Did you know that you can actually brand yourself while branding your business? Yup! That’s right! Not only can you brand yourself, but you must if you want your business to succeed. I think there are a lot of common misconceptions when it comes to branding. We often assume that it has to be this perfect structure, that we have to know everything exactly down to the T, and that our brand has to be fully formed before we even begin. However, branding your business can be much easier.
When I first started branding my business back in 2013, I was still Teaching on Less, but at the time, I aspired to live in a tiny home and my brand was an old, old camper. It still is, but the meaning behind it has evolved over the years. In the beginning, it was more or less telling everybody that I was going to retire early and live in a tiny home. Now that I have three, almost four, kids, I no longer wish to live in a tiny home – it just does not sound like something that I would enjoy. However, the theme behind my brand still holds true, and the avatar, which is my ideal customer, is also the same person it was five years ago. Teaching on Less has evolved into a much bigger brand than what it was in 2013, but my heart has not changed, and my brand lets people know that.
Today, when branding my business, my brand image of a camper is still evident – we have upgraded though. It’s not as much of a trailer as it once was, but it is still clearly my brand, which is very important. I went to a conference, my very first conference with TeachersPayTeachers, and a woman came up to me and was like, “Oh, you’re the girl with the trailer as your logo!” I was so excited to respond, “Yes! That is me!” That was a great compliment because she recognized me, and she knew me from my brand.
I want you to think about branding yourself when branding your business. Come up with 10 things that you absolutely love, that you want people to know about you. They aren’t going to be defined in a color. They’re not going to be defined in an image. It’s just not that simple. There’s so much more to a brand than just your color scheme and your image, although we are going to talk about all of that.
The definition of a brand is a name or a term, a design or a symbol, or some other feature that distinguishes an organization or a product from its competitors. I know a lot of us as teachers, or really anywhere in the online marketing world, we like to think of our competitors as our rivals, but I don’t feel that way. I feel like the men and women who are in my field are absolutely amazing, and I love everything that they stand for. However, I don’t want to be like them because they are not Kayse. They are not Teaching on Less, and although we have a lot of similarities because we target some of the same audiences, my goal for my brand is to be the biggest and the best version of me that I can be, not the biggest and best version of somebody else.
I hear so much about how it’s so hard to stand out and be unique when branding your business because everyone else has already done what we do. We really need to get that vocabulary out of our heads! Go look at one of my Instagram posts lately; PLEASE, do not think that it has all already been done because I can promise you, friend, it has not. A good friend of mine recently told me, when I had this same fear, when I thought to myself, “Oh man, a podcast to help women entrepreneurs has already been done. Oh, everyone has done online marketing, even online marketing to help teachers,” my friend Lindsey Custer (you should check her out at LindseyCuster.com) said, “Kayse, no! No one has seen you do it!” And she was right!
Even if what you are thinking that branding your business has been done before, nobody has ever seen YOU do it. Think of the amazing Rachel Hollis. Where would we be without her knowledge? She wrote a self-help book that I recently finished reading called, Girl Wash Your Face. Tons of people have written self-help books. I have read tons of them. But where would I be now without Rachel Hollis’ specific knowledge and her grace?
Another person who has really affected me is Amy Porterfield. I’ve learned so much marketing experience from her. So many people teach about online marketing – what makes Amy different? It’s her spin on things, the way that she teaches it.
So, that’s my thing for you. When you start making up your brand, sometimes the thought may have already been done, but that’s not you. That’s not who you are. Make it who you are. I encourage you to be as unique as possible and to definitely make it a timeless brand. When I say timeless, I want you to be able to look back at your brand 10 years from now and say, “That is definitely who I am!”
That is not to say, however, that your brand won’t evolve. I struggle with that sometimes because I am branching out of the entrepreneurial teacher world into a different world of helping online marketers, and Teaching on Less could go with that, but sometimes I teeter back and forth. I have bought the domain “She Lives on Less” to let people a little more into my life and my lifestyle blog, so it’s ok if your brand evolves.
The main thing you need to understand is who your avatar is. I don’t mean the alien-from-the-movies avatar or the little person you make to represent yourself online. Your avatar is just an online marketing word that we use to describe your perfect customer. I don’t know what business you’re in, but whatever you are trying to sell, it’s important that you really understand to WHOM it is that you’re trying to sell it. Think about that as you create your brand.
List five things needed by the people to whom you are trying to sell your product. Maybe it’s a teacher. Maybe it’s a stay-at-home mom. Maybe it’s a homeschool person. Maybe it is an online friend. I don’t know who your avatar is, but whoever it is, think about five things that person needs. A lot of times, thinking about five things that cause that person pain can actually help you create your avatar. Now, I don’t mean physical pain. I just mean things that are really difficult in his or her life. Maybe if it’s a teacher, it’s understanding how to control the classroom. How can your brand embody that? Maybe you’re a special ed teacher, and you are really good with children with autism. Maybe that’s one way you can really differentiate your brand from somebody else. So think about the problem you’re trying to solve. Think about the bigger picture and the bigger problem.
Do a little activity with me. Draw a directional pole – like a pole stuck in the grass – and draw directional signs all over the pole. It could say, “North, South, East, West,” and so forth. You’re going to have a lot more than just those four. Your pole is going to be your brand. For me, that would be Teaching on Less. On each of those signs, I want you to think about what you want your brand to embody as a whole. I’ve already chatted a lot about that, but for me, I want people to know I’m a teacher, that I enjoy the little things in life, that I want to work so hard so that they don’t have to, I enjoy the outdoors, and I want people to know that I’m a good person. Put your ideas on the signs. Now I want you to think about your brand message, and I want you to write that on the actual pole itself. For me, right now where I am in my business, it is to empower entrepreneurs to be their best selves and to live the life that they love. This will help you to focus in on your brand.
As you develop your brand, think also about some of the top brands in the world today that are rocking it. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Verizon, Wal-Mart, BMW – all of those are huge brands that I know you know. I don’t want you to just look at people within your niche. (When I say niche, I mean people who are doing what you’re doing.) I think we get so stuck on the idea that this person is doing what I’m doing, I need to do it like them but I need to do it better. Instead, look at brands all over the world and think about what they’re doing. Then figure out how you can put that in your business technique.
You’re going to need the basics – you’re going to need a name, a logo, specific things that you do or create, and, of course, your color schemes so you can really start molding everything in your business to your brand. For example, my blog is definitely in line with my brand and what I want people to know about me. I just finished posting some top self-care strategies for teachers, which goes with my brand of Teaching on Less and loving yourself even more.
Along with content that matches my brand, everything on my blog matches the color scheme of my brand. When my blog designer created it, she gave me the HTML codes for the five colors that go with my brand. I have a turquoise-mint color, pink, two different shades of orange, and gray. All of those go with everything I create on my blog. I even like to put them within my post.
Think about ways to include your colors in resources that you may create. Whether you create PDFs to sell online or you create just easy templates for people to download, it’s important that they always be in your color scheme. I just recently finished a workbook. Called a Teacher's Map of Online Business Secrets – you can check that out on my website – and I made sure that every single aspect of it went with my brand because I want people to know that Kayse is the “go-to girl” when it comes to helping you sell your resources online. Even the font was in gray instead of black because it went with my brand.
When choosing your color scheme, it’s important that you understand the color wheel. I learned this from The Superhero Teacher – shoutout to Brit, who is absolutely amazing. If you want to find someone who has branding down to a science, go check her out. You can find her on Instagram, TeachersPayTeachers, or on her blog. She talks about the power of the color wheel. As humans, we are prone to think about certain emotions when we see certain colors. For example, the color red may bring out anger or it may bring out fire and passion. There are all different sorts of connections. You can do a quick Google search to find out what colors evoke certain emotions, and think about that as you create your brand. For me, the pastel light colors make me happy, make me feel vibrant and alive, and that’s what I wanted with my brand.
Your brand can also be transferred to all of your social media outlets. We are going to go into depth on what social media outlets you can use to further business in other posts, but the one I get asked about the most is Instagram. (If you’re not following me, you can find me on IG @teachingonless.) I love the idea of incorporating my brand, and I really saw a huge spike in my Instagram interactions once I started using my brand colors and my brand scheme.
One way that you can incorporate your brand on Instagram is through quote boxes – please do not overly bombard your feed with quotes – but even amazing people use quotes. I mean, The Rock uses quotes! Quotes are important to life, and we love reading different quotes, so I encourage you to create one and use it. Just make sure you create it in your brand colors. That way, when people see it while scrolling through their feed, they will automatically know, “Oh, Kayse just posted a cool quote. I want to go in there and read it.”
Another way you can do this is through your stories. If I ever put text on top of a story, I always use my brand colors. I have them saved on a special app. It’s super easy, and that’s the way that I do it.
A more subliminal way to incorporate branding your business – and I know this is going to sound crazy, and I never thought that it would matter, but it has started to matter, and I have started using this and implementing this on my Instagram feed – I have started to think about the clothes that I wear. We just recently wrapped up a family photoshoot with my photographer who I work with on a regular basis to make sure that I have professional photos to share with all of my people, and I made everyone dress in my brand colors. I had some of my baby boys in blue, I had some of them in pink, my husband was like, “I’m wearing blue,” so… I was actually in gray, but gray goes with my brand. Any time I take photographs now, I think about that.
Finally, I have decorated the backdrop of where I do Google Hangouts, Facebook lives, etc. in my brand. The wall is painted blue, and there are pops of blue and pops of pink everywhere. I know it sounds excessive, and you probably have never even noticed it, but now that I’ve told you, you can go back and check it out. It’s a subtle thing, but I want my audience members’ minds to think about Kayse and Teaching on Less whenever they see those colors.
So think about your brand and branding your business as you decorate. It doesn’t have to be an office, and I’m not saying go buy everything in pink if that’s what color your brand is, but it is important that people remember you and your brand. Like kindness, sprinkle it everywhere. If you want to be remembered in the world of business, you must design yourself a brand and you must use it frequently and consistently. It will make all the difference in the world to your business.
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