As we try to navigate through these strange and unsettling times it can be tricky for us business owners to know where to focus our energy. With so much uncertainty and so many things outside our control, many small businesses are understandably feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the future. Brand designer Tanya Rodgers is sharing some advice on how to utilise this time to take stock and start refining your brand.
Quiet seasons in business can feel scary at the best of times but combined with the waves of emotion that go hand-in-hand with this pandemic, it can feel particularly frightening and disconcerting. In spite of this, quieter periods can actually be a useful opportunity for reflection and provide space to contemplate, take stock of your business, and reconnect to your purpose. In the midst of the unease, I believe this is one of the best ways to refine your brand, connect with your community and set your business up for success when the world returns to normality again.
Why is being clear on your purpose, mission and values important?
Greater clarity for your business means greater clarity for your customers.
In his 2014 TED talk, Simon Sinek said “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” In other words, it’s an emotional decision. Think about the brands you love. What was it about those brands that compelled you to buy their product or book their services? It’s likely that you felt, on some level, that those brands’ values resonated with your own values. This is what makes a brand compelling.
If you’ve a clear understanding about what you do, why you do it and what makes you unique, it’s a lot easier to communicate that to your customers in a meaningful way that inspires action.
When your purpose, mission and values are concisely defined, they act as a set of guiding principles that inform every aspect of your business, from your logo to your social media captions, your customer service, your imagery, your website, your business cards to your sales copy. Everything becomes easier because you simply have to check if it fits with your values.
For example, a luxury, ethical clothing brand that values sustainable materials and fair pay for the people who produce their clothes will know straight away that a poor quality, mass-produced, cheap t-shirt isn’t a product that aligns with their vision. A coach who believes in encouraging and supporting their clients will know not to use harsh tough-love language on their website. Identifying your business values and using them to inform every decision you make will help your customers understand what you stand for and connect with your business on an emotional level.
How to find your purpose, mission and values?
Defining your purpose
Your purpose, or your ‘why’, forms the foundation of your business. It’s the reason your business exists, it informs everything you do and how you do it. As your business grows your purpose may have changed or evolved over time, so pausing to reflect and reconnect is a valuable exercise.
Journaling can be a really helpful way to get your thoughts together, so grab your favourite notebook and a cup of tea and jot down your answers to the following questions:
● Why did you start your business?
● Why does what you do matter to you?
● Why does it matter to your customers?
● What’s your passion?
● What are you brilliant at?
● How do you want to make people feel?
● What are your aspirations for the future?
Have a look through your answers and see if there are any themes. Your purpose doesn’t have to be lofty but it should feel important to you. Keep questioning and delving deeper into your notes until you arrive at your why.
Defining your mission
Your mission, or what you do, is an expression of your purpose. It’s an easy way to communicate your business purpose with your customers. If your purpose and your mission are out of alignment your business will feel disingenuous and it’ll be confusing for your audience.
So with your purpose in mind, write out your mission statement. For example, my mission statement for Me & Spirit is to “help creative businesses thrive by elevating their business with beautiful, authentic branding and thoughtful design.” Think about what you do, who you serve and how you can help with their problem. Double check your mission feels in alignment with your purpose before moving on.
Defining your values
Your values are how you bring your purpose and mission to life, they capture the essence of your business, let people know what to expect from you and why they should choose to work with you. Your values are also an important tool when creating your brand’s visual identity.
When choosing your business values, think about how you want to make your customers feel. What is it about the way you do business that inspires your dream clients? For example, do you believe in a supportive approach with your clients? do your customers visit your shop because they know they’ll find beautiful one-of-a-kind items?
Make some notes in answer to the following prompts in your journal:
● What is important to you?
● What is important to your customers? What do they value?
● How do you want to make people feel?
● How are you different from other businesses?
Aim for 3-6 values that explain what is important to you in your business, less than 3 can feel too sparse and more than 6 can be overwhelming. You can go further and write a manifesto for your business, do what feels right, but check that they feel consistent with your purpose and mission.
Communicate with your customers
Now that you have clarity around the values that underpin your brand, it’s important to make sure you communicate these with your customers at every single touchpoint of your business (your website, social media, printed material etc).
By leading with your purpose, mission and values, and intentionally sharing this across all areas of your business, you can create a deeply compelling brand that captivates and delights your customers.
At a time when most of the world is at home with the internet as their only means of communication, this is a great opportunity to connect with your customers on an emotional level and build a community around your work.
For more tips on branding for your small creative business, follow Tanya on Instagram.
Photography: Caroline Rowland