stand out in a saturated market

I recently received an email from a follower of Braid who admitted to wanting a career path very similar to well, what we do here at Braid. And then she said this:

“I can’t do that, you [Braid] are already doing that.”

She followed up by asking for a no-nonsense response to how you make it in a saturated market where it feels like everyone is doing the thing you want to be doing.

Whether you’re a coach, photographer, painter, marketer, leadership consultant – or even a whole team of people working toward a common goal – it can be easy to question whether you’re adding to the noise or actually contributing something special with your services and talent.

The feel-good response to this self doubt would be: “Only you can combine your personal + professional experience to offer something special (like a unique snowflake!) that nobody else can”

And while there’s truth to that sentiment, I can think of far more practical and straight-forward insights that will help you cut through the noise and stand out among your competitors. And that’s what I want to share with you today.


If you follow Braid Creative, it’s probably because you value how branding and marketing help grow your business. And yes, they’re totally necessary! But what’s even more crucial than branding what you want to be known for is working toward becoming the best at what you offer.

Yes, we’re all unique snowflakes, but the momentum comes from rolling that snowball up that hill! Then you see what sticks, what’s working for you, and what you can really start to build.

We all want to be different and “brand” what we do best, but are the hours and attention you’re putting in focused on creating what you want to be known for?

create what you want to be known for

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Outliers, says that it takes 10,000 hours of intentional and deliberate practice to be an expert or leader in your industry. So don’t be so concerned about what everyone else around you is doing – start putting in the time.

get focused


The world is a very big place and there is enough work for all of us. Even here at Braid Creative, there is no way we could meet the demands of every single person who needs branding. Branding itself can be a pretty elusive word that we’re constantly defining in order to attract the best fit for the work we do.

If you can get incredibly clear about what you do (and don’t do) and what your customers can expect along the way, then you’re going to be able to serve the people who very specifically need exactly what you offer.

Fit matters for the clients you attract. It’s not just what you deliver, it's your philosophy and how you work together. If specializing on a niche is unrealistic for what you offer – then “fit” can help you narrow in on who you work best with.


This is where our expertise (that would be branding) comes into the equation. There’s a lot of pressure to be completely, wildly different from everyone else to cut through all the clutter – and that’s just not true. You don’t have to be one-of-a-kind to stand out. You just have to be able to articulate what you do and for whom.

be clear about what you do

When you clearly articulate through your messaging, design, photography, tone – both your practicality and purposefulness – you will absolutely stand out from the competition. You will attract the people you’re for and repel the ones who might be best served by someone else.

Don’t take for granted the impression a cohesive brand makes. From your website to your storefront to your social media feed – your dream customer is smarter than you think, and they’re seeking too – not just for the “stand-outs” but for the simple, clear, confident message that helps them really decide where their dollars go.

Need more ideas on how to articulate your brand to stand out?

Download this PDF: 7 Ways to Brand You and What You Do


Your Brand’s First Impression is the Icing on a Cake | Braid Creative

branding your outer layer

One of the first cakes I can remember eating was a spongy Betty Crocker lemon cake with chocolate icing at my grandma’s house. Today my favorite kind of cake is a cuppie called the Boom Boom Pow from a local cupcake and coffee shop made with vanilla cake, chocolate icing, a dollop of caramel, and flaky sea salt sprinkled on top. For some reason I especially love how the icing doesn’t touch the edges of the paper – it means no trace of icing gets left behind and misses consumption!

I want you to think of your brand as a whole cake. The center of your cake—the sponge-y part—is the core of your brand and business vision and made up of ingredients like:

  • what you want to be known for,
  • your expertise,
  • your purpose,
  • your dream clients,
  • and what you deliver!

The more specific, clear, and intentional you can get about these ingredients, the more you will create these “fully baked” inside layers of your brand. Think of it as the difference between making a moist, fluffy, perfectly layered cake versus an underbaked, messy, collapsing one. Brand clarity and an articulate business vision is essential, but unfortunately, it’s not enough.

your brand is like a cake

What’s a cake without icing? That outer layer, the icing, is how you actually show up with your brand positioning, messaging, voice, style, look, and feel. The icing is how you attract and inspire your dream customers – so it should be consistent, irresistible and sprinkled with clues that let them know what they’re promised to get on the inside if they take a bite.

how to brand your business

Let me put down the cake metaphor for just a moment, but I do want you to keep that mindset of “inside layers / outside impression” as I share some specific ways your cake brand shows up in the world:

how to create a personal brand


We officially live in a time and place where if you don’t have a website you need one. Think of your website as your online storefront. And it needs to communicate who you are, the work you do, and for whom in an instant. Your brand will show up on your website with things like your name, logo, colors, photography, typography, along with messaging pieces from your tagline to your about me page.

Try this: Look at your website through the lens of your dream customer: Is it clear or maybe a little confusing at first glance who you are and what you offer? And does it feel like you? Does your website reflect who you are and the work you do or does something feel off?


Whether you’re a solopreneur, a brick-and-mortar shop owner, or an organization, your brand lives in your personal style, on your business card, stationery, brochures, and building signage. And don’t forget that your team is a reflection of your brand too! Does their style and attitude reflect what you stand for and what you want your business to be known for?

Take stock: grab a pen and paper and list out all the physical places your brand shows up. Is it consistent?


From your avatar image, to your short 140 word bio, to the content you share – social media has become a primary entry-point for your potential customers and clients – so you gotta make sure you’re making the first impression you want to have on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

On which social media platforms are you sharing your expertise? Is it consistent from platform to platform? Which social media channels have more traction? Why do you think that is?

Let’s zoom out a little. Between your website, your social media presence, and how your brand shows up in-person does everything feel cohesive and clear? Does it feel like you? Does it articulate what you’re really wanting to say in an instance?

If the answer to any of those seemingly rhetorical questions is “no,” you might be having the opposite of an “aha” moment.

It’s okay. Don’t freak out. You can test out small ways to improve your brand cake inside and out.

Hopefully this is just an icing issue. If the problem is in your core (that would be your business vision – your purpose, what you want to be known for, and how your dream customers hire you) then you’ve got some work to do.*

(*Pssstt… think the problem might be in your cake batter? Check out our free eBook: 7 Ways to Brand You and The Work You Do)

But if the problem is just in your icing here’s what you’ll want to do next:

  1. Identify what you want your brand to look like – hop on Pinterest (you can even use our boards as a starting point for inspiration) and begin pinning images you like the look and feel of. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be logos or branding materials – it can be photography, interiors, magazines, textiles, or even food!
  2. Hire a designer & a copywriter – it’s ideal to hire someone who can strategically design the icing (the outward facing parts of your brand people see online and offline—like your website, business cards, and signage) so it creates a reliable expectation as to what the cake underneath will be. And when it comes to copy, a concise tagline and clear brand story will marry your business vision with the outer layer of your brand into one tasty package.
  3. Be consistent – maintaining a brand reputation takes daily practice and vigilance. In other words, you want to nail your cake recipe and show up to every single party with the cake you’re known for.

Sign up for our newsletter for weekly branding tips, actions, and advice:

create a brand


7 Ways to Brand You + What You Do for Creative Business Owners

how to brand yourself

Branding can mean a lot of different things – for us, it’s the foundation of your business. It’s how you blend who you are into the work you do and want to be known for. It’s attracting dream customers by sharing your expertise. It’s having a creative process that you and your customers can rely on. Below are seven ways you can brand you and the work you do. These are excerpts from our 50-page eBook available for free.

DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK for tips, exercises, scripts, and worksheets

7 ways to establish your personal brand

1. Get clear on what you want to be known for

The word “expert” might conjure up out-of-reach ideals – speaking at a TED talk, impressive certifications, credentials, and awards, never ever ever working from your kitchen table in yoga pants and surrounded by empty mugs. But over here, we believe branding yourself as an expert begins with getting clear on what you want to be known for.

how ot brand yourself

If you’re only branding yourself as a service-for-hire, then you’re only sharing half the picture of the creative expert you are (or want to become).

2. Create the work you actually want to be doing

If you could only sell one thing, what would it be? If you could stop selling one thing, what would you stop? You may offer lots of ways to hire or buy you. However, if you keep selling the stuff that you think will get you hired, but doesn’t exactly float your own creative boat, you could be setting yourself up to create a boring, unfulfilling day job of your own making—except now you have no one to blame but the boss.

3. Narrow in on your dream client

Imagine your dream client. They may be someone you’ve worked with in the past - or just the type you’d like to work with in the future. How real can you make them? The more specific you can get, the more you can narrow in on your tribe, and the more “psychic” you’ll feel when working with their needs and wants.

What job does your dream client work?
What are some of their personality traits and quirks?
What are they stressed out about? What worries them or keeps them stuck?
What are they proud of?
Who do they trust?
What do they value?
How does your work help them? What problem do you solve for them?

4. Define your style and point-of-view

Your process is what’s going to reassure your client they’ll get great work and a great experience. Your process is what gets you the collaborative input you need from your client. Of course, your work is created for them. But as you start sharing more of the work you really love, you’ll attract attention for your aesthetic or approach. Why not own that style of yours and become known for it?

You don’t have to be a creative chameleon, erasing all trace of your own style or point of view, to create, advise, guide, and make – for others.

5. Let your clients in on your process

There comes a point in a ‘hire me’ conversation where you shift from the sparkly and inspiring creative that attracted your dream clients in the first place to the expert who simply explains what you do. How do you ‘close the deal’ and set the stage for working together, without feeling awkward or sounding salesy? YOU SHARE YOUR STEPS.

When you stick to your process, you stay in the driver’s seat – with the flexibility to collaborate and create together with your client along the way.

6. Don’t forget to tell them what they actually get

So, obviously, we love process. We love getting hired for a complete “package,” not just a la carte design pieces. We love helping other designers go from order takers to experts who guide the client engagement. And we love helping coaches and consultants better express the journey they are going to take their clients on, so they trust them from the get-go. But just because you have a process doesn’t mean you aren’t giving your clients concrete deliverables. They get real “stuff.” Don’t forget to tell them what they get.

Don’t undersell what you bring to the table as a smart, strategic, authenticity-seeking creative. But beware of overcomplicating or over-proving your expertise, your specialty, or your steps – with too much talk and not enough show.

7. Blend you into what you do

A personal brand is your outer layer. So yeah, it’s your work style, but it's also your personal style – and even more than that, it’s your voice. It gives clients (and readers) a promise of the layers underneath. Your personal brand is one of the best ways to build your business as a creative expert who shares what they know with others, so they want to learn more – and hire you!

Express your personality in business

Expressing your personality + your deeper purpose will give you the freedom to grow into what’s next for you.

Want to learn more? In our free eBook we tell you how to take these 7 ways of branding yourself as a creative expert in conversations and on your website.

DOWNLOAD THE FREE EBOOK for tips, exercises, scripts, and worksheets



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