Three ways DIY brand visuals can sabotage your online business growth.
One thing that often gets overlooked or pushed aside for later in the early stages of online business is branding.
A lot of people will choose to focus on their product or service in the beginning. They figure they'll work on branding later when they ‘need’ it, or when they’ve got time or money to invest. But the problem with this approach is that branding is an essential part of building and growing a business, especially online.
The reason for this is that branding is all about relationship building. When you’re busy focusing on building your course or service package, you’re primarily thinking about how your skills, knowledge or experience can help people. But that’s a very different thing from figuring out how you’ll engage with those people who need your offering.
You could have the best product or service in the world, but that alone won't bring in customers or clients. It could end up being a huge waste of your time unless you’ve considered who your audience is, and strategically crafted an experience for them that:
Attracts them to your business and your offer in the first place.
Keeps them engaged long enough to build like and trust - and to eventually buy from you, and...
Cultivates long term relationships and loyalty with those customers and clients.
This experience is what branding for your online business is all about.
You can think of branding as the process of strategically crafting that experience to help you attract perfect-fit clients and customers.
So to break that process down, let’s take a look at my Signature Branding Framework:
So on one side of this framework, we have you. We’ve got your purpose and passion, plus all your skills, knowledge and experience. We've also got how you plan to use that to craft a product or service that can help solve problems or fulfill a need.
And on the other side, we have your audience. They’re all of the people who have a specific need or problem that you can help fulfill or solve.
You might have heard of your audience referred to as your target market, ideal client / customer, or niche. I like to frame this group as an audience for online business owners, as content production and consumption is often at the core of online business strategy. And if someone is regularly reading your blog, listening to your podcast, or tuning into your IG stories, they’re not just your target market - they’re an active audience member.
To begin with, those people are more like your ideal audience, because they don’t know you yet. They don’t know about your business or the fact that you have an awesome product or service that can help them. But you know that they’re a great fit for what you do.
So how do you turn that person from someone who doesn't know you, into someone that trusts you, engages with you regularly and eventually becomes a customer or client?
You build a relationship.
Going back to our framework, you can see that we have three main tools to help us build that relationship. They'll help turn your potential or ideal audience into a real-life audience full of people ready to support your next and every move. Those tools are:
Your voice or tone comes across in all the ways you communicate with language. Some examples might include the way you speak on IG stories and in post captions or the tone of the copy on your website.
Your values are all of the principles and beliefs that support the way you operate your business (and sometimes your life, too). This is more of an overarching experience guide than something your audience will interact with directly.
These are anything that your audience can see and consume visually. This might include how your website looks, your IG feed, video content, or even - especially for personal brands - how you present yourself.
Out of all of these tools, Brand Visuals can have some of the biggest impact for online businesses.
The reason for this is that visuals form a huge part of the experience with your business. Your audience will rarely experience your voice and values without the support of visuals. For example:
When people read the copy on your site, it’s within the context of your site’s design. No one wants to read a big wall of text. Here, visuals help to entice visitors to take in your entire site (or page). They establish structure, break up content, and help reinforce your message through supporting imagery.
When someone stops to read the helpful and valuable content included in your Instagram caption, they’ve likely stopped to read in the first place because the image included in that post caught their eye. If the visual is not engaging, people might just scroll on past.
If someone shows up to your live webinar, they’re not only hearing you teach, but they’re also seeing your presentation. That likely includes helpful visuals that demonstrate and reinforce your message. They might even see your face as you present, and studies have shown that 55% of all communication is down to body language. Without those visual components, your audience might not learn as effectively and therefore not convert.
Of course, there are a few occasions where someone might not experience visuals. For example, if they’re on the phone with you or listening to your podcast they're not seeing anything. But chances are if they’re engaging with you in those circumstances, they’re likely also interacting with you in places where visuals have an impact, too.
Those are just a few examples that show the huge impact visuals have on your business, and how they reach into almost every area of establishing and cultivating that experience we talked about.
And that is why, as a branding expert and brand designer, it can be frustrating to see online business owners dismissing or choosing not to focus on branding. Of course, it’s possible to start a business without that focus on visuals, but you could be severely impacting your capacity for growth. Without them, the overall experience is unbalanced and incomplete, and that can prevent your message from resonating fully with your audience.
Here are three specific ways that careless or non-strategic brand visuals can hinder the growth of your online business.
1. Value Mismatch
A value mismatch occurs when the perceived value of your business and brand does not align with the price of your offering. This mismatch will often mean you struggle to make sales and can be hugely impacted by the quality of your brand's visuals and overall experience.
As someone engages with you on IG, lands on your website, or scrolls through your sales page, they begin to form an idea in their head of how much your offering is worth based on what they’re seeing. If their estimate is lower based on the quality of your visuals and then you hit them with a luxury price tag, they’ll likely be confused. They might even decide that the experience with you isn't worth that price tag, based on their overall experience.
On the flip side, if you’ve strategically set up a high-end experience, the same person might reach the price and decide that it’s fair given how exclusive and luxurious the free experience has been.
When you try to DIY or frankenstein templates together with little to no design experience, the result is often a series of designs that don’t feel related to each other in any meaningful way. This can be another serious stumbling block for your online business because consistency is key to making sales.
You may have heard in marketing circles that people need to hear about a product or service at least 7 times before they’ll purchase. While there are a lot of factors that go into that, it’s generally a good rule to follow.
But if your visuals are inconsistent in look and feel, you’re not establishing an experience with your business. You’re creating what feels like a bunch of random, unrelated content. And this can mean that when people see a post on Instagram from you, they might not associate it with the ad they already saw on Facebook. They might not realize it’s from the same site they were on recently reading a helpful blog post.
If they’re not making those connections, the “Rule of 7” goes out the window. You’ll have to work a lot harder to establish a relationship because people aren’t remembering you or your offer.
Ever feel like you keep seeing ads for the same person or product all over the place? You start to know and recognize that person or business, and feel familiar with what they do without ever having spoken to them. That’s the power of consistent branding and brand visuals.
3. Failure to Resonate
A really common result of people choosing to DIY their brand visuals or just throw something together to get by, is a total failure to resonate. A failure to resonate happens when a person who theoretically should be a part of your ideal audience, doesn’t connect with you based on the experience they have.
A big part of developing your ideal audience is to hone in and get specific on the kind of person your offer can help. This means getting to know their personality, preferences and pain points so you can strategically design your brand to speak directly to them.
But when you’re not giving much thought to your brand experience and just want to get some visuals out there to get you by, a lot of business owners make the same mistake.
They throw something together based on what they like and forget to consider what their audience will connect with. This happens because it’s quicker to work off what you know and like over having to research and try to figure out what works for your audience.
This opens the door for people to think, “this sounds interesting, but I don’t think this person / business is the right fit for me.” They’ve counted themselves out before you even had a chance, and you're left wondering why you can't seem to attract your dream customer or client.
So how do you avoid those common pitfalls?
With a complete, strategic brand identity system in place for your online business.
If you want to ensure that:
You’ve created a value match that allows people to say yes to your paid offerings with ease,
The experience with your brand is consistent enough to establish recognition across platforms and build trust faster, AND
The experience you’ve built is attracting the right kind of people to your offer...
...it’s important that your brand visuals are designed as a part of a brand identity system. Working with a brand designer is likely going to give you the best result, but it’s not the only way.
I’ve written an entire post about how the right brand visuals come together to form a brand identity system, so click here to check that out.
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And if you’ve got any questions about brand visuals or brand identity systems, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer you!
See you in the next one!