In the third part of “The In Between” series, we will discuss the honeymoon stage of your business.
I’m going to start and wrap things up with the best advice I’ve ever received in regards to business and life overall.
This initially was something that I didn’t fully understand nor how to apply it properly. I learned the hard way, exactly what this means and why it’s one of the most important things to utilize in your everyday life. Because of this, I have pulled together a few key points to help you implement into your everyday life so you stay top of your game, professionally and personally.
In The Beginning: When You Want it so Bad You Can’t Sleep we discussed how to hone in on the idea that started stealing your zzz’s and telling you that you could do more than just average. You committed to moving forward to see this a-maze-ing idea, spent some time on The Lull and Dull, even began telling all your closest friends.
Everyone loves your soon-to-be big money making plan like a frat house loves free kegs. And just like that, boom. You’ve began storing up fuel for your fire and spending your nights pondering over something beautiful. You’ve moved into the development phase. Researching, really creating a brand is my favorite part. It’s the very first time you really get to play by your own rules, answer to yourself and make Pintrest boards of inspirations filled with all the things that you’ve been ogling for the past years while counting down the clock at your 9-5.
From a creative’s perspective, this is THE BEST part of taking your dream to the chopping block. The honeymoon stage of brand building is where the kindling for the fire is gathered and where you’ll get the backup logs to store for those long, hard, cold nights filled with downtime and disappointments. Don’t fret, disappointment, rejection and pushback are all part of the game of growth but this is why it is vital that you store up some of the highs for those times filled with lows to keep you level headed and focused on the end goal in mind.
The honeymoon phase is a cycle of decision making, brainstorming and tests of commitment. During this time, you need to carefully balance spending time in isolation and selectively incorporating outside inputs. Who and what you allow to influence your perspective is important, you are the company you keep so the saying goes, so choose wisely. Find a few people to consult in who believe in your dream. They should offer constructive criticism, help lead you in the right direction, lift you up when you’re feeling overwhelmed and get you back on track when you’re derailing or being pulled in every direction.
As you enter the honeymoon phase, here’s some key things to consider that will start you off in the right direction, keep you grounded and remind you why you need to store up highs to get you through the lows that will come throughout the lifetime and growth of your idea from conception to a profitable, thriving business.
The In Between: Determine your Brand
As we briefly discussed in The Lull and Dull, defining your brand is key. This begins with an idea and mood board and grows into a brand identity deck, messaging and the voice you create through your digital and print media and the people you collaborate with internal and externally. It takes a bit of time to nail down and honestly, it will change (slightly) over the course of time but should remain consistent throughout the growth of your brand. But the foundational elements should be set and built from there. When you’re building your brand focus on: consistency, font, color and voice. Everything else will evolve over time from the types of images or content you put out to the products and services that you offer.
- Spend some time researching competitor brands within your market to see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Take notes of what you like and think about how you can be slightly different to stand out amongst the masses.
- Choose a font and color scheme. If design is not your forte, find a friend or hire a designer who can help you with this. As unimportant as this may seem, it’s important. Over time, your brand will grow and expand but the one thing outside of customer service that will keep a consumer connected with the brand is the logo, font and color consistency. These are things that can evolve but you want to be strategic in any transformation of these foundational elements as this is what gives your brand it’s characteristics.
- Build a voice. This is something that comes with unique talent, a lot of work and tireless, consistent efforts. The way your brand is presented to the public come to life through your choices in words, the statements, and the stories you share. They develop your brand in the same aspect as these things define you and your character. The brand voice is something that brings the intangible to life and makes an inanimate object or a concept become a way of life.
The In Between: Set Consistency, Commit to it and See it Out
I read somewhere that you should try a new concept out for a minimum of 6 months to really see it through, taking notes along the way and then decide if you’d like to make changes. I believe this is truth. There will be days that you’ll have lots of engagements and feedback. Then, there will be others that are pure radio silence without any specific reasoning. Across both, you should keep your branding consistent for a MINIMUM of 6 months to see what’s working, what should evolve and what can get sent to the morgue.
The easiest, least expensive and quickest way to try this out in my opinion for most brands is through Instagram. Instagram is a visually stimulated platform that entices then builds an audience with branding top of mind. The algorithms can be on your side if you learn how to utilize hashtags and geotags to create more exposure to the audience that you want to reach. You can test, assess and take notes of new ideas with little to no investment and with minimal consequences through this digital community who lives for content. Craft a beautiful instagram that can help you to build your brand voice and image while giving you almost instant feedback on if the audience you want to reach is into it.
Check out this Guide to Crafting a Beautiful Instagram Feed for a few tips and tricks that will help even those without the artistic eye succeed in producing a consistent, beautiful brand.
The In Between: Disconnect from External Inputs, Stimulations and People for Periods of Time
There’s a fine line that you have to walk when creating something that only you can envision. And that’s a line of receiving and retreating. There will be times that you need to receive: Search, dig, listen and absorb every external influence that you can in order to help you define, mold and perfect your brand. But there will come a time in this process, once you have a clearer vision of what it is that you want your brand to become that you must become reclusive to external influences.
This means, limiting digital stimulations, sharing your ideas with family and friends and taking in the inputs of others. Say thank you to those who have their words of wisdom to share and move on to seeing out your gut instinct. Store away advice that for some reason you can’t get out of your brain for a day when the timing is right and circle back to the person who planted the seed with gratitude and further inquiries if needed.
At some point, and this point will re-occur over and over again, you have to trust your gut instinct and believe that you are the best and most valuable resource for bringing this thing to life. Why? Because you created it.
The In Between: DEFINE Your Brand
Once you’ve determined what your brand means, the voice and vision and have established consistent messaging to share, it’s time to begin defining your brand to the community to help them understand what it’s all about. This, is a skill that not everyone can articulate. If you’re not a wizard of words with an eye for perfection and flow, utilize resources and reach out for external help. Finding someone who can create a personality and life from your inanimate skill, service or product will create a level of professionalism, attract the audience you’re seeking to reach and will build a foundation for the growth of your brand over time. Ensure that the messaging is clear and everything you release to your community is cohesive. Imagery, brand voice and the types of content you produced should all link together so that if you were to lay everything out on the floor and look at it all as one, you can see that it’s connected by one central point, your brand.
I recommend creating a 30-60 day content calendar, organizing all your support imagery at one time. This will help you create projects, set timelines and achieve goals. You’ll be able to easily delegate assignments (if you have a team to work with) or manage your own without getting overwhelmed.
Not sure where to start or what to include? I built my content calendar on Google Drive, but if you want help getting it started, check out this awesome, inclusive guide for creating a Social Media Content Calendar with recommendations for multiple platform types and a free downloadable starter guide that will get your wheels turning. Tweak and make your own or repurpose for use across other platforms.
The In Between: Store up Those Beginner’s Luck Wins
Back to the best bit of advice you’ll receive on this journey of taking your dream to the chopping block and on the road called life. You’ll have several highs, they’ll likely flock in waves. You’ll get on a roll where everything just seems to click and all the right stars are aligning. You got great feedback, heard yes to all your asks and have begun bringing in some doe.
This is liberating, exciting and a big ego boosting fact that you well deserve.
Take these highs, acknowledge them as confirmation that you’re on the right path and store some of the positive energy away for future lows.
Because, they too will come. And they often come when you are least prepared. There will be days, weeks and maybe even months where none of the puzzle pieces seem to fit and the world around your dream seems to be crashing before your eyes.
IT WILL PASS. So during these times, resort to your bag of magic fairy dust (aka positive wins that have past) to fuel you through the lows.
No matter how big or small they were, use them to spark hope and help keep you from derailing in moments of lull and crisis. Without this, you’ll find yourself hopeless, overwhelmed and defeated before you really even begin.
The honeymoon stage is the place where you really fall in love with your dream as you set the foundation and form it to life. Take your time and enjoy defining your vision for this grandiose idea. Reach out to external creatives, hire or work for trade with experts who believe in your brand and pay notice to the attention to details. These things matter. You can always scale back or put the less important things on the back burner for a future cookouts, expanding and fine tuning your vision along the way. And as you truck down the road of dream building, acknowledge your victories, while storing some of that positive feedback for fuel to light the fire during moments of chaos.