How I Turned My Business Into A Brand
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is "what the f*ck is the difference between a business and a brand?!"
In the simplest terms, a business is a tangible thing and a brand is a feeling. A business is an organization that trades payment for products and services. A brand's identity extends beyond the service, it's a lifestyle. A brand is what keeps customers coming back to for the service. It's instantly recognizable: when they see it they know it's you. It's a personality. A brand offers a way for customers to connect beyond the product.
You can be a business or both but at least now you have a better idea of what the difference is because I sure didn’t years ago.
So how did my beauty business turn into a brand? I’ll give you backstory.
When I first started taking clients in 2013 I was a business- but I didn’t have a “name”. I tried to come up with one so many times and somehow always went back to “Skin Tan Lash by Lorena” 😂. I remember being so frustrated about not coming up with a cool name and felt like I wasn’t a true business without one. I felt like I didn’t have an identity, and what I should have realized at the time was I was a solo Esthetician and Lash Artist, and using my name would have been just fine. (If nothing sticks or feels right- using your name for your business is beautiful and easy and I suggest you start with that. Please don't obsess over a name. Obsess over your clients instead- because you're only as good as the service you provide).
It’s so different today than it was back then. I'm still a young 36 but f*ck- all this social media stuff didn't exist. But there was still a common feeling we all can relate to- feeling like we aren’t at the level we should be (or want to be) and rushing the process of just being, learning and growing until we get to know ourselves and our business a little bit more. It’s then that I think we can dive into branding. Just know- it doesn’t make you a better or worse to have this part of your identity figured out.
In 2015 when I decided to make beauty inspired tees (sell a product) along with being a full time lash artist- it was then that I sat down to come up with a look and a feel for my business. I got a giant pad of paper and markers- wrote down who my audience was, what they wanted to wear and see from my social media and how I would share this. Mind you, this was before social media was even being used for marketing. At the time I was figuring out my brand and didn’t even realize it, but I hope this gives you an idea of how little there was to work with. IG stories, apps beyond Canva and so many other tools we have now did not exist.
I decided instantly on the branding being pink with feminine graphics and nothing obnoxious or cheesy. I felt the Beauty Industry was only being shown as tacky and "out there" and I really wanted to share the other part that existed. There was ONE business making these really tacky hair tees and that was all I had to reference for what NOT TO DO. I knew I wanted to create chic, trendy tees that artists could dress up or down and look stylish and put together in and out of work.
I want to be open with you here- branding came last for me and my business and it also took a long time to perfect. I just did what I liked and what worked for me until it started to click and my flow became intuitive. I took all my own photos, created my own website, kept in mind the colors I liked and did my best to make sure it was all cohesive- but truthfully I didn’t know what I was even creating at the time. What I will say is I stayed focused on knowing exactly who I was talking to, what they wanted and how I could connect with them. (Which is something that you HAVE to sit down and think about when branding yourself or your business- your audience.) Looking back at the beginning stages of business, I realize I didn’t know how to brand myself and wasn’t as in tune with myself as I am now. I rented a room and had a website, but beyond that there was no “branding” to be seen. I share this part of my story because that’s how it starts. It starts from nothing. It starts with taking clients and passing out shitty business cards until you get to know YOURSELF.
So what changed and how did it all shift to a BRAND?
I'd say once I incorporated professional photo shoots into my business and began story telling on Instagram is when I got really into more fine tuned “branding”; creating recognizable products, photos and lash inspired graphics you have come to know and love. I now know my brand is effortless, fun, girly and relatable. It represents the every day female and is big on empowering women through relatable content. It’s not glamorous, fancy, super high end or unattainable because that’s not me and I really wanted my brand to be an extension of who I am since I’ve become the face of it over the years.
Just last year; after 7 years of being in business, I hired someone to create a brand manual for me with fonts, colors, a mood-board and logos. This manual helped me really see my vision for my brand and made my business come to life. If you think this is something you would like for your own business-you can book a new client coaching call with me and we can work to create a better branding vision for you.
Branding can feel overwhelming, right?! My best advice is to go old school like I did and write out/think about these things when considering dialing in your business and making it feel more like a brand:
- Get out a piece of paper.
- Write your business name at the top.
- Write down or find 6 colors (including neutrals like black and white) that you love that would go together and that you could incorporate into social media, web design, business cards, potential products down the line etc. Don't go too far off of your personal style as this can be hard to create for yourself every day when you are just starting out.
- Stay consistent with visuals- does your vibe reflect your space and flow?
- Will a client be able to connect all your online platforms together or will they feel confused?
- Do you know what your clients need and want? How can you share those things through imagery and video?
- If you are a solo business owner- are you comfortable with incorporating yourself to connect with future clients? What can you share that is unique to you?
- Are you intentional about every part of your business- from the service to the colors to the smells and music?
- Do you KNOW why you do what you do and what you have to offer others? Do you feel confident that what you provide and share has meaning because it's coming from you?
- Are you a good story teller? And if not, who can you learn from to become one?
- Most importantly...are you having fun and being true to yourself because that is one of the best ways to keep the branding consistent and enjoyable for you to create.
Be sure to also check out my tips on getting to know your online audience and creating an experience your clients will love. Branding above all else is a feeling and it starts with how you feel about yourself and your business. I hope these tips help branding feel a little less overwhelming!