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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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How to Narrow in and Claim Your Creative Focus | Braid Creative

Claim your creative focus | Braid Creative & Consulting

In our last blog post, we wrote about why and when you should be narrowing in and getting specific about what you want to be known for. Easier said than done, right? We've talked enough about narrowing in on your creative focus that we think you understand that it's an important thing to do in your business, but understand that something is important and actually doing it?—well that's where it gets a little tricky.

We shared a lot of WHY’s to narrow in and find what you want to be known for, let’s talk about some HOWs:
In our Braid Method Branding Ecourse, we talk about HOW to really narrow in and claim your creative expertise:

1. Diffusion & Confusion Culprits:

If you are good at “all the things,” and you’re having trouble deciding where to focus:
- List out all the ideas in your head that are making you feel scattered and causing diffusion of your own focus. See which ones you can put on the backburner for now.
- List out the different ways you’re describing or not clearly describing what you actually do that’s causing confusion for potential clients. See if you can get the five different bullets you’re using to describe what you do down to even two or three.

2. What Do You Want to Be Doing All Day?:

If the diffusion and confusion lists still have you feeling uncertain or overwhelmed or not willing to “let go” of some of the wider services you provide or wider pool of people you provide them for, ask yourself this “What do you want to be doing all day?” “Who do you want to be doing it for?”

What do you want to be doing all day? Who do you want to help? | Braid Creative & Consulting

3. Fill out Your Gift Tag:

This is one of the most challenging exercises we give our clients. But if you’ve done steps 1 & 2, give it a try. It’s a super-short version of some of the longer scripts we give creatives to help them better articulate their business and their brand. But that’s why it’s hard, because it is so short! We call it a gift tag because it’s the label on your package! It tells people what to expect before they open it & reminds you what it is you have to give!

Fill Out Your Gift Tag:
How to _____ [ advice, know-how, inspiration you share ]
From a _____ [ what you want to be known for! what you do + a little bit about you]
To a _______ [ dream client like you! ]
*Another similar version of this exercise that might be a little easier, is If You Wrote a How-To Book, what would the title be? The chapters? What would people “get” from your chapters? Which section of the book store would it be in? How would your personality or personal story show up among all the good tips, advice or inspiration you are sharing?

DOWNLOAD: WRITE A BOOK WORKSHEET

What would be the chapter titles in your how-to book? | Braid Creative & Consulting

4. Your Process i.e. The Steps You Always Take

Guess what? If you tried out the If You Wrote a Book exercise, you may have just framed out your creative process (the ingredients or steps you take every time when working with a client) and you didn’t even know it! Defining your Creative Process is like Owning Your Expertise 2.0. You’ve put the intention out there to narrow in, get specialized and get known for doing this very specific service. But if you can really build a framework for HOW you do it, and stick to those steps every time, it’s like every time you work with a client you are sharpening your expertise, building your confidence, giving them even more benefit of your knowledge and specialization! It’s a win-win for any creative working for themselves (and their client!) who wants to craft a business of their own making instead of feeling like a helper for hire.

If you can believe it, we get even more specific (ha! see what I did there?) about defining your creative expertise and narrowing in on your specialty in our Braid Method Branding Ecourse. So if you found this post helpful, make sure to opt in to the full ecourse!

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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How to Get From Order-Taker to Creative Expert | Braid Creative

How to Get From Order-Taker to Creative Expert

Okay, so you’re good at what you do. You know you’re talented and are confident in your craft. But when you rely solely on your skills it’s easy to fall into the role of the order-taker who is exchanging talent or time for money. Whereas, when you are an expert you are hired and paid for your experience, knowledge, and ideas. How do you go from selling what you do to getting hired for what you know? There isn’t a super clear path or step-by-step formula to level-up your game. But I’d like to share a few ideas to make the transition from talented doer to an expert with purpose.

GET SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT 
There is probably a broad label for what you actually do – like photography, graphic design, interior decorating, coding, writing, yoga, or cooking. But can you get really specific about what makes you a great designer, photographer, writer, developer, or cook? Maybe it’s your use of color or typography. Maybe it’s your knack at capturing light or blending really interesting flavor combinations. 

What you’re good at – your craft and your style – is typically what you’re being hired for. And getting really great at what you do is a good place to start. If you’re fresh out of school or new to your creative field it’s not a bad idea to focus on getting really good at your craft. 

GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR “HIGHER PURPOSE” 
Your skills are really important but it still puts you in the position of being an order-taker if you’re not clear on your expertise. Plus, calling yourself an expert can feel funny if you don’t well… feel like an expert. So instead try thinking of your expertise as your higher purpose. A higher purpose doesn’t have to be super-woo-woo, or super-ambitious. It simply means why you do what you do. 

How to become a creative expert

When I first started down my path as a graphic designer I just wanted to be a rockstar at my craft – like Stefan Sagmeister or Jessica Hische. But when I started blogging about life as a freelance graphic designer I quickly realized my higher purpose was to be who I am 100% of the time in work and life. This purpose pours into what I consider my expertise, and that’s not design alone, but helping others blend that same 100% being who they are into their own personal brand. Design is just one tool to help me with the doing. You have similar talents or tools as a doer, too. Don’t stop using them, but try seeing the higher purpose they’re helping you reach over time.

Creative entrepreneur purpose

USE YOUR SKILLS (THE STUFF YOU’RE GOOD AT) TO SHARE YOUR PURPOSE
My skills are in graphic design and as a freelance designer I was being hired to design brand identities, logos, and websites. But I also started using my skills in color, typography, and imagery to tell my own story and share my ideas on my blog. I never felt like an expert until over time, by consistently pairing design and idea-sharing on my blog, I began to attract a tribe of creative comrades and clients who felt inspired and encouraged by what I was putting out there. You don’t necessarily need a blog to share your expertise – it can happen over social media, with a podcast or youtube channel, at conferences and workshops, or in face-to-face conversations. 

Creative expert formula

THEN JUST GET ON WITH IT! (HINT: IT TAKES TIME)
I wish I had a silver bullet that would instantly make every creative feel more confident and skilled at what they do. But the hard truth is that it takes time. I think it was Malcolm Gladwell who said in his book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at what you do. And in a less cerebral coffee table book about the rise and fame of Lady Gaga she said that she worked hard and kept her head down – then one day someone tapped her on the shoulder, she looked up, and she was number one. 

In that first hour you are going to feel like anything but an expert and that’s okay – you have to begin somewhere.  But it’s the one tried and true way I’ve seen hundreds of creatives who work for themselves make that real transition into not only feeling like an expert, but looking up over their shoulder, and finally realizing they are being seen as one. And heck yeah, it feels good to consider myself as one of them. It’s a humble “heck yeah” of course, with 10,000 hours behind me, and yet another 10,000+ and counting still in front. But all the work I do in those future hours won’t be as “hired talent,” but as an expert.

Braid Method Branding for Creatives ECourse

The Braid Method Branding ECourse is for creative entrepreneurs who are ready to support themselves financially with their business, create a blog or consistent online presence, and finally turn the work they’re already doing into a digital product, package, or offering for dream customers. This branding ecourse comes with 7 learning modules in a 300+ page digital download, a workbook with 20+ branding exercises and scripts, a quarterly masterclass, and an exclusive Facebook group so you can connect with us and other students.

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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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This ecourse is for creative people like designers, photographers, stylists, lifestyle coaches, wellness professionals, yogis, foodies, writers, bloggers, and creative consultants. Whether you’re just starting out, or have lots of experience, our step-by-step guidance will help you create a brand and business vision that feels more clear, confident, and like the true you.


 


 

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