As of today, May 1, 2017, my business name is officially Brave & Co Design. I decided to make this change in January of this year, for a number of reasons. Towards the end of last year, I realized that I needed some help with my business. I felt like I wasn’t really getting anywhere, and I realized that one of the biggest issues was that I didn’t really feel like I had a good handle on WHO I wanted to be, or even who I was. I didn’t feel like I could say what was different about me as a graphic designer or what I stood for as a designer and business owner. I’ve always had a ton of self-awareness with regards to my behavior and psyche, but I was struggling with translating any of that into my business.
Finding a coach
Because of that, I decided towards the end of 2016 to get some help with figuring out who Kimi Mischke, the graphic designer and business owner, was. I interviewed a number of different coaches and ended up working with Rocky Garza at Staff Retreat Co. I chose him partly because he talked a lot about identity mapping on his website AND because I liked the design of his website. Just sayin'
Figuring out who I am
By working with Rocky and his Identity Mapping process, which began with an assessment through the Gallup Strengths center, I was able to identify what my core values are, what my strengths are and three identifying traits. To make a long story short, we determined that my core values are joyfulness, vulnerability, intelligence, individuality, and courageousness. They are the foundation of who I am, and they are the filters for how I think and operate as a business owner.
My strengths are that I’m a learner, an input gatherer, a restorer (or problem solver), and I feel a strong sense of responsibility, to myself, my clients and to the world. These things are important to my business because they are essentially how I operate. I do my best work when I’m working in an intentional, thoughtful space guided by a method and process that begins with research and analysis. I want to live and work in a meaningful and caring world and serve other people who want meaning in their lives and businesses.
Lastly, we came up with three identifiers that describe who I am, which is a communicator, a risk-taker, and a feeler. This all distilled down to the essential fact that I give a shit. I want to work with one client at a time, so I can delve deeply into their needs and take the time to really think about what will work best for them. I’m not just designing for the sake of making pretty pictures. I want to design logos, collateral and websites for my clients that represent them honestly, courageously and intelligently, so they can go out and do what they do to the best of their abilities.
So, once we got all of that figured out, I really started to feel dissatisfied with my business’ brand, starting with the name. My name, of course, is deeply personal. My first name, in particular, is meaningful because of the story of why my parents chose it, but if someone doesn’t know me, it doesn’t say much. And my last name - most people don’t even know how to pronounce it! And, truthfully, I didn’t really want to use my name when I first started out. I wanted to use Brave Creative, but it was taken, and I just couldn’t come up with anything else I loved at the time.
How fear interfered
Which brings me to fear and how it had landed me in this position in the first place. When I went out on my own in March of 2016, I had enough work to carry me for several weeks, but I still felt an enormous amount of pressure to have my business and my brand and my website up and running as quickly as possible. I was terrified that I'd miss an opportunity for work and then my business would fail, etc. Because of this, I rushed through the whole branding process and didn’t take the time to find a business name that really said something about me or develop visual branding that I really loved. Instead, I quickly abandoned the “brave” concept when I couldn’t get what I wanted right away and pulled from work I’d done previously to create my brand visuals.
So I was up and running quickly, but I honestly didn’t feel that great about putting myself out there. I didn’t feel like my website was that interesting or was even representing my business that well. Then, as I started creating graphics for my blog posts that were pretty different (aside from the triangle that I kept to maintain some sort of brand consistency), I realized that I’d really missed the mark. And for myself no less!
Also, my target audience had changed. Originally, I’d wanted to work with businesses in the outdoor industry, but I’d quickly realized that to be an online business, I’d need to connect with other businesses who are active online in the places I am active, and that wasn’t going to happen with the outdoor industry. I couldn’t find any Facebook groups or twitter chats or anything really that would allow me to tap into that market.
So, now that I look back at my post about Reasons to Rebrand, I was the perfect rebrand candidate (which I’d actually noted in that post, so no big revelation here).
- My business’ original mission and name had changed.
- I now knew that I wanted to focus on rebranding for businesses that had a year or two under their belts. For a number of reasons, I'd chosen coaches with online business. New target market!
- My original look, while not necessarily dated or DIY, was clearly not up to par. It didn’t say brave or vulnerable or smart, or anything I wanted it to say about me, except maybe that I’m outdoorsy and like mountains.
- My brand identity was also becoming inconsistent as I developed blog post covers and tried different things that my soul was putting out there.
- And, lastly, it wasn’t doing the job for me because clients weren’t coming in the door. I think this is less because the design was actually bad and more because I didn’t feel it truly represented me and consequently wasn’t putting myself out there in a really confident and enthusiastic way.
That’s why, today, I’m launching a new brand that I’m super excited about! To me, it’s fun, joyful, unique, and solid. It’s honest and courageous, and most importantly, it came from my heart and not from my trying to be something I thought I was supposed to be. I’m excited to share it with the world and feel like I can put myself out there honestly and enthusiastically now! I'd love to hear what you think. Share your comments below!