Tag Archives: Business & Marketing

The Brand Audit Part 02

the brand audit


Photo by Lisa Devlin


In its most basic terms, a brand audit is an assessment of a brand’s strengths and weaknesses. When thinking about your own brand, it’s a two-way street. Ask yourself the following:

1. What’s the view from the inside out?

Are you actually coming across as who you say you are? How do YOU feel about your brand? Are you reaching the audience you’re hoping for? Is what you’re offering differentiated enough?

2. What’s the view from the outside in?

Who do your readers / customers think you are? What kind of feedback are you getting? Is there any sense of passion? Any sense of loyalty?

Here’s a challenge: gather up a solid mix of what you’ve sent out into the world over the last year. Take screen shots of your social media profiles. Of your bio page. Of your logo. A handful of blog posts. E-newsletters. Presentations. Gather up your collateral; business cards, stamps, stickers, products and so on. What does all this stuff convey about you and your branding? Is it consistent? Does is say what you want it to say?

What do you want your brand to stand for? This is your chance to move into action.


When it comes to my own brand, I had one key inconsistency between the online and off. While my name is Shauna, I often used a nickname online, Nubby. It was a holdover from when I was in high school — when I first made my way onto the internet in 1997, everyone I knew had a persona. Part of that was due to the fact that at that point, the world wide web was still a very big unknown. A lot of that mystery evaporated in the decade that followed but most noticeably, at least to me, with Facebook, where everyone is who they say they are (or at least we hope!) Now, with a constant internet connection on us all times, the online and offline have merged into the same reality. While I always valued having a distinct divide between the online and off, I’ve since realized that it’s all mashed together now and above all, I value consistency when it comes to myself, my brand and my business.

At the same time, over the last few months I’ve been doing a lot of growing beyond just Nubby Twiglet, my blog and studio. While this blog will continue on as it always has, I’m also thinking ahead to what the future holds: The Blogcademy continues to grow and I am working towards launching another business in mid-2013.

The one common thread between all of these projects I’m working on is myself. As you’ve probably noticed over the last few months, I’ve transitioned all of my social media accounts over from just being under Nubby Twiglet to being under my name, Shauna Haider so that as I grow as an entrepreneur, they will grow with me.

During my online brand audit, these are some things I took into consideration:

1. Naming.
Do all of your handles across your social media accounts follow the same naming conventions? I generally use this as my thought process: Nubby Twiglet is more well-known but I am the founder of my business and the voice behind the accounts. So for example on twitter, my handle is @nubbytwiglet but right next to it is my name, Shauna Haider.

2. Introductions.
Do all of your social media intros match? Think of this as your 10 second elevator pitch. How can you say as much in as few words as possible? Mine looks like this (and yes, I hate the cluttered background of the new Twitter headers so for now, black it is!):

the brand audit

In short:

a. Who are you?
What’s your name? What’s your company’s name?

b. What do you do?
What defines you? Is it a business? Is it a hobby? Being a parent? Something else? Tell us!

c. How can we contact you?
Include your email.

d. EXTRA CREDIT.
What’s something random you can tell us about yourself? What are you passionate about? What makes you excited? This makes you relatable.

3. Profile Photos.

This is a huge one. Do your images match across your profiles? A lot of people are very visual and though they might not remember your handle, they just might recognize you. For all of my accounts, I use the same photo of myself but if you’re a company with multiple employees, consider using your logo instead.

4. A Short & Long Bio.

When people visit your site, chances are that they’re curious as to who you are (I sure am — I always click on the About section!) When it comes to bios, I like to first get to the point. People are busy and chances are, they don’t want to read a novel about you so that’s where the few-sentence intro comes in handy. And then, if you want to read more, you can continue on.

5. A Consistent Voice.

I never, ever want to feel like I’m talking to a robot. While it’s important to be professional online, especially if you’re running a business, it’s equally as important to be relatable. How can you inform, help and entertain people in a style that’s true to you? The tip I’ve always remembered is that you should write blog posts (and social media updates for that matter) as if you’re talking to your best friend. Be natural.

6. A Consistent Image.

This is going to sound basic but I come across it often so here it goes: Does your website match your blog match your social media backgrounds? Does everything you do feel like it’s part of a bigger picture? If all your online brand components aren’t consistent, it can create a lot of confusion. If you can’t get on the same page with your brand, how can you expect others to? Think about the colors you’re using. The fonts. The logo. The backgrounds. The photos on all of your social media accounts. Everything. It should all tie back together. Whenever I complete an identity for a client, they receive a PDF guide with all of their lockups, fonts and swatches in one place. I’ve seen corporate identity guides close to 100 pages on length but for us small businesses and individuals, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. Just focus on the basics.

7. Define who you are and what you stand for.

Ask yourself why what you do matters through the following:

What value are you providing to your readers and customers? What makes your content unique? What’s your secret recipe? If you’re a blogger, think about your formula for developing original content — this is what differentiates you from everyone else.

I also like the idea of creating a slogan. My slogan on this blog is Design, Marketing and Style Magnified.™ I’m telling you upfront what this blog is about — not only design but also business-related content and “style” (lifestyle / personal style). To be fair, this is about four years old and probably could use some retooling to be even more specific but that perfect string of words hasn’t come to me yet!

So there you go. Brand audits are meant to test if you’re coming across as who you say you are, if you’re actually saying what you think you’re saying and if people are hearing what you want them to hear. It’s about creating a consistent message.


Readers: Is there something you’ve noticed about your brand that feels less consistent than you’d like? Have you ever overhauled one of your brands or shut one down? What did you learn from the experience?

Media Kit Insights: The Who, What & Why!

The Blogcademy Media Kit

I just wrapped up a digital media kit for The Blogcademy (we’ve been super busy this month between putting this together and launching our updated website!) and I’d like to shed a bit more light on media kits overall.

One of my most popular articles ever on this blog was a press kit how-to. It’s very out of date at this point but that’s okay because since that article was written, we’ve become increasingly more digitally savvy and these days, for the most part I wouldn’t recommend a press kit for most people to use. Over the last three years, I’ve switched over to digital media kits and my clients have found huge success using them. With sharp editorial-style layouts and clickable links all in a PDF format that’s email-friendly, it’s easy to get the word out in a quick, professional manner whether you’re a blogger or small business.


The Blogcademy Media Kit

The Blogcademy Media Kit


Historically, digital media kits have been most commonly used by large magazines to provide information including circulation rates and stats of their target audience for advertisers. Often, they also include a brief bio, testimonials and contact information.

The Blogcademy Media Kit


After designing my first media kit for a print magazine in 2008, I had the realization that they would be ideal for bloggers too. Sometimes a one-sheet just isn’t enough information if you’re trying to land bigger gigs and advertisers. I’ve designed a lot of media kits over the last few years — my two personal favorites are for Rock N Roll Bride (this is her older version — we just wrapped a 2013 refresh that more closely matches her magazine) and Veronica Varlow.

At The Blogcademy, we’ve had a one sheet since the beginning to send out to sponsors but realized that while that was perfect for filling goodie bags, we needed something more robust for larger corporate partnerships that may pop up. It’s important to always be prepared for those potentially huge moments! 14 pages later, we’re feeling much more prepared for what 2013 holds.

The Blogcademy Media Kit


In the media kits I put together, especially for bloggers, I usually start by suggesting the following:

• Front and back covers with a visible URL and logo
• An introduction with key accomplishments
• Testimonials from readers and clients
• Stats including traffic and social media numbers
• Rates / packages / availability
• Suggestions for how to make the most out of your partnership (recommendations for achieving the best results)
• Professional images of your brand / blog / yourself throughout
• Contact page with clickable links

From this list, we add and subtract content until the balance feels right. Each media kit should be very specific to that brand. There are some crossover design elements I’ve used but for the most part, every media kit is a clean slate.


The Blogcademy Media Kit


If you’re attending The Blogcademy London, I do a much more in-depth media kit overview during my branding segment. I hope this glimpse inside media kits makes them feel less mysterious!

*All photos in the media kit are by Devlin Photos and Made U Look Photography.

Advice #52: Does Blogging & Self-Promotion Make Me Vain?

Advice

Advice

Source.



Hello, I’m wondering if you ever struggle with vanity. To run a blog like your own calls for a great deal of what they call shameless self promotion and self preoccupation. I am basically very generous person and I have a thirst to serve others with my presentation skills and other solution-driven aspects of my personality. The biggest struggle I’m trying to get over is allowing my own brand to be the outlet of all my creative gifts. It’s so hard because it feels so vain to me. I was just wondering if you’ve ever struggled with this?


I used to feel this way as well, so strongly in fact that I was afraid to start a blog on my own domain. It tripped me up for a long time but one conversation changed all that.

From 2001 to 2007, I blogged on Live Journal. Around 2007, I became more aware of my friends (including Gala) making the leap from Live Journal to their own domains. I liked what I saw but I wasn’t sure that was a good move for me. I had the mindset that if I wanted to be taken seriously as a designer, my website should feature only my portfolio. If I shared the rest of who I was, including photos and insights into what I was wearing, were I lived and what I did outside of designing, it would deflect from my work.

But I naturally like to share. And I’m more than just my job — I have other interests. Why should you or I feel shame in sharing what we like?

My turning point came during the Summer of 2007 when I was on a trip to LA. I met up with Star and spilled my worries out at a Coffee Bean in Hollywood. She assured me that things were quickly changing — sure, the established designers didn’t need to blog, they were already established! But the up and comers could benefit from social media and I should just go for it. Trust me, I was still scared but I just did it. A month after that fateful talk, my blog went live.

The shift from that decision happened fast. Within my first year of blogging, I was being approached by clients including Forever 21 and receiving multiple freelance inquiries a week. Sometimes, I still felt unsure though. I’m a pretty humble, modest person and putting myself out there day in and day out felt tiring at times. There were definitely days when I just wanted to design and go about my business and not be bothered! But I knew that if I quit, rebuilding momentum would be incredibly hard. So I kept on and I’m so thankful I did.

Blogging isn’t easy. Designers by nature tend to lurk in the shadows. I’ve never wanted to dance, act, sing or be in the mainstream spotlight. I’ve just wanted to be the best designer and blogger I could be. And if putting myself out there helps to support my business but even more importantly helps me connect with other creatives, I’ll continue to do so.

With blogging, there’s occasionally some bad mixed in with the good but overall, I wouldn’t change a thing. The friends I’ve made, the places I’ve gotten to travel and the thoughts, images and insights I’ve gotten to share with you, the readers, are priceless in a way. Blogging has made my life much more full and given me much needed structure.

Think of your brand this way: if you don’t believe in it, nobody else will. People are always going to judge you no matter what, whether you choose to put yourself out there or not. It’s human nature. Remember that truly successful people are fearless and promote what they value and believe in, even if that’s their own brand. That’s your choice and yours alone.

The Blogcademy 01: New York City Recap

the blogcademy 01 new york city

Over the weekend of October 20th, Gala, Kat and I joined forces to teach the first edition of our workshop, The Blogcademy in New York. To say that it was a life-changing experience is a huge understatement…we’re still buzzing about it!

the blogcademy 01 new york city



“The Blogcademy was so much more than a blogging workshop. All weekend I was surrounded by my 30 classmates who all proved to me that no matter where you are headed in life with ambition, drive and a kick ass attitude you will end up where you want to be. As soon as I got off the elevator on the first day, I could just feel the positive energy radiating from the classroom.” —Liz Davis


the blogcademy 01 new york city

The nervous excitement we felt as we opened the door on the first day is something I’ll never forget.


The Backstory

Individually, Kat, Gala and I had each wanted to do workshops for the last few years. After meeting in Vegas back in February, we realized that we’d be stronger as a trio and in the months that followed, we got to work on building out our ideal blogging workshop. We’d each been to many blogging events but always left feeling like they could be more specialized and hands-on. We wanted The Blogcademy to feature solid strategy and insight focused on building compelling content while demonstrating what it really takes to create a successful blog from the ground up.

the blogcademy 01 new york city

Building out a workshop in a few short months wasn’t an easy task but it was worth every second of effort. You prepare for a new venture the very best you can but there are always those moments when life just happens. Behind the scenes, the goodie bags were bigger and heavier than we expected (thank god our cab driver helped us load and haul them in his trunk), the projector cord was missing an hour before show time and the couch quite suddenly collapsed…we sure got a good laugh afterwards! When that launch day arrives, you just have to go for it and realize that though things will never be perfect, what matters is that you give it your all.

the blogcademy 01 new york city

the blogcademy 01 new york city

My main focus at The Blogcademy was in branding: I shared two personal case studies as well as examples of documents I think every blogger and small business owner should consider. Thinking back to when I began blogging in 2001, I remember how long it took me to piece all this information together. I wanted the attendees to pick up all these insights that took me a decade to learn in a few short hours — I always say that knowledge is power and was important for me to take the secrecy out of what goes into building a successful blog.

the blogcademy 01 new york city

We invited along special guest Veronica Varlow for the fun. She is such an amazing, inspiring woman as well as a wonderful friend and client (her media kit is still a personal favorite of mine. Ooh la la!)

the blogcademy 01 new york city

Out of pure excitement, Gala and I couldn’t seem to keep our composure. Award-winning wedding photographer Lisa Devlin was along for the ride, snapping every moment.


Decor Sponsors

the blogcademy 01 new york city

• A huge thank you to Everly Lane for the turquoise tassels and Peach Blossom for the balloons, striped straws, fans and pom-poms. All these color-coordinated details really made the space come alive.


Goodie Bag Sponsors

the blogcademy 01 new york city

• The amazing letterpress graduation certificates were printed for us by A Fine Press!

• We couldn’t get enough of the wonderful Alphabet Bags who supplied tote bags to stash the goodies in.

• Crown & Glory provided sparkly hair bows which were a huge hit (and they gifted me with those amazing glitter bunny ears)!

• Lisa Devlin was not only a guest speaker but also gave away her awesome Devlin Photos CD of Photoshop actions.

• Finest Imaginary kindly sent along custom Moleskine notebooks & heart rings. So cute!

• Garden Apothecary shared awesome vanilla body scrubs. Love!

• Miss Anastasia provided amazing smelling perfume — I actually designed the logo and packaging which I will be sharing at a later date!

• Our dear friend Molly Crabapple provided super fun activity books — perfect for the plane ride home!

• Sugarpill sent along their trademark bright, highly-pigmented eye-shadows.

• Twinkie Chan totally outdid herself with the handmade Blogcademy coffee cozies!


Food & Drink Sponsors

the blogcademy 01 new york city

Thank you to Paige Wilcox of Blogads for providing valuable insights into what it’s like working with an ad network AND for providing the spread of food. With the busy days, it was nice to have snacks right at our fingertips.

And on day two, Jessica of Storyboard Wedding arrived with 10 bottles of bubbly for our after-party. Thank you, Jessica!


Attendee Reviews of The Blogcademy

1. The Fete Blog 2. Me and My Ego 3. Me and My Ego (part two!) 4. The Alchemy of Hustle 5. Condiments on a City Life 6. Little Bear in a Big World 7. Eldy’s Pocket 8. Burnett’s Boards 9. Danger Dame 10. Andrea Jaggs 10. Get Your Green On 11. Intertitles 12. Work Life Passion 13. Rubies & Ribbon 14. City Girls Knows 15. Reverie Time 16. 128 John St 17. The Girl Who Knows 18. Bitchless Bride.

the blogcademy 01 new york city

Gala got into the spirit of handing out pins and the fab letterpress certificates at the end of class.



“I learnt SO much. I can’t even begin to talk about it, because it’s all still churning round my mind, refusing to settle so I can decide where to begin applying those lessons. But even better than that, I had the most amazing time. Being surrounded by an international community of unbridled talent is where I want to be all.the.time.” —Hayley Judd


the blogcademy 01 new york city


In Closing

I want to extend a huge, heartfelt thank you to our 30 students who believed in us on this maiden voyage, our sponsors for delivering the best goodie bags I’ve ever seen and to Kat & Gala for joining me on this wild ride. I believe in the power of building a community and working as a team more than ever. It is possible to pull off those crazy ideas. The difference between dreams and reality comes down to setting goals and putting plans into motion with firm deadlines. If we can do it, so can you. If you’re interested in attending a future session of The Blogcademy, more dates will be announced on November 14th. And thanks again for following along with us on this crazy, magical adventure!

*All photos are by Devlin Photos. Thanks, Lisa!

The Brand Audit

the brand audit

A is for audit.

In my case, I’ve been in need of a brand audit for quite awhile. The cool thing about being online regularly since 2000 is that I’ve built up a recognizable brand. The bad thing about being online that long is that there’s a lot of inconsistencies that have developed over time.

One issue I’ve been having is that my social media platforms just aren’t consistent and this is something I’ve been meaning to remedy as soon as I’ve had time. Remember when life was simple and all we had to worry about was Live Journal and Myspace (yes I’m dating myself!) My handles, avatars and bios need to be cleaned up and yes, I need to get to work on my Facebook business page (don’t lecture me — I’m already managing two Facebook accounts and just thinking about running a third gives me heart palpitations!)

What this all comes down to is taking a step back from the brand I’ve built and figuring out what’s working and what’s not so I can move forward more consistently in 2013.

The tricky part of my brand (and I know many of you also fall into this boat) is that I’m very intertwined with it, perhaps too closely at times. I’ve been sorting through handles on my profiles, trying to determine which I want to keep under my business name, Nubby Twiglet, and which I want to be under my name, Shauna.

This has become more of an issue this year in particular because I’ve been expanding beyond Nubby Twiglet with the launch of The Blogcademy and have another separate venture launching early next year. Since both of these are outside of Nubby Twiglet, I’ve been using my name much more prominently across key social media accounts in the spirit of being the recognizable link between these brands. In the future, Nubby Twiglet will be one of many businesses I have so I’m thinking about what makes sense going forward. This might sound a bit convoluted now but I promise, everything will reveal itself in time!

All of this probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to most of you, it’s just a fair warning that you may see some of my social media handles and content shifting over the next few weeks as I figure out what works best for me. Nubby Twiglet began at 18 when I pushed two of my nicknames together and eventually became the basis of my senior thesis for my marketing degree in 2005 (do you want to see it? I’ve never shown it online!) And, it will always remain the name of my blog (don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere!) Now at 31, I’m ready to expand into more varied areas so you’ll see me using my name, Shauna more visibly. It’s been a long, strange, intriguing journey watching how blogging and design has unfolded over the last decade and I’m more excited than ever for the future.

Once my brand audit is complete, I’ll be sharing more about the process and some tips for how you can make sure your brand is aligned consistently as well. Stay tuned!

*Photo by Lisa Devlin.