For the past few months, I’ve felt stuck, even though I was doing everything right. I followed the “here’s how to grow your business with blogging” formula to the letter. I’ve been:
- blogging bi-weekly,
- choosing great headlines (verified by the Headline Analyzer)
- writing innovative content
- sharing in lots of places
- creating multiple images in different shapes to share on various social media platforms.
But honestly, it was feeling a little … flat. Boring. Uninspired. And I couldn’t figure out why.
These were topics I knew intimately and cared about deeply. Why was nobody else interested? And why did creating the images & sharing feel so draining?
I hired a Pinterest specialist*, Monica, to optimize my boards & drive more traffic to my site. After a few weeks, she asked me to update my Pin images to be more “vibrant.” She used words like “colorful” and “bold.” And I opened my image creator, tried to find anything vibrant, colorful or bold that would work with my existing style, and realized something big:
My branding is boring AF. Dammit.
I chose the name “Casebolt Creative” in 2013 to be intentionally generic, because I didn’t know how the business would evolve & I wanted to give it space to grow naturally. I chose my color palette at the time because I wanted to feel accessible & professional, to put my readers & potential clients at ease. I chose my accent font because I liked the way it looked in the word “Creative,” even if I didn’t love it anywhere else.
And then I didn’t change anything. For 4 years. My business grew, but my brand didn’t grow with it. My 2013 branding was what I needed it to be then: accessible, pleasant, non-offensive, polished, professional. I wanted people to trust that I knew what I was doing unquestioningly (even if I wasn’t totally certain what services I should be offering).
But by 2017, that whole “I want to appeal to everyone” schtick wasn’t working anymore. My brand felt bland, uninspired, and worst of all: generic. If you’d gone to my website, you wouldn’t be able to tell me apart from the million other designers available for hire.
And that boring brand leached into everything else — my copy felt boring, because I felt like I had to present myself professionally above all else. My services choices had boring names, because there was no guiding force to drive them.
I’ve spent years preaching to other people about being unique, but my own brand & website are pretty unexceptional.
Ok, what do I do now?
I read through previous client testimonials &I looking for common threads.
- “Meg’s laser focus on my business goals showed me that her passion lies in helping me succeed.”
- “She narrowed down my problem and provided a clear and actionable solution in just one phone call.”
- “Meg is masterful.”
- “She has an amazing ability to identify exactly what was holding me back.”
- “Meg came to the rescue when my site was a mess.”
- “Meg is unstoppable.”
And I re-read the description for my Fascination Advantage, The Trendsetter: Cutting-edge, elite, imaginative, edgy & progressive. (My previous branding was the opposite of those adjectives.)
Turn to Trendsetters in uncertain times. They see opportunities where others see only threats They’re able to turn a company’s weakness into a strength by adapting to changing conditions. They change your perception of your business.
Reading those helped build back up my fragile ego …but I still didn’t know what to do with that information.
Then one night, I was getting my 2.5 year old son ready for bed. I put him in his favorite Superman pajamas (though we don’t let him wear the matching cape to bed) and I said, “Ok Sam, time to brush your teeth.” He replied, “No Mommy, I not Sam, I SUPERMAN.”
And that’s when I realized:
My business has the capacity to be Superman, but it looks like Clark Kent.
Now don’t get me wrong: Clark Kent is a good looking dude, and I wouldn’t throw him out of bed for eating crackers. But even though he’s handsome as hell, Lois Lane is bored by him. She wants to be wowed. She wants to be saved from danger. She wants to be flown to safety.
And if Lois Lane is my ideal client … then no matter how pretty I make my Clark Kent website, it’s still not going to impress her. I need to step out from behind my safe identity and allow my superhero to show. I need to be … Megabolt.
So I talked to some of my business buddies, who helped me distill my messaging. I talked to some of my favorite clients, who told me that the superhero theme would be engaging for them, and not too extreme. I researched the name, to make sure there wouldn’t be any trademark issues. (Fun fact: Hasbro had the trademark in 2003 for toys, but now it’s dead.)
Then I just started sketching, and daydreaming, and having fun with the metaphor. And it was the first time in years that I’d had fun designing something for my business. I even got business cards printed, because I’m finally excited about sending people to my website.
If your branding & website don’t make you excited about sharing, I’m here to tell you: it’s ok. That’s a normal part of business evolution. It’s an easy trap to fall into — this is my job, and I’ve here to confess that I was in that boat for years.
You can still run a successful business with a boring brand, and I’m living proof of that. But it isn’t nearly as easy as it could be if your ideal clients find you & immediately know that they want to work with you.
If you’re not loving your brand or website, get in touch with me. Let’s find ways to make you feel more heroic.
* To find out more about Pinterest marketing, check out this amazing Pin Practical course from my colleague Monica, who helped me get all my Pinterest shizz together.