Brand Yourself - A Quick Guide on Brand Positioning | Chris Fredricks | Skillshare

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Brand Yourself - A Quick Guide on Brand Positioning

teacher avatar Chris Fredricks, Brand Strategy & Content Creation

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Intro / What is Branding?


    • 2.

      Who's Your Target Market?


    • 3.

      Focus - What Makes You Different?


    • 4.

      Find Your Message & Voice


    • 5.

      Keeping it Consistent


    • 6.

      Wrap Up


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About This Class

For small business owners, artists, designers, anyone trying to sell a product or service. Your brand is how customers perceive you, and while you can’t exactly control what people think, you can influence how people feel about your company by focusing your message and being consistent with it. By building trust. I will guide you to create your own Brand Guide so you can move forward with a focus. We’ll talk about what makes you different from your competition, why it’s important to know that, and why it’s important to start spreading the word in a consistent way. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Chris Fredricks

Brand Strategy & Content Creation


Hi there! I've worked as a designer for over a decade in a bunch of different roles. I focus on building and managing brands. I've helped a variety of clients develop a brand strategy, and then apply that strategy to the design of their website, catalog, or whatever they needed to share with the world. Designing eventually led me to teaching design both online and at the the University level. In 2019, I was super pumped to join the team at InVision University, where I learn a ton every day while applying my background in design and education. 


When I'm not doing all that stuff, I create illustrations for my apparel brand, Grow Up Awesome. Everything I make is inspired by my weird family, and many pets. I live and work in Grand Rapids, Michig... See full profile

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1. Intro / What is Branding?: Hi, my name is Chris. I'm a graphic designer and I'm the founder of OpenCore, a design studio here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In this class, first of all, you'll learn about what branding really is, how it can help your business. If you're a designer, you can hopefully learn how to talk more about branding and how that can improve your design work. You can also follow along with the brand worksheet, and at the end if you fill it out, you hopefully have a rough brand guideline that you can use as a reference for yourself or any designers or anyone on your team that you worked with in the future. What is branding? When most people think about branding, the first thing that comes to mind is often a logo. The truth is a brand is the perception that people or your customers have of you. Marty Neumeier wrote a good book called The Brand Gap. In it he says it's not what you say you are, it's what they say you are. He also says. "That a brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or organization." That can be super scary because how do you control someone's perception of your brand or your company? Or how do you control what someone thinks of you? From years of teaching, branding, and working for companies with really strong brands, I think it comes down to three things. It's three steps, but within each of those steps, there's an infinite number of steps depending on how deep you want to go. But I think it comes down to one, Focus, two, having a message and a clear voice,and then three consistency with all of these things. That's what I'm going to break down for you today. 2. Who's Your Target Market?: We're going to start with something that I think sounds really boring to most people, especially creative people. But who's your target market? The main thing here is you have to be focused. You can't sell your product to everyone. If you're trying to sell your product to everyone, chances are that your message is going to be so bland and watered down that no one is going to care what you have to say. The cool thing about target markets is they don't have to be as constrictive as they might sound. A target market can be a group of people, but it can also be a type of project. As a graphic designer, let's pretend I'm primarily in illustrator then I want illustration projects or maybe I want to design album covers for bands. In the past when I was teaching brand positioning statements, it was pretty narrow that we were trying to make our target market, more recent strategies like The Three-Hour Branding Sprint by Google Ventures have you list your top three audiences. Which means a couple of different things. It's not necessarily who you're selling to, but more of who you want to be listening or who you think might be listening to your messages. Not only customers, but this might include peers that are in your same industry. In the branding worksheet, I've included a rank system. I would try to figure out your top three audiences, and again, some of those might be other people in your field, but your number one audience should be the main audience that you're trying to sell to. 3. Focus - What Makes You Different?: A lot of branding is about narrowing your focus. Again, your target market can't be everybody and what makes you different can't be everything. In this next part, we want to talk about what really makes you different. When I say really, I mean, really like radically different. I also like to say weird. It's something makes you weird people remember weird things. Weird doesn't have to mean bad. Weird can totally be good. In the world of branding and marketing this can also be called differentiation. Again, what makes you different than your competition? It can also be called your value proposition. What are you offering a value to your customer that's different than the rest of your competition? This is totally the hardest part. It's one hard to narrow down what you do to such a concise level and still be comfortable that you're selling possibly all of the things that you can do. But there's a few ways to think about it. I would look at what does your competition say they do? Is it boring? Try to put yourself in your customers shoes and look at what your competition is saying, or look at what you're saying right now if you're already out in the market, is it actually interesting? Is that something that would make someone choose you over someone else? Why should your customer care in the first place? Another way to look at it is why do you do what you do in the first place? It's really not important what you do, what's more valuable to a customer and what a customer can actually like connect with your company is why you do what you do. That's where the passion comes from, that's where your drive comes from. Hopefully, that's what makes you different. In a really popular TED talk, I think it's number three in all time views, Simon Sinek says, "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." In the branding worksheets that I provided, I included his golden circle, which lays out the what, the how and the why, and the what and the how should be pretty easy for you to figure out. But why you do what you do is hopefully compelling. If the answer is to make money, then you probably don't have a super compelling arguments to why people should use you over your competition. In this case, I'll use myself as an example. I'm a graphic designer and because I was in the freelance world and also teaching branding and also have had experience working for a strong brand, I decided that as a graphic designer, what makes me different is a focus on branding and building brands. When I start a conversation with someone or when someone asks me what I do, I bring up branding while talking about graphic design. My background includes a lot of things, including video work, copywriting and design obviously. But instead of listing off all these things I do, which is boring, talking about branding, I can circle back to all of those things depending on what the potential need for that client is. If you asked me why I do what I do, I would say it's because one, I like making things and two, I like telling stories. Branding allows me to tell a concise story that's interesting and compelling to whatever that audience maybe. That's my value proposition and that's my why. 4. Find Your Message & Voice: Let's talk about voice. A brand should have a personality, just like a person. If that company is just you, if your brand is you, hopefully that personality is just your personality, or at least the parts of it you want to share with the public. If you're in a bigger organization, a group exercise would be necessary in order to kind of figure out what your brand personality is. You can figure it out with the same tools that are provided in that worksheet. If you check out the Google Ventures three hour design sprint, you get more in depth on that sort of exercise. Personalities interesting to talk about. I have clients that are lawyers, I have clients that are business consultants. A lot of them are worried about being unprofessional. I think unprofessional is a word that's turn around a little bit too much because I think you can be not boring and still be professional. Maybe every aspect of your personality is not super exciting as a brand, but there are always little spots that you can find that will stand out. These exercises in these worksheets can help you figure that out. There are a lot of tools. One of them that you'll see in a worksheet is brand archetypes. The cool thing about archetypes is there based on characters that we've seen in movies and books our entire lives. You can read those archetypes like an every man or a villain or a connector. You can find those people throughout history, throughout films, throughout books, throughout politics. You've seen all of these people before. When you start talking like one of those archetypes as a brand, people can connect to that and recognize that and start to feel comfortable with that quicker. Also in the worksheet is personality sliders. You don't have to pick an extreme on each of these. Some of them can be right in the middle or close to the middle, but hopefully one or two of those stands out and helps you start developing your own voice for your brand. Once you have a voice or an archetype in mind, I would start writing potential headlines for a website or start writing potential captions for Instagram photos or Facebook posts. To get an idea and a feel for writing in that voice and see if you can do it, or see if someone in your organization can do it. Let's real quick talk about some brands that have a real strong brand voice. These are pretty random and just ones that I interact with on a daily basis. I'm sure you have brands that you like in respect and follow on social media. If you think about it, the fact that you follow a company on social media, it's kind of weird but the reason you do it is because you connect to their voice and that's what you're trying to do when you start spreading your message out to the world. Mailchimp, i f you're not familiar with Mailchimp, it's an online email marketing system. The reason I like Mail Chimp is one, they have a cool monkey logo and this monkey character feels like he's rooting for you as you start to build your newsletter and as you send it out. When you press the button to send it out, he celebrates with you. It's a little goofy, it's little childish, it's little playful. But again, it's a serious business, but it doesn't mean you can't be playful and still have people's respect. Another one I love is Patagonia. The thing Patagonia does well is they talk about the environment all the time. They give one percent of their sales to environmental causes all the time. They also had an ad campaign where they actively told people not to buy new clothes. That's a pretty radical thing for a clothing company to do. They also started accepting used clothing and through this campaign of telling people not to buy clothes and accepting used clothing, their sales went up because people respected the message that they're sending out. Old Spice, I love old slice because they're absurd. They're funny in the most absurd way. People riding sharks through outer space, for example, are making up a completely fake history about their company. I recommend checking out their social media pages. They're super consistent. There's a ton of other companies go look at the ones you fall on social media and chances are what you admire about them is their voice in the message that they're sending out into the world. So when you're starting to send your own message out, or if you're already doing it and need to make it better, start looking at those things and emulate the ones that work. 5. Keeping it Consistent: Consistency, it's all about consistency. You have a target market. You know who your audience is, you know what makes you really crazy, radically different and weird, and why that's important to your customer, and you have a message and a voice that you want to say these things in. What now? Now that you have those things, that gives you the power to keep everything consistent. Consistency is what builds trust, so it's not only the message that you're sending out in the world and the way you're saying it, but also the visual surrounding that. What is being consistent really mean? It means everything that you put out in the world has to one, be targeted to that target market or the audience that you're talking to and needs to in some way reference what makes you different or reinforce that differentiation, and then it also has to be in your voice, a consistent voice. Those things he put out into the world, everything you put out into the world, those are called touchpoints in branding and graphic design. So your logo, your website, your social media accounts, ads, catalogs, buttons, t-shirts, uniforms, vehicles, newsletters, everything. The message has to be consistent across everything. Consistency is so important because it's what builds trust. Whether you're choosing a place to eat or a place to bring your car to get fixed, chances are you're looking at that messaging at some point or another, whether it's a website or a newsletter or an ad in a magazine, that consistency is what builds that trust. Let's talk real quick about visual consistency. You don't have to be a designer to care about visual consistency. You also don't have to be a graphic designer to guide designers or other people on your team to create a visual consistency for your brand. If you're a new company, or you're launching something new, or you're just trying to revamp your image, I'd recommend creating a mood board. You can use tools like Pinterest. I think Pinterest is the easiest one and most people already know how to use it. Otherwise, there's a more designy one called InVision which you can drag images into. Pinterest is a great place to start because you can find things either in your industry or just visuals that you like the colors of, the feel of, and you can compile those things and create a consistency within that mood board that you want to fit your brand, and then that becomes a visual guide for a potential designer or team member in the future to use to create new touchpoints or marketing materials for your company. 6. Wrap Up: Thanks for hanging out. Again, this class is a quick start to brand positioning and brand strategy. If you follow along with the worksheets, I recommend watching the video once or twice to try to get through it. Then also once you have a start, go back and do it again, and try to narrow your focus, and also try to tweak things to make them feel better for you. Once you fill out that worksheet, you should really have yourself, right there in your hands, a brand book for your company. You can use that with graphic designers, or other people on your team or copywriters, or anyone developing products or services for your company, you can use that thing as a guideline for all those people. This is an internal document. You do not have to share this with the world, and there's really no reason to. The point of it is it's a reference. It's a reference for you if you're all by yourself or if you're the founder of your company. It's a reference for everyone you work with on how to talk about your company, how to talk about your products, how to talk about your services, and what voices do that in. It's really invaluable. I recommend if you do this, you tweak it a little bit if you need to throughout time, if you're making a big change, then just start over. But I hope you found this information useful, I know it's a lot of info. Again, go through it a couple of times, try to figure it out and ask questions. I'm happy to provide feedback. Thanks again for watching.