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It's not about designing a beautiful brand. It's about helping you pursue your purpose to build a business and a life you love.
What makes a brand trustworthy? How do you know you’re focusing on the right tasks that will take you from “just starting out” to “trusted professional?”
When you’re working to grow a business there’s a mountain of should-do’s (even that’s an understatement). It’s easy to get distracted by the bombardment of information out there. One piece of advice leads you down a winding rabbit hole of 10 other to-do’s you hadn’t considered before.
There is no one right way to grow a business. But my goal today is to help you get the foundational pieces in place for a trusted brand right out the gate.
20/20 hindsight…there’s a few things I wish someone had told me day one.
When I started my first business my focuses were way out of priority. I was preoccupied with SEO before I even had a solid contract in place or even one good headshot. SEO is important, but it wasn’t going to build trust with my audience and book me clients when I didn’t even have the basics covered.
I took a step back in 2021 and decided to focus solely on those basic components. The result? My growth has doubled! With income greater in the first 6 months of 2022 than all of 2021. I don’t share this to brag—I share to illustrate my point that being able to cut through the noise out there and focus on the basics is the fastest path to growth.
So allow me to help you! Let’s dive into 6 steps you should focus on to elevate your professionalism and up your trust factor.
One of the first things you’ll want to do is secure a custom domain name and a custom email address that uses that domain name. While the free website and email addresses may seem appealing as a new business owner, names like “Ravenyoga.wordpress.org” and “Ravenyoga@gmail.com” won’t come across with the level of professionalism you desire.
As a business owner you have a responsibility to serve your audience in a trustworthy and professional manner. By investing in a custom domain and email you are immediately increasing your trust factor.
Why? Because it shows your audience that you take this business seriously enough to go the extra mile.
By dedicating a little extra time and funds you’re separating yourself from the average email user and hobby blogger. Plus you’re creating brand recognition! The best part? You can purchase a custom domain (like “ravenyoga.com” ) for as low as $12 a year and custom emails (like “Hello@ravenyoga.com”) for around $6 a month!
Setting up a custom email address might sound techy, but don’t worry, I have a whole post here that details the step by step process.
Imagine you walk into an office for an appointment. Which experience would you prefer to have?
The admin kindly greets you and asks for your name. They promptly pull up your file in their database, appointment time and reason for visit. There’s some paperwork to fill out first so they have you scan a QR code and boom…all of the documents download to your phone. Now it’s a matter of a few signatures, multiple choice questions. You hit “submit” to send it right back to them.”
Or would you rather: the admin kindly greets you with a smile and asks for your name. After a minute or more they look at the computer and shake their head. They don’t see your appointment on the calendar. They ask you to hold on while they rifle through some papers on the desk—Ah! There, you were penciled in on a notecard. As for the paperwork they pass you an ipad for a few signatures that take you a minute to find…then they hand you a clipboard with a questionnaire and other miscellaneous documents to answer by hand.
While there isn’t anything wrong per say with the second scenario. It’s certainly not a seamless experience. It takes more time and there’s a lack of consistency across their process.
This is where the value of an automated system comes into play! A system like Honeybook or Dubsado can streamline your client experience, making it easier for you to manage AND more enjoyable for your clients!
Send invoices, schedule meetings, collect client homework, and contract signatures all in one place. You know I’m a huge fan of finding slowness in business and integrating automated systems into your daily work is a sure way to create slowness and simplicity. These systems up your trust factor because your clients won’t ever be left hanging. They won’t have to keep track of multiple systems or methods of contact.
Professionalism bonus points:
Having a contract to send them that is crafted by a professional will go a long way, not only in protecting your business, but showing your clients that you’re the real deal! No need to hire a lawyer though, you can find contract temples (and other legalese goodies) over at the Contract Shop (which I truly can’t recommend enough!)
There’s three things that can make users click away from a website within seconds: slow loading speed, poor functionality, and low quality photos.
In this section I want to focus on the latter! Let’s face it, we all judge books by their covers no matter how often we’re told we shouldn’t. Low quality, grainy, distorted, or random photos can give off an impersonal (sometimes even sketchy) vibe to website visitors. The same applies to social media imagery.
Brand photos are essential to communicating not only a professional and trustworthy demeanor, but also a warm, personal welcome. Brand photos showcase your unique personality and help deliver your message (whatever that may be) to your ideal clients. You can either DIY your own brand photos or invest in a professional photographer who can help you tell a powerful story through visuals.
Professionalism is closely linked to consistency.
Brand photos (even if you only have a handful) will allow you to create that consistency. They can be added to your website, social media, email signature, automated systems, brand documents, and other client touchpoints!
For your audience members, seeing your face in photos makes it so much easier for them to view you as a trusted friend even if you’ve never met in person.
If you’ve been around here awhile you’ve heard me say it before: there is power in words.
Your copywriting works hand-in-hand with your visuals and your overall brand strategy. It can also make or break your relationship with potential clients.
Just as professionalism comes from consistency—trust comes from clarity.
When visitors land on your website they need to know (pretty quickly) exactly what you do, how you do it, and why it’s going to help them along their journey. *Enter Story Brand.* Building A Story Brand by Donald Miller is one of my all time favorite business books and I refer back to its wisdom every chance I get! The book compares our roles in business to roles characters play in a story. Most notably: the hero and the guide!
Your ideal client is the hero. It is your job as the business owner to take on the role of the guide. Aka: you need to embody Hagrid sneaking tricks of the trade and subtle hints to Harry Potter. You are responsible for helping your clients find success in the easiest way possible.
Clear, precise, and personality packed copywriting is how you can fulfill your role as the guide. People begin to trust you when they know you are able to help them. They see you as a professional when what you have to say resonates with them. If creating clarity through your words seems overwhelming you can always recruit the help of a copywriter or take a look at my in-depth post on DIYing your own copy!
Let’s refer back to our “don’t judge a book by its cover” conversation. We all do it! But why?
Because visuals catch our eye and communicate feelings. We feel drawn to covers of books that make us feel something, that get us excited, or feel aligned with us in some way. The same applies to branding.
Visuals matter. Visuals with real meaning matter even more.
The age old advice: your brand is a lot more than a logo is age old advice for a reason! The visual component of your brand is important, but to truly evoke feelings from our audience there has to be something deeper than a pretty design. A consistent brand means that your colors, fonts, and patterns are selected with purpose and they permeate your online and in-person presence.
Consistency means that your logo has variation (horizontal/vertical formats and submarks) so it can look neat and professional in a variety of settings.
Consistency means that the overall goals of your brand (ex: approachable, kind-hearted, gentle, bold, wild etc.) can be felt in each piece of the design.
A consistent brand doesn’t just look cohesive, it feels cohesive. It supports the feelings you want your client to have when they work with you. Your brand should work harmoniously with your messaging.
You can hit the ground running and immediately increase your professionalism by investing in a custom brand design for your business. Here at Artisan Kind I offer full brand design services to elevate everything about your identity. I’ve also provided an easy read for you on how to prepare for work with a brand designer (so you can feel comfy before diving into this big step!)
Last but not least, nothing says trustworthy like having a highly functional, easy to navigate, clean, beautiful website.
A website was likely one of the first things on your to-do list when you began your business. But is having one at all better than having the right one? Well, having a website is important, but a poorly functioning website can actually damage your professionalism score with your audience.
When someone lands on your website there are seconds before a first impression is made. That impression influences whether or not they want to learn more from you, whether they want to read your posts, download your freebies, or actually work with you!
Your website is your homebase for your brand. It’s where all of the professional elements come to life: your brand photos, your crystal clear copywriting, your links to email and automated systems, and of course your brand design.
A DIY website is a great place to start when you’re still finding your footing. But once you’re ready to grow (or if you want to go all in right out of the gate) then investing in a branded website is a step in business that will elevate everything about your professionalism and trust factor. I offer mini and full brand and website design services so you can have an all-encompassing identity that includes exactly what you need (no more, no less) to start booking your ideal clients!
Growth begins at the roots. Your first steps as a new business owner should be tending to those roots to increase your professionalism. Only then can trust with your audience blossom.
Brand & Website Design Studio based in Eau Claire, WI.
Serving clients across the U.S
The strategy behind design, client transformations, eco-friendly and slow living tips for small business owners and more.
I design strategic visual identities
so you can pursue your purpose and embrace an unhurried life.