Is your brand carrying excess baggage?

Guest post by Betsy Talbot, author of Strip Off Your Fear: Slip Into Something More Confident. She and her husband Warren write about the 5 Tenets to Live the Good Life at Married with Luggage. They are currently traveling in Asia.

Isn’t it just a little bit funny that the owner of a site called Married with Luggage is here to talk to you about your personal and business baggage? I thought so, too.

You see, I just accidentally published a book on branding. While my intention was to write a book on personal self-confidence and speaking up, it appears that all those lessons are exactly the same as building a confident brand.

It wasn’t until we reached out to Red Slice for help on solidifying our message and working out our brand schizophrenia that we connected the dots between the book project and the brand. In fact, it wasn’t until we told Maria about the book and what we were doing that we realized we had a problem with brand schizophrenia.

Let’s see if you have the same kind of ‘a-ha!’ moment we did:

  • Can your friends explain in one sentence what your business does?
  • Does your website accurately reflect your message in an instant, or are you expecting people to draw their own conclusions?
    Can a new visitor to your site tell from the home page whether you can help them or not?

In our case, we were holding on to some old baggage with our business. While the evolution of our message and offerings was crystal-clear in our minds, it was a fuzzy picture for a visitor to the site. Even Maria, who
actually named our business four years ago, couldn’t tell exactly what we were doing.

Let me tell you, when your brand strategist cannot figure out your brand, you’re not being clear enough for everyone else.

Accumulating excess baggage

Perhaps your business evolution mirrors ours in some way. We started out in 2008 sharing our goal of long-term travel beginning at 40, and it resonated with overworked and under-lived people our age also wanting to break free from the rat race. As we went through the saving and downsizing process for two years, we attracted an audience of minimalists, savers, and those wanting to downsize. When we started our journey in 2010, travel lovers and early retirees started following our adventures.

We wrote about all of these topics, making one segment of our audience happy at a time.

The longer we traveled, the more we learned about ourselves and human nature, and our business evolved to address those interests with articles, books, and a newsletter. Plenty of personal growth seekers joined our tribe. We were starting to hit our stride in messaging, but we still hadn’t connected it together in a meaningful way for our audience.

It was all in our heads, and we needed to find a way to voice it.

Streamlining your message

We finally asked ourselves what all those people really wanted overall, and the answer was personal growth and meaningful life experiences. All of our topics fell under this goal, but we were doing a poor job of showing how they worked to achieve it. We realized we had to speak to the need of personal growth and achieving meaningful life experiences and not just the various expressions of those needs.

Is this true in your business (or your personal life)? Are you showcasing an overall strategy to resolve an overall need or are you displaying a disjointed collection of “fixes” for your audience? Is your image an accurate portrayal of your current brand promise or an earlier evolution that has long since passed?

As we started working with Maria on our brand evolution and messaging, I saw the distinct parallels between personal confidence and a strong brand:

  • Accepting who you are now and building on your strengths
  • Saying what you want in a clear voice
  • Attracting the right kind of people into your life

While I didn’t start out writing a book about branding, it seems as if the rules of personal confidence and speaking up are good for business, too.

  • Discover exactly what you offer to the kind of people you want to help
  • Clearly state how you can help your target market and what result they can expect
  • Focus only on the people with whom you want to work

There is no confusing it now, and our business revenue and website traffic reflects our renewed focus on our brand and message.

It is true in your personal life and it is true in your business. As I said in my book:

“Speak up. Be proud of who you are, what you know, and what you do. Help other women do the same. When you change your world for the better, you make it better for the rest of us.” 

Now start unpacking those bags. 

Has your brand undergone an evolution and how did you address it in your visual, verbal or experiential branding? What worked and what didn’t? What do you think about brands that evolve? Please share in the Comments.


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