"#bossbabesATX Shop Talk: The Basics of Branding" Recap

Thirty babes gathered for the first #bossbabesATX Shop Talk at Royer's Pie Haven. Photo by Tess Cagle

Thirty babes gathered for the first #bossbabesATX Shop Talk at Royer's Pie Haven. Photo by Tess Cagle

Last week, we launched our first workshop in our new series of shop talks.

Every month, one ATX bossbabe will take the platform and teach the women of Austin a new skill. These shop talks are small and hands-on; the audience is free to ask questions and participate.

Here's a recap of our first one, "#bossbabesATX Shop Talk: The Basics of Branding," led by #bossbabesATX founder, J.

What do you need to start a brand?

1. Brand vision

To establish your voice and style, you have to determine the philosophical and design parameters for your brand. First, come up with the basics of your brand design: color scheme, fonts and imagery that fit your desired aesthetic. Then, tackle your philosophy. What three words best describe your brand?

  • Is it earthy, natural and eco-friendly?
  • Do you stand for anti-slut-shaming, New Wave feminism and empowerment?
  • What are the qualities—both quantitative, as well as qualitative—that accurately fit your brand and its belief structure?

Use these three words to come up with a sentence you can use to pitch your brand to others, describe your services and drive home your message. This sentence should be short, to-the-point and easy to understand.

Think of it this way: If you had to describe your best friend in one sentence, how would you do it? What would you say? Remember, the way you describe her determines how others feel about her.

Use that framework to guide you.

Then, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much of your brand is you?
  • If your brand isn’t you yourself, what facets of yourself pertain to the brand?
  • What are the tangential topics your brand touches?
  • What’s important to your audience?
  • What’s relevant to your brand and the community around your brand?

Research your service and your competitors, too! It's important to know the marketing strategies and techniques unique to your business. Knowing your market will help you differentiate your brand from the noise.

2. Online presence

Have a clear and coherent front page on your website that reflects your brand. Buy your domain!

Here's a list of website builders that you can use yourself (if you don't feel like finding a coder):

  • Squarespace.com
  • Wordpress.com
  • Wix.com
  • Shopify.com
  • Bigcartel.com

Are you a content platform? Your home page should feature highlighted articles, related posts, social media, etc.

Are you a service provider? Your home page should have a simple and easy-to-digest visual representation of the services you provide or your service statement. 

Are you selling products? Your home page should provide your service statement, as well as links to products in your store. 

The imagery on your website must be high-quality, your website must be responsive (meaning it adjusts for mobile), and you need to have an adequate “About” and “Contact” page for inquiries.

You should also have an email sign-up list, and signing up for this list should be a crystal clear and simple process on your site. We suggest integrating Mailchimp into your website. It’s simple and easy to manage!

Other tips:

  • As an online retailer, service, or content brand, your messaging should be clear, concise and without misspellings. Hire a proofreader to go through your site or ask a friend to point out the bugs. You are working even harder than a brick-and-mortar to get customers “through the door.”
  • Your social media should be easy to locate and find on your website, as well.

3. Social Media

Determine the platforms that are important to you, and maintain these platforms. To avoid branding issues and copyright issues, we suggest ALWAYS getting Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts set up for your business. The others are up to you.

Come up with a manageable schedule for posting; maintain consistency. Remember all of your communications should be quality interactions with your customers. Make your messages intentional; have something to say.

4. Digital Marketing Maintenance/Strategy/Schedule

  • Social Media
    • Take time at the beginning of the week, or each month, to plan out a content calendar (or content goals). Remember, your brand strategy should include more than communications about your products and services. You want to communicate an investment in your audience; use your content to reflect that (as long as this content adheres to your brand vision).
    • Use scheduling tools, like Buffer and Schedugram, to schedule out posts on your platforms. Managing social media can be overwhelming, but you do want to maintain consistency. These sites can definitely help; just make sure you log in to your accounts and interact with your customers regularly. You don’t want to seem like a robot; your brand needs a personality.
    • Use social media platforms, like Facebook, to experiment with advertising. As a starting business, you don’t want to spend your ad dollar messing with Google Ads (although you’re welcome to give it a shot). Facebook and Twitter have Analytics dashboards (analytics.twitter.com and the Insights in your Facebook admin panel) that will allow you to check your audience’s interaction with your content, make informed decisions about their interests, etc. You can then set up ads on these platforms to test this data.
  • Emails
    • Email marketing is a necessary tool for any growing business! We suggest sending out an email once a week, with an update on products, the interests of your brand, as well as your business’ activities (or possibly even an update on you!).
    • Use emails to announce big changes, contests coming up, events you may be involved in, etc.
  • Website Maintenance
    • Part of your marketing strategy should involve maintaining and adjusting your website based on the way customers interact with it. (If you use Squarespace or Wordpress, you should be able to gauge which pages your audience uses/needs—right from your dashboard.) If your blog is getting a lot of traction, it may be a sign you should post more. If your blog isn’t getting any traction, you might be writing about the wrong content (or you may not need a blog at all). Determine what’s best for you, after looking at ample data and performing multiple tests, and make those changes on your website. Time is money! You don’t want to maintain something no one uses or finds helpful.
    • Sign your website up for Google Analytics. You can do this through your Google account. This data will give you a broader perspective on where your customers come from, what devices they use, etc. This is very helpful when you’re looking to start advertising online!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next #bossbabesATX Shop Talk. Want to host one of your own? Email thebabes@bossbabes.org.