the brandstorm™ agency

tb.a

Stop giving away stupid free consultations, do this instead.

Stop giving away stupid free consultations, do this instead.

Sell your thinking, not your time.

Do you hate selling? I hate selling. It feels sleazy, dishonest, and needy.

Why do you feel like trash? Probably because you’re offering something that nobody asked for.

Let’s say you’re selling water on a hot day, yes, water.

A small family with kids is walking by. They’ve been out and about for the past hour and the father just realized that they ran out of water and kids are thirsty.

They see you. What do you do?

You sell them a damn bottle of water.

Why? Because you met the conditions & factors to make a ridiculously simple offer that the father simply couldn’t refuse.

It’s damn hot outside, he has thirsty children, and you sell bottles of water.

While the example is rudely reductionist, the principles stand.

The reason you’re feeling sleazy and dishonest, is because you don’t believe in what you’re selling, it’s probably not what the client wants, and you’re chasing after them (clingy much?).

Pitch proposals are time-consuming, unpredictable time wasters.

Pitching sucks. It’s stressful, and it feels disheartening when the client is watching you fight with other competitors to submit your proposal for them. All that energy in segmenting your services, justifying your pricing, and they go with someone else. All that work you put into it?

What happened?

They may have told you:

  • I only needed this;
  • I only needed that;
  • I didn’t need all of what you were selling.

That’s because when they’re looking at your pitch proposals, they’re only looking at price, because they told you and your competitors what they think they need, but really they’re saying what they want.

But when has the client ever known what they need? If they knew, they wouldn’t be asking for proposals and just know how to get it or do it, right?

Your job 80% of the time is to save the client from themselves. They think they know what they want, but really, they don’t know what they need.

Why? Because there’s a gulf of a gap in what the client thinks needs to happen and what you actually know needs to happen.

For you to be able to save them, you have to take the time to understand them.

“But Saïd, that’s the reason I’m offering a free consultation, so I can get to know their business better!!!”

No.

If you’ve defined your niche, like I’ve mentioned in my freebie pdf below, you wouldn’t have to understand their industry, you’d just have to understand their current situation. Otherwise, you’re having that sleazy sales conversation you hate having.

To understand that situation, you should only need ten minutes of their time. Use the automated scheduling tool Calendly to make it easier on them and book you on timeframes that best work for them.

calendly
sponsored link!

The Shoe-in Method, wtf is it?

  • You hold the client’s hand through the experience of how your skills & expertise can help them without giving away the secrets;
  • It’s a productized service that solves a laser-focused specific & immediate need that your client has;
  • Establishes you as the authority of why you’re the ONE to solve their problem;
  • Eliminates the need to submit a pitch proposal;
  • Removes the sleazy & dishonest feeling of having to sell yourself because it’s a stupid simple investment the client couldn’t say no to.

Do this well, and not only will they want to pay you to pitch your service, but they will want to hire you to implement the bigger underlying problem they’re having and price will be the least of their issues.

How do yo do it? To position your offer:

  1. You must name your version of the Shoe-in Method that is on-brand for you (i.e. mine’s called The Brandstorm);
  2. It must solve a direct & immediate need that your client has, which you know they have because you’ve studied their niche, and it can be done quickly. Again, the better you know your niche, the less time you need to learn about them, and more time to actually work on solving it (i.e. mine’s brand clarity for service professionals that want better-paying, no bs clients);
  3. It must provie an easy-to-understand actionable outline of what needs to happen for that specific client to succeed.

Why does it work?

People don’t necessarily want to learn your skills & expertise, they simply want to know that the work will be done, and their problems will be solved.

  1. You’re positioning the results: “Dear Mr/s client, I’m here to give you answers. I’ll be here to answer any questions you have and point out things you may have not considered.”
  2. It’s an audit of their business, as is: you’re not asking industry questions, you’re asking questions of where they’re at right now and trying to get closer to their pain points at that specific stage of their business. By uncovering those cracks in the statue, you can then start showing them where opportunities are (low-hanging fruit).
  3. You’re not selling a pitch proposal, you’re offering an actionable plan that is specific to their needs.

Now that you’ve know how and why charging for an actionable plan VS stressing over a bullet list of services in a meaningless pitch proposal makes more sense, what happens now.

Remember that the Shoe-in Method is just that, putting your foot in the door. Charge it accordingly, charge enough that makes it worth your time for having spent whatever time you would’ve spent in those stupid free consultations, but low enough that is a stupid simple decision for your client to see that it’s a no-brainer.

They have an actionable plan of what they know needs to happen for their business to get out of that rut. Here’s how to not look desperate for the work.

Let them know that they can take that game plan and:

  • Implement it themselves;
  • hire someone else to do it for them; OR,
  • keep the person that helped them uncover those quick wins to their pain points and then the more impactful changes to significantly improve their business.

Who do you think they’ll want to hire?😉

Will everyone buy your bigger offer? Nope.

Buuut, you now don’t waste time putting a pitch proposal together and offering free consultations to then be rejected.

At the very least, you got paid a bit of scratch for the value that you offered.

The main offer

Look at you, big baller. You stopped pitching for free and getting paid to warm up your leads for your main offer. How much should you charge for that premium fee you know you deserve?

Way ahead of you, playa.

The main offer pricing calculator

my mane zach galifianakis

I went ahead and created a free main offer pricing calculator for you to estimate just how much that should be. It’s not a rule book, but it should help you find your baseline and ball park estimate of what you need to start doing to get there.

The supreme guide to launch a brand that matters.

The supreme guide to launch a brand that matters.

Overview

In this long-ass guide, I’m going to take you through the steps of understanding what a brand is and it isn’t so that you can strategize with clarity.

We’ll cover your brand purpose, your ‘why’, which in turn will inform your ‘how’.

These steps will help you launch and nurture a brand that people will believe in. But before they buy what you offer, they have to buy what you believe in.

Be warned! This guide is long for two specific reasons:

  1. There is too much garbage out there that talk about branding as if all you have to do is slap a logo on a website and call it a day;
  2. I want to simplify your path towards a coherent and actionable strategy that builds on itself to help you sort your train-of-thought and add clarity to your brand voice.

☝🏽 i. WTF is branding?

Those that speak of the “brand” do not understand the brand.

What I mean is that we must clear semantic verbiage to understand what it is that we attempt to identify when we speak to any audience. Whether they’re stakeholders, executives, employees, or consumers. This is important people!

Before I dive into what makes a brand, I want to clear up what it isn’t along with other key definitions.

Identity VS Marketing VS Telemarketing VS Public Relations VS Advertising Branding

A brand is not a logo, but a logo is part of the brand.

  • Logo (Logotype) – a trademark made from a custom-lettered word.
  • Trademark – a logo, symbol, emblem, monogram or other graphic devices. It isn’t the brand itself, but a symbol for it.

A brand isn’t the what, but how. Branding isn’t what you tell people, but how you tell it and how they perceive it. It’s their gut feeling when they encounter it.

Branding is how they speak about you when you’re not in the room.

Let’s use courtship as a fun example:

  • Marketing – you say, “I’m a great lover.”
  • Telemarketing – you say via the telephone, “I’m a great lover.”
  • Public Relations – somebody for you says, “trust me, he’s a great lover.”
  • Advertising – you keep saying over and over, “trust me, I’m a great lover².”
  • Branding – the person of interest tells you, “I understand you’re a great lover.”

[bctt tweet=”

Branding is not what you say it is, but what they say it is.

“]

The Brand as a Tangible & Sentiment

A brand isn’t your logo slapped on a business card or the header portion of your website. A brand is a collection of all points of contact a person or organization has with an audience.

It is how the audience perceives that contact that shapes a brand. The combination of emotional stimuli with actual benefits or attributes of a product or service is the culmination of a brand experience.

 

Customer Experience Graphics Staff
Products Services Logo
Tagline Messaging Packaging
Signage Website Language

 

While the recipe varies from brand to brand, key components are who you are, what you do, how you do it, visual language & standards, virtual presence & physical interaction.

Who Creates It?

If you’re a business that exchanges value for revenue, you have a brand. While you’re definitely the creator, you don’t have to be the one to actively define it, because we’ve established that it’s shaped by audience sentiment.

That sentiment is expressed by your value & service.

Branding is the voice that speaks about your company, its culture, unique value, and contribution to the greater good. But what makes for great branding?

Before I dove into this awesome profession, I worked my ass off in the high-end restaurant & hospitality chain industry to pay my way through college.

relax

We’re only as good as our last plate.

Jim McVeigh, one of the most amazing GMs I ever had the privilege to work for, always told me “we’re only as good as our last plate.” Let me set the scenario and let you reflect on the following restaurant experiences:

  1. Party of two, you walk in and there’s nobody at the host stand. You made reservations ahead of time, but they can’t find you a seat. The hostess forgets to give you the updated daily menu. Initial contact from your server takes over 5 minutes. They bring your guest the wrong order, and when do get it right, it’s cold…
  2. Party of two, a friendly smile greets you and your guest. They made notes on your reservation and remembered that you preferred a booth. An amuse-bouche is quickly prepared while you and your guest wait for your drink orders within 5 minutes of having been sat. Exquisite recommendations are made that neither of you can make up your mind. The server is timely at several points of contact without being overbearing or barren in availability. Damn good evening, was it not?

The point I want to make is that you can have an amazingly designed logo, but if your service leaves a lot to be desired, it doesn’t matter what that logo really was.

That bad taste in your customers’ mouths is what’s imprinted in their emotional archives when they encounter your brand. So while you do create it but can’t define it, you can influence it.

Any brand designer or strategist that promises you to deliver a great brand for your company is full of it.

You’re not the one that controls it. You simply get to influence and guide it. And this culture has to be fostered from within a company.

But what you CAN control is your internal brand.

☝🏽 ii. Drafting your brand strategy.

While a lot of what I’m about to say applies to both new brands and rebrands, I’m going to assume you’re starting from square one to cover all bases.

Some of the things I will suggest will seem contrary to the way I’ve approached in building my own ‘Neostalgia’ brand. Stick with me until the end and you’ll see that when you’ve a solid understanding of the rules, you can start to push those edges and break others.

Why

Why do you wake up every morning? Why do you do what you do? If money is your only motivator, please stop reading this and hop on some finance blog to learn more about stock investing (that is, if you have money to invest).

While it may seem like a daunting task to reflect and define the core of what you do, you can divide it into these main categories that often times get lumped together and people fill them out from some template as if playing a Mad Libs game.

“Our mission is to focus on our customers.” YAWN.

“We put people first.” AHYUCK (not shit, Sherlock).

“Our synergies work for a better future.” What the hell does that even mean?

If your brand purpose is the cornerstone to your overall brand strategy, what does your whole journey mean if you’ve slapped a few quotes on your website and ad slogans?

If you’re planning for the future of your brand direction, what are you doing in the present?

Mission VS Vision

Mission: what is your brand doing right now to make good on their promise?

Vision: towards what future is your brand working towards?

If you don’t set your purpose of being now, you’ll chase any shiny new “opportunity.” You’ll chase clients because the money seemed right, they seemed like nice people, they had a seemingly advantageous partner, they are experimenting with trendy business practices.

[bctt tweet=”

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

“]

Don’t make this step complicated. What makes you get up every morning with such enthusiasm that you wake the Devil up and make him cry “ah damn, you’re up already!”? Now take that passion and find the complementary groove that jives with market demand.

What

You may be a defense lawyer, nutritionist, or a furniture dealer. But what do you really do? Do you fight for justice of the wrongly accused?; a lifestyle consultant to teach people how to lead healthier & longer lives; or a total comfort home professional in how to create total relaxation environments at the end of grueling days? See where I’m going with this?

Apple didn’t sell computer hardware. They offered “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Take some time aside from your balance spreadsheets, booking schedule, and really think about what it is that you offer. What is the deep underlying itch that you know you and you alone can help your prospective clients scratch?

In summary, what are the benefits over the technical jargon of your products and/or services?

How

daft punk

Next, comes the first sprinkle of your secret sauce: HOW do YOU do it differently? Why should your prospects choose you over your competitors?

Channel your inner Daft Punk song “Better Faster Stronger,” from your earlier reflection of what it is that you do and be your own biggest fan.

Say you’re a moneylender:

  • Are you a lender with the cheapEST rates?
  • Are you a lender with the fastEST approvals?
  • Are you a lender with the bEST customer service?
  • Are you a lender with the safEST guarantees?
  • Are you a lender that’s been in the game the longEST?
    What makes YOU special?

Who

The reason I proposed the previous steps in that order is that it culminates in putting you (or your company) at the top. By combining the why, what, & how you arrive at a stage of character development that informs your audience the sum of those parts: you.

By aligning your motivation and character attributes to the core of your business, instead of its tangible deliverables, you allow yourself and your company the flexibility of offering future products and services that can still be aligned with your mission & purpose.

A Brand’s Triple Threat

Let’s play a game. Connect the brands to their taglines.

Nike Because you’re worth it too
McDonald’s Imagination at Work
L’Oreal Think Different
Apple I’m Lovin’ It
General Electric Just Do It

 

Tell me you didn’t smile as you read them. You probably even heard the announcer’s voice in your head. There are three key components that make for award-winning brands.

1 Be Memorable

Think about the immediate emotion you felt when you read the above brands. How catchy were the taglines?

Names like Yahoo, Bing, Google, & Yelp have a distinct persona that rolls off the tongue in a playful manner.

Think about how succinct and memorable your own brand can be by brainstorming how sticky your brand name can be. In how many different formats can it be used?

Successfully sticky brands are the ones that transcend their name and become verbs or substitute that product or service which they represent:

Mind passing me a Kleenex, please?

I forgot the meaning of that, can you Google that word for me?

Our client needs it now. Be sure to FedEx it on your way out.

Write the grocery list of what we will need on a Post-It.

I’m starving, should we order Domino’s?

Hey girl, want to Netflix & chill?

2 Be Duplicatable

Think of franchise brands like McDonald’s. When Ray Kroc started, he had an idea bigger than himself. So when he approached the McDonald brothers in 1954, he had the main goal in mind: scalability.

Many of his innovations to the foodservice franchise model served this focused goal.
He was able to document, scale and repeat his progress to grow one of the most widely recognized brands in the world.

He focused and tweaked his “secret sauce” to be able to rinse and repeat. Think about setting a detailed formula that anyone could walk in, review, and repeat it.

Of course, this particular step isn’t truly necessary in the strictest sense if you’re set on creating a personal brand. However, think about other aspects of your operation if you do decide to bring other people on board and build a team. How would you like them to interact with the public (brand voice)?

3 Be visible

There is no first rule of Fight Club. If you have an amazing business that sells outstanding services and products; you’re bound to have raving fans. Make it easy for them to spread your message farther than you could. Let them help you build your tribe by being accessible & shareable.

Incentivize them with special deals, perks, and early release access.

☝🏽 iii. How to identify your tribe.

Before you start thinking of who you want to approach and influence, let’s weed out those that aren’t your targeted audience.

This simple task of segmenting demographics is a simple exercise where you frame your audience persona and those that don’t meet this first iteration, are cut.

Age Gender Income
Relationship Status Dependents Profession
Income Location Education

The next step is a little more intimate.

Who do you want to be there to speak on your behalf when you’re not around?

Don’t think of your audience as people you want to sell to.

Seek people with shared values and experiences.

Here, you want to know about their likes, habits, and places they hang out to give you a glimpse of their values and dreams for their futures as much as how they live for the now.

What shapes their personality?

Hobbies Books Sports
Lifestyle Brands Social Media News
Films Shows Food

 Both your psychographics and demographics are key exercises to the foundation of your tribe.

☝🏽 iv. Understand your competitors.

An easier method to identify your tribe is to understand where they’re already at, with your competitors.

And who are your competitors? What do they offer? How do they offer it? To whom do they offer it? And where are they?

The more you learn about them, the better opportunity you have to expose their weaknesses and differentiate your brand that shows people how you aren’t making the same mistakes or flexing your strengths.

However, don’t square off against bigger players in the same arena if they don’t serve the same core clients or customers you want to reach. If you’re starting off as a small online store, Amazon will likely bury you if you go up against them, toe-to-toe.

Grab a user from the earlier exercise and think about how they would approach the following questions:

What choices do I have?

Why is this the best choice for me?

Which options are out of the question?

If tomorrow was an excellent day, what could take place today that will make that a possibility?

☝🏽 v. Name a brand people will remember.

Right now is your first big actionable step: naming your company.

Trademark – a logo, symbol, emblem, monogram or other graphic devices. It isn’t the brand itself, but a symbol for it.

Your company’s portfolio will build an archive of your company’s name, tagline, descriptor, products, and services. One of the most common initial pitfalls is trying to trademark common use names.

They simply can’t be legally protected and result in expensive Google ad marketing bids, poor SEO, and even painful legal trouble.

Uncovering Strong Trademark Potential

Though not an obsession, an ideal goal is to discover a trademark with so much equity potential that its benefit is parallel to its name. Companies such as Netflix & FedEx enjoy this equity because people immediately identify with its core benefits and the company enjoys trademark protection.

Weak attempts, and nearly impossible to protect are generic, descriptive, ubiquitous, and already recognized words of its service, function or market competitor.

Descriptive

The worst decision you can make is to pick a descriptive name by the simple fact that in seemingly saturated markets with high barriers of entry, they’re easy to forget and difficult to find online.

Say you’re in the roofing business. “Awesome Roofing Inc” or “Skilled Roofing LLC” is shit. Do you even realize the type of competition you may be running up against? You’ll be lost in the sea of contractors bidding for the same keyword that I doubt you’ll even make it to the front page.

Even if your prospect is able to remember the name of your business, you’ll be fighting a losing battle against established companies that have been in the game longer and with bigger budgets.

Aside from possible infringements on those bigger brands, you’re at the disadvantage of sounding like the knock-off from the real brand. You’ve seen those silly and downright embarrassing knock-offs abroad. Even worse, you may be sending your competitors’ business because people will likely associate the name with them instead of you.

fruit field

Ubiquity

Aside from the fact that you’ll be the most boring-ass company on the block, why would you even consider something as uncreative as this?

Why do you think people are more receptive to Apple Computers than CompUSA? As we go head first in the Information Age, we’re also bombarded with information overload. As a result, we’ve gotten better at drowning out the noise.

Smarter companies recognize this obstacle. MailChimp, HostGator, YouTube, and Burger King are a few of the companies that anchor one aspect to pair it with a seemingly unrelated word that cements memorability.

MailChimp especially takes this further. Aside from informing their audience of what market they’re in, they don’t shy away from the mascot aspect of their company culture. You can even see “monkey business” elements throughout their interface, email, and social media marketing efforts.

They fully embrace this playful tone that revolves around their core effort: better email services. It should be an effortless search to make it easier for people that are looking for you. Help them associate you with seemingly unrelated terms to make your brand that much more memorable.

Ease

Don’t pick a name that is difficult to pronounce or write. I do encourage you to be creative but have a sound understanding of how this may appear to someone that knows nothing about your business. Brands like Lyft and Pinterest have been able to dominate this aspect because it’s playful enough to frame their company culture in a creative way, but not too distant that they rely on cleverness.

Sure you may introduce yourself as Ashleigh with an “h”, but how do you think that plays when users try to look up your brand and can’t remember if it’s Ashley, Ashleigh, or Ashlee. They’ll be impatient, frustrated, and maybe apathetic to even try to remember that they’ll give up typing your name and will take their business to effin’ Susan.

Approach Abbreviations with Caution

Meet Sean & Grace. Sean & Grace just gave birth to a beautiful little girl. They decided to name her after both grandmothers, Helga Agnes Goldberg.

That poor child. Aside from such traditional name trends of the past, how do you think this will make little Helga feel each time she signs her initials, HAG.

Sure it seems like a nice short cut because you will save on ink, space, and whatever else your cheap ass didn’t want to pay for. It’s only a matter of time before you become a household name like GE, IBM, BMW, and AT&T. But it is a matter of time, and tons of marketing money these companies have nurtured over decades. An asset I don’t think you’re quite ready for.

Don’t allow yourself the lazy approach of reducing your brand name to meaningless alphabet soup. Remember that lawsuit that the World Wildlife Fund had with the World Wrestling Federation? Are you looking for wrestlers or lions?

Don’t expose yourself to possible sieges of your initials by negative associations. Isis is a badass goddess from Egyptian religion. But doesn’t your average user immediately associate the name with the terrorist network in the Middle East?

Don’t allow yourself to be lost in the sea of online searches because the results didn’t return your home page from your brand initials.

Domain & Social Media Profiles

It becomes increasingly difficult to score a domain name that reflects the benefits behind your services and is also memorable. Since many exact match domains have either already been taken by squatters looking to sell for a hefty price or they simply started their own business a long time ago.

It’s my sneaking suspicion that it’s how Lyft chose to misspell their brand name. Simple, yet brilliant.

It’s amazing how we plan for a long-term game of sticking with a company, but spend so little time behind the research of actually naming it. We name based on personal inclinations, of what the service actually is, or even legal reasons. Facebook has bought every imaginable domain combination that might even hint an impression of taking away from its brand equity.

While I’m not a legal expert, I can offer a few suggestions on what makes a name, brand-worthy, and not the creative process.

The first step is to NOT choose a keyword name. You sell antique European furniture, “BestEuropeanFurniture.com” isn’t set for brandable success because it doesn’t encompass the character, value, principles, or voice of what is at the core of your business.

I’ve seen other fly-by-night services that sell you this exact method to game Google rankings, but:

  1. You can’t game Google for long, their algorithms change too quickly and you’re left with a local brand ad selling at the shopping center; and,
  2. It’s devoid of the humanity of building something that matters.

Think of Facebook. While they’re the most powerful social media network, they didn’t go with “bestsocialmedianetwork.com.” They went the path of a brandable domain because it encompasses the ability to connect with the world.

With that spirit, they’ve purchased other tech companies such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and ConnectU because they maintain the driving principles that align with what Facebook is about. “Best Social Network” wouldn’t have been able to sustain this expansion.

However, if you MUST use a keyword, it won’t be the worst thing in the world; I’m just trying to tell you that it isn’t an SEO magic formula.

Similar to how you will create a well-designed logo, the following guidelines are solid benchmarks to create a brandable domain name:

  1. Relevant – does the name relate back to the core principles of your brand message?
  2. Memorable – does it have a lasting personality that people can recall?
  3. Unique – does saying the name make your tongue dance in a way that you haven’t used such a word before?
  4. Credible – the irony is that people tend to be cautious around names that preface with “best, biggest, value, exceptional…” because they’re usually indicators that they aren’t.
  5. User-friendly – easy to say, spell, no hyphens, no confusion between numbers or when multiple words are all lower-case.
  6. Succinct – Less than two words, three are pushing it. Remember that aside from the domain name, you’ll also have a list of email addresses that will add to the name length.

A quick note on email names is to also think of them as an extension to customer service. Consider your clients’ perspective.

Is it proper to use:

  • information@domain.com
  • info@domain.com
  • hello@domain.com
  • hi@domain.com
  • contact@domain.com

Same planning should be applied to your employee names format:

  • Christopher.Robin@domain.com
  • CRobin@domain.com
  • Chris.Robin@domain.com
  • chris@domain.com
  • cr@domain.com

Brand Name & Domain Name Combo

If you’re able to apply those principles and arrive to a name that evokes the spirit of your brand without being obviously descriptive, chances are that the domain name will also be available. Remember the clever solution Lyft had for its driving services. If not, you can also use what I refer to auxiliary words (but not in the strict grammar context of auxiliary verbs). Short & direct words such as “go[name].com”, “get[name].com” or “hello[name].com” are great ways to breathe life into seemingly dying domain availability obstacles.

Domain Name & Social Media Profile Name

There is a safe assumption that your domain name is also your name on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram. It’s extremely helpful to assure that this rings true with yours, but if you’re not able to secure the same social media handles, try to get all social media channels that you’ll use to be the same and as close as possible.

Different Paths to the Same Destination

Stick to common domain name extensions like .com, .net, .co, and .org. Unless you do business in other countries, you can opt for the other suffixes.

However, here is an excellent opportunity to talk about the domain name that published this journal entry for you. ‘.design’ is indicative of what I do that also baked into function of how to reach me. However, my email is ’said@neostalgiadesign.com’ because most email service providers are still stuck in 1995 and are oftentimes wary of uncommon email extensions that I don’t want to risk losing a followup audience because I keep getting blocked or just end up in their spam folder.

People will assume that these common names are more established or the OGs (‘Original Gangsta’ for the uninitiated) in the market as opposed to the fancy new extensions that are getting ridiculous. Try to get two or three of the most common ones and have them point to one domain extension.

Don’t make the idiotic mistake of buying multiple extensions of the same name and create duplicate websites with the same content. Google will hilariously penalize you for this and your rankings will crash and burn.

☝🏽 vi. Design a winning logo.

One of my biggest pet peeves is overly clever logos. Omfg, do they annoy the shit out of me. A lot of the integrity of what makes a winning logo is sacrificed because the logo design was simply trying too hard.

And you’ve seen that in the wild, with people. That guy at a party that’s simply being too extra. Like “chill, dude. Grab a chip.”

For a logo to be successful, it can’t just be creative. It has to be strong, long-lasting, and approachable in its simplicity. How do you know when you’ve arrived at this dynamic winning combination?

While I drafted a 10-point checklist to create a winning logo, there will be special and peculiar instances where one checkpoint may nullify another. However, what I want you to take home is that in order to want to break the rules, you should first be aware of them.

1 Intended Audience Reach

Will this design appeal to them and the ones after them? It’s a difficult first step because what you like may not be what they like. You’ve defined your target audience. Use that data to discern their hopes and dreams and you’ve a better chance of not having your logo create confusion in the marketplace.

2 Relevance

Does the logo infer the mission of your company? Does it describe your services or products? Does it promise a better day to your audience’s problems? Like avoiding direct keywords in your brand name, the logo doesn’t have to be a literal interpretation of what you offer. It does, however, have to answer to the appeal of the value you offer.

3 Distinction

Do a logo search on Google images and then squint your eyes at the results page. Which ones stand out? This is the main goal of your logo to withstand the brutal competition in many saturated industries. I repeatedly confuse Pandora and PayPal on my mobile’s app icons screen. At a glance, they’re too similar. You don’t want this.

I also acknowledge that there’s hardly anything new under the sun anymore. You don’t have to be a complete game-changer in your 180° design approach. But do strive for a meaningful design percentage change to contrast yourself against your closest competitors.

Make no mistake that it is both ignorant & arrogant to think you (or anyone) can come up with a logo never before seen.

4 Memorable

A quick test to verify memorability is to parse it through the “napkin sketch” test. Successful logos such as Adidas, Apple, Nike, McDonald’s, & Microsoft Windows pass this test with flying colors. You want to be able to impress an immediately recognizable icon that your customers could quickly sketch in their minds.

5 Simple

The last three guidelines could be accomplished with simplicity. This is the essence of logo design. How can you convey the core beliefs of your company by saying the least? Too complex and you’re back to that annoying guy at the party trying too hard.

Reduce, reduce, reduce, refine.

6 Authentic

Does the logo present authenticity? Does it look like (inter)national design quality or does it look like it was created on MS Paint or pulled from some stock templates from the late 90s? At the same time, don’t chase all of the latest trends at once. You won’t come off as credible, they’ll be suspicious if you appear to be for the moment that doesn’t seem to reflect your true nature. Just because all the cool kids are doing it, you have to ask yourself “is this a proper and accurate representation of who I am and what I do?”

You’ll know the answer to that question better than anyone.

7 Timeless

What has made Coca-Cola something that Pepsi just can’t seem to get right?

There’s a timeless quality to Coke’s brand.

It’s an aesthetic that has appealed to generations. You’re working to build your brand equity. A well-designed logo should last 15+ years. That’s why I don’t want you to chase trends. You don’t know what the next year will look like. That’s why I don’t want you to design a literal description of any particular service or product.

8 Adaptable

There are several touchpoints a potential client will interact with your brand. You will have a website, business cards, social media profiles…even car wraps, embroidered uniforms, yard picket signs, billboards, packaging, etc… Your logo should be able to adapt to these print & web publications. Be wary of the shapes not just created by color and layers, but pass them through black and white tests to see how the negative space between elements may change.

A great logo should look good as a 16px favicon and on a 16ft highway billboard.

However, logo design has also seen an evolution, known as responsive logo design, where certain components of a logo are removed, depending on the size and format of its environment but remain recognizable.

9 Variation

This is one instance where it seems that the rules are being broken. To be specific, how does the logo hold up in different cultures or different languages. Again, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola do a great job of maintaining their logo message in different languages and even characters. Another aspect of variation is how it holds up as a standalone logo or in conjunction with specific services, extended product lines, or partnership mergers with other entities?

Change is constant.

10 Depth

I wanted to end the last checkpoint with what many logos continually fuck upon. Stop being too clever. While the symbolism is important to get as much out there by saying the least, don’t sacrifice other principles for this alone.

This is the difference between art and graphic design.

Art will communicate a different message to many people, but graphic design is meant to communicate the same message over and over to many people.

☝🏽 vii. Plan a website that converts visitors into super fans.

Keep it Simple, Stupid (KISS Principle)

It’s difficult enough to get visitors to your website from your online marketing efforts. Why make it more difficult for them to endlessly navigate through your content to get to the desired action?

Don’t bombard your site visitors with EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of what it is that you do and how you do it. Leave the technical jargon for more interested and warmer leads once you’re actually talking details.

It goes back to the dating example. Your website home page is just the introduction, the approachable persona ready to take you on an exciting date, not talk pregnant barefoot & pregnant.

Tone

The tone of your copy must immediately capture and maintain your visitors’ attention. Are you friendly and laid back or much more formal and professional? Pick the most appropriate voice for your audience and talk to them genuinely.

Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

I’m sure you’ve noticed my own personality by now. My tone is how I’d talk to people over a beer and my shirt is no longer tucked in. I don’t worry about swearing too much because it puts off the type of people I don’t even want to be doing business with.

I don’t rely on intentionally being offensive, but it’s a great way to filter out uptight and stuffy personalities. Aside from doing great work together, I want us to be able to get along.

However, you’ve also noticed my serious moments when I need to stress the importance of a particular topic because, after everything, your business success is a paramount interest to my own business success.

Call to Action (CTAs)

Whether you want them to sign up, purchase, or download something, be clear, concise, and brief about it.

While negative space can be a good space to maintain a minimal interface, it doesn’t mean it has to be sparse on content. It’s having many different types of content that can easily overwhelm a visual field that you need to avoid.

If you want your call-to-action to be a signup, don’t include distracting navigation or links that will take your visitors anywhere else but your sign up form. Be sure that the language of your buttons are verbs, as what a call-to-action should be.

Make it a contrasting color that can pass the squint test I’ve mentioned in earlier lessons. Label your buttons in such a way that there is NO doubt what actions you want your site visitors to take and where they can expect to be taken to.

Relevance

This part has the potential to get more difficult than it actually is. You’re essentially writing for two audiences:
1. Your target audience, and;
2. Search engine spiders
You need to be armed with a healthy amount of relevant keywords to be sprinkled throughout your content.

This common SEO standard practice informs both your audience and spider bots about the content of your pages and allows the bots to rank your pages accordingly.

Don’t make the mistake of stuffing your pages with your keywords. It’ll put off readers because it won’t appear natural and high-value in content. Google & other top search engines have picked up on this hack years ago and will actually penalize you if it seems like you’re keyword-stuffing. So don’t. 😃

How to sell a boring service but not be a boring brand.

How to sell a boring service but not be a boring brand.

Ever argued with someone online and you brought the receipts? Your argument of facts & figures were watertight; yet, the keyboard warrior across the other side of screen doubled down on their position and then slipped into fallacious arguments that had them foaming at the mouth.

It’s ok, it’s not your fault they remained ignorant (well, sorta). What happened is that you didn’t really trigger parts of their brain that spoke to more than just facts & figures of your position, but their internal dialogue was burning with emotion that stimulated a passionate response of a storyline they have playing on repeat in their mind.

How to make human connections

When you connect with somebody else, you do it with your personality. I know some of you may already be crying and getting traumatic memories from that high school prom rejection all those decades ago (ouch!).

But once you’re better able to understand how we’ll create a personality for your brand, you’ll get a wee bit more confident to step up to the plate again.

See, personality is shaped by your characteristics and behaviors.

You connect with others because they displayed certain characteristics you were aligned with and vice versa.

It doesn’t mean they ALL have to be aligned, that’s also how opposite attracts. You connect with them because they may have a quality that you don’t yet have, but admire.

Brands work the same way. People are attracted by their characteristics that they may also have or aspire to have.
Develop your personality with science

An effective way to breathe life into your brand is to develop it with an archetype.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty psychological history of Carl Jung, who for once, didn’t want to bang his mother, you can Google that rabbit hole yourself. It’s stale, trust me.

I’m only summarizing the crispy bits.

Moving on…

“Archetypes are the heartbeat of a brand because they convey a meaning that makes customers relate to a product as if it were actually alive in some way, they have a relationship with it and care about it.”
– The Hero and the Outlaw

You want your audience to feel something for your brand as if it were alive.

You’ve seen archetypes in your favorite films:

  • Mr Miyagi as the SAGE in the Karate Kid
  • Darth Vader as the RULER in Star Wars
  • Beetle Juice as the JESTER in, well, Beetle Juice.

I know you’re updating your Netflix queue with some of these throwbacks.

Desire…scandalous!

These archetypes, twelve (12) to be exact, were drawn out of human desire. I won’t list the other nine because that’s not the point, you don’t really care about that now, and this bad boy needs to be no more than five pages.

Different people have different desires, which are made up of different characteristics. And specific characteristics, make up specific personalities. Which then boomerang those personalities back, that attract certain types of people. All of this action takes place in the subconscious.

You’ll realize that people’s subconscious are tied to their emotions. When people experience a brand, they subconsciously store those brand experiences which eventually lead to buying decisions.

Think of your brand touch points with its audience as a Quizno’s punch card. Each positive experience gets stored in your audience’s mind.

Get enough positive punches and that emotional brand outlook is in their mind as they get ready to make a buying decision.

With this in mind (ha!), think of the positive punch card as credit experiences you can create at every touch-point and exposure your brand has with your audience:

  • Social media ad
  • Blog post (like this one!)
  • Website
  • Services page
  • Lead magnet

And to create these positive touch-points, you need to create a brand personality that aligns with the characteristics that your audience desires.

Maintaining your personality

A huge challenge many brands face is, keeping their personality defined. They go out and cherry-pick different things they think their audience may like, but end up with a Frankenmonster that isn’t familiar to their audience.

With the right archetypal mix, you’ll see that it isn’t simply matching a desire to an archetype and calling it a day.

Ask yourself: is this personality believable?

Because your audience will probably never ask themselves this out loud, since it hangs out in their subconscious; but if you go off and start sending weird shit and signals, you best believe your audience will immediately dismiss you.

Conclusion

So, the biggest takeaway from this is that your brand isn’t a reflection of the service offer as a solopreneur. They may not be groundbreaking startup ideas, but they have the potential of tremendous positive impact on your clients; and that is what can make your brand exciting.

To get past their initial objections and understandable mistrust when you come skipping in over the hill is that by properly positioning your brand’s personality through an archetypal mix that evokes positive emotional responses is how you will win their hearts (and their wallets) with the belief that you’re there to make them the heroes of their own story.

Don’t you want your brand to be more than just a service provider? One that connects with your audience at an emotional level? If that’s the case…I can help you with that.

From wantrepreneur to a premium consultant.

From wantrepreneur to a premium consultant.

You’re striking out on your own, well almost…

You’re hustling on the side after hours or in stealth mode between meetings ;-).

But now, you’ve hit one of three snags:

  1. You need clients;
  2. You need better clients;
  3. You’re not getting paid enough by those few clients you started with.

And that’s a totally understandable rut. You jumped into a business for the freedom to work on your terms, work on projects you want, and better serve your growing family the best way you see fit.

You wanted to launch your business because you believe in the impact you could make; not because you know how to market & sell your services.

However, the cold hard truth, in order to stay and thrive in business, you MUST have a solid sales & marketing strategy in place…no matter how great of an expert you feel you are (and I believe you are). 🙁

Your Dream Clients Can’t See You

Take a moment to think about your perfect client. Imagine them right now. You know them so well and the ENORMOUS PROBLEM they’re having is something can solve with your eyes closed because it’s at the core of your expertise. That’s how well you know them.

Now imagine what would happen to them the moment they come across you and your online presence the way you are right now.

Would they understand that the problem you solve is EXACTLY the problem they’re having right now?

Your Potential Clients Want You

Many of you that I had the pleasure of interviewing either felt too shy, bored, or just plain sleazy at the thought of having to peddle and push their services.

Or worse yet, the ones that were enthusiastic about what they offered, had too much shit on their website that potential clients couldn’t immediately see the answer to their burning problem.

So what do you do, you go back to browsing and bidding on sites like Upwork.

Then, they end up hiring someone else that is less qualified, but had a better BRAND VOICE that communicated what the client wanted to hear (without actually being able to deliver).

That’s a dizzying harsh truth. It doesn’t matter how much better you are, but who makes a better case, that gets the client’s business.

You know what pisses me off about that above statement? Is that like you, I also run a service-based business and I can’t tell you the ache and fury of handing over top dollar to another idiot for selling me a service they couldn’t deliver on.

So how about we fix that.

You’ve heard that energy isn’t created, nor destroyed, but simply transferred, right?

I’m on a mission to help experts like you bring that energy of talent, passion, and ability to create value for their clients, which in turn, transfers that energy to the world where it wasn’t before.

And that is how we change the world.

Let’s level for a second. We’re not selling stuff nobody asked for nor needed. Becoming an expert in a specific field creates a type of exponential value that can’t be competed with by generalists.

And that intellectual value you have to offer, doesn’t have a negative footprint, doesn’t pollute, and rather, it better informs and connects the world. That’s what we’re selling.

And I’m here to help you find that brand clarity that your business needs. It will help you find only the clients you want to work with and communicate exactly what it is that you can do to solve their burning problem.

And we’ll do that in such a simple way that creates excitement, that not only will they want to hire you for being the obvious choice, but they won’t flinch in paying you more because they see you’re an investment, and not an expense.

The Pitch

Click the button and schedule a 15-minute kickoff call with me to learn what we can do to start turning you into the irresistible choice for your ideal clients.

Of course, I want to sell to you, but first you want to find out if I actually know what I’m talking about, and I want to find out if we would be a good fit for each other (I’m a long-term relationship kinda guy).

Sounds fair?

If not, that’s cool too. Keep doing what you’ve been doing, boo.

But if you’re:

  • ready to leave your cushy, yet unfulfilling salaried career;
  • eager to find your brand voice above the noise that resonates with dream clients; and,
  • not offended that I swear sometimes;
    we should probably get in touch.

We’ll face some tough choices and cold hard truths ahead, but it’ll be NOTHING to what you’ve been doing this whole time.

And with practice, it gets easier.

Go on, join me.