ve heard the phrase: “Can’t see the forest for the trees” (we’ve got a lot of overused phrases going on here). Well, we’re in our own forests all the time. So how could we ever possibly see how an outsider might experience our business?
The truth is, you’re much too close to the problem to be able to make objective, target-facing, effective decisions about your own image and messaging. You’re in it every day.
You might be thinking, “but I understand the nuances that no one else sees”. This is also true. This is also why you think your product or service is the best thing ever. You have bias that many others don’t. You’re already convinced that you’re worth buying. Your judgment is clouded.
No matter how you slice it, that’s the long and short of it.
Instead of diving headfirst into a logo, colors and website, live in your zone of genius by really understanding the plan, detail and driving force behind your business.
I’ve encountered so many business owners that truly have no idea what their direction is when they decide to brand their business. Then they expect the designer or agency to brand something that has no foundation, often resulting in an unsatisfactory outcome because they didn’t have a solid direction from the start. We do make magic, but we’re not miracle workers or mind readers. Sheesh.
Focus on providing the who, what, where, why and ask yourself the following questions:
What are my business goals? Think about growth, how you’re getting there, what short and long term objectives you want to achieve.
Who do I want to work with? Figure out who your ideal client or customer is and really see them as a person. Use current customers that fit the mold if you have that option.
Why do I do what I do? Yes, we all do most things to get paid, but this is about what you do beyond the money; it’s your why.
Where do I want to be in 5-10 years? Look into the future and determine where you see yourself further down the road. Where do you want to be? Who do you want to be?
In other words, get your sh*t together on the business side. Be the boss. Worry about how you’re making money; what your structures are; effective decision making.
Only after you have your ducks in a row should you toss around the idea of hiring a creative.
When you know your backstory, you'll be able to confidently give a designer, strategist or agency enough direction that they can make the necessary decisions for your brand. Find and hire a creative or group of creatives that you trust and let them live in their zone of genius.
This is, albeit, the hardest part of this process–trust.
You've been living and working with your business for a long time, so whoever you should hire should do everything you want, right? Uh not so much. Just like you know your business like the back of your hand, they know theirs too. Here's where you take a back seat and actually get what you're paying for.
Allow your creative or agency to take what you know about yourself and turn it into something beautiful, that authentically represents you and speaks directly to your audience. Or don't, and see where it gets you.
Now, thank you for attending our only mildly insulting TED Talk.
Need a better idea of what a brand actually needs? Download The Complete Brand Checklist HERE.
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