Diving into the crucial decision of when to hire a creative director, this episode is a treasure trove of insights for business owners and marketers.
Today, I’m guiding you through the journey of enhancing your brand with a creative leader.
Whether you’re mulling over a brand makeover, or aiming to revitalize your marketing, this episode brings the know-how.
From my experience hiring a creative director to the significant impact it had on my business, prepare to uncover strategies and advice that could revolutionize your brand’s narrative.
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Welcome to Make More Money without Selling Your Soul with me Polly Lavarello, evergreen marketing expert. This podcast is for you if you are an online entrepreneur who is looking to simplify their business to scale. On this podcast you can expect to hear regular talk about wealth, about selling and about wellbeing. Because I believe these three core fundamental things are pivotal to your growth moving forward.
Hello, and welcome to make more money without selling your soul with myself Polly Lavarello, Evergreen marketing expert and cushy business pioneer. And today I’m talking about why I hired a creative director, because it just felt really relevant. To give you some context back in January, or maybe it was February, I shared a post where I shared that I couldn’t do another brand photoshoot where I was smiling at a cup of coffee, or laughing at a salad. It was a challenging post to share. Because I knew it would upset some people and the people pleaser made it like that. And as you know, I’d say that it goes beyond that because it’s not really about being a people pleaser. It’s about the fact that I have worked with some of the best brand photographers in the industry. And I’m really happy with the photos I’ve had taken of me some that I’ve used time and time again. So I really didn’t want to share that post and appear to be crapping on everyone who’s previously helped me with a brand photoshoot or to dismiss or take away from what is actually a really beautiful sign of growth. You know those first brand photos you get taken.
Often you don’t really know what your brand stands for yet, often you don’t really know who or what you stand for, as an entrepreneur, and just the mere fact that you’re stood in front of a camera is like a huge milestone. And those photographers who take those photos do a huge credit and service to those people who are brave enough to stand in front of those cameras, because it helps the world see you through a wonderful lens that helps you feel more comfortable, to be more visible to share more posts to do it with more impact because you have imagery. So that is where I felt a little bit awkward sharing this view. Because while yes, I’m a bit of a fan, I’m not going to lie of polarising content and sharing things that you feel like you can’t really share, like the moment I think, oh, I shouldn’t share that. That, to me is an immediate invitation for like, Oh, why not? Like really, who’s going to die? Let’s share this. But this was, I think a harder post to share. Because like I say I have a close relationship with those brand photographers. I admire them a lot. And like I said, didn’t want to appear to be crapping on what it is that they do. And at the same time, of course, there are brand photographers out there who do much more than just taking images of people smiling at cups of coffee. It’s a nuanced thing, right? It’s not black and white, which is a funny thing to say when talking about photographers. But essentially what had come up for me why I shared this whole thing about not wanting to do another photograph is you know, I had been on that journey.
The first time I sat in front of a brand photographer, we were in a studio, and she had reels and reels of coloured backgrounds. And she said to me, What colour is your brand colour. And I’ll say, I like turquoise. That was 2019 baby business Polly. I hadn’t even launched as a personal brand at that stage. But I knew I wanted some professional headshots for LinkedIn and things like that. So at that stage, I didn’t have a brand. So I just kind of picked a colour out there that I liked with very little thought for colour psychology and what colours meant or how I should look, I know I went along wearing this big black top because I felt really self conscious about my body image. So I kind of looked like I’m dressed for a funeral and small most of those pictures. I mean, prior to that my brother had done me a favour I think back in 2018, when I was like looking for work. And I post in front of a really dark red backdrop, wearing my kind of Secretary sexy Secretary glasses, which I didn’t realise was sexy Secretary glasses until people saw my work images. And they’re like, Yeah, that’s good for only fans. I’d be using that for LinkedIn. And funnily enough for a long time on LinkedIn, I did keep on having people chat me up until eventually I realised Oh, it’s that headshot. So you know, there’s been a lot of lack of self awareness, a lot of lack of like, what brand photos really stand for. And like I say, I commend that old version of myself that decided let’s get in front of a camera, like let’s make sure people can find me and see me and then I look the part that all plays a role. And it’s all part of this journey that’s got me to here. So I guess I’m partly showing this in the context of if you’ve just booked your first brand photo shoot, or if you’re on like brand photo, shoot two or three and you’re still We’ll kind of ambling your way through all of this. No, it’s part of the process and it’s perfectly okay.
I’m not recording this episode to cast shame on anyone, regardless as to what stage they’re at. But I am sharing this in the context of helping you understand how and when is the time to do things differently. And that if you’re feeling uncomfortable with with brand photoshoots, maybe this will help you lean into why and what you could be doing differently. So anyway, there’s my first few brand photoshoots my third brand photoshoot, I decided to go all in I hired a Brighton photographer, we went down to Regency square, which is a lovely square of like, Oh, beautiful Brighton Victorian buildings, I think I’d initially said be charts, which would have been a big Brighton cliche, but it was really windy that day. So we couldn’t do the seafront and we went inland. And I remember looking back at those photos, thinking it looks like that’s where I live, it just felt a little bit kind of insincere. And again, I was so insecure about how I looked, I think we were like mid pandemic, so we had to be outside. And I was wearing grey and my hair was like, hadn’t even blow dried it, it looked kind of awful. A lot of it just wasn’t quite right. And I write out loads of fresh sheets to go through. I’ll summarise the next few. The next two was done on a farm because I was like, I want more green, I want more outdoors. I work with a lot of holistic coaches. And honestly, I look back at the pictures between what I was wearing and what I was standing in front of and what at one point there’s a picture of me stood in front of a barn. And I was like, if I was a farmer, this would be a lovely set of brand photos. But they made no sense to what it was like actually doing my business.
So by the time I did my last second to last brand photoshoot, I’d finally learned to do things better. And so I hired a fantastic London photographer, we were looking for a studio and I struggled to find one that was available that looked quite right. So I ended up hiring an Airbnb in Kensington for the day, which was beautiful, and it had lots of lovely pot plants and it was lots of brand colours. But again, later on, when I looked back at those images, I was like, hey, looks like I live in some beautiful big, high ceilings luxurious flat and Kensington. And when I live in a little house in Brighton This doesn’t feel very honest. Even though the photos in and of themselves were beautiful. But they just felt a little bit kind of like every other business mentor out there Instagram account, you know. And I’d look at other accounts that stood out and I’m like, wow, she well, she’s got really, really bright coloured hair or she’s got really really bright coloured spectacles, or she loves her leopard print. You know, there’s like various people who’d stand up to me online. And to be honest with you recently, I looked at my account, I’m like, it’s kind of playing Janie. Which is funny because I always find myself leaning more into kind of being that kind of consumable, inoffensive business owner, then kind of sharing the garish side of me that anyone who knows me in Brighton, knows about, say loves and knows, but maybe just knows. But I’ve always been quite quirky. I’ve always been creative. My mom’s an artist, my partner’s an artist, as well as a forest schooler and my dad was an actor. So there’s a big creative streak on my side of the business. And one of the things that made me recognise I needed to honour that creative streak more was the fact that whenever anyone said to me, you’ve worked with a lot holistic coaches, why don’t you just niche down into making it clear that that’s your area of expertise. And I’d always respond, because I love working with the marketers too. I love working with creatives. I love working with business mentors, I love working with a huge variety of people. And I would never want to alienate those. In many cases where people get the best results, it has actually been with the creatives I’ve supported. So recently, recently, I hired a creative director. And it’s been a series of events, right?
I feel like there’s a lot to share in this podcast because it’s partly about why I hired a creative director, partly about my journey of kind of having done all these brand photoshoots, which like I say, I honour the version of me that did every single one of those shoots because every single one of them felt stretchy. And every single one of them I did a little bit more to make it more authentic, more fun, more impactful, like the last brand photo shoot I did in London, I had my hair styled, but some lovely makeup, I went to a personal stylist who helped pick the clothes for me. So every time I kind of invested a bit more on myself and thought more intentionally about what I wanted it to be. And it honoured each and every single stage of where I was at in business. It was a reflection of where I was at. But in recent months of fact, I’d probably say across the last year, I felt like a lobster stuck in this tight shell that needed to come off I needed to get to that stage of discomfort of having no shell be vulnerable be under those rocks to come out as something new.
And yes, there’s a lovely analogy by a rabbi whose name I forgotten which Microsoft director ally shared with me, which I just loved when I read it I was like that is exactly what I’ve been going through This sense of discomfort from growth and just realising I need something to visually match this. And what’s really interesting is last week, I went up to Leeds with a creative director Ali, Ali Mapletoft to basically do this shoot. And as I was there, and I was talking with a makeup artist, and I was speaking with a hair person, and they were saying to me, like, you know, how long have you been planning this and I was like, I created the vision board that we’re working from for today. A year ago. As I shared with you the beginning of this episode, it was back in January or February that I shared. And I can’t do these brand photoshoots anymore. At that point, I didn’t really know what the alternative was. So there was just nothing. I was just like, I’m just not doing anything. And so I didn’t, I didn’t do any, but I did like a tiny brand photo shoot when I was in Spain. But that was just because it was a kind of easy, fun thing to do while I was on holiday. But it wasn’t seen as a big, Pivotal, important piece of my business. But yeah, essentially, Allie and I were working, she was actually my client. And as she shared with me that she was doing these creative direction packages, and shared with me the incredible creative direction work she’d already done, and said, I want to get in there soon before everyone else starts filling up her diaries. And before her prices go up, it was a no brainer to say yes. On top of that, what I will say is the word cushy, that Hillary Weiss helped me settle on at the very beginning of this year, is a word that I’ve been toying with and playing with for the entire year. As you all know, I start this podcast talking about being a cushy business pioneer. It’s also at the very top of my Instagram in my highlights, the words cushy, and essentially, I’ve become more and more loud, I guess about cushy across the year. And what I’ve found across the year is that more and more people as they apply to work with me as they respond to content I share or speaking with the verbiage of cushy. And I just love that. And I think it took me seeing a lot of that happening across the year to be able to commit to and jump into this photoshoot with ally because essentially, the vision board that I’ve been sat on for over a year was created off the back of the word cushy. Once I landed on it, I was like, oh my god, I can feel this in my bones. What does this actually look like? And it was kind of audacious, and it was rebellious. And it was kooky. And it was quirky. And there was an element of like, have your cake and eat it Have fun, like be playful, we have this one life. Let’s make the most of it.
If you’ve been listening to me for a while, you’ll know one of my little kind of funny gripes about marketing is that it is all made up. A lot of marketers at some point reached this kind of stage of disillusionment where they’re like, but it’s all made up. And it’s really true. And we either get to be massively disillusioned by this, we get to be playful with it. For me, one of the things that felt really uncomfortable with every other brand photoshoot was a sense that I was trying to convey who I am. When multilayered human beings, right, the version of me that I’ve portrayed so far on my social media, it’s not that it’s not me, you know, I am one of those people that like to kind of walk barefoot on the beach and walk around with very little makeup on and go to saunas, and in I am into like, well being practices. And so that side of me is all very true. There’s a more gregarious, outgoing, playful, naughty, silly side of me, that I’ve kind of been holding back for a while now. And I don’t really know why. Because any client who has ever worked with me knows this. Like, I know the clients of mine who are listening to this right now our previous clients and must be like, Yeah, we know like, you know, I’m always joking that I have these awful dad jokes, which I’m constantly dropping in coaching calls and things like that, as with all human beings, right? Like it feels really indulgent, say I’m multifaceted, because every human being is multifaceted, right? But when we have a brand, it’s recognising how do we want the people in our world to feel.
And when I thought about how I want my Instagram to be over the next year, when I thought about content creation, and what feels good, and what feels expansive, and what feels fun. I was like, I want to bring that playful element of business that I encourage all my clients to embrace when they’re building and scaling their businesses. Because quite frankly, what’s the point of doing it seriously, it’s like, how do I visually represent that? So my friends, this is why I hired a creative director so that she could take my vision board and turn it into a reality. Ally. I’ve actually invited onto the podcast as she and I will be recording in January 2024. At some point, to talk about the process we went through and go more in depth about how it all came about. But I want to do that episode, when you can actually visually see what I’m referring to right now. If you’re listening to this episode, if you go to my account, you won’t see very much different because at the end of this year, I’m shedding that skin entirely. I’m going to be archiving everything in my account. And I’m going to be turning over a new leaf for 2024. It feels exciting. It feels bold. It feels kind of vulnerable all at the same time. And I feel really, really ready for it, I’m really ready for a new energy. As I approach 2024, I’ll be launching a new website, I will be archiving some offers, I will be introducing entirely brand new ones. Like I say there’s a stage in business where it almost feels like there’s a stagnant energy around, you know, even a stagnant energy that what you’re encapsulating yourself in, is stagnant. And what wants to break through is too big for the shell that you’re currently in. And that is it. My little lobster wants to come out, celebrate. So that is it. I mean, that is what I wanted to share with you today. I wanted to share with you the journey from that first brand photoshoot to hiring a creative director and birthing, brand new vision for my business, something that is not going to be to everybody’s taste.
And one of the things I’ll say that made it so much easier for me hiring a creative director was when Ali asked me do you feel comfortable doing this? How do you want people to perceive you? How do you want to come across as a human being? What made it easier was recognising this brand photoshoot isn’t about me. It’s about cushy. It’s about an idea much bigger than me. So I could be this exaggerated, playful self. Because I’m inviting people into an idea into a philosophy into a new way of doing business. And that is what I came to represent on that brand photoshoot, which I’m so excited to share with you. At the beginning of next year.
I’m being supported by the most incredible human beings I’ve got Eva Cuoto who’s helping me with the graphic design. I’ve got Suzy grey who’s helping me with my words. And then I’ve got ally who’s helped me with the visuals and her incredible team. So it’s dropping, it’s going to be powerful, it’s going to be potent. If you have any questions. If you’ve been thinking about your own journey and what you want to be doing next in terms of your visuals, please feel free to share with them. Otherwise, keep an eye out like I say new website launching new offers launching all the things. And if you have been thinking about working together in 2024 and want to capitalise on my current rates my current offers, don’t sit on it anymore. Because as you can probably gather when you hear this, it’s already going to be December, at the end of December, majority of those offers will be no more and certainly not in the same way that they’ve been presented or packaged up so far. So if you want to get in there, now is the time to have the conversation otherwise in the meantime, if you’re not quite ready to work together and would love to capitalise on some cushy business frameworks, head on over to the one academy.co.uk where you can get my free cushy business roadmap which can help you set you up for the best 2024 Fabulous well I shall be back next week talking about how to set up your business so you can truly take time off over Christmas.
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