Ready to grow and scale your brand past that revenue ceiling you’ve hit?
Itching to start from scratch with a complete rebrand?
In need of a way to give your team the tools they need to create on behalf of your brand?
Launching a new course or product?
Most experienced business owners would recommend hiring a brand strategist. Obviously, I love this – it’s my bread and butter. It’s how I make a living. I know that working with an experienced brand strategist results in confidence and clarity. A professional brand attracts more & better clients. BUT, I’m also here to tell you to there’s a necessary process to deciding if NOW is the right time for you to work with a brand strategist.
Will you see the results you want?
Is it a worthy investment?
Do you *NEED* a strategist to pull this off?
Hey, I get it. I may be a brand strategist, but all bias aside, I’m still a business owner. I understand the need to make strategic decisions for your business. Especially when it comes to spending your hard-earned cash.
Here’s something that may surprise you…
(at least, coming from the keyboard of a strategist):
Not everyone is a good candidate for teaming up with a brand strategist.
It’s possible to have such a strong brand that hiring a brand strategist would be unnecessary. It’s also possible to have so little figured out about your brand that you’re not ready. The problem is, sometimes it can be difficult to tell where you are on that spectrum. That’s what I want to help you with. I’ve laid out a list of scenarios for your review – to identify if it’s time to hire a brand strategist. And if it isn’t, I give recommendations on what you should do to be ready for a brand strategist down the road. Let’s get started!
It may be a good time to hire a brand strategist if…
You’re shifting the focus of your business or changing its name.
Imagine walking into your hometown high school on the first day of your freshman year. #Froshie. If you were as awkward as I was, you worried about your outfit, walking into the wrong classroom, and saying something silly to the “cool” seniors. Now, picture the day you graduated. You changed a lot in those *short* 4 years.
That same transformative experience happens in branding. Your brand may not have an “emo” phase… and won’t suffer from a broken heart… but it WILL mature and narrow its focus. The way you show up in the world will change.
If you started your business years ago and it’s starting to feel like a bad sweater from the 90’s, it is time to step back. Take time to reexamine your goals and decide on a new direction. Brand strategists LIVE for this exact scenario. Helping fellow entrepreneurs navigate a rebrand is my personal favorite. If you find yourself in a biz-life crisis, hiring a brand strategist can be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.
You need to scale, so you’re adding team members.
If you want to grow, you can’t do it all forever. And if you try, you will hit a revenue ceiling that will not yield. But, it’s scary to place your well-loved brand into the hands of others – regardless of how immensely talented they are. A strategist can help get your brand out of your head and into the capable hands of people you hire. You’ll be able to give your team the tools they need to understand and create on behalf of your brand (and exceed your expectations!).
If you want to generate you more impact, income, and inner joy, scaling effectively will be crucial.
You’d like to increase your prices.
You’ve invested the time honing your skills to position yourself as an expert in your field. Your prices have yet to reflect that investment. It happens to many entrepreneurs. So often, I see people start their business with low rates to get established. It makes sense at the time. (Although I’m a HUGE proponent of never positioning yourself as the cheap option… see my thoughts here).
After a while, the low prices aren’t sustainable. The challenge comes when you have repeat clients or you’ve developed a reputation for a specific price. That’s when hiring a brand strategist is invaluable. By relaunching your brand, you’ll create a stronger message & identity to attract your new ideal clients.
Your “ideal client” has changed over time.
When you started, you were a copywriter – but over time, you’ve switched your focus to a full-service marketing agency. Or you’re a photographer, and at the beginning, a gig was a gig… but now you’re only want to shoot weddings.
Whatever the difference may be, if your new ideal client doesn’t match your past aesthetic and voice, it’s time for an overhaul. Once again, this is where a brand strategist comes in. We ask the hard questions and get down to the true values and desires of the clients you want to work with. One area of focus with my clients is to create deep, emotional connections with the RIGHT clients. It’s only natural that a more mature brand has a new set of ideal clients vs. when it first launched. It’s my job to help you identify how to evolve your message to match.
The current look and feel of your site is out of date and doesn’t reflect who you are now, or who you’d like to be in the future.
Want a good laugh? Go look up your old MySpace profile. I’ll wait….
Let me guess – it’s a far cry from where you’re at now, right? Did you enjoy reliving a questionable choice in music, or a cringe-worthy haircut? Well, this happens in business, too. As we learn and grow and continue to sharpen our skill sets, it’s only natural that our brands change, too. The problem, though, is we don’t always reflect those inward changes out in the world. We want our brand to grow with us, but we don’t take the action needed to bring it along for the ride. This is another area where I provide value. In these situations, a brand strategist is invaluable to bring your brand up-to-speed. We work to reflect your current strengths and where you see yourself in the future.
(Pin this for later!)
Now it’s time to turn the tables. Remember at the beginning of this article when I said there are times when someone shouldn’t hire a brand strategist? Here are some scenarios to consider if you think you’re on that side of the spectrum.
It’s best to hold off on hiring a strategist if…
You’re struggling to decide on business basics.
To work with a brand strategist, you have to have some sense of what you want to do and where you want to go. Some of these decisions will evolve, of course. But you have to have enough of a vision that your brand strategist can help you get there. If you aren’t quite sure what your business *IS* yet, here are some questions to answer before you work with a brand strategist.
- What’s your basic business plan? For example, are you online only or will you have a physical location? Also, what product/service will you provide?
- Who will be your target audience? You should have a general sense of who you’d like to work with.
- What are your goals? You don’t need to know exactly where you’ll be in 5 years (nobody does.) But, what do you want to do in the next 6 months to a year?
- What impact do you want to have?
- What’s the value you bring?
Once you get the basics down, a brand strategist can work with you to create more specificity and clarity. Until then, you’ve got some homework to do!
Think of a brand strategist as a cheerleader… who also happens to know the plays. It’s a great combination, sure – but if you don’t know your position on the field, or even what game you’re playing, they won’t be much help to you. To create strategy, there needs to be a clear goal (no pun intended). Until you know exactly what you’re doing (or rather, exactly what you’d like to be doing), the ball’s in your court. (OHMYGOSH, the sports puns won’t stop!)
You haven’t worked with any clients yet.
If you’re brand new to business and haven’t ever worked with a client, you may want to wait on hiring a brand strategist.
Sometimes, what you believe to be true about product or service isn’t what others perceive. You may realize others don’t understand or see value in what you’re selling. Or you may realize you want to work with a completely different type of client than you thought in the beginning.
One of the best ways to learn about yourself in business is to go out there and get your hands dirty. Experiment. When I was starting out, I took different types of paid work that I found on job boards. It wasn’t glamorous but it helped me understand how I wanted to position myself later. Plus, as a bonus, this will help you save up for the day you ARE ready to get your brand on.
You don’t know anything about your target audience.
First, let’s take a step back and define some terms.
Ideal Client: Individual who will actually buy your product or service.
Target Audience: Groups that your ideal clients belong to, places where they hang out.
This terminology is important. First, you need to figure out WHO you want to work with. Next, you need to know what groups they are a part of so you can find them and get them to buy.
These days, it isn’t enough to have a great product or service. You need to also know who are buying said product or service. This is why we have target demographics. You need to have a basic understanding of things like:
- How they identify with the world
- The competitors they consider at the same time as you
- What social media they use
- Where they work, etc.
With a clear audience in mind, you’ll understand the context of your brand. Meaning, you’ll have intel on how to stand out in the market, because you’ll understand what your market IS!
You can’t afford to pay for the service or implementation.
If you’re ready for a rebrand, but it’ll have you scraping the bottom of the barrel, it may be wise to hold off. To be fair – it will help increase your sales and attract more clients. But, it wouldn’t happen overnight. I think I speak for all of us when I say that eating Ramen 3 meals a day, 7 days a week is *NOT* why we went into business.
Or, you can afford to work with a brand strategist, but you can’t afford the time or money to put the brand to work. A brand strategy won’t do you any good if it isn’t reflected in your company. If money is what’s keeping you back, I recommend saving until it makes sense for YOU. (Plus, in the meantime, you’ll have plenty of time to think about what changes you’d like to see.)
Speaking of money…
If you’re thinking to yourself, “How the heck does anyone ever pay for this sort of service, anyway?” – you’re not alone. As business owners, we know alllll too well how many expenses come our way. It’s easy to let things like our branding be “good enough for now,” or put on the back burner. But, investing in a rebrand and hiring a brand strategist doesn’t have to break the bank. You just have to do the research to ensure you’re getting the most value out of your decision.
You don’t want to change, you just want a design.
This last scenario is on the opposite side of the spectrum. For entrepreneurs who have been at it for a while and have an established brand may not need to hire a strategist. If you only need a new design but aren’t changing anything fundamental about your message or business, skip the strategist. Look for a “doer” to create your vision. You need the design. Or code. Or assistant. Hire them.
Here are 3 tips for rebranding (without going broke):
Set a goal to recoup costs.
Once you have a quote from a brand strategist, you can figure out what it will take to break even. How many online course signups do you need? How many new clients would you have to pick up, and at what price point? Getting to the bottom of what it would take to earn back the investment is key. Then, you can rest easy knowing that an attainable goal is in place.
You’ll get energized by those gigs because you KNOW what they’ll do for your business. And, in a sense, by taking on a bit of extra work, it’s like the money never left at all! (The same goes for buying shoes, but shhhhhh.)
Consider your opportunity cost.
Considering what you miss out on by NOT rebranding is as important as considering what you need to sell to recoup the cost.
Yes – investing in a brand strategist will cost money, but what will doing NOTHING cost your brand? What will you miss out on by waiting another year? How many ideal clients will hire someone else? How many speaking opportunities won’t happen? How much will your brand suffer if you aren’t connecting with the right target audience? This isn’t meant to be fear mongering. Take a realistic look at the opportunities you’ll miss out on.
With the expert guidance of a brand strategist, you’ll learn how to position yourself in your market with authority and influence. And a stronger brand that reaches the right people… means more visibility and more money!
Hire an experienced professional.
I can’t stress this point enough. If you want your money’s worth, you’ll need to hire someone who knows what they’re doing and can CRUSH IT the first time. A good brand strategist will not focus on how inexpensive it is to work with them. They should use their strategies themselves and KNOW the value of their experience.
Hiring someone inexperienced will result in subpar work and much higher costs down the road. That’s not even counting your valuable time wasted on the entire process. Do your due diligence from the start and look into the work the brand strategist has already completed. Look into their process and make sure their values align with someone you want digging into your brand. It’s a fun experience, but it’s also emotional one, so you want to work with someone you like.
Teaming up with a brand strategist can help you reach your business goals and make your brand stronger than ever. It may not be as affordable as the DIY route, but big ROIs come in brand strategy packages. 😉