The Cotswolds, Unconventional Branding & why Contrast is your best friend

So a couple of weeks back I treated my business and me to a week in the great British countryside – just a stone’s throw from my own lil home.

Now you can take me all over the world and I’ll find a piece of my heart in all the things, but I’m never more comfortable than when I can see rolling fields from my bedroom window and smell a roaring fire after a long walk in the rain!

And because it was the British summer, there was plenty of that on offer!

So what took me to an event so close to home?

Well rewind a few months and I was catching up on my emails, as you do, and enjoying the latest message from my long-term business crush, Ash Ambirge.

Now Ash’s emails are about the only ones I make time to read. This lady writes in a way that I can’t help but dive into her every word. Her emails always seem to slap or hug me – just when I need it most! And on this particular day, her email was the slap I needed to book my ass onto her business retreat in the Cotswolds.

So when the big day came, off I went with no expectations or ideas about what I’d be digging into; just a bag of all-weather gear – as any true Brit packs when holidaying in this country!

And I can report that the inspiration and insights started pinging from the moment I stepped out of my car.

Cuddled up in idyllic grounds, the retreat hotel was the perfect mix of warm and cosy and bold and quirky. In fact, it made my lil designer’s heart leap around in circles – and that was even before I spotted the ‘mine’ & ‘his’ tin mugs in the bathroom! Tin mugs are definitely up there on my ‘things I love even more than wine’ board – so this experience was already winning me over before we’d even got started. Check my Instagram for photos of that lil find.

But here’s the thing… My reaction to the hotel was no accident.

I’m pretty certain Ash intended for us to spot the interesting and surprising details that lurked every corner. In fact, I’m starting to feel that the setting was as much a part of the week’s learning as the business sessions themselves!

ONE OF THE BIG TOPICS WE KEPT CIRCLING BACK AROUND TO ALL WEEK WAS CONTRAST.

A branding technique that’s very close to my heart. In fact, it was the topic that kicked off the week – with a very clever demonstration.

You see Ash made her first impression with an outfit that screamed contrast!

She’d paired lace with pearls, bold colours with black, and quirky tees with shouty slogans. Yup, it was an outfit that would make you turn your head. But more than that, Ash’s outfit was the perfect expression of her personality and brand. This was the very first time I’d ever met her in person and that clever outfit instantly reinforced everything I think and feel about her.

Here’s the thing…

There’s very little that’s totally new, unique, or break-through in this world.

For sure, some people do create things that turn everything on its head. But for the most part, products and services are inspired by what already exists. Ideas are recycled and revamped – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make them distinctive and brand them as your own creation.

Remember, you don’t need to have something 100% unique to create that kind of memorable, rave-worthy, heart-tugging experience.

Instead, you simply need to find the contrast and then wrap up what you’ve got with your personality… because that’s what turns something generic into an idea that stands alone and just for you.

Let’s put this into action…

BE UNCONVENTIONAL. JUST BRAND YOU.

Standing out isn’t about being ‘different’.

There’s not a one-size fits all solution either.

And you don’t have to be someone you’re not, make something up, or wade your way through the latest ‘tried-and-tested’ blueprint from so-in-so – that makes you feel icky, bored, and forced into a box that just doesn’t feel comfortable.

Instead you can do it YOUR way. You can be unconventional. You can be honest – yup seriously!

You can be what you love, you can show off who you really are, and you can break all of the rules.

That’s because the most powerful brand you can create is the one that’s built on you – and there aint no fancy blueprint for that, right?

All the quirks and contrasts that already make you interesting are just waiting for you to uncover and bring into your brand. When you blend these things together and create contrasts that express your personality – that’s when you’re on to a strong, uncopycatable brand that’s going to make your perfect customer fall head over heels in love with you.

Fancy a bit of that for yourself?

If so, start by thinking about what unconventional means for you.

For example, for Ash it’s about combining the unexpected.

For the hotel it was about contrasting luxury and comfort with those quirky little extras that made my heart sing :-)

For me it’s all about CONTRAST… listening to all the best advice and then doing it your own way anyway! It’s about being the YOU you love, whatever you that is! It’s about finding ways to turn every experience into something that reflects the different parts of your personality… and owning ALL those different parts!

 

It doesn’t matter what you pick and how you mash it together, what’s important is you pick the things that make you YOU.

 

IT’S BRANDING – BUT NOT IN THE WAY YOU THINK

 

You see branding is about soooooo much more than colours, fonts, and logos.

None of those brand ‘essentials’ were in sight during the retreat – and they didn’t need to be. That’s because your brand is about way more than graphics and designs that make things look ‘pretty’.

Instead, the real power of your brand is THE WAY IT MAKES PEOPLE FEEL ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS.

It’s why an unconventional brand goes way beyond the design elements.

It’s about strategy too – in particular being able to translate the vision you have for your business into visuals, which ensure your perfect customers can see and experience your vision for themselves. It’s also about constantly and continually sharing and reinforcing visuals that inspire this experience you want your perfect customers to have every single time they interact with your brand.

And that branding insight leads me onto a lil something I’ve been planning for you since my last message…

You see I want to help you put this powerful unconventional branding technique into action with a challenge.

So since the last time we spoke, as well as spending time in a gorgeous hotel! I’ve been busy putting together some prompts to help tease out your own unconventional brand style via the medium of visual marketing – my favourite weapon of choice!

Remember, if you’re going to join in, which I hope you will, use the hashtag #VISUALFOR30. That way we can support each other through this creative journey.

I’ll be playing – I hope you will too.

 

Just keep reading for all the deets…

 

30 Ways to Share Your Unconventional Brand

Woo hoo! If you’re reading this then I know you’re an action-taker who’s committed to using the power of unconventional branding to get more eyes on you, attract your Mr Perfect Customer, and make more money just by being you.

As promised, here are 30 prompts designed to help you explore your own contrasts and express you and your brand.

There is no perfect way to do this – just your way.

You don’t need to be a ‘designer’ to join in. All you need is your smartphone, Google slides – if you’re feeling designer-y, and a lil bit of creativity! You’ll soon be turning your pics into crushworthy graphics that get people talking.

You can use these prompts on social media, your blog, your emails, your website – anywhere that you want to start a conversation.

Simply block out some time, free your creativity, and start showing the world who you really are…

And if you want a lil bit of inspiration to get you started, make sure you take a look at my Instagram page where I’ll be sharing my #VISUALFOR30 creations.

 

Let’s do this…

 

WHO ARE YOU?

  1.     Take a picture of your workspace
  2.     Create a visual of your favourite place
  3.     Stage a picture that reveals something about you
  4.     Take a selfie!
  5.     Capture a shot of you doing your hobby

 

WHAT’S YOUR MISSION?

  1.     Illustrate why you get out of bed in the morning
  2.     Create a visual that shows the impact you make
  3.     Reveal what lifestyle your work makes possible for you
  4.     Create a font-based visual that explains your why
  5.     Share a book that’s shaped your thinking

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?

  1.     Show your work through a visual
  2.     Reveal your passion through a photo
  3.     Stage a picture that summarises a typical day
  4.     Show your coffee break
  5.     Capture something that gets you inspired

 

WHAT YOU BELIEVE?

  1.     Create a font image with your catchphrase/tagline
  2.     Find a quote that captures your heart
  3.     Use visuals to reveal something that winds you up
  4.     Create a picture of something you LOVE
  5.     Turn a key phrase from a blog into a visual

 

WHY YOU’RE THE BEST

  1.     Capture the transformation you make possible
  2.     Post pictures (and testimonials) from happy clients
  3.     Take a photo of you in action
  4.     Share a selfie that shows how your client’s feedback makes you feel
  5.     Shoot a picture of an award or an endorsement and explain why it means so much to you

 

OFFERS Create a visual that:

  1.     Can accompany a lead magnet
  2.     Directs people to a sales page
  3.     Sends people to your latest blog
  4.     Invites people to join your list
  5.     Encourages people to contact you

 

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