The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 24.19

Saturday, May 11, 2024

image courtesy of DALL-E via ChatGPT

Troubleshoot your business Part 2: Brand

This is part 2 of the Troubleshoot your business series, where we troubleshoot your brand. You can read Part 0 Introduction here, and Part 1 Niche here.

Your brand is the second of three Building Blocks in the Tornado Method:

We’ll follow the same format as the previous article - a quick look at what a brand is, then how to troubleshoot it, and finally your homework (and a challenge, if you’re up to it).

A brand is everything…or is it?

I’m fortunate to count Michael Dargie - the best brand strategist I know - as a close friend. One of his recent projects helped a funeral services company reposition themselves and skyrocket their incoming enquiries (and subsequent business). You can see what this positioning looks like here.

Branding is about positioning yourself in the market in a way that is compelling to your clients and true to yourself.

Get this right, and good things happen:

  • You’re exciting (to your ideal clients).
  • You’re memorable (as opposed to meh).
  • You’re excited about what you’re presenting to the market, and that excitement show up everywhere.

Good branding specialists hit all these good points.

But we have two problems

As solopreneurs, we have a problem with branding - or rather, the cost of developing a kick-ss brand. So we have to make do as best we can (until we can afford to bring in the experts).

The second problem is of course expertise. We’re not branding experts, so there’s always doubt about our DIY efforts. Fortunately, there’s help.

Branding part 1: Positioning

Positioning is about standing out in the market. To stand out, you need to be different. But it’s not enough just to be different:

You have to be strategically different in a way that aligns with your strengths and the needs of your ideal clients.

Your positioning can be distilled into a “tag line” - a short phrase or sentence that tells people what you do. Sadly, I’m not happy with my own positioning (”systems for solopreneurs”) so I’m working on that. (”Roadmaps for solopreneurs” is a contender.)

If you’re not happy with your positioning, I would highly recommend you play around with ChatGPT. I used the “Explore GPTs” link to search for GPTs that can help with “positioning” - this one is promising, but expect to spend some time and effort to get decent results.

Branding part 2: The visual bits

The visual bits of your brand consist of your logo or word mark, colours, and typography (fonts). If you choose these well, and use them consistently, you will look professional and polished.

If you need them, here are some resources:

  • I really like Looka for creating logos and colour combinations. This article explains what colours mean and how to choose appropriate ones for your brand.
  • Canva is another great resource, but you will need to spend time and effort to create your own designs.
  • And if you’re looking for fonts, Google Fonts has over 1,600 fonts that are open source and free to use.

The key with any of your visual elements is to not go overboard. Simple colour palettes (3 colours in addition to neutrals) and a couple of fonts (one for headings, another for everything else) are usually more than enough.

Troubleshoot your Brand

You can do this exercise on a piece of paper, or you can use this Google sheet. Here’s what you need to do:

Part 1: Describe your Brand

If you don’t have a Brand Guide, it’s useful to write down the basics of your brand. There are only 6 questions here, so spend a little time documenting what you have - this will help you rate your brand in the next step.

The questions are self-explanatory, and I assume you will be using the Google sheet, so I won’t repeat them here.

Part 2: Rate your Brand

Now it’s time to rate your brand. As before, rate each question on a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (great), or leave a score empty if it’s not applicable. I usually make a note in the Answer column that helps me understand why I gave myself a particular score.

The questions are:

  • I have a strong core message (brand promise). Just how strong do you feel your core message (brand promise) is? It’s worth checking with a few trusted advisors to hear what they see from the outside.
  • My core message / brand promise shows up prominently everywhere. Does the same message show up on your website, social media profiles, and in your marketing?
  • I have a logo or word mark. Leave empty if you don’t, otherwise score yourself on how much you love it and how well you feel it resonates with your ideal clients.
  • I have no more than 2 fonts. One font is fine, too.
  • I use my fonts consistently. Check your website and marketing material (where you can control the font). Make sure you are using your font(s) consistently everywhere.
  • My brand colours are well defined. You have brand colours, and you know exactly where to use them (for example, buttons or CTAs on your website).
  • I use my brand colours consistently. When you look at your website, you get a consistent look and feel with no (or few) exceptions.

Take your time - when you’re done, you can decide what to do next.

Part 3: What now?

If you score yourself 5 or below on any of the questions, you need to fix the problem.

I usually find the biggest challenge to be positioning - having a strong core message or brand promise. If you don’t feel confident that your positioning is strong, I recommend you try ChatGPT and get some outside insight.

When you have your average at 7 or above, your brand is good enough, and you can move on to the next element.

Your homework - and your challenge 😁

Now it’s over to you. Do the work, and decide if you need to work on your brand.

And here’s the challenge: once you’ve done the work, email me and let me know what you found. Was it insightful? Did you struggle with any of the questions? Did you add any of your own?

I’ll see you next week.