Align Before You Elevate Your Brand

You're going to love this exercise on brand alignment to give you more clarity on your strengths + specific needs you can address for your dream clients. | Rising Tide Society
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Hiya, friend! I think you’re really going to like this exercise on brand alignment.

It shouldn’t take you too long to complete, but it should hopefully give you more clarity on your strengths and the specific needs you can address for your dream clients. Without getting crystal clear on your unique value proposition (all of the goodness in this worksheet), you may find yourself wasting a boatload of precious time and energy, saying all of the wrong things to the right people (or all of the right things to the wrong people)… like, for years.

Grab your favorite notebook or journal and let’s dive into the good stuff!

Brand Alignment Promise Inventory

What are your unique areas of expertise?

Think outside the box here. If you have any certifications or special training, list that here. If you have any corporate experience, volunteer experience, or anything in between, doodle that here too. If you grew up in a family who all serve in this industry, make a note of it!

Your goal is to find your hidden gems—your Unique Value Proposition.

P.S. here’s your permission to scribble in allllll the colorful pens!

What problems do your clients need to solve?

This may sound obvious, but let’s dig a bit deeper than “they need a birthday gift” or “they need someone to capture their memories.”

Donald Miller, author of Building a StoryBrand, commonly (and brilliantly) refers to these three types of problems: external, internal, and philosophical.

External problems are directly addressing their immediate, basic needs.

Internal problems are more about how someone feels or wants to be seen (this is where the Enneagram becomes really fun!).

The philosophical problems are a bit tougher to figure out, but you’re going to make some assumptions about their core beliefs. If you don’t want to assume, reach out to your past clients and ask them!

Here is one example most creatives can relate to:

Client: New homeowner

External Problem: Needs to decorate his or her walls

Internal Problem: Wants to be the kind of person to decorate with unique artwork

Philosophical Problem: People should support independent artists over big box stores.

Grab your favorite pens and identify your client and their problems in some more detail here:

  • Your Client: Think of the traits of your “Top 5” absolute favorite clients you’ve already worked with or would love to work with. Don’t be afraid to list their names—they’re not going to see this paper.
  • Your Client’s External Problem
  • Your Client’s Internal Problem
  • Your Client’s Philosophical Problem

Now it doesn’t seem like talking about problems and your areas of expertise relate to branding, but they’re actually the core of your brand!

Branding is so much more than pretty colors, patterns, and logos. If you can take your expertise (and let’s not forget your undying love for providing this product/service) and smoosh it together with solving your clients’ problems, you’ve got yourself a brand promise.

Brand Visuals Inventory

For the next part, we’ll decide if your brand visuals line up with the solid work you did above.

For this section, we’ll rely on social media stalking *cough cough* research. With the client details you outlined above and the names you wrote down, head over to the social media platform you see them using the most (Pinterest doesn’t count).

Just remember: here, you are looking directly at your dream clients’ profiles and NOT your competitors’ profiles. It’s tempting to look side to side and see what your colleagues are doing (and what their brands look like), but you need to resist the urge to make comparisons and hone in on identifying your dreams clients’ personal interests and needs and aligning with them.

Instagram

  • What types of photos do they post in their feed and in their stories? (Family and friends? Landscapes? Stock photos? Text?)
  • What colors, patterns, and fonts do you see them using themselves or sharing? Cool colors like blues and greens, warm colors like reds and yellows, or neutrals like whites, grays, and beiges? Bold in-your-face patterns or minimalist designs? Color blocking or delicate blending Handwritten script fonts? Serif fonts like Times New Roman? Sans-serif fonts like Arial?
  • What types of written content do they share (Recent events? Personal stories? Inspirational quotes? No caption at all?)
  • What hashtags do they use (if at all)?*

*You can continue to go down the hashtag rabbit hole and look for others who use the same hashtag (who also feel like they fit your dream client profile) and see what visuals they share as well.

Facebook

  • What types of photos do they post in their feed and in their stories? (Family and friends? Landscapes? Stock photos? Text?)
  • If they use the text background feature, what background colors and patterns do you see them using themselves? Cool colors like blues and greens, warm colors like reds and yellows, or neutrals like whites, grays, and beiges? Bold in-your-face patterns or minimalist designs? Color blocking or delicate blending?
  • What types of written content do they share (Recent events? Personal stories? Inspirational quotes?)
  • What types of video content do they share (Recent events? Inspirational stories? All the puppy and kitty videos?)
  • What Groups do they hang out in?*

*You can continue to go down the Facebook Groups rabbit hole and look for others who also fit your dream client profile and see what visuals they share as well.

Visual Review

Now that you’ve gone through your dream clients’ treasure trove on social media, grab a highlighter and mark any common threads you see between what they share and your existing branding.

Now I’m not saying you must make your branding perfectly replicate your dream clients’ preferences, but I do recommend you take note of their favorite things so they feel seen and understood when they find you.

Jot down anything you found interesting here, like how you and all of your dream clients just happen to love hiking or that none of you seem to care about New Year’s resolutions. Or maybe you all come from big families or you can’t wait for your bowling leagues to start.

You just never know what magic can happen in finding the similarities!

TLDR

Let’s just assume you’ve already spent too much time feeling like you’ve been on the speaking end of a megaphone and no one has been paying attention (well, other than Grandma). Or maybe you feel like you’re feeling a bit like you’re beige blending into vanilla and linen—you just don’t have the visual oomph you’ve been looking for to stand out.

It’s no fun to grasp at straws and spend all sorts of time and money on marketing tools when your brand messaging and visuals are just not meshing with your dream client.

In this exercise, you have the basic resources you need to lay the right foundations of your brand (and then move the needle forward!).

If you would like feedback on your brand messaging and a community of others just like you, looking for alignment in their business, here’s your invitation to join my fabulous free Facebook group: Content Marketing Community for Creatives.


Ready to elevate your brand and book more clients? Get our Small Business Branding Ultimate Guide.

Emilie Steinmann

Emilie is the owner of Buoyant Marketing and a TuesdaysTogether chapter leader turned community moderator. In her business, she helps creative entrepreneurs communicate consistently with their audience so they can build a meaningful income that will pay the bills and allow for adventure. She offers done-for-you marketing services and education. Emilie is also the host of Becoming Buoyant, a podcast that empowers and shares the stories of creative entrepreneurs with invisible illnesses. In her free time, she loves crocheting, baking, and exploring with her family.

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