Brand is such a big word. And brand problems can be even bigger. So stay on this small desert island for a moment, where distress signals are of two varieties. The S.O.S. in the sand  (as to be seen by the scrappy little prop plane that is sure to help you) or the giant bonfire (all the palm fronds are getting stacked on that inferno) sending up major smoke signals for some major rescue.  Here are six types of brand distress that we think can be helped with either 1. a quick fix or 2. a major rescue.

Does your brand need a 1. quick fix or 2. a major rescue?
Quick Brand Fix:
So note the duct tape. It’s a perfectly respectable way of, well, fixing anything. If you’ve been “duct-taping” together your brand message and look & feel, but you, or your employees and your customers really like you and your product and the missing piece is just looking and sounding the part, here are some of the distress signals you might recognize:

- logo shame, you are embarrassed to hand our your business card
- you have trouble summing up what you do in one or two sentences
- updating your online presence (be it your site, or the need to engage in social media) keeps getting put off

If these signals ring true, then it might be time to wave down that scrappy little prop plane and get some support. Peel off the duct tape and scrape of the residual goop and get a clean fresh update. Mostly, just recognize what you’ve done well in the past, look where you want to go in the future, and find a realistic way to better interpret what you can inject into your brand today. That might mean hiring a designer, spending some time doing some brand exercises like our desert island series or finally getting your head wrapped around what social media style you can execute consistently (i.e. not dread or quit doing).

Major Brand Rescue:
Okay, so these are those big black smoke clouds puffing up. To a passing by ship or commercial plane they might seem small, but if you are on that island (i.e. in the thick of your small business) then they can seem looming and large. Here are some smoke signals for sure:

- a disconnect between what you are saying about your biz, and what people (be it you, your customers, or your employees, even just your business partner) are actually experiencing
- your online presence is confusing, it’s not just in need of an update, but is actually repelling what might be some great inbound traffic, or on the other end of the spectrum, it is non-existent
- your tribe is restless and just can’t get a clear grasp on your vision and are actually at a point of resistance to forward motion (and by tribe, this could be the people mentioned above, or even just all the conflicting voices and ideas in your own head, especially if you are an entrepreneur)

Before you can put out the fire, you need to just take a deep breath, know that you are busy and aren’t struggling with anything that anyone else hasn’t before, and just really try to find a partner that’s a good fit before you jump in feet first to coordinating your brand rescue plan. It’s going to take more than one pair of hands, but it will be worth it.

Some good books for DIY rescue are Rework by Jason Fried & david Heinemeier Hansson for getting scrappy and getting started, and Launch by Michael Stelzner for common sense social media and content sharing strategy.


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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So when pirates bury their treasure chests, you’ve gotta imagine they put in some serious hours figuring out how to make a proper map.  We’ve got a brand exercise that should only take ten minutes, and is a continuation of our fun “Your Brand On A Desert Island” series. This one’s called Backwards Brand Treasure Map. See, once that pirate heaves that last shovelful of sand on top of their piratey chest, they’ve sort of got to work backwards to document its location, right?

They have to backstep and count their paces from where “X” marks the spot to the next landmark. Like fifty paces back to the palm tree that forks in two, then a hundred back to the giant rock that sort of looks like a giant crab, and finally back to the spot on the beach where this savings-minded pirate plans to come ashore someday to dig up his treasure and retire in all his piratey glory.  

So how will you determine your brand’s future success? Will you consider striking “gold,” when your brand becomes a household name? Or, is being perceived as one of the top ten experts in your niche field, or the best in your region, your version of brand treasure? Is it a certain number of followers that you count like coins, or is it the emotional connections you are able to forge with your rareness?

Branding Exercise - Treasure Map

Backwards Brand Treasure Map:
So here’s a fun arrrggh-signment matey.  (This is actually a variation of an exercise that Michael Stelzner, social media expert and author, outlines in his content strategy book we reviewed and recommend titled Launch. But his version involves a rocket ship, and less pirate-speak.)

1. Get a piece of paper and draw an “X.” That marks the spot.
2. Next to the “X” describe in just a few words or a picture what you consider to be the most glorious end-goal of your brand. Now let’s say that’s five years in the future. Write that down. Five years.  Now, all you have to do is pace backwards.
3. Draw a line and a dot backwards from the “X.” That’s a landmark. Perhaps it’s a three year landmark. Write down three things you had to do to get to that landmark.
4. Now go back to one year. Write down three actions you had to complete to get to that achievement.
5. Now, trace back to today. You are standing at the shore of your beach. What are three things you can do today?  

Now looky there you scurvy dog. You have an albeit rough (but aren’t all authentic pirate maps) but perfectly respectable brand treasure map.

Although it always seems the pirate ends up a poor heap of bones with an eye-patch in these stories, and some other plucky adventurers (those dang Goonies!) follows his map to the treasure. But hey, if you are a small business of more than just one person or even one-hundred, there’s something to be said for other people being able to understand where your heart’s treasure lies.

Can other people understand your map? Can they share your passion? But mostly, does it make sense to you?

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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If you’ve been following the “Your Brand On A Desert Island” themed series we’ve been sharing over the past few weeks, then you’ll be able to get into mental castaway mode as fast as cracking a coconut (which actually probably takes a long time but roll with me here) and in the perfect frame of mind to try out this fun ten minute brand exercise, Brand Message In A Bottle.

Through history and popular culture there have been different purposes for composing, curling and corking a handwritten message and sending it out to sea. It can be a desperate attempt at discovery and rescue or just an unrequited sentiment directed to some unknown soul and sent out into the universe with really no hope of reply. Yikes, it’s actually quite bittersweet when you think about it. No wonder notorious softie, Nicholas Sparks, took the idea and ran with it.

When it comes down to it, the point of this particularly romanticized (if not exactly efficient) form of communication is not the long shot that someone will actually find the message, read it and act upon it. The point is the act itself, of writing down what you want, putting it out there, and basically making your intent known to the only person that is guaranteed to “get the message” – yourself.

Okay, getting a little Laws of Attraction here, so let’s get back to that fun ten minute brand exercise I mentioned.

Your Message In A Bottle: Dream Customer
The idea is to picture your perfect customer. It’s sort of a no-brainer when you think about doing this, but then you realize you haven’t actually done it.  What’s even better is writing down who this customer is. And we don’t just mean an ordinary customer but a raving fan, like I Dream of Jeannie (you know, ‘cause of the bottle) – a total loyalist.

But the point is not that it’s a message to them. It’s a message to yourself. It help keeps them in your mind, so you remember who you are branding to. So to help you easily compose your message, you can try this fill-in-the blank format:

1. My dream customer values ______________ but really loves ____________________.
2. A stress they have might is  _____________________________.
3. But a happy milestone in their life right now might be ___________________.
4. They often trust others who ____________________________________.
5. But what really makes them a loyal fan is _________________________.
6. Something that might happily surprise them about my business is _____________________________.
7. Some other favorite brands of theirs are _________ and ________________.
8. My brand should make them feel ________________________________.

Brand Message In A Bottle True Loyalist
You don’t have to actually have a bottle for this, but it does make for a nice reminder if you decide to keep your message or use it again to stash future notes or goals, if that sort of thing floats your boat – or bottle.

A multiple-person version of this Dream Customer exercise could involve a real bottle (and no, it’s not Spin The Bottle, although that could very well be the title of the next nostalgic Spark’s novel) but it’s just filling out the same form independently in a group setting, placing it in the bottle, and then each person takes turns pulling out a “message” and comparing notes (differences and similarities) about who you perceive to be your dream customer.

Got another ten minutes? Try one of our other “Your Brand On a Desert Island” exercises:

• Your Brand On A Desert Island

• Draw A Line In Your Brand



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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