Personal and Lifestyle Branding: Building Your Story | Kate Arends | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Personal and Lifestyle Branding: Building Your Story

teacher avatar Kate Arends, Founder, Wit & Delight

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

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.

      A Focused Brand


    • 3.

      Brand Values


    • 4.

      Brand Toolkit


    • 5.

      Wrap Up


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Wit & Delight founder Kate Arends began the brand as a personal website. Through a specific vision and an aesthetic to match it, Kate has grown her blog into an aspirational, beautiful lifestyle brand.

In this 30-minute class, you'll join Kate at her home in Minnesota where her aesthetic is ever-present. She will walk through the experience of building Wit & Delight, workshop her brand, and share helpful tips on key decisions she made along the way. You'll follow along, workshopping your own brand and identifying the following key elements:

  • Brand belief, mission, and pursuits
  • Brand emotional benefits
  • Brand aspirations and how you'll get there

By the end, you'll have a clear vision for where you want your brand to go and how to get there. Your brand will tell the story you want it to, and lead you to success.

Image courtesy of Wit & Delight.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kate Arends

Founder, Wit & Delight


Wit & Delight is an ongoing project created by Kate Arends. Founded in 2009, the lifestyle website has evolved into a brand that celebrates a combination of veracious expression and simple elegance with an approachable, yet edited point of view. Above all, Wit & Delight is dedicated to the development of it’s readers, promoting self discovery, mental health advocacy, and wellness topics as the foundation of a life well lived.

Wit & Delight reaches a million readers everyday, and has been featured in Martha Stewart Living, Women’s Wear Daily, Fast Company, New York Times, and Elle Decor, among other national publications. In 2014, Wit & Delight introduced a limited-edition product line with Target Corporation.

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hi. I'm Kate Arends. I'm the founder and creative director of Wit and Delight. My background is in brand strategy and graphic design and I'm excited to be here today to talk to you guys about a class that we're teaching on branding your way to the top. Wit and Delight is a lifestyle website and brand that was founded in 2012. It was inspired by a lack in the blogging community that I felt existed. I wanted to figure out a way to really encapsulate my point of view on lifestyle topics like food and cooking into core design and architecture and product design. It began as me writing in first person, I couldn't myself an expert on it but I began to define a tone and a point of view on all of these things and Wit and Delight really became a core brand. What turned out to be this little project has now turned into my full-time job. So today we're going to talk about different ways that you can really do that for yourself and your business, whether it's a personal brand or it's a business idea that you have that is coming into fruition or it's a brand that you already have and it's been established for a while. We'll be going through two worksheets, one will be focused on how you figure out your belief and your mission in your pursuits, and that will lay the foundation for everything that you'll do in the next year, next five years, next ten years. The other worksheet that we'll be working on is an emotional and functional benefits than diagram that will go through exactly what you emotionally bring to your customers or your audience and then we'll be going through your functional benefits as well. We'll be talking through defining each one and how it relates to everything that you do in your business. Understanding exactly what your mission is helps you benchmark how you're doing and where you want to go, and it's really helped Wit and Delight, we've evolved probably about three times in the past five years and each time we've gone through this exercise to understand exactly what we want to accomplish and to make sure that it does fit within our brand values, the direction that we want to go. A student who's interested in this class, it can be a very broad range. You could be someone who wants to focus your personal brand, you maybe want to be known for a specific skill set or a specific service that you give, a new business that you're just toying with, you're beginning to work in your business plan but you really can't nail that executive statement, and this is also a great class for someone who has a brand that's been around for a year or two who need sort of refocus the direction of how you look and feel and the world as a business. So what you'll need for this class is any documentation that you've done for brand positioning, any worker journaling that you've done on why your brand exists, I would suggest bringing that to the class and reviewing it before you get done. I would bring your business plan, if you have one or an outline of one if you've started it. I would bring screenshots or an example of your business landscape. You won't need any fancy design programs or Illustrator programs to complete this class, it's as simple as printing out the worksheets and filling them with a pen and paper. You don't need to have a business or a brand to take this class. In fact, it's very, very helpful for people who are wanting to further define their personal brand. The personal brand is important these days as you're marketing yourself for future employers, or maybe you're a freelance creative, or you're freelance writer you live in that self-employed world really being able to articulate what you're about and what you do is a way to separate yourself from the competition. The product in this class is completing a brand mission statement. So you'll walk away with a really complete mission statement along with a couple of pursuits in ways that you're going to go and achieve this mission statement. One of the best ways to achieve a really great mission statement is to share with others, and skillshare is a great place to do that. You can upload your worksheet and mission statement to the gallery and get feedback from other people who have either taken the class or other members of this community and being able to talk about your mission clearly and succinctly in a sentence or two will drive business and help people understand exactly what you do and why you do it. 2. A Focused Brand: Today on branding to the top, we are going to be talking about what makes a focused brand. Focused brands are companies that you probably have an emotional connection to, and when you think about them they're synonymous with what their mission is. So what we all have in common, as either a business owner, or a freelancer, or someone who's beginning to start their own brand, is we have to wear many many hats, and at any given time you are the designer, the CMO, the janitor, you're all these people that eventually you'll be able to hire, and that's why having a focused brand is so important especially in this critical time when you are very lean. What focused brands really do, is they work harder for you, and focus everything that you do, so it all that adds up to something that matters in the eyes of the people that you are communicating to. As we begin to talk about what a focused brand is, I want to talk about exactly what a brand is. Is it a logo of a specific look and feel? Is it a mission statement? The reality is, it's a lot more than just those things. A brand is a perceived value by your customers. A brand is a relationship between the company and it's customers. It really is one of the strongest assets that you have. When you have your vision, you have the passion to go and create something that is neither or not out there, or you have the boldness to quit your job and start this new things, you have all of this energy to harness and put down on paper. Today, we're going to really look into that part of you, and figure out ways to help you focus on having a purpose, and a vision, and a direction to help you get to a really unified and specific brand mission that'll guide everything that you do going forward. Before we talk about what makes a focused brand, I want to go over four attributes that all truly focused brands really have. The first thing that they have is vision. They have a very clear path as to why they exist in what they're doing. Secondly, they have a clear purpose. There's a reason why they believe what they believe in. They have a great action plan, they know exactly how they're going to get and pursue what they need to do to make sure that their purpose is fulfilled. Lastly, they have a really strong sense of values, and they really understand what is core to the company, and all the employees, and especially leadership really drives to these set of five or so values. So, what I want to ask you is, think about what you believe in. What do you believe in so deeply that you started your business plan or you've gone out on your own and you've taken this big risk to put yourself out there, and stand for something? Why? What is it that you believe in? What do you offer and bring that is unique to the market, that is unique to your competitors, that's unique to you? Think about brands that you admire, the ones that you think have a focused mission, a focused expression, that you know what it's about, and who they're talking to you, inherently. My list includes, the obvious ones. It includes Apple, it includes Nike, it includes retail brands like Madewell, and Everlane, and Warby Parker. What unifies these brands in my mind, is they speak directly to their customer, and they're not speaking to them about what they're selling, they're speaking to them about a lifestyle, or a goal, or a idea that resonates within them. You think about Nike in their tagline Just Do It, that really does come from the idea that, it is all about finding your inner best self, or inner athlete. It doesn't matter how fast you run, it doesn't matter how great you are at anything, it's really realizing your full potential, and making it accessible for you to do it in a way that feels real. They also bring a little bit of a struggling too, they don't make it seem easy. You think most times companies want to put a product in front of you, and say, "Here, I've done it for you, I'm going to make it easy for you, " and they've turned Just Do It into hard work, meaning something that's very aspirational, and I think that really shows the true strength of that brand. Another example that you definitely know of is Apple. One of the most pivotal points in Apple's marketing career, they were getting killed by Windows in the 90s, and they came up with the think different campaign, where you probably saw Jim Hansen talking about how he looked at the world differently, and you looked at Einstein, he looked at the world differently, and it was the idea that this was a platform created for people who looked at the world through a different lens. At that point people had thought that the product was hard to use, and kind of irrelevant, and they turned that around, and said," No. This is for people who just view the world completely differently. "And that really has, even as they've evolved, that vision has been about just being part of your life and making things possible that you didn't know you could do. Now that we've talked about vision, let's talk about your purpose. Purpose is really all about what are you trying to achieve? What is the goal that you have? The objectives that you have to making your vision a reality? Oftentimes, we get caught up in having a purpose or what we're actually trying to do that doesn't ladder up to the vision. This is where we begin to break down and look at what our competitors are doing, and maybe adopt some of their tactics to try to achieve a different vision. So, we really do need to connect the vision and the passion here. So, I want you to take a minute or two, and write down exactly what you're trying to do. All right. We're going to talk about the importance of having an action plan. Good brands take what they're trying to achieve and map out a very succinct set of three ways that they're going to achieve that goal. The importance of doing that, is to keep yourself focused and strategic about those touch points that are really going to ladder up to fulfilling your brand purpose. For Wind Delight's purpose, this was really about distilling down our topics, to make sure that we were really delivering on empowering readers to live well. So, what we did is we looked at our entire breadth of content, and decided that we needed to pick three ways that we we're empowering readers. The first way was to talk about, how you were living, everything that you sort of touch and maybe don't even realize you're interacting with in your life. How are you designing your life for empowerment? The second one was simplifying the things in life that we tend to get wrapped up in, like for me it's getting dressed in the morning, I realized that I wasn't this person who wanted to be wearing all these different trends, and while that's okay, how can we simplify it for our readers. Then the last one was really committing ourselves to talking about topics that were hard to talk about, and that is, failure, that is, accepting things about yourself that are one, things you can't change, and two, really part of who you are as a person, and finding a deep sense of accepting those things, you can move on and really live a life that is full of love for yourself, and you can see the world a little differently once you kind of give up beating yourself up for who you are. So, those are the three ways that we really focused on doing it, and when we begin to meander and talk about new topics, I always go back to that action plan and say, "Is it fulfilling empowering someone in their life and everything around them?"Is about simplifying someone's ability to choose a life that they want to live through style, through design, and are we being honest with their readers, about real life and real struggles that they may be going through, and we make sure that we keep ourselves accountable for it. Now, we're going to talk about, values. Good values is really determined by how true they are to your company, and making sure that what you're doing actually honors and lives up to these values. Values are not really real if the company actually doesn't live up to them. I think, we've seen a lot, especially within the financial crisis that, and especially I think Enron was a great example of, you can say you're all these things, but if you're really aren't your customer and people really do kind of have a sense for, that you're not that. So, it's pretty easy to begin to think about your values, they're directly related to your pursuits and kind of why you exist, but, they're really at the heart of your action plan, and why you choose that action plan, and what you're doing to get there. So, the question I want you to ask yourself is, why should people care about your purpose and your vision? What are you doing to get people to care about your cause? They may innately care about your cause, and then you won't have to work that hard to get those people to sign up for your services, or your product, or your business, but, a lot of times it takes a little bit more for a company to win the loyalty of customers, or to win that service. So, it really is about sharing your values, living up to them and then letting your customers see that they benefit from those values, both emotionally and functionally. By the end of this video, you should have a couple sheets of paper that begin to really help you think about your vision, your purpose, and an action plan that makes up your entire brand mission. These will come in really handy for the next video, so make sure that you bring them along, and we can't wait to get started on actually writing your brand mission. 3. Brand Values: Welcome to the next video. We are going to be talking about values today and why they're so important to your brand. In the previous video, we were talking about how all good brands have four things. They have a clear vision, they have a clear purpose, they have an action plan and they have a strong sense of what their values are. You can think about values in a couple of different ways. They're probably the top five out of 10 reasons why you do what you do and they drive every decision that you make. But they can be broken down into things that are even more tactile. There are two types of ways to look at values, there are emotional values and there are functional values. Think about them in terms of benefits to your customer. So, emotionally what are you bringing from your product or service to your customer? Why would they emotionally want to buy or invest or purchase your products? Then, you have your functional values. Functionally, what makes your product superior? What makes your service superior? What about your thing makes you different from your customers? What really defines who you are? So, we're going to spend today going through a worksheet that really talks about these emotional and functional values. So, on our worksheet, we're going to fill this out in the Venn diagram shape until on one side there's the emotional values and on the other side there's functional values. In the in-between part where they crossover, that is really where values are existent on both sides that are the same and those are going to be the core values for your company. Let's start with emotional benefits. So, emotional values for your company. This is where I really want you to think about what your customer is getting from an emotional level and this is where you really want to get in their head and begin to project or map out exactly what you want someone to feel or benefit from when they use your product. One of the biggest emotional benefits that we get and we hear this a lot in comments and people talking is that we're a trusted resource. We do a lot to be transparent about our partners and our sponsors and we take great care in deciding who we want to work with. So, we really pride ourselves on being a trusted resource. Emotionally, the readers really benefit from that. Another thing that really sits at the top of our benefits is that there's a person behind it and a real person behind it. So, there is a relatable human being versus a brand. That's something that remains at the heart of our emotional benefit. Another emotional benefit that we have is that we promote discovery and the way that we set up all of our content not cramming. Things down their throat that they, have to have, or must have it lists for this season. It's not really like that, it's more like here's something to consider and discover. We like to create real friendships and connectedness through having these conversations even online. So, that's an emotional benefit. So, friendship and connectedness. Authenticity is the most important piece of this like am I being authentic? Readers really benefit from that as well so I would say authenticity. The last one would probably be the sense of delight. It's in the name that emotionally you're always going to have a positive attitude even if we're talking about things that are a little rough. We're going to have a sense of humor about it. So, I think delight in a lot of ways is an emotional benefit. So, now we're going to go onto functional benefits and this is when we really talk about what we're actually putting out there and what the product itself is doing. So, if we think about the emotional benefit that's next to it, we're a trusted resource, functionally we give transparent reviews. There we have everything laid out in our blog posts to talk about that you're getting a review it's 100 percent our opinions and we work really hard to make sure that our partners know that as well. They know what they're getting into before they go into it. With our emotional benefit being someone to relate to, we do this by sharing personal stories. Through putting out sort of interesting discoverable content, we keep this tight and easy for the reader to understand by keeping a cohesive aesthetic. So, that's one of our functional benefits as well. To promote this friendship and connectedness, there is always engaging content and with authenticity and the sense of delight, we really bring honesty and open dialogue and a real point of view. So, those are our functional benefits and now we're going to talk about which one of these come to the top, which one really feels like it encapsulates what Wit and Delight is about and we'll pull those out and those will be the middle of this emotional functional benefits and those will become our core values. Now that you guys have written in your emotional and functional benefits, I want you to take a highlighter and highlight the ones that you think really stand out the most. There may be some crossover. You may have worded them differently but there is crossover, or different words to describe how you see the combination of an emotional benefit and a functional benefit. So, you go from top down. There is definitely this reoccurring theme of authenticity and everything that we're seeing here. So, in that sense, I think authenticity really does come up to the top. Honesty, transparent reviews, trusted resource, reliable, that really seems to be about authenticity is number one. If you think about the type of content we're talking about, that there's a consistent aesthetic, that it's all about discovery and bringing newness, I think beauty and really looking at beauty and defining that in its own Wit and Delight way is at top value. So, our own definition of beauty is another one. When we look at friendship and engaging content and open dialogue, that to me is all about connection. That's the word that sums all of that up so we're going to put connection up here. It's really about making sure that the reader has everything that they need to make their own decision about what they want to do. We're essentially providing stuff that we like but really at the end of the day, it's for their consideration. I'm not the expert. So, empowerment should go up here. I think the only thing that we're missing and this really is I think because the name is so much about what the brand is, is that I'm going to put wit as a value and I'm going to put delight as a value because I think that those are the two things that really define our tone. Having tone in this personal story and transparent reviews, I think in the human nature and the someone to relate to behind it, that's where making sure the wit and the delight really comes through. So, those are our five values. You can write in more. I think five is a really good number but make sure that they really work for both your emotional and your functional benefits. So, for Wit and Delight as a lifestyle brand our values are authenticity, beauty, empowerment, connections, and wit and delight. Our emotional benefits are all about being a trusted resource, discovering new things for you to consider, being someone you can relate to, it's about friendship, connectedness, and authenticity. Our functional benefits are our transparent reviews, our personal stories, cohesive aesthetic, engaging content, honesty, open dialogue, and true point of view. You can begin to see this as our box that we plan. We make sure that everything that we're doing does align with these and when it doesn't, we have to reconsider, and what's so good about this Venn diagram plus the answers to your questions that you did in video, the first video, is that this lays everything that you need to really get in and focus in on a strong core brand mission. So, all this thinking is going to come down to a really distinct, simple one pager that we'll get to in the next video. 4. Brand Toolkit: In this video, we are going to fill out our brand toolkit outline. The reason why this is important is it takes you through step-by-step the best way to arrive at your brand mission, and then after you have it all filled out, it acts as your road map for everything that you plan on doing for an extended amount of time, whether it's a year, five years. So, you can refer back to this worksheet, and make sure that everything you're doing with your business is really laddering up to your brand mission. Before we get started, I'm going to talk about what each section of this toolkit means. We are going to define our belief, our mission, and our pursuits. Our belief is really the why. It's something we've been talking about throughout all these lessons. It's why do you exist? The mission is your what. What are you doing about it? What are you offering people that is beyond just exactly what your product is? How, where is your pursuits? That is really the three focused ways that you're going to achieve your mission and your belief. All right. Let's get started. Here is the outline to your worksheet. It goes into more in-depth, what we just talked about the meaning for each one of these sections. The belief is at the top. What do you believe in? Pretty self-explanatory. Your mission is what you're going to do about that belief, and your pursuits are the solutions to getting there. While this reads really great top-down, we're actually going to fill this out from the bottom up, because it's an easier way to think about your belief in a broader view. So, what we're going to do is we're going to talk about all the solutions that we have to achieve what we need to. We're going to think about those things as relates to what we're going to do about it, and then we're going to define what we believe in after we do all of that work, filling those missions, and those pursuits in. So, we're going to start at the bottom here, and below each one of these pursuits, solution one solution two, solution three, I want you to think about each one of these things as the most important thing for your brand right now. Think about it not as this month, but in one to five years, what do you really want to drive home. As we think about Wit and Delight as a lifestyle brand I really wanted to focus on three key categories versus five categories to drive home a tighter edit of what Wit and Delight means. So, here we've selected three categories that really drive the lifestyle that we're talking about. So, the first one is wellness. The second one would be decor and everything that's happening with surrounding your life. Then, the last one is personal style. So, now I'm going to go back to each one of these things. I'm going to think about really what I'm doing in these categories, what makes it true to Wit and Delight and what am I actually driving to do in each one of these categories. So, for wellness this is really all about the reader, promoting self discovery within the reader through sharing our experiences and what's going on in the world right now. So, that's a better way of describing what we mean by wellness. Wellness is a broader topic and this is how we're talking about wellness. For decor, again a very broad topic, what does decor mean to us. Knowing that Wit and Delights aesthetic is about bringing a lot of different things together but still maintaining simplicity. To me this is really about letting your home tell your story. It's not about a specific design style, it's really about looking at the things that you have and making it your own. So, style goes out the window. It's not about being non-local or traditional this is about being you in your own home. Then the last one is personal style and for this, it's something that I've always struggled with less is more, what's your uniform? So, for this is really about dressing for, feeling good about yourself and not about gaining the most compliments or the most likes on Instagram. This is about wearing things that you feel your best in. So, for me this is, I think that this category really is about dressing for confidence not compliments. So, now that we have all of our pursuits listed here, I've shown you how I've gone to my pursuits. I want you guys to take some time and fill this in yourself. I remember start with the categories, three categories, and then think about how you do, what you do in each category and try to distill it down to the most important and simple and unique way that you do that. So, now we're in the mission statement and this is really all about what are we going to do about our beliefs? What are we going to do about the reason why we exist and what we want to have happen? Think back to your worksheets that you did for your vision and your purpose and your action plan and I want you to think about the reasons why you feel empowered to do all these things. What really helps to think about your mission is to look at your pursuits and think about what all of those pursuits ladder up to. If you can summarize the reason why you're focusing on these three things, what is that? For Wit and Delight that really is about empowering every reader to live well. All of these categories are about living well, about finding the best way that you can be yourself, the best way within these categories that a lot of people spend time trying to refine or find themselves in and figuring out the best way to get people there in the Wit and Delight way. So, for me, I've mission is really to empower every reader to live well. So, if I read from top down from what we filled out, our mission is to empower every reader to live well, and the way that we do that are by three pursuits. We promote self discovery and acceptance through wellness. We empower people to let their home tell their story through decor and we help people dress for confidence not compliments. That it's all about personal style and what works for you less about trend. Those are all the ways we are empowering readers to live well. Now, it's your turn. Take the to all the time that you need to do it. It's probably going to take a couple times for you to write this in. It took me quite a bit to figure this out before I sat down with you guys. So, take all the time that you need and put a couple of mission statements in there and then repeat it back to yourself in the way that I just did. What is your mission and how are you accomplishing it? Now, we are down to the reason why you guys are all taking this class. What is your belief? What do you all about? This is really where I want you to reference your notes and think about what you just accomplished with your mission and your pursuits and think beyond what you do, think beyond your product, think about what you'd like people to gain from experiencing your brand. It's not, I'd like you to have the best customer service or I'd like you to do this or do this or do that. It's why the company exists. For Wit and Delight, it really is about what's in the name. The name itself is about the wit in beauty and finding the humor in everyday life and to me that is all about pleasure and that pleasure is actually meant to be taken seriously. That's Charles Eames quote that really is always resonated with me and I think is at the heart of what Wit and Delight really is about that a lot of times beauty is considered fluff, but it's really an important part of enjoying the human experience. So, the belief for Wit and Delight, the reason why we're doing all of this is to take your pleasure seriously. So, let's read through this now from top down. So, we know that we've established Wit and Delight as a lifestyle brand. You may be a clothing brand. Our belief is that you should take your pleasure seriously. Our mission and the way that we do this is to empower every reader to live well and how we do this is we promote self discovery and acceptance through talking about wellness, we help people figure out how to let their home tell their own story versus following a trend and we really believe in dressing for confidence not compliment and help people learn how to embrace their personal style regardless of trend and how it exists. So, that's it. That's our roadmap and every time we begin to meander, I feel like we need to change, we need to go back to this and we do the same process. We start from the bottom up and begin to really think about what we want to do for people, how we're going to do it, and then what we believe in. So, take all the time that you need to fill in this belief. Remember, that this isn't about what you do, it's why you exist. 5. Wrap Up: So, in short, we're going to cover exactly what we went through in the past couple videos. We talked about the importance of having a focused brand and letting your brand work harder for you, by asking yourself certain questions that relate to define your vision, your purpose, your action plan, and your values. In the next video, we talked about your emotional benefits to your customers through service or products. We spent some time thinking about the functional benefits, and out of that came five core values that really drive everything that you do. Then, in the last video, we got to the real meat and heart of the class, which is what your brand mission is. We took all of our notes from all the other videos, and laid them out, and began to populate a worksheet that goes over our mission statement. We talked about what your company believes in, what your mission is as a company, how you're going to live up to that belief, and then we'd outlined three ways that you're going to live up to that belief through your pursuits. It's really important to share this with people that you trust and also with the community. So, you can upload your statements to the gallery. That's one way you can share, but I would really suggest that you upload as much as you can from what we talked about in all of these videos. To share with a community it gives a more complete overview of your brand. You can upload the other worksheets that we worked on, you can upload images of your website, your products to give people a real good understanding about what you do. It's great practice for when you talk to strangers about your company. It's great to get people's feedback. More often than not, you'll find you're better at talking about it than you realized, especially after going through these exercises. So, that's all for me. I hope you guys had a really great and productive time thinking about your brand statements. I wish you guys all the best of luck and I hope to see your worksheets up in the gallery.