Identifying Your ICA


July 9, 2019


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“What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50 million years. It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it’s something that people have wanted forever.”

— Seth Godin

In case you missed it, I’ve recently started a blog series about the most impactful business factors that determines whether or not a branding project is successful. Those four ingredients are:

  • Vision

  • Audience

  • Product

  • Experience

We’ll continue to expand on these ingredients in more detail, helping you to determine whether you’re ready to go through the branding process! Even if you’re a few steps away, it’s always a good idea to revisit these four factors and see if you business or brand has changed.

Today we’ll be talking about finding your ICA – your “Ideal Customer (or Client) Avatar.” This goes just a step beyond knowing your audience. By the end of this post, you’ll have a crystal clear picture in your head of who you’re talking to and developing products or services for.

case studies

For today’s post, I’ll be highlighting my project with Melissa and Leila of Life Done Special and Sunny of Rise + Repeat as an example of knowing exactly who your ICA is.

General Demographics

We’ll start with a general overview. In the past, I always found myself getting frustrated with the general demographics that define an ICA – details that didn’t seem to matter in the long run. However, once I sat down and allowed my imagination to run wild, I realized that defining a few distinct features allowed me to visualize this customer in more detail, keeping her in mind as I write and dream up new products.

I find it especially helpful to provide some context to the demographics. How does their physical appearance play into their life choices and perspective? How do they view themselves? What’s most important?

Life Done Special

Melissa and Leila dreamed about the mom they are serving living a similar life to their own on the west coast. She is 35, married, and has a child with autism. With long blonde hair, a beachy lifestyle, and desire for community, she is positive and real – seeing life as a beautiful and unexpected journey.

Rise + Repeat

Sunny dreamed of the Rise + Repeat retreat thinking of a woman living within driving distance of Big Sur. She’s a mom, creative entrepreneur, and personal development enthusiast. With a modern bohemian style and warm personality, she recognizes that she has room in her life and business to grow, and wants to find the community and mentor to help her reach her potential.

Drop Cap Design

Our ICA is a creative entrepreneur living in sunny Los Angeles. She is thirty years old and single, but considers her business her baby. With sun-soaked brown hair and big eyes, she takes in each opportunity and sees possibility everywhere.


Let’s go just a step further – what does daily life look like for this person? How do they spend their free time or enjoy their community or family? What is their personality like? How would their friends describe them, and what could you catch them doing on a weekday or weekend?

Life Done Special

The mom they are serving enjoys family days on the beach and belly laughs with her friends. She’s warm and open, and inspired by the mother-culture that she sees online. She’s a social traveler, a girl’s girl, and Instagram obsessed.

Rise + Repeat

The woman Sunny is serving enjoys scenic road trips and a good book on the beach. She’s ambitious and refined, inspired by a well-curated boutique and the patio view from a specialty hotel.

Drop Cap Design

The creative entrepreneur we are serving enjoys a good book on a rainy afternoon, spending time with other ambitious women, traveling to an interesting new location, going to social events, and thinking about the future with a glass of wine in hand by the ocean.

Pain Points

Now comes the real work – what causes them to feel frustration and pain? How are you adding to their life and solving a problem? How does your business make them feel? And most importantly, how would they describe what they’re looking for?

Life Done Special

The Life Done Special mom feels disconnected. She desires to share her story and struggles with women who understand what she’s been through, and to participate in the mother-centered conversations happening online. She feels like her journey as a mother doesn’t look like everyone else’s, and she longs to share what her life really looks like with women who totally “get it.”

Rise + Repeat

The Rise + Repeat woman feels misaligned. She’s thankful for the opportunities life has given her, but knows she’s not stepping into her potential the way she could be. She feels out of touch with her body, uninspired in her thoughts, and disconnected from her heart. She desires guidance, accountability, and a community of motivated women who are not willing to settle for “good enough.”

Drop Cap Design

The Drop Cap Design creative entrepreneur feels overwhelmed by all that needs to happen to make her business dream a reality. She’s bombarded with inspiration and wonders if there’s any sense or pattern within her thoughts and visual style. She wants someone to listen to her dream and tell her if there’s potential there. She wants to collaborate with a partner to make her thoughts strong and cohesive so she can begin attracting her ideal customers and clients.

Your Turn

Before deciding whether or not you’re ready for a brand (or rebrand), take out a piece of paper and brainstorm about your ICA. Even if these factors change and evolve over time, knowing what you’ve set out to do will result in a brand and message that feels perfectly aligned with your goals and dreams of the future. Here are a few ideas for sparking your creativity and helping you imagine your ICA:

  1. Find a picture in a magazine or on Pinterest that could serve as a visual representation of your ICA while you answer these questions.

  2. Write a character description of your ICA as if she/he were a character in a novel and we’re just getting introduced.

  3. Write a fictional journal entry from your ICA, talking about what he/she is struggling with and how it makes them feel.

  4. If you’re really struggling to answer these questions for yourself and your business, consider setting up a Mentor Session to find more clarity and test out a few ideas to see what feels right for your brand.

As you work through these pillars of clarity over the next month, take advantage of our free Brand Scratch Pad that will ask further prompting questions to help you establish your ICA.


Kadie Smith

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