Why Your Interior Design Firm Needs a Brand Strategy

brand strategy interior designers ochre and beige elevate brand

In order to talk about brand strategy, it’s important to remember that any business is about creating and sustaining relationships. Each time there is a transaction of services for money, there is trust involved between people. As that investment gets bigger (*ahem* a custom new build or full-home renovation), there’s a need for even deeper trust.

But your brand isn’t just about increasing your bottom line. You started your design firm because it’s your passion. You want clients who are great to work with, whose projects bring out the best in you, and who have you excited to get up each day and head to the studio.

The secret? Your brand is the foundation of your client relationships. Read that again. Your brand is the foundation of your client relationships.

What does that mean? Let’s talk about it…

what is brand strategy for designers

If you thought branding was all about looks, guess again! The way your design firm looks, sounds, feels, and interacts with people sets the stage for how others think and feel about your business — before they ever even meet you and long after their projects are done.

For example…

Is everything about your design firm organized, high-end, and professional, online and in person? Is your client experience top-notch? That is a luxury service the right clients will be happy to invest in.

Does your business look professional but have a few small bumps in the client experience that you’re still smoothing out? You might still land great clients, but you’ll probably get a few who aren’t ideal, as well. 

Are there gaping holes or mixed messages in your marketing and client experience that subtly tell clients your design firm is “under construction?” Prepare to attract clients who are looking for a deal. 

Your brand sends direct and indirect messages out into the world, and I truly believe that what you send out is what you get back. The good news? It’s all in your control. 

What’s Included in a Brand Strategy?

Branding is where marketing meets business strategy. When we work with clients on their Brand Strategy, we delve into the overall business strategy (like vision, values, market positioning, client experience) and the messaging strategy (tone, word choice, message, etc.).

After a 2- to 3-hour Strategy Session with you, we put our brains to work behind the scenes to…

  • Define your brand values and company vision
  • Conduct a competitor analysis
  • Identify your design firm’s unique market positioning
  • Create your tagline & mission statement
  • Develop your target client profile(s)
  • Share brand language do’s and don’ts
  • Map out a fully branded & repeatable client experience, from initial discovery to post-project

If that looks like a lot of work, believe me, it is! At the end of it, we present you with a clear roadmap showing you how to talk about your design firm, who to speak to, what to say, and how to create an unforgettable experience that will have your best clients returning for more… and telling all their friends.

When you receive your Brand Strategy, you’ll have the opportunity to share feedback and request tweaks until you are happy with the direction and we’re ready to move on to the next phase — usually Website Copy or Materials for the Client Lifecycle (lead magnet, newsletters, blog posts, services packets, welcome guides, emails, etc.).

interior design brand luxe high-end crisp clean elevated

What Aspects of Your Design Firm Should Be Branded?

Good question. Think about it like this…

A cohesive brand is like walking into a fully designed home. You immediately take a relaxing breath. You oooh and ahhh. And as you walk deeper into the home, the experience continues to unfold in all its glory.

Now, imagine the same home, except this time, once you make it past that spectacular kitchen (look at those pendants!), you walk into a dark living room with a popcorn ceiling, or a master suite with a heinous jacuzzi tub… *gasp!* …what’s going on in here?! 

The home, despite its inspired kitchen, doesn’t feel complete. It feels like a work in progress… because it is.

The same is true of a brand that doesn’t span your ENTIRE business. If you level-up your website and copy, but your monthly newsletters and blog posts still tout your old brand from the ‘90s, people are going to notice. It’s going to bring the entire brand — and it’s perceived value — way down. 

High-end design firms have a cohesive brand experience that encompasses what I call the full Client Lifecycle:

  • Marketing Materials: Website copy (this is essential), blog posts, lead magnets/freebies, newsletters, social media posts, etc.
  • New Client Onboarding: Your intake form, service packets, automated and personal emails, onboarding materials, proposal, and more.
  • Client Experience: Any design exploration assignments, pre-meeting documents, weekly progress reports, and more.
  • Post-Project Relationship: Care and thank you packages, post-project surveys or testimonial requests, monthly newsletters, and yearly personal check-ins

Not included in the Client Lifecycle, but also important…

  • In-House Team Resources: Should you really brand your employee handbook? And your in-house design documents? YES. Not only does it put your team in the right frame of mind, it also teaches them how to represent your design firm when they’re on-the-clock and off. It also promotes pride in what you are building together. 

Yes, this is a lot of work and isn’t going to happen overnight, so don’t feel bad if it’s still in progress. When we work with designers, we usually break this all down into 3 comprehensive phases lasting at least a month each:

  • Phase I: Brand Strategy
  • Phase 2: Website Copy
  • Phase 3: Crafting the Client Lifecycle

(You can learn more about our Brand & Copy offerings here.)

How do you know if your business is ready to be branded?

If you can professionally brand your design firm from the moment you launch it, that’s great. You will hit the ground running, and will probably see faster growth. However, I’ve found that this isn’t reasonable for most designers. It’s more likely that you make do with a professional-looking but piecemeal brand as you establish yourself, identify your dream clients, and become more profitable.

That’s why the best conditions I have seen for branding success are these…

  • You already have a profitable design firm and are looking to hit the next level (usually going from 6-figures to 7)
  • You know who your ideal client is, and you’re ready to get more of them
  • You feel like your brand has served you well up to this point, and you’re ready to elevate your offering from the inside out
  • You’re ready to highlight what makes you unique and stand out in the industry
  • You likely have a small team (usually 2 or more team members or contractors), which allows you to direct your attention only where you’re needed most (collaboration is required during the brand process — it’s your business after all!)
  • You’re straddling a CEO/Principal role, and you’re ready to step more into the CEO role

How Do You Know Your Brand is Working?

Of course, you want to know it’s working, right?! Here’s what brand success looks and sounds like after it has been implemented and running…

  • “I had a call with a potential client, and she was ready to work with me before I had even pitched anything!”
  • “I’ve already hit my yearly revenue goals, and it’s only Q2!”
  • “I raised my prices again, and I’m still booked out months in advance.”
  • “I’ve tripled my revenue since last year.”
  • “I’m finally in a place where I can say yes to only the clients I really want.”
  • “It’s so rewarding hearing potential clients repeat my own words back to me. They’re connecting with the messaging!”
brand strategy signs of success celebrate wine

Yes, I have heard ALL of these statements from clients (which always makes me wish I was in the designer’s neighborhood so we could celebrate!) and have experienced many myself.

That’s the power of a great brand in action. It works for you.

That’s it for now, but I hope that this has shown you the power of the right words to attract your dream clients, grow your business, and rise in the industry! I can tell you from personal experience, it is not only business-changing, it can be life-changing.

Xoxo,

Jaquilyn

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