Could your branding be holding you back from consistent clients and income in your business? Brand designer and strategist, Bonnie Bakhtiari, joins us to break down three common mistakes she sees in branding that are holding you back from those consistent clients! Listen in as she shares her experience with branding and the importance of hiring someone who can think both creatively and strategically for your brand!
Get to Know Bonnie (:52)
Showing Up as an Expert (3:00)
Common Branding Mistakes that are keeping you from consistent clients and income:
1. DIYing Your Brand (4:14)
2. Trying to keep up with the Competition (10:02)
3. Inconsistency & Lack of Clarity (14:33)
Unpopular Opinion (20:00)
Review the Transcript Below
Review the Transcript:
Laylee Emadi 0:05
Welcome to so here’s the thing where we share candid conversations that lift the veil on what it takes to find success, even if that means sharing a few unpopular opinions. I’m your host Laylee Emadi, grab some coffee or cocktail, and let’s get real.
Laylee Emadi 0:21
Hey, friends, Welcome back, we are talking today with Bonnie bakhtiari, who is a returning guest, she was on the show. Gosh, I feel like that was almost two years ago. And I’m so excited that you’re back, we’re gonna be talking about common branding mistakes that are keeping you from consistent clients and consistent income. I’m super pumped, because Bonnie has such a wealth of knowledge, but Emily and she reintroduce yourself to our audience and tell them kind of what your journey has been like and why this is such an important topic to you. I’m so thrilled You’re back. Thanks for coming on the show.
Bonnie Bakhtiari 0:51
Thanks so much for having me back. Laylee, I always always love a chance to get to chat with you. And getting to talk about common branding mistakes that are keeping entrepreneurs from experiencing consistent income is something I care so deeply about. Because I see the the incredible impact that through our work as entrepreneurs that we can have on the lives of our clients, but we can’t change lives, we can’t have that impactful work. And we can’t, you know, do that and experience that growth for ourselves if we aren’t able to get out in front of them and work with them. So your brand is such an incredible connection tool. And today, I am going to be talking through just some easy changes you can make and to really bypass some common mistakes that might keep you stuck in your business. But a little bit about me, I am a brand designer and strategist I am the creative force behind bs for Bonnie design. I’m also a coach for fellow graphic brands and web designers and I’m on a mission to help women entrepreneurs experience more impact and income while being viewed as the experts that they are. So through brand design and strategy. I love getting to work with one on one incredible women entrepreneurs who are out there just you know, doing the work that they love serving people through their talents and having an impact as a result. So I am so excited to get to talk about this topic today. So we can hopefully kick some of these common branding mistakes to the curb and move on towards consistent client inquiries and consistent income.
Laylee Emadi 2:24
I think it’s such a needed topic. And like, I know that for me, and for a lot of my students, you know, through the education kind of world, we’re always struggling to show up as the experts that we are and I love that you mentioned that I think that that is something that most entrepreneurs struggle with, especially as you know, as you grow. And as you build your business. And as you realize like, okay, I actually am an expert in this thing. How do I show that? How do I showcase that? And how do I actually attract people the right way? So let’s dive in, like what are what are the first couple of mistakes and like, how can we get past them?
Bonnie Bakhtiari 2:59
Yeah, for sure. Well, I kind of first of all want to like, you know, just speak to what you were just saying about how like so many of us, we want to show up as experts. And we want to be seen as experts. And that’s totally normal, especially when we’re wanting to like, pivot or expand into a new season of growth within your business. So for example, I work with a lot of service based entrepreneurs. So I am so fortunate to work with really talented photographers, and coaches, wedding planners, fellow designers, really incredible people. And so often and lately, I know you see this, too, so often, we see kind of there’s this point, and a lot of people’s journeys where they reach that point where they’ve learned a thing or two, they’ve made some mistakes along the way. And they’ve learned from those mistakes, and they want to help other people avoid those mistakes and grow. And so a lot of times that becomes a natural sort of organic stepping point into offering some sort of educational resource or offering mentoring or coaching or something like that. But whether you’re pivoting to reach a new audience, or you just want to show up and serve your existing audience really powerfully, it’s important to be viewed as an expert. And it’s really challenging to be viewed as an expert if you make kind of this first really common mistake that I see. And that’s DIY in your brand. So having a DIY brand, we all know what that looks like we’ve all probably done it. And there’s this is a no judgment zone, no shame in that game. Because we all start somewhere. And we all start at a point where we have an idea of how we can build a business. We want to get that idea out there and we want to start working with clients and making money. And so usually in order to do that, we need to have a logo, we need a website, you know some of those visual pieces that help us connect with our ideal clients online. And a lot of times when you’re just starting out going to DIY or semi DIY, maybe you worked with a logo designer but you you know built your own website using a template or something like that. That is Great for that kind of beginning season of business. But when you’re wanting to scale, and when you’re wanting to be viewed as a very specific expert in your industry that offers a high level experience to your clients or your students, it is time to invest in a custom brand, because that DIY brand, although that has served you well, up until this point, what that does, is it actually costs you in the long run, right? So it might be saving you money up front and those kind of startup costs, but in the long run, it costs you because it is keeping you from experiencing the kinds of inquiries that come your way, when your ideal client lands on your website, or it comes across your brands on Instagram, and instantly resonates with you because they see that you offer the kind of transformation and the kind of growth that they are looking for. So if they land on your page, or they come to your website, and they see this, like, you know, kind of DIY sort of disjointed, not super polished, it’s, um, it’s not bad, but it’s not a great kind of visual presence, that makes them think that okay, maybe this person hasn’t been around that long, maybe this person doesn’t know what they’re talking about, I certainly don’t know why I should be investing, you know, 1000s of dollars in hiring this person or working with this person. Because I don’t think that their branding matches with the level of transformation that they’re telling me that they can help me experience. So you want to invest in custom branding and that point of your business, because you want to work with a designer who can position you in the right way to ensure that you’re being perceived by your ideal client and the way that you want to be perceived. And unless you have, you know, like amazing strategy and design experience, or you come from like a design or branding agency background, that is really, really even if you do come from that background, it’s really hard to do that for yourself. So having that kind of impartial second person who is able to guide you through the branding process, and who’s able to give you that outside perspective about really the right next steps for your brand that can help you walk away with just this incredible strategy and design that reflects that strategy. So definitely, if you’re wanting to grow and kind of step into that next season for your business, or work with high end clients consistently, that DIY brand is not going to serve you well on that journey.
Laylee Emadi 7:24
Oh, I totally agree. I mean, I feel like I mean, I know I definitely went through the DIY phase, you know, back when I first started my first side of my business, and I knew, like I think that was one of the first things I could recognize in myself that I was like, This is not my strong suit. And there are so many things out there that make it feel like accessible to non designers. You know, like I used I started with Squarespace and then I switched to show it which I love Show It If anybody’s looking for you know website has I know you do to Bonnie, love it show it is the best but you feel like okay, I can drag and drop things, I can make it look okay, I can pick fun colors. But there is strategy behind it that I think a lot of people are unaware of, or even if you’re aware, you’re not aware of like how much it actually contributes to converting people, from viewers to customers or clients. I think that that is something that I experienced firsthand when I did my first rebrand. And then my I’ve now I’ve rebranded three times in the past nine years, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it sure felt like a lot, especially as my business evolved. But I do think anytime you’re making like a pivot anytime you’re adding in a new audience, a new target market, all of those things, I think weren’t reaching out to a professional. Would you agree?
Bonnie Bakhtiari 8:37
Yeah, absolutely. Because I think that every time you’re going through some kind of growth in your business, it’s important to check in with your brand and make sure the image that I’m putting out there, the way that I’m trying to position my brand in this market, is it still being received and perceived and the way that I want and a lot of the time, especially if we’re going through like big changes, or you’re trying to like add in a new service offering an add in a new audience that you’re trying to market to a lot of the time, that initial brand that did grow with you up until that point isn’t really serving you. Well.
Laylee Emadi 9:13
Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so I love that I think that’s such a strong place for people to start or to start really thinking about for their next steps. What’s the next mistake that people make? This is gold, I’m like, super excited.
Bonnie Bakhtiari 9:27
I love it. We’re just gonna like go through the list. And it’s gonna be super fun. And like I said, if you are tuning in today, and you’re resonating with one of these mistakes, or maybe more, this is not a time to beat yourself up. We have literally all been there. I mean, this is this is what I do for a living and I have been doing this for almost a decade. And there have been times where I have found myself falling into some of these mistakes because they’re common for a reason. They’re easy to get into. So I would definitely encourage you with this. This is you know other mistakes I want to share, it’s it’s this idea of kind of keeping up with the competition, but doing so to like a negative extent like overdoing it. So when you focus on keeping up with the Joneses, when it comes to your brand, what’s really, really easy, and we kind of blame part of this on social media, because it’s so easy to see what other people are doing on Instagram, it’s so easy to see the success that people are talking about on clubhouse and so many different platforms out there that call our attention and paint these pictures of success that we think other people are experiencing. And so when we are aware of that, when we’re exposed to that, what happens is, it’s really easy for us to hyper focus on the competition. And we don’t even realize that we’re doing it, we’re kind of focusing on, you know, doing some research or just scrolling through Instagram gathering inspiration, you know, staying in touch with your industry, friends. But really what happens is, if you are not aware, and if you are not vigilant, you start to hyper focus on what other people are doing, and what their brands look like, or what their positioning looks like, or what their messaging sounds like. And whether you’re really thinking about it or not, it can kind of seep into your subconscious. And so when you go to create your next Instagram post, or when you go to redesign your website, or, you know, think about rebranding, it can be so easy to be influenced by what other people are doing. And this is something that I actually see with quite a few of my own brand and strategy clients where when we first start working together, usually, you know, they say, Oh, well, my, you know, my biz bestie did this. And I love how you know they did this, what if we did something similar, and it’s a really great opportunity for me to come in and remind them about the power of a custom brand and a custom strategy. And to share that with you today. What that looks like is what you see other people doing works for them. And we also have to remember and kind of keep in mind that we’re only seeing a very curated example of what other people want us to see. So we don’t know the behind the scenes, it might look really pretty and really profitable on Instagram. But we don’t actually know, we don’t know what that actually looks like on the back end. So if you’re trying to go out there and build a brand, it looks like everyone else and you know kind of comes across like everyone else, because you think that’s what you need to do in order to be successful, what can happen is you actually build this brand that was never made for you, because it was never created with your goals and your definition of success and mind. So instead of looking to your left and your right and seeing what other people are doing, I really do encourage you to you know, kind of put your blinders on a bit and get really, really serious with your goals, how you define success, how you experience profitable brands, and what that looks like for you. And then start to make decisions about how you want to position yourself and how you want to brand yourself based on internal ideas. And also strategy that’s influenced by who your ideal clients are, versus what you know, kind of the shiny and pretty things are on like Pinterest or Instagram,
Laylee Emadi 13:10
that could be its own podcast episode, or just conversation in general, of how many times we’ve seen people fall into that trap of comparison in every aspects. But specifically talking about brands, I know that for myself, I really had to push myself out of that in this last rebrand because I was focusing so much of my efforts on really centering my brand around serving educators and creative educators and creative entrepreneurs who are a little bit more established in their businesses. But my brain space was still in it with all of the beautiful like designers and photographers and service based entrepreneurs whose brands all looked very romantic and soft, and, and fine art and beautiful. And I wanted that but like, that’s not what I needed. Like I needed something that was stronger and more confident and more more about how I’m going to, like you mentioned earlier create a transformation for the people that I would work with. And I needed that to be shown in my brand. But that was such a hard thing for me to understand as a non brand strategist. Like as somebody who is coming into it just being like, I really want something pretty and then realizing it’s not so much about the pretty and it’s not about what everybody else is doing. It’s about what I need to be doing for my clients. Right. So that is so enlightening. Thank you so much for sharing that.
Bonnie Bakhtiari 14:33
Yeah, so Okay, third and final mistake that I see so many people wrestling with is something that can be so sneaky, especially if we’re talking about actually lately what you were just talking about, like with the growth that even you’ve experienced over the years and how you were pivoting to really serve and show up for creative educators and how that’s different from you know, the brides and seniors and you know, like photography clients that you are marketing to what happens as we grow. And what happens if we’re not really aware of our messaging is it can be really easy for inconsistency and a lack of clarity to show up. And the way we’re talking about our brands, or the way we’re talking about our services are the way we’re even talking about ourselves or our team. And so unclear or inconsistent messaging is actually a really big mistake that I see, I see actually, people who have beautiful websites, or beautiful brands, and these, you know, really memorable logos. But then when you land on their Instagram, and you read their bio, or you head over to their website, you find that actually, their messaging is really inconsistent. It’s really hard. If you put yourself in the shoes of a potential client, it’s really hard to understand who they are, what they do, the transformations their work provides, and why that matters to you as a potential client. And so if you put yourself in your ideal clients shoes, it’s really important to take a look at the way that you are talking about your brand and your services. So the messaging that you’re using on Instagram, on any social platform, on a podcast, or a YouTube channel, face to face conversations on your website, literally anywhere you are talking to people about your business and the work that you do, what are the messages that you’re sharing? And what are the themes that keep popping up? And are they clear? Are they easy for your ideal client to understand, because when our messaging is clear, and succinct, and easy for people to understand, that’s when we see those really quick and confident conversions. When someone lands on your website, they’re getting super excited about learning more about you and the work that you do. And then when they inquire or they fill out an application form or whatever action you want them to take on their, on your website, they are really, really qualified leads. And they’re people who are like basically sitting there like, you know, smacking their credit card on the table being like, just take my money, just take my money, like that’s what we want to see, when we’re creating the it’s a really clear marketing approach. And and I say I just say messaging approach. And I say that messaging is something that we usually don’t think about as a part of our brand. Because we usually think about branding in terms of the visuals, right? But if we actually break down what branding is, and we look at it like it’s a pie chart, the visuals of your brand, so your logo, your colors, your fonts, your website, your business cards, all of the pretty things, not knocking that but that’s only about 20% of what your brand actually is, and the other 80% of what your brand actually is, is your messaging and your experience. And so we want to think about how we are talking about our work and how we’re showing up way past just the pretty visuals. And like, Guys, I love the pretty things. I am a brand designer and strategist I like live in the pretty and illustrator all day long. But it’s pretty, it’s backed by strategy. And if you’re missing that strategy piece, then you are really missing kind of that final puzzle piece that makes it all click. And that’s where you start to see that traction. And that excited passionate conversion from your ideal clients. So if there’s like one takeaway there, if you’re wanting like the one action step from that, I would say get really clear on who you are, what you do, and the transformation that your work provides. So that transformation is going to be the value that people experience when they hire you or they work with you. And if you can add those pieces together those three pieces together, you’re going to be left with this incredible messaging piece that you can weave through your Instagram bio, your website, if face to face conversations at you know, like zoom consults, so many different places that allow you to clearly and confidently communicate who you are, and ultimately why that matters to your ideal client.
Laylee Emadi 18:55
Oh, I love that. And I especially love the action steps. You know, I’m all about that. So, so good. Gosh, I feel like that was so much information and people are gonna have so much to think about. And I loved your encouragement that like if, if you’re listening to this and you feel like okay, well, I have not done these things like that’s okay. For sure. I’m so excited, though, that people have a place to start and a place to actually like dig in and really figure out what it is that they want to be communicating to their clients. And in that way, hopefully converting them a lot faster. There is nothing better, I think, than that feeling of like, take my money now from a prospective client. You know that that things are set up the right way when that’s happening? And if that’s not happening for you just yet. Maybe take some time to think over these. These things that Bonnie has gone over with you. All right, let us end this episode with my signature most important question of all time, what’s your unpopular opinion about creating a brand or changing your brand in order to actually book those clients?
Bonnie Bakhtiari 19:55
Okay, so my unpopular opinion is said with a lot of love. But I think that based on the almost decades that I have been working with creative entrepreneurs, and in the branding space, I have seen so many incredibly talented people unintentionally stand in their own way of achieving their goals and seeing the kind of success and growth that they’re dreaming about, because they were standing in their own way. And what that looks like, is if you are so fixated on having one kind of brand having this fine art photography brands are having this really vibrant and colorful coaching brand are having you know, whatever that vision is, in your mind, do not be married to that do not assume that that is ultimately what is going to be best for delivering your message and positioning you in the way that you want to be perceived by your ideal client. Because ultimately, unpopular opinion, ultimately your brand is not about you. And when we keep thinking that our brands are about us and about what we like and what speaks to us and our favorite colors, and you know, things like that, we miss this amazing opportunity to connect with your ideal clients. Because ultimately your brand is a vehicle that allows you to connect with them align and you know, really resonate with each other over shared values, and then use your talents or skills or services to deliver that transformation that we’ve been talking about, that’s going to change their life in the best way possible. But that can’t happen if you build a brand that is all about you. And it doesn’t resonate with your ideal clients. And so they you know, they come across you and they think that’s great, but it’s not quite me. And so they move on to someone else. So all that being said, I am not saying that you should have no opinions. And I’m not saying that you should have a brand that you hate, I am saying that you should hold your vision for your brand, especially if you’re working with a professional brand designer and strategists hold it with open hands don’t white knuckle it when you work with a brand designer and strategist one of the absolute joys of the work that I do is getting to dive into that strategy and make strategy back design decisions that are tailored to resonate with your ideal clients. And I am able to do my best work and other designers who take strategic approaches are able to do their best work when you are open to that advice and when you’re open to creating a brand that really resonates with your ideal clients. So all that being said, there’s absolutely a sweet spot where you can be building a brand that you love and building a brand that your ideal clients will you know become brand evangelists over but it for I think that first step really needs to be kind of taking yourself out of the equation, maybe removing your emotion and removing your ego a little bit from it so that you can approach that growth because really what that is is is the start of some exciting growth for you and for your business but approach that growth with just really open hands.
Laylee Emadi 23:00
I love that get out of your own way I think that is like I say that about a lot of things but I wouldn’t have thought to apply it to this but it’s completely true. And I know that whenever I was going through my rebrand I had to get out of my own way a lot and so I appreciate you sharing that. And I just appreciate you coming on and sharing all of this amazing content with all of our friends listening You are amazing where is the best place people can find you.
Bonnie Bakhtiari 23:23
You are amazing and I so appreciate you having me on today. And if you’re tuning in and you want to hang out or you want to follow up with me about something that I said I love love loves meeting new people love connecting with people on Instagram that’s the place where I’m most active so you can actually find me at Bonnie joy Murray. Send me a DM and let me know if something stood out to you or if you have a question and want to dive into it deeper, but you also if you want to check out the work that I’m doing and learn more about the work that I do as a brand designer and strategist you can find me at B is for Bonnie design, calm.
Laylee Emadi 23:58
Love that and of course as always, we will have everything linked in the show notes for you guys. Thank you so much Bonnie, you are amazing.
Bonnie Bakhtiari 24:05
Thanks so much for having me lately. I so appreciate this
Laylee Emadi 24:09
For show notes and resources mentioned on today’s episode head to so here’s the thing podcast.com and if you’re enjoying the podcast, I’d love to read your review on iTunes. Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll catch you in the next episode.