You’ve probably been told to be sure your colors, fonts, and graphic symbols need to be consistent. So you choose a color palette, an image style, a set of fonts and more.
If you go deeper you won’t just choose the visual components. You’ll ask, “Are my choices consistent with my brand?”
For example, if you want to be known for excitement and intrigue, would you want to use pastel colors? Once I worked with a lawyer who needed some online content to build her practice. Clients hired her when they needed a tough, tenacious litigator who could be their fierce advocate in the courtroom. When I asked her to choose some websites for inspiration, she listed websites designed for spas and fashion — businesses targeting women in a playful, feminine way.
What she needed was an authoritative, confident website. Her clients were less concerned with her femininity than with her ability to win cases.
The copy needed to communicate her strength and commitment. Her voice would be authoritative but not arrogant…although sometimes it’s okay to err on the side of arrogance.
Many branding experts and copywriters will get what we’ve talked about so far. But there’s a missing component: a story to highlight your most important brand component.
This lawyer needed a story that would demonstrate her mental toughness. She’d been advised to share a story about her own struggles; for instance, she worked as a bartender and part-time legal secretary to put herself through law school.
But when you’re an independent professional or solopreneur, you are the brand. Your story communicates the essence of your brand — not just your style and personality but your expertise and points of differentiation.
Bringing up references to bartending and office work would distract her own prospects. They don’t necessarily want to see her in those roles. They want her to be a hero who saves people like them.
So what could she do?
Here is one example, from a story I heard at a networking meeting:
Judy, a criminal defense lawyer got a call from Richard, a bank officer. Richard had just received a surprise visit from federal investigators. He wasn’t concerned. He knew he was innocent. But his wife, Marlene, was also a lawyer. She immediately told Richard, “Get a lawyer – now.”
Judy began working with government officials to find out why they were visiting Richard. She made calls to insiders she knew so she could identify exactly how the investigation got started. And she knew exactly how to make a convincing case that would encourage the officials that they were wasting their time.
“It’s absolutely critical to avoid getting indicted,” Judy explains when she tells the story. “If you can get to the investigators early, you avoid a lot of misery — not to mention legal fees.”
Judy’s story works on several levels. She shows what she does. She lets her audience know when they might need a lawyer. She shows the importance of choosing a lawyer who’s experienced and who knows the ropes.
If you’re writing a website or sales letter, often a key story (and sometimes two stories) will help you identify exactly what you need to differentiate yourself. A brand-boosting story can be the missing piece you need to complete your project.
If you’d like to move a project from the “under construction” stage to the “producing revenue” stage, just one 90-minute consultation might be the answer. You might need to plan a website, get more sizzle into a sales letter, strengthen your business message or get answers to half a dozen clients. I have some openings remaining this month, before I head off on vacation. Check it out here.