'I'm sick of feeling like I need to convince people to work with me'
We met with a new client recently who’s running an established business. On the face of it, things are going well – but he’s frustrated. He doesn’t really have any clarity around his brand message and is beginning to feel threatened by an ever-increasing number of competitors. And then comes the line:
‘I’m sick of feeling like I need to convince people to work with me’.
Can anyone relate? It’s a truly horrible position to be in. It’s demoralising, exhausting and terrible for business. When you feel as though you’re walking a tightrope, unsure of why bookings come your way and having to fight for every last bit of work, you make bad decisions. You waste time. And you have to be that extra bit more charming, more efficient, more elaborate in a bid to win work. You end up diluting your offering, making it even harder for people to choose your business. Not a happy place to be.
It needn’t be that way.
Creating a brand isn’t just about having a gorgeous visual identity. It’s about having a rock-solid understanding of your business: of what you’re amazing at, the magic that only you can offer and the people who will most love what you do. It’s completely liberating, for both you and your customers.
It starts with empathy
First, you need to know what it is that people are actually looking for when they book you. For example, you could be forgiven that people who hire us are looking for a beautifully crafted brand identity. In fact, they’re looking for clarity on what it is that makes them different, and the means by which they can articulate that – which just so happens to be a beautifully crafted visual identity. If they were just looking for a nice logo, they probably wouldn’t come to us – you can get a nice logo from a great many designers who charge less than we do. We’re worth the extra money because of the strategic voice we bring and our intrinsic ability to help clients see their businesses differently. That, I’ve discovered, is quite a rare art which requires a blend of intuition, commercial focus and gut instinct that not everyone possesses.
What is it that your people need, really?
So what are your people looking for? Is it a beautifully designed garden, or a space in which they can luxuriate in the company of their partner and children? Is it a gorgeous set of wedding photographs, or is it the ability to relive their wedding day and capture the intangible yet overwhelming emotion they felt that day? What are your people looking for?
Speak their language
Be as clear as its possible to be about what you bring to the table, and the reason why your people book you. And for goodness’ sake, use your language. It’s often said that our language defines our world, and it’s SO true; the way you write, the words that you choose – whether you’re formal or friendly or cheeky – your language creates an impression of your business that’s incredibly powerful when used with intention. Want to create a warm and approachable brand? Bin the formal prose and address your client as if they were a friend. Break the rules a little; adopt a conversational style. It’ll create a familiarity that generates a sense of trust without you having to do the least bit of convincing.
Engineer your brand so that your client has made their decision before they get in touch
With a truly compelling brand identity that really sings out your strengths, there’ll be no need to convince anyone of your value, or that you’re a good fit. They’ll feel it, right from the first moment they land on your website. And when that’s the case, they’ll be ready to make that decision by the time they get in touch with you.
Be brave enough to be different
Nobody stands out when they look the same as everyone else. Be brave enough to break with convention and be unapologetically different. You’ll immediately cut out those who make work feel like one heck of a slog and narrow in on those who make it an utter joy.