In December 2018, I found myself in a very sad, sorry situation. My old business coach contacted me out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to do an impromptu session. Of course I did! I was very excited to speak with my trusted mentor again. But when we got on the topic of my branding, the prognosis wasn’t good. She took one look at my website and said in her blunt and honest style, “Allison, your website is… generic. I see nothing of your bubbly, inspiring energy there. In fact, it looks like YOU are missing from your own website!”
Although I hadn’t said it out loud before, I agreed with my coach. All of my branding decisions up to that point with Fun4business had been made for the wrong reasons and hadn’t felt right. I had to face the facts; I didn’t like my online identity. How could I expect to do business in this kind of predicament, especially being in the creative industry?!
From anyone else, I would have been offended. The funny thing about my business coach is that she motivates me into action instead.
Rewind A Decade
Previously, I ran a web design company in Ottawa called 2Design Web from 2002 to 2008. After multiple branding iterations over a couple years, my partner and I finally designed a kick-ass combination. Everything came together to comprise an end product (our website) that was larger than the sum of its parts. We were also consistently at the top of the search engine results for “web designer ottawa” and related keyword phrases. This resulted in numerous new leads per week. Business was good. Our branding that we worked so hard on was paying off.
And I learned a lesson: When your branding is right, selling is easy. When your branding is off, sales are down.
Starting From Scratch
When you are starting a new business, especially one that’s online, the pressure to get your new website up ASAP is overwhelming. Due to corresponding time constraints, I ended up launching a website that just didn’t “feel right” – but I needed something up and needed it quick.
Once you press “launch”, it’s easy to let any additional improvements slide down the priority ladder. And then you’re busy running your business and it’s too late to go back and fix anything.
Sooner or later, your outdated site becomes noticeably outdated. It actually starts to get in the way of you conducting business as usual.
I had to think long and hard as to why my website ended up looking “generic”. I came across a couple problems.
Trade Names Complicate Things
It turns out working under a trade name complicates things.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the name Fun4business as my company name.
- What does it mean?
- How does my target market perceive it?
- Could I tangibly define what “fun” is to me?
- Can fun even be combined with business in a business concept, successfully?
Things might be much simpler to just work under my actual name, Allison Kessler. It may be easier to just be myself.
Every entrepreneur needs to at least consider whether to work under a trade name or their own name.
What Does "Fun" Mean?
I went on a brainstorming spree on what the word “fun” means and how it applies to my business. It’s true, working on websites is fun to me, but probably not to my clients. Was I actually taunting them by using the word?
The word fun is quite hard to define. My brainstorming started with a circus, you know, performances, rides, candy, that sort of thing. Lots of colour and excitement. Definitely overkill!
Things I used to consider fun when I was younger might be perceived as outright dangerous or thrill seeking to my slightly older target market (think skydiving, bungee jumping and nights out partying). Since I turned 40, those activities aren’t a good fit for me anymore. I had to keep looking. Honestly, things I consider fun now are a night in watching “The Haunting of Hill House” – which got under my skin (in a good way), or skating around the lake on a quiet winter night (yeah, by myself, go figure).
But the truth is, I am very attached to the name Fun4business. At its roots—to me—it means creating a business you love using today’s expansive technology and networks, and the only limits are defined by your imagination.
I let it marinate for a few days.
- Did it feel right?
- Was it complete?
- Could I live with it for at least 5 years?
The final part of my quest was to match my verbal identity with images that I absolutely loved. I needed to create a logo, select the perfect font, and deliberate over the colours, to get it just right. No more settling on a look that wasn’t me and reaping the consequences.
And – voila – this new look and feel was born and I’m loving it! I hope you do to. I have successfully brought the “fun” back into my business. I go forth with confidence to spread the word about my kick-ass services to the world!