Episode 118: Common Branding Mistakes that Keep You From Consistent Income with Bonnie Bakhtiari

July 26, 2022

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Brand strategy help including tips for common branding mistakes that are keeping you from earning consistent income

Brand Strategy: Help with common branding mistakes so you can earn consistent income

Today I am so excited to share an incredible interview with you all about branding, and how branding can make a difference in your income as a business owner.

I’m joined by Bonnie Bakhtiari. She’s a brand strategist and designer for creative entrepreneurs, as well as a coach for fellow graphic, brand, and web designers.

She specializes in crafting high converting, strategic brands for her custom design clients. And she currently teaches fellow designers how to generate consistent income and connect with their ideal clients on repeat through the Brand Strategy School, her signature program for designers.

She’s based in beautiful Waco, Texas with her husband of almost ten years and their two rambunctious golden retrievers, Boone and Quinn.

She’s here today to share all about the common branding mistakes that she sees in our industry that just might be keeping you from making a consistent income. You’re not going to want to miss these tweaks that you can make to see big changes in your bottom line. Let’s dive in.

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Brand strategy help including tips for common branding mistakes that are keeping you from earning consistent income

Bonnie is a brand strategist and designer for creative entrepreneurs, as well as a coach for fellow graphic, brand, and web designers.

She specializes in crafting high converting, strategic brands for her custom design clients. And she currently teaches fellow designers how to generate consistent income and connect with their ideal clients on repeat through the Brand Strategy School, her signature program for designers.

She’s based in beautiful Waco, Texas with her husband of almost ten years and their two rambunctious golden retrievers, Boone and Quinn.

Bonnie’s Instagram

Bonnie’s Website

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Rather Read? – Here’s the Transcript!

*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate.

Welcome to Chasing Simple. I’m your host, Amanda Warfield, and you’re listening to episode 118 today. I am so excited to share an incredible interview with you all about branding and how branding can make a difference in your income. As a business owner, I’m joined by Bonnie Baktiari she’s a brand strategist and designer for creative entrepreneurs, as well as a coach for fellow graphic brand and web designers. She specializes in crafting high-converting strategic brands for her custom design clients. And she currently teaches fellow designers how to generate consistent income and connect with their ideal clients on repeat through The Brand Strategy School, her signature program for designers.

She’s based in beautiful Waco, Texas with her husband of almost 10 years. And there are two rambunctious, golden retrievers Boone and Quinn. And she’s here today to share all about the common branding mistakes that she sees in our industry. That just might be keeping you from making a consistent income. You are not going to want to miss these tweaks that you can make to see big changes in your bottom line.

Let’s dive in.

Bonnie, I am incredibly excited to have you on today. And just to share you with all listeners, I enjoy following you so much. And I know that we’ve chatted over on your podcast and that was such a natural conversation. That isn’t always the case. So I’m really excited for you to be on today, but why don’t you start off by telling everyone who you are, what you do and who you serve.

Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me, Amanda. I’m so excited to get to talk about this really fantastic topic that we have lined up today. And I am so grateful to get to connect with the amazing folks who are tuning in today. So if we haven’t met before, my name is Bonnie Bakhtiari and I am a brand designer and strategist for creative women service-based entrepreneurs.

And in addition to that, I’m also a coach for fellow graphic brand and web designers and through the work that I do through the design and strategy work and the coaching for designers, my mission is to help women entrepreneurs, really tap into that sense of purpose, passion, and profits. So they are able to unapologetically go after their big, bright, beautiful dreams while generating consistent income so that they can live the kind of lifestyles and they can have the kind of impact that they are dreaming about. So for me, branding is all about kind of this intersection between purpose and passion and profit, where you’re able to do the work that you love in a way that connects you consistently with your ideal clients.

And as a result, you’re able to have that impact through the work that you do while commanding high end rates for that transformation that you offer. So, that’s a little bit about what I do. I’m based in beautiful Waco, Texas with my husband of 10 years this year, and our two really sweet rambunctious, golden retrievers.

Well, first congratulations. A whole decade not day. Yeah. Decade got a decade. 

It’s a good thing. We like each other because that’s a long time to be living with someone, especially the 

last few years. 

I know we’re, we’re like, we’re the only people that the other person has seen where it’s just like us and the dog.

So, yeah, I haven’t, haven’t decided to get sick of each other yet. So like knock on wood. that it stays that way. , 

congratulations. That’s huge. And something, Bonnie, you mentioned. Very briefly about living the life of your dreams and outside of your business also. And I just want to throw this out there for everyone listening.

I will link to this in the show notes, but Bonnie actually takes an annual month long sabbatical, which is a huge goal of mine. One day, we’ll get there, but. Probably not this year, but that she has some podcast episodes about that at least one, maybe more than one. And I willing to ask on the show notes because she’s truly living out what it is that she’s saying that her mission is to help all of us do.

So definitely check those out and okay. Branding. I know that everyone listening has heard the whole, your logos, are not your brand. I know everyone’s heard that, but what does that mean? What is branding? Can we just kind of start there as like a, a base level? What is branding? And if it’s not our logo, what is it?

For sure. I love this question because like you, and like so many people tuning in today, we’ve all heard that we’ve all heard that iteration of like your, a brand is more than your logo, but like not everyone exactly goes into qualifying what it is. So the way that I see it is your brand, is this really multifaceted asset that you have as a part of your business and your logo is a part of it, for sure.

if we look at your brand is kind of like a pie chart, I would say that your logo goes into that. The slice that we’re going to label it and visuals, and in the visuals slice of this pie chart, you have your logo, your website, your color palette, your fonts, your social media graphics, all of those things.

That’s where that lives. But then like the other 80% of that pie. That is strategy. So that’s like your values, your mission, the why behind your work, your messaging, your brand voice, your ideal client profile, or your ideal audience personas. That is, is really what goes into that. And then also like in another way to think about it.

Your brand is not just like the visuals that you have are not just like the messaging that you share. It’s also the experience that you’re inviting your clients or your customers into. So the way that you’re talking with people, the way you’re making them feel, that connections over the relationship.

That you’re building. And I think that that’s an important, say an important thing to think about because right. Like it’s easy for us to, and I hear this from my design clients all the time. it’s easy to kind of hyper focus on the visual aspects of it, but the visuals are essentially a vehicle that empower you to connect with the people on the other end of your services or your products.

So the work that you do. Is this the leveraged through this brand that you have through the visuals that you have as a part of your brand that empower you to actually connect with the people who need your work, whether that’s a product or a service, and it should empower you to connect them consistently so that you can not only build those relationships, but so that you can convert them from just leads into clients or customers or sales.

I love that. And I, I think it’s so important that all of us recognize it, even if we aren’t visual people speaking to myself that it is a very important aspect of our brains. Even if we’re more wordy, maybe the visuals are just one part of that. And I love that you talked about the pie chart because I think that’s such an important

the logo is a small piece of a pie chart inside of a smaller piece of, you know, there’s so much to it, to a brand. And you also touched on the fact that once you have a cohesive, consistent brand, that that leverages your business in a way that will allow you to get clients and bring in income and things like that.

what else does having a cohesive brand do for us? 

Well, I would say that, you know, we focus and I especially focus on that connection and that conversion piece, because when I look at, the incredible entrepreneurs that I’ve had the honor of working with over the years that I’ve been in business, those are themes that come up over and over again, like they want to work with.

Clients who appreciate their work, who, who matched their ideal client profiles, who are going to allow them to have that impact that they’re dreaming about, but they also want to be charging higher end rates. They want to be charging what they’re worth. They want to be charging what they want to earn so that they can, pay down debt or they can take their kids to Disneyland, or they can buy a house or have that financial freedom.

They’re looking for. When I look at it that way, those are some common things that come up, but more than that, having a cohesive brand is going to give you this sense of identity. Well, I should say, actually, I want to scratch that. It’s not going to give you a sense of identity because you, as a business owner, your identity is separate from your brand because you’re so much more than your business.

And you’re so much more than your brand. But what I, what I mean is that when you look at your brand, And that identity that your brand has, that creates equity, that creates a very memorable association between your ideal client, your audience and your business, so that when people see your colors or when they see your logo or when they see an icon or illustration that’s connected to your brand, they think, oh yeah, I know that that’s Amanda like that I know exactly whose content that is, or I know, you know, what kind of offer that is there.

I know it’s going to be quality or it’s going to, you know, like people are able to build those kinds of associations. So having a cohesive brand gives us that kind of staying potential, it helps to create those kinds of, recall those recognitions that your audience has between you and your brand.

And it gives you, the ability to really present yourself as a professional, as someone who you’ve invested in the strategy and the visuals you’ve invested in this process to create this really cohesive brand You know what you’re doing and you know, what you do and who you serve and the transformation that it offers and your brand just backs that up and just reflects that.

And I think that, that I get excited about that and that’s probably like the brand strategist in me because I see just how much power that has for people to do the work that they love. And yes, earn a consistent income and charge what they want to charge, but also that sense of trust that it enables you to be building with your audience through the cohesiveness and the consistency of this experience and visuals and strategy that you’re sharing with them.

Okay. So let’s say everyone’s on board and they want to. Make sure their brand is cohesive and consistent so that they can bring in that consistent income. Can we just pause for a second and talk about what consistent income actually means and maybe what it doesn’t mean that we might think it means?

Absolutely. consistent income. The way that I think about this is defining. First of all consistent income, I think is going to look different for every person because your business model might be different from someone who say has a membership or a course with recurring monthly payments, right?

Like if you’re a service-based entrepreneurs. So I work with my branding services. I work with a lot of service-based entrepreneurs who are in the wedding and event industry. So let’s say that’s you. Your wedding season, your event season isn’t 12 months out of the year, right? Like we are right now at the time of recording it’s the winter.

And so, events have really started to really, really wound down at this point. And now a lot of my wedding and event pros are kind of in this slow season where they’re gearing back up. They’re kind of like building back up their energy to dive into the, the wedding season in the spring. So when we look at that, We think about consistent income being something that you’re able to.

Take home, what you need to take home and what you want to take home and how you’re allocating those funds, how you’re breaking that up differs. And so if you are in a industry that’s a little bit more seasonal, like the weddings or events industry for you, consistent income might be raising your rates so that your packages are high enough.

So that even though you aren’t necessarily booking a client. The money that you’ve brought in over the, wedding season or during your booking season is sustaining you throughout the 12 months of the year. if you have a more like recurring revenue based business model, so like a course or a membership, or, a subscription based platform where people you’re charging them or they are paying you month after month, this also works.

If you have like retainer based services where your clients are paying you a month to month kind of retainer. That’s consistent income that’s coming in month after month. I think that it’s important for us to think that like what consistent income is not, I think that consistent income is not something that, requires that you hustle in order to generate it like consistent income to me is income that you can depend on, you know, that regardless of the frequency with which you’re getting paid.

So whether you’re seasonal or you’re, you’ve got a more recurring revenue based model, you know, that your leads are consistent. So, you know, that the income is then also going to be consistent and you’re not having to hustle to go out there and find those leads. You have either a lead generation strategy or a content marketing strategy, hopefully a combination of the two that are consistently driving inquiries your way.

I kind of like to think of it like a faucet that you can turn off and on when you want, based on your availability so that you can, meet the demand in a way that aligns with how you want to be booking clients or, or making sales. for a lot of us, it’s. It’s not realistic.

It’s not doable for us to be taking on like tons and tons of client projects every single month. Right. We have to honor our energy. We have to honor our boundaries. And I think that it’s important that we then look at that and take that knowledge feel empowered by that knowledge. And then look at, how many clients we want to take on.

Month by month or quarter by quarter and then create, and I know that like, this is totally getting into like what you are the queen of Amanda and that kind of look at our content or marketing plan from that point. 

Thank you so much for the permission slip there to just be okay with slow seasons and that that’s normal and natural in a business.

I think so often we get caught up in this mindset that we have to always be hustling and that every single month consistent income means that we’re making the exact same amount as we did the month before. And you just gave everyone such a great permission slip that, that doesn’t always have to be the case.

And it consistent income just means that. You’re able to pay yourself, which you need to pay yourself month after month. So thank you for that. I really appreciate that. And that deep dive into why branding is so important and what exactly that can bring you in your business when you have strong, cohesive branding.

So let’s move into everyone is on the same page. Now everyone is like, okay, I’m going to. Tighten up the ship. My branding is going to be on point. It’s going to be cohesive and consistent from now on. And I’m ready to actually make that consistent income as well. What are some of the common mistakes that you see in your students, in your clients with their branding that does stop them from that consistent income.

when I look back on w really when I look back on not only like past clients that I’ve worked with, worked with kind of like where they were before we started working together and we started, you know, like really overhauling their brands and their strategies. And also when I look at just My community, just the people that, follow me.

I see a lot of people making probably like, I’d say three mistakes, three-ish mistakes that, block their efforts when it comes to generating that consistent income. And the first one is. Kind of keeping up with the Joneses. So like hyper-focusing on the competition and getting so obsessed and so wrapped up in what other people are doing that we try to recreate what their brands look like or what their offers look like or what their messaging sounds like, because we see them having success with it and we see that it’s working for them.

And so then we think, oh, like, they’re doing it. If I do this, if I emulate this. I’ll probably be seeing the same kind of success. Right. And actually that’s not the case because when you’re hyper focusing on your competition and you’re doing it so much, that it’s like subconsciously seeping in, right.

Cause like none of us are setting out to intentionally copy people. We’re not setting out to intentionally, you know, do that in that way. A lot of this actually becomes subconscious because we’re consuming so much of what the competition is doing. But I see people who, when you’re doing this, you’re forgetting that someone else’s brand is created for their audience and it’s created to reflect their offers.

And it’s created to reflect their unique selling point. And it’s not created to do those things for your brand. So when you see someone who like they’ve got this gorgeous visual brand or their website is like, so strategically laid out from like a user experience standpoint or their messaging just like captivates, you.

It’s important to acknowledge that and to note that and to be like, Ooh, I liked how this person’s website made me feel, or, oh, I liked how clear and easy to use, you know, this person’s like welcome guide wise, but what we’re doing is we’re noting what we liked about it and how it made us feel or how we engaged with it from a user standpoint.

And we’re taking those and we’re kind of remembering them, we’re storing them away for later. So in the future, if you work with a professional designer and strategist They can then take that information and create something totally custom to you and your business and your goals and your brand. Right?

Because like a cookie cutter copy of someone else’s brand is never going to convert for you at the rate, that something that is totally custom and unique to your business. can So I’d say that’s probably like one of the biggest, and it’s, it’s big because it’s, it’s easy to do. Like I even catch myself, like to this day I catch myself having to be like, oh, I don’t want to get too inspired by this person over here.

you kind of want to keep your blinders on if at all possible, just to focus on. creating something original, creating something that comes from you and the work that you do and the impact you want to have with your ideal clients. from that point, I guess another common mistake that I see people making is all around like kind of the DIY type of brand.

And I first and foremost want to say that having a DIY brand is not a bad thing, but there comes a point in your business where it’s holding you back more than you really. So when you find yourself at this point where you want to scale your business, or you want to dip your toe into commanding higher and higher end rates for your services, or you want to position yourself as a luxury product, this is when we want to start enlisting some professional help.

And we don’t necessarily want to go the DIY route because yes, upfront that DIY brand saves you money, but it might actually cost you more in the long run because like, unless you have. Your own like a background in brand design and identity, design, and strategy, you probably don’t have all of the insight that is necessary to create like a totally custom and strategically designed brand.

It’s going to position you as the expert that you are and command the kind of attention that you’re looking for. And with that being said, It’s kind of an exciting opportunity when I see people who maybe they’re just getting started and they’re being really intentional with their resources. So they do go the DIY route.

And that’s amazing. That’s so smart because done is incredible. Incredibly worthwhile and so much better than perfect in this situation. But I think it’s really exciting when you get to this point where you’re like, all right, thank you, DIY brand for how you’ve served me for these years, I’m ready to level up to what’s next.

And so with that being said, I’m going to reach out to, someone who can help me create that custom brand or that custom website or, you know, combination of the two. So you can go after those incredible goals. But on top of that, kind of the third one that I see, the mistake that it’s probably the sneakiest and yes, it has everything to do with your brand, but it doesn’t have anything to do with your visuals, which is, you know, kind of what I was just talking about with that DIY approach is all about your messaging.

So if you have unclear or inconsistent messaging, remember Your messaging is definitely a part of your brand overall. And if you are struggling to communicate who you are and what you do, and the transformation that your product or your service provides to your ideal client, that is going to sabotage your efforts to generate that consistent income.

Because if you can’t communicate that, how are we ever supposed to expect your audience, your ideal client, to understand who you are and how your work impacts them. And then. Why they should hire you or why they should buy from you. So if you are not seeing like your dream inquiries or your like ideal number of sales roll in, on a regular basis, but you feel pretty good about your brand, like your visual, a brand.

I think that your messaging is worth a look to see, okay. Does my messaging on my website? Through my marketing emails through my social media content. Is it accurately communicating who I am and what I do and what transformation my work provides to my ideal client so that they can understand why it matters and it can communicate to them.

And motivate them to get in touch and buy for me or hire me, that, that kind of combination of who you are and what you do, and the transformation that your work provides is this winning combination, in my opinion, because it allows you to have this like really consistent messaging piece that you can weave throughout your website, your marketing emails, your Instagram posts, you can make reels out of that, even just like that simple formula there, you can make like amazing content from that place. And what that does is that creates the messaging that then supports your visuals, that then supports your strategy, that in the end can help create that consistent income that you’re looking for.

Absolutely 100%. I just want to like stamp of approval, all of this guys, if you listen to episode, I believe it’s episode 80. I’ll double check that link to it in the show notes. But I talked about the five things I would do differently if I was restarting my business based on the fact that I was starting a second business.

And when I recorded that episode, I believe I was like a month or two a month into having a second business. And so these are all things that I was trying, I should probably do like a case study episode on this a follow-up because now that I’m six, seven months into owning a second business, and I focused on all of these things that Bonnie is sharing right now, the, the brand messaging, the visuals, all of the things that make up your branding.

the second business has grown. Exponentially faster than this, this current one, my content marketing strategy business everyday, because I focused on the right things. Instead of focusing on all the things all over the place, Bonnie, this has all been amazing. we’ve done the DIY route, or even if we want to continue doing the DIY route, but we know we’re ready to get serious and make changes with our branding.

Do you have any tips or starting points for where we should begin with that? 

Yeah, for sure. So, what I would recommend is, regardless of whether you’re doing the DIY route or you’re, you know, like forget that I want to like hire out all of us, like let’s outsource everything. it’s important for you to understand your goals, to inform the action that you take.

So if your goal is to use your brand as this piece to generate consistent income, What is consistent income look like to you? How are we quantifying that? Is there a certain number or certain frequency of sales or projects booked that you want to see month to month or quarter to quarter? and then from there, identify, what about your brand isn’t serving you?

Like where are you seeing those bottlenecks? Where are you hearing that something is unclear from a user standpoint or your clients aren’t quite getting, you know, what you do, like, is there something that’s confusing or it’s overwhelming because it’s sharing too many things at once, or it’s not functional for you, right?

Like identifying those bottlenecks. So then whether you go the DIY route, or you can outsource this to a professional. You’re able to say, okay, this is what isn’t serving me. And this is what I want it to change to. This is what I want to do. I want to have. So for example, if you have a brand and your visuals aren’t positioning you like a pro.

And so you’re generating inquiries from not so ideal clients who let’s say they don’t have the budget. For your services that tells me, okay, there’s some opportunities here. These aren’t problems, these are opportunities. And this is an opportunity for you to shore up your messaging, to look at your visuals and see, is there a way that I can better inform.

Who my ideal clients are so that I can attract my ideal inquiries. and so knowing, okay, right now, my brand isn’t generating the quality of inquiries that I want to see my goal. Then my new goal of what I’m moving towards is I want a brand that generates consistent high quality inquiries on repeat for me.

And so by knowing. What’s not working and then taking a look at what you want to happen. Right. You’re creating this vision that you can then take action to bring to life versus just saying like, oh, well I want, I want a new website. Like, that’s a great starting point. Like amazing to recognize that. But what about your current website isn’t working for you?

Is it the let’s get specific? Is that it’s not, is it not generating the quality of inquiries? Is it not user friendly? Is it not mobile responsive, right. Like the more specificity that you can. Define for yourself that makes it easier for you to go the DIY route with intention or to outsource and work with a pro and actually communicate from the get go.

This is what I need, and here’s how you can specifically help me. 

I love it. Okay, guys, your action step for this week is to sit down and get clear on not only your goals, but where those bottlenecks are. And Bonnie, if anyone is like, I’m not interested in DIY and this is too much for me. I’m not a visual person.

How do they work with you? 

Absolutely. Well you can head over to my website, which is B is for Bonnie design.com to check out more of my branding services, to see case studies and testimonials from my past clients and learn more about my strategy driven approach to design. and if you want to get in touch, just say, Hey, or if you have questions or you want to hop on, it’s totally complimentary call.

You can just fill out the contact form on my website and we can connect and point you in the direction that’s going to serve you best. 

Perfect. And we like to end every episode here with a book recommendation. And so it can be. Business or fiction or whatever it is, but what is one book that you would recommend that everyone go grab from their library and read, 

oh my gosh, this could be the entire episode.

I love, love, love reading. And so like, I could just list off like bullet points, all the books that I recommend, but if I have to narrow it down to one. I would say that, Essentialism by Greg McKeown is one of my favorites. I actually recently re-read it for like, I think it was the second time, last year, end of last year.

And every time I read that book, whenever I pick it up, I’m in a different season of life, but I always take something really incredible away from it. And if you are someone who you feel pulled in a lot of different directions in your business, like you feel like you’re having a scatter, your energy, every which way.

And so you’re feeling frustrated because you’re not seeing any measurable results. Then this is a book. If you haven’t read it yet, it helps you to not just look at, the way that you are taking action in your life, but the way that you’re using your energy to experience. Impact at your highest point of contribution.

And, you know, it’s, it’s a really fantastic concept for us to think about, especially if we want to be building businesses that honor our unique definitions of success and allow us to experience the quality of life that we’re dreaming about. 

I love it. That is one of my favorite books. So I second, this we’ll link to it in the show notes guys.

And Bonnie, thank you so much for being here today and for helping us sort through what some of our mistakes with our branding might be, and also how to get rid of those bottlenecks. this was phenomenal and I’m so grateful for you. 

Thank you so much for having me. This was just such a fantastic conversation.

And thanks for letting me like nerd out over all things, branding and brand strategy. And, I’m just so hopeful that this will be helpful and actionable for everyone who’s tuning in. 

Thanks Bonnie.

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