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My Secret to Learning New Things as a Business Owner | Braid Creative

continued learning for business owners

Learning new things is hard. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of time that comes with adulting or a classic case of “mom brain,” but my attention span for formal education isn’t what it once was. As a creative professional and entrepreneur, I’m encountering a new challenge or decision that expands my capacity for growth every single day – I feel like I’ve practically earned a degree in business by building one! But there are times when I know I need to learn new skills or concepts in order to take my work and life to the next level in a more focused and concentrated way. So today I want to tell you my techniques and secrets for learning new things as someone who is short on both time and brain space.

techniques for learning new things

LEARNING WHILE WALKING

I recently invested $2,000 dollars in an online course that I wasn’t doing. Every time I sat down to my laptop to tackle my studies, I found myself instead checking email or tackling my to-do list. So I finally downloaded the audio files from the course to my phone and listened to the content while on a walk. Creative masterminds like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are known for holding meetings and brainstorming sessions while walking. Just try it for yourself! Take a walk while you’re listening to an audio book, a podcast, or even an online course. In fact, when I realized this was the easiest way to learn something new, I recorded audio files for my own branding ecourse students! Pro-tip: be sure to open a text file on your smartphone for jotting notes as you go!

IMPLEMENT AS YOU GO

My next biggest trick to learning as I go, is to actually implement what I’m learning as I go. For example, I recently wanted to know more about Facebook ads. I read through the thorough coursework (by Claire Pelletreau for anyone who’s wanting to learn more!), but hit a standstill when the content became technical. I realized that I would learn better by implementing a campaign in real time as I worked through the course. Another example is when I took an in-depth course in copywriting. Instead of just reading through the concepts, I practiced what I was learning by actually writing a newsletter and sales page as I went.

ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT YOU’RE LEARNING EVERYDAY

Maybe you’re reading articles like this as you’re tackling your inbox. Maybe you’re listening to podcasts or watching informational YouTube videos in between meetings. Or maybe you’ve got a business book on your nightstand table. You don’t necessarily need to go back to school to get a masters degree to learn new things (more power to you if you have it in you to do that!). You’re probably learning more than you’re giving yourself credit for. So my final technique for learning new things is simply to acknowledge what I’m learning everyday by sharing new ideas with my business partners or creative peers or even just writing down “three things I’ve learned this week” in my trusty notebook. Pro-tip: creating content and teaching others what you’re learning can be a great way to solidify new concepts and skills.

Learn through teaching for creative entrepreneurs

DOWNLOAD: 7 WAYS TO BRAND YOU & WHAT YOU DO

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Do You Need a Rebrand or Just a Refresh? | Braid Creative & Consulting

You might be surprised to hear that, as a branding agency, we tell a lot of creative entrepreneurs and purposeful businesses that they do not in fact need a total rebrand, but maybe just a refresh. This might be you if you see your brand as boring, dated, or even a barrier to attracting your dream customers. But oftentimes what we see is potential for a refresh without throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. We’re always going to err on the side of a refresh – incorporating what works and evolving what could be working better.

You might feel like you need a new brand if:

  1. You're embarrassed to send anyone to your website.
  2. You can't describe what you offer and why it matters in less than three sentences.
  3. You feel like most of your competition is moving on without you.

But you might be able to get by with a refresh. If you’re not a creative director or a copywriter, it might feel like you’re light years away from having a brand that articulates your true vision, but you may be closer than you think. Here are a few tactics you can try that will take you further than you think:

Refresh your dated logo

A few years ago, the logo trend was to try and replicate the classic Nike mark with an abstract swoosh – but unless you’re Nike, this is a trend that is potentially making your logo look vague, dated, stuffy, or just “not you.” Try this: ask yourself, “What was the intention of that mark in the first place? Was it to look like Nike? What story was I trying to tell?” Retell that story to yourself (or a designer) and see what you’d come up with today. While you’re at it, you can simplify and update your typography and color palette to something more modern.

Feeling resistant? Even if you aren’t in love with your logo, it can be hard to embrace change. Think of the refresh more so as an evolution than as a total rebrand. It’s like cutting bangs or shaving your beard—you might think nobody will ever recognize you ever again, but the truth is the majority of people will only notice whether you’re confident in the change or not.

Refresh your tagline

You know when you’re remodeling your home and procrastinate on putting the baseboards back on until one day you don’t even notice and go years without baseboards? Just me? Anyway, this can happen to your brand too. So go to your website right now and read your tagline out loud. Is it clear what you do? Is it too corporate or cold? Could it be more genuine and specific?

Read more: How to write your tagline >>

Refresh your imagery

If you've been relying on cheesy stock images that have nothing to do with you or your dream client, then this is a barrier that can become an opportunity for a brand refresh:

  • Try more candid, atmospheric imagery, natural light, people not looking right at the camera
  • Use imagery that sets a mood instead of trying to set the stage – in other words, yes, a picture can say a thousand words, but it doesn't have to. You don't have to show the entire literal story of what you're trying to say in one picture with people doing exactly what it is you are selling with big smiley faces. Instead, think of images that suggest the feeling behind what you want to say. Your imagery can be a metaphor or abstraction of a concept to convey the feeling of what it is you want your dream customer to feel.
  • Begin noticing or mood boarding the kind of images you would like to use and use them for your next photo shoot or stock photo search.
  • We always recommend custom photoshoots that make you and your business “real” to your audience or potential customer. Invest in a photographer whose style you like to take “day in the life of” vignettes that you can use on your website.

Start talking to a specific segment of your audience.

The content you share is a great place to dip your toe into getting specific with your brand messaging. For example, let’s say your broad audience is typically “women ages 25-54” for most of your services. You might be afraid to narrow in, but you’ve noticed that you’ve been attracting a following of single moms. Think about how your services can more specifically help them, and look for ways to target this segment with your blog posts, newsletters, and social media. Where are these women spending time—online and in life? How could you meet them where they are at?

Freaking out about alienating the rest of your audience by getting specific? Just think of this as a promotion or experiment you’re trying out seasonally. Also, give the rest of your customers more credit – they won’t necessarily opt-out just because you’re not speaking directly to them, and the audience you are speaking to – they’re going to convert from aware of your brand to totally engaged and ready to buy.


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Here's Why You Can't Afford to Be Vague | Braid Creative & Consulting

get specific in your brand

Most of us as individuals have big hearts and a big vision for our brand and our business that doesn’t exclude anybody from the discussion (or our services, product, or offering). In fact, we work with a lot of leadership development professionals, coaches, educators, and purpose-driven organizations who have all but eradicated the word “or” from their vocabularies to embrace the tone of “and.”

The word “and” opens up the dialogue to new ideas, collaboration, and expansion. The word “or” implies a choice that needs to be made. “And” is super dreamy, but when it comes to differentiating your brand, you are going to have to make some “or” choices. When you can proactively choose who you are and who you’re for, only then can you truly reach the audience your business is built to help.

A good brand is easy to understand

If you’re still having a hard time embracing the idea of getting narrow, think of it less as “being vague vs. being specific” and more as just being easy to understand. For example, imagine you’re getting your teeth cleaned and your dental hygienist asks what you do for a living? You tell her and her reply is “huh, what’s that? What does that mean?” That’s okay because it’s just small talk, right? Probably to distract you from the fact that you’re in a dentist chair. But if you’re telling a potential dream client what you or your business does, and they don’t understand what it is … that’s a branding problem.

how to get specific in your brand message

Getting aggressively narrow

The fear of eliminating a potential customer from the conversation (or *ahem* marketing plan) might feel entirely counter-intuitive. So we want you to hear this little bit of tough love: you can’t afford to be vague if you’re trying to differentiate your brand, attract your dream customers, and close the deal. Your desire to reach more people by being everything to everyone is actually negatively impacting your ability to reach the customers you can best help. It’s the brands who are willing to go out on a limb and be specific that are making money for themselves and creating impact for their communities. It’s the specificity of their brand that builds instant trust, credibility, and buy-in from their dream customers and brand evangelists.

you can't afford to be vague in branding

TRY THIS: Imagine your brand through the eyes of just one person – your dream client. This can feel aggressively narrow, but just remember it’s an exercise in specificity, even if you just make a few changes to speak to “them” more clearly. Audit your entire website—from your sales page to your contact form—through their eyes. Is it easy to understand what you do? Is it clear you’re for them? What’s missing? Then go through your social media feed and even your physical space if you have one. Does it strike the tone that appeals to them? What could make them feel more at home in your brand – in person and online? What kind of impression are you leaving on them?

Once you audit your brand through the lens of your dream customer and their first impression, you’ll start to see how getting aggressively narrow isn’t as exclusive as you may have thought. For example, let’s say your dreamiest potential client loves cacti (because who doesn’t?). Her feed is filled with photos of cacti and brunch. So you start bringing more cacti into your space to make her feel more at home in your space. Now this cactus is not going to completely repel that one guy who needs what you have to offer but couldn’t care less about succulents. Or you might find that more people love cacti than you gave them credit for. P.S. The cactus is not just a cactus: it’s the words, colors, photography, and style you use to talk about your brand.

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THE BRAID BLOG from TARA AND KATHLEEN
Braid Creative & Consulting is branding and visioning for creative entrepreneurs and purposeful businesses. The Braid Blog is where we share weekly insights and resources for getting clear about your vision and voice, sharing content that attracts your dream client, and creating the brand positioning you want to be known for.

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