In my series on “Finding Your A-ha Moment and Writing Your Brand Story”, we talked about the importance of discovering your brand essence through your Why, How and Value Proposition. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Southern C Alum Sarah Gibson Wiley of Huger Memories, to walk her through the process. This real-life example is a great case study to illustrate the process of discovering your “A-ha” branding moment.
Sarah was unsure of how to talk about her product and present it to the public through social media and other outlets. After reading my articles in the Southern C blog, she asked me to spend a day with her to help her unlock these mysteries. She was hopeful this would prepare her to choose the right marketing assets to propel her business to the next step.
Background: Huger Memories brings to life, cherished memories and events through fabric, color and texture using a unique embroidery technique. Sarah’s beautiful work has been seen in several top magazines and is sold on her website, but she had reached a stagnate point in the growth of her business. In Sarah’s words, I was in between marketers, not sure where to head. I had not really thought about an “a-ha” moment. I knew I had difficulty explaining who I am and what I do. I know I am terrified of the word “embroidery”, I don’t like the term because it evokes “your grandmother’s handiwork”. I had removed the word from my entire website. I do not picture myself that way! I certainly do not want to produce artwork that resembles typical “embroidery”. When I first spoke to Louise, I was excited that she was going to “grill me” and figure these questions out with me.
As discussed in my previous articles, we started the process with a series of questions, which helped us understand her business; such as what do you do, who is your customer, what are your strengths? Then, we got down to the nitty gritty of the WHY–for what reason or purpose did you start your business? WHY do you do what you do? Many times, you have to ask this question several times to get to the real WHY. Sarah had never really considered the WHY. She knew she loved working with textiles and color and using her creative juices, but after many Whys, we boiled it down to the following statement:
Huger Memories’ WHY:
As owner of Huger Memories and as an artist, my goal is to bring clients joy by creating lasting memories in a unique art form.
What this statement evokes is her passion for interpreting her client’s memories, events, pets, etc. into art that will be cherished forever.
From the WHY we built her HOW–how do you demonstrate your brand’s uniqueness, outline your points of differentiation and frame your value? Sarah does not simply create embroidery. Her brand is unique because her work tells a story and she works to interpret that story for her clients. Through questioning her HOW, Sarah also realized is that she is an artist and storyteller.
Huger Memories’ HOW:
As an artist, I work with my clients to learn the story behind the pictures the provided. Then I interpret these memories, bringing then to life through fabric, color and texture. The result is a wall hanging or pillow, etc that becomes a family treasure and conversation piece.
From the WHY and HOW, Sarah’s VALUE PROPOSITION–a clear statement that explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation (relevancy), delivers specific benefits (quantified value), and tells the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from the competition (unique differentiation)–easily flowed from our conversations.
Huger Memories’ VALUE PROPOSITION:
Huger Memories brings to life events and stories in an original art form that evokes special feelings and create lasting memories.
Sarah was amazed at how the process helped her form language that she could now use to describe her business. I asked her “what was your A-Ha moment?”
Well it took about 2 minutes! She figured me out, and quickly! Yes, that was the A-Ha moment. I am an artist, (I actually had a bit of trouble admitting that…) and a storyteller. I tell a story with images interpreted through texture, color and fabric.
This is a simplistic representation of the process. We spent a whole day delving into and discussing such things as: What was the desired experience Huger Memories wanted the customer to have, distinctive selling points, competitive and comparative analysis. In other words, a complete immersion and understanding her product, customers, and selling environment.
How did Sarah and Huger Memories feel about the process?
I am getting better at my “elevator speech”. It still does not roll off my tongue. However, I know more who I am. I have now hired a PR/Marketing firm. When they sent me an initial questionnaire about my business, it was very easy for me to refer directly to the “Brand Story Workshop Write Up”. I refer to it often just for clarification. I think going through this process is a must, not only for those that are sure of what they do. It pushes you in a way that provides growth to any business.
In summary, you cannot accurately construct a road-map for your business if you do not first discover your Brand Essence. Once you determine your Brand Essence using the Why, How and Value Proposition, you can set a course of action that will propel your business to the next step.
Through having a better understanding of her brand, Sarah has a better grasp of her target market, future goals and unique attributes. All these are outcomes from the process of distilling her brand down to its most concentrated form and discovering her A-Ha moment. The underlying story here is the process is necessary for all businesses. Finding a professional with the experience to guide you through the process is key. Take the journey to discovering your “A-Ha” moment. It will open up new ways of seeing your business.