The Re-Brand Begins

So, while it feels like I've done millions of these for clients, it's finally my turn to give it a go - the real way!

As a creative, of course I've always wanted to play with my brand, but honestly my work for my clients comes first. Sometimes that means, my brand has to take the back seat. And that's ok. 

But to celebrate my 10 years in business, it's time to go through every step I take with my own clients! 

I bet you didn't think I'd be starting with some mood boards! Usually the mood board comes after the logo. BUT this journey has me split in so many directions!

So let's get to the nitty gritty of what I'm made of:
My target client: She's creative, a dreamer. She finds therapy in her art. She enjoys a day of antique shopping or a night in with her closest gal or love. Her home is filled with neutrals and botanicals and the random modern touch. She's tidy, enjoys conversations about life and how our souls work. Her guilty pleasures: a hot latte, alone time, anything Magnolia, and a guilty dose of The Bachelor.

...that's just the cliff notes of what a Questionnaire for a client would look like.

If you've known me a long time, maybe you can pinpoint the real Leslie here! So have at it...scroll down and chime in on your vote in the comments section for the right mood board and logo.

Isn't it fun to have a say? 

Can't wait to bring this all to life.

 

Mood Board A

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Mood Board B

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Logo Options

The Top 3 Things I'm Seeing Strong Brands Doing

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I’ve kind of been on a growing and learning binge lately. Blame it on the new year, or my ten year business anniversary this year. But man, you know what I’m finding out? We may be missing the mark on what really produces growth and recognition in our businesses.

Believe me, I’m an advocate for strong visual branding. It’s really the first impression and can be the deciding factor between a visitor that stays with you or moves on. But, before you tackle that monster, here’s what I’m seeing the winners out there focusing their attention on:

 

1. Give before you sell. So often, we think the best method to build that loyal client base is to make sure they have their eyes on what you’re selling. Whether you’re spending hours on Instagram posts making sure the crowd knows about your new campaign or paying hundreds of dollars in advertising -- while those can help sometimes, those are no means for loyal customers.

People buy from people they know and trust. They want to know about you. Your story. They want inside access. If they saw you at a coffee shop, they would say, “I know her! I mean, I’ve never met her. But I feel like I know her!” Hmm, if you’ve been giving of yourself, your story, and your free help and guidance for a long time, the moment you try to sell something, there is no hesitation to buy!

So try it. Tell your story. Give away valuable information. Give give give, until it’s time to sell. (Email lists are an ideal avenue for this. Jenna Kutcher has an excellent take on this HERE.)

 

2. The Visual Bank. Ever land on an Instagram feed and got bored because there was so much to see, but no face to the name? Lots of #regrams, but no real work of their own? Just like the idea that people buy from someone they know...they also like to SEE that person and SEE their real work.

Maybe a branding session or even a lifestyle session with a photographer who gets your brand is what your web and social media presence needs.

Let’s admit it, we’re all nosy. We want in. And before we buy, we want to feel like we know every aspect of that seller’s business and life. Creating a bank of those images are the open door to connection with your followers that will likely turn into clients.

 

3. Planning and Creating Margin. I know. We creatives just want to create. How can you systemize creativity? You just want to flow. But you know what? Sometimes, creating flows better when everything else behind it is in order. Unless you really thrive within your own beautiful mess...most of the brands making a mark are being more intentional than you think.

They’re creating a time bank of how many hours of creating vs. growing their business they really have. (I have started this myself, and oh my word, the difference it has made on my schedule!) For some, it may mean making the jump to hiring help if it helps their time bank. Growth usually never happens alone.

They’re putting all their visuals into that visual bank to pull from in an order that makes sense, instead of piecing together the visuals for a post each time they sit down to market. The app: Planoly - oh my goodness. ‘Nough said.   

They’re intentionally creating margin for their time and their money. I like to replace the word “margin” with SPACE. Space to work, space to play, and space to rest. It also creating space in your pricing to cover your costs and space to actually pay yourself.

My Top 3 business + life lessons after a decade in business

 
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Ok friend. Grab a cup of coffee... or save this for your lunch break. It's worth the read for the aspiring dreamers and the burnt out creatives...

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole decade since the year I took the plunge and made my business official. I remember those naive days. Just figuring out who to pay to make that “LLC” official, or the patient web buddies who survived all of my questions. And the sweet clients who endured my naive journey into a suitable designer who actually knew what she was doing. 

And we won't even go in to all the printing mistakes! I still struggle with typos. I’m sorry. I’m an artist. Not an English major. Grace. 

It’s been quite a long road. There’s been some really high ups and some earth shattering downs. Not only in my business, but life as well. 

Having come this far, I think it’s only fair I share some of the most vulnerable lessons I've learned. Maybe even some things I’ve never shared before. I think it’s time to stop hiding behind my work and share what it all entails. From design deadlines to project wins; heart-wrenching life valleys and first-hand miracles -- if there’s a couple things I’ve learned (and maybe still learning today), it’s these: 

1. Ask Ask Ask.

Yes. I mean, ask for help. If you're anything like me, you’re probably a go-getter (and a little bit of a control freak) and our kind hates letting anyone know that we don’t have it all somewhat together. We would never even dare asking the embarrassing questions in this sea of creatives that seem to “know what they’re doing.” Newsflash: We’re all just surviving — one plea for help at a time. 

So don’t be afraid to ask the silly questions like: How do I even find my clients? How do I stop living paycheck to paycheck? How did she do that?! How on earth do I manage my time? What did she use for that? There’s no wrong questions. And you’d be surprised what a simple email can do. There are some pretty amazing creatives out there that don’t have a problem sharing their secrets, because let’s face it - nothing’s a secret anymore.

Like the first time I emailed Jasmine Star …and SHE WROTE BACK! Omg! Yes. Who woulda thunk? You email someone and they write back! Genius system, I tell ya. I just had a simple question…trying to understand my market more, since most of my clients were photographers and wedding vendors. And she answered!!! She totally did! Whether it was her assistant writing or her, she personally made sure I got an answer with her words. 

So just because one of your creative crushes has millions of followers and seems to ‘have it all together,’ most of them are still willing to help. Most of them are human. Most of them have a heart.

Don’t stop at “I can do this on my own,” because the truth is, you can’t.


2. Learn from the downs.

I’ve had a lesson or two these past ten years. 

Like, it’s ok to make a mistake and admit it to your client. The genuine honesty goes a long way. 

Or that when someone walks away because you’re “too expensive” doesn’t mean you’re not doing it right. Bringing up your prices won’t bring doom to your business. Instead it brings the value it deserves and the clients who understand that value. 

Or maybe the even harder life lesson that — divorce doesn’t mean the end of you... 

That on that 2013 October day he walked out, it didn’t mean there was nothing left for me. And suddenly, it meant I had to find a Leslie who’s identity was not limited to ‘wife.’ And that was HARD. Because that’s the one role I valued most. Even over “mom.” 

Most of you may know, I just stepped into the ‘wife’ role again last year (redemption baby!), but not without four years of growth, fear, and questions. And most importantly, the lesson that my identity has nothing to do with my circumstances — more so, how I walk through those circumstances. I could write a book y’all. And maybe one day I will. It would be full of hard core honesty and a ton of [almost] offensive grace — toward me and towards him.  (Gasp!)

If I hear enough, “Write it Leslie!” …I just may try!


3. Heard the line yet? —  “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

The quote might be worn out and over-used on your Instagram feed, but it couldn’t be truer.

Every time I compared or tried to do it like someone else, it flopped. They all flopped — that design, that post, that date (ugh), that vacation I couldn’t afford.

If you’re scrolling social media and the comparison meter is at it’s highest. Stop. Just stop. (And believe me, I’m preaching to the choir…thus, my January hiatus from the media frenzy. Oh the peace it brings). 

Did you know that the other photographer who’s killin’ it compared to you might not have kiddos yet and has double the free time you have? That’s probably why she’s whipping out more sessions. It’s a valid reason. A valid difference. And it’s ok! 

Here’s one thing that hit me the hardest and stuck. I just heard it this month on Jenna Kutcher’s podcasts! You must check her out. It was like my own little special 10 year anniversary lightbulb moment:

“Yes, there are hundreds, maybe millions of people doing or selling the same thing you are. But every follower is only really listening to one of your kind. Grab your friend’s phone. You’ll see. They might be following a different fitness coach then everyone else in the room. But they’re intentionally following and listening to that one and not ALL of them. So keep whispering to your crowd. They’re listening. And they will really only cling to their favorite. Be your little crowd’s favorite and own it.” (Paraphrased of course - but sooo good!)

So those were my 10-year cliff notes. There’s so much to share. And I intend to share more this year. At least that's my goal. 

And May is celebration month! That’s the actual month I opened the doors to my business! So if you’re not on my email list….you gotta join now. (Sign up here)

That’s where I’ll share all the anniversary freebies that are being handed out this Spring, on me!

And, after five years, I'm finally sharing my own of re-branding journey. Complete with votes and chime-ins from you! Or, just use it as an inside look at the process before you take the plunge yourself!

Xoxo!