Ever heard the classic breakup line, “It’s not you, it’s me?” (Please tell me I’m not the only one!) I actually approach branding and web design similarly: I refuse to build a website for a client who doesn’t have a brand yet. It’s not them, it’s their brand—or really, the lack thereof.
I didn’t always have this rule. Years ago, when I first started my business, I felt like I had to take on every paying client in order for my business to survive. I was so focused on building my business that I ignored what I’d learned in college and within the industry, and I just said yes to all of it—yes to logos only, yes to websites with no brand, even yes to clients that I knew were not a good fit for me.
My nickname might as well have been “Doormat” during this period, because I sacrificed so much to make every job “work.” I did more than requested, I lowered my prices, you name it. At the root of it all, I was afraid to fail.
You know the saying, “You become a real business owner the day you start saying no?” As it turns out, it’s true. When I finally started saying no, everything changed. I lasered in on what I was best at: psychology-backed branding and web design, and using it to best serve my clients (without losing my mind). I clarified my audience, voice, messaging, values, offerings, and visuals, and then I redesigned my website.
Guess what? It worked.
I started booking out 2-3 months in advance, with more clients on waiting lists. I started to actually grow. Most importantly, I was no longer offering clients what they thought they needed. I was offering them a proven transformation that would help them grow, too.
That’s what I want for you, too: Growth. Expansion. Freedom.
If you’re feeling like I was—desperate and misaligned—and you’re ready to break free from that cycle, I’m ready to share my secrets.
Here’s how to build a website that truly works: be strategic. If you don’t know what strategic design is, don’t worry. This is my specialty, and I’m going to walk you through it. These four steps will ensure that your website is a powerhouse for your business and your brand.
1/ Solidify your brand strategy
This is always the first step to a well-executed website—yes, even before you choose a single font, color, or page design. You have to know your audience well enough to identify their problem and provide them a solution. If your website doesn’t do that… well, it’s not doing much of anything, unfortunately.
To create a foolproof brand strategy, get to know your target audience! First, you’ll want to dig deep into demographics like age, salary, gender, and interests. After crafting a client profile, you should be able to describe them like you would a friend you actually know. Where do they shop? What kind of work do they do? Who do they spend time with? What do they spend their money on?
After you’ve gotten to know your dream client, it’s time to figure out what problems they’re facing when it comes to your industry. What can’t they solve on their own—and how does hiring you or purchasing your product give them the best solution? Answering this question will be foundational to building a brand that actually attracts the kind of clients you want and generates the kind of income you’ve dreamed about.
I have only skimmed the surface of brand strategy here, as I take a holistic approach. If you want in on that, check out my Strategy Sesh VIP day.
2/ Build your brand design before web design
Now, we get to dive into the actual nuts and bolts of your brand—which will, of course, be featured heavily on your eventual website. You should definitely bring your own ideas and preferences to the table when you meet with your designer, but I’d also recommend doing a little bit of market research to see how your competitors have branded themselves. It’ll steer you in the right general design direction.
Your designer will take your preferences and their expertise and build you a dreamy mood board, graphics, colors, logo, and brand graphics. It should encapsulates your brand values, strategy, and vision – aesthetically. This should be a brand that you and your ideal client will love!
3/ Craft your brand messaging for your website
With your brand strategy and design elements in hand, it’s time to find your voice. Depending on who you work with, your designer may craft some of the messaging and copy for your brand themselves, or they may hire an expert copywriter to work alongside them (and you!) to find the perfect language for your brand.
Some important notes: grab their attention with a killer tagline or headline, and keep it short and sweet after that. No one wants to spend hours reading a lengthy website. Even when your copy is punchy and to the point, it should clearly define how you can solve their problem, either by showing them how much better things could be with your product or service, or clearly stating what you offer in a way that easily connects. Make sure to leave room for testimonials, credentials, or a portfolio, since you’ll want to establish that your work is actually as amazing as it sounds.
4/ Choose your call to action well on your website
I cannot tell you how many websites I’ve been on that just don’t make it easy for customers to actually buy! Your offer should be big, bold, and clear—and in multiple places on your website. I recommend keeping it simple by highlighting one (or just a few) signature offerings. I’ve found that if a client wants a customized option that they don’t see, they’ll reach out—but they will more than likely get overwhelmed by a list of 16 different packages and never book anything at all.
Clarity is key at every step of a strategic website. Know your audience, and know how you can serve them. Know your brand aesthetics and voice like the back of your hand, and stick with them. Know your website copy’s purpose, and know how to present a clear, clickable offer. Once you have those pieces put together, you can watch the web traffic go up and up—and your bottom line will, too.
Sold on strategic design? I love to hear it! You can book a call with me here to start working with me on a brand you—and your clients—will absolutely love.