Today we are going to tackle a pain point that I hear from SO MANY creatives that I work with: Finding Your Creative Brand Focus. If you feel like you are spinning your wheels, feeling completely overwhelmed, exhausted from trying to do ALL. THE. THINGS., trying to please everyone….or feeling completely invisible in a sea of other people who do similar work to yours…this is for you. If you can’t describe what you do and your style of work to someone in a quick sentence, this is for you. And if your audience wouldn’t be able to recognize your work if they saw it on a store shelf, this is for you.
I’m going to give you some areas to start out on this journey of finding creative focus and some encouragement because I know YOU CAN DO THIS.
There are two times I most often see creatives struggle with finding focus: when they are first starting out, and when they start to have some success and have opportunities for growth. And both are equally frustrating BUT equally important.
When you are starting out:
When you decide to turn your talent into a business, its an incredibly exciting time. There’s a sense of freedom…and let’s be honest, a little bit of terror as you step out on your own. For many of us when starting out, we want to say YES to every potential client who comes along, every project that crosses our desk, create every possible product or services. But that will:
a) get exhausting really quickly
And b) actually move you away from creating a stand-out brand that can grow and audience and a reputation.
At this point, when you start to feel scattered, or like you wear WAY too many hats, or like you are just one of many people who do the work you do…this is the perfect time to step back and find your focus.
Main Areas You Want To Focus:
- WHO your audience is – Have you decided on who your ideal client is? Who do you want to serve? Do you know everything you can about her- what her problems or desires are, what style she loves, how she likes to shop, what kinds of things does she love to buy, what language does she use, what tone do you want to communicate with her? Focusing down to the specifics of this ideal client will start to shape many elements of your brand and will begin to anchor the next steps you take.
- WHAT are your values – as a person and as a company? WHY are you doing this work? (BTW, it doesn’t have to be life-changing! But there does need to be a common reason for everything you offer with a goal of serving people in a specific way.) What will you always strive to do as a company? What do you vow to NEVER do? These pillars will be incredibly helpful to check in with as you grow your business now and in the future.
- WHAT makes you unique? What do you do better than anyone else? In a future episode I’ll dedicate space to talking about discovering your superpowers…but for now, what are your talents? Are you leaning into them? Are the products and services you’re choosing to offer playing to those strengths, or are you simply chasing what others do, even if they aren’t really in your wheelhouse?
When you’re starting to grow:
You’ve been working at your business for a while and you’re really starting to get into your groove. You’ve grown an audience, maybe others in your industry are starting to notice you. And suddenly there are new opportunities in front of you. This can often look like: the chance to be featured in media (interviews, podcasts, press, maybe even TV), joint ventures, live events or conferences, wholesalers, tradeshows, expansion of existing product lines or service offerings, creating new product lines or service offerings, raising prices, expanding to new audiences…just to name a few. And what I often see with past clients is that several of these opportunities will present themselves at the same time. Sounds great, right? Living the dream?
The reality is that this can be completely overwhelming for a creative pro. Suddenly there are choices to make, and the stakes seem high. The FOMO (or fear of missing out) kicks in. OR you try to just say YES to everything and end up swept up in a current with little control over what you really WANT to be doing or how you want to be growing your brand.
SO, this is often a time when refocusing is required. This looks a little like the focusing you did at the beginning of your business, but with added layers on top.
At this point, the main areas you’ll want to focus are:
- WHAT your goals are
– what do you REALLY want to happen this month/quarter/year? What steps will get you there? What seems cool but will actually be pointing you in the wrong direction?
- WHAT is missing? Look at this question from the standpoint of your audience and for yourself.
– For your audience: what are they needing from you that you don’t already offer? What can’t they wait to buy from you? What comes next on their journey? How else can you better, more efficiently, or more profoundly serve them?
– For YOU: who aren’t you reaching that you wish you could touch? What haven’t you created or experienced that feels like has been a part of your (eventual) story since the beginning? This is tricky- be careful of shiny object syndrome or just seeing what your competitors are doing- take some introspection and weight this against the values of your business that you focused on in the beginning to stay on track.