In this episode, Johanna White joins me to talk about the world of branding and how to position your brand as premium vs. commodity. We discuss what branding truly means, debunking common misconceptions along the way, and provide valuable insights into Johanna’s three-step process required when starting a brand and offer guidance on how to effectively distinguish your brand from competitors.
Johanna White is an award-winning graphic designer and visual branding strategist who designs premium brand identities that create impactful first impressions. As the founder of Design By Jo Studio, she believes that if someone is the best at what they do, they deserve to look like it! For the past decade, she’s worked with everyone from individuals to Fortune 200 brands worldwide to help magnetize their dream opportunities, clients and investors, and be as delightfully expensive as they deserve to be.
Johanna knows there’s no limit on success, and she proved it several years ago when she took life by the horns and started three companies within one year while battling a brain tumor. At a time when everyone else in her life was suggesting that she quit working and go on social security to cover medical bills, she chose to do the opposite and defy the odds. As a result, Johanna is a now a “Dreamer Extraordinaire” for top performers, elite experts, and companies who are driven to maximize their impact.
Specializing in designing premium brand identities from start to finish, Johanna assists her clients in a large range of needs, with complete branding packages that include everything you need to show up in the world as your best. – These days, she is on a mission to help other driven founders fully capture their uniqueness, level up their legacy and embody their limitless potential.
Johanna gives listeners actionable tips on:
- [1:55] How most people treat their brand
- [3:45] What brand is and isn’t
- [8:20] The three step process you need when starting a brand
- [10:20] How to distinguish your brand
- [13:10] Creating a premium vs. commodity brand
- [16:55] How to translate this into your firm
- [18:10] Developing brand consistency
- [24:30] Having clarity in your brand message
- [28:10] Why you need to create an intentional brand
- [30:30] Why it’s hard to undo preconceived brand perceptions
- [39:30] Johanna’s book recommendation
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Connect with Johanna here:
Connect with me
Johanna: Hi there. My name is Johanna White and I am the founder of Design by Joe’s Studio, where I take people who are the best in the world at what they do and help them finally look as good as they are through high impact branding and design, so that they can magnetize more raving fan clients than they know what to do with and be as delightfully expensive as they deserve to be.
Karin: Oh, that was a great intro. Johanna, thank you so much for being here. This is one of my favorite topics, talking about branding and visuals and how, how and why basically. And so I’m excited to have this conversation. Um, the topic we’re gonna cover today and the title of the show is, Is your brand premium or commodity?
And I love this because a lot of times people are talking about, you know, why does branding matter? And um, and this just gets right to the heart of, um, why it matters and how it also kind of, sort of insinuates this idea of what happens if you don’t do it well. Right. Um, so, so that’s a great intro and I love this idea of.
Kind of creating these raving fans and kind of all, you know, all of the things that you mentioned in the, the intro. So let’s dig into this first just idea of branding and why people, why, why does it matter? Like why does it make a difference or how does it make a difference? I guess it’s a better question.
Johanna: Well, let’s, um, first, let me paint a picture in your mind of how most people treat their brand. Most people. businesses of many shapes and sizes. Act like their brand is just a form of Id like a passport that you need to get onto an airplane and yes. Oh my gosh, I love that business. Like you gotta have the idea, I gotta have the brand, whatever, make a logo.
Yes. Pick some colors, make a website, throw it up. I gotta have it. When in reality, it’s not your passport, it is the jet fuel that powers the plane that can carry you to your business goals. How? Like no matter how vast they may be, It’s, oh, that’s so cool. It’s the momentum. It’s not this like little thing that you go down to the drugstore and stand in front of a white wall and do what you gotta do.
Karin: literally don’t smile too much and show your ears. Don’t smile. This is
Johanna: no fun. Gotta be done. Yeah. Right. When in reality it is. It is What will carry you to your business goals.
Karin: Okay, so I wanna really dig in because I love the, I I’m gonna keep coming back to the question about how is it premium or commodity, because I really, which I didn’t answer yet.
Sorry about that. No, it’s ok. No, we have plenty of time. Um, but I, I feel like that that’s a great intro. Talking about kind of giving that visual of the difference between like just this sort of check checklist item that you do because you feel like you have to do it as compared to. That jet fuel that takes you, but how does that work?
And you know, I, I think there’s so many people that are really afraid of doing something different, and so, especially lawyers, so they just look at what the logo looks like and the branding and, you know, what is that guy doing down the street? So let’s just do more of that. Mm-hmm.
Johanna: Yeah. So how does it work to, how does it work?
Kind of, yeah. That is a, sorry. Yes. Let me try to actually answer that in something concise enough for your listeners to stay tuned in, cuz I literally just taught a like 90 minute masterclass last week on, on this. And, and that’s way too long for this. So the short, the short answer is that, Brand is what people think about you when you’re not in the room.
Yeah, brand is perceptions. It is more specifically in this case, value perception. And so how it works is a brand is you showing up in the world as your highest value self. Okay? And, and not making the world try to guess what makes you special. Why you’re better than your competitors, why they should wanna work with you or any of those things.
But instead, it answers those questions for them. It attracts your ideal clients who wanna pay what you’re worth. It repels or it should the clients that aren’t right for you. Yeah. And it becomes this visual validation that you are who you say you are. It’s, it’s like backing up your authority with.
Images because you can talk till you’re blue in the face. Yeah. But until you become a show at all, not just a know it all, like it’s not enough for you to know that you’re amazing at what you do. That you in this case, like can like close any case. You have the best defense rate. All of these things. Like it’s not enough for you to know why you’re freaking amazing at what you do.
Yeah. The world has to know it too for them to line up. And say, I wanna work with you. Here’s my dollars. Yes. Okay. So that is what to the brand does.
Karin: Sorry to jump over you there. Um, but to clarify, we’re not just talking about the logo, right. Let’s just kind of take one quick step back and define like exactly what we mean by the brand, because I mean, a logo is, you know, one little slice of the pie.
But, um, what are, what are, what are we defining the brand as?
Johanna: So your brand is really anything that, um, your potential clients can interact with. It is touch points. It is, it is everything from your message. Yep. That is not tangible to how you show up in a room, your personal brand. Also not necessarily tangible.
Yeah, it is, it is how you are presented in photos. It is how your website looks, but also how it reads, how it feels. It is. The full spectrum of creating an experience. It is. It is the emotion that you want people to feel when they buy your product or service, or a year later after they’ve used your product or service or what you want them to think when they see any one of what I would call your brand touchpoints or, or triggers.
So a logo is really, it’s just a tiny piece of the puzzle. It’s more like a mental trigger. Yeah. For them to. Feel that recognition like, oh, I know them and I know this about them and I love this about them, and I can’t wait for their latest service. Yes. But what created those thoughts in their brain was the work you did to intentionally build the brand.
Um, and put those perceptions out in the world through your message. Okay. Through your social media, through your, all the things.
Karin: That is such a good definition. Um, I’m definitely gonna highlight that when we go back in, you know, the show notes and all of that, because I feel like that was such a, I’ve had so many branding conversations over all the years, and that was such a very concise.
Uh, clear definition of the brand cuz I, I heard so many people use all these sort of, um, analogies like your brand is, you know, like a such and such. And then it’s like, what are you talking about? I don’t even understand what you’re explaining, but this idea that it’s the experience and these touchpoints are kind of an offshoot of the whole message.
And, you know, I’m not gonna reiterate everything you said cuz you said it so much better, but, If anybody needs to, they should back up a few seconds and re and listen to that part again, because it’s really important to understand that, um, there, there is this brand and this idea and this message that comes first, and then all of those pieces are an offshoot from that.
So with that in mind, where do you usually start with a brand new? Company, like a, somebody comes to you and they are, you know, they, they didn’t have this company or firm or, you know, whatever it is before, so it’s not like they’re just trying to make it better. They’re starting from scratch. Where, what’s, what’s step one?
Johanna: Well, I like to take my clients through a, a three step process that I call step one is know your value. Step two is show your value, and step three is add more value. So, oh. Step one is really about, um, getting to the core of your why, of what makes you the best at what you do. It might consist of some messaging sessions.
Yeah. Um, some sessions I like to call content mining where the diamonds of what makes you amazing are already inside of you. But it’s not always easy for a business owner to articulate that. Yes. Yeah. They, they just hope that people see them and get it, which isn’t the case. No. Cause human brains are lazy.
Right. So, well,
Karin: the other thing I find is that, um, lawyers have a very specific way of writing and they, um, also have a specific way of kind of introducing themselves and presenting the, their, their work, especially when they talk about. The kinds of cases they’ve done and whatever, that’s not necessarily what your potential client wants to read.
Like that may be some part of it down the road, but that’s not your first impression. And so it’s really hard sometimes to have those conversations where, um, your messaging needs to. Not read like a legal document, you know, it needs to read very differently. And, you know, this is, this is an exercise in marketing, not an exercise, in presenting your legal, um, expertise.
You know, so that’ll, you know, it may be that you have this understanding of how to write a certain thing, but it’s a totally different way of writing than messaging and branding is.
Johanna: Yep. So it’s like step one is about knowing your value, it’s distilling all of that. Yeah. Because in your head, that is what makes you amazing at what you do.
But Joe Smith on the street. Like that doesn’t immediately tell him how you are gonna solve his biggest problem. That’s friend of mine. And by the way, you’ve got about two seconds to do that. Exactly. So it’s, it’s that process of clarifying and distilling. And the cool thing about it is when you build a brand on a foundation of knowing your why and what and who, um, not only does it make it so that you now are ready to show that value through your visuals and you know what the visuals need to represent, you know what?
What picture to create, because you have this story, you’re ready to tell, but also when you know your value, you know your value. Yes. And your confidence goes up through the roof. Yeah. Because now you can clearly concisely know like, this is why they need to work with me more than anyone else. You can say it in two sentences and you don’t have to be nervous walking into a room of 10 other people who might technically do the same thing that you do.
Slightly different, right. Because you know like, Yeah. This is what makes me great at what I do and I know how to communicate that.
Karin: I love that because, um, I just had this light bulb moment when you were describing that of, a lot of times when we first start working with a client, they have this other competitor.
Or maybe it’s a website they’ve seen somewhere that does a similar kind of law or whatever, but they come in with, they’ve been inspired by some, somebody, you know, some other competitor website and they are. Totally zoned in on, I basically want this. And once we go through this process of exactly what you described, now they have their own language around what’s makes them different.
All of a sudden they look at that and they’re like, well, that’s not quite right for me anymore. And they don’t feel like they have to just, um, copy somebody else’s idea and somebody else’s message because now they have their own and it’s so much better because the ones. Who do just end up copying some, some other website, some other message, some other marketing plan that they’ve seen somewhere else.
It never works. It, it just, it, it kind of resonates fakeness and people really pick up on that. Um, so that kind of leads to the next my, one of my next favorite topics, which is what other kinds of mistakes do you see? Um, and kind of tying in this idea of whether. Your brand is premium or commodity, what happens and how does a brand end up kind of as a commodity where you’ve got this brand and you just don’t really see why there’s any value there?
You don’t really get it. You feel like, eh, it doesn’t matter. Um, how, how does
Johanna: that happen?
Yeah, well, let me answer first the premium versus a commodity question clearly, because I’ve accidentally been teasing that, bouncing around. I am not trying to skirt on the witness stand, I promise. Um, what, what I have found throughout the years, I’ve been, um, doing this for a decade with my clients and what I have found when it comes to creating a premium or even a luxury brand versus.
Someone being perceived as a commodity is that our brain takes two things and translates them as premium or luxury, and those two things are intentionality and consistency. I love this. It’s not necessarily a specific aesthetic. It’s not necessarily gold or marble or black and white. It is, yeah, that you have been very intentional about that.
Step one, knowing your value, getting to the heart of your message, and now everything that you’re working on in your visual brand. Has a reason. Great design. Always has a reason and it shows its work and oh, so
Karin: I love that so much. I can’t even tell you. I’m picturing so many great brands. Let’s just kind of throw some obvious ones out there like Apple, but also like when, when I’ve gone to like a really great hotel or resort or something, you see all these little details that someone had to.
Spend time deciding and being very intentional about how we are going to, uh, put our logo in the ice cube or whatever it might be. That’s, oh, if someone had, I’ve, I’ve never even seen that. I just totally made that up. Oh
Johanna: no. There’s an in, in my town that does that with, oh my
Karin: gosh, the old fashion. I just didn’t, I invented that and, and, but somehow it just like plopped in my brain.
But it’s little things like that, like that doesn’t just happen, you know, someone has to decide. I wonder if there’s a way to get our logo in the ice cube. And then someone is drinking that drink and they look down and they’re like, oh my gosh, look at this cool logo that’s in the ice cube. And it’s those moments like that where, You are having you as the potential client or the customer, whoever is having this moment where you realize how intentional and detailed that brand is being.
Same with Apple. There’s all these little places where, you know, you get this sticker for the phone in, you know, and it’s like, Any other company, why would I want a sticker for your company to put? But Apple, my kids love that stuff. Yeah, yeah, exactly. I, so I love that idea of being very intentional and thoughtful with the details of your brand.
Johanna: I like to think of that as the Disney effect. Yes. Like, I don’t know if you and your kids are a fan of Disney. Some parents love it. Some parents are like, that is a nightmare weekend from hell that I never wanna go through. But
Karin: I, I have mixed feelings about it. Like I, I’m somewhere in the
Johanna: middle. But if you ever get a chance to go just by yourself without your kids, as an artist, it is fun to walk around and soak in and notice even on the way to a ride, like I can wait two hours for the avatar ride and I’m enjoying every moment of it.
Yes. Yeah, one. Cuz I don’t have a screaming kid saying I gotta go potty. But you, because you look and every single part of this walkway has been designed to be part of the experience and that is what a great brand does. Like Yeah. They transport you from your world into their magical world. Yes. That feels somehow like everything you ever wanted.
Yeah. And. It’s on and it’s,
Karin: everything’s everything. You perfect. Yes. Like even the shrubs are like mickey heads. I mean like every little thing, even the ice cream bars are shaped like Mickey. Yeah. You know, all those tiny little things.
And um, how you translate this for your own firm. Cause obviously you’re not gonna change the.
Johanna: Call the imagineers to redesign your,
Karin: your law firm. Kinda expensive. Um, but there, there are ways that you would translate this into the business. Like make sure obviously, that you’re using your logo, your brand, everywhere, you can make sure you have standards in terms of like your colors and fonts. The fonts, I feel like are a really big deal because for most law firms, a lot of what you do is a lot of text, and so, mm-hmm.
Doing really minor changes in your fonts and, and finding something that’s just slightly noticeably different. And, um, on brand as much as you know, I’m sure you love that phrase and hear it all the time. Um, it’s all those little things that stand out and like you, you were describing, they, they give a different.
Memorable experience to those clients. Um, so I interrupted you, you were talking about intentionality and then what’s the other part that there’s the two, um, reasons that brands become, did you say premium or luxury? Was it was intentionality and
And so consistency is actually what you just mentioned.
Your brand is only as good as how you use it, where you use it. How often and how much you use it. So you can get a great team and design a killer brand and then do nothing with it besides put a logo on your website. Yes. And have a little booklet somewhere that says, these are our three brand colors or, right.
Or you can do what she just mentioned and put it everywhere. Yeah. And that is the consistency side of things like. And it goes beyond where your logo goes. Yeah. It goes into how do you dress for client interactions? How do your employees answer the phone? Yeah. What is in your customer service emails? If someone sends you an angry rant, how does your team respond?
Yeah. Each one of those things is actually a continued touchpoint, like back to Disney. Every person greets you with a smile, and it’s a magical day, and the people are part of the experience. The, the words are part of the experience. Like everything, what you say is part of your brand experience. Yeah. And that’s where the first part comes in, the intentionality.
So it, a logo is just a piece of your brand, but we keep talking about it. So let’s use that as, as something to say, how can it be intentional, right? Yeah. Yeah. Um, so when it comes to your logo, why does it look like that? Yes. Is there a reason behind it? Is it related? To the message you are sharing? Yeah. Or did you just find a designer somewhere and say, this is my name.
This is my first name, this is my last name. And also I like dogs and I like purple. Could you please make me logo that’s gonna change the world and help me become a brand name and law?
Karin: I just had someone I worked with that that wanted purple and I was like, really?
Johanna: But if you come to me and you, you tell me that, but you tell me like, This reason why we’re gonna talk about it.
Yes. But most of the time when someone comes and says, so I need a A logo? Yeah. I go, I think actually, let’s talk. You probably need a brand. Yes. And we’re gonna start with crafting your message, telling your story, and then from that message, we’re going to decide that you are. A woman owned law firm in a sea of male owned law firms.
Yes. And we’re going to choose these specific colors. Yep. So that you look feminine, but still tough. Yep. We’re going to use this specific font for the logo that has a very minimal aesthetic, but it has slightly rounded corners so that it’s like feisty, but still But feminine. Yeah. A feminine yes. And oh, we’re going to use.
Yellow and black instead of something like pink or sage or the normal feminine colors. Because yes, if you’re going to like speak at conferences or all of these women in business things like, how can you stand out in that sea? How can you stand out in this? And, and then what’s the meaning behind it? Like, The name might matter.
It might have something to do with your history or it might have something to do with the way you serve clients. Yes. And And then we are going to decide on the imagery that’s in that logo. Yeah. Based on carrying that out. And a logo is certainly not all of a brand, but it can be a great. Uh, conversation starter Yes.
Can be a great icebreaker. Yep. It, it shouldn’t make people scratch their head and be like, it’s a big
Karin: I have no idea. Yeah. I’m just saying why it’s a big hair. Uh, I wanna tell you a great story, um, that ties all of this in because I feel like it, um, it just kind of is a great. Illustration of everything you’re describing.
So I have a client who is on the East coast and he does criminal defense, so a lot of DUIs, drug stuff, but he was working for a bigger firm before and so he had some experience like kind of seeing who the clients were and kind of recognizing who it was that was coming in and what those problems were.
So he realized that the people who actually were paying and the people who actually reached out and were doing the work of hiring him, Were the mothers. So a lot of times it was these sort of college-aged kids that got in trouble, but the ones who were paying and the ones who cared were their mothers.
So he came to me and said, um, what I actually am inspired by is the branding of Elizabeth Warren. So at this, at this point, she was running for president, and so she had this great website, great branding, and clearly had spent. A lot of money on it. You know, she probably had some, um, amazing, uh, agency that had spent months and months, and so he looked at that and he’s like, I’m just gonna dovetail on that and recognize that she’s speaking to the same people I’m speaking to and I’m gonna.
Kind of run with that. Not in a copycat way, but in a way that that branding also speaks to the same people I’m trying to talk to. And so I use that example all the time because you need to think about not just how you’re trying to present yourself as a lawyer and that it, you know, I need to use these colors that I see in law books.
That’s not what resonates with people. You need to think about who you’re talking to. And so he ended up with kind of this really cool kind of medium blues and greens. If he had used very masculine, harsh colors, he probably would’ve still got clients. But there’s this subtle communication that like, I really know where you’re coming from.
I really understand. Who you are and I’m gonna speak to you in language and visuals in a way that some other firms aren’t. And it totally worked. I mean, he’s killing it. It’s because he really gets that. He’s not talking to, um, I have some other criminal defense attorneys who are speaking directly to the person who’s like in.
Walking out of jail, they just got arrested and their message is talking to them. This is not, he’s not talking to them. He’s having a totally different kind of language and, and conversation and, um, it’s, I, I just thought it was so smart and such a great illustration of, okay.
Think about, um, how to talk to the people you’re really trying to get to.
Johanna: Yep. That’s a really important part of the, the first step of like, knowing your value is the who. Yes. Yeah, it’s the what and the who, like what do you do better than anyone else? And who do you do it for? Yes. Like who do you really do it for? Like you said, right? Yeah. Who’s the one hiring you and that’s who you need to speak to, right?
Because when you can clarify your message to, um, well, this ties into the, the title of it. So people pay, uh, commodity prices for services, but they pay premium prices for solutions. Oh, and they
Karin: pay. Oh, I love that. I wanna reiterate, I wanna just underline that for a minute. So if you feel challenged by your rates and all of that stuff, it’s probably because you’re being perceived as a commodity.
So what you were saying is people pay commodity prices. I’m sorry, can you re, can you restate that? Cause I’m gonna, I’m gonna buble it.
Johanna: People pay commodity prices for services. But they pay premium prices for solutions. Yes. And then I like to take it a step farther and say, and they pay luxury prices for experience.
Oh, totally, totally. Yes. When you want to take it up the next notch, like your first question was, um, what’s the difference between being perceived as commodity versus luxury? And I have a great story for how this worked in my brand. In Oh yeah. If you want it, like Yes, of course time. Yeah. Um, but also we were asking why does it matter?
Why do they care? Right? Yeah. Like who the heck cares if your brand is perceived as a commodity? This is why. Okay. Because what you can charge is directly related to how people perceive your value in the market. And so if they see that you’re selling services well, so is everybody else. Yeah. But if you are selling a solution to the biggest problem in their life right now, they wanna talk to you.
Yes, and it’s no longer about the money. It’s about like the answers solve this for, it’s about the answers. Yeah. Yeah. And then, then there’s the next level of like, you’re not solving a problem and there’s not a pain. It’s just this great desire. That you’re speaking to with providing these experiences, like when you walk in the Apple store and Yes.
Everything is curated in Pristine and white or when you go in the G Disney store. Yeah. Or Disney.
Karin: Yeah. I feel like Disney is a great example because it, when you think about that experience, it’s clearly part of this whole brand and you really can’t discount that when you know, a lot of people say, oh, the GAP logo doesn’t.
Uh, matter, you know, or, or whatever the case might be. I’ve had, I’ve had arguments with lawyers about the, the logo not mattering, no, doesn’t matter. But when you think about Disney and that whole experience and you realize how small of a piece of that experience, the logo is uhhuh. That’s what we’re talking about.
But at the same time, the logo does matter. The logo is playful and perfect, and
Johanna: kind of it’s the mousers that end up on every, every piece of their food and bushes like you were saying. Exactly.
Karin: Exactly. Yeah. Exactly, and so that’s important because it’s reminding you of that brand. Mm-hmm. It’s reminding you that you’re there having that experience and you know the experience is because they were intentional and wanted you to do these things in a certain way.
But the logo is not the whole thing. The logo is just kind of reminding you. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Okay. All right. So what other kinds of mistakes do you see people make where they end up kind of on that whole commodity side of things?
Johanna: Well, I would say the first mistake that people make is, um, not even getting started in creating an intentional brand.
Yeah. They, um, they think I can wait. I’m just gonna get rolling. I’m just gonna throw something up there. And what they don’t realize is that branding is about perceptions. And so branding is either happening by you on purpose or to you on accident. Oh, that’s so good. They, so they just jump in. Start business, take whatever.
Okay. Could you make me this pdf? Okay. Could you throw together a quick website? Okay. Could you do this? Okay. Could you start a social media page? Um, I’m gonna start a podcast. Oh. Quick, like, Find somebody to make a quick cover and before they know it, they look around and they realize that their visual brand has happened completely by default.
Yes. Instead by design. And, and it’s just a mess. It’s a mess. And so that whole consistency thing we were talking about earlier, the reason that beyond just being perceived as premium consistency is important because you are. Getting embedded in the minds of your potential clients every single time you show up the same way.
Yeah. And their brain goes, oh, that’s them. I remember them. I love them. Yep. But every time you show up and look totally different, it’s like starting over. Yeah. You are just starting from scratch. You’re just adding to the noise that’s already out there. Yeah. And so,
Karin: yeah. And you’re discounting your own value too, to come back to that beginning idea of like, knowing your value.
You’re saying, I’m not really sure, maybe I’m orange today, maybe I’m green. Like, you know, like you’re, you’re confusing them, but you’re also saying you’re, you’re feeling insecure.
Johanna: Yeah, true. But yeah, for sure. So yeah, it’s that, um, it’s that scattered effect. And so they, The mistake is they thought they could wait to start.
Yes, getting intentional or to work with someone. If they are not doing their brand themselves, they thought they could wait to work with someone. I can’t tell you how many times someone has reached out to me and then said, ah, I’m like, I don’t know if I wanna pay that yet. I think I’m just gonna see what happens in any year.
Let’s work together. I’ll get back.
Karin: Yes, but it’s, yes. This happens all the time to me too. And then they’re like, I regret it so
Johanna: much because two reasons.
One, it’s much harder to undo perceptions that have already been created. So if people are starting to think you are. Uh, lazy or messy or sloppy, like those are harder to undo poor Google reviews.
Harder to undo Yep. Than starting off on a firm foundation. So it’s like harder to scrub and recreate perceptions than it is to get intentional about it at first. So that’s one reason. Yeah. And then, um, it’s also that you are still spending time, energy, money on. Bits of branding, but they’re not building a foundation that you can use.
To leverage that, like we’re talking about for premium and for rockstar status later. Yes. You’re just basically like chucking bricks out in a field in different directions
Karin: and in the end I feel like you end up, first of all, you end up spending more time because you don’t have these things defined and you’re doing spending more time for less quality.
So it’s one of those, it’s just like an investment, you know, you are just investing in the quality in the beginning. Um, I’m a huge fan of Apple and. Part of the reason is because I know that my upfront cost as compared to other computers will be higher, but it’s gonna last 10 times longer, and my level of frustration over the life of that device is gonna be way less.
So I’m investing in the long term happiness of my own sanity. Um, Along with the fact that I know that, you know, it’s just gonna last longer. So your brand is kind of like that. Like put the time in, in the beginning. Because here’s the other thing, like in theory, if you are, you know, creating this law firm and you’re doing well and things are going great, you shouldn’t have time to do this in six months or a year, you should be so busy or even even more busy, like, let’s.
Not say, you know, you go crazy, but you start to grow. You should, your time is now more valuable in a year. And so let’s say this requires 10 hours of your time. Now that 10 hours of your time in a year is gonna be worth more because you should have more business, more clients. Your rate should have gone up.
Um, so you’re now, it’s now so much more expensive. And then, For all the reasons you described, now you have to undo all this mess that you created in the year that you waited. So it’s just such a bad idea, like don’t do that. Don’t wait. Just start. Yeah. Seriously do it right. Do it right the first time.
Johanna: Find someone who can help you either if you’ve decided, like initially I do wanna DIY some of this work. Yes, it’s still worth the time to find a professional to help you create a strategy in a roadmap. And yes, make sure that those bricks that you’re gonna be spending your time and energy on are. Like good, solid, forming the solid road that you’re gonna be able to build on later rather than a year down the road.
You go to them and they have to tear it all up and you’re like, oh gosh, man. All that work wasted. Yeah.
Karin: I’m picturing like a cute little cottage by the beach where like it’s good location, you’ve got some good solid foundations, and then maybe down the road you do wanna add on once you’ve got some more money, but you don’t just get like a shack in the middle of.
Like a ghetto. You wanna like have some good solid foundation somewhere where there’s some, some good stuff that you’re doing initially, like the good, you’re getting some good messaging for sure. And solid understanding of like your step one, the finding your value and really getting that defined so that, so that you’re not having to undo all this stuff a year from now or five years or however,
Johanna: however, however many years.
And also, I would say another mistake that people make, if you don’t mind me adding another one in there. Yeah. Because
Karin: is, yeah. I love, I love talking about mistakes
Johanna: when, when it comes to their brand, they think it’s set it and forget it. It’s one in,
Karin: oh, that’s a good one. Build a brand.
Johanna: Yes. Dust off my hands, walk away.
This is gonna be forever. But a brand should evolve with you. It’s meant to do that. Yeah. Like large, successful companies update their brand every three to five years. Yes. And it may not be a major shift, might be minimally visible to you, or it might be some of the big ones like you see it happen, but it’s very important each time because they check in on their strategy.
They make sure they’re still in tune with their client base. Are we still serving them in the way that they wanna be served? Are we still reaching the new part of the generations that are entering the market? Like where are we at and do we need to pivot to represent ourselves better to that? And they check in because brands like my living room, left unattended 10 for
Yes. And they look stale. And outdated. Yes. And then all of a sudden you’re not really speaking to, I like the idea of the kind of decor you’re not really speaking to, like what you even like anymore. And so I think will
Johanna: change. Yes. The brand should too.
Karin: Exactly. And your customers or clients do for sure.
Yes. And so I think, you know, when you’re describing how they, you know, go through that process of figuring out are we kind of meeting their needs? The answer is usually not quite, you know, like we’re maybe 70, 80% there, but that difference between that 20 or 30% adjustment, and sometimes these tweaks seem to the outside person, so minor, like they’re kind of refining the logo.
It looks very similar, but. You know, they change the font to a slightly more rounded version or something like that. But there’s so many reasons behind all of that. And they realize, okay, um, we’re gonna ch make these changes because, and then they fill in that blank. Like there’s, they don’t just say, okay, we’ve decided that this is the trendy font for the year, so we’re gonna go with that.
Johanna: This is this year’s color, so we’re gonna ship. And, and in many cases the pivot
Karin: is, and then next year. Yeah, exactly.
Johanna: Wait, let’s go back to that consistency thing we were talking about. Yeah. Yes, exactly. In many cases, the pivot is more around like checking in with their messaging, either adding to it on the website, like is the homepage, um, Something that is drawing people in beyond that first two seconds.
Does it make them wanna scroll? Does it make them wanna click work with me right now? Yeah. And if not, it’s time to tweak it. Yeah. Is our one liner compelling still to the people we’re working with? Yeah. Have we added something amazing and we’re not talking about it cuz we didn’t bother to update. Our services section.
Right. And like when the, the most common complaint I hear people say when they come to me and they say, I’ve got this great website, I should love it. But I look at it and I feel me? Yeah. And the person is, it just doesn’t represent me. Yeah. It doesn’t truly capture the essence of what my clients are buying into, why they wanna work with me and my company.
Karin: Yeah. That is. And so, That is it. That is like at the core of it. Um. You should absolutely love it. And you should be getting comments about your website, uh, pretty regularly, saying, oh my gosh. Uh, and it, and for me it’s things like, I just love your website. I’m not really quite sure why. And I’m like, that’s perfect.
That’s exactly it. Because that means I’m like getting at you kind of like under your skin in sort of like very psychological ways. Um, that’s, that’s the perfect kind of message for me. I read one of your blog posts, it was so good. But then I went to your website and I just love everything about it and I don’t know what it is.
I’m like, yes, that’s awesome, because I know what it is. I spend a lot of time on it. Yeah.
Johanna: I love it when people go to my website and then send me an email and say, I have to work with you. I saw your website, I saw your brand. I saw those. Red bottom Boutons on there. And I just knew that you get me. Yep. And that you get luxury and you get branding and we need to work together starting right now.
And that’s what, that’s it. That’s what it should do. Like it should be your business partner, it should be your sales partner. Yes. It should close clients for you while you sleep. It should not be just like we mentioned at the very, very beginning. It should not be met and it should not be an ID that’s out there.
Good enough. It’s up. Someone says, I need this. Yes, yes. Yeah, it should be doing the work for you.
Karin: Exactly that jet fuel you talked about way in the beginning. Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay, it is time for the book review. Um, so I know you have a good one and, uh, I’m not gonna do a big intro other than to say that, um, if you haven’t already checked out, we’ve got this cool library of all the books that our guests.
Recommend gives you some great inspiration for business books and on all the different topics that our guests are talking about. Um,
so Johanna, what is the book that you wanna recommend and add to the library today?
Johanna: So the book that I wanna recommend is called Start by John aov. The subtitle is Punch Fear in the Face, escape Average, and Do Work That Matters.
Oh, I love this. Take your life from average to awesome and, oh, this
Karin: ties in so perfectly with this idea of commodity or premium. I, okay. So go ahead, tell us, tell us about, um, why, why you
Johanna: like the book. But the main reason I wanna recommend it for this audience is because of the first problem we talked about, which is that getting started is often the hardest part.
Yes, and it can feel overwhelming. That is why like most people aren’t ignorant of this fact, and they don’t necessarily ignore their brand because they don’t think it’s important. It’s more because it feels like this big scary monster that they’re gonna have to deal with and they’d like to just put it off a while longer.
And so this book, this book that feels easier is, is the antidote to that? Yes. Like the importance of just taking the first step and, yes. And like for you, the first step might be calling someone like, uh, Karin or me and asking if we have any services that can evaluate your brand and tell you where you need to go first.
Because like, yes, that is that luxury experience that I like to provide for my clients is, yep. Curating. Yeah. You don’t need to worry about that big, scary monster. Yep. I’m gonna cut it up into bite size pieces and serve it to you one at a time and we’re gonna deal with it together. Exactly. And so there are, there are ways to start to make that way less scary.
Karin: I love that. Um, because, uh, for one thing, I know you’re probably the same as me. I can take a look at a website and within about four seconds, I have a list in my head of, okay, here’s all the things where there are room for improvement. So instead of saying like, oh my gosh, you’re doing this wrong, you’re doing that wrong.
Oh my gosh, there’s so much potential we could do. So much better than where you’re at now. But the other thought that I had while you were describing that is this is also, uh, the way that, that these law firms should be thinking about their own client experience. They should recognize that, uh, meeting with a lawyer is.
Oftentimes not something people do on the regular and sometimes super in a super stressful or major moment of their life, and so they’re not familiar with it. It’s kind of overwhelming, like the same thing that we’re all describing. So take this idea of how you can take that off their plate and make that experience.
Cuz then we’re taking it to that third level you were describing. Yeah. It’s not just premium. Now you’re at that luxury experience kind of. Uh, experience. Experience, but now you are, now it’s not about your price anymore because now you are providing this peace of mind, you’re giving them, um, just they don’t have to think it through.
And anywhere in my life where I’ve had that, where they’re taking something off my shoulders that I don’t even totally understand, yes. But I know they’re doing a great job. That’s, um, that’s where I’m gonna stay loyal and committed to that. Service or that person or whatever that might be. So, um, in terms of like thinking about starting your brand, but also thinking about how to translate that kind of experience into your law firm, I think those are two super important
I love that. And can I tag on there, since you were talking about. Um, you know, creating that experience. One of the things that a brand does for you is it builds trust and allows people to come to you because you are the expert. And in law this is especially important. Like they shouldn’t need to go research in the library, five hours on Google for 10, right?
And then find a specific lawyer and tell them exactly what they need you to say in court. They should, should be able to see your website, see your social media, see your ads, immediately, feel that trust because of your brand and simply walk in and say, I need help. Here’s what’s happening. And then put themselves in your hand, which is Yep.
Why your brand matters. Especially in this industry. Yeah,
Karin: exactly. Yeah, cuz it’s just so important. Like these things that you’re working with those clients on are so important that they need to. Trust, like you’re saying, that you can handle that and they, they don’t have to micromanage your work and all, and all of that stuff.
Uh, so Johanna, what is one big takeaway that you’d like people to get from this episode?
Johanna: Woo. We talked about lots of fun things, but I think, I think we’ll circle back to kind of the, the, the title and just say that. One, when it comes to your brand, it’s important to be intentional. It matters. It’s not because it’s that passport and you gotta do it, it’s because you are creating the thrust and the momentum.
Yes. And so getting intentional, it’s something to get excited about. I want you to take away that you can get excited because you have your finger on the lever Yes. Of something very powerful. Yes. And that it is like so worth it. To lean into that and see how it can shoot your business into. Everywhere you wanna
And I just wanted to tag on and add kind of a subnote related to the book too, is that you have your finger on the lever, but you have to push it. You have to do it. You have to start. You can’t just sit there and think, okay, the button’s there. I’m just gonna sit that, you know, maybe next Tuesday, maybe six months from now,
Johanna: put it on.
I’m gonna put that on my calendar.
Karin: Press that button. No, you have to push it. And if you need help with that, read this book. We will tag, uh, link the book on the show notes and everything. But, um, it’s up to you and, you know, if you’re challenged with your pricing, challenged with feeling like your website, I isn’t kind of doing anything that’s a branding issue.
And so, you know, kind of come back to that and recognize that you have the control to fix that
Johanna: too. Yep. You absolutely do. Awesome. I like to, I like to tell my clients that what you believe matters. Yes, but what you actually do about what you believe matters way more. Yes. And you pushing that button on leveraging your brand, is you doing something about the fact that you believe you are capable of so much more impact than you’re currently having in
Yes. I love that. Coming back to that step one, knowing your value, realizing that, okay, my brand isn’t quite, Performing at the level I expect, and I expect my value to be X and I’m not there. And so I need to do something about that. And so push the button. Push, push the button. Push button.
Awesome. Johanna White is a visual branding strategist at Design by Joe’s Studio. Thank you so much for this awesome conversation. I feel like it was really motivating. I was like, Go. You could do it. It’s gonna be awesome.
Johanna: It was really fun. My, my clients joke that I’m always their professional hype woman, so I think I can’t help.
But I love that I bring that to every conversation. Like, I believe in you so much that you were put in this world to do something absolutely incredible. Yes. I wanna help you build the brand that gets you to that place.
Karin: Oh, I love that. Okay. That’s a perfect place to, to stop. Thank you so much
Johanna: for being here.
Thank you for having me.