• Rebecca Cafiero

Basic vs. Brilliant: Is Your Branding Causing Your Business to Suffer?

Do you know what makes your brand stand out from your competitors?

If that question leaves you umming, there’s a good chance that you can’t answer because you don’t. I promise I don’t say this to make you feel bad! I say this so you can seize the opportunity to take your business from basic to brilliant.

When you’re in the weeds of your business working on that never-ending to-do list, it can be hard to take a step back and see what your big picture looks like to your audience.


Today, I’ll help you identify if your brand is basic or brilliant. Once you know where you’re at, we’ll move on to my top tips on how to make your business shine.


Is your brand basic or brilliant?


So first let’s get super clear on the difference between a basic brand and one that is brilliant.

A basic brand is one the audience thinks is nice, or fine, but doesn’t feel passionately one way or another about it. They may buy from that brand, but they don’t feel any loyalty or affiliation with that brand.

A brilliant brand is absolutely clear on its messaging, who it serves, and how it serves them. When the audience thinks about the brand, they’re ready to shout their praises of it from the rooftops. If a competitor came along, it would take a lot to pull them away from the brilliant brand they’re loyal to. A brilliant brand often has a hater or two because they’re willing to stand up for what they believe in.


Is my brand basic? 6 signs your brand is basic (AKA boring)


First, let’s acknowledge that being an entrepreneur is scary! You’ve got to put yourself out into the world in a way other people simply don’t, and that involves being vulnerable. Here are a few signs your brand is more boring than brilliant:


  • You’ve likely got a target audience in mind, but you speak to a few different types of people in your marketing.


  • When someone reaches out to you to work with you, you say yes most of the time, without really vetting them.


  • You get some good engagement from your audience, but it tends to be one-offs, not the same people interacting repeatedly.


  • You often have customers return to you for a month or two, and then disappear forever.


  • Your copy doesn’t directly speak to any one person. For example, it speaks to the busy mompreneur doing her crafting business part-time, the lawyer looking to transition into high-ticket coaching, and the copywriter with 5 years already under her belt.


  • You spend most of your time figuring out how to find your next 3 clients so you can pay your bills, instead of carefully selecting who will fill your calendar or how you’ll plan your next launch, even though you’ve been in business for more than 6 months.


So how do I make my brand brilliant?


The problem for many people is that positioning your brand as a brilliant one involves putting your business and yourself out there in ways that make you uncomfortable. It also involves what feels like taking a risk - you have to narrow your focus and start serving a narrow audience. The problem for many entrepreneurs when they think about changing their brand positioning to serve a smaller audience is they think they’re going to lose customers.

And while, yeah, you will lose some (that weren’t the right fit for you in the first place), you’re going to gain far more than you lost in customers who not only think you might be able to solve their problems, but are desperate for you to be the one who does - not anyone else.

Here are a few things you need to do to establish a brilliant brand:


  • Discover your brand values and use them: Do you have a list of 5 or so words that identify your brand values? If not, you’re going to have a hard time deciding what’s aligned with your brand and what’s not. Values allow you (and your audience, if you share them) to decide whether or not doing something or working with a specific client is in alignment with your brand.


  • Define your purpose: What is it your brand sets out to do? Make sure your answer is clear and not vague.


  • Define your mission: What is your business here to do? What transformation or key benefit do you bring to your clients?


  • Identify your key differentiators and unique value proposition: You’ve got to stop trying to be everything for everyone. The only stores that can pull this off are grocery stores and gas stations, and a lot of them also try to appeal to a certain demographic over another. Why are you different from your competitors? Go back to your purpose and mission if you don’t have a good answer yet.


  • Identify your passions: What is your business passionate about? This should be reflected in your values, purpose, and mission.


  • Identify causes you care about: What big issues is your brand willing to take a side on? Be willing to be sensational - learn how to be okay with communicating unpopular expressions. Brilliant brands are disliked by someone - remember, you don’t have to be for everyone!


  • Establish philosophical concepts and stories: What stories and concepts does your brand tell and share to get certain points across? Once you’ve got a list of these, you can use them in your marketing materials to educate and attract the right clients to you.


Developing a brilliant brand isn’t easy - that’s why there are a sea of people trying to do the same things for the same audience and only a handful of thought leaders and big brands in each space.

You’ve got to be willing to step outside your comfort zone again and again to connect with your audience on a deeper level, and that involves being vulnerable.

Now that you’ve got all the information above, think about how you can tweak your current branding (especially brand voice and how you reach out to your audience) to reflect your new, clarified brand position. Once you know how you’re different and what message you need the world to hear, finding opportunities to present yourself as an industry leader will be the natural next step.



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