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Your brand is more than just your logo and your font choice. It’s a bigger deal and it affects every single thing you do in your business.

That’s why we have Amanda Guerassio here with us to talk about what to do FIRST when developing your brand… and how it will guide you with your messaging, your offers, and even who you work with.


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This brand audit is a great first step for business owners to figure out their core brand and get an idea of whether their current visual branding needs to change to better reflect it.

Our transcript hasn't been proofed, so there will probably be some errors. Sorry about that!

Alyson Lex 0:02
branding is a huge topic. And it can be really confusing and a little heady for people who may not understand what really, genuinely goes into it. And I think being the non branding expert that I am, what happens is, you end up with something really disjointed, without that clarity, and your results are not what you want them to be. And so today we have branding expert, brand strategist, designer extraordinaire, Amanda Grazia with us, she is going to break down what goes into your core brand. And help us really understand this once and for all. Thanks for being here with us. Thank you for having me, guys. So as I mentioned, branding is a huge, broad topic. And so I'm going to ask you a huge broad question, which is, what is branding?

Unknown Speaker 0:57
Yeah, that's a good place to start. And I know a lot of people maybe automatically think, you know, it's your logo and your colors, and that is definitely part of it. Um, but the real picture is a lot bigger. It really encompasses kind of everything you're putting out there about your business, everything you want your business to be, I break it down into five areas. So there's the intangibles, which is your core brand, which we'll dive into deeper. In this episode. There's the visuals, which includes things like your logo and your color palette. There's the verbal, which is how you communicate, you know, the words, the vocabulary, the tone of voice, all that. There's the experiential, which is how you actually do business, like, what the experience is for your customer client doing business with you. And then there's reputational. So people, what they think of you and your business who haven't directly worked with you, you know, the reputation you built, all of those fall under branding. And really what you want all of those to be answering is why should they choose you? Like that's what you want your branding to answer? Why should they choose you? And that all starts with the core brand, because you have to figure out before you can shape your brand, you have to figure out what you want it to be. And that's where the core brand comes in.

Jennie Wright 2:17
Okay, so super big topic. Yes. Big, big topic. Yes. And I love these I love these five sort of things are the intangibles, the visuals, the verbal, the experiential, and the reputational. I want to ask you more about the core brand, or the intangibles. Can you tell me more about what that is? how that works? What it plays with?

Unknown Speaker 2:39
All the things? Yeah, absolutely. The core brand is where you want to start? Because this kind of steers all the rest of the pieces. So core brand is things like, you know, what is your vision for your business? Where do you want it to go? What are your goals for it? Why does it exist? Like, why are you here with this business? What is its purpose? It's also how do you want to be perceived? What are the qualities, you want to be known for the personality, you want to give off the vibe, you want to give off the values you want your business to stand for? And then it also gets into audience and market like, Who do you want to serve? What are their pain points? How can you best help them? How are you different from your competition? Like what is unique about you, your business or your offering? And what is the impact you want to make on the world. So kind of all these I call it the intangibles. Because that's, you know what it is, it's called kind of all of these like heady ideas that aren't real concrete in the real world, but they are so important to sit down and think about and figure out for your business.

Alyson Lex 3:42
I really, this is huge. And I just, I just literally typed out this list. And it's a huge list of things to consider. When we're thinking about all of that. I want to ask for people who are kind of the face of their business, this really kind of like overlaps into your stuff. It's not just your business brand. It's you. And so how do you differentiate between you and your business?

Unknown Speaker 4:15
That's a good question. One of one of the things you have to decide is where you want that line between like your personal self and your business self and that that's up to you. I mean, that's the beauty of owning your own business, you can make it be whatever you want. So decide where that line is and kind of hold that as a boundary for yourself. When you're, I like to think of my business is kind of a separate entity, it's much more outgoing than me it's much more I don't want to say serious but you know, definitely more professional than you'll probably see me in person. I'm much more goofy in person. So it doesn't have to be like exactly your personality, you know, grafted onto your business. You can shape it to be what you want, but again, It's just about deciding where that line is, between your personal self in your business and like I'm a solopreneur. I, it's just me in my business right now. But, you know, I have separate social media accounts, I have separate bank accounts, I have separate email addresses for personal and business stuff, because it is its own separate thing. So that's just my choice. That's how I want to do it. But yeah, it's just something you have to decide and think about.

Alyson Lex 5:25
Think for me, I do have separate social accounts, but also not really like, I have a Facebook page. But it's that's about the only separate one. I don't have two Instagrams. I don't have to Facebook profiles or anything like that. So it's okay for the brand to be my personality.

Unknown Speaker 5:45
Yeah, it's like, it's a personal brand. Like if your business name is just your name, like, it's just you are the business like this is especially common for like coaches and things like that, or speakers, where it's just their name, they are the brand. Yeah, that's totally fine. So again, it's just a decision you have to make what fits for you how introverted or extroverted? You are like what kind of separation you want. So

Jennie Wright 6:11
perfect. And that kind of leads me to ask when we're choosing between our personal brand or choosing between the business was the first step to figuring out the core brand. Yeah, to figuring out like, the the personal brand or choosing to separate them? How do we figure that out? You know, is should Alyson be should it be, you know, Alison, like the business, you know, rock your marketing? Or should it be Alyson Lex? Or how do we sort of figure that out whether or not we're choosing between the two, if that makes just have to say that

Alyson Lex 6:40
I love that you brought in the awful off of business name that I came up with, like, eight years ago, and LLC, and have regretted since about a year afterwards? Oh, no, thanks, Jenny.

Unknown Speaker 6:56
I don't want to say it should be one way or the other, because it'll depend on like you as the business owner and the kind of business you have. So really, you just need to sit down and think like, what do I want this to be? Like, for me part of that decision process was? Do I want to always be a solopreneur? Where it's just me, in which case, I could, you know, just keep it as my name and there'll be no problem? Or do I want to leave it open to possibly grow into more? You know, if I do you want to have like a studio and employees, your partners or something someday, then it would make sense to maybe not just be my name personally. So that was one of the considerations I used. So it'll be different for everybody. But the important part is just to sit down and think about it.

Alyson Lex 7:41
Really like that point that you have to think about the future as to whether you know, it's really hard to sell Alyson Lex. Yes. Your business? Yes, exact, great. Yeah. also hard to sell rock your marketing, because the name is not great. But Alright, so we're ready to go and develop this brand. What's step number one?

Unknown Speaker 8:05
Step number one, carve out some time, where you have some quiet, where you can actually really think and dive deep into all this. And I kind of ran through some of the ideas earlier, but whether you like look up, you know, some kind of like core brand worksheet, or you're working with a coach or a brand designer, or whatever, they're going to be some questions that we'll have to work through an answer. And so again, it starts with, you know, what do you want for your business? Your vision for it, why it exists? Its purpose, how do you want it to be perceived, like and answering all these questions is the first step. And that does take some time and some effort, you don't want to just kind of wing it or give kind of flip answers that you're not really thinking about. You want to make sure you're you're creating the business you want like what do you want in your business is really what you need to sit down and figure out first

Jennie Wright 8:59
thing people struggle with the whole What do you want for your business thing I know that I have in the past and it takes a lot of time. And I think we should throw in here that maybe it's a two day stay in an Airbnb in a location that is separate from you know, the normal day to day What do you think?

Alyson Lex 9:17
I think that's a great idea. What a wonderful idea.

Unknown Speaker 9:21
Yeah, no, business retreat or whatever you can manage to carve out some time to

Jennie Wright 9:27
not like we weren't talking about that off camera. But I you know, how do we take what we've created as our core brand, and then put it out in the world? Do we make a statement? Do we do a press release? Like our press releases even a thing anymore? I come from the corporate world that was always the thing.

Unknown Speaker 9:44
Like what do we do today? Ah, I'm here. What's the stuff? Yeah. So once you have the core brand kind of fleshed out and clarified and like you feel good about it, the next thing is to use it so you use it by applying it to your business decisions. So, you know, when you're looking at design pieces, for example, you want to say okay does do these colors do these fonts? Do they say what I want them to as far as like, you know, the personality I want to give off for my business or the qualities I want to give off for my business. So for example, if you pick, say eco friendly for one of the qualities you want to be known for, you're probably going to have some earthy colors in your color palette, probably heavy on the greens, maybe some blue and browns. When you go to like print pieces, or have packaging, you know, whatever, you might focus on having recycled paper or eco friendly inks, or you know, that cool seed paper that people can plant after they're done with your thing. You know, you might set aside part of your business profits to donate to, you know, earth friendly organizations. You know, there's so many ways this can trickle down into other areas of your business. But you have to know what you're aiming for first. So, there's that. And then for the audience part, like once you know who you want to work with, it really helps you go find them where they are, like, how can you find your audience, if you don't know like, who you're looking for, you know, it'll help you find, you know, which social media channels you should be spending your time on, it'll help you find speaking or podcast guest appearance events. If they're, you know, talking to your audience, it'll help you know how to talk to them, it'll, you know, inform your words and your copy and your messaging and your marketing. It'll help you conduct more relevant market research. Because you can make sure that people who are answering you know, your surveys or whatever, are actually part of the target group that you whose opinion you should care about for your business. So like all of these things, figuring out all those steps First, they trickle down into everything they they serve as like guidelines and guideposts for like which way you go in your business, basically,

Alyson Lex 12:01
you mentioned something in there that I want to just kind of touch on, because I'm a copywriter. So I always think about the messaging. And one of the things that I've really been working on lately is like these brand, not even brand, but I call it copy voice. So it's essentially brand voice, but it's just the way that we're approaching our copy. It's the personality that I'm putting into the copy. And I have my own little descriptors. I have the stern teacher, I have the big sister, I have the kind of grandpa around the mountain. Yeah, but that is important. Because when you identify that stuff, that's how you get the consistency.

Unknown Speaker 12:45
Exactly. Yes, yes. When you can't have consistency. If you don't have like, something, you know, to aim for. Again, like, you might have one thing one week and another thing another because you're just kind of throwing things together without any strategy or plan with the brand. The core brand is your planet is your guide. So that helps you be consistent across everything is great.

Jennie Wright 13:07
You said the magic word for me. My ears perk up and my eyes light up when I hear the word consistency. I will not make it out of this life. I swear without a tattoo that says it somewhere. I don't care if it's an invisible ink consistency. Oh, I love that word. Because it's the it's the driver. It's the thing that makes all the difference if we do it, like you know, and you've seen this and I have a previous life having rebranded a fortune 500 which was a huge task. Yeah. Massive task. And when I got there, the fortune 500 that I was working with was using a bitmap for their logo. Oh, that hurts my soul. Oh, yes. Oh, it hurts. Yeah, so um, and I was told very clearly by the by somebody in the in the organization that I wasn't allowed. That was the one thing I wasn't allowed to change. And I said, that's the one thing I'm changing for sure. So welcome to my world. And yeah, when we when we, when we look at this, though, and you've done rebranding, and you know, Allison's rebranded and I've rebranded. When do you know that you've outgrown your brand? Like how do you make that shift? And how do you identify it and go, Okay, I'm no longer going to be known as this. It's just not fitting for me. How do we how do we start making that shift? Because it kind of feels like it's you're, you're, you're, you're removing something almost like an identity or your you know, a snake shedding its skin? skin, you know, exactly like you get me Okay, you

Unknown Speaker 14:36
get me, help me? Um, yeah. So I mean, that's completely natural businesses, like people evolve over time. So even like, once you sit down and figure out your core brand, like, you know, today or this year, whatever, you're going to want to revisit it every so often, every once in a while just to, you know, see, does it still fit, do I need to tweak it? Do I need to completely start over? That's, that's fine. There's nothing wrong with it again. It's your business, you can make it whatever you want. So if something's not fitting, do something else. And for branding, the way to do this is to do a brand audit. So sit down, do those core brand exercises again, and then look at your current materials and say, Okay, do these things that I've been using to the still line up with where I want to go? You may need some help with that. It's one of the services I offer is a brand audit if you do need help with it. But yeah, but then you can see, okay, do I just need to tweak some things a little bit here and there? Like, maybe switch colors a little bit? Or do I need to, like, throw it all out and start over? So you just have to assess where you are? Basically, by doing that core brand exercise again,

Alyson Lex 15:45
I I'm thinking about the eco friendly part that you mentioned. Right? So if it wasn't part of my brand, five years ago, but it is now then I can begin to make the shift to more eco friendly peppers, or that kind of thing, because now I'm recognizing that it's important to me.

Unknown Speaker 16:10
Yeah, exactly. You can start phasing things in like that, for that particular quality, you may not need to change your visuals at all. But you can change things like you said, like the paper that you're printing on, or, you know, focus on working with vendors who prioritize sustainability or things like that. So there are changes you can make that don't require you to you know, get a new logo and redo all your copywriting and stuff like that. So it's just a matter of sitting down and saying, Okay, what has changed? In my business? What do I need to change to get it to line up.

Alyson Lex 16:44
And I think it's important, before I ask you how we can pick up one of those brand audits are where we can connect with you to just kind of mention that we don't necessarily want to get caught on the rebranding hamster wheel, where we just feel like we need to constantly redo it.

Unknown Speaker 17:02
And never make progress, right? Because if you're doing redoing it every like six months or one year, you're going to lose out on that consistency, because people aren't going to know, people aren't gonna be able to recognize you like recognition, consistency, builds recognition, recognition builds trust. So if you're changing everything up too often, you're losing out on that. So I would say that soon as you want to try it, like think about maybe rebrand is every like two years, I'd say two years is probably the minimum to give it before you like think, oh, maybe this isn't working or doesn't fit anymore, but probably not any sooner than that.

Alyson Lex 17:41
I like that, because that lets you get some progress done before you dive back in. Yeah. I mean, I cannot thank you enough for this information you've really given us a lot to think about. And I know that you have those five steps, we only did the deep dive into one. So if somebody is interested in learning more about the others, where can they reach out to you?

Unknown Speaker 18:02
Yeah, email is great. It's Amanda, Studio You can also find me on LinkedIn, or Instagram, or just visit my website, there's information, there are ways to reach me there, my services are there. So any of those are great.

Jennie Wright 18:19
And we'll make sure to include that in the show notes. If you go to System to Look for Amanda's episode, you'll have everything listed there. We'll make sure that you get all of that access. Amanda, I just want to take a second to say thank you so much. This has been really informative. I love talking about this subject. Even though part of me also dreads talking about the subject. Because it feels like now you have stuff on your to do list like Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So yeah, Alison and I are like, we need to look at this. And actually, right as we're recording this, Alison and I are in a bit of a rebrand in terms of our website for the System to THRIVE podcast. And we're, you know, we're trying to work around the fact that by now Alison, and I should have had like a joint photoshoot that with COVID, she couldn't get across the border. And other photographers moved to like a different provinces. And like all the things that we're going to have to figure this out, so we're literally still doing selfies, and then using like a mash up to like, bring them together anyways, long story. But branding is a thing, we're making it happen. And this is just a really great conversation to sort of highlight how important it is. And we've got a couple takeaways. I these are the highlights that Allison and I feel from the episode are things that people really need to focus on. My first one is a lot of people think that branding is the logos and the colors. And yes, it's maybe part of it, but it's not part of the it's, there's a bigger picture to look at. And remember that there's so much more to your brand. It's that front facing it's how you are present. It's all the things it's not necessarily the fact that you is Montserrat over open songs. There's so much more to it, and that people don't really necessarily think about So take some perspective.

Alyson Lex 20:03
I second that takeaway. I, when I had my logo, I wanted a logo done. And I ended up going through a brand questionnaire and right answer a lot of these questions. Yes. Good. Oh, yes, to get out. I mean, it feels so me and exactly how I want to be represented. So a good takeaway Johnny, I liked when you're choosing whether to brand yourself as a business or a solo or personal or whatever, really consider what you want the business to be in the future. And it's hard to think about that stuff sometimes. But think five or 10 years down the road and what you want it to look like or even further, maybe you want to sell it one day, that's gonna affect how you brand yourself as well.

Jennie Wright 20:48
Yes, it will. Absolutely. And I also feel that it doesn't necessarily have to be completely personally grafted onto your business, like, it doesn't have to be, you know, you don't have to lean in too far to something that doesn't feel comfortable to you, or you don't have to, you know, choose something that's not really into what you are. At the same time. This is where Amanda was saying that, you know, she's really goofy with people, you know, people personally know that the front facing band is a little bit more personal professional. And I feel into that, like, I can be pretty goofy too. But I really do keep it professional. On the way I like things to look. Right? So you can shape it however you want. It's your business. It's your playdough. Mix it up, smoosh it up, make some pizza out of it, have a good time, enjoy it, and then make sure it fits how you want to be perceived in the world. I

Unknown Speaker 21:37
think that's a good way to look at it. Yeah, I mean, absolutely. What is the point of owning your own business if you're not enjoying it and making it what you want? Like this is exactly that. So

Alyson Lex 21:46
I love that. Yes. And even though you don't want to get on the rebranding hamster wheel over and over again, make sure that when you do this, you carve out the time you need to do it right. Don't just do it surface level, dive in there deep, and get into what you want your brand and your business and everything to be. And it's okay, if you outgrow it. I did. Yeah, I reply three times. Exactly. So spend the time to do it right. And don't feel like it's the only time you get to do whatever.

Jennie Wright 22:26
Absolutely. And I just want to say thanks again, Amanda, for taking part in the episode. Really appreciate your time and everything that you've shared. It's been really, really wonderful. Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. Absolutely. And if you haven't already checked out the podcast and if you haven't already connected with us, make sure you're following us or sharing or telling all your friends about it. Head on over to System to THRIVE comm to check it out, or wherever you're listening to podcasts. We'd love to continue to provide you guys with as much possible awesome information as we possibly can. Thanks so much for listening. We'll be back again soon answering another big question.



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