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Archive for Branding for Success

Jan
18

Why a Brand Audit is Necessary and How to Do One

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3 business womenVisual and brand audits. It’s one of those fancy words graphic designers use. Why do you need one and how do you do it?

A brand audit is a careful analysis of every marketing material you have, from signage to business cards to your Website.

I like to call it an Identity Hunt. That’s what I call it in my branding courses and curriculum. This is a quest and you are trying to find what’s missing, what’s confusing, and what’s inconsistent so you can refine and define your identity.

Why is this important? Because the key to successful branding is perception meeting reality. Because perception IS reality. If there is a disconnect between what you think you are offering and what you’re prospect thinks you’re offering, than you are most likely losing clients. And that costs you money.

So here is how to conduct a visual audit:

Imagine you are a prospect that never heard of your company. What do they see when they go to your Website? If you have an office or a brick and mortar store, is your signage recognizable to them? When you give them a business card, is it consistent with your signage, Website, brochures, etc.

And here’s an often overlooked point-of-contact—when your customer calls your phone, what voice mail greets them? Have you clearly identified your name and business?

You want to notice inconsistencies. Are you confusing your audience? Are you telling them one thing but providing another?

You might use Facebook to get some objective opinions. Ask in a Facebook group what a certain logo or marketing piece is communicating.

Is it the same as what you intend on communicating? Read More→

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Nov
30

Why Mission Statements Matter

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Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggerMission statements. Nonprofits use them frequently. Churches use them all the time. Corporations use them as well.

But what about you? Have you created your mission statement? And why is it important?

A mission statement helps to make sure you stay on target with your business. It answers the question, “Why do you exist and whom do you serve?”

Mission statements are part of your brand. In fact, they are the foundation of your brand. A well thought-out mission statement will give you visual clues as to what your brand image should look like.

A well written one will also help you discover your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What is it that distinguishes you from your competition? What makes you different? What benefit do your customers get when they purchase from you?

Jesus gave us a mission statement to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Corporations and organizations know that mission statements are part of their branding. They make sure that every employee knows the company mission statement. In addition, corporations and organizations will often write vision and values statements, too.

I experienced this when I worked for a Christian para-ministry in Colorado. It was drilled into my head. I often designed the mission, vision, and values statements.

In fact, it was drilled into my head so much that I decided to create my own mission, vision, and values statements! I designed it into a chart which also included my callings. Read More→

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Nov
16

Not Where You Want to Be? Maybe You’re Out of Alignment!

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DanaFeeling stuck? Like nothing you try is working in your business? It may be that you are out of alignment.

What do you I mean?

Let me tell you a personal story. In my married life, there were some misplaced priorities that prevented me from reaching the goals I had set for myself. Because our marriage was out of balance and we had stopped putting Christ in the midst of it, this spun off into our businesses. Everything was dried up. We experienced failure after failure.

At the core, when you peel away the layer of this onion, it’s because we trusted in money, not God. We believed we were slaves, not heirs, and we took on burdens that were not ours to hold. In addition, we did not ask for help but instead tried to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.

Our lives were spinning out of control, all because the foundation was sinking. We were building our household on a lie.

So God, being the loving Father He is, would not bless us. Since we were stingy with each other, others were stingy with us.

Being a work at home mom or dad is a journey of faith. When we replace that faith with trying to do it all on our own or working out of desperation, joy is sucked out of us. We burn out quickly. Frustration ensues and we can’t seem to make those breakthroughs that we so keenly need.

But when we are in alignment, with Christ, in our marriage and in our family, we have joy, energy, love, and confidence. We stop swimming against the tide, but instead wait for God as He tells us what the next step is and how to complete it.

It’s so easy to put off happiness until we get that perfect pot of gold we are seeking. For instance, saying you will be happy when you lose 50 pounds, or you will be happy when you make a certain quota in your business. In our case, we put off getaways and dates because we had to work and we couldn’t “afford” it. In effect, we put off loving each other and as a result we almost lost everything we had, including our marriage.

Read More→

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Nov
02

Respect: the One Attitude that Can Make Your Brand Stand Out

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Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggerThese days, it seems that more and more companies do not care about their product or service and they are apathetic toward their customers. But as a work at home Mom or Dad, you have an excellent opportunity to stand out. And as a Christian, by striving for excellence in all you do you can be a shining light in the business world.I see people promising way too much and not coming through. This hurts a brand.

Have you noticed this trend toward mediocrity? Have you ever had lackluster customer service? I wouldn’t doubt it! I know that my husband, Travis, and I have been fighting our former mortgage company for months. My husband practically had to tell the customer service agents how to do their jobs and it was only until we threatened legal action did they come through with our request, which was by the way what they had to do by law.

This lackluster customer service reflects badly on a brand. In fact, companies can become “branded” in a negative way.

But as a work at home business owner, you can choose to be different. From your marketing to your identity collateral to your product and/or service to your customer service, you can strive for excellence.

So how does that practically look? Here are some ideas:

1) Look out for your customer’s interests, not your own.Does that sound slightly biblical? It certainly is! I think of my husband’s potential client, a restaurant owner. My husband could tell this client that he needs this and he needs that done and it would bring us a lot more money. But we know that the client wants to keep this project simple, so Travis is going to bat for him with the city. It’s not about how much we can get from him, it’s about providing excellent service at the level he needs it.

2) When you say you’re going to be somewhere, be there! So this seems really simple, right? Yet more and more I see people promising way too much and not coming through. This hurts a brand. It’s called over promising and under delivering. You always want to be careful about your commitments and make sure you can be counted on. This is a huge way you can stand out. Under promise and over deliver.

Read More→

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Oct
26

10 Low­-Cost Vendor Booth Ideas to Rocket Your Brand Recognition

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DanamarketAs Christian work at home business owners, we need to get out in the community on a regular basis. I have found the best way to get out in front of my target market is to participate in vendor fairs.

But signage can be extremely expensive. And how can you make your booth appealing instead of drab and boring?

This is an area where I’ve put much thought into. While I have a long ways to go, I have also made great strides, all while being on a limited budget. Let me share some ideas with you:

1) Make a banner with CafePress.com

This is where I had my large, full­color banner made. It was extremely affordable, I believe less than $50. It didn’t take me long to get it and I could fully customize it to my branding. Their banner fits easily on a typical vendor table and it comes with grommets. It is durable vinyl. I have had mine for a couple years now and it is in good shape.

2) Use presentation boards from Hobby Lobby.

Hobby Lobby seems to have the best variety of tri­fold presentation boards at the best price. They have many colors that will fit within your brand.

3) Use fabric to cover up the boards to make them look even more unique!

This is what I did with a couple of boards I had. I spruced them up with fabric. Actually, they were curtains that I got for cheap and I cut them to fit. It made for a very unique presentation. I had to use a very sturdy tape to glue the posters onto the board, so be aware of that! Read More→

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Aug
31

3 Ways to Keep Your Brand “Top of Mind”

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Keeping your brand “top of mind” with your prospects and customers is an important goal. Why? Because when a need or want arises, your prospect will think of you first and naturally want to reach out to you for help. This will result in more sales, both with new and repeat customers.

How does this work? First of all, you have to build credibility and likeability. Because people do business with people they like, know, and trust. You have to continually be adding value to your prospect and customer, no matter what medium you use, whether an email, a phone call, or a branded card with a personal note.

But what specific methods or strategies can you use to keep your brand “top of mind” with your prospects?

Here are three ideas to get you started:

1) A follow-­up system

Creating a follow-­up system with prospects and customers will be the most effective way you can keep your business “top of mind.”

Most businesses do not do this at all. By practicing this one habit, you can vastly improve the bottom line of your company and bring customers to you. Kevin Knebl, author of “Social Media Sales Revolution,” became a top seller and worldwide speaker in demand by creating a follow up system that truly nurtures relationships. I had the privilege of attending one of his seminars and what he shared was life changing!

Because communication is a timeless principle. Just because we have new technology does not mean the tried and true methods of influencing people is out of date. In fact, they are more important than ever!

This is why “old fashioned” snail mail printed pieces like business cards, postcards, and thank you cards will never go out of style. Brand your identity collateral and use it to keep in touch with your prospects and customers. It will be well worth the investment!

2) A regular e-zine or newsletter

Marketing experts tell us it takes seven exposures to make a sale. Probably in reality, that number is even higher. There is more competition today than ever before, due to the fast- paced world of the Internet.

Providing your customer or prospect with a regular e-zine or newsletter that features information that will make their lives better will keep your brand in front of them continually. The trick is doing market research to know what kind of information they are looking for and providing it on a regular basis.

Read More→

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Aug
03

Relationships: the Key Factor to Your Branding Success

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DanaIn this Internet age, trends seem to rule the roost when it comes to building a work at home business. Everyone is searching for that “magic pill” that will bring them instant success with very little effort.

But this is an illusion. It is like the foolish man building on sand. A Christian work at home business needs to be built on solid ground. On timeless business principles.

Branding is one of these timeless principles. Branding is not a hot new trend, though sometimes it appears that way since so many more people are talking about it. Branding is just the expression of who you are as a business and what makes you unique.

And effective branding is built with relationships.

God values relationships highly. Can we treat relationships less as His representatives?

How are we called to treat people?

For me, the central principle is found in 1 Corinthians 13. Many years ago, I prayed that I would have this kind of love for people, for those whom I minister to. And now that I am a business owner, I am still guided by these ideals.

Because the business is not about me. It’s about God working through me to help others. The other night, I was working hard on a display board for a fair the next morning. The thought came to me, “Why do I work so hard? Why do I put myself under this much pressure?” Read More→

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Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggerstand outCorporations spend tens of thousands of dollars on branding. Think about the “big guys” out there—the Targets and Visas and Starbucks, to name a few. They jealously guard their images. They trademark their logos and slogans. And they go after violators with a vengeance.

They know that their branding is their most important asset.

So why should you, as a work-at-home business owner, think any less?

Unfortunately, many small business owners gravitate to logos and branding that is cheap and free. In fact, some business owners don’t even know what branding is!

A good brand is more than finding a pretty or cool logo. Or going to a cheap and free resource that will give you templates and all you do is plug in your information.

The problem with these resources is it is not tailor-made to your unique business. It is not customized so that your prospects will easily recognize you.

It’s kind of like being lost in a sea of “cookie cutter” homes. Where I live, there are plenty of them! Every time I go in one of these neighborhoods, I get lost because I can’t tell the difference between one house and the next.

It’s the same with your logo and branding. If your logo looks the same as your competition, your prospect will be lost. There’s nothing to distinguish you from the crowd. This is especially problematic with the Internet.

But when you base a logo on strategic analysis, on your Unique Selling Point, your mission, target market, and other factors, you will be building a brand that brings value. This will mean an increase in your bottom line!

Read More→

Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggercreatingthebestbrandimageA name is the foundation of your brand. Your name is the single-most important clue as to what your brand image will look like. Your name helps you connect with your prospects and customers. Obviously, your name is what gives you brand recognition.

So how do you create a good one? And what do you if you are a direct seller or representative for a company?

There are two basic kinds of names: persona or personal brand. A persona is a descriptive name that encapsulates the essence of who you are and what you do. A personal brand is your own name.

Now there is hot debate about which one is better, but it comes down to your personal preference and what works best for your business. What are you most excited about? To me, names based on a persona offer a lot of room for creativity when designing. Words are pictures and when you find a good word, you can turn it into a memorable graphic that will help distinguish you from above the crowd.

You can find clues for your business name in your own personality, in your mission statement, or Unique Selling Proposition. Just make sure it resonates with others and that it is memorable and not too hard to understand!

A persona name can also be based on keywords. I know for one business I helped start, we used this method. We had to do very little marketing to make our first sales because of this strategy. Our market found us!

Bloggers, coaches, writers, and artists often choose to have a personal name brand. They want people to be able to search their name to find them on the Internet. Of course, for this strategy you have to do a lot of brand building so your audience recognizes your name and knows what you do.

A combination of the two works very well in this Internet age. The great advantage we have as small business owners is that we can come out from behind the curtain. We don’t have to be faceless corporations that are impersonal and dehumanizing. Because people want to do business with people whom they like, know, and trust. So when you add your name and photograph to your mediums you are going to be building that trust and like ability. Read More→

Jul
06

3 Common Logo Design Mistakes that Detract from Your Brand Image

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DanaIn stand outthis Internet age, it is more important than ever to stand out above the crowd. You can get literally lost in a sea of choices these days! So how can you get noticed?

One very important way is through having a professional brand image. Many home-­based business owners make common mistakes when it comes to their logos that detract from their brands. As a graphic designer and brand expert, I see these mistakes often. If you know what they are, you will have an edge up on your competition and you will get the attention you need for your business to thrive!

So here are the three common design mistakes:

1) Using Inch/Foot Marks

Now, you may be wondering, what in the world am I talking about? Foot marks and inch marks are symbols that stand for measuring length. They are straight up and down and they look UGLY. Due to the limitations of the Internet, these symbols have to be used for quotations and apostrophes. But you should not be using them in your brand images and marketing materials! Instead, use what’s called “smart quotes” or “curly quotes.”

Before the advent of desktop publishing, typesetters had the job of turning copy into columns of type. There were standards that were adhered to and widely known in the industry. Upon the introduction of computer layout software and image manipulation software, graphic designers became in effect typesetters. Professionals knew the standards.

But these computer programs became so widely used that amateurs had no idea about the difference between these marks. The typesetting aspect of design got lost.

Why does this matter? Because the image created with smart quotes looks professional and the foot/inch marks look amateurish. A professional image sets your business apart from the competition. That means you will be noticed if you follow these standards.

So how do you use smart quotes? Most software programs have a toggle switch in the preferences window that allows you to turn on smart quotes. There are also keyboard shortcuts, but they are different between PC and Mac. It’s not too hard to find out just by doing a little research.

2) Lack of Aesthetic Design

Making a brand image, a logo, is graphic design. This is an art unto itself and there’s a lot involved in it. Experienced graphic designers understand the elements that go into creating a logo. Basically, these elements are the same principles used in fine art. These range from color balance to aligning of objects, which is a very important standard in graphic design. Images need to be grounded, not floating on a space. There needs to be proportion and evenness.

Understand the elements of design and your brand image will be professional and that will mean it will get noticed!

Read More→

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