How to Create a Brand Statement in Only 10 Minutes

If there’s one thing you and I know, with our extensive legal training (from watching All Rise and other legal dramas. . . and if you haven’t seen All Rise yet, check it out), it’s that when you cross-examine a witness, you need to lead them carefully with pointed questions that require specific, short answers.

We want yes/no, or we want very brief sentences that confirm what we already know. It’s almost like we train witnesses to fall into our mastermind ploy. They can’t help but answer us exactly how we want them to, which is amazing, because when witnesses drop those courtroom shock bombs on you, it’s no bueno . . . at least, not for your side of the case.

And that, my friends, is all related to brand statements. Obviously.

So much so that I bothered our legal team (okay…so it’s my brother) for several minutes trying to figure out if what I was saying was at least a smidgen factual.

Brand statements and courtroom strategy? We’d love to hear the connection, Regina.

So happy that you want to hear it, because I was going to tell you anyway.

Say you’re at a networking event, and you get asked: “So, what do you do?” If you answer with a trained, short, unengaging response, it might be time for a (new) brand statement—or even a new brand (but that’s a story for another post …).

In fact, answering this question like you’re being cross-examined is a clear, undeniable sign you need a new brand statement.

I wrote this post and developed a brand statement formula out of necessity really. I was so tired of answering, “I teach blogging and business?” with my head down, like it was something to be ashamed of or something that I just made up.

When we become embarrassed by, complacent with, or even unsure of what we do, or when we find it hard to proudly present our brand to the world, conversations go something like this:

Random person at a “networking” event: “So, what do you do?”

You: “Oh, I’m a vegan chef.”

Rando McLinkedIn: “Wow. Cool.”

The end. 

Mr. McLinkedIn will barely remember this chef in five minutes, and tomorrow, no chance.

Why didn’t you give more detail? 

“I design droolworthy vegan keto meal plans for bodybuilders who want train hard and eat clean. I also host a monthly weekend intensive online where I actually teach them how to cook – all on video! I’m Luna Reddington, TheVeganSuperChef.com. You might be shocked at how fantastic vegan food can be.”

“I work as a graphic design coach for female business owners who want to learn how to create shareworthy social media graphics by themselves. I run group online workshops and it’s the most fun ever. I’m actually finishing up work on The Viral Media Design Planner, which is a 200-page digital workbook. So excited.”

“I teach recent college grads about creating a personal brand for themselves and building a solid platform that can grow with their career. The market is not what it once was, and it seems more and more like people need something beyond, or something other than, a degree to find meaningful work.”

Sure, you have to judge the situation. Not everyone asking should get your full life story, but if someone answered you with one of the answers above when you asked the “What do you do?” question, would you be more likely to remember them? Or check out their website or Instagram later? Or remember to mention them to a friend/colleague in need of services such as theirs?

Brand statements, yo. 

Which are, statements that define a brand. Kinda like mission statements. Brand statements are bite-sized collections of information that help people decide how serious you are about your brand, what your brand even stands for, why what you do matters, and how what you do is different from the 107 people they met (yesterday) who claim to do the same thing.

And. It’s not that the crafting of a brand statement is difficult (I’m gonna show you a formula below), it’s that we forget or neglect to do it. It’s that we don’t realize how necessary it is sometimes.

Today is your day. The day you build a brand statement. The day you stand up and stand out with your words—in a sea of people walking around with “I’m a graphic designer” and “I kinda sorta teach graphic design” responses.

What I’m about to share is neither rocket science nor Elon Musk-style business genius (which technically would also be rocket science). It’s a simple exercise we can all do to make sure we have a solid brand statement on deck. To make sure we’re answering people as completely as possible when they ask us about our work. To make sure we give our brand a chance to form a strong, memorable impression.

And now, it’s time to put on our bossy pants. Here’s how to write a brand statement. Follow these directions, now.

Get out four note cards. Or sticky notes. Or any moveable paper product. Write down the following things, one on each card.

1. Who do you serve?

Hint: After you write it down, cross it out and write it again. Be more specific the second time around.

2. Why do you care?

3. What service/benefit do you actually provide?

4. What do you offer that’s different from everyone else?

Once you have these items on notecards, all we have to do is move them around to the correct order, abridge some stuff, and make it work. I’ll show you what I mean. Let’s use our crazy vegan chef as an example.

Who do you serve? Bodybuilders who want effective vegan ketogenic diet plans to cut weight and preserve muscle.

Why do you care? Because when I transitioned to a vegan diet, I lost my muscle mass because I didn’t know how to eat properly. I either ate too much soy or too many carbs. It was hard to add muscle while reducing body fat. I want to help make it easier (and tastier) for others so they don’t feel they have to rely on protein powders and supplements.

What do you actually provide? An intensive online workshop with an option to upgrade to supportive weekly check-ins + meal planning.

What do you offer that’s different? Step-by-step guidance in a small group via DIY materials, a supportive Facebook group and video content to teach meal prep. Having pre-packaged materials helps me keep costs low and the community allows the group to help each other even when I’m not actually in the group.

Now, let’s try a brand statement in a few different orders:

I help bodybuilders and fitness competitors who want to achieve their fitness goals while following a vegan diet, since I had to learn how to eat for muscle mass when I became a vegan. I want others to have a simpler, guided process, so I offer DIY online group coaching, meal planning materials and tailored check-ins to help people through their fitness competitions. [who you help >> why you care >> what’s different + what you provide]

I’m a vegan ketogenic chef. As in, I help people, particularly bodybuilders and fitness competitors, plan delicious keto vegan meals, but I also do it non-traditionally through online workshops and DIY materials to keep costs low. It’s the service I needed but didn’t have when I became a vegan. [what you provide/do >> who you help >> what’s different >> why you care]

I use DIY vegan keto meal planning materials, online group coaching and tailored check-in meetings to co-plan meals and teach food prep to bodybuilders and fitness competitors.  It’s the guidance I wish I’d had when I transitioned to a vegan diet. It was crazypants trying to figure out what to eat to cut body fat while building muscle, and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through it. [why it’s different + what you do >> who you help >> why you care]

In 2 – 3 sentences you can stand out, be firm about why you do what you do, show some personality, and clearly define your brand and who you serve. 

I’m listening. Leave me your brand statement in the comments of this post, or come talk to me on social media. I want to hear.

Do it now. Okay—ending my bossy moment. For all the coders out there: </bossy>

 

Photo: Franz Navarrete

How to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog or Brand

In order to create and maintain a cohesive online and in-person presence that engages readers and clients, you may want to consider a style guide for your blog or brand. A style guide is a document (PDF/binder/digital file) you create to keep you consistent on important blog elements such as fonts, colors, and image styles, as well as brand elements such as tone, document styles, and more. To create a blog style guide or brand guide you will collect, organize, and create images and text that inspire you, and then you will compile your preferences into a document.

“But why, Regina? Why must I do more work?” you cry out in anguish.

A style guide will save you time (because you won’t have to wonder what your next Instagram image should look like or how you should design that invoice/flyer you need) and it will create a recognizable presence for you online (people make my day when they say they see images on Pinterest and automatically know it’s from my blog–it’s like a non-germy virtual kiss I tell ya).

I’m currently making a new style guide, so I wanted to share the process and benefits with you.

I can’t wait to show you all the new brand. Some of the most fun I’ve had is defining the consistent styles you’ll start to see. I think you’ll enjoy creating a thorough style guide as well (so I created this new post + template out of a previous post from my site). When you look at your style guide, you will immediately have a clear picture of how you should do something or how to create certain brand elements. Can you please just imagine that for one moment? Confusion = gone.

So. You know what’s next. WORK. Download the 3-page blog style guide template below, and follow the guidelines on the template and in the post below. (Note: I made the template a Google Doc that you can copy and it paste into your word processor of choice.)

How to Launch a Blog on a Budget

You can join the club. The club I started for the ba-gillion people I know, moi included, who don’t have 1.2 mil laying around to invest in a blog launch or relaunch. Yes, ba-gillion is a big, actual number; I’m offended you thought otherwise.

If you don’t want in on my club, that’s fine . . . weirdo, but if you do, then as a benefit of your club membership, please enjoy this guide on how to launch (and start to grow) a blog on a budget. There are 10 main sections to read through, each with resources (free, inexpensive, mid-range, and high-end –> if you want to ball out in certain areas) and tools you can start using today.

If I may say, before we get into the blog launch guide: Launching a successful blog, whether on a slim budget or super duper budget, takes a lot of work. When launching on a budget, you’re going to have to get a smidge more crafty, research-y, and DIY-y than the next person, but the process of learning and doing will be valuable. Every popular + useful blog takes a huge investment, whether it’s almost all time, almost all money, or a healthy mix of both.

Also, this guide is more like a class on how to start your blog (with a small budget) than it is a blog post. I just want to warn you that this is probably best for people who are really serious about starting/re-starting a blog, because it’s intense. Feel free to pin it or share it with someone you know may benefit from it. Thanks.


Feel free to jump ahead to any of the sections below, if you’re feeling froggy that is. {Get it? Because frogs jump. –That’s a completely original joke I just made up. I’ve never heard it anywhere else before. Have you?}

1. Planning // 2. CMS or Platform // 3. Brand Identity // 4. Domain + Hosting // 5. Blog or Theme Design // 6. Images // 7. Style Guide // 8. Making Money While Your Blog is Still New // 9. Plugins + Extras // 10. Promotion

How to Use Your Voice on Your Blog


. . . and some of you were wondering where my British accent is . . . I promise to use it next time. Don’t forget to download the worksheet/exercise (two pages), and feel free to check out some notes (below) from the video.
Use Your Voice Worksheet and ExerciseIn this video I discuss three tips + action items for using your voice on your blog:

1. Recognize the importance of your voice.
2. Practice using your voice (through text) more often.
3. Say it again, Sam. << It’ll make sense when you watch the video, or perhaps if you’re obsessed with classic movies like I am. I’ll give you a few tips on how to do each of those, but the exercise (PDF) is a great resource too. In this video, I also draw comparisons between the four types of bloggers and four types of “concert goers,” which is of course accompanied by some of my epic dance moves.


Photos of me: taken from my video, shot by James Smith

How to Get Serious About Blogging

Is this a post where I get straight to the point?

Why.

Yes it is.

1. Think long & hard about your blog categories.

Your categories are the main sections or “magazine columns” that you feature on your blog. They should appeal to your target audience. They should be logical for you. You should like talking about them.

2. Design your site to be appealing and easy on the eyes, for long amounts of time.

Oh, and yeah, I had a sweet male reader let me know that he loved reading even though I mainly use pictures of women in my posts. But, I don’t want you guys to feel left out, so I made some secondary images you can feel free to pin to your boards. I mean, this is probably not what you meant, but I sure like these:

Are you ready to get sexy, I mean serious, about blogging? Are you ready to get sexy, I mean serious, about blogging?

3. Be Ugly Betty.

And by that, I of course mean: pretend you’re an actual magazine publisher and plan out each piece well, invest time into each piece, edit and format your posts, add great designs to your posts, write in a natural tone your readers will be drawn to, and publish regularly. If your favorite magazine missed a few issues, you’d eventually find a replacement. If you aren’t blogging regularly, your readers might find some replacements. HarshTruthsAboutBloggingLife.com