A Crash Course In Branding The Crap Out Of Your Business
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A Crash Course In Branding The Crap Out Of Your Business

You’ve got an idea and it’s a good one. It’s the idea. The kind of idea that’s going to change the world. Great! But, can you sell it? Don’t worry, we can help.

The recent Girlboss Rally in LA was jam packed with actionable advice on how to brand yourself and/or your company, and StartUp Studio was the place to be. Presented in partnership with Chromebook,it was a series of four workshops in which industry leaders shared what they know, what they’ve learned and what works for them—because the creators of today need information as much as they need nimble tools and capable products that understand their lives.

Those in attendance received an industry overview, delved into digital branding for creatives, and learned how to build a brand through community.

“What once was an industry reliant on television ads is now focused on social media and storytelling. Or to use a word we all know: Content.”

“The past five years has been kind of bananas in terms of the way the world has changed, in terms of forming brands,” said Lisa Clunie, co-founder and CEO of Joan—the creative agency that has worked with Netflix, General Mills, and Google to name a few. What once was an industry reliant on television ads is now focused on social media and storytelling. Or to use a word we all know: Content.

“You’ve probably heard a lot about content,” Clunie continued. “It feels like it’s the biggest buzzword about marketing right now. It’s, ‘Oh I make content,’ or ‘We built our brand with content. I think it’s very difficult to understand what the role of content is in building brands.”

Clunie explained that there are just as many people who believe that content made their brand as there are who believe they misspent money on creating it.

So, how do you make sure you’re spending money wisely on creating content for your brand that actually connects with people?

“I think the most important thing about building content is that it comes from the truth of who you are, what you do, and the value that you give to your audience, because content for content’s sake is disposable and unmemorable,” said Clunie explaining that content needs to be more than just entertaining; it needs to speak to the truth of your brand.

“Who are you, what are you, and what do you stand for?” Clunie advised asking yourself in order to find your truth. “Deciding what you stand for is probably the most important thing that you can do. If you are standing for something, you’ve found something distinctive that’s true about your brand, it really matters to people. Do not take your foot off the gas. That is such a common issue. You have to push into the gas.”

During her workshop titled “Digital Branding for Creatives,” Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin, co-founder and chief brand and digital officer of Summersalt, picked up on Clunie’s point about staying true to yourself.

Summersalt is a swimwear brand that describes itself as “designer swimwear without the designer price tag” and “Five times stronger (and cuter) than your ordinary suit.” And they do it all using recycled materials. A core brand value that Chamberlin said comes from her being true to herself.

“I’m trying my best,” she explained. “I drive an electric car. I’m not perfect by any means, but I know that consumerism isn’t going anywhere.” Which is why she said she felt like she was called to create a brand that’s working toward being fully sustainable. “I’m trying my little way to create a conscious brand that provides an incredible product for incredible women.”

Then, it becomes a matter of getting those core brand values across to the consumer.

Chamberlin explained that when it comes to building a business, it’s important to zero in on what she calls the sweet spot between business strategy and strong branding. Using a cake as an analogy for a business model she said that that the way your brand looks and feels should be an ingredient not the icing.

“Think about it as an ingredient, because that’s how you stand out and really connect with your customer,” she said.

Part of standing out is setting a tone or a mood. To help those in attendance better identify their brand’s mood, Chamberlin led a group activity using the Google Chromebook to create a moodboard.

“So, when we’re starting to create a brand moodboard, I always start with the sentence,” she said. “It might sound kinda weird, but I’ll start a mood statement with, ‘If Everlane had a baby with the South of France in the 1950s.’ That sounds weird but it gives you two really interesting points to start from. You can pull photography from Everlane, you can pull some photos of things from the South of France. Think striped umbrellas, think beautiful bathing suits, think rocky beaches, think beautiful Art Deco buildings.”

“Your ‘statement’ will serve as a jumping off point for creating a collection of things that inspire you and that feel like your brand.”

That statement will serve as a jumping off point for creating a collection of things that inspire you and that feel like your brand. “You might not know your brand colors yet, you might know not your brand typography yet, but creating that brand statement, and then that brand moodboard, are the first two steps to figuring who you want to be visually,” said Chamberlin.

As your collection of inspiration grows, you’ll start to notice patterns and that’s how you find your colors and your look.

Sonja Rasula, the co-founder and CEO of Unique Markets, Camp, and The Unique Space, a pop up marketplace for independent brands and artists, creative business conference, and office space in downtown LA, respectively, said that for her businesses aesthetics are incredibly important.

By creating, growing, and nurturing a community from The Unique Markets, she’s almost never had to spend any money on marketing for her other businesses.

“Everyone says, ‘the universe has your back’, but your community has every single part of you,” she shared. “The Unique Markets community was already so strong and so supportive, that when I said, ‘I’m doing a conference’, they all signed up. When I said, ‘I’m opening an office building’, they all took offices. So I’m very blessed, and it’s because of the community.”

Rasula had those in attendance use the Google Chromebooks to help them identify their community by creating a visual mind chart. But, you can do the early leg work at home.

“Create a list five people who are doing things that are very similar to you and your business.”

“Who are the people that are in your community currently?” Rasaula asked those in attendance to make a list of five people. “Not like the CEOs, not the people that you aspire, but people who’re in your lives right now, who’re doing what you are doing. People who you could actually go to coffee with.’”

Rasula said to start there because the first thing to do once you have that list is to send them an email. She told those at the rally to write, “‘I just went to Girlboss Rally. We’re starting a fucking tribe. Let’s do this,’” but that could easily be amended to “‘I just read an amazing article about the Girlboss Rally. We’re starting a goddamn community. Let’s do this.”

She then asked the Rally-goers to create a list five people who are doing things that are very similar to you and your business. “You can find these people at conferences like Girlboss Rally,” she explained. For those women, Rasula said to reach out and ask them to coffee. A community can be about friendship, but it’s about so much more. It’s about support and collaboration and ultimately sales.

Lastly, Rasula suggested making a list of the five people you would love to have on your board, have mentor you, and whom you aspire to network with.

Now, the only thing left to do is figure out what to wear to your future coffee date with Oprah.

To watch the full workshops, join the Girlboss Academy and you’ll get access to every single rally video we have.