“Extremes are easy. Strive for Balance.” – Colin Wright
Ready to define your brand?
In this post, I’m not talking about your brand identity (the actual look of your brand).
I’m speaking of your overall brand which is EVERYTHING that you do from the way you treat your audience and how you network to how you run your day-to-day operations.
So, as someone who helps people develop their visual brands, I have a few suggestions.
Here is a thought for you . . .
In order to understand what your brand will become, you have to understand what you can handle as a brand owner.
I have seen it countless times.
Someone builds a mountain of a brand on paper and then their lifestyle doesn’t allow them to shape it into what they planned in order to become a reality.
Your brand is a living, breathing element of your business and it needs to be fed, guided and watched carefully.
There are 6 areas of your life that should be evaluated as you make decisions on your brand.
Technological Savviness (did I make that up?)
Passions & Talents
Organization & Automation
As you start to build your initial brand, (I say initial because as your business grows and your lifestyle changes, your brand will need to adapt) you will need to think about certain questions like . . .
Will the way you are able to deliver your services and products to your clients or customers may change?
Will the way you interact with them both online and off may change?
How will you promote yourself and/or your brand?
Thinking through those key areas early on will put you in best possible place to have the right personal/professional balance for your brand development which will allow you stay fresh and relevant longer.
*Quick Note . . .
The six areas are not exclusive from one another.
For instance, how tech savvy you are can affect your time efficiency which, in turn, can affect your household structure.
Or your passion and talents can make you better at organization than, say, me, for instance.
Keep this in mind as you think through your own life.
Note: As your journey progresses, ideas about how you want to look and treat people will naturally come up. Have a place to jot them down.
#1 Technological Savviness
If you imagine a life without Internet and/or Social Media, does it play out in your mind like an episode from The Walking Dead?
Or does the thought of having to deal with a computer at all make you feel like running in the opposite direction?
This is something crucial to know about yourself.
If you were the one with a flip phone anytime after 2012 (and I’m being very generous), you shouldn’t attempt to establish a brand where everything is done through the computer.
Figure out what you want to do and be willing to learn it or outsource it.
For me, anything tech is cool and fun.
I wish that I could just plug in and download all of the coding languages like Neo in The Matrix (I figure it’s been long enough to make a corny Matrix reference because, for a while, it was seriously overused).
Of course, it makes sense for my brand to include as much tech, automation, and online tools as I want because I can handle them and even crave them.
You may require something different.
Particularly if you are not part of a team, all of the hats fall on you.
You are the marketing department, production department, customer service department, and the head administrator.
As you think through your products, services, systems and processes, ask yourself if it is done in a way that you can do it yourself or in a way that you are willing to learn.
Some resources to help you with your techie education are:
In the free download below, use the tech section to decide what you need to master first to be the most successful.
#2 Household Structure
The way your household is set up makes a significant difference in what you can commit to your brand.
It comes down to priorities.
And everyone’s priorities look different. Some have kids. Some have school. Regardless, something is going to help shape every day and it doesn’t stop jut because you are now a solopreneur.
You have to list your priorities and build around them.
Maybe you take care of your parents or a sibling.
Perhaps you have roommates and you have to share a computer until you save up enough money to buy your own.
Or you may work nights and sleep during the day when most people are up reading blogs and posting on social media.
Coming to terms with the reality of your home life will save you so much grief later.
If you are a mother of 5 children and 4 of them are under the age of 7 like myself, then your optimal work times are probably after everyone goes to bed or early in the morning before everyone wakes up . . .
Assuming there are no emergency room visits, sicknesses or special projects that need to happen.
I am always mindful of preparing ahead of time to meet deadlines because typically I can only work in spans of about 20 minutes during the day until I have to stop to give my attention to someone or something else.
Know your household structure.
I keep mine together with a planner I created specifically for busy people whose personal and professional life collide on a daily basis. It’s the only way I get by.
#3 Time Costs
As you think through your brand, decide where you can spend your time.
Actually, it is more like redeem your time.
If you are trying to expand and be successful, there is ALWAYS something to do. So spending time on the things that make your business unique and attractive really touches on your brand.
Here is how I redeem my time:
While I’m out of the house, I use my phone to read business articles, share other people’s content through social media, pin cool designs to Pinterest, like other’s Instagram photos, and retweet good stuff on Twitter. I’m also answering emails with my one hand.
While I’m driving, cleaning the kitchen or any task where I’m moving and I can listen at the same time, I play business podcasts on my phone.
When I wake up with a child at 4 am each morning, I stay up to plan blog posts and write if I can.
When everyone goes to sleep at night which is around 9pm since even my husband goes to work at 3:30 in the morning, I finish whatever I need to for the day, answer emails and check on any upcoming deadlines.
This works for me now, but it may not work forever. When it doesn’t and I have to change some things around, either I will redeem my time differently or it could mean that my a part of my brand and how I run my business needs to be tweaked.
#4 Passion & Talents
Build and design your brand around your natural passions and talents.
This allows your look and processes to align themselves with what you think is important and what you are good at doing, making the maintenance of your brand much easier.
You will emphasize what you are good at and that will be what your brand promises.
A number of years ago, I took a test called StrengthFinders 2.0 and found out my top 5 strengths.
My top strength was called Woo. This means that I’m extremely personable and can talk to strangers with ease.
As I constantly work on my brand, I need to understand that anything that puts me in contact with people points to my natural talents.
I wasn’t built to spend all day just coding or designing on a computer.
So I may consider adding a live chat feature to my website and branding my design firm as one that is accessible and personal, not corporate and process driven.
At the same time, I have always loved photography, design, art…honestly anything visual.
I get moved by music and anything creative.
It energizes me and excites me.
So it would make sense that even if I move to more information-based products, I would keep custom design opportunities available to my clients.
It’s what I do best.
As you are building your brand, every decision should play to your talents, passions, and strengths.As you are building your brand, every decision should play to your talents, passions, and strengths. Click To Tweet
#5 Organization and Automation
Although it may not seem like it, the way you organize and automate is part of your brand.
It affects your daily operations and interactions.
The more organized you are, the better your business will run and hopefully the better your customers will be treated.
The more you can automate simple tasks such as email scheduling, social media sharing, registration sign ups, etc… the more time it leaves you to have phone or Skype meetings or deal with other aspects of your brand.
Organization takes me back to my love of school supplies.
I want so badly to keep physical records because I love folders, tabs, files and binders, but the truth is that I wouldn’t keep them up and my brand would suffer because my customer files would be out of whack.
Everything has to be electronic for me to keep it organized.
Paper receipts don’t stand a chance, but if I scan them or take a picture then I will have it forever and I can call upon it quickly if I need to.
Paper contracts would get lost by the wayside, but electronic ones are at my fingertips.
I know what works for me and it allows me to serve my clients better which is a reflection of my brand.
#6 Financial Flexibility
I hate to be the one that breaks it to you, but business costs money.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but usually some are required.
How much of your money do you need to spend to maintain your brand?
These questions depend on many of the areas we have discussed.
If you have issues with technology or social media, it may be worth it to you to spend money on a freelance social media manager.
Perhaps your business is growing and you promised your clients one email a week with cool content, but you no longer have the time.
Hiring a college student to handle the emails could be a solution especially since that promise is now part of your brand that you need to deliver on.
One More Time . . . A Helpful Resource . . .
In light of all we have talked about here in this post, I had to seriously consider what I need to do in order to keep the proper balance of business and family.
From that reflection, The Jourganizer™ was born. This strategic planner is meant to help you manage your entire life and it is for people whose work and personal life are not separate (like mine!).
Evaluate each of these areas for yourself.
Knowing this information ahead of time will give you valuable insight as you plan through your brand and business practices.
It will also help you avoid losing the balance that you need while in business for yourself.
Download your free Personal/Professional Balance Questionnaire to help you think through these key areas.
Did any of these areas jump out to you as potential problem areas? What has been your biggest obstacle in your business so far?