Aderson Oliveira: I have spoken with brand specialist, Jen Shea. She is the owner of Bohemian Branding, which is a company that specializes on brand creation and online presence as well. We have discussed about what branding really is and what process she uses to help her clients define and create their own brand identity. Branding goes way beyond and above logo creation. Logo is, of course, part of that, but branding is also about helping businesses define who is the avatar, who is the client avatar for their business. She was also very open about sharing with me a horror story she had gone through with a past client. Have a listen and learn the nuances of branding.
Hello, hello, Aderson Oliveira here. This is another interview for the OuchSourcing Podcast where I talk to specialists, to business owners, to people with a lot of experience within outsourcing, maybe as a provider, maybe as a client of outsourcing providers, and today is no different. Today, I have with me Jen Shea. She is the owner of Bohemian Branding, which is a company where she works with clients to help them with their brand and online presence as well. Jen, thank you very much for being here. Welcome.
Jen Shea: Thank you, Aderson. Thank you for having me here. I'm excited to be here.
Aderson: Perfect, very good, very good. Give me a quick explanation of what Bohemian Branding is and what do you do for your clients.
Jen: Bohemian Branding is a company that I've developed. I started off with designing websites for clients and doing their graphics, and it evolved to Bohemian Branding because what I was doing naturally with my clients was digging deeper than just providing the website or a logo. I was helping them to develop their brand, and the brand, very basically, a brand, traditionally, is a marker, a stamp of identity, and that's something you would see on cattle, for example.
It's the same in business, but before you can develop that perfect visual identifier, I believe that you need to truly understand what your business goals are and what your clients' needs are.
Aderson: I'm going to dig a little bit deeper into what branding is, because to be honest, when someone talks to me, and I think that most people, what they understand about branding is usually tied up to the logo. I know branding is way more than that, but tell me what else, beyond the logo, beyond that branding, really means.
Jen: Branding would be, at least with me, how I see it is you're getting clear on what you do with your business. So, your visual brand is your logo and how you use that everywhere, whether that's on social media, marketing, whether it's on your letterheads, your business card, and your website, obviously. Social media, using your logo on every single thing that you put out so that everybody who sees it will eventually recognize that, right? That's what your brand mark is all about.
But, to get to that point, you need to get clear on what it is you do in your business. What we do, usually - we, meaning me and the client - is discuss the importance of micro-niching. When I say micro-niching, meaning find out exactly what it is that you're going to offer to that client. In order to do that, you need to really know who your ideal client is, and that's what you often refer to as your customer avatar.
What the process is, at least, that I use with my clients is getting clear on your business and then getting clear on who your ideal client is. So, this would be done like is it a man, or a woman, or a business? How old is this person? What do they look like? What do they like to do? Most importantly, of course, what are their needs? Then, how can you fix that need? How can you make that need go away or how do you present yourself so that that need is met?
Aderson: Let me ask you a question, Jen. Sorry for interrupting you, but I would like to dig a little bit deeper into the avatar, into how important that is. Now, how do you get to know that? Let's say, bring into my own business, how would you go about talking to me to discover that avatar? Is that based on my past client, is that based on what I wish the clients would be like?
Jen: It's a little bit of both. What we do is - meaning me and you - look at, again, what you want to offer. So, what is it that you do, and so who are the people that need that service? By going and sort of picking out a person, the people that you think that you're going to help, are they usually a man, are they usually a woman? How old is that person that really could use your perfect offering? What type of person are they, how much money do they have to spend? All those things really come together to help you get clear on your message to everybody and on your website when you're talking to people on your social media.
Aderson: Again, I'm going to dig a little bit deeper into that. If I put my naive cap here, my naive hat, I would say, "But, Jen, I want my business to attend to everybody," and I know this is not factual, this is not feasible, but I'd like to ask you how do you approach someone that says, "This product, this service, this business, we want to attend to everybody. Everybody has this need, so everybody will benefit from this"? How do you address that?
Jen: Well, there's a couple of things. One of them would be you can't -- I mean, you probably could, I suppose, but most people can't work with absolutely everybody, and there are a lot of people out there doing what you do, there's a lot of people out there doing what I do. We're not usually creating a business that's never been done before. We just are creating something that is driven through us to help people. I don't know if that makes any sense. What I mean is that I have the perfect solution for somebody out there, and the reason I'm looking for that avatar is because we need to talk to that person.
Let me backtrack. On your website, for example, when somebody comes to your website, they need to know that you, on your website, are talking to them. Does that make any sense?
Aderson: It does. We had a little conversation yesterday. I really like that insight that you provided that a site is talking to one person. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Jen: What I notice with a lot of people when they're doing the copy for their website, when they're writing out their about page, or their welcome page, their landing page, they sometimes tend to forget that they're not talking to several people at one time. Every person that comes to your website is one person.
What I mean by that is I'm not reading your website as many people. I'm reading your website as one person. I'm looking at your website and hoping that it's going to answer my questions and going to tell me how you're going to help me. I'm one person; I'm not a group of people. Even if there's somebody sitting on the other side of me, each of those persons is an individual. So, you need to write your website copies so that you are directing that to the one person who is sitting in front of your website at that very moment.
Aderson: Let's talk a little bit about some of the common mistakes, Jen, that you see people doing with their brands, with their sites. Again, you mentioned one now, which is having this idea that you are talking to a group of people. No, you are talking to one person there. So, what else do you see as a common mistake when people are dealing with their business brand?
Jen: Branding. A lot of people, when they first just start out, especially new to the online world, they may come from a corporate background, or they come from a hospital if they're a healthcare provider or whatnot, and they think, "I just need to get a cute little logo and find a cute catchy name or something that's going to grab attention to everybody," and they throw that up on a website.
What they need to do though, as I said, already, was find that client avatar, find the person they're talking to, and then they need to get clear on their own messages. One of the things that's really important is to, when you are really clear on what your message is to everybody, or to your people, to your tribe, then you can stay focused on that message throughout your website, throughout your conversations with people, throughout your social media.
Keep everything sort of in a tight, neat package so that it's not all over the place so people don't get confused by what it is you do. One of the things that, like I said, when we talk to clients is help them get really clear on what the message is. Does that help?
Aderson: It does, it does. You mentioned the client avatar of your clients. Now, let's talk a little bit about your client avatar, because I know that you work with certain types of businesses. Can you talk a little bit about the ideal client of yours?
Jen: Mine? Okay. I'm so used to talking with my clients about their client avatar. My client avatar has developed, and this happens to everybody, usually, after some time. You may think your ideal client is this person over here, but it turns out to be this person naturally gravitates towards you.
My client avatar, my ideal client is a woman who is in her late 40s, early 50s - I've actually got two, but this one is the one that stands out the most - and she has been in the corporate world probably doing some kind of administrative work, or it could be healthcare because I seem to have both come to me, but she's always creative in her heart and soul, and she needs guidance, she needs help with finding keywords and brainstorming. Brainstorming is something I do a lot with my clients, and she needs a lot of help focusing and getting really clear on your message, and she is the woman that really appreciates the technical aspect of creating that logo and creating that website.
Aderson: Okay, great. So, you have a persona there, an avatar. Now, how do you personally go about finding your clients? You mentioned a few things yesterday, but I would like you to mention that again. How do you go about finding that profile of person?
Jen: For me, almost right from the start when I left the corporate world to do this dream job of creating all the time and helping women all the time, I have had a lot of -- I'm very lucky because I've had a lot of referrals, people refer other people to me. In the beginning, it was networking through mostly Facebook groups actually, and it wasn't done specifically to look for clients. It was just having conversations and helping other people, mostly women, because I was in a lot of VA groups, just answering questions on, "Should I do this? What do you think of that?"
Some people would post logos or their websites, and I just offer free help, and through that, I've got some really wonderful core clients who have always referred other people to me. I've had a couple of clients come to me through LinkedIn, but mostly, actually, Facebook groups. Does that answer your question?
Aderson: It does, and just want to mention that: referrals. It's never a sign of luck. It's a sign of good work that you have done for your clients and they refer back to you.
Jen: Absolutely, and one of the things, if I might say, and this is, again, what I always talk to people about, is testimonials. Always ask for a testimonial. What I always recommend is using a form of some kind - I have a form that I have - to guide them on answering a testimonial, because some people are really not comfortable with writing testimonials, but that really helps so that if somebody says, "You need help with some recording or whatnot, my friend, Addison, I know this fellow Addison, he's really great, awesome guy," the first thing they're going to do is go to your website, and check it out, and see what it is that you've done, and I will always go to a testimonial page.
A testimonial page is just the same as -- you know, when you're shopping online, let's say, at Amazon or Best Buy, and you're looking for a product, you look for the number of stars and you look for what people think about those products, right?
Aderson: You're right, you're right. It's how people felt good or bad, but hopefully not bad, is to work with you.
Jen: Most people don't put bad testimonials on the website, but you would guide them to say, "What was your need, how did I help you, and what was the result?"
Aderson: Perfect. Now, let's look back to, let's say, your most recent client interaction, your most recent project. Let's get down and dirty here into what is it that you provided to this particular person. I mean, again, looking back to your last engagement.
Jen: I'm working on two, or I've been working, just recently, on two, so let me think. I've got this young lady who is a creative, absolutely creative young lady who has worked in retail for a number of years and very unhappy with that. She didn't feel good about being boxed in, so she came to me to look for help. She wanted to start closet renovations, so helping people get rid of their clothes, but also designing their closets and whatnot. With her, I went through all the steps that I usually do with them: who is that person, who is that perfect person that would be your ideal client? Let's find out who that is. Then, I talked to her about getting really clear on her message.
I also helped her with -- she, like everybody, and we all do it when we start out is narrow down who you're talking to. This is where the finding that client avatar really worked for her because she lives in New York, there are probably a lot of closet organizers there. So, what is that thing that you can bring to the table for that client that most other people can't bring?
We did all that, and then we looked at her logo, we talked about different designs. I always give them information on word mark logos versus a logo that has a symbol in it or a graphic, and the difference between a graphic image and a symbol. We talked about naming her business. That's really important. Coming up with the domain after you've got the name of the business, and you have to do these things kind of together. They both work together. You want to make sure that the name of the business that you come up with that that name is available or something like that domain is available. One of the names that she wanted to use really badly was not available.
For example, let's say Bohemian Branding. I'll just use that as an example. Actually, I'll use hers. It was Meg Styling. Her name is Megan, so Meg Styling, and she wanted to use megstyling.com, but it wasn't available. So, she said to me, "What if I get megstyling.info?" or in our case, in Canada, .ca. I explained to her how that could be detrimental to her because most people in the world go to a dotcom first, and if they do go to megstyling.com, they've completely lost her website, they're not going to the right place. So, we discussed what the benefits are of finding that perfect domain and how it works.
The other thing, too, of course, is finding that perfect business name that makes sense, right? It has to resonate with you. Is this about you? Are you always going to be the main representative for the business or is it something you might sell one day, or is it about the service you provide, or is it about products that you provide, which of course, in that case, you're probably not going to use your own name, and then coming up with something that people will eventually recognize and remember all the time.
We worked on all that, we talked a lot about the services she was offering, and I actually helped her to, again, maybe cut down to very basic services, not to have all these things over here and all these things over there, which when a person lands on your website, they're going to get lost. You need to be focused, especially on the main page. Right when they land, they need to see what you do, how you do it, and how you're going to make their life a lot easier.
I'd say that's what she and I did together. Happily, she was thrilled with it and she was actually -- she said she was blown away by things she never thought of. I mean, there's a lot more to the conversation than that, obviously, but she was really happy with things that she'd never even considered, and she's a creative person. A lot of people are creative. They just don't think about these things in life, right?
Aderson: Yeah, and what I can see is that the branding work that you do, and I don't know if all branding specialists will do that kind of work, but it's really dig deeper into the business. It helps to define not only what we think is the visual identity, but define what that business is all about.
Jen: That's right. I mean, there's one of the elements when you're designing a website and a logo is color, and there's three ways to look at it. I'll ask a client, "Okay, what colors are you thinking? What are your favorite colors? What colors resonate with you?" They may like pink a lot. They wear a lot of pink; it's their favorite color. So, they want to see pink on their website. What I'll do next is take them over to look at the psychology of color.
Different colors mean different things, you know. Red is sort of a hot color, it can be very corporate, it also can be a color that's associated with anger. But, it's a take-action color as well. There's different ways to look at it, and all the colors are broken down. So, let's have a look at that together, you and I, and we'll see now what resonates with you.
The other thing, of course, knowing that client avatar, when we look at the psychology of the color and when we talk about color, because it's not just based on the psychology of color at all, but what color do you think that your ideal client would be drawn to, and knowing who that client is and what they're looking for makes all the difference in the world. Because, if you are, let's say, a group of businessmen, and you are building, let's say, a financial website, or some engineers, you want something that looks very corporate, very steel and blues, where somebody in the healing field, somebody who's a, let's say, healing coach, might want to use colors like turquoise, which are healing colors, right?
There's all the ways that you have to break this down and a lot of people don't think about that at all. They're just like, "I love pink. That's my favorite color, so I'm going to use pink everywhere." One of the other things that I do, and I don't know if you were going to ask me this question, but when we're building your website and logo, both same together, I always try to help them keep it clean and keep it simple. A very busy logo with lots and lots of different things going on, lots of color is really hard to print, it's hard to put on a business card, and it's hard for people to concentrate on and remember. The simpler, the better.
On their website, do they want a really homey, cozy website that makes people feel like, "I'm at home now and this person really gets me," or do they want something that is clean lines, very clear, really easy to read. Then, there's navigation and all these other things that come into designing websites.
Aderson: I love that sample, and that really gave me the feeling of how does it feel to work with you. I mean, thank you very much for that example. Now, I want to explore something else here. One of the ways that we learn as people, as business owners, as entrepreneurs is with problems, with road blocks, with mistakes, with what I call horror stories. I don't know if you have a horror story. I'm sure that you must have. I'm not sure if you are willing to share something, maybe, that happened with a client. Maybe the client had different ideas, different concepts. Anyway, I'm just going to throw it out there and see if you are comfortable with something like that.
Jen: You know, I've been doing this a long time, so there's probably one or two stories that I could share without them knowing.
Aderson: Of course, don't say the names.
Jen: No, absolutely not. You know, actually it's not. I can't say truly horror stories. When I started out a few years ago, I really believe, and that's just me, on tithing, on giving back to people, and passing forward, paying forward. So, I was helping this woman who was in the middle of the U.S. in the Texas area, I think, and trying to guide her, trying to help her with her website, and I was doing it for no charge. I just felt if we can make a great website that's functional for her - I'm not going to build her a huge website - but give her something that she can use, that's functional, and I designed a logo based on what she had wanted. This is before I really got clear on what I want to do for my clients too. This is stepping back a few years, and at that point, I was designing exactly what they wanted.
Anyways, I did all that and she, from memory, I can't remember exactly what happened, but she wanted more and more, and as I said, I created the design that she wanted and I did not like it. This is the first time it's happened to me. I really hated it and I did not want to put my name on the website because I didn't like the way it looked, it didn't resonate with me, and this is something, again, I didn't know my ideal client then, right? And it just did not sit well, I didn't like it. So, I developed the website for her and gave it to her, and I just said, "I think this is just the end. I'll show you how to fix your website." Of course, again, she wasn't paying me, but at the time, my heart was there to help her.
Anyways, the relationship, I won't go into all the details, but the relationship didn't end very well. It made me feel really bad, but she started talking, like saying things about me in a mutual group that we were in. Luckily, everybody came and said, "There's no way. You're looking at this the wrong way," and whatnot, and it turned out, eventually, actually, she contacted me and apologized, and I guess she was going through a bad time. But, for me, in that moment, that was horrible. That, to me, was a horror story.
Aderson: No, it makes sense now.
Jen: Learning from both of us though, it was a learning experience from me what not to do, how not to handle a situation.
Aderson: Going to that point that you just mentioned, what is it that you would have done differently that would not end up happening like what happened there?
Jen: Well, a lot of things. I mean, having more of a conversation. I did not really know her. Making sure that we actually were going to have a good connection to work together, that we would be able to understand each other. That's really clear. Being really clear on all of the messages going back and forth, all the conversations, clear on what I will do, and what I won't do or can't do, for example.
That's so important now and that's something that, right from the start, it has to happen. You've got to make sure that they understand what I'm capable of and how I work, how I do things, what my processes are. I'm very process-driven now at this point. I've got questionnaires, and the first thing I do after I speak to somebody, I send them a very long questionnaire and then I go through it with them.
I take a lot of time with people because I think it's really important. I want to give my clients the best branding experience they could ever have, the best website, and that evolves over time. Of course, we rebrand and everything, but in that moment, I want them to have the best experience they could possibly have, and have the best logo and how it's going to work out really well, and does it make sense? Sometimes, I have to steer. I do a lot of steering, actually, with my clients of steering them if they go off-track, steering them in the right direction for their logo and branding.
Aderson: We are coming towards the end here, Jen, but let me ask you this. In your tool belt, what are some of the tools that you use, maybe, to communicate with clients, besides email? Is there any tool that you find interesting that you'd like to share with us?
Jen: As a tool to keep in touch with a client, I use Asana. I'm not sure if that's what you mean --
Aderson: Yes, it is.
Jen: I have an account and I ask the client if they're willing to do that. Some aren't, some are, some are happy and would prefer just an email. But, Asana's a great place to keep everything in one place, right? You have conversations, you can put in their profile what your needs are, you can give them timelines. Timelines are really important. Keeping a client on track is super-important.
You know, I use Skype or a Facebook video, usually, to communicate because I want to see you. Your voice is great, but you need to see me. I think having that connection with a client is very important. It makes a huge difference. I was talking to somebody the other day for the first time. It was on the phone. I met her via Skype and it was much better communication, right? It just is. That's really important to me.
Email, of course, when necessary, chat sometimes, depending on the person. Those are the ways of communicating with them, for sure. Then, of course, the tools I use are Adobe Illustrator. All my websites that I develop are on WordPress. I'm looking at things like Teachables, and other to build courses. There's all kinds of tools that you can use, and really, that's client-driven. Those ones are client-driven.
Aderson: I love that. Let me ask you this, Jen. Before I let you go, what is one thing that you'd like people that go through this conversation, you want them to leave knowing about? It might be about branding, about outsourcing, whatever it is, but what is one thing?
Jen: As an outsourcer, the one thing I think, no matter what, is find that person that you can communicate with that you will be able to understand what you're trying to communicate and that will be able to communicate back to you. That's really important. I'm not sure if that's helpful or not to you, but in branding, it's all the same, whether you're hiring somebody to do administrative work, to build a building for you, to build your brand, you have to make that connection, and communication, I've always said that is key.
But, think of things like clarity, communication, cohesion, all those words always come to mind when I'm talking to somebody for the first time. And connection, make sure you have that connection with the person no matter what's going on. Because, I'm not going to be the ideal person for everybody, but I'm the ideal person for somebody.
Aderson: That makes a lot of sense. Jen, again, thank you very much. How can people reach out to you, touch base with you, maybe get to ask more questions to you, maybe get to know about your business, and maybe you help them out with some brand as well? How can people reach out to you?
Jen: Absolutely. The easiest way is through my website, and that's BohemianBranding.com. You can use the contact form on there, and I'm also under Bohemian Branding on Twitter, on Instagram, on Pinterest. Am I missing anything? LinkedIn, I'm under my name Jen Shea, of course, but I think if you go in there and look for Bohemian Branding, that comes up as well. I'm, you know, keeping my brand the same everywhere.
Jen: Yeah, absolutely, and I'm happy to talk to people in North America by phone. But, again, I prefer video. That's just me. But, definitely go to BohemianBranding.com. You can see the website that I've designed and learn more about what I do, and I also have a really long bio there that tells people about my background, which is varied because I've been in business a long time.
Aderson: Very good, Jen. As usual, all the links mentioned by Jen will be posted in the video in the show notes. So, everything will be there. You don't need to take notes right now. Jen, again, I just have to thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, your expertise about branding, a lot of stuff that, sometimes, we take it for granted, but they are very important and a lot of smart people like yourself have fought through to put the right callers, and the right message with the right audience in place. Again, I really appreciate your passion as well.
Jen: Oh, thank you, Aderson. I have really enjoyed doing this with you. Thank you so much.
Aderson: We'll catch up soon. Bye.