Strategy can seem like such a cold and calculating word. It implies a plan of action and is often associated with the primary goal of selling a product or service for the purpose of making money. But there is another way of looking at it …
Imagine a beautiful backyards oasis that you envision for your dream home. The first thing you see when you walk out is a breathtaking garden filled with vibrant colours and the sweet aroma of nature awakens all of your senses. The chairs are clad with deep comfy cushions surrounding a stunning fireplace with a warm crackling glow. Beside the sitting area is a hearth styled BBQ sizzling and tantalizing your taste buds. In the distance, a path guides you to a serene peaceful waterfall where you can escape and relax to the sound of trickling water and the magic of twinkling lights. And above the entrance way, a sign crafted with a heart-warming phrase “Welcome to our oasis filled with love, light and laughter!
Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? Somebody had a vision for this backyard and a designer translated their vision into something beautiful, authentic and strategic. Yes, strategic.
When you first meet a landscaper, you will talk about your vision. And if they’re a great landscaper, they will ask you what your goals are for your backyard. Is it for entertaining or is it for solitude? Will there be children in the picture? What types of activities will you be doing (chatting, eating, socializing, playing games, meditating, gardening)? How do you want to feel when you enter your backyard? Relaxed, peaceful, energized, fun, adventure, warm, inviting?
Now this is where the strategy comes in. First, the designer will need to create a layout to meet the goals. Will they need a sitting area, a garden, walking paths, activity areas? Secondly, the designer will need to suggest colours and design elements to create the desired feeling and mood. Thirdly, the layout should accommodate the desired outcome. Do you want to guide your visitors to participate in activities? Join you in a meditation? A well-designed backyard should take your visitors on a journey that leaves them feeling energized, joyful, relaxed or whatever your desired outcome may be. The result is a design that is authentic, beautiful and strategic.
Your brand is an invitation into your business, similar to how a backyard is an invitation into your life.
The entire design project encompasses all 3 aspects – authenticity, beauty and strategy. When a website is well designed, every design element is intentional – the colours, the textures, the placement. Does it evoke a certain feeling? Is it engaging? Does it build trust? Authority?
There are many opinions as to what makes a brand effective? Some think that the most important aspect is the messaging and that you need to be asking your visitors to buy, buy, buy. While others may think that it is all about the strategy. And others think that a beautiful authentic brand is considered fluff.
Many of my clients come to me asking for a brand that is authentic to them.
They want it to reflect who they are at their core and how passionate they are to serve their clients and transform their lives. They want it to be beautiful and include those design elements that have deep significance in their lives. They want to bare their souls in the hope that they find clients that share their passions and aspirations.
You can have all of that and have an authentic brand as long as you take an intentional approach to design. Those beautiful images on your website evoke emotions in your visitors. Often it helps visitors to picture themselves working with you. The pictures may reflect your talent and gifts, they may show the challenges and struggles that a prospect is experiencing right now and a picture of what life would look like after working with you, the results they can expect. When you apply intentional design strategy that resonates with your visitors, they can picture themselves working with you. They get excited about working with you. They can picture their life after working with you.
You see, everything in your brand needs to be intentional and when you are intentional, you are creating an authentic brand and applying design strategy to your brand.
Before we dig into the three elements of an effective brand, you must do this ONE thing first – determine your Brand Personality.
What is your Brand Personality?
Your brand personality is defined by how you want to be perceived, how the world actually perceives you and the experience you provide for your clients.
Your innate personality is what people see, hear and experience when they meet you. People may perceive you as fun and vibrant, classy and elegant, inspirational, motivational, creative, edgy, innovative, driven, authoritarian, etc. On the other hand you could see yourself as relaxed and carefree and others may perceive you as being driven and organized. You can very well be both, you may just present yourself as relaxed when connecting with clients and being very well organized behind the scenes when you execute.
The main point you need to consider is that you’re being authentic. Being somebody you’re not is exhausting and people will feel the disconnect. When your brand personality is aligned with who you are and the experience you create for your clients, it will create trust with your prospects and lead them to connect with you.
I encourage you to choose 3 to 5 words that describe your brand personality. This will form the basis for the following three elements of an effective brand.
What are the three elements of an effective brand?
Brand strategy encompasses how you want to engage your visitors, the experience you create for your audience and the actions you want them to take. Asking yourself the following questions will help you determine your strategy:
- What do you want to be known for so that your visitors know exactly how you help and the results they can expect?
- What’s the first thing you want them to do when they arrive on your site so your audience can get to know you a bit more before they buy from you.
- What is the main action you want them to take so your prospects know exactly what they need to do to buy from you - whether it be to schedule a consult call, sign up for your newsletter, or buy your service.
Ensuring you have an effective brand strategy in place allows you to take your visitors on an intentional journey through your website so they get to know, like and trust you to the point of sale.
The content on your website needs to align with your brand personality so that you create a connection with your audience. Using a tone that is authentic and matches how you would speak to your clients in person will attract the clients that you dream of working with.
Although your tone is very important, so is your actual messaging. You only have a few seconds to engage your visitors so it is critical that they clearly understand these three things:
- What you offer
- How it will make a difference in their life
- What they need to do to buy your product or service
This is not the time to be cute and clever. Visitors need to understand in simple terms what kind of services or products that you offer, what specific problems you solve and how it will enhance their lives and clearly defined instructions on what action they need to do next.
Now this is the fun part! Where you get to exercise your creativity! And where the magic begins! This is where you can bring everything together visually into one cohesive brand personality that supports your authenticity and messaging.
Brand design consists of all the visual elements that make up your site, the layout and the style. The fonts, the icons, the graphical elements, the colours, the images and the sections of your website that determine the flow of your website based on your business goals.
Once you have determined the flow and structure of your website, you can start choosing design elements that amplify your brand personality. Pinterest is a great starting place to explore brand styles for colour and font combinations by simply searching for terms like “Brand style elegant” or “Brand style inspirational”.
Images can be a powerful way of creating a connection with your visitors. People want to feel heard and understood – choosing images that resonate with them builds trust and let’s them know that you truly get them. Images that show your audience what their life can be like after working with you will help them picture themselves working with you.
- Find images that reflect who your ideal clients are and the outcome that they expect.
- Ensure that the images are clear, crisp, with good lighting and no distractions in the background.
- Images that reflect the emotions people are experiencing during their challenges (before working with you) and the feelings of success they can expect after working with you.
Are you leaving money on the table by not taking beauty and authenticity seriously?
There are business specialists who believe that a stunning website is not important, it is the messaging that is the most important. And while I agree that the messaging is a crucial part of your brand, if you’re website is not authentic and beautiful, you may be losing an opportunity to create an instant connection with your visitors.
There are those people where beauty is not important. They have a backyard that is functional and serves a purpose, and that’s it. When I go into my backyard, I want it to be inviting and a holistic experience. The colours, the aroma, the fresh air, the birds chirping, the leaves rustling, the sun setting. The mental space and clarity it brings me. The awareness of everything around me. It is an enriching and awakening experience. Is that what you want for your clients?
Why do I say that? I have been referred to businesses because they are extremely good at what they do. I have purchased their products and services and applied what I have learned and have experienced success. However, I have to admit, when I went to their website, it did not resonate with me or inspire me. Have you ever had that experience? It was just meh? Flat. Had I not been referred to the website, I probably would not have purchased from them. So how many opportunities are being missed because you don’t believe that your website needs to be beautiful.
Building your brand using effective strategy, messaging and design will create beauty and authenticity in your business.
Your visual brand tells a story. It builds on your story. You describe your prospects’ challenges, their pains, their heartaches. You describe how you can help, things they can try. You give them hope. And then you show them what life will look like with success. That’s what building your beautiful authentic brand is all about.
Not sure how to create a brand that is beautiful, authentic and strategic? The process is actually easier than you think. Let me guide you.