Branding Part 1: Defining Our Brand Story & Initial Branding Meeting
In my opinion, branding is one of the most important foundational elements of building a new business, but probably not for the reasons you think.
It's not because I think your color palette or your logo or your brand name are going to determine the ultimate success or failure of your business (though I certainly am a big believer that a solid brand identity helps you connect with your audience.) It's actually because branding (when done right) forces you to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself:
What is my business all about?
In order to create a brand identity that is rooted in authenticity and that is in alignment with your product and your ideal audience, you first have to get incredibly clear on what you do, who you're for, what vibe you want to project, and what values you want to reinforce.
These important foundational elements are what I refer to as your Brand Story. Inside my branding course, Better Branding Course, I go through several exercises to uncover different insights about your business (and yourself) that you can then make sure are baked into your branding from the start.
Jason and I set aside time on the calendar in the first week of our Wandering Aimfully build timeline to make sure we got on the same page with these Brand Story elements before I moved on to designing a mood board, and eventually, our brand identity.
Care to know what we chatted about in that first session? If you answered yes, you're in luck...
Watch our first full-length branding meeting on developing our brand story
If you want to be a fly on the wall during our first branding meeting, you can watch (or listen) to us go through every single exercise and see how we arrive at our final five tone words. Hopefully by taking you behind the scenes in an unedited way, you can see what it's really like to start with a more general brand idea and continue to refine it until it gets more clear and focused.
Here are the exercises and worksheets we filled out together:
Chapter Summaries & Plot Points - The purpose of this is to figure out what experiences and moments in our shared history informed the creation of this business and what we care about. This exercise is also helpful to look for patterns and themes in your story that will play a key role in the mission, messaging, or foundation of your brand.
Ideal Audience Profile - It's important that your branding connects with your ideal audience or customer, otherwise it's going to be hard to run a business that is sustainable.
4 Q's Foundation - This worksheet asks four simple yet crucial questions that form the foundation of your business: who, why, what and how. Knowing these answers will help you get clarity on what you're selling, to whom you're selling it, and for what purpose so you can make sure your branding feels congruent with these critical pieces of your business model.
Brand Values & Beliefs - This is where we start to get into what our brand stands for and what we want the messaging of our brand to be so we can make sure that's present in our overall brand and attract customers that resonate with those values and beliefs.
Brand Canvas - Finally, we put it all together! This brand canvas document is similar to a "creative brief." It pulls together all the necessary components in a succinct way so we have everything we need to start our brand exploration process.
What did we learn from our Brand Story "homework"?
So, what did we learn from all this? Rather than going through each and every worksheet (that's what the video is for, silly!), I thought it would be helpful to share with you a few top line takeaways from these discovery exercises.
A BALANCING ACT
First, we realized our brand needs to bring together and balance multiple dualities. First, it needs to speak to creative business owners that are interested in both having a thriving business AND a happy life. It must speak to both in order to effectively represent what we want to be about.
The topic of balance has come up a lot, even in the naming of Wandering Aimfully, which we go into more in this article. There’s the idea of balancing both exploration (trying new things, being open to growth, etc.) with intention (knowing what your values are, finding a sense of individual purpose.) Jason and I ourselves are an exercise in balance in the way we work together, and this notion of balanced dualities could be a fun one to play with in the brand.
Navigating your path
I also keep coming back to this idea of navigation. It’s not about following some blueprint or even finding some magical destination point called work/life balance; it’s about using your own values as a compass to navigate the blend between work and life so that both feel good to you at that particular moment in time.
This idea of navigating your path is already present in the name Wandering Aimfully, but I want it to be reinforced in the branding we come up with.
Making it FUN
Most monthly membership communities are focused on business training only. We want to communicate that we are a valuable business tool, BUT that we also have fun and our interested in helping you live a good life as well. This is also what has helped our content stand out in the past: it’s fun, personable and real. We want to keep that feeling of fun and playfulness incorporated in our brand so we can stand out from our more traditional feeling business peers.
Most of all, we want the final brand to feel uniquely US.
Read our final Brand Canvas before we move on to build our mood board
As I mentioned, the "Brand Canvas" is a document I use in my branding process which acts like a creative brief. It allows you to bring the important parts of the brand discovery journey into one place so you can reference it throughout the rest of the branding process and make sure you're staying on track with what you're trying to communicate with your brand visuals.
Scroll through to read our answers below and see how our initial brand discovery insights will play out through the rest of the branding process!
That's it for Part 1 of our branding series. In the next post, see how we took this initial Brand Story and our five brand tone words, and turned them into a solid Brand Concept with a mood board and initial visual explorations!