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A Simple Diagram to Help You Place Your Brand in the Market

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Hey! I know I haven't been around much in May, and now it's June. I'll tell you about it in my next post, but TODAY...

I have a very neat thing to show you.

I've told you that I work in the financial services sector right? To be more specific, I work in business financing. And one of my jobs is to prepare contracts for entrepreneurs whose applications for financing have been approved.

Along the way, I've read a lot of cool business proposals. Different industries. Different kinds of businesses. I've always made a point to read through all the proposals to see what business-related stuff I can learn.

And one day, I saw this diagram that immediately lit a huge lightbulb over my head:

What's the actual name of this kind of graph...thingy?

What's the actual name of this kind of graph...thingy?

It's a great way of looking at the kind of brands that are ALREADY in the market and how your brand fits into it.

You can also picture it as a map. Where is your brand right now?

I'm not an expert on handbags, but I sure do know that it's fricking impossible for us mere mortals to get a Hermes Birkin bag. I've read somewhere that you've got to know people -- JUST TO GET ON A LIST.

Super duper exclusive, right? And the price matches that level of exclusitivity.

On the other hand, Longchamps! They're not considered cheap, but I guess I wouldn't call them a luxury handbag either. And though I always see people carrying Longchamps everywhere, they're not exactly available at your local boutique or mall.

The biggest lesson I got from this diagram is that your brand can't be everything. It can't be accessible, affordable, exclusive and expensive all at the same time. You've got to find your PLACE in the market.

Basically, you need to choose what you want your brand to be.

The diagram up there is about handbags, but you can definitely do it with any other industry or product. Food, skincare and even notebooks (ahem, Moleskine).

Anyway, comment below and let me know which industry/product you most like to analyze!

P.S. Salam Ramadhan!

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Rebranding 101: Freshen Up Your Brand Look

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I'm back this week with another aspect of rebranding -- visual rebranding. I'm jumping straight to this because this is THE process that people think about when they hear 'rebranding'.

(Read the previous posts on rebranding: the overview of rebranding and how to rebrand your offerings)

Visual rebranding is about changing how people's eyeballs SEE your brand and changing what they THINK about your brand.

The usual goals of visual rebranding are...

  1. to make sure your brand is the same on the outside and on the inside. (E.g. My brand is fun, but it doesn't look fun.)
  2. to make your brand more attractive to the people you're targeting. (E.g. I'm targeting tweens, so the colours must be colours tweens like. Like purple and pink.)

For me, when I rebranded early last year, it was No. 1. I wanted to make Narrativity more fun but also more modern.

Here's a snapshot of what Narrativity looked like BEFORE rebranding.

My basic brand elements were OK, but they didn't quite reflect what I had in mind.

So instead of doing an overhaul (major rebrand), what I did was I TWEAKED (minor rebrand) my brand elements.

This is the current Narrativity AFTER rebranding:

The differences are subtle, but I managed to get the *vibe* that I was looking for.

You don't need to start from scratch when you want to rebrand. In fact, I advise you NOT to start from scratch. There's always a few things from the existing brand that you can use for your rebranded brand.

Not only does it save time, there's also no risk of turning OFF your current audience / customers. They'll see that it's still you, but just an updated version.

So I have one special but simple tweak that you can do for your own brand without having to know graphic design. You can apply it to your blog or social media or even your product packaging.

BUT...

Before you start, you need to know what you want to achieve with the rebranding. Think along the lines of this sentence:

"I want my brand to be more......."

More what? More feminine? More gender neutral? More fun? More serious? More adult? More childlike?

And when you know what kind of more you want, you'll know which aspect you should change from your existing brand.

OK, on to my #1 tip that I recommend to EVERYONE.

 

My #1 Rebrand Tip: Change up the colour combo in your colour palette.

If you ask me, colours are the BEST part about branding. I love my neutrals as much as any other person, but there's nothing like some colours to really GRAB people's eyeballs. You know what I mean?

I've explained about colour combos in this blog post, but basically all brands use a COMBINATION of colours, rather than just one colour.

For example, Red & Yellow for McDonald's. White & Blue for Samsung.

So if you feel like your current colour combo is boring / lifeless, try introducing a NEW colour into your colour combo.

This new colour should help make your brand more [keyword].

For example, I want something more cool!

I want something more feminine!

I want something more vibrant!

There's so many different vibes you can achieve just by adding a new colour to your current colour combo. Explore more combos using this nifty colour palette generator.

 

Bonus Rebrand Tip: Rebrand for a limited scope.

Sometimes, you may want to do something a little out of the ordinary, but you don't want to make it permanent. It's like the concept of temporary tattoos.

You like how your brand looks right now, but you want it to look different for a bit.

It's always possible to rebrand for a limited scope while allowing your brand to remain unchanged. For example, your brand looks the same, but your product looks different.

Or, your blog looks the same, but your blog post looks different.

This is what make up brands do when they're releasing a new range of products with a particular theme or in collaboration with somebody. 

The brand itself looks the same. Same logo, same colours on the website. But the product packaging will follow whatever theme they want for that new range of products.

This is what I do for my ongoing Whoa, Harsh! series. It's a series of blog posts that are supposed to kick butts. Imagine a really blunt friend giving you her harsh opinion without trying to soften it up.

(Read: One Insulting Thing You Should Stop Doing If You Don't Blog Consistently)

For this particular blog post series, I kept everything else the same but changed the background colour to a darker colour. You know, for that 'darker' vibe. 

So this definitely stands out compared to my usual bright colours for other normal blog posts.

Even if you're not a graphic designer, it is possible to change things up. In fact, I'd say you're the BEST person to start the visual rebranding process. You're the brand owner, so you'd know best what kind of change your brand needs.

Just keep thinking about this sentence: I want my brand to be more [keyword]. You'll do just fine. :)


Read more about rebranding!

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Rebranding 101: How to Rebrand Your Offering

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I didn't like what Narrativity was before this.

When I provided branding services, my branding package was RM700. The package included the logo and sublogos, brand colours, brand fonts, brand patterns, 4 illustrations and 2 collateral items (packaging, etc).

Good money right?

But when I got the payment, it completely TURNED ME OFF. The money didn't give me joy -- it only reminded of the stress.

That's when I knew I couldn't offer branding services anymore.

Last week, I painted an overview of WHAT you can rebrand for your brand. One of it is offerings and that's what I'll be focusing on today.

Yes, you definitely have an offering.

All brands have offerings, aka things you OFFER to people.

  • PAID offerings, like your product or service.
  • FREE offerings, like your blog posts, vlogs or social media content.

And sometimes, along the way, you just don't feel happy with what you're offering. You either grow to hate your offering, or you just feel...bored. And empty.

But despite that, it's natural to think, Is it OK to just change?

Let me tell you now: It is always the RIGHT time to rebrand your offerings.

You don't have to be stuck with the same offerings until you close up shop. It's *your* brand. It grows with you and it's not static.

So the question now is -- what steps can you take to rebrand your offerings? Let's look at the THREE major steps that you can take.

 

Rebrand #1: Change to a new income stream (or package it up with your current offering).

An income stream is your brand's source of income. It usually comes in 3 different forms:

  1. Client Work (or service) -- Baking and decorating a personalized cake for a customer.
  2. Product -- Selling ready-made cakes.
  3. Teaching -- Conducting a workshop on baking cakes.

All three examples above involve a cake, but HOW the cake's offered to people is different.

All of the income stream come with their own pros and cons, but you might be suitable for one income stream more than the other.

For example, you might be someone who's friendly and loves solving people's problems. You're also assertive and you don't take people's shit. The interactions with clients give you energy.

Then Client Work might be a perfect fit for you.

So if you're currently just selling products and feel that it doesn't excite you -- change it to Client Work. You're still with the same "thing", but you're offering it differently.

Alternatively, instead of choosing between income streams -- package two income streams together for a really dynamic offering.

I'm still very, very passionate about branding. If you know me in real life, you'd know that I'm a pretty easygoing person who prefers to agree with whatever other people are saying.

Branding is the one topic that I can really argue about with other people. BUT, I can't do Client Work because it puts a crazy amount of pressure on me.

SO...I've shifted to my own combo of Product + Teaching. My Starter Branding Kit for Bloggers is a Product that *teaches* people about how to brand themselves as bloggers.

Still about branding, but a combo of Product + Teaching instead of Client Work. :)

OK another example. Let's say that you still like Client Work, but you keep running into problems where your clients don't understand how much work goes into baking really good-looking cakes.

You can package up your Client Work with a little bit of Teaching. Each cake order will now come with an educational booklet on baking. Like baking techniques or differences between ingredients.

This way, you get to mitigate the cons of the income stream and enjoy the pros more.

>>>> If this is the route you want to go for, list down all your strengths and weaknesses. And then change / package it up with the income stream(s) that plays to your strengths.

 

Rebrand #2: Widen or narrow down your target customers/audience.

Target customers/audience are the people you want. The people who are supposed to buy from you or enjoy your free offerings.

Knowing who to target allows you to brand more effectively. Like, a restaurant who wants to target fine-dining customers won't brand itself like a fast food restaurant. (Think Nobu vs. McDonald's)

But sometimes, you can accidentally target a customer group that is TOO BIG or TOO SMALL.

Let me give you an example.

Business: Event planning

  • TOO BIG: Everyone who wants to hold an event.
  • TOO SMALL: Birthday parties for little boys who only like Superman.

If you target a group that is TOO BIG or TOO SMALL, your offering won't be personalized / tailored / special enough.

  • TOO BIG: Different events have different requirements to be successful. If you don't specify what you can do, customers won't be confident about your ability to handle their particular event.
  • TOO SMALL: What about little boys who like Ironman? Are you gonna say No to them? (Plus, you won't get to really exercise your creativity.)

BTW, this also totally applies if you have a blog about event planning.

>>>> In order to fix your targeting, you need to answer these questions:

If your group was TOO BIG, think about all your past experiences. Was there any particular situation / type of customers that you liked? When did you feel most confident?

If you group was TOO SMALL, look at your current offering and remove some of the 'filters'. Think about other groups of people who might enjoy what you're offering. Or people who have the same problems as your current customers.

 

Rebrand #3: Test stuff using 'Special Projects' and 'Limited Editions'.

Rebranding can be very scary. You just don't know if your current people (customers / audience) will enjoy your new offerings. And that's enough to make you not want to take the first step.

As I mentioned a little bit in the last email -- rebranding doesn't have to be ALL OR NOTHING. You can tweak your brand or overhaul it completely, it's up to you.

And you can do tweak or overhaul under the concept of Special Projects or Limited Editions.

Let's say that you have a blog about fashion. But lately you've felt like you wanted to write about your experience as a parent. Two completely different things right? Would your fashionable audience enjoy reading about parenting? (You just don't know)

What you can do when you want to introduce a new thing to your offering is by introducing it for a limited amount of time, aka the Special Project.

Instead of changing completely from fashion to parenting, you write a blog post series on parenting. Three blog posts that talk about your experience as a parent, maybe merge some fashion and parenting tips together (how to dress up your child for Malaysian weather?) and that's it.

At the end of the three blog posts, you add: "Did you like this series? Let me know in the comments!"

Ask for feedback from your audience. And then analyse these two things:

  1. Did my audience enjoy the [Special Project]?
  2. And most importantly, did I enjoy the [Special Project]? Did it feel right?

If YES to both, great! Dive in! Otherwise, you might want to experiment a little bit more by doing more Special Projects.

(In the coming emails, I'll touch on the unfortunate effects of rebranding -- like having customers not like your rebranded brand -- and how to deal with it.)

It's the same thing if you have PAID offerings. Instead of replacing your inventory with totally new products, add some Limited Edition stuff.

For example, instead of launching a new fashion line with a completely different style (think rocker chic to modern corporate), why not come up with a Limited Edition item or two?

When you want to sell something new than what your people are used to, it's always good to test the market first before investing a lot into the new product.

If the response to your Limited Edition item is good, then you know what you can do. :)

>>>> This is one of my favourite methods! Be creative and find ways to merge two interests/passions to create your own unique, creative THING. You can do it!

 

Which route would you like to try? Let me know in the comments below! :)

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Rebranding 101: I Don't Like What I'm Doing Anymore.

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There comes a point in life when a woman (or a man) is sick of their... hair.

For the past 13 years, I've consistently chopped off my own hair in an effort to feel different.

These 'chopping' sessions usually come after a loooong nap (that I wasn't supposed to have). I'll wake up, look at my clock, feel disgusted with my laziness, hop out of bed and start cutting my hair in the bathroom.

Afterwards, I'll always feel like I'm someone new.

Maybe it's more symbolic than practical, but it was a relief to DO SOMETHING that lets me start fresh. I didn't like who I was at the time (lazy, procrastinating, messy) -- so I changed something.

Which brings us to... Rebranding!

Rebranding is the act of changing something in your brand. There's so many Whys that can lead you to rebranding yourself or your business.

  • "I don't want to do this anymore. It's not fun."
  • "This isn't the future that I imagined."
  • "I'm boring. I want to be different."
  • "I've grown. This thing is not the me right now."

Sometimes you know exactly what you want to change. Like your blog name. You just click edit, type in a new one, and save!

Sometimes you just feel dissatisfied with something, but you're not sure what it is. You just know that your blog, or passion or business doesn't excite you anymore.

When this happens, rebranding is always an option.

 
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Rebranding kinda feels like an all-out thing, but it doesn't have to be! I always like to divide rebranding into two categories: MAJOR (overhaul) or MINOR (tweak).

An overhaul is when your brand becomes almost unrecognizable from what it used to be, or a total makeover. A tweak is a minor change that doesn't change your brand at its core.

So either you choose to overhaul or tweak, it will affect these four aspects of your brand:

+ Internal branding: The insides of your brand. Like the words you use to describe your brand, the goals you have, how you want to bring value to people's lives.

+ Visual branding: What your brand looks like. Like your logo, sublogos, blog header, brand colours.

+ System: What you do to get things done. Like how you respond to customers complaints, your receipts and invoices.

+ Offering: What you offer to make money. Like your product and service, how you package them.

In the coming weeks, I plan to delve more into what you can overhaul or tweak under each aspect. Let me know which part of rebranding you'd most be interested in!

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A Day In The Life: How I Juggle My Job & Blog

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Before I begin, I wanna start off by giving you a little background info about, well, me!

I'm a 25 year old who works as a legal executive at a company in the financial services sector (like a bank), located in KL. I live in Shah Alam, so I commute to work by taking the KTM.

I live with my parents and little brother. Another brother is in Japan, doing his degree. (Side note: It's my lifelong dream to travel to Japan) 

A perfect day out for me is watching a really epic sci-fi or fantasy movie at the cinema (and all the trailers because I love trailers) and then reading a book at a cafe somewhere while eating dessert. I love getting lost in stories. I don't know why I'm telling you this particular fact... But maybe I should a take a day to do this. It's been a while.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about in this post is juggling a job with a business, a blog, or a passion.

All jobs are stressful in their own ways. There's no escaping stress. But I'm sure a lot of people think, even for just a minute, about how good it would feel to be their own boss and run their own business. Selling or doing something they really LOVE.

Most times the main motivation is not even money. The true goal is getting the freedom to do what you want, when you want.

I'm no stranger to that. I want to be my own boss too. So what I'm doing now is juggling my job with my blog by dedicating time to both. This way, I don't have to sacrifice my dreams for financial stability.

So I came up with a routine to make the best of my limited time. I know I'm not the first to do it, nor is my routine unique. But I'd thought it'd be nice to share it with you. I'm gonna share in the context of my blog, but you can definitely apply it to your business or passion. 🙂

 

My routine changes up depending on what 'season' I'm in: ON or OFF.

What my 'On' Season looks like

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My ON seasons are basically days when I feel extremely -- extremely -- motivated to work on my blog. It's those days when physical and mental exhaustion don't affect my motivation to just DO. 

Someone pissed me off at work? Psshhh, who cares. I'm just brimming with ideas.  

Here's a breakdown of what my ON day looks like: 

  • 6.30 am - Wake up & get ready for work
  • 7.35 am - Leave house to go to the KTM station
  • 7.55 am - Browse my favourite websites while waiting for KTM
  • 8.05 am - Get on KTM and write (if I get a seat or manage to lean on a wall). If I have to hang on to the handheld thingy for dear life, I just read blog posts or ebooks on business
  • 9.00 am - Work
  • 1.00 pm - Write on my phone, office computer or notebook*
  • 2.00 pm - Work
  • 7.00 pm - Wait for KTM and write on my phone
  • 7.15 pm - Get on KTM and write again (see 8.05 am)
  • 8.05 pm - Drive home and discuss certain blog post / newsletter points with myself out loud**
  • 8.20 pm - Reach home and rest, and spend time with family
  • 10.30 pm - Cross off tasks on my to-do list that require a computer (e.g. Designing blog post headers, formatting blog post). If I finish early, I spend more time with family
  • 12.30 am - Sleep

As is normal with any office slave (haha), I only have short windows of time during the day. So I try to do the bulk of my writing during those short windows. My brain is fried by the time I get home, so, yeah.

* To save time, I buy 2 packs of the same food for breakfast AND lunch. Or I'll eat lunch that my mum has packed for me. (Thanks Mama!) This saves about 15-30 minutes that I would have spent if I went out to buy food.

** Yes, I talk to myself a lot. Rather than get the hated writer's block in front of the laptop, I discuss the points out loud as if I'm talking to a friend. It helps me clarify my thoughts and write more naturally. (I explained more about it here)

 

What my 'off' Season looks like 

OFF days are days when life doesn't feel so good. I may have woken up late, my stomach may be hurting, work may be extra stressful, or I'm just generally BLERH.

On these kind of days, my principle is to not force it. I won't beat myself up for 'not being productive'. After all, tomorrow's a new day. It's OK to take it easy today. :) 

Here's what it looks like:

  • 6.50 am - Wake up & get ready for work (Yes, I know how late that is)
  • 7.35 am - Leave house to go to the KTM station
  • 7.55 am - Browse my favourite websites while waiting for KTM
  • 8.05 am - Get on KTM and SLEEP (if I get a seat). If not, I cry internally and browse Reddit on my phone
  • 9.00 am - Work
  • 1.00 pm - Buy food at the cafeteria and watch Netflix (digging the Outlander series right now)
  • 2.00 pm - Work
  • 7.00 pm - Wait for KTM and browse Internet
  • 7.15 pm - Get on KTM and SLEEP. If not too tired, I watch Youtube or read fiction
  • 8.05 pm - Drive home while karaoke-ing my favourite songs
  • 8.20 pm - Reach home and rest, and spend time with family
  • 10.30 pm - Watch Youtube
  • 11.30 pm - Sleep
 

How to juggle without going crazy

It's easy to burn yourself out by juggling if you're not careful. And burning out means you'll dread your job and dread your blog / business / passion. Here's 4 tips to keep in mind to prevent burn out:

1. It's normal to have ON and OFF days.

I used to think that I had to be productive every single day. Or HUSTLE, as they say.

But mentally, I'm not equipped to be ON every day, and I shouldn't! Getting that mental rest on OFF days allows me to make my ON days more productive. And I don't sacrifice my job performance too. 

Despite sticking to this lax and unpredictable schedule (sometimes I think I'm getting too much sleep) , I've managed to cross off a few things on my list:

My results are just peanuts compared to other bloggers. But I'm proud of them because I didn't sacrifice family time, my job and my hobbies. 

Don't feel too bad if you find yourself relaxing after a long day instead of tending to your business or blog. That's your OFF day. Enjoy it guilt-free, and then be productive the next day!

You might want to experiment to see what combo of ON and OFF days works best for you.  

  • Maybe like me, you can alternate 1 day ON and 1 day OFF. E.g. Monday is ON, but Tuesday is OFF. 
  • 1 day ON and 2 days OFF
  • 2 days ON and 1 day OFF
  • Or even 1 day ON and 6 days OFF (meaning you only do stuff 1x a week)

 It's the quality, not the quantity (yeah yeah, cliche). 

2. Focus on doing, not learning.

OK, this is the kind of tip that goes AGAINST what a lot of people are saying.

The usual advice is:  

Learn as much as you can.  

What I'm advising is: 

Do as much as you can. (And learn) 

Too much learning can be a bad thing. I can read cookbooks, watch MasterChef and Youtube videos on cooking (Buzzfeed's Tasty mostly)... But is that enough to make me an expert on cooking?

 I may 'know' about cooking, but I won't be an 'expert' on cooking. Experts are doers. They don't just observe.

So if you're passionate about something, be it cooking, fitness, make up, nothing beats getting your hands dirty.

You have limited time. Use that time to pick up that brush / pen / spatula / chosen tool and you'll find yourself satisfied with your progress. 

3. Make a short to-do list instead of a long one.

How many tasks do you usually put on your to-do list?  (Not chores, but stuff related to your blog / business / passion)

I sometimes go way overboard and list up to 10 things daily that I just supposedly HAVE to do. 

  1. Write new blog post on blog post promotion. 
  2. Outline Friday's newsletter. 
  3. Fix typos in email course.
  4. Make new sign up form. 
  5. Design header for newsletter. 
  6. ... 

You get the picture. 

And at the end of each night, when I'm so ready to pass out, I'll HATE myself for not completing all the tasks. Not to mention the-morning-after regret too. 

It's such a toxic, icky cycle where I constantly feel bad and guilty. 

My CURRENT daily to-do lists have a maximum of ONE task on them.

One task that has the most impact to my blog and business. It's something that'll allow me to say, "At least I've done X today so I'm satisfied."

This cuts down so much UNNECESSARY tasks that you give to yourself. When you have limited time and energy, ask yourself-

What is the most important and meaningful task for my blog / passion / business? 

And then do that task. I swear you'll feel more relaxed. 

4. Practice doing stuff in less than ideal conditions. (AKA, the perfect setup is NOT a necessity) 

Writing on my phone is really... annoying. It's not as nice as writing on a laptop, or an iMac. (Oh, one can only dream...)

But if I wait until I reach home to write on my laptop, I'm never gonna get much practice.

If you wait for your surroundings to be perfect before you start practicing, you won't get much practice. And the less practice you get, the slower you'll become an expert.

Investing in quality tools or making your surroundings picture-perfect is good. But in the end, your skill is IN YOU. Not in the tools or surroundings.

So if you only have a hand-mixer instead of the Kitchen-Aid mixer, it's OK. Do what you can with what you have. Your skills will still be sharpened! 😉

 

 

So that's how I juggle. My routine's not perfect, and there are times when I have more OFF days than ON days. But I'll keep juggling. I know that if I stick to it and focus on the right things, I'll get my freedom soon enough.

What's your juggling routine? Leave a comment down below!

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