The Art of Letting Go
The new Creative and Coffee re-brand.
I’ll be perfectly up front. This re-brand terrified me.
I knew I needed to re-position the brand and I’ll talk about why in a moment.
But at first, I tried working with what I had. Introducing new elements, tweaking, changing and adjusting.
But ultimately I felt like I was operating the business with one hand tied behind my back. And not in a cool way, like, ‘wow I’m so good I don’t need two hands’. More in a ‘oh my goodness someone send a handsome lifeguard to save me – I’m drowning. No seriously, help!’ …kind of way.
How Did This Happen?
The guilty truth – some of you may know. This is not the first re-brand of Creative and Coffee.
Creative and Coffee, as many of you know, started out as a blog. A passion project. Not for profit.
Its only purpose was to hear what people were struggling with and write a blog post to teach them how to do it. I enjoyed doing this so much that I decided I wanted to do it full time.
However, Creative and Coffee was designed to be a blog. From a functional perspective, it wasn’t ‘cut out’ to be a full blown business website. So, a new design was needed.
The first re-brand was a purely logical and functional one.
The First Re-Brand
A new colour was added to the colour palette in order to make the promotional items bolder. A vintage flower motif was added in order to make the brand more distinctive and stand out from other similarly styled blog in the niche.
The beautiful, artistic and lovely font that I used was taken out. It was totally impractical, difficult to use in multiple designs and difficult to see in a small font size (making it useless for Pinterest thumbnails).
The logo remained the same. The distinctive pink remained the same (there was talk of rioting should it be removed – well OK, not rioting, I’m not Daryl Dixon after all. Stern words were had.)
The biggest change really came from the layout itself. The website theme was changed and the pages designed with the customer journey in mind. This was what made such a drastic change to how the website looked.
It incorporated elements that I knew my audience would like, I’d done the research.
It was very functional, it was practical, and it was (so I like to think) well designed.
It was totally soulless.
It goes without saying that it is so important to design a brand your audience will love. That it is designed to attract the right people to your website. Something your audience will love.
But I had gone too far.
The original Creative and Coffee blog, was a 100% me. As a personal blog, it had the luxury of being totally indulgent. It didn’t matter that the fonts were unpractical – because they were beautiful and I loved them.
However, in seeking to correct that in balance – and make the blog a business – I went too far in the other direction.
100% function and 0% heart.
Thinking Inside The Box
This insistence of shaking off the blog’s self-indulgence and complete lack of business considerations leaked into things other than the design.
By leaving my perfectly stable design business, to pursue a ‘wild card’ business I felt the pressure to make Creative and Coffee ‘successful’. Oh, and, you know I had bills to pay. Stuff like that.
My first ‘proper’ business was within the publishing niche. I designed book covers primarily.
My website didn’t look much like anything else in that niche, it was nearly completely unscathed by any ‘over influence’ of other websites in my niche. Partially because most websites in that niche are terrible. Sorry to say.
Also, because I was in the publishing niche, I was only vaguely aware of the small business part of the internet. Where the terms like lead magnet, list building and girl boss where common place.
I wasn’t totally ignorant. I had a background in commercial law and two marketing diplomas. I didn’t use fancy marketing techniques, but I used the marketing knowledge I had learnt in order to keep the clients coming in.
I pretty much ran it how I liked, with very little advice from anyone, just doing my own thing.
I didn’t spend hours consuming other people’s business blogs. I didn’t spend my evenings checking out ‘competitors’ websites. I didn’t attend a single webinar and I wasn’t subscribed to any business newsletters at all.
What a simple life I lived.
When it came to Creative and Coffee, I felt I needed to up my game. Although the design business was certainty not a failure, in comparison to all these ‘six figure businesses’ it suddenly felt very small indeed.
There was the added pressure of leaving a growing business to start out complete from scratch again. Creative and Coffee didn’t really sell anything as of yet, so I needed to hit the ground running.
Creative and Coffee had all the things the design business never had. A really engaged community, a much bigger social media presence and much higher internet traffic.
This should have reassured me but actually it just increased the pressure. I felt that I had all these wonderful people supporting me, learning from me and I didn’t want to let them down.
Plus I had bills to pay. Casual.
What did I do? I obsessively researched the ‘competition’ to find out what people really wanted. I continuously asked people, surveyed them, stalked through Facebook Groups.
I started to subscribe to multiple business letters. In fact, I recently used an app called Un.Roll me to unsubscribed from most of them (you can read about why I did that here). Do you know how many I unsubscribed from? Over 400.
That’s cray (by removing the z that makes me down with the kids right?).
I tried to learn every possible business technique that I hadn’t heard of before. In fact I took a lot of techniques I had heard of, but started to learn how other people were applying them.
Look I could go but at the end of the day this is what happened.
My website ended up being an amalgamation of what I thought people wanted. Of what other people were telling me to do in order to be successful. I stopped thinking for myself.
I stopped applying the foundational techniques I had learnt, in a way that made sense to me.
I might still have been original, I still wrote with my own voice, taught in my own style, talked about my own experience and I might still have been different from what was out there.
But I wasn’t me.
I’m not saying that business advice is bad for your business. That would be madness.
What I’m saying is that you can have too much of a good thing.
I’m going back to the mindset of thinking about: what I want to do and how I want to achieve it.
If I’ve decided that I want to use Facebook ads in my launch campaigns, then I will look for information on how to run Facebook campaigns.
But I will not run Facebook ads because I was told to. I will not run them the exact same way someone else did, because they were successful.
Learn the basics. Apply them yourself.
I’m taking back the freedom to be myself.
Trying To Please Everyone
In writing for my new course, the recent Coffee Club Masterclasses and updating some of the old blog posts, I’ve written a lot about niche. Partially because I am a huge advocate for finding a niche.
I just makes life so much easier. It makes finding your audience easier, it makes it easier to create better products, it helps you communicate in a way that, well, actually communicates with people.
But people just don’t want to do it.
Why? Primarily because the side effect is that you are essentially turning away people from your website, brand or shop. Which just feels fundamentally wrong to us.
However, if you do this right, it means that you turn away some people but the rest are more likely to turn into buyers. Logically, we know that one hundred people visiting our website and twenty people buying is much better than one thousand people visiting our website and ten people buying.
But it still feels wrong. I get that.
For me this problem was blown up tenfold by the fact that I wasn’t a new business trying to attract people. I was an established brand, who had a large email list already.
For me, I was terrified that if I suddenly started to niche down even further, I would not only decimate my list but I would lose some of my oldest followers. People who had been with me since the beginning.
People who, actually over the last two years, have become my friends.
I tried to be practical about it. I looked at what types of people were buying my current products, surely this would help? I looked to see what kind of businesses they were running.
I found that slightly over half ran product based businesses but it was a pretty even split between products and services.
When I surveyed my email list, they were, again, split pretty evenly between those who ran product based businesses and those that ran services. A small minority hadn’t started a business yet.
So, at least I had confirmed one thing – most people on my current lists were established business owners.
BUT, when I went to look at which posts had the most traffic – hands down it is the Overcome Fear and Start Your Business blog post, which at the time of writing has just under 11 500 shares. This is clearly a beginner post, indicated that the bulk of traffic coming to the site is from new or soon-to-be business owners.
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you right now, this problem paralyzed me.
I was uncertain. I began to question every decision that I made, second guessed myself, hesitated and stalled.
Should I just carry on, doing what I was doing? After all the business wasn’t a bad one. It wasn’t as if we didn’t have any traffic, or we didn’t have any followers. Why change it at all?
I have a very logical brain. It’s why I trained to be a lawyer.
When I make a decision it takes as long as the time it takes me to properly weigh the pros and cons. Then it’s done. If it’s good, if it’s bad, whatever the outcome – it’s done.
So to be suddenly plagued with ‘what ifs’ and ‘buts’ and not having a clear path to pursue was awful for me. I felt stressed, anxious and ill. All things that I wasn’t really used to dealing with.
All because there seemed to be no clear cut decision to make.
In the end, I took my own advice.
For years I’ve been writing, advising people on how to choose a niche, how to choose their audience and how to choose a method of monetization. It was time to take my own advice.
In fact I had recently coached a new business owner through this exact process. So I knew that, not only theoretically did it work but I had my very own test case for its success as well.
I knew who I wanted to work with, what I wanted to offer and how I wanted to do it.
I had direction.
I started the re-brand that day.
Should You Re-Brand?
The last Creative and Coffee re-brand was less than a year ago. By all measures of business, I should not have re-branded.
Re-branding too often can potentially have the following side-effects:
- A decrease in recognition of your brand, resulting in lower social media followers
- People being confused by the change and unfollowing
- People straight up not liking the change and leaving
A re-brand does not fix problems by itself.
It should only be to help reflect a different direction or change in story that your old brand would not convey.
After reading this I’m sure it’s clear – but a re-brand isn’t simply a change of colour and logo. That’s simply a result, or a side-effect even, from the primary motive.
I needed a clear vision to work towards. A specific group of people to seek out and help. Not only to be able to move the business forward but, quite frankly, for my own sanity.
Could I have stayed the same and just kept ploughing on, doing perfectly OK, without taking the risk. Absolutely.
But that’s not what business is about for me.
And my website needed to reflect that.
The Next Chapter
So, I hope you love the new brand as much as I do and will join me on my journey, to do things better than before. To do things a little differently. And to carry on helping bring people’s dreams to life.