BRAID CREATIVE & CONSULTING
is branding & business visioning
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31-Aug-2015
Declare Your Personal Branding Style | Braid Creative & Consulting

Declare Your Style

As creatives, we are so often trained to adapt our style to the task at hand. We are taught that the approach to each project should fit the challenge, and our own hand in getting there should leave no trace of our own point-of-view. Like creative chameleons, we are there to make our product or service fit the client’s wants, needs, and desires.

But we’re going to object to this one – just a little. Now before this ruffles feathers (which it does, oh my!), let us tell you why. You’re not just a conduit with impeccable taste, an impersonator of any style who also knows their way around (pick one) a laptop, a lens, a drafting table, a chef’s table, a spreadsheet, a yoga mat. Designers are not just pixel pushers, photographers are not just camera operators, writers are not just transcriptionists, nutritionists are not just diet coaches, and life coaches are not just a shoulder to cry on.

You don’t have to be a creative chameleon, erasing all trace of your own style or point of view, to create, advise, guide, and make – for others. (click to tweet)

Own your personal branding style

Of course, we want to create (and create results) for our clients. But this should not be mistaken for operating on puppet strings. How do we balance approaching their wants and needs with respect and empathy – while still asserting our creative expertise?

Your creativity and your knowledge is how you serve. Your creativity is the gift you bring to the party. But what if you could be the kind of creative who’s known for her really great signature style or her tough-love approach or her unusually subtle yet instinctual approach? What if you could be that friend who doesn’t necessarily stick to the line-item gift registry, but always gives the most thoughtful, unexpected, memorable, and personalized presents?

Your personal branding style is a gift

That’s a gift in itself – to be able to create something that completely fits the person you’re giving it to, but still has this quality that always reminds them of you. They may not even realize it, but the “you” is woven in there, and it’s part of the reason they love it. You weren’t just invited to the party to bring a gift, you were invited for what you bring to the mix.

You weren’t just invited to the party to bring a gift. You were invited for what you bring to the mix. (click to tweet)

We’re not saying be a wildly unpredictable, loose cannon – the kind of creative that no one knows what they’re going to get – “when she’s great, she’s great, but don’t catch her on an off day!” We believe (strongly) in balancing this signature style point-of-view of yours with a very logical and reassuring creative process. Your process is what gets you the collaborative input you need from your client.

Declare your personal style

Try this: Start claiming your words. What are the words that describe your ideal project or engagement? Your approach? Your personal style? Your aesthetic? Are you all about handcrafted? Or clean lines? Are you more dark and evocative or whimsical and vintage? Are you a listener? Are you a tough-love cheerleader? Are you a storyteller? Are you an advocate? It’s hard narrowing in, and we know you aren’t just ONE style, but we bet you could sum up your approach in just a few words if you really had to. Think of it like the desert island question: “if you were stranded on a desert island and could only work in this one style or approach for the rest of your life, what would it be?”

Declaring your style is a small but mighty first step to becoming a creative who is sought out for their specialty. (click to tweet)

Your Style Declaration. Fill in the blanks to describe your work style or even your personal brand style: “My work style is ______ [ earthy ] ______ meets ____ [ empathetic ] ______.”

Then elaborate a little more:
“Where you might see this is when I use _______ [ one of your special skills here ] ______, or I share ________ [ one of your behind-the-scenes approaches here ] __________.”

Then make it a little more collaborative, how you get inspired, and then how you in turn inspire or guide your clients:
“I draw inspiration from ____[ what fuels you to do what you do]______________, and I hope I inspire my clients to ______[ what fuels your clients / their results / after working with you________.”

This isn’t you in a vacuum working solo without any input or collaboration, after all! But it is your style declaration. And it’s just the first small, but mighty, step in becoming a creative expert who is sought out for their ability to inspire, guide, make and deliver on their true specialty.

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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Know Your Dream Client & Becoming a Better Creative Expert

Know Your Dream Client

It feels good to get paid. But it feels great to knock the socks off a client – to make them cheer, or cry, or simply smile with this complete satisfaction and confidence in what you created for them.

What doesn’t feel great is if you just hit a wall at every step, you feel like expectations are completely off-base from each other, and in the end, even if they’re happy, you’re just happy to be done.

You want to like your job. And when you work for yourself, there comes a point where you have, in fact, created a job of your own making. You’ve settled down into your routines, settled into the flow of busy times and not-so-busy times, and you aren’t as freaked that you’ll never get another client again (but sure are grateful when you do!)

You want to like your clients. But here’s the thing – liking your clients isn’t about them being better clients, it’s about you being a better creative expert. (click to tweet)

How to be a creative expert

How can you share your offering as a creative expert... if you don’t know yourself?
Before you start listing off all the kind of clients you don’t want – or even dreaming about the ones you do – start with you. What is the work you want to be doing? What are you best at? What is your style and voice? Because the real shift happens from being a “creative-for-hire” to a “creative-with-a-clear-purpose” when you are able to infuse your work, your actions, your content, and your offerings with what you’re best at + what you know about your dream client: their pains, their wants, their personality, their dreams.

How can share your offering to your dream client... if you don’t know them?
Okay, so now imagine your dream client. They may be someone you’ve worked with in the past – or just the kind of person (or project!) you’d like work with in the future. How real can you make them? The more specific you can get, the more you can narrow in on your “people!”, the more “psychic” you’ll feel when you’re creating just for them – and the more enthusiastic approval you’ll get along the way.

When your work exceeds your client’s wildest expectations, it makes you feel like a true creative expert. (click to tweet)

This is a fill-in-the-blank exercise we created for designers, but really, it works for almost anyone working for themselves. Give it a skim before you give it a try. If you feel yourself nodding along, or even shouting a few “yes’s!” as you go, then this script is just for you:

My ideal client is most likely a ___ [ job / profession / business ]______.
They’re about ___ [ age ] ____ old, and are ______ [ personality trait ] _____.
They can also be very _____ [ personality trait ] & [ personality trait ] ________.
They’re stressed about ___________ [ worry / roadblock ] __________.
Let’s call them ____ [ name! maybe a movie character or someone you know ] ___.
They value ___________ [ resource / trait / or skill of yours ] ______________.
But they really love ___________ [ a deeper awesomeness of yours ] _______.
So they trust others who _____ [ do this / are like this ] _____________.
When we work together, they’re happily surprised that I ___ [ did this / helped with this! ] ___.
And together we __________ [ created / built this ] ____________________.
I love that this project added _______ [ kind of style / content ] ____ to my portfolio.
I want more work like ____ [ project type, project type ] ____ for clients like these!

A Little Extra Credit: Imagine you overheard the dream client you “made real” above chatting about you in a coffee shop. You are totally going to eavesdrop on their conversation. Write down two things you would HATE to hear them say – your worst fear. Then write down two things you would LOVE to hear them say – like it makes you blush! Or makes you do a little happy dance by yourself over in your hiding spot, you creeper, you. Then ask yourself: Are the fears as really as bad, or even as “real” as you think? Don’t you think the “loves” are things your friends, clients and peers might be saying about you anyway!? Just some extra food for thought and a little dash of confidence to start doing after your dream clients.

Do you find dream client exercises like this helpful? Then stop what you’re doing and pop on over here because you need to sign up for our Braid Method Branding ECourse! Here we’re narrowing in even more on your dream clients, but even more powerfully, we help you narrow in on articulating what you want – and what you do, so other people know it (and buy it!) too.

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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12-Aug-2015
Make Work You Love to Attract Dream Clients | Braid Creative

Make Work You Love

Today’s post comes from our Branding for Designers email series. Almost everyone on the Braid team started out as a graphic designer so we have a special place in our hearts for you all. We know your struggles first hand and wanted to create a series just for you. Oh, and if you’d like to get a free eBook on how to brand yourself as a creative expert sign up here. Now on to the post!

If you’ve done exercises from our Braid Ebook for Designers or from our Braid Method Branding ECourse, you know we like to help you shape and share your words. But what about creating and showing your work?

Creative entrepreneurs can show their work in lots of way. Think about the places where you are sharing: your website, portfolio, and case studies, perhaps. Then think about your creative work out there simply speaking for itself – as your clients share with friends and peers, and people experience your work firsthand out “in the world.”

That’s a lot of eyeballs on what you’ve created. And that’s great! But if you were to go to those places and look at your own work with fresh eyeballs, would you see the kind of work you want to do more of? Or would you only see the kinds of projects you never want to do again? You might not feel this black-and-white about it. Typically there are a few projects in there you love, but chances are there might be quite a few more that feel like the “old” you – and you’re ready for some “new.”

Ever heard the expression “like attracts like?” If you want to change the kind of work you’re hired to create, then you’ve gotta start creating and showing the kind of work you want to be making! (click to tweet)

Make work that attracts clients

So let’s say you don’t want to do wedding invitations anymore, you want to do branding for other event planners and wedding professionals. That’s not a huge leap. In fact, it feels pretty logical. But it can feel like a huge hurdle if no one is hiring you for brand design – only invitations.

Or let’s say you’re a web designer. Your bread and butter has been doing small sites for small businesses, but most of them are kind of bland – usually small tech companies. These businesses aren’t inherently bland, but you’ve realized whenever you create sites for makers with a more artisanal style – a baker, a herbalist, a woodworker – that you absolutely love your designs. But how can you get more of that when 75% of the work on your site or in your portfolio is techy-looking sites?

The creative projects you show others, speak volumes about what kind of work your clients can expect from you. And if you keep sharing the stuff you think will get you hired, but doesn’t exactly float your own creative boat, you could be setting yourself up to create a boring, unfulfilling day job of your own making. Except now you have no one to blame but the boss – and that’s you. (click to tweet)

Before you get all blamey, remember – having any creative business that pays your bills is a great problem to have. It actually gives you the confidence (and cash) to keep going and keep creating. The bad part is it doesn’t give you the time – the time to work on some side projects that could start to round out your portfolio and work with the kind of projects you love.

Make work that you want to do

But that’s exactly what you need to do. You need to carve out some time (and usually that’s just some mental headspace and some self-set deadlines and goals) to either create this kind of work for free, for a friend, or for someone who’s paying if they’re exactly the kind of client you want more of.

Get more of that event planning branding on your site, get more of that handmade indie maker sites in your portfolio. Aim for a 50% mix of what has been getting you hired and what you want to start getting hired for by the end of the year. Then aim for showing 80% (if not 100%) of only work you love by the end of two years. Time flies when you’re doing work you love!

Does this post ring true to you? If you’re having trouble making that shift from the type of work you’re currently doing to that oh-so-dreamy work you want to be doing, scoot on over to our Braid Method Branding ECourse. In it, you’ll find exercises that will help you narrow your offerings and adjust your brand messaging so that you can begin to take on the dreamy work that will continue to attract more of the work you love.

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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