I'm writing this article to discuss Brand Shouter. I want to show you just how far we've come in the past year as well as discuss some of my failures as the owner of the business and the steps I took to rectify many of them. Specifically, I want the reader of this article to learn from my mistakes because past failures are one of the best teachers! As always, I've included my podcast episode embedded above and highly encourage a listen. My voice can sometimes convey a lot the sheer words cannot.
Maybe you follow what I'm doing with Brand Shouter, are a customer, or perhaps you've stumbled across this article and/or podcast. I'm hoping that you can see some of the changes I've made and, not only learn from my experiences, but are encouraged into taking similar action as well.
Table of Contents
It's Been An Interesting Year
I started Brand Shouter five years ago with a business partner who also happens to be a great friend of mine. We grew up together and remain close to this day. We started Brand Shouter in 2013 with the goal of finding ways to help business owners succeed. Our business was an idea more than an actual business. In 2014, I left my full-time job to pursue Brand Shouter as my full-time entrepreneurial excursion (for lack of a better phrase). Fast forward to 2018 and I finally felt it important to take the time to work on marketing for Brand Shouter - which is crazy - because this is what I do for clients every day! Four years into this and I hadn't even marketed my own business.
Kind of like a New Year's resolution, I decided that I was going to spend the extra time to market my own business in 2018. I was out of town, in the Midwest, visiting my in-laws. I often use this time to assess my business as the internet is poor at their home and I have to go to a neighboring town to work. I was thinking, "I really enjoy Brand Shouter... but I need to figure out how to make it grow more and be more sustainable. I want to be able to offer more to my clients. I want to be able to bring in more clients." Thus started my quest to apply my full marketing skillset to my own business. I promised myself that I would fix this very large, glaring hole.
Marketing Experiment #1: Perfecting my Brand
The first thing I needed to check off my list was a greater re-branding project. Brand Shouter was built while I was still learning about branding and I didn't have the resources to do a great job. I didn't want to kill my brand all-together - just modernize and update the overall look to match my target audience.
With that, I tackled my logo. I had two versions of the logo that I was using with *gasp* two different fonts. Not only is that a huge problem, but it's a problem I'm embarrassed of. I selected my logo font and moved the megaphone-man icon inside the "O" in the word "shouter." He used to sit outside by himself. I also removed some weird lines and graphic elements that complicated the overall look. I'm still incredibly pleased with how my new logo turned out.
The logo isn't your entire brand, however. Your brand is also represented by your printed and displayed fonts as well as your colors and layout. For fonts, you'll notice that I also have a secondary font in the "creatively smart" tagline. I purchased that font specifically for this use and choose the same font in my logo as my second font. In my marketing design trends article, you can learn a little more about font selection if you're interested.
Brand Shouter's original colors were red, white and blue. It was kind of a patriotic, USA inspired color scheme. Unfortunately, it doesn't portray the branding that I wanted with Brand Shouter. Not only do I have international clients, but my areas of focus are much more specific. With this new thought process in mind, I turned towards a more Pacific Northwest look since I'm based out of the Puget Sound area of Washington state. I also wanted to appeal to a younger generation that tends to love the colors of nature but with a more minimalist look. Looking at my branding colors, you'll see this change in focus. I even chatting about this in my branding podcast and related article.
As you can see above, I went with a really natural-looking green. My primary dark color is a rich, deep brown that stays far enough away from black that it's still distinguishably different. My primary light color is pure white. Last, I also have two lighter brown colors that I use very infrequently but for specific accents when necessary.
Marketing Experiment #2: Revitalizing my Website
I had finally rebuilt my brand to better target my audience while representing both myself and my company better. It was time to tackle my website. At this point, February has come around and while I was happy with my branding revitalization, nothing showed it yet. I went to work building the new brandshouter.com (which, if you're reading this at the end of 2018 or early 2019, that's what you're looking at).
By the end of February, the new site was live and looking much better. The new website had the same content as the old website however, and was missing a lot of the content it needed to be a great website that represented the Brand Shouter brand. It also was severely lacking in content beyond my services and contact. It was no different than any other small business website with little to no time put into it beyond initial setup.
Since that point, I've been continually adding to the site and enhancing the content. I'm always still adding new content and new services but, if you had seen my site prior to this year, you'll see a huge change in how we present ourselves. Also, along with building out our general services and information related to those, I've taken the onus of focusing on content that will bring interested people to the site.
Marketing Experiment #3: Endless Content Creation
In general, I hate writing. It's not my strength. Brand Shouter has a content team for creative writing and I send every writing project to them without hesitation. For Brand Shouter, however, I like the content to be in my "voice" as the owner of the company - at least in the initial phases. This presented a problem with a lack of new content being generated for the site because I relied on my own motivation to do something I mostly detested.
Enter podcasting. I did start writing original content for Brand Shouter. It was akin to putting all of my fingers in a vice-grip and cranking it down over and over - but I did it for a while. Then, I discovered podcasting and content creation became a fairly easy process. I can create tons of content for my site and for social media while spending a fraction of the time it took me to creatively write all of that content. I know marketers tend to over-use podcasts and I didn't want to be just another marketing podcaster trying to hock my services and the digital airwaves. I strive to actually have a podcast that is useful, even if you didn't want to hire me. I even made a podcast about this goal: What's Your Purpose, Your Why.
For me, content creation is a huge part of helping others and creating something useful. Yes, it points to Brand Shouter and I hope to gain business from it, but it also is a way I can help others from my experiences and knowledge. From a content perspective as well, I could generate multiple pieces of content from each podcast I made (beyond just the blog post or article). I talk more about this on my podcast SEO Basics for WordPress.
The Results of the Marketing Experiments
With these steps, I was able to reinvigorate my brand. Truthfully, my brand was mostly non-existent. I was able to create my brand with these steps. It has been paying dividends ever since. This isn't a complete transparency into my business but this should help you realize the scale of change I've seen since January 2018.
At the beginning of the year, brandshouter.com was lucky to get 40 visits a month and only about 20 of those were unique visitors. As a small company that is hyper focused in a local area (and someone not overtly skilled at networking), numbers like this are pretty common. Most of those visits were from existing clients and relationships that I already had and were not potential leads.
Podcasting has been helping to flip this narrative immensely. Now, thanks to the various pieces of content that I generate - and, I should point out, purposing to put the time into creating the content to begin with as well as pushing that content out across the web - brandshouter.com is seeing nearly 1,000 visitors a month and the number is on a steady incline.
We're generating leads. Brandshouter.com has never before been a lead generation site. I know that's sad since we're a marketing company but as I mentioned earlier, we just never focused on ourselves. On top of the global lead generation, we're enjoying more traction locally. Trust me, all of this content "stuff" shows that you know what you're doing and sets you up as an expert in your industry regardless of if you are a marketing company or you sell water bottles to the masses.