Welcome to the second installment of my brand development series! If you have no clue what I'm talking about, check out my post here to get you up to speed. In an effort to answer questions such as what makes a brand successful, what draws people to a certain brand, how to develop a connection with your customers, etc., I decided to reach out to several influencers, creatives, and small businesses who have successfully developed their brands into real tangible identities.
When I approached Danni Tabor of FreeFanniFitness to see if she was interested in helping me out with this project, she could not have been more friendly and enthusiastic. But I can't say that I was surprised - her posts on Instagram seem to always have that feel-good effect (check if out for yourself if you don't believe me - click here!). Her approach to fitness and nutrition feels like a breath of fresh air. She knows how to keep it real and fun, so the fact that she has a significant following and an established brand comes as no surprise. But enough of me blabbering, on to the good stuff!
What's your story? What made you want to do what you do?
So, after years of being an actress I realized I didn't enjoy it enough. I had got the qualification to be a personal trainer with the idea that it would fit around acting well, and then, when I realized I didn't LOVE acting as much as I had said or believed I did, I became fully immersed in fitness.
I began working with people one on one and I found a passion and love for this. The connecting and chatting to others. Coaching and encouraging other people's journeys. After a long schlog into loving myself after years of lots of self hate, it became apparent that fitness and nutrition played a huge role into my head and mindset being in a good place. I discovered that I wanted to shout about it and tell the world. I wanted other people, women mainly, to see fitness and eating well as this amazing choice rather than this hell hole society had encouraged to make us feel like we need to be 'fixed' and instead encouraging women to embrace who they are and choose a lifestyle that encourages this rather than fixing anything. I want to remind everyone that we are not broken. I am passionate about this more than I ever knew and that is why I do what I do. I believe in it and want to share and connect and relate and talk about it.
How have you managed to single-handedly create a brand out of your work or yourself, essentially?
I think utilizing social media has been massive. The way we are given a space to share our voice. To be ourselves and to engage with others. That is massive. I think a brand should be about 'being you'. My brand represents my message and my message is about being honest with ourselves and finding the joy in our bodies, in our choices, in our lives and I think my brand shows this. I never lie. If I have a bad day, I share it. If I have a good day, I share it. I think brand honesty and connection is the most important thing. If your message reads true and connects to your audience and they believe in 'you' then they believe in your brand. A brand to me is a funny concept as I feel I am just spreading my truth. And that happens to resonate with people. I think that is why, if you love what you do, anyone can create a brand. You are just creating you, in a package that works online essentially.
What made you decide to materialize this idea into an actual brand (when you first decided to go professional, get a logo, etc.) and how has that helped you?
In 2015 I decided to redo my blog. I had begun a blog in 2012 I think, where I talked about fashion, because that's just what people did and I had always liked writing. But essentially, that wasn't my passion. I liked clothes, but I wasn't passionate about them. After spending 3 months living in L.A, doing the 'acting thing', I began writing about how I felt about that. I wrote about my dreams and life and then my body and how I felt. And I found that this got a response and also that I connected to this truth. SO, I got back from L.A and designed a blog on Squarespace and a logo and became 'Free Fanni'. This then encouraged me to get onto Instagram and begin this part of the journey. It wasn't a business to start. It was a place to document my own journey and hold myself accountable. I still don't see it as a business, but a place where I am just me, but as I say above. I guess that is the 'brand'.
After a while and a few more followers you begin to engage and connect with others. Once you start sharing stories and seeing an impact your 'brand' or yourself has, I guess that's when I felt like this was a business I wanted to pursue. To make money? Of course that's a bonus. But essentially to just reach as many people and help as many people as possible. Having a logo and a website helps, for me, just to give me spaces on the interweb to share and connect with as many people as possible.
You're essentially a designer of your brand. What have you learned from it? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wish I was a little more creative. I'd love to have a more curated feed and possibly a blog space that I designed rather than a Squarespace template. But... that's not me. I'm not perfect. Or groomed. I'm messy. My life is messy. I'm the most unorganized human ever. So I've learned that you do not have to have a perfect brand or a perfect logo or a perfect business. You just need to have an honest one.
What are some of your tips and tricks on how to develop a brand especially for creatives who are just starting out and small businesses?
I would suggest finding 'their' thing. 'Their' style. Even if it's found on Pinterest. Find what resonates with them. What designs speak to them. What pictures or feed shows who they are. Love what their message is. Live what they speak or write about. Love what their blog looks like or their bio says about them. Keep it real. Keep it 'them' and I think the rest will follow. People will buy into a brand that they feel isn't lying or selling them something fake. I'm sure there are millions of businesses that work of the idea of perfection, but for me, I think honesty and authenticity comes first.
Is there anything else you'd like to share that's related to brand-development?
Worry less about how you look or come across and focus more on the people looking and watching you. What do you want them to know? What message do you need them to hear? What can you do for them? What do you want them to resonate with when they see you, read you, hear you, heart you, follow you? What connection do you want to make with them? It's not about you. Your business is about them. Make people know that. And I think you're good to go!
Takeaway message: authenticity. Branding is about being authentic and finding ways to stand out and be different. Don't lose that factor that makes you uniquely you.
I'll see you on the next one!