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BUSINESS STRATEGY

The 5 Step Process to Successfully Creating a Cohesive Brand

The 5 step process for creating a cohesive brand

Have you ever heard the expression “your brand is NOT just your logo”? Well, that couldn’t be truer, especially in today's online world. You need to stand out, you need to be recognizable and you need to be remembered. That’s of course if you want to be successful, and I’m guessing you do. This 5 step process for creating a cohesive brand will help you do just that!

What you need is more than a logo, it’s a cohesive brand strategy. A cohesive brand sets the expectation with your audience of what they are going to get. That expectation is what will keep them coming back to spend more or read more!

Are you feeling the pressure? Don’t! I’m going to walk you through my foolproof steps to successfully creating a cohesive brand. This is an experience you really should enjoy!

Step 1: Brand Discovery Questions and Pinterest Inspiration

To begin properly creating a cohesive brand, you need to develop the base of why your business exists, what you want to do with it and how it can add value to others.

For your brand to succeed, you need to know the answers to those questions like the back of your hand. That’s why we will go through four Brand Discovery Questions and why they are critical to your brand’s development.

Question 1: What is your Purpose statement?

Your purpose statement is the entire “why” behind your brand. And just so we are clear, selling products or services is not your “why”. If you make “sales” or “money” your why you will be very hard pressed to actually make either.

You need to think of your purpose statement in terms of value. Your purpose statement needs to revolve around the value you are going to provide to your clients/readers. How will your brand inspire your potential clients or readers and make them want to support it?

As an example, let’s say you are a life coach and you offer services and also sell a course on living a positive lifestyle. The purpose of your brand can’t be to make money from services and sell courses. If money is your purpose, people will see right through it.

The purpose should be to inspire people to live healthier and happier lives and provide them with the solutions to do so. It needs to revolve around adding value and providing a solution. When you figure that out, you’ve found the entire purpose of your business. That’s a huge win right there.

There is an amazing article I have gone back to read several times that really shines a light on finding your brand’s purpose. It’s an interview with Mark DiSomma who is a Senior Brand Strategist at The Blake Project and he really puts everything into perspective.

He explains how Dove’s mission is NOT to sell soap. Their brand's purpose is to empower women. It’s through initiatives that support their brand’s purpose that they sell soap and make money.

Please check it out here, it’s absolutely worth the read and will certainly help you on your journey to defining your brand’s purpose.

Question 2: How will people be interacting with your brand and what feelings do you want to invoke in them?

This is one question I don’t often see people considering when they try creating a cohesive brand. Are people mainly interacting with your brand on your website, in person, in print, in a physical or digital marketplace?

The answer to this is important because it should have an impact on the actual design choices you will make for your brand.

If people are mainly visiting you on your own site, a softer muted color palette and logo might work. If your mainly connect with people in a marketplace, you might need something a little bolder to capture interest.

You also need to consider the type of feelings you want to invoke in people. Do you want to get them fired up, excited or motivated? Or perhaps create a feeling of calm and peacefulness? Having this in writing will again go a long way once we get to the design side of the process.

Question 3: What sets you and your brand apart from others?

This is usually THE HARDEST one for business owners to figure out. What is your unique selling proposition? Why is someone going to support your brand and continue to seek knowledge or buy from you instead of others?

Maybe it’s your customer service, your personality, your expertise, your prices, your quality. I think you get the point.

You need to decide this and then make sure you deliver on that with everything that you do. You need to create a consistent expectation that your readers or clients can count on. That’s what will keep them coming back for more and turn them into true brand fans.

Question 4: Who is your Ideal Client/Reader/Buyer?

Now I want you to think long and hard about who your Ideal client and/or reader is. How old are they? What do they like to do? Where do they hang out online? Are they male or female?
Narrowing this down will help you in the development of your overall brand strategy. It will also help you down the road with your marketing strategy.

If your audience is primarily sophisticated, mature women, then your brand needs to reflect that. If they are mostly stay at home moms that have a love of DIY, then you might go for little more color and playfulness.

Once you have answered these 4 questions, you should be in a really good place to start actually designing your brand, AKA the FUN part!

Step 2: Create a Pinterest Board, Mood Board, and Color Palette

As a graphic designer, this is absolutely my favorite part! I understand though that the visual part can be entirely overwhelming! In this step, I’m going to walk you through tasks to narrow down the overall aesthetic and feel of your brand. We will totally get through it together!

Pinterest Inspiration Board

The first task will be to harness the power of Pinterest. Start by creating a new secret board called “(Business Name) Brand Experience”. Based on the brand identity questions above, search Pinterest for terms that you think go well with your answers.

Examples:

  • Feminine brand board
  • Turquoise” branding
  • “Gold” Logo
  • Modern branding
  • Light Color Palette
  • Bright Color Palette
  • Soft Color Palette
  • “Blush” Brand Board

Don’t forget to also search for terms that are specific to your niche like classic fashion, modern furniture, food inspiration, crafting etc.

This isn’t the time to be overly careful about your selections. Once you have saved your initial choices to your board, go back into the board and take a careful look at what you have.

Is there a trend?

Are there pins that you can get rid of, now that you see them next to the others? Try to narrow it down as much as you can but leave at least 10 or so for further scrutiny.

Now WALK AWAY. Yes, you heard me. JUST WALK AWAY.

Wait at least 10 minutes, sit back down and open the board back up. Which pin, or pins jumped out at you and sang your song? Eliminate a few more that you didn’t even notice.

Now walk away again. Yes, for another 10 or so minutes. This really does work, I’m not a crazy person.

Is there one pin or a few that you keep thinking about even when you're no longer looking at your screen?

Alright, you can go back now and open up the board again. Did the same pin or pins catch your attention again?

Chances are yes, and you can probably get rid of the rest. Hold onto that pin or to those couple of pins and find images with a similar color palette or feels and save them to your brand experience board.

Pro Tip: Try to also include images with different textures and patterns as this will help you a little further down.

Save anywhere from ten to fifteen pins.

Congrats, you have created your first Mood Board without even knowing it!

Mood Board and Color Palette

Your second task will be to place the images you have found on Pinterest into an inspiration board. There are two ways you can do this.

Option 1: Create a brand collage where you layer the different images one over the other:

Option 2: Create a Mood Board (available for FREE in the Lady Boss Freebie Library) to organize the images:

As you can see from the mood board above, it also includes our next task, choosing your color palette.

This is where you want to pull from the colors of your inspiration images. Choose at least 6 colors to represent your brand. Three of them will be your primary brand colors and the other three will be your complimentary brand colors. All six colors don’t always have to be present in everything you create.

You can use a free program like Coolors.co to pull the colors directly from your inspiration pictures. It will also create new color palettes for you at random if you need a little extra help!

Pro Tip: A great idea at this point is to also consider the types of images you are going to need for your website, products, marketing etc. At this point, I like to locate a small arsenal of stock photos that pairs well with the feel and style of the brand I’m co-creating. This is a huge time-saver later on and clients really appreciate it!

Now that your mood board and color palette are all done, it’s LOGO TIME!!!

STEP 3: Main Logo Design + Font Selection

It’s best to start with the main logo and then create all the additional brand collateral from there. This logo is the one you are going to use 80% of the time and it needs to represent your brand and be recognizable.

Remember question 2 above that asked you how people were going to be interacting with your brand? Well, that comes into play here. When considering the logo shape and the font styles, think about where people will be interacting with it the most.

That cursive font might look great on the giant sign above your store but how will it look on an itty-bitty product tag?

Another tip before deciding on a font is typing out common words that you will probably be using that font for. Although the font might look great with your initials, it may not be as nice or may be hard to read when using it for your tagline or a quote.

One thing I use and love, that most font sites have, is a tool that allows you to see your own text in a font before you buy it. This is a huge help and money saver if the fonts on your computer just aren’t doing it for you!

I suggest using 2-3 fonts maximum and always sticking with those fonts for everything that you do. This is really going to help in creating a cohesive Brand and help people to pick you out of a crowd.

STEP 4: Creating an Alternative Logo, Submark and additional Brand Collateral

I can’t tell you how many times I get asked by clients what the point of an alternate logo and watermark are. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t important so I’m going to quickly break them down for you!

Alternate Logo

An alternative logo is a redesign of your main logo that has a different shape and will fit a different kind of space. Your main logo might not fit nicely onto every type of brand material or marketing piece you create.

In comes your alternate logo to save the day!

The alternate logo still screams your brand and people will recognize it instantly. It will also look way better than trying to squeeze your main logo into a place it doesn’t belong.

Totally makes sense, right?

Submark

Now for the submark. This is sometimes the least used of the logo trio, but if you are creating a brand from scratch why not do it and have it ready for when you need it. I promise you that time will come.

Examples of where you might use a submark are for social media icons, email signatures, your business card and many more.

Just think of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest etc. They offer you a small circular space for an icon that most logos don’t fit nicely into. You may choose to have a photo of yourself or this can be the perfect spot for your Submark!

Now that we have that all cleared up, I expect you to create all three.

Brand Collateral

Before we wrap things up, you should also create some additional brand collateral. These are items like patterns, social media icons, pin it buttons, social media headers, and a business card if you need it.

Most of these will be pretty simple and stress-free to create at this point as you already have your logo, additional logos, and brand colors! See, I’ve got you covered.

STEP 5: Putting it all together by creating a cohesive Brand Board

I promise this is the easy part! You already have all of the right components, we just need to put it all together and I’ve got the right tool for you to use! You can download a FREE Canva or InDesign Brand Board in the Lady Boss Freebie Library.

Within minutes you will have your entire visual brand experience put together in one place that you can easily refer to over and over!

You should also hold onto the answers to your brand questions as they will help guide you with any business decisions you make!

Now nothing should stop you from creating a cohesive Brand!

We’ve covered a lot of information but as I’m sure you now agree, creating a cohesive brand needs to be a top priority for your business. Chances are that it will evolve as time passes but that’s a great thing! It means that you are gaining experience and you can further narrow down your brand’s purpose and provide more value.

Just as you want people to enjoy their experience with your brand, take the time to really enjoy the experience of creating it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tasha offers branding and web design with a focus on feminine design. Her blog provides valuable information on topics such as branding, email marketing, WordPress tips, design tips, affiliate marketing and much more. Visit her over on her website, Lady Boss StudioYou can also find Tasha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

10 Lessons From Running a Successful Subscription-Based Business

10 lessons from running a successful subscription based business
Last week I shared 5 reasons you should create a subscription-based offer and got so many messages from people in my community who are eager to add recurring revenue to their businesses too! While recurring revenue is definitely one of the perks of having a subscription-based business, there are a lot of things I didn’t know about running a subscription based business before I created the Styled Stock Society so I thought I’d share 10 lessons that I’ve learned from running a successful subscription-based business for the past couple of years.

1) It can be as simple or as complicated as you make it.

When it comes to subscription-based businesses, a lot of people automatically think of subscription boxes (of physical products) or membership sites – but there are a ton of different ways to create subscription-based revenue. You could literally do something as simple as charge people to receive an email every month (I’ve done this!) or something as complicated as creating a whole membership site with videos / pdfs / tools / resources / live training AND a whole community (wayyy more work).

I shared 12 different ideas in this post, but the point is – there’s not a single “right” way to run a subscription-based business, and it really can be as simple or as complicated as you make it! Sure, the simple things are usually priced lower than more complex subscriptions, but ultimately the VALUE that you deliver is what matters to your subscribers.

2) You shouldn’t create a subscription-based offer without an audience to sell it to.

I know the idea of recurring revenue sounds pretty awesome to pretty much everyone, but if you’re just starting your business and haven’t built an audience / community / email list – I would tell you to focus on building an audience BEFORE you try to create and sell a subscription-based offer.

Unlike one-to-one services which don’t really require you to have an audience (you can be fully booked out based on relationships / referrals), you need some sort of audience to sell a subscription-based offer to. Build it and they will come is not a thing. Maybe if you have a ton of money to spend on ads and/or really amazing affiliate relationships to help you launch… but to continue to successfully grow your subscription, you need an audience. Not necessarily a HUGE audience (I only had 3,000-ish people on my email list when I initially launched mine), but when it comes to growing a subscription-based business, numbers matter!

3) You won’t make everyone happy.

If you’re used to working with clients one-on-one, you probably come from a place of trying to make all of your clients happy. #truth – when you run a subscription-based business, you won’t make everyone happy. Your subscription won’t be for everyone. Some people will join and be disappointed because it’s not what they need / want / expected. But that’s not (necessarily) your fault!

When you have a (lower priced) one-to-many offer, you are going to attract more people, and some of them won’t be the right fit. Even if your sales page is SUPER clear on who your offer is for, you are probably at some point going to end up with someone who isn’t 100% happy (since you’re not pre-qualifying people in the same way you do with one-to-one clients). And that’s ok. Really.

4) You will want to focus on growth when you should be focusing on retention.

Most people who want to start subscription-based businesses are drawn to them because of the idea of recurring revenue. But guess what – that revenue is only recurring if your subscribers continue their subscriptions! One thing that you always need to think about with a subscription-based business is your churn rate (the % of subscribers who leave during a given period). You could be getting new subscribers, but if your churn rate is higher than your growth rate, then you’re not really growing at all!

To run a successful subscription-based business, you need to focus on retention. That means knowing what your subscribers want and keeping them happy! Make sure that you’re regularly surveying your subscribers so that you know what’s working and what might need improvement.

Subscription Creation Roadmap

5) People will unsubscribe and that’s totally normal.

At some point, most people will stop their subscriptions. They might try it for a month and leave. They might subscribe for 6 months / 1 year / 3 years / etc. but most people do not keep their subscriptions active “for life” (unless you have a lifetime subscription option). This doesn’t necessarily mean there was anything “wrong” – usually it just means that your subscription wasn’t an investment that they wanted to continue to prioritize in their life.

I recommend sending an “unsubscribe survey” asking people why they unsubscribed – it’s a great way to see if people are leaving because of financial / life changes or if it’s because they weren’t happy with their subscription. Most of the time when people leave the Styled Stock Society it’s either because they have all of the photos they need for the time being or for budget reasons – which is totally fine!

6) You need clear Terms and Conditions of Use + a Privacy Policy.

Technically, if you have any type of website, you should have Terms and Conditions of Use + a Privacy Policy in place, but it’s especially important when you have a subscription-based business. Clearly explaining the service you are providing, how you are handling recurring payments, how you handle your subscribers’ information, and covering all your legal bases can easily be done with a thorough GDPR-Compliant Terms and Conditions of Use + Privacy Policy. It’s not just smart – it’s a legal requirement!

I personally rely on The Contract Shop’s templates for #allthelegalthings and recommend this Terms and Conditions of Use + Privacy Policy template for anyone who sells digital products, courses, or other subscription-based resources. Trust me – when you’re taking recurring payments, you want to make sure you have all of your legal bases covered!

7) Pricing is complicated.

Pricing one-to-one services isn’t that hard if you know how much money you want to make, how much money you need to spend, and how much time you want to work. But pricing digital products like online courses or subscription-based offers (that aren’t physical products), is much more complicated. Because when you have a one-to-many offer, your pricing isn’t really related to your time.

You still have to think about how much money you want to make, how much money you need to spend to get and keep things up and running, and how much work you’re putting into it – but ultimately you can set prices based on the value that your target audience receives – and as you scale your business you can also scale your prices. When you first start a subscription-based business, you might price your offer on the lower end of the spectrum – partially to validate your offer, but also to leave room to grow. You can always raise your prices, but it’s awkward to lower them if you set the bar too high!

When I first started the Styled Stock Society, I intentionally kept my expenses as low as possible (I only spent $16 the first month on a bundle of pink peonies from a local deli that I used as a prop) – I didn’t even have a sales page or a website or a camera of my own (I literally borrowed one to start the business). But over time, I started investing more in the business, built a custom membership site, bought my own camera / lenses, and worked my way up to spending $1,000+ per month on related expenses. And of course – I’ve raised my prices too!

8) The more you grow, the more “maintenance” you’ll have to do.

When you only have a few clients at a time, you probably don’t have an inbox flooded with transaction notifications, support requests, prospective subscriber inquiries, and more. But imagine if you had 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 clients – that could lead to SO MUCH maintenance and communication!

There are a ton of different things that you can do to minimize the time spent in your inbox. For example, set up a FAQ page with answers to the questions you find yourself answering over and over again or create canned responses to frequent emails or set up automations so that when you have failed transactions (which WILL happen at some point with a recurring subscription), you have a system for handling them. Ultimately, just be prepared for more emails in your inbox – and I highly recommend 1) creating a separate email just for support requests and 2) hiring someone to handle those support requests if you can!

9) You’ll need to adapt as you grow.

Running a scalable subscription-based business can feel easy… except when it doesn’t. As your subscribers grow, you may have “growing pains” – you may realize that your sales platform doesn’t have all the capabilities you need or that your content distribution system needs to be refined or that your subscribers’ needs have changed over time. In short, you’ll need to adapt as you grow. And as frustrating as that can be, it’s also a good thing!

I personally had to change membership platforms when I outgrew the one I used to use (it was a pain to migrate hundreds of members, but worth it in the end), and have changed the way the subscription works (it started with delivering a simple 30 photos per month and eventually grew into a library with over 1,500 photos and 50+ new images added each month). All of the changes I’ve made to my subscription-based business over the past 2+ years were in order to provide a better member experience and improve retention rates (see #4) – if you don’t adapt to your subscribers’ needs, you might just get stuck on a plateau – or worse, your subscription might even fail!

10) It will force you to set a schedule.

Last but not least, running a subscription-based business forces you to adhere to a set schedule. If you’re used to winging it or playing tetris with your deadlines, you’ll need to get used to creating and delivering content on a set schedule! Because – as I mentioned in my previous post, recurring revenue comes with a recurring obligation to deliver value to your subscribers.

I’m VERY motivated by deadlines – so running a subscription-based business where I know that I have to deliver new stock photos on the 15th of every month makes it easy for me to plan all of my work in advance and streamline my workflows.

So those are 10 lessons I’ve learned from running a successful subscription-based business over the past couple of years – #realtalk, it hasn’t always been easy – but creating a subscription has allowed me to work less while earning a consistent recurring income so it’s all been worth it!

If you’re ready to add recurring revenue to your business, the first step is coming up with a subscription idea!

5 Reasons You Should Create A Subscription-Based Offer

5 reasons you should create a subscription based business

Like most creative entrepreneurs, I started my business by freelancing / offering one-to-one services. But over time I realized that my time – and more importantly, my income – was limited. I wanted to leverage my time by creating something once and then selling it over and over again. Back in 2016, it seemed like “everyone” was creating online courses, so I did too. And from a revenue standpoint, it was great! I put a ton of work into creating and launching courses, marketed the hell out of them, and had huge-for-me five figure launches. And I did it over and over again earning more $$$ each time. I learned a lot of things from 4 back-to-back launches in 3 months, but the most important thing I learned was probably that I didn't really want to run online courses (more on that below). What I really wanted was recurring revenue. And while courses could have been the way to achieve that, I realized creating a subscription-based offer would probably be easier, and thus, the Styled Stock Society was born. Creating a subscription-based offer was literally the thing that changed my business and enabled me to work fewer hours while earning a more consistent recurring revenue so if that's something you're craving in YOUR business, here are 5 reasons you should create a subscription-based offer.

5 Reasons You Should Create A Subscription-Based Offer

You want recurring revenue

This is literally the reason I started my subscription-based business. In 2016 I was consulting, working with individual clients, and also launching online courses. I liked the idea of courses because my revenue wasn't tied to the hours I worked (unlike when I was working with clients), but I hated that I felt like constantly launching courses was exhausting – I was spending a TON of time creating all of the content for my courses and even though all my work paid off, I hated the extreme highs (launching = $$$) and lows (that time in between launches when I thought OMG I need to create something else so I can launch again). Part of my issue was that, at the time, I hadn't figured out evergreen sales funnels yet – but a bigger part was just knowing that there had to be some EASIER way to earn leveraged income on a recurring basis.

Creating a subscription-based offer has been the easiest thing I've done to create recurring revenue in my business. Essentially you just need to be able to solve a problem for a group of people on a consistent, recurring basis. I subscribe to a number of different tools like Tailwind, SmarterQueue, and Planoly that help me run my business more efficiently. I subscribe to Netflix because it enables me to binge watch tv and movies (and that basically describes my Friday nights). And one of the best presents I've ever received was a weekly flower subscription (because getting fresh flowers delivered every week was literally the gift that kept on giving)! There are a ton of different types of subscription-based businesses out there who are probably taking YOUR money every month, but have you ever thought of creating your own??

You want to help more people

There will (hopefully) come a time in your business when you're booked out with one-to-one clients. (Yay! This is a great thing!) But you'll also start to think about what to do when people continue to want to hire you for your services – should you start a waiting list? Should you raise your prices? Should you hire subcontractors? Maybe any or all of the above…

Or maybe, it's time to think about creating a subscription-based offer. Creating an offer where you provide a simplified version of your services on a 1-to-many basis can be a great way to create leveraged income (meaning you do the work once and get paid repeatedly for it). Just because your time is maxed out, that doesn't mean your income has to be!

Creating a subscription-based offer was literally the thing that changed my business and enabled me to work fewer hours while earning a more consistent recurring revenue. Here's why YOU might want to create a subscription-based offer too!Click To Tweet

You love creating content

#realtalk – If you don't love creating content – creating a subscription-based offer is probably not for you. If you want to continue to provide value to your subscribers, that means you're going to need to be creating “stuff” for them on a regular basis. Whether that's templates, videos, courses, workshops, photos, etc. – remember that recurring revenue also comes with a recurring obligation to create content.

Personally, I LOVE creating content. I didn't love creating courses (mainly because creating videos drained me), but I do love planning and creating other types of content. Back when I was consulting full time, I knew I wanted to pivot my business because I missed creating content (and I hated talking to people all day long). If you're the type of person who always has new ideas and wants to create new things while helping more people – a subscription-based offer is perfect for you! But if you want to be able to just create something once and try to sell it over and over again via an evergreen funnel, you might want to create a single digital product instead of a subscription-based offer.

You want more creative freedom

When you're working with clients one-on-one, your #1 job is to make your clients happy. Sometimes that means designing / writing / photographing / creating / etc. things that aren't exactly your favorite thing. Sometimes the things your clients love aren't the things that YOU love… but you have to do them anyway. But when it comes to creating a subscription based offer, you shouldn't be trying to make everyone happy.

There's creative freedom that comes with running a one-to-many type business. When I create collections for my Styled Stock Society members, I get to do whatever I want. Of course, I'm always trying to take into consideration what my members request (I ask for feedback and run member surveys twice a year) – but ultimately, I have the creative freedom to create the images that I want to create.

You want to streamline your business

Last but not least, you might want to create a subscription-based offer – specifically, a membership site – if you want to streamline your business. If you have lots of ideas and want to create different courses / trainings / etc. then it may be confusing for your audience. By housing all of your training under a single membership site, you can streamline your marketing by promoting a single offer (your membership) while still offering a variety of resources. 

12 Subscription Ideas for Online Business Owners

If you're thinking “I totally want to create a subscription-based offer for MY business now!” but aren't sure what to create, here are a few ideas for ya:

If you're a consultant / coach / strategist / educator, you could create a subscription around…

  • Pre-recorded video / audio trainings
  • Monthly group calls
  • Live webinars / workshops
  • Workbooks with helpful prompts to achieve specific results
  • Set “office hours” where you provide personalized advice
  • A membership community

If you're a graphic designer, you could create a subscription around…

  • Templates for ebooks, content upgrade pdfs, or other opt-ins
  • Printables like daily / weekly / monthly planning sheets, to-do lists, check lists, etc.
  • Pre-made social media graphics

If you're a photographer, you could create a subscription around…

  • Stock photos
  • Presets
  • Photography lessons / tutorials

Create Your Subscription-Based Offer

First step? The first and most important step is validating your idea. Most subscription businesses fail because people don't take time to really understand their market and validate their idea! Don't waste your time creating something before you KNOW it's something that your audience wants. Grab my guide to validating your subscription-based offer idea below!

Already validated your idea? It's time to take your business from idea to launch – learn more about my group program Revenue on Repeat™ and apply today!