How to attract the right clients is a question churns in the minds of every new business owner. And I am a firm believer that your business’s visual appearance communicates more to your clients than your best elevator pitch.
In fact, it’s a lot like how a woman’s outfit plays into her confidence. When you feel good in what you’re wearing, you walk with your shoulders more open, your head a little higher, and with a little extra sway in your step. People see that confidence and felt that energy. And that’s exactly what a professional and cohesive visual brand identity will do for your business.
This is an important part of your customers’ experience, because it helps your creativity, personality, mission, and values shine and creates a positive impression of your business. And, listen up!—if you don’t intentionally define your first impression, other people will.
So, here are 5 steps to dress your business to attract the right clients.
We all know that quality undergarments are the foundation of your outfit, helping to provide the right shape and long-lasting support to your “assets.” A solid brand foundation does the same thing by guiding the look, feel, and tone of your brand.
This starts with defining your mission, vision, values, and getting specific about who your dream client is. If you can define what’s important to you, where you want to go, who you want to serve, your customers will have more reason to care about what you’re offering, because knowing yourself will also help you gain a better understanding of the needs of your customers.
Starting your brand without the right supportive foundation is like getting dressed in the dark—you’re just grabbing pieces of your wardrobe, but you have no idea if they really work together to achieve the right look.
Here are 6 questions you can ask yourself to help build a supportive foundation:
A statement piece is an interesting, attractive, or attention-catching piece of your outfit. It doesn’t have to be bright or colorful, but it is bold and unique, and it should be the first thing people notice.
In your brand, your signature statement piece is your unique positioning. It’s the one thing that makes you stand out from your competition. It’s what you want your business to be known for. Like a statement piece, it doesn’t have to be loud or colorful, and it doesn’t even have to be something no one else is doing. But it should be something you do really well that your customers value and that you can build your brand around.
For example, if you own a bakery, you could advertise that you make custom-order cakes, while the bakery across town advertises same-day cake orders. You’re both selling the same things, but in the first example the value is placed on the uniqueness of the cakes, which might be important to someone who enjoys planning parties with lots of intricate and personalized details. In the second example, the value is placed on how quickly the cakes can be made, which might be important to someone who doesn’t like to bake and just needs a cake fast.
A great way to find what makes you unique is to examine your competition in light of your business’s values. Think about your 3–5 values and what kind of experience you want your customers to have and then ask yourself the following questions:
No matter what kind of business you own, it should have its own personal “dress code.” And every day, every expression of your brand—your logo, website, social media, product packing, storefront, etc.—should follow the same consistent and unique look that ties back to your mission, vision, values, and goals.
A good place to start is asking yourself how you want to make your dream customer feel and how you want your brand to be perceived. Are you edgy or classic? Are you more authoritative or approachable? Are you youthful and energetic or sophisticated and savvy?
Next, brainstorm a list of adjectives for your brand style, and, finally, narrow that list to the 3–5 words that describe your business the best. This exercise will shape your brand’s signature style and help you choose the right wardrobe: your brand’s logo, color palette, fonts, imagery, and messaging.
There’s nothing worse than a cute pair of shoes that are murder on your feet. (And it’s kinda sad to watch them sit unused in your closet.) My mom always said nothing beats sensible and comfortable leather shoes, because they will last for a long time and carry you far.
Your business’s messaging is like a good pair of shoes. If you create clear messaging that is built on a solid foundation and your unique position, it will not only carry your business forward but get people walking toward you.
One of the best ways to do that is by creating your elevator pitch (also known as your brand story or one liner). This is the most important piece of your brand’s messaging, as it quickly, clearly, and simply tells your customers 1) what problem you solve, 2) how you solve that problem, and 3) how their life will be better with your product or service. This should be the first thing people read on your website, social profiles, flyers, and the first thing you tell people when they ask, “So, tell me about your business!”
For an example, here’s my brand story: I help small businesses show up more confidently and make more money by creating brands as unique and beautiful as the work they do.
Now ask yourself:
A capsule wardrobe is a limited selection of complementary and interchangeable clothing pieces. It is often filled with classic, staple items that are composed of a signature color palette. Its purpose is to allow you to create a variety of outfits with a small selection of clothing. If you’ve ever built a capsule wardrobe, you know the most difficult part is figuring out how to make every item in your wardrobe cohesive.
This is your brand’s visual identity and it’s where we put together all the other pieces of your wardrobe that we’ve discussed thus far. The basic elements of your brand identity include these 4 staples: Your logo, typography, color palette, and graphics and imagery. Here’s a high-level summary of each element and how they work together to create a cohesive “wardrobe” for your brand.
Your logo is the face of your brand, your signature icon by which your customers will come to recognize you. And like a signature outfit, it should be stunning, memorable, and versatile enough to use in a variety of environments. The Nike Swoosh or the Pepsi logo are some of the most iconic examples of memorable logos—you don’t need to see the company name to know which company these symbols represent.
Like your logo, the perfect font for your brand should communicate personality, but be legible and versatile enough to work on every platform. Two to three complementary fonts are recommended. In general, fonts are a mix of serif and sans serif or script. If you’re not sure what those terms mean, check out dafont.com or fonts.google.com to browse all the different font styles and try them out for free before purchasing a license.
Your brand’s color palette helps bring out your business’s personality and mood. When choosing your colors, think How do I want to make my customers feel? What colors represent an important aspect of my product or service? And what colors will attract my target clients? This is color psychology at its most basic.
For example, if you run an organic skin care line for women, you may want to choose colors that represent health, beauty, and nature. So a palette of greens, yellows, and beige neutrals might work best in this scenario. Three to six complementary colors are recommended. At a minimum choose a primary color, a secondary color, and an accent color. (You can learn more about choosing the right color palette here.)
We all know a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s why having a standard for the types of graphics your business uses is really important. The graphics you choose will evoke a certain feeling in your customers, and that feeling should be intentional.
For example, I work with a company that does outreach work for impoverished children. The company can choose to show the harsh reality of impoverished children in a “save the animals” way (think sad puppies and doe-eyed kittens), or they can show happy, hopeful photos of smiling children to subtly demonstrate the impact of their work. Neither is wrong, it just depends on what they want to make their audience feel.
The secret to keeping your brand’s wardrobe cohesive is something every business needs: a brand guide or style book. This is a small booklet that outlines each of the brand’s “wardrobe” elements and gives examples of how to apply these, so that no matter where your brand lives and no matter who works on your marketing, employees and contractors have clear, specific guidance on how to uphold your brand’s unique look and feel, which enhances your brand’s perceived value and helps attract the kind of clients you want.
When you put all these pieces together, it’s called your brand identity and it completes the look, feel, and sound of your business. Now, it’s important to note that making a cohesive brand identity is where a lot of new business owners get stuck when they DIY their brand. And for good reason!
Professional designers spend years learning how color impacts people on an emotional and psychological level; examining meaning behind shapes and symbols; understanding how fonts (yes, fonts) shape perception; and how visual spacing and ratio draws or repel attention. They’re trained to not just build logos, but to build a brand identity strategy. Without this, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your branding is—it will just be a pretty decoration that never quite feels like you.
Are you ready to increase your confidence, attract the right clients, and show off your unique personality in your business? You can start right here, right now.
You Are Your Own Brand: This free guide will help you clarify your brand, its impact, and it visual identity, so you can connect with your audience on a deep and personal level. You will learn to…
Brand Guide Template: This free custom Canva template will help you put to action everything you learned in this article so that no matter where your brand lives, you can uphold its unique look and feel, enhance its perceived value, and help you attract the right clients.
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