Are you finding it tough to stand out or be your own unique self in your industry? I know that with the pace of things these days – it’s like everyone’s racing. So how do you ensure your brand not only gets noticed but becomes your ultimate weapon for making a lasting impression?
I had an interesting chat on this topic with Eva Couto, where we discussed how to be unapologetically you in your brand, how to show up, embrace your “weirdness” and uniqueness, and make these all part of your brand so people not only recognize you, but remember you.
Eva and I met back in 2020 when she joined my business program for designers called The Breakthrough Designer®.
She was at the very beginning of her journey back then, but from our very first group coaching call, I already knew that she’s going to make it in the design industry and will become an expert in her field. She was ambitious and motivated, showed up for every call and implemented every single thing I taught. She was the true definitely of an “action taker”.
Since then, I’ve been keeping a close eye on Eva and her groth and guess what? I was right!
Not only did she experience some amazing breakthroughs and growth during my program, but now, years later, I’m so proud to see everything she’s achieved and worked for. It’s a truly proud moment for me to welcome her now on the podcast to share her value with my audience.
For those who don’t know Eva, here’s a little more “formal” introduction:
Eva is based in Porto, Portugal, and she helps badass business owners stand out with 100% unique branding so they can show off their business to the world knowing that there is nobody quite like them. She loves color (in fact, we had a whole mini debate on this during our chat) and she loves helping her clients find their unique angle, even if they think they’re “just ordinary”.
You may have heard it before: “riches are in the niches”.
But finding your niche isn’t always about narrowing down to an industry, a type of client, or a geographical location. A niche is a “focus lens” that helps you narrow down your target market so you can better stand out and connect with your audience.
Eva shared her experience of how she found her niche. Instead of narrowing down to an industry, she looked back on her life to identify the aspects that define her – the “weird” qualities, the talents, the unique personality traits. In this process, it allowed her to find a niche that isn’t just about an industry, but about showcasing her distinctiveness.
By amplifying your own personality traits, a niche can be a way to authentically present yourself. So your niche isn’t always just about what you do or who you do it for, but it’s also about who you are and how you uniquely approach your work.
When you’re starting out, it’s normal to be inspired by different things and kind of blend them together to create your own style. But, let’s face it, you can’t really call it entirely your own just yet.
But don’t sweat it! As you keep moving forward in your career, gain more experience, you’ll become more confident at showing up as yourself and embracing your true values.
This is when you’ll start noticing that people are drawn to you not just because you’re good at what you do but because of who you are as a human.
People buy from people, people connect more with brands and business who have a personal approach. Especially now, with machines, robots and artificial intelligence becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives, there’s a hunger for real, authentic human interactions.
I mean, it’s fun to talk to ChatGPT, but it’s not quite the same as working with someone you genuinely connect with, right?
So how do you incorporate your personality into your brand? What can you do to unravel your uniqueness and seamlessly share it with your audience? Let’s unwrap that!
First, let’s talk about your brand. A lot of people, when they’re starting their business, the first thing they think about is their logo.
And this may sound strange coming from a designer, but Eva confidently pointed out during our conversation that your logo isn’t the most crucial part of your visual identity. It’s not really the thing that will bring out your brand’s personality. At least, not on its own.
What really stands out are the colors, textures, patterns, and icons you use consistently. Those are what people will see the most and remember most. All of these will be the ingredients of your brand that represent your personality.
Try this fun exercise to start personifying your brand.
Imagine your brand as a person. What would they wear, how would they smell, what would they like to eat? What if your brand were an animal? Or a mood? Or a color? What about a song? Or a book? Using these comparisons helps you personify the brand and translate its personality into visuals.For example, if your brand is feminine, you might use curvy shapes and softer elements. If it’s a strong brand, you’d go for more angular shapes and impactful designs. Even colors matter – warm or cool tones can make a whole difference in how your brand is perceived and what associations your audience will have with it.
Eva is a big advocate of color. Her brand is brightly and joyful, with splashes of blues and reds all over. I can definitely easily recognise her posts or when her stories pop up on my screen.
My brand however… well, it’s non a “pop of color” to say the least! My aesthetic is quite monochrome, with blacks, and greys, and, of course, my brand green neon that makes me stand out.
Because our brands are so visually different, I wanted to challenge Eva and asked if she believes that color is what makes a brand stand out and be rememberable.
She said “no, but it does make it easier.”. But as mentioned before, it’s important to also remember there are many other aspects of your visual identity that form your brand. In my case, my grainy textures, bold font and that splash of neon differentiates me from other brands that have a similar aesthetic.
So when it comes to your brand, what are the elements that make your brand unique? What will make you visually stand out? What are going to be the ingredients of your unique recipe?
To wrap this up, let’s look at some practical exercises you can do right now to help unravel your uniqueness and bring more personality into your brand.
The “Why” exercise
As a brand strategist Eva has a few tricks up her sleeve and one of them is the “Why” exercise. She would ask her clients open-ended questions and repeatedly asks, “But why?” to dig deeper into their motivations and unique qualities, much like peeling layers off an onion.
Here are some questions you could think about:
“Against the Grain” exercise
The next exercise is designed to flip the script on conventional brand strategy. Instead of focusing on what’s working or what clients think they do best, let’s ask them what do they actually dislike about their industry and want to change. Where do they go against the status quo in their industry?
All that collective discontent becomes the raw material for your brand’s unique value proposition. Clients tend to find it much easier to articulate what they don’t like, rather than what they like. And this exercise leverages this natural inclination as a catalyst for uncovering authentic differentiation points. Try this out with your next client!
“We are not…” exercise
Similar to the previous exercise, instead of asking your clients to tell you who they are as brand, try asking them who they are not.
For example, if you’re working on their tone of voice, ask them what are the things that their brand would never say.
Or if you’re trying to identify their descriptive adjectives, ask them what adjectives they definitely don’t want to be associated with.
This elimination process will bring more clarity to your client and help you craft a better brand strategy.
If you don’t talk about your brand or what you do, people won’t even know you exist, and that means you won’t attract clients. So, the key is taking action.
Eva has an awesome challenge that’s all about helping you reconnect with your brand strategy in a fun, interactive and easy way. So if you want to go the extra mile with unravelling your unique brand personality, this is the challenge for you!
This challenge provides straightforward prompts to assist you in reestablishing your brand strategy and effectively using it in your Instagram stories to market yourself and your businesses. The focus is on sharing your story and engaging your audience to spark their interest and curiosity.
Now, initially, your content might not be seen by many, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s a chance to practice! Use this time to refine your unique way of communicating (your tone of voice) and get to know the people in your audience who are watching you. With all this valuable insight, you can begin to shape your brand and its personality, allowing you to present yourself confidently to the world.
I’m really stoked about all the insights Eva has brought to the table during our conversation. In fact, if you read this entire blog post, I really recommend to tune in to the podcast episode because there’s a whole lot of hidden gems there that simply didn’t make it to the blog post.
I hope that this conversation will be that little push you need – encouraging you to proudly show off your uniqueness, break free from the usual, and truly embrace what sets you apart. Remember, standing out begins with embracing your own uniqueness!
Links to check out: