Branding for Entrepreneurs: Building an Aspirational Brand in the Instagram Era | Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton | Skillshare

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Branding for Entrepreneurs: Building an Aspirational Brand in the Instagram Era

teacher avatar Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, Founder of Chillhouse

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.



    • 2.

      Getting Started


    • 3.

      Finding Your Story


    • 4.

      Knowing Your Audience


    • 5.

      Developing Your Voice


    • 6.

      Defining Your Visual Identity


    • 7.

      Growing Your Audience


    • 8.

      Partnering Strategically


    • 9.

      Getting Personal


    • 10.

      Final Thoughts


    • 11.

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About This Class

Do you have a great idea for a brand, but you're just not sure quite how to establish it online? Never fear — Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, entrepreneur and founder of Chillhouse, is here to help!

After creating her smash-hit blog Taste of Style, Cyndi founded Chillhouse on the ethos of ethically-minded self-care without guilt at affordable prices. Though she had a substantial following of her own, Cyndi built Chillhouse's brand separately, from the ground up, to ensure it could stand on its own. 

In this accessible, fun class, Cyndi takes you behind the scenes to learn her personal process for building a brand in the Instagram era.Each lesson is full of Cyndi's tips, tricks, observations, and best-in-class industry examples, giving you essential building blocks that you can apply to the development of your own brand or your business. 

Through clear, easy-to-follow lessons, you'll learn how to:

  • Research your audience before you launch
  • Develop your written voice and visual identity
  • Engage in successful strategic partnerships
  • Make your brand memorable, unique, and coherent

While Cyndi's expertise is exceptional for online communities, her teachings on branding are valuable for anyone looking to start their own business or develop their personal brand. By the end of the class, you'll have gotten hands-on experience with custom worksheets for your brand story and audience that will guide you through Cyndi's exercises for brand development, giving you the tools you need to create a unique, sustainable brand that stands out from the crowd online!

Meet Your Teacher

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Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton

Founder of Chillhouse


Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton is the Founder and CEO of Chillhouse, a destination for modern self-care.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: You don't have to be a branding wizard to build a brand. You just have to know the story that you want to create and the rest will just fall into place. Hi, I'm Cynd Ramirez Fulton, founder and CEO of Chillhouse. Today's class is about building a brand in the Instagram era. Chillhouse is a wellness brand that creates destinations for modern self-care. We want people to constantly remind themselves through our brand that they are the priority and identify what that means to them and figure out ways to then utilize our brand to attain that moment of relaxation. You don't need any formal experience to get started on learning how to build a brand, you just have to be curious. So today I'll be walking you through the steps that I took to build Chillhouse, some of which include sending your story, knowing your audience, establishing your voice and copy, defining your visual identity, growing engagement, partnerships as well as building your own personal brand amongst your work brand. This class could be for anyone because we're all consumers and understanding the process that goes behind creating a brand is quite interesting and allows you to have a new perspective on whatever it is that you're buying into. If you take one thing away from this class, let it be inspiration. being inspired to start something new, whatever that may be and having some tools that you take away to do something that's really makes you happy and brings out the best in you. I'm so excited that you've joined the class. So now, let's get started. 2. Getting Started: I think every business has to define themselves, and so we do that in a few different ways as a business. But before we get into it, I want to dive a little bit into what a brand actually is. According to the web, a brand is a product manufactured by a company under a particular name. But according to me, a brand is an experience or an elicited feeling created by a company. So what do I mean by that? I guess we can talk through some of the bigger brands out there. Let's start with brand like Nike. Nike evokes the feeling of strength, of power, of you can do it, just do it. That is a feeling that a brand like Nike creates. Other brands are very different, such as a brand like Chanel. Chanel is classic, timelessness, trust of course as well and chic luxury. It's so synonymous with a particular location like friends. So every brand has its own feeling that they're trying to evoke onto their customers. That's really at the core of what a brand should do, is elicit a feeling and have that feeling transpire across channels. So these feelings aren't necessarily, I guess accidental, they're definitely fabricated but from a place of authenticity. So for example, a Chill House, my story makes my brand authentic but I have to actually create a feeling that could have a brand stand on its own legs. So like a name like Chill House allows me to really play around with the feeling of chill, and chill as we all know, is a word that describes relaxation and feeling at ease, feeling comfortable, feeling less stressed. That name and that feeling and that story has allowed me to now build a brand around those adjectives; relaxation, comfort, home, all of those words that describe my brand and business. I think we all struggle with the idea of defining ourselves but when it comes to a brand, it's almost like imperative that you do and so take yourself out of it, how would you describe your brand? Very simply like just think about that one liner, what's your brand? From there, there are a lot of other kind of building blocks. But I think defining your brand is obviously one of the most important steps to setting the tone for what the future is. Branding is not a regimented science. I've definitely not taking ownership of knowing everything but this is the steps that I've taken subconsciously, to create a brand. I think having organized these thoughts is definitely helping me now take my brand to the next level. So I hope that you guys can start from scratch, from the beginning with some structure and that can help really outline what your brand is going to be now in a couple of years and into the future. If you don't know what you want to do when you grow up or now that you are grown up, I think we all can relate that we do know the imprint that we want to make in this world in some way shape or form. At the end of the day, we all can maybe tap into that and so how do you bring that out in a physical product, or a service, or an experience that people can then engage with. So today, we're going to go through the building blocks needed to create your brand. The first one being, finding your story. Your story is a core of your business. It's your reason and it's your why. Two is, knowing your audience. Who are you speaking to, what are they buying, and how do you make sure that they buy into the brand that you've created? Developing your voice. Who's speaking? Who's the person that's all this copy is coming out of and how do you make sure that that voice resonates with the audience that you are targeting? The visual identity of you brand. This is probably the first thing you think about when you think of a brand are their visuals, but it really is the thing that people can grasp onto quickest, is that visualization of your brand. Growing engagement. So you have an audience, how do you now take that audience and expand on it? Partnerships, how do you align with partners that will enhance your brand? Finally, the role of personal brand through all of this. Throughout it all, you're going to be learning exercises that will allow you to piece everything together and really start putting all of these lessons into practice. These exercises are things that I do in my day to day or things that I have done to help shape certain areas of my brand as well. So in case you don't know, the class resources page has a worksheet that you can download and then upload that worksheet onto your project galleries. So definitely do that so that I can follow along on your brand-building journey. So now, let's dive right in. We're going to learn about how to found your story. 3. Finding Your Story: So finding your story is the key first step to your process, because it is the DNA of your brand. So what does that mean? It means that it cements why you created the brand to begin with. It's your why, it's your reason, it's the whole back story of how this brand came to be. So for me, for example, Chillhouse, my husband and I were trying to get massages one day and we didn't love our options. Our options were either a luxury establishment, where we felt like it was a big splurge to get a massage or it was a city environment, where we knew it wasn't like an ethically maintained place. So there was something in the middle missing for us. So that's our story. The fact that we weren't able to find what we were looking for. That story has helped carry us through throughout the years, because that's part of my story. I can't change my massage prices to now being a $150 for a massage. Because that was actually the price that I was trying to avoid it when I was the customer in search for relaxation one day. So that story has helped dictate our pricing or voice the audience that we are trying to connect with, and really has been the through current in all of our copy and our assets and everything. Not only is important for you to know your own story, but once you start sharing that story, your customers have an association to that story and know how to share that story with their friends, and their friends now connect to your brand without even having any prior knowledge to it. So having some story that then trickles down to other people that may have never heard about you, is important because even if you're building a quality product or service without a good story, all of that just falls flat. I personally didn't really know my story, going into it. It wasn't until I was interviewed for different various outlets that they started asking me how the brand came to be, and then it actually made me realize, oh, wow, I do have a story. There are a lot of stories that have a very fundamental deep rooted foundation behind it. Ours wasn't as obvious. That story like I said has helped us make a lot of different decisions across the brand, and now I would love to share some ways that you can figure out what your story is. I think we all have a reason that we want to do something and create something, and so what's your reason? That is really just as straightforward as possible. That is what finding your story is, is finding your reason. So even if you don't have a personal story, your product, or service, or whatever it is that you're creating, should at least be solving some problem or filling some void. So what is the void that you're trying to fill? What is the problem that you're trying to solve? If you can answer those two questions, then it could help dictate what that story is for you, and your brand, and your products. Your story shouldn't be fabricated. Your story should obviously be as authentic as possible. So again, if you don't think that you have a product that's derived from a story, then don't force it, just find a void. Find that void that helps dictate your story, because not everyone has to have this like perfectly orchestrated story of why they started this company but there is always a void to fill out there so find it. Your story doesn't necessarily need to mean that you have to go find your aha moment and search for it, and go off into the desert or the forest to seek and soul search, it doesn't necessarily need to mean that you have to do that. But again, every story needs to have a why, and every product, and service, and business, and brand, or whatever you want to call it, has to have a why and a purpose. So even if you don't find that thing that like is calling to you, you are still able to make products and create a brand. But at the end of the day, you need to be comfortable in your why and know that you have to work on that brand every day. So let it be something that really comes from the heart and comes from a place of passion. However, you find that passion, hopefully, it will help you get to that passion, realize that passion throughout this course as well. Now, is the fun part, the exercise part. So go ahead and download your worksheet in the resources section and let's get to it. So the things that you want to start asking yourself. So where did the inspiration for your brand come from? That's number 1. Write that down. Number 2 is what is your why for creating this brand? Again, if you don't have a story or a specific brand in mind, maybe let that be your feeling. Is your why a feeling of social consciousness, and wanting to bring more of that conversation to the forefront? Number 3 is what makes your product different or unique to the market? How does it sit within the marketplace? Because I think there are a lot of similar products out there. So how does yours stand out above the rest? Number 4 is how does your products fill a void in the marketplace? So how is it adding something new to the marketplace without feeling like another thing that's just saturating a certain particular industry? Now so putting all of these different answers together and coming up with what your story is based on those answers. So now that you have a better understanding of your brand, the next thing that we're going to cover is knowing your audience. 4. Knowing Your Audience: So I think a lot of people do have a very base level understanding of what they want their audience to look like, right? But having a pretty deep understanding of who you want your audience to be actually does help you make a lot of big decisions in the future, of course, that may feel very obvious. Some of them knowing where they are. We talked briefly about our audience was definitely on Instagram the most, but some people's audiences are in-person consumers. They like to touch something. They like to experience it firsthand before making decisions online. Knowing where your customer is obviously is very important because a business is a business you want people to actually convert into customers not just like peruse. So knowing where they are, knowing where they're shopping, knowing the brands, all of these things are super important in identifying how to reach them ultimately. So as you're trying to figure out who your audience is, there are a bunch of key questions you could be asking yourself. So how old are they? Where are they? Are they in the city? Are they in suburbs? Where do they reside is very important and of course, where do they work because that's half of their time goes towards work. Where do they shop? What are some brands that they already are shopping and they love? Where do they spend their free time? Are they spending it with their family or are they spending it with their friends at bars or are they spending it in more like leisurely places? Disposable income, what is their income bracket? That, of course, helps you now price your product better so that it fits their financial needs. That is probably one of the most important parts of knowing your audience. What are they willing to spend on your products? Also something that you should know about your audience is just like how do they like engaging with products? Are they very free to trust anything off of a web-page or are they more like they need to be sold through multiple mediums? Do you need to show them the product in real life in order to really convert that customer? Every customer is a little different with that decision I'd say. Obviously, luxury brands, they need to convert them through multiple different channels and that's why they probably have the most marketing overhead is because they have to have a physical location. They have to have ads. They have to have supermodels that represent those products, and that way they are able to really sell something that's a little bit more expensive and people now trust because they've been reached through multiple different mediums and channels. On the flip side of a luxury brand, a brand like Chillhouse, for example, part of my story is selling them on the idea that we're priced well. We are priced competitively. We treat our employees right through fair wages and therefore we're not priced cheaply, but we're also not overpriced because that's the core origin of our story is not being too overpriced as to not being an attainable brand for all. So once you've identified who your target audience is, start looking at the brands that they love and who are those brands? How are they reaching their customer and who is their customer aside from who you've identified very specifically? Because the target audience doesn't need to be so specific, it could span personalities, income brackets, it could span backgrounds, locations, and you definitely want your audience to be large, but also share similar values in some capacity. So finding other brands that are like-minded, have a very similar mission, and knowing how they speak to their audience, I mean, it definitely helps to start looking and referencing some of them. For Chillhouse, how we defined our audience was very similar to how I define myself. I am a downtown New York woman who's always on the go, who's always little bit overwhelmed, and who is always looking for an experience to help her offset some of that stress. So that was the basic, this is exactly who our target customer is and of course, there are segments of that customer, not everyone is an entrepreneur, so we definitely reach a lot of students that are also going through a lot of overwhelmed feelings. We definitely target even mothers who want to take some time away from their kids and use this as an excuse. We definitely, I think for the most part, what was funny that we learned about our audience was that I was trying to be gender neutral, but I ended up finding that women were the ones that really needed this more than men which was quite fascinating no matter how gender neutral the brand started, it ended up becoming very obvious that women were in desperate need for a place like Chillhouse. So that's the direction that the brand ended up taking was female focus, younger entrepreneurial or from a freelance background, and someone who needs a space really that reminds them to practice self/care on the regular. If you're not in a metropolitan city, if you're running a business from your home and it's an online business, you still have to focus on one person and what I mean by that is everyone has like a muse. Artists have had their muses in the past, brand builders have spokespeople. So well, who would be your spokesperson? Aside from you, if you had to pick someone that fully embodied your brand, who are they? What would they look like? If you had to cast them for a commercial, who would they be? So think about it that way. So now, on to the exercise portion and this isn't a hypothetical exercise, it's really actually do write down that dream person that embodies your brand and then start asking all those questions that we talked about earlier. How old are they? Where do they live? What's their income bracket.? Where do they hang out? Where do they shop? All of those questions now make that fall under the individual person and then learn a bit about them a little bit more. So now that you understand who your audience is a lot more, good segue into how are you speaking to them. So finding your voice. 5. Developing Your Voice: So the next lesson is about developing your voice. So your voice is your copy. It's your communication channel. It's how you get across to your customers via copy, of course. In order to really land on your voice, it's important to kind of have an understanding of who the person is that speaking to your customer. For us it's like this cool big sister that has a lot of knowledge but gives it to you straight. That's the Chillhouse Brand Voice. So there are a couple of ways that your voice can play into your brand. One It could definitely evoke a feeling so your voice can actually make someone feel a certain way. Does it make them feel happy, sad, soothed, relaxed, anxious, angry, all of which could be a positive for your brand, but it's important to know if that's the kind of voice that you want to have is one that evokes a feeling, or if you want your voice to just be very factual, very numbers-driven, data-driven, science-driven because that also helps determine a lot of purchasing decisions for your brand, right? If it's a brand that's very much about science and how this product has a lot of science-based research attached to it, maybe that's what's important to your customer versus something that's just going to inspire them to like the brand and trust the brand through a feeling or a visual. Definitely start thinking about some brand voices that you think speak to you and why you loved them. Is it because they've made you laugh? Is it because they've made you cry? Is it because they've now dropped some knowledge on you that you didn't have before and it's inspired you to become a better person? I think we all know about Dollar Shave Club success, and because of their incredible copy, they were able to sell probably I don't know how many but a lot of razors through this one commercial just because their copy was so witty and funny and we all laughed. Another fun example is Poo-pourri. Obviously, their copy is ridiculous over the top, but it makes you pay attention to something that you normally wouldn't think about like poop deodorant, like who thinks about that. So again it could play in both fields. But I think deciding if you want it to be a little bit more serious or a little bit more playful really does help you narrow in on how you want to start directing that voice. So how do you actually start going about finding your brand voice? I like to look into what my competitors may be doing and how can I stand out against those competitors, right? So, for example, my competitors were very science-driven. They're very results-driven. They're very fact-based. I'm more or Chillhouse is more about that elicit feeling, the feeling of chill, relaxation, and here are some great ways that you can attain that. So I think finding what your industry is mostly about and seeing how you can stand out within that line of communication is very important to defining your voice. Obviously, you've already learned to identify your audience. Now how does your audience really liked to be spoken to? Right? Do they like to be told what to do? Do they like to be inspired to do something? Do they like to be educated? I think your audience is going to dictate very much so how you speak to them. You don't want to obviously have a voice that doesn't really align with how they would speak, right? So how does your audience speak? Does your audience drop off bombs and they're okay with it or are they a little more reserves and they're like, "You know, this isn't cool with me." So I think all of these things personality traits that your customers are going to have really are going to be the reasons that you identify a voice down to a team. So now that we've identified your voice and your audience, now is the fun part actually trying to come up with some words and word association. The first one being the name of your brand. Do you want your brand to be very straightforward and explain exactly what you do? Or do you want it to be a little bit more obscure and vague as to what the brand could provide such as a Nike? You don't know what that is. No one knew that that was associated to sneakers in anyway. Chillhouse obviously, it's the house of chill, and within that name we're able to do a lot of really fun things like little branch off into different segments, right? But oftentimes a lot of the best brands don't have any word association happening within the name of the brand and the actual product that they're servicing. So there are a few reasons for that, main one being that it's really hard to claim names nowadays. Everything has pretty much been claimed from a web perspective to a social media perspective. It now seems like there's no words left out there for anyone to use that hasn't been done before. So now's the time to get really creative and I know that could be kind of daunting and exhausting and hard to narrow down. But there are some fun ways that you can do that such as like figuring out the best synonyms to either that feeling or that product that it is that you're trying to sell, right? I definitely did a similar thing where I just started writing down a bunch of names that are kind of in the relaxation worlds and I started looking at other spas and like saying like, "No, I don't want anything with tranquility or this or that," and I narrowed it down to a couple words chill and house and I realized that I like house because it reminds me of home and home is a good feeling. It's a feeling of comfort and safety. Then chill of course is like young slang. We all use it throughout our teen years until like now and it's a word that we all know and love and like hasn't really faded out yet. So that's how I combined the two and surprisingly there weren't many uses of Chillhouse out there. Product names are also kind of interesting because you know obviously Chillhouse doesn't end at just Chillhouse. We have different products. We have services that we create from scratch and naming them is a really fun process. So, for example, we didn't want to go traditional like calling a manicure a mani right? It's not like a basic mani. Instead, it's called the Full Rodeo. So we have like playful ways to describe services that people already know because we're not necessarily reinventing the wheel in anyway when it comes to certain services, but you want to make people feel like they're actually buying into something that's unique and exciting and new. The next fun step in voice is coming up with a tagline. So tagline is a short, sweet call to action, quick little statement that your brand makes. For Nike, it's of course, "Just do it." For Chillhouse, it's, "Find your chill." Then there's a slogan. A slogan is a bit more explanatory while also keeping your brand voice in mind. For example, Mastercard it's, "There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's Mastercard." For Chillhouse it's basically that explanatory part of the brand which is, "Chillhouse is a destination for modern self-care." So that is the difference between the two. One explains who you are, what your brand is about. The other one gives people a reason to jump on board. So those three elements, your name, your tagline, and your slogan are going to be what sets the tone for your brand voice, no pun intended. Of course this is just a couple of ways to generalize brand voice, but these different elements actually do play into so much more like your website, the copy on a menu, the copy on your packaging box, all of these different places where your copies is going to exist and you have to keep all off these different elements in mind when you are coming up with that copy for x, y, and z. So the first exercise is going to be for you to go on three different competitors websites and then try to see how they sell you on the same product in different ways only by using voice. Write them down and then compare them side-by-side. So let's look at some examples, shoes. So three different brands that are selling shoes, let's say Reformation is the first one. They just came out with a campaign because they're launching shoes for the first time. We want to touch your feet. So that is cheeky playful, definitely a little provocative but they're not scared to push the envelope. Cole Haan. They're all about style and function and comfort and that messaging comes through in all of the copy across their different product pages. The third one Steve Madden. Steve Madden is about empowerment and strength and feeling good and your shoes in yourself and in your body and that message strain also come through in a lot of their product pages. So now start like think about whatever category that falls in line with your products, brands, and then start looking at the different ways that they tried to sell their products. Now think about your own brand voice. Do you wanted to elicit a feeling or do you want it to provide factual information? Now come up with five different adjectives that define your brand voice. Next up, we'll be defining your visual identity. 6. Defining Your Visual Identity: So this is where a lot of the different elements and the lessons prior to this start playing into the decision-making of your visual identity. So I keep talking about how all of these are the fun parts, but this is really the fun part. We all say don't judge a book by its cover, but of course, we all do. So with that in mind, that's what happens with our logo. What we use to create that logo is super important to then attracting the customer that you've set out to attract, and get the respect from that customer that you really want and need. For example, chill house uses a sans serif font. It's slightly customized to us, but it's a sans serif font which is the millennial font category of choice. Millennials know it, they're comfortable with it. They know that the brand, whatever brand uses it is a brand that they may be interested in exploring. So that's why we ended up with a sans serif font. Let's say your voice is very informative, and a little old school, and it's very literary. Maybe a good font is something in the Old English category. So every font category, typeface category comes with its own little personality attributes. Again, there are a lot of different resources out there that can help you hone in on those. So obviously, not everything can be the same font. You need subtitles, you need copy. There are multiple different copy breakdowns that you'll need throughout the lifespan of your brand. So you'll need at least maybe 3-4 different fonts, that you use throughout all of these different channels and all your different assets. So definitely, don't limit yourself to anything less than 3-8 to say. You want to be able to play around with titles. You want to be able to play around with the subtitles, or the copy, the description copy underneath all of that. Those all require different scales and weights of fonts in order to really gravitate the eye and let people know, hey pay attention here right now, and then pay attention here a little later. There's definitely a hierarchy in fonts. The main one being your logo, that's the one that you want people to be like, okay, this is the most important one. Then your subtitle font is very important too because that's where a lot of year like, names of products, like that font is probably the one you're going to use the most. So that's a very important one, and that should really encapsulate your brand down to its key. So visual identity doesn't stop at typefaces. There are a lot of different ways your brand can transpire through visuals, one of which being photography. I mean you can definitely experiment, but at the end of the day, you should find lighting that works well across multiple things that you're shooting. It could be shooting a face, you could be shooting a product, you could be shooting a location, but there should be some consistency across the visuals of this photography. Another thing that's important to your identity are the people that you put forward. If you do choose to put people forward in your brand, what do they look like? Who are they? All of these different people are obviously really important here visual identity. It helps a customer connect on a much deeper level outside of just a logo and voice. Colors are super important of course because them too can evoke a feeling. So yellow, doesn't make you happy., I hope so. Yellow is a huge color for happiness. Red and orange, a little bit of hunger, and yellow that combination make doughnuts. You think of things that inspire hunger. Blue, it's a very common color. A lot of times brands use it to evoke a feeling of tranquility, or sometimes a feeling of trust. Color is actually a really fun thing to think about even earlier on in the process. If you have a favorite color, if you're like I'm dead set on having a brand that uses purple and all their branding, great, go with that and let that help you dictate what those emotions are that carry through throughout your brand voice and the visuals of your brand. Another element are patterns. So patterns can be very provoking in so many different ways. The patterns that we use are very again, chill. We use a lot of swirls and a lot of these curves that hopefully inspire relaxation. Other people's patterns could be very blocky and regimented. Geometric can make you feel maybe a little bit more confined. So not everyone can design their own brand. I definitely don't know anything about an illustrator or photoshop, that's not my jam and may not be your jam either. So if you want to go in the direction of finding an agency or freelance creative that can help you hone in on your brand visuals, definitely look into who they've worked with in the past. Have they worked with brands that are similar, and like mine it's yours. If so then they're probably a great candidate to be the person that puts these visuals into effect. Otherwise, if you want to take a stab at it, definitely again, start looking at other brands that inspire you, that have a similar mission, and share a similar audience. I think that's a really easy way to start narrowing down the types of typefaces, and the types of colors, and the types of patterns, that they use and see how you can obviously differentiate yourself, but of course comparison is always a great way to start putting those things into effect. So now the exercise, go ahead and think about the different attributes of your brand, and then start figuring out what font/typeface really embodies that. Sometimes this can happen for sure, that you are so in love with one typeface and then the name of your brand actually doesn't really work with that. So make sure it looks like it makes sense. I think you'll know right away if it's a hell yes, then that's the typeface for you. If it's a u-u, then you may want to rethink the choice their. Second exercise, start mood boarding, get that Pinterest account ready. There are multiple boards that you can create from your desired typefaces to color weighs, to patterns, to photography, I'd say definitely those four at the very least and start seeing if there are any similarities across all four. When you're done with that, we're going to go into growing engagement. 7. Growing Your Audience: Obviously, you want to grow your audience because you hopefully want your brand to be successful. All this I did and so that was a super important element of Chillhouse was to have actually a built-in audience before we even went to market. So some ways to create that growth and get that engagement from your community is through content. We've done that obviously through Instagram or Newsletters, The Chill Times, but it's important that you keep at the forefront of your mind that you're not only creating content to sell something, you really want to create things that are meaningful and that people are inspired by and not only feel like there is a direct result associated with that piece of content. So for us, we created The Chill Times as a way to encourage community through a vehicle that necessarily doesn't translate into direct sales. In addition to being able to speak towards different topics in self-care category without necessarily making people feel like they have to shop something or purchase a service or basically in a way that felt authentic and we were able to provide additional knowledge to a certain topic, with no agenda or anything like that. So the way we create content a lot of times, I'd say 80 percent of it, is really just us creating content for the basic needs of someone on the other side. That means no ads, no selling you product or anything like that. Then of course, there's around 20 percent of that that actually is branded content or does have some sort of lists the products that we're affiliated with or brand partners are affiliated with. Yes, of course, every business has to have some sort of revenue angle to them. So we try to balance out the two by providing a significant amount of content that isn't necessarily about conversions and then a small portion of that of course is to feed the bottom line. So consistency is another thing when it comes to content. A lot of times you're going to be experimenting, in that first year or so, different types of contents, seeing what works what doesn't and that's totally okay. What you think may work one day is not going to work in six months from now. Our culture is constantly evolving, pop culture is constantly evolving. You need to keep up with the times of your demographic. So definitely don't be scared to switch up the content game a little bit, and obviously for consistency purposes, make sure that when something works now stick to that and that way people know what to expect from you. So engagement could mean a few different things. It could mean obviously likes, could mean comments. It could mean people sliding into your DM and saying this really spoke to me. It can mean conversions. Your conversions obviously are probably the most telling engagement metric out there and hopefully everything that you've set forward content-wise does result in conversions, whatever that may look like to you. Whether that sales or whether that's followers, however you're trying to really measure up your success, your content should be focused on that. But again, having some authenticity and some really more deep rooted connection between that content and the person on the other side is really important as well. So community is also of course a huge element of your brand or it should be. Everyone should be thinking about their online community or even there IRL community. For us, it's a combination of the two. We only have one physical space as of right now, in New York City, and we have an audience that's worldwide, which is super exciting, but how do we reach them in ways that they feel included in the conversation not excluded in the conversation? So obviously, that's one reason that we have The Chill Times, and newsletters, and Instagram. Other ways that you can engage now your own community is by doing events. So hosting events is a huge, huge brand builder. It inspires brand loyalty. So a lot of times it's really hard to get that full connection with a customer through an online medium, but being able to actually meet them face to face, having them connect with your employees, having you connect with the founder. So that obviously builds so much trust between your community and your brand. There are ways that you can do a series, that's not just an event series. You can host series on your personal Instagram. Your brand Instagram's series that are either published every Monday of every week or let's say it's once a month every Wednesday, but come up with a time frame for these series and that way people know what to expect at a certain time and they they tune in, and they are excited to engage with your brand even further. Another great way to engage community is by asking them questions. Are you ready? If you have an audience, if you have at least five friends, you have a community. Let's start there. So that's really important to know. Not a lot of people realize that a community could be as small as that. Everyone knows at least 5-10 people, no problem. Then, if they're inspired by what you do, they may share that with half of their audience. So you have to just know that the community will build up on its own, either with you doing very light work. So that's one great thing about just the power of word of mouth. So obviously, you have a community, now how do you engage them in a way where you're not just putting forward a bunch of content and not really listening? Luckily, Instagram has things like pulls. You can pull your audience quite easily now without having to actually get into their inboxes. But if you do have the luxury of having a lot of emails, you can also do surveys. It's really important to ask people how they think you're doing. We of course, founders, like to think that we are doing everything perfectly, when sometimes maybe we're not. So keeping that level of trust is very important in engaging a community, in growing that community because people appreciate when a company is transparent and when a company listens to their point of views. By all means, as far as growing an audience, do not be afraid to ask your friends to share your page, share your brand. Write a Yelp review. Whatever it is that puts your products, your brand in a good light, don't be afraid to ask people that in your immediate circle. For the most part, everyone wants to support one another and there's no reason that they'd say no. So don't be afraid, ask for help, ask for people to share your brand. So now on to the exercises. For this exercise, I want you to list out about two to three different ways that you're going to get your audience to engage. So another way to really acquire a bigger audience is through partnerships. So that's going to be the next lesson. It's how to acquire new customers through partnerships. 8. Partnering Strategically: So partnerships can be as simple as finding a like-minded brand and coming up with one collective outcome throughout that partnership. So there are multiple ways that you can do this and we'll go through a few different options. But the biggest thing to take away from this is that your goal should be really to find a partner that is like-minded but that also you can now tap into their audience and maybe convert some new people that may have never known who you are. So now you're expanding your reach. For example, we've partnered with IGK Hair and they're a great brand for us to align with because we obviously are doing similar things in a similar category but were not competitive in anyway. They are all about hair, we're all about self-care. So combining those two big categories allows us to expand our reach. They're able to now tap into our audience that may not have been an IGK customer and vice versa. They're also a global brand whereas we're still fairly local. So that's an example of one partnership we've done. We've also done many others. They all served their own individual purposes and of course at the end of the day served the purpose of making sure that our customer is top of mind, no matter what. When you're pitching potential partners, definitely try your best and make it easy for them to say yes. So what I mean by that is basically write up a proposal that they cannot refuse. If your dream is to work with someone that's really hard to work with, they have very high standards, then maybe do it in kind and you know that sometimes those in-kind partnerships can lead to paid opportunities in the future or it can acquire new customers that would then turn into revenue. So definitely don't only think of partnerships as a way or as a means to make a fast cash, that's not what partnerships are all about. Of course, there are some of those as well, but there are a lot of in-kind partnerships or collaborative partnerships that don't always translate to sales that are very good for brand identity and brand alignment too. There are a lot of different in-kind partnerships that you can do. For example, if you have a physical space, a lot of times people ask if you can donate your space for their community and if that community is a community that you really want to tap into that may not know about your brand, then great. Take the space to host your event here. There are other in-kind partnerships or collaborative partnerships that don't require any cash up front or any exchange and funds such as giveaways where both brands are providing some lump-sum cash or product towards a gift, a giveaway so to speak, right? So that usually doesn't require any exchange of funds. You can just find anywhere from two to up to five brands that you want to collaborate with on one big giveaway and hopefully share those e-mails or those follows. Some other examples of in-kind partnerships are just offering discounts towards other people's communities. We have obviously our larger online community and our newsletter community and all that but we also have a smaller community that are just clubbed chilled members. Oftentimes we'll reach out to brands that we really love and we know our members really love and I'll ask them if they can provide either a product for our members or a discount. Co-branded content is something that you'll probably do often in the future of your brand. What that means is basically bringing two brands and injecting them into one core mission, whether that's a campaign or a day filled activity or whatever it is that you guys are trying to put together, a project that you are trying to put together. So how do you inject both brands into one visual identity and one voice, and all the different things that make up a brand. That could be a little tricky. A lot of times you definitely want to ask them if they have a brand bible to reference, that definitely helps with the collaboration aspect as far as visuals go. But from a more kind of high level point of view, definitely understand each others goals with this. The most important thing about any collaboration really is what is that brand's ultimate desired outcome. For us, it's usually just brand recognition. Probably people finding out who we are, coming to us, engaging with our brand. For others it maybe actual conversions of products of something that they're trying to put forward. Having a very good understanding of what those are then help shape that project a little bit better and helps strategize what the actual project structure is going to be. For this exercise, I want you to put together the perfect pitch to your dream brand collaborator. So think of it in a few different ways when you're putting together your pitch. First one being is what do you bring to the table? That's the most important thing. The second part being, what would you like in exchange for that? The third part being, how do you tie it all together in a way where they can't say no? There are a few different ways that you can do that. The first one being the most obvious, don't write a really long email, don't bore anybody with too much copy, keep it pretty simple, concise, and positive throughout complimentary. Of course, everyone loves to know that you're a fan of their brands. So make sure you put that in there. Other things to keep note of, a lot of times it's just a good time opportunity for some of these brands when you land in their inbox and they just happen to need products for something. Great. So definitely think about what that scenario would look like. How you can be very timely in this circumstance? Also, of course, make sure your on-brand for them. Don't reach out to a brand that feels either a very unattainable because they're so big that they won't work with a small brand or just completely different to the point where your customers and audience does not align at all. Of course, this exercise is how to pitch your dream collaborator, but obviously not everyone can pitch their dream collaborator when they're just starting out. What are some other things you can do? Why don't you look within your community people that you may know that have similar businesses and see how you can partner with them. So now that you've gone through all of these lessons one of the biggest things that I personally still get asked about a lot is how do we even your personal brand into it all. So that's the next and last lesson. 9. Getting Personal: So one of the best pieces of advice I've ever been given in my career is to always be working on your personal brand. A lot of times I think entrepreneurs are so laser focused on their work brand that they often forget about their personal brand, when really a lot of times the personal brand can highlights all of the amazing things that you're doing in your work life and really actually bring even more opportunities to the table. So not every founder is going to want to really put their face behind the brand but in my case I definitely did want to for a few different reasons. One, I think that it really helps build brand trust and brand loyalty, and showing people how I engage with my own brand then shows them how they can engage with the brand, right? Shows them that I'm the biggest fan and the biggest spokesperson for my brand. So that is one of the reasons I think that founders should be putting their faces behind the brand a little bit more than maybe you used to see back in the day. There are obviously the biggest tool that we have to our disposal to do that is Instagram. Definitely make sure that you are trying to push your Instagram to grow as much as maybe your brand brand. There are a few reasons why I think that it's very beneficial at the end of the day. One being that you want, again, to build that trust and loyalty and you want to make sure that people, there is some crossover community, right? You're able to kind of push people if they may not be able to see some post that went up for Chillhouse because it hit them at the wrong time, maybe you can talk about it on your channels and then you hit them anyway. That's a very obvious benefit to your business is you being able to talk about it, on your Instagram platform of course. Other benefits include, you becoming a new channel for, again, brand collaborations. Now, because I have a platform, that maybe isn't as big Chillhouse, but I do have a platform, now I'm able to add another kind of line item to a partnership. Now I become another reason that people want to work with Chillhouse and want to engage with me. That's another big benefit to building up your personal brand. Another huge element is if you build up your personal brand, you're very likely to also start getting invitations to self-speaking at panels, to be interviewed for really great articles. I've been featured in a lot of really incredible outlets because I am very face-forward with my brand and of course that's something that they really admire and they like and they want to feature people that are also very excited to share those moments in their lives, such as me. Of course you can have other conversations outside of speaking of your brand all day long. There are probably going to be other reasons people follow you such as, maybe you have a random hobby that you love, like you love surfing and that's been this kind of unmonetizable hobby that you've done forever and you're really good at it and it's a passion thing for you. People can latch onto that. Then they also are potentially inspired to go learn more about your business and maybe that's someone you convert that normally wouldn't necessarily be attracted to your business. So don't just limit yourself to only talking about your business that also could get a little boring, I'd say for the person on the other on the receiving end of that content, you definitely want to pepper in some of your personality into all this content. Make sure people know what your views are, whether those are political views or whether those are just general lifestyle perspectives. People want to know more about the person behind the brand. Give them a reason to want to follow you and give them a reason to want to stick around. Of course it all goes back to authenticity. So keep it real. Stay very true to who you are. If you develop a bit of a fan base they're more likely to support not only you but your brand as well. I'm an Aries. I'm a fiery Latina. I'm a boss. I'm the daughter of an immigrant entrepreneur who has done so much and I get a lot of my confidence because of my background and because of who I am inherently. So not everyone's going to be able to put together like this perfectly constructed personal brand right from the get-go. It's going to be a lot harder for some people than others. My advice to you would be just start very very slow. Obviously start with the things that make you the most comfortable, whether that is talking about your work or whether it's talking about your dog. Maybe your personal brand doesn't only have to be about you in your outfits and your skincare or you and your hobbies, maybe could be about something that you love and you start by doing that and then you start bringing your face into it a little bit more because people do love to see faces on a feed, they love a familiar face, right? So it's okay to start slow and I think ease into it and get comfortable with the things that you're already comfortable sharing. From there you'll start softening up and easing into these scenarios. Don't get down on yourself. This isn't something that really comes naturally to you. It doesn't come naturally to many many people at all. But I think once you get into a groove of something and once you become really passionate about one talking point, it all starts coming more and more naturally. I think a very simple exercise that you can do now that you've created your brand, is think about what your announcement post is going to be. Talk about all the work that you put into it, talk about your why, talk about the reason that you couldn't wait to share this brand with the world. Put yourself in that post whether that's holding the products in your hand or whether that's being in your space or being next to or in vicinity with the product or service or whatever it is that you created and show it off, and show it off in a way where you seem very happy and excited and I think that's a very great way to tie this all together. So you created your brand and then you created your personal brand and now you're introducing your brand your personal brand page. I would love to see how you guys put together this exercise, definitely upload it to the project gallery and show it all off. 10. Final Thoughts: So on that note, let's take a second to breathe, unwind, and chill because you have made it to the end of your class. I'm so happy that you guys went through the steps with me. We covered everything from creating your story to figuring out your brand voice. Your visuals, partnerships, how to grow an audience, your personal brand, so much. Of course, please note that your brand is always evolving. It's like a human. We're always changing. Get ready to want to switch things up every now and then. Don't forget to upload all of your work to the project gallery. On that note, I'm signing off. Thank you again for following along. I cannot wait to see all of your projects, all of your brands out in the world. Thanks again. 11. Explore More Classes on Skillshare: