In my last post on Branding Clarity, I said I would share some of the tools we use to help our clients get very clear on who they are, what they must say, and how to express themselves most powerfully. So, I'll tell you about one of the coolest finds ever for clarifying your personal style and your business style – Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design by Carrie McCarthy & Danielle LaPort.
I saw Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design on one of those bump-your-hip tables in the center aisle at Barnes and Noble on a date night with my husband. The cover is lovely and the name intriguing, so I added it to my ridiculous pile of books to look through while I drink my non-fat, half-caf, two pump, extra hot white mocha (yea, I'm one of those coffee orderers). I had just enough time to flip through the Style Statement book by the time we had to head home and relieve our babysitter. The book is filled with photos of beautiful things. There are stories about real people and how they define themselves with two simple words and change their lives as a result. I was intrigued enough, in my quick flip-through, to order the book online the next day.
Since then, I've been increasingly astonished at the value of the concepts I learned in this book. First off, I didn't love the layout of the book. It was confusing for me. I chalk that up to a low tolerance for high art. I don't understand many things that others consider brilliant artistically. I also didn't do the exercises just the way they suggest them. I found it cumbersome. That could be because I have spent a lifetime contemplating my proverbial naval so a number of the questions seemed obvious to me and felt like I'd be getting off-track. Anyway, all that said – I am deeply grateful to Carrie & Danielle (they have formed a company with this name – Carrie and Danielle – through which they do Style Statement consultations) for the ideas they have given me in my work. I use a process that has many similar elements to the questions and suggestions that Carrie & Danielle make in their Style Statement book in my Branding Clarity sessions with clients. And, while I have a number of other question streams and explorations that I mix in, we do land on a two-word phrase much like the ones in Style Statement to drive branding in my client's business that is based on “foundation words” and “creative edge” words from the Style Statement book. Check out the book to learn more about those. It's too technical to explain each term for a blog post. If you're intrigued, you'll want the book. So get it.
The most important thing is that your phrase (just as for a Style Statement) feels accurate and uplifting. It should inspire you to work better, brighter, more powerfully. If it doesn't, it's not the right phrase. Try again.
So, what do we do with this phrase in Branding Clarity? We use it as a reference. We look at all expressions of your business: marketing materials, internal documents, presentations, logo and colors, language and word choices, key phrases… and ask whether they match this fundamental, distilled description of the client's brand (personality…style…)
Here's an example. Allison Hull, owner and designer at Lemon Halo in Bend, Oregon, went through the Branding Clarity process with me and we landed on Bold Fanciful as her branding phrase. It's not easy, landing on the right phrase, but when you do land on it, you know pretty quickly. It feels right. It makes perfect sense. You think to yourself, “Of course!”, while an underlying feeling of giddiness lingers in your belly. Especially after a few days of sitting with the phrase, it simply either works or it doesn't. Bold Fanciful works for Allison. She felt revived, energized, pumped up to take her business to the next level once she claimed her phrase. Images came to mind, and colors and ideas. So inspired, she called her graphic designer and had a new logo and all new marketing materials created and began the process of redesigning her website! It's been at least two months and if you ask Allison today about the Branding Clarity process and the value of her branding phrase and she'll light up and tell you it rocked her whole business!