What does it take to build a holistic brand – keeping a clear strategy with also keeping the visuals in mind?

I break it down for you in this podcast episode for teacher sellers!

Episode Highlights

  • Brand strategy vs brand identity
  • how branding is like an iceberg
  • 4 steps to determining a brand strategy
  • How to craft your brand identity
  • Having templates to keep consistency
  • Adapting and modifying your brand strategy and identity

Resources and Links

Podcast Episode: Using Color in Your TPT Branding

Podcast Episode: How to Create a Brand Board for Your Business

Canva Brand Board Template



Kirsten 0:01

You're listening to the creative teacher podcast, a show for busy teachers looking for ways to engage, inspire and make an impact in their teacher businesses. I'm Kiersten, a teacher business owner who is all about simple and actionable tips, strategies and resources that result in wins, big or small. If you're looking for that extra spark of creativity, you've come to the right place. Let's dive in together.

Hey, guys, welcome to another episode of the creative teacher podcast hope your weekend was well. I'm excited to bring you this episode of having a brand strategy and identity. We're gonna dive a little deeper than I've done on most episodes about branding in general, there's two parts of it. And I have a fun analogy for you. And we're going to talk a little bit about what a brand strategy is versus a brand identity. All right. So one thing to note for this episode, if you can take away anything. Having a brand strategy before thinking about visuals is important. This is something that I shared in my breakthrough with branding presentation in the TPT forward conference in 2023. It's just something that you need to be thinking about before the visuals and trust me I was when I was becoming an after active seller. This was something I did not do. I thought more about the visuals. And I remember the first thing I thought about was like how my logo was going to look. And I maybe that's why I spent so much time and changing my mind on it because I you know, I didn't really have a strategy in place. But yeah, I was just focusing on the colors I wanted and the fonts I was gonna use, like all 15 fonts, I'm sure before I was thinking who I was going to create my resources for and just an overall strategy in place. So you can imagine that I had to go back to the drawing board once I did have a strategy in place. And, you know, redo my brand identity. So to kind of alleviate that it's important to have some type of brand strategy in place first.

And we'll talk about like what the difference is because he may maybe you're a little confused now. But don't worry, just know, brand strategy first brand identity second. Now, before we get started, I do want to say let's say you do have a brand identity in place, you have your colors, you've got your fonts, you've got everything in place. But you haven't really thought about like who your target audience is. That's okay. We can you know, I've done it backwards, you can go back, always and change things up. So let's go ahead and talk about what a brand strategy is.

A brand strategy is a long term plan for your business that will outline how you will position yourself to achieve any goals and objectives you have for your TPT business. That's what our brand strategy is. The brand identity is what people are seeing on the outside. They're going to be thinking about any graphics that they see on your resources or graphics that you you know, have in your branding, social media, logo, anything on your website, all the colors that are included in your brand. That's your brand identity. And the brand strategy is if you think about an iceberg, the brand identity is what people see. Right, you know, thinking about on the top of the surface, the brand strategy is underneath the surface, but it's much bigger and much stronger than the brand identity that we see on the outside. When done right. There's so much more that goes into it than just the identity and it is what helps Keep your brand identity afloat. If you don't have a foundation in your branding with a strategy, you're not going to have a clear idea on the direction of your business and what you're trying to sell. This is something that I had, at the very beginning, when I was active, I was just really not sure what type of resources I wanted to create what type of offers I wanted to create. I knew I wanted to create a course for teachers. But I didn't know what type of course to create, it was just really confusing. I had a lot of different ideas, and I just couldn't streamline it, I was like something missing in that piece, a brand strategy can eliminate that it can eliminate any random ideas that might pop into your head and keep you kind of on the straight and narrow on what you really need to focus on to achieve your ultimate vision and your ultimate goals for your business.

So I'm just going to be talking a little bit about each step, when you're going through the brand strategy. At the very base of this iceberg that I'm sharing with you is the core, your purpose, why you're doing what you're doing your values, what you believe in your mission and your vision, what you see your business doing in five years, how you envision helping others and 10 years, like what do you feel the overall goal is? Do you want to have make enough money to donate a certain percentage of your TPT sales to a nonprofit organization that you are really passionate about? That's a really great vision that you could have. And then maybe your mission, like who are you there to serve? Why? What is your overall purpose of what you're doing? And how is it going to benefit your target audience. So think about what your plan is like what your drive is for your business.

The second part that is above the core is your target audience. You want to conduct research to understand what your target audience needs, what their pain points are, what they prefer, what they don't prefer their behaviors, or purchasing behaviors and decisions. And just thinking really, about what they are really looking for. I think a lot of the decline in like in my TPT store, my audience does not seem to want like, you know, quick task cards that I can buy for $2 or $3. On TPT. They're not really looking for that.

Then above the target audience, you want to think about a few things, thinking about your market research, positioning and your unique value proposition. Think about who your competitors are in your niche, but not to copy them. You want to see how you can stand out from your competitors. What do you offer? Or what do you want to offer that they don't already offer? How can you find a gap in the niche that you can fill and you have the expertise and knowledge to fill. When you do that you can develop what's called a unique value proposition. This is what sets your brand apart from others. So just identify what that is use that in a positioning statement. To communicate your value in the place in the market landscape. Having a unique value proposition can be a game changer. Because you know exactly what makes you unique, what makes you stand out. And you can even put that in your marketing, you can say well, while others do this, I offer and do this. In the meantime, have that in place, understand who your competitors are and how you can position yourself to make yourself stand out from them.

And then the fourth is creating your brand messaging, create and develop some consistent messaging that is aligning with everything that was in the previous steps, your purpose and core, your target audience and what they want and where you are unique compared to your competitors. This is something that should be resonating with your audience and address their pain points while showing how they benefit from your products and offers and services. This is going to be the foundation of how you communicate both your audience and also internally if you have team members as well. Something to note is that you want to align your brand strategy and messaging with visuals that will appeal to your audience. So the messaging is kind of that first step into creating and really refining your brand identity See, this is why I say if you already have a brand identity, and you've got your logos and colors, and all of that, this is kind of like an easy step, where you know, if what you are doing in your strategy is aligning with what your visuals look like, and it's communicating that same message, there's really not much you have to change. However, if you were like me and like had something completely different going on, you might have to switch things up. But that's something that is definitely doable. I will say that. But let's say you're targeting first and second year teachers who just started teaching, it wouldn't make sense to have any colors or styles that don't appeal to them at all. You want to have fonts and colors and images that are fun, bright, colorful, and appealing to teachers that are in their early to mid 20s. Some examples, some brands I can think of off the top of my head that kind of are doing this is Taco Bell. Like we know Taco Bell is a really great place that are they there hours are later, like after one and two and 3am, where anybody can get a late night snack or meal. And then there's also the Black Rock coffee bar that's near where I live. And they appeal to a lot of younger college age students and high school students who may not like coffee at places like Starbucks or anything like that. I will tell you, I know Believe it or not, I did not drink coffee at all until my mid 20s Till I started teaching actually. So what a coincidence. But yeah, I never did any of that coffee stuff. I never did Starbucks, I would always get like some type of energy drink or Red Bull. And so they kind of the fact that they sell those kinds of drinks with a variety of flavors. That's just something that's appealing to a lot of younger people who may not like coffee like us old folks do.

Now going into your brand identity. When you have your messaging in place and know your tone and personality, what you can do is create a mood board. And you know, kind of go on Pinterest get some inspiration of the type of colors and feelings you want to evoke that are aligning with your strategy. Then from there, you can create a color palette, adding colors and taking out colors. A really great episode if you want to learn more about creating a color palette is I'll link it in the show notes the color psychology episode, I kind of tell you how you can start with the core color, and different ways to kind of create a color palette from there. After you've identified your color palette, then you can go into what I consider maybe the fun stuff like fonts, finding your fonts, and having your logo and what the logo would look like deciding on different images you will use and what you would not use. And some ways to make sure that your brand identity is consistent is to have a brand board with all of your elements like the logos that you have any variations, and fonts, colors, all of that good stuff. I have a brand board template that I created. And I think I actually have a podcast episode with that as well. So how to create a brand board, I will link that episode as well. If you want to learn a little bit more about that, there's a template there, you can grab for free. But if you want to kind of get into more depth, let's say you have a little bit more advanced, you know, you've got different branding, in your resources versus your TPT store versus your social media versus your website. That's a lot and it wouldn't make sense to have multiple brand boards for each one. This is where brand guidelines come into play. This is a much more detailed document that kind of gives an insight into what you should include in your visual identity and what you shouldn't include. And you can also add aspects of your brand strategy. It's a really great place to put both your brand strategy and elements of your visual brand and brand identity. And it's also great for anybody who is working in your business to refer to there are plenty of examples. If you look on Google, I think I know there's one Coca Cola you can look up. But if you're looking for an idea of what a brand guideline would look like, you can definitely check that out. But you can make it in Canva as a slideshow presentation. Maybe that's a clue that I need to make a template of a brand guideline just so that you can have it because it's it's really really beneficial. Another way to create consistency is to create or use a resource and product listing templates. So having templates for pretty much everything. Have a template for your pins have a template for the resources, maybe specific resources so at Passcard resource or some type of unit resource, or some type of assessment resource, you have templates for all of that or something that you can easily copy and duplicate and paste and create from there. But also having a product listing template for your covers and thumbnails. But rather than having one cover template all across the board for your resources, I would recommend maybe just switching things up with your template kind of slowly tweaking the variations so that you have at, you know, the more product lines you have, the more different templates you might utilize. But the way they look the style you have, because you're tweaking them here and there, it will have that consistent look that goes together really well. I think combining your brand identity with your brand strategy can be a little bit fun. It's a way to show your personality. And, you know, craft that emotional connection with your audience. Bring more recognition, be distinct with your visuals and your messaging and also who you're targeting. And also just just a way to differentiate it has helped set you apart and attract attention in a competitive market that resonates with your target audience. The good news is that even though you might have your brand guidelines set in your brand board set and all the things set right now, be willing and open to modify and adapt as needed as you learn more about your business or grow your business. As you learn more about your audience. It's important to adapt and grow as the years go by.

Chick fil A is one of my favorite fast food restaurants. It's on rotation for sure. But did you know that Chick fil A initially started selling chicken sandwiches at certain restaurants, including Waffle House, not surprisingly, this was quickly next. After the sandwiches outsold the menu items at Waffle House people were coming there for the Chick fil A sandwiches and not the Waffle House items. So eventually, they opened Chick Fil A's inside shopping malls you do not see or hear of food at shopping malls. And then eventually they had their first standalone restaurant in the 80s. And by the way, this source comes from the History Channel. I watched the I think it's like the brands that built America, the food that built America, one of those things I that's where I know, that's where I've heard about this story. And so I thought it was a pretty cool analogy. But think about it. What if they never changed even though they were making pretty good money with their sandwiches? And let's just say like, they're like, Okay, even after waffle house falls through? What if they just you know, decided, okay, we're just going to sell at shopping malls were good. What if they never opened Chick Fil a's outside of malls. So just imagine all that, you know, money on the table if they hadn't decided let's open our own, like, you know, standalone restaurant just like all the other fast foods do but we're selling you know, they're focusing on their chicken sandwiches versus their burgers. And then of course, in recent years, you've got other restaurants like Popeyes with the chicken sandwich, everybody's coming up with their own version of chicken sandwiches when chick fillet found a way to stand out among market competitors and kind of be unique in their own self with their wonderful customer service where they're always saying My pleasure, it seems like, what if they never did any of that they would not be the business they are today. So it's important that we modify and adapt our strategy as we grow and learn about our audience. It helps you know what you need to create less of, because you know, your target audience will buy it. And then it helps you know what you need to create more of, eventually, Chick fil A expanded on other menu items. And of course, brands all the time will have new different, you know, products that they will sell at restaurants and then they might discontinue items. So there's all kinds of things just what people sell and what they offer based on what's working well and what's not working well. So brand, having a brand strategy can guide you in those steps.

All right. I loved this episode, and just kind of chatting about branding. I hope you enjoyed it too. And hopefully you got some tips from what I shared with you today.

Thanks for listening to the creative teacher podcast. If you enjoyed listening to today's episode, feel free to subscribe and leave a review. I'd love to hear your feedback. You can also follow me on in Instagram at the southern teach dot designs. Have an amazing day.