One of the questions I get asked most regularly by wedding pros and HiveTribe members is ‘how do you get noticed in the wedding industry’? In a competitive industry it’s important to stand out, to have a clear brand identity, crafting your brand message to appeal to your dream clients.

When marketing and branding expert Karianne Wardell from US brand consultancy Lofti,  got in touch last year to discuss hosting a workshop for the HiveTribe during a trip to London I was excited to bring her expertise and knowledge to our members – and today I’m sharing some of her tips and advice with you:

What’s your background?

I have 13 years brand leadership experience in the creative industry. My career was focused in the agency world where I gained expertise in digital marketing, advertising strategy and execution. Most recently, I led digital strategy for global consumer brands as a Vice President, Digital at Weber Shandwick, a global communications firm. Over the course of my career I have facilitated hundreds of marketing campaigns for some of the worlds biggest brands.

Lofti is your latest venture, helping creative business owners build their brand identity and elevate their message in an authentic way. How did Lofti come about?

After a career in the corporate world, I wanted to apply my skill and energy to more meaningful challenges. Over the last few years, I have been inspired by a number of my friends who had the courage to start their own business and I found that I was most alive professionally when I helped them with their brands and marketing strategies. I started Lofti to provide accessible brand development options to small business owners and corporate high-performers looking to define their personal brand through workshops and coaching. It was a bit terrifying to give up the comfort of a corporate job but I wouldn’t trade the ability to be my own boss for anything.

We all make mistakes in business, especially when starting out.  What mistakes have you made, and what did you learn from them?

I am making some of my best mistakes daily and the opportunities to learn from them seem to come swiftly and frequently! The biggest change moving from the corporate world is no longer having a built in team of experts to collaborate with. In the absence of a team who can help proof read, clarify and provide ongoing support, the likelihood of mistakes goes up. I learned quickly that I needed to build a new support network, of small business owners, to serve as my “team” and help review and strengthen my ideas and business materials. Best of all, I can talk through mistakes and get feedback on how to course correct in a supportive way, that keeps me lifted up and moving forward.

How did those lessons transform your business and get you to where you are today?

Every decision from branding my company, to choosing the right partners, to how I overseeing daily operations bring confusing and tough choices. I face mistakes the same way as I always have, adjust my path, learn what to apply next time, and keep moving forward.

What is branding and why is it so important for creating a successful business?

Branding: Articulating a unique value that solves a problem for your audience and consistently tells the same story.

Successful brands have a clearly defined, strategic vision that delivers on customer needs. Building an impactful business requires dedication to ongoing strategy work – a clear articulation of the unique value your products or services provide and mapping them to your customer’s needs. Taking the time to assess and document your strategic vision is essential. Building and evolving your brand should come from a place of proactive strategy so that you are best positioned to pivot when and if your marketplace shifts (e.g. a new competitor enters your space, you uncover a new potential audience segment or want to explore adding services or increased pricing). Once you have a clearly defined story established, consistently using this message across your marketing outreach is what will lead to a memorable brand.

What’s the starting point for creating a great brand?

Understanding your customer is a requirement for building a long-lasting brand. In addition to demographic data, it is essential to understand what your audience thinks, feels and believes – who they are as people. In our technology driven world, people buy from people they know and trust. Small business owners can take advantage of this through storytelling that speaks in the language of their customer and clearly communicates how their product or service solves a real problem for their audience.

How does great branding help business connect with customers?

The language you choose to communicate across your marketing  materials should speak to your customer’s pain points and needs. The best brands know their customers in and out and consistently meet them on the channels they prefer with messaging that engages them.

How does branding tie in with marketing?

Marketing materials and communication efforts should reflect your brand voice and values at all times. Event when marketing a specific product or service, the language and approach for the event, social post or email should support your overall brand story.

What three tips do you have for businesses for crafting their business message?

  1. Start with your customer in mind, outline everything you know about who they are, what they think, feel, believe, what keeps them up at night, what barriers they face on a daily basis, what they need to feel successful.
  2. Map your services and products to their needs. Think strategically about how you can match a solution to their problem.
  3. Take the time to write some thoughtful bullets about what your company offers from the perspective of the customer. Use language that empathizes with their needs. Reference these message points when you build marketing language across platforms so your brand story is consistent.

Need  help to craft your brand message? Karianne offers virtual coaching to businesses in the UK, find out more here. For access to more HivePros join our wedding industry Facebook Group, Meet Learn Thrive!

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Photography: Helen Warner Photography