Let Your Site Do the Talking: 5 Ways to Successfully Convey Your Brand Via Your Website

Personal + Professional Branding

When it comes to your brand online, your website is at the forefront. In many cases, it's a person's first interaction with your brand. As such, it's incredibly important that your website represents your brand well. After all, with your website speaking for you, don't you want it to be making a good first impression?

Here are five ways to successfully convey your brand via your website.

1. Choose your colors wisely

Every color has certain moods attached to it, which means it plays a big part in how your brand is perceived. Using the wrong choice in colors can negatively affect how others see your brand.

For example, if you have a natural foods company and use red in your branding, how do you think that would come across? Red is not a color people associate with nature and freshness. Instead, it is seen as passionate, assertive, and (sometimes) angry. Not exactly the connotation you want with your natural food brand, right?

Think about your brand's values and choose colors that correspond. If you want to come across as cheerful and friendly, orange and yellow are good choices. Blue is seen as trustworthy and calming, while purple is associated with luxury and wealth. Your choice in colors can help you get your values across -- or, choosing ones that evoke a different feeling can can confuse your audience.

2. Use appropriate fonts

Every font has a personality, and like your site's color palette, it's important to choose fonts whose personality matches that of your brand. The fonts used on your site in conjunction with your color palette will have an impact in making an impression on your site's visitors.

Are you looking to come across as trustworthy and professional? Then keeping it simple with a serif or sans-serif font is the way to go. If your site caters to children, then a fun, whimsical font might be a better choice. Keep your audience in mind and use fonts that are geared towards them as well as the values you want to present.

When in doubt, choose a serif or sans-serif font. They're simple and can be used in a variety of circumstances. In fact, it’s wise to use them for your site's body copy anyway since they're easy to read. Any other fonts you choose are better suited as accents, such as headings, due to readability.

3. Select photos that reflect your brand

The photos displayed on your site can really support your brand if done right. If not, like colors and fonts, they can send the wrong message.

Choose a photo aesthetic that reflects your brand. Yes, just like how you chose your site's colors and fonts, your choice in photography should represent your brand. A rustic brand should include images that are warm, inviting, and of course, rustic. Light, airy images would look out of place here, as would dark and moody photos.

Besides the style of the photos you use, one other important thing to keep in mind is to use high-quality images. Regardless of your brand's values, using low-quality images will make you look like an amateur. Images typically take up a large amount of space on a site, so it's crucial that they make a good impression. Using grainy, poorly lit images won't make a good one.

4. Use your voice

The tone you use in your site's copy is just as important as aesthetics in conveying your brand on your site. Your brand is composed of everything you put out there, whether it be visuals, products, or content. If your words and imagery don't match up, your brand won't be as strong as it could be.

If your brand's audience is children, you probably won't be using large words and very formal language. In contrast, if your brand is professional, you won't be using chat speak. Regardless of how you talk, it's important to really think about the words you're using for your brand. Channel your brand's values and audience when speaking for it.

Every little spot on your site is an opportunity to let your voice shine through, so don't just think in terms of paragraphs and blog posts. Think of the small details that make up your site.

That small little button on your sidebar? That's a great place to showcase your voice. Think of the difference between "contact us" and "get in touch." Both essentially mean the same thing, but one is a lot more formal while the other is friendlier.

5. Be consistent

Perhaps the most important aspect in branding your site is to be consistent. Everything from your site's fonts, colors, and photos to the tone used in your site's copy should inspire the same feelings.

That means picking a color palette and sticking with it. Don't introduce new colors where they're not necessary. Pick 2-3 fonts and use them throughout your site. Choose a photography aesthetic and make sure all the photos on your site align with it. Use the same tone in all your site copy.

Keeping everything consistent helps your brand remain cohesive and therefore, memorable, which is key to staying top of mind for your customers and clients.

Let your website do the talking

Your website is often your brand’s first impression on potential clients, customers, and readers. With consistent and on-point colors, fonts, photos, and tone, it’ll pave the way for your audience to get to know you and your business how you want them to.

To Be or Not To Be… Your Own Brand

Personal + Professional Branding

Whether you are establishing your first brand or are thinking it might be time to reposition your brand, we, as solopreneurs, have a choice of using our own name and being our brand, or creating a unique name. Both have strong upsides – you just need to discover which positives you can make the most of in your business. Let’s lay them out.

Upsides to being your own brand

1. Natural passion with unlimited growth

You already live what you’re passionate about. If you started your business out of your own interests, using your name brings authentic personality. You don’t have to try to be consistent or on point when you are your brand. You already know, in your gut, if it’s you. In addition, as your offerings (products/services) expand in subject matter, you aren’t limited by a creative name that’s descriptive of a certain expertise. Using your own name allows you to share what you love and be what you love.

2. Instant branding

Only you can be you. You don’t have to worry about trying to create a brand that stands out or differentiates enough from the competition. You won’t have to try to tweak one thing here or there to be “just different enough.” There is only one you. You are already unique. As you are creating your brand under your name, you can be proud of the individuality and distinctiveness built in.

3. Easy communication

This is such a pragmatic reason to be your own brand, but it’s a reality and something to consider. If you are your brand, it’s very easy for people to confidently contact you by name. However, if you are functioning under a creative name, your first name might not be immediately obvious. This is especially true if your brand name happens to sound like or play off another person’s name. If you are using a creative, unique name, make sure your real, personal name is used often throughout your brand content and readily available.

Upsides to not being your own brand

1. Provide context

While your name is specific to you, it doesn’t shed light on exactly what you offer or sell. Your unique brand name can allude to, or fully describe, what your brand is about. There is so much competition and noise out there –- a brand that can tell its own story in a name can sometimes gain the upper hand.

2. Common vs. original

In a world of domain names and social media accounts, we can’t all be “JohnDoe” or “MarySmith.” And some of us just have those names. (My maiden name ensured that there was always a name twin in any large group I was in.) By creating a unique name for your brand (so long as you’ve researched to make sure it’s not already taken), you get around all of that and are able to nab the domain and social media names you want.

3. Ready for (team) expansion

When your name is your brand and your brand is you, it can potentially be limiting in the future. As you expand your services or seek to bring on new employees, you may start to feel like your brand name is limiting. Of course, plenty of big name brands and celebrities have done it with ease (cough, Marie Forleo, cough) – but if you anticipate wanting to distance yourself from your brand and let your brand be emblematic of your employees, you may want to think today about choosing a creative name that allows for expansion.

“This above all, to thine ownself be true…”

Whichever direction you choose, make sure it feels natural and comfortable to you. Whether it’s your own name or a creative one, it’s a name you will be using often –- to represent you and your business. If it feels forced or just isn’t working, keep looking. Naming isn’t easy, but when you find the right name, all the authentic pieces of your brand will come together. And after all, “a rose by any other name is just as sweet,” but that’s a different play.

What road did you take for your brand -- and what have you found to be the pros + cons?

3 Forgotten Aspects of Your Solo Biz Brand That Make a Difference

Personal + Professional Branding

What’s your “thing?”

Your little quirks. The little things that make you, you.

Everybody has one. Or two, or a dozen. (Some people are pretty quirky.)

But those quirks? They’re one of the most important parts of your brand. Someone else may choose similar brand colors. Or work in the same niche. But no one else has the same combination of quirks.

They’re the one true part of your brand that’s unlike any other, and also happen to be the most humanizing aspect. So why are they thrown onto the back burner so quickly when it comes to strategy?

These three brand components may not be immediately noticeable on someone’s first visit to your site, much like your tagline or logo is, but they’re the real way to stand out. So start paying attention.

1. Your history

Your experiences made you who you are today. Yeah, the future’s what matters, but that’s shaped by the past. All those contemplative voiceovers at the end of teen movies about not being defined by the past are wrong… kind of.

The past does matter, but you can control how it defines you when it comes to your brand.

How do you describe your history? On your about page, when you’re pitching new clients or partners -- what do you say?

Why’s your story unique? Maybe your most successful business tactic is something the rest of your industry considers a joke (AltaVista SEO?). Maybe you have a unique hobby or anecdote you can talk about.

Work it into your elevator pitch. It doesn’t even necessarily need to be related to business. Wouldn’t you remember if someone you met in a Twitter chat is currently sailing around the world? The goal here is to be recognized and remembered.

2. Your words

Everyone has their favorite words. I went through such an ‘awesomesauce’ phase a year ago. It was all over my content without me even realizing it. It seeped into my brand.

My brand copy is also super conversational, sarcastic, and riddled with pop culture references and “dad jokes”, because that’s just how I talk. And I’m myself in my copy, so those quirks show up to the party.

Maybe it’s a stylistic thing: asking rhetorical questions; using in-depth descriptions; or Joanna Wiebe and her stance on cursing (which I love).

Or perhaps it’s specific words. Think Joey Tribbiani and “how you doin?” Or having a phrase you end every post and email with. (Like Elizabeth Gilbert and “Onward”.)

It’s not an official tagline. Think of it as your brand vocabulary: it’s something people can expect to come out of your mouth (or keyboard).

Once you’ve identified it, run with it. Make sure to include the words, phrase, or style all over, especially where it’ll get noticed most: your homepage, email opt-ins, and slogans.

3. Your interests

One Woman Shop member Jessica Lawlor recently asked “what makes your eyes light up?”

Think about your biggest passions, where you’re excited and happy and ambitious. That stuff needs to be part of your brand. Seriously, good luck finding staying power without it.

“Think about your passions - that stuff needs to be incorporated into your brand.”

Why? Because when you’re running your own business, it’s so important that it’s filled with as much excitement, happiness, and ambition as possible, so that you can sustain the hard work.

So take what you love outside your biz and learn how to incorporate it. For Jess, that’s yoga. It’s part of her brand. For me, it’s comedy and television. Countless references are in the copy I use to represent my business. Sometimes, entire posts are dedicated to it.

It may seem frivolous, but it builds a connection between you and your audience. Just last week, a blog reader sent me a message asking for book and movie recommendations for her weekend. That’s one touchpoint I wouldn’t have had with her if I’d kept things strictly business.

You want to present yourself authentically, and that means getting personal and sharing non-business parts of your life.

Brand yourself

What’s one thing all of the above opportunities have in common? They’re not traditional things you think of when it comes to branding your website, or your business cards, or your products.

That’s because they’re ways to brand yourself. Because your business is more than your marketing assets. For a solo biz, your business is literally you.

Tell me: what’s a quirk, a word, or a passion you can incorporate into your brand to connect with your audience?

5 Branding Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from the Kardashians

Personal + Professional Branding

Whether you love them or hate them, when it comes to the Kardashians, three things are probably true:

  • You feel strongly about them, one way or another.
  • You can probably name at least three of them.
  • You’re likely able to recite five of their news story headlines. (Yes, that includes you too, haters – don’t pretend you don’t know the stories relating to ‘Break the Internet’ and ‘Married for 72 Days’!)

No matter where you stand on the divisive cast of characters, you can’t argue that their branding game is on point. And when it comes to your business, I’ll bet you’d want the three above statements to be true to your brand’s target audience as well. Entrepreneurs and small business owners alike can learn from these principles that have helped the Kardashians become one of America’s most recognizable brands:

1. Take lemons and turn them into lemonade

A former boss of mine always used to say that every challenge is an opportunity to learn and grow. The Kardashians have certainly taken this mindset to heart, always spinning negatives into opportunities. What did Kim do when her private tapes leaked online? She used it to her advantage to build an empire. How did Khloe react to all the negative comments about being the ‘chubby’ sister? She became the fittest sister of the group. As a business leader, there are always going to be challenges that could drag you down, but take an opportunist attitude and learn from seemingly negative situations and use them to your brand’s advantage. Become that business that always sees the glass as half full and make every situation work for you.

2. Define what you want to be known for

Over the top. Always primped and polished. Curve central. Those are three traits that are undeniably associated with Miss Kimmy K herself. She wants to be known for that famous derriere, hence moves like the infamous cover shot for Paper magazine’s winter 2014 cover. She wants to be known for her fashion-forwardness, hence never leaving a hotel with as much as a single strand out of place. Kim has defined her brand personality’s characteristics and lives them every day. When thinking about both your personal and your business brand, clearly define how you want them to be perceived and always execute accordingly.

3. Stay true to your brand’s foundation

Whether they’re developing makeup, kids’ clothing, apps, retail stores or blow dryers (yes, seriously), every product slapped with the Kardashian name on it will share certain common traits: sleek, aspirational and on-trend. There’s no saying that your brand has to stay within one niche category, but any brand extensions you develop as a business owner must remain in line with the overall brand story and perception to maintain recognition with your target consumers.

4. Consistency is key

Remember before Kimye was a thing, Kim’s style was all over the place? Since pairing up with her famous rapper hubby, she’s evolved to a mostly monochromatic, streamlined and smile-free bodycon style. We’d be shocked if we ever saw Mrs. West show up on a red carpet in a pink princess-style dress. In business, your customers will grow to expect certain elements from your brand – a consistent tone of language, a specific colour palette, blog posts on a specific day, even a signature font. Deliver a constant and stable brand experience for your customers so they become familiar and comfortable with what they can expect from you.

5. On the other hand, don't be afraid to experiment + evolve

While maintaining consistency is a staple for the majority of brands, what if your brand personality is known for constantly experimenting? Looking no further than the youngest of the K-sisters, Kylie Jenner. Kylie brands herself as the chameleon of the group, always playing with a rainbow of hair colours, lengths and styles. If something doesn’t work, she’s okay with hitting the reset button and trying something new. Evolution is a staple of the Kylie brand, while still staying in line with the overall family brand positioning of being sleek, aspirational and on-trend.

While not all of us may be interested keeping up with the Kardashians and their publicity-driven family antics, as business owners we can all most definitely take a page from their book of branding.

3 Effortless Steps to Infuse Personality Into Your Brand

Absorbed. Connected. Engaged.

These are three things we all want our audience to feel when they read our website.

And the way to allow them to feel all of this? It comes down to your brand personality: the words you use, the images you share and the colours that tie it all together.

But what if, when it comes to personality, your website just… falls short?

Read on. Here, I’ll go into the detail of pinpointing exactly what your brand personality is, and how to use it effectively to attract, engage and connect.

1. Know your audience

Your brand will stand for nothing if it doesn’t connect with your audience.

Which is why it’s important to understand who they are, so you can tailor your messaging to them specifically.

Here’s an exercise that’ll help you understand them:

  1. Look at all the interactions you have with your audience: blog post comments, emails, social media interactions, call notes, etc.
  2. Go to sites your audience engages with that you might not (think forums like reddit.com, news sites, other sites in your niche) and make a list of the questions they ask, advice they want, struggles they detail.
  3. Write down what personality traits you notice, their profession, demographics, etc.

To organize your findings, create a spreadsheet with the following headings and copy and paste the relevant text you found in the steps above into each section:

  1. Problem/Struggles - What specific issues are they writing about? (for example, I don’t know how to start a Facebook group; Creating a header for my website’s a nightmare! or I have too many business ideas and don’t know which one to choose!)
  2. Desired solutions - Note those sentences that start with phrases like:  I want help with …, I really want someone to…, I wish I could…
  3. Service or post ideas - Using the text in the above two sections, write all the ideas you now have for services you could offer, or posts you could write, that help solve the problems your audience is struggling with.
  4. Demographic - In this section, write any details you find about their personalities/lives - age, location, cultural interests - anything that helps you define which demographic categories the majority of your audience falls into.

For your copy, the table you populated above is a goldmine of ideas. What patterns do you notice in the kinds of struggles they discuss? What pain points have you identified that you can you address as part of headlines, opening lines or sales copy? Also, what ideas do you have for blog posts, services and products as a result?

2. Simplify the complex

Your personality is yours and yours alone, but it’s never simple. With a personality (and history) that’s complex, how do you simplify this down to core messages that represent your brand and resonate with your target audience you’ve worked so hard to get to know?

The key to brand consistency is to repeat certain, relevant messages, so they stick in the minds of your audience and become associated with you and your brand.

You don’t have to share every detail. To figure out which parts of your personality are significant to share (and worthy of repetition), answer these questions:

  • What life experiences connect you with others? What difficulties have you experienced, and what risks have you taken (or not taken)?
  • What are your beliefs? What do you stand for?
  • What are your cultural influences?

Decide which stories/anecdotes are part of your bigger message, and most significant to the audience you most want to connect with. Start including these in your marketing messages.

From there, pinpoint your brand vocabulary down even further by paying attention to the words you use in your everyday communication. Try this exercise:

Keep a notebook (or app like Evernote) with you for a week and notice the words you use. Which ones do you use repeatedly? Which ones feel satisfying to say?

Jot these down.

Next, take a page on your website, or a blog post you’ve written, and edit it with the words and stories you noted. Slowly edit your work over time, and infuse your brand vocabulary into new work you create. Over time, with enough repetition of these words, your brand personality will start to shine.

Here are some examples where personality branding with consistent messaging and vocabulary works swimmingly:

Ashley Ambirge: Talks about life in Costa Rica and her experiences as an entrepreneur with a sarcastic and ever-entertaining tone. This connects her to her audience who are entrepreneurs (or aspiring to be) that enjoy the freedom that travel brings and the snarkiness of someone who tells it like it is. Her consistent message: smart businesses don’t do boring.

Danielle LaPorte: Her social media and blog updates consistently mention her spiritual side, her dog and her son. Is it a coincidence that her audience have these things in common with her? I think not. Her consistent message: it all gets back to desire.

Ramit Sethi: His audience largely consists of 20-30 year old men, so Ramit references his college scholarship applications, the bi-coastal life he lives and the fun he’s having in New York. His audience both relates to his past and wants his present to be their future. His consistent message: I will teach you to be rich.

How will you use the significant pieces of who you are to build consistency in your messaging and connect with your tribe? (Editor’s note: All three of these examples ended up on our 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs list for a reason!)

3. Try something different

If writing isn’t your thing, find what medium is.

Whether it’s videos, podcasting, infographics, photos – find something that both you and your audience are comfortable with, that genuinely reflects your personality.

To discover which medium works best for your business, try these ideas:

  • Are you confident on camera? Rather than writing your blog posts, or having a PDF download for a teaching document, record videos instead. Don’t worry about “wowing” with technology in the beginning - get some videos out there and see how your audience reacts.
  • Do you interview experts as part of your business? Record the interviews and offer replays using voice alone - but don’t hesitate to offer the transcript for those who prefer to read.
  • Change text documents to infographics to appeal to visual learners.

What other interests do you have that you can bring into your business? For example, if you’re into photography but your business is unrelated, use your own photographs with text overlays as images on your site. It beats paying for them, amIright?

Being creative takes the limits away from how you present your material.

Branding takes less investment than you may think...

We often look at personality-driven brands and assume some huge branding exercise went into creating the brand we see today. While that is, indeed, sometimes the case, to create a brand around your personality doesn’t always require that level of investment. In fact, what the owners of brands like Ash Ambirge, Danielle LaPorte, and Ramit Sethi have done is decided to use their unique selling point - themselves - to differentiate their brands in the market.

In turn? This has meant their audience is always absorbed, connected and engaged.

Now, I’m curious: What aspects of your personality do you infuse in your writing to attract the kind of audience you most want to engage? Tell me below.

3 Types of Events Solopreneurs Can Organize to Grow Their Brand

Events are one of the most effective ways to build brand loyalty and trust - but are sadly underutilized by solopreneurs. Since most business nowadays is conducted online, it makes sense that focusing on growing your online brand is important (and crucial to targeting a wider, global audience). However, there is unappreciated value in taking your marketing strategy offline to give your customers a face-to-face interaction with your brand.

Hosting an event doesn't have to be a big undertaking. Run your business alone and don't have a lot of time or a massive budget? Here are three simple events that will connect you with your audience and grow your brand, while achieving the following objectives:

Objective 1: Position Yourself as an Industry Leader

The Showcase Event

What better way to advertise your business than to put your amazing skills on display for your audience? Whether you are an accountant, digital marketer, interior designer or business coach, rather than just organising an online webinar, deliver your information in a face-to-face workshop for clients and subscribers in your local area.

How To Organise It
Venue: From your living room to a community centre, or a local cafe to a co-working space, a showcase event can be hosted anywhere. Check your local area specifically for venues for entrepreneurs to hold events and use space flexibly at a minimal cost. (We recommend BHive here in London; they have beautiful rooms and facilities specifically for female solopreneurs!)

Guest List: Limit your guest list to 5-20 attendees for maximum interaction. Advertise the event on your website, to your list, and via your social networks. Create a listing on Eventbrite or Meetup, where you’ll likely garner some new audience members. Limiting registrations also gives you the opportunity to create a waiting list, effectively growing your email subscriber list with people who are interested in what you have to offer. Win, win!

Sample Event Itinerary:

  • Guest Arrivals: 5-10 mins
  • Icebreaker: 10-15 mins
  • Presentation/Showcase: 20-30 mins
  • Q&As: 10-15 mins
  • Group Exercise/Interactive Activity (relate it to what you’ve presented): 20-25 mins
  • Thank you/Closing (use this time to upsell a service or product, if applicable): 5 mins
  • Mingle: 15-20 mins
  • Departures

Total Time: 1.5 - 2 hrs

Helpful tips: ​Get your branding in the room - a pop up banner, table decorations, etc. Provide some sort of branded literature or giveaway your guests can take home. Also, make sure you provide refreshments!

Bonus option: You don't have to do everything - get a guest speaker to come in and speak about a related topic in your industry that your clients would benefit from.

Objective 2: Boost Customer Engagement

The Insider Event

The Insider Event is a great way to get your customers to engage with a new project or service - such as an ebook, printed book, or e-course.

For example, so many e-courses available today offer exclusive access to a private Facebook group or Google+ hangout for members. Why not take it offline in your local area? Offer a special meetup event where you can go over course materials or bonus materials and go into things in more depth. It doesn't have to be complicated, but your students will automatically feel like VIPs, and they will be able to connect with you directly on the material you've created - creating a super engaged customer base.

How to Organise It
Venue: The venues mentioned above will work just fine for this type of event, too.

Guest List: Invite those customers who bought your e-course, book or service. The size of the event will depend on who lives in the area and the number of people enrolled.

Sample Event Itinerary: This one really depends on the type of product or service you are delivering. If you are selling an e-course and organising a post-course celebration meetup, make it festive and get your students to give feedback. Here is an example Insider Event itinerary for an in-depth review of a module in an e-course or e-book:

  • Meet and greet: 10 mins
  • Introductions/icebreaker activity: 10 - 20 mins (depending on the number of guests)
  • Presentation/review of module: 20 - 30 mins (depending on the content)
  • Q&As: 15 - 20 mins
  • Individual and/or group exercises: 20 - 30 mins
  • Regroup, analysis and lessons learned: 10 - 20 mins
  • Thank you/closing: 5 mins
  • Mingle: 15 - 20 mins
  • Departures

Total Time: 1.5 - 2.5 hrs

Helpful tips: ​Create a recording of your in-person event so that you can post it online for non-local participants who couldn't attend. Better yet, provide resources for them to host local meetups near them related to your book or course!

Bonus option: Extend your offering, course or service beyond its end date by making these in-person meetups a regular thing.

Objective 3: Establish Interest

The Networking Event

The Networking Event is a staple for any business, no matter the industry. Bring like-minded people together around your brand and services, and give them the opportunity to mingle and network amongst each other.

How to Organise It
Venue: Have a favourite pub or cafe in your local area? Reserve a few tables and hold the event there - it’s a relaxed environment where people can easily come and go.

Guest List: Invite your database of locals. Similar to the Showcase Event, advertise the event on Eventbrite or Meetup. Also consider running a quick Google search for “local event calendars” where you can submit.

Sample Event Itinerary:

  • Meet and greet: 15 mins
  • Welcome/Introduction: 5 mins
  • Presentation: 20-30 mins
  • Freestyle Networking: 30-45 mins
  • Departures

Total Time: 1 - 1.5 hrs

Helpful tips: Invite your attendees to bring a guest(s). During the event, collect everyone's business cards/contact details by holding a raffle or giveaway, and grow your list in the process. Again, be sure to include a little, branded takeaway for everyone (pens, decals, you name it!).

Bonus option: Collaborate! Co-host a networking event with another related solopreneur in your area - you can share the costs, expand your network, and promote your services to a whole new captive audience.

Grow your brand -- offline

These are just a few examples of different events that you can organise and that will get your audience to connect with your brand. Remember: start small, keep it simple, and always inject your brand’s unique personality into your events.

One Woman Shops: what type of event have you hosted, or do you hope to host? Tell us in the comments below.