Today it's so easy to setup your own business, anyone can do it from their kitchen table and although that's a truly amazing thing, it also means that the small business world is saturated in almost every industry you can think of. It's no longer enough to have a great product or service, you need to make sure you stand out amongst that sea of mediocre offerings.
But how in the world do you do that before a customer or client even works with you? How do you show them how brilliant your business is from the first time they encounter you?
With a compelling and well defined brand.
To be clear when I say 'brand', your logo and visuals are a small (but important) part of that.
Your brand is your identity in the market and can be defined as the emotions your customers feel when they interact with your business at any level. It’s your unique mix of what your business looks like, how it sounds, how it speaks to people, and most importantly, how it makes them feel.
Simply put, your brand is the perceived image of your business and the products you sell.
Let's think of it as all the 'V's:
These 4 things promote a reaction in your customer, and to target a specific type of customer you can fine tune these things with them in mind.
So with that said let's look at that first 'V'.
When thinking about the vision for your business you're thinking about why you do what you do. What do you want to create for yourself, but also how will you affect the world around you?
Your customer/client wants to be invited into a story that they can see themselves in. Maybe you originally started your business to work with your hands because it brings you joy. That's wonderful and it is part of your vision, but crack this wide open and think beyond yourself. How do you enrich the lives of other people with your product or service?
Let's say you create embroidery kits because you have always loved sewing and crafting, and you recognised there was a need for really beautiful, do-it-yourself craft kits in the market. What else do you provide beyond the physical craft kit?
- You provide an easy and enjoyable way into the creative world for people
- You provide a sense of pride for your customers when they finish your DIY kit and can display the beautiful object they created in their homes.
- You teach new skills so that your customers might even be able to go on and create their own original pieces in the future.
- You allow people to reconnect with a slow-paced and ancient way of life.
This is what you're really selling, do you see how you can uncover those layers and allow your customer to see themselves in your brand story?
Now you can write a few sentences for the purpose of your business, your vision statement. You might tweak this from time to time when you get more clear on who your customer is, and that's perfectly ok.
"Joanna's craft kits (name or business name) creates fresh, nature inspired embroidery and sewing kits that inspire creativity and can be proudly displayed in the modern home. We encourage the learning of hands on skills and allow you to re-connect with a slow and ancient way of life where peace and happiness lies."
So much more powerful than simply saying "fresh, nature inspired embroidery and sewing kits." You can put this statement on your website, social media profiles, anywhere that you talk about your business.
Invite your customers into your vision, make sure what you're saying about your business evokes feelings and emotions over and above the physical thing you're selling. Shifting your thinking about how you help people and the less tangible things you provide can be a game changer.
A guiding light
My own vision for Lemon and Birch is to help create a future where more people do what they love for a living. I want to help you work in a way that feels good and allows you space to live rather than just exist. I also would love to see a future where the arts hold just as much weight as a career path as other more traditionally well-paid vocations.
Once you have that vision it can really help you to reverse engineer and decide what you need to put out into the world. I thought about what things I could do or create to help make this a reality.
- I create branding for businesses that is grounded in strategy so it helps business owners to attract their ideal clients
- I create content that helps business owners to clarify their brand and message, and create visual branding themselves
- I inspire and motivate business owners through my social media accounts and content
- I offer advice from my own business journey
- I inspire other designers to see themselves less as a freelancer and more as a business owner
As an embroidery kit creator, your list might look something like this:
- I create DIY kits that allow people to learn hands on skills and create something beautiful of their own
- I provide free stitch tutorials on my website to teach the basics of embroidery
- I inspire people through my social media accounts to live a more slow and simple life
You can add more things to your list further down the line, so if you currently only have your main product or service that's fine. Remember that this list is just there to help you streamline what you're putting out into the world and keep you focused on your vision. Some of the things on your list will be free content that you provide but it will all feed back into your vision and hopefully warm potential clients/customers up to working with you/buying your product.
Keeping your vision in your mind can help make other decisions easier too and keep you on track. Opportunities or collaborations that don't line up with that vision become immediately clear which might make it easier to say no. Your guiding light should keep you working towards your goals, but don't be afraid to revisit that vision now and again (perhaps every 6 months or so) and make sure it's still something you're passionate about, it should never feel restricting or stop you from pivoting your business if you wish to.
You are in charge of your business so if you need to rethink things go through the same process again and create a new vision. Times change, the market changes, the way we do business changes, and your own values might change too. That's ok, as long as you keep moving forward!
I hope this has helped you to see the benefit of getting clear on the vision for your business! Your challenge now is to go and draft up your own vision statement. Don't worry if it takes a while to mull it over, and please do send me a message if you're stuck and need an outside perspective.
Next up we'll look at how to define your brand values which is the second V in the parts that make up a compelling brand.
If you're looking to brand or rebrand your business I'd love to hear from you! Send me a message here.
If you're not quite ready to dive into professional branding, you can download my FREE branding guide - The Blossoming Brand Blueprint. Download it here.