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Interview with Ingrid Lill – Brand Consultant with a Pencil


This week I’m talking drawing with Ingrid Lill.

Ingrid is a Brand Strategist with a Pencil who use Visual Thinking techniques to help her creative and entrepreneurial clients understand who they seek to serve.

I wanted to catch up with Ingrid after she helped me out with my positioning using her visual thinking techniques to sketch my ‘ideal customer’ and I realised that this wasn’t my ideal customer at all. I talk to her about how she got started with visual thinking and how she has grown her brand and who she works with from CEOs of software companies to non-profit groups to entrepreneurs.

We speak about her background, her methods and technology as well as how using visual techniques help when it comes to deciding on a client, product or service offering for your business.

We also talk about how this works in a group setting and niching down on products and services.


Some more about Ingrid.

Ingrid’s template is here and here is an example storyboard

And a link to Ingrid’s course Find Your Message.

Donald Miller “Building a Storybrand

Tim Urban. Wait but why?


“I am the guide who is helping them with my very specific product, which I call a game changer because it’s much easier to communicate if you have a specific thing that that you are offering” [IL]

“So I find that personally quite challenging coming from a creative background myself, from an engineering background, well yeah, creating stuff. I like to do new stuff” [RB]

“However, to get it to really fly, I need to be able to put a system in place which enables me to work around it on a day to day basis. I think this is something that both, how can I say, approach in the right way? Personally, I find that I can’t do these things in isolation, I have to do them all kind of simultaneously. ” [RB]

“If I should define my psychographic people, it’s people who have too many ideas. And I help them to map them out on paper” [IL]

“My clients have to be specific about their clients” [IL]


Richard Bown 0:00

This is Richard Bown Welcome to automation for the nation, Episode Seven. This week. I'm talking to Ingrid Lill. Ingrid is a brand strategist. And she uses visual strategies visual thinking and drawing to help her clients to understand their clients better. And we talked about niching down on a product and service. We talked about the techniques, tools that she uses, and a little bit about the customer journey and how that works. I hope you enjoy it. And one thing to note is that I did actually record this on my laptop rather than using my microphone. So apologies for the poor sound on my voice. Ingrid did of course, use the proper microphone. Next time, I'll fix this. Enjoy. Thanks for joining me today on automation for the nicer form my new podcast. You're my first guest. I'm very excited to have you here. First of all, your name? How do you say so? Is Ingrid I would say in English, but in Danish, if you need to

Ingrid Lill 0:54

No actually originally German. So it's Ingrid Lill. Okay, if you don't, you don't know, you don't want to know how the how the Danish people pronounce it. We don't We will not say that. And the Americans or the English speaking people often just call middle. Right? And that's also my artists name. So that's how I sign my paintings. And so that's, I'm fine with that. I'm using my branding everywhere. Just to know,

Richard Bown 1:25

that's good to know. Obviously, you're a little as well. So yes, one actually one of the questions I had was, yeah. Do you do any other painting outside of the digital world? So you do obviously,

Ingrid Lill 1:34

yeah, I used to be a visual artist and graphic designer, I used to use graphic design for making money that was like my, my job, freelance, or also as an art director and agencies, and I painted on the side. And that was my main interest. And at some point, and this is now my story, the story of what I'm doing now, I wanted to combine the two things I didn't want it to design that was a little bit boring and not always aligned with what what I'm standing for. And my drawing. I wanted to draw more and not use these templates. And yeah, yeah. And that's how I somehow started.

Richard Bown 2:22

The design world is there's a lot of Acts, a lot of templates are repeating yourself. Yes. So that was that one of the reasons for?

Ingrid Lill 2:30

Yeah, I call myself a business coach with a pencil. That means I coach business owners, coaches and consultants and other creators solopreneurs most often to find their message in a clear business communication. Okay, and they do that by drawing a storyboard of what they do. They're my visual interest comes in and my drawing skills. And

Richard Bown 2:56

yeah, and that was the thing I did last week with the in the branding cafe that you run. It's really nice name actually, it kind of sums it up nicely. But you took me through a journey where it was great to kind of go through the frames of the of the picture of who I was trying to serve. And that was the thing that really threw it out from out there for me is like hang on a sec, this person or

Ingrid Lill 3:18

what I'm doing is I'm taking I'm drawing the journey of the customer, the transformation that you help your customer to go through, usually, or before I got clear about that. I thought my website is about me. And after I read it now there's my inspiration, Donald Miller story brand, I realised that it's not me who is the hero, it's my customer. So the customer is the one who is first in a struggling state and has a problem, but it has somehow ended up in a pit I call it where they don't even come out themselves. And I am the guide who is helping them with my very specific product, which I call a game changer because it's much easier to communicate if you have a specific thing that that you are offering. And I help them to paradise to the panel on the right. So it's a three panel thing. On the left is the problem pit in the middle of the is the bridge, the process that I'm taking them through. And on the right side is the paradise. It's what they are dreaming of. It's not something that I know that they need, but it's something that they they are already dreaming off.

Richard Bown 4:29

Or you're saying in the first instance of that you are putting yourself putting the client at the centre of the story.

Ingrid Lill 4:37

This is the normal way or the old way of making websites. When I had my old website I was saying I'm a graphic designer and I'm I'm making websites and look how pretty they are. And here's what I've done and if you maybe want one then contact me. Yeah, so it was not I was not addressing a problem at all. It was all about me. And then some people found me anyway. But it was it was mostly not because of the website. And then when I embraced this, that I am able to put a message out there and market myself, then I could navigate better or direct the course of my business myself.

Richard Bown 5:19

Okay, I also interact with people that you wanted to work with as well, presumably, is. So how did that come about? How did that switch in your head? Did you read something? Did you hear something and someone explained it to you or?

Ingrid Lill 5:32

Yeah, I mean, it first happened is that I got a little bit frustrated or bored with doing design, because I wanted to help my my customers on a deeper level. And not just to a pretty website, that doesn't make sense. And so I wanted to get involved in the content also in what what they're seeing not only how it looks, and then I discovered graphic facilitation, which is a easy way to draw. And that took a detour there, and started drawing at conferences. It was like a revelation. Drawing doesn't have to be artistic and, and, and difficult. It can be easy, and it's about communication. It's not our, so this was really a revelation. And I started giving drawing classes, and then I marketed them. And that's how all of a sudden had a different kind of business. Then I read Donald Miller building a story brand, which didn't click that didn't know how to apply to my business, because I still had this many moving parts. And then somebody I don't know if it was him, or somebody else said, if you can paint a picture of your message, your message isn't clear enough. Oh, yeah. And that somehow is, this is true. And I can help people to paint this picture.

Richard Bown 6:51

Yeah, that's really interesting. Because I'd say it's also in the words, it's the same thing as if you can't explain it to a five year old or your mother or other things. You can't make it simple, then you're probably not clear on it yourself. So I think it's very powerful. I don't know man, I've not read yet. I've heard the name because my background is not designed. It's more engineering. So

Ingrid Lill 7:11

he's not a designer. That is just marketing. Hmm. Okay, building a story brand. He's it's not visual at all. I made it visual for me, because then I understood it. When I when I found out how I could make this journey. This customer's hero's journey into a picture, then it gets clearer for for me.

Richard Bown 7:33

When was that? How many years ago? Was that? Three years ago? Okay, brilliant. And did it feel like a light bulb went on in your head as well? Yes.

Ingrid Lill 7:42

And then I tried it out with somebody on a zoom call. First, I tried because I was giving drawing classes at the time, I got a try to get her to draw her customers and stuff. And that didn't work. And then I found out that I can draw, and I switch the camera and she had my screen. And that's how this was born. Maybe? Maybe it was four years ago.

Richard Bown 8:03

Okay, so how many do you think you've done some of these sketches? Yesterday? Hundreds of them?

Unknown Speaker 8:07

Yes. I didn't count them.

Richard Bown 8:11

Brilliant. So what have you else you've done around this? Because it's a great technique. So have you created like, kind of ebooks or anything like that to share?

Ingrid Lill 8:19

And I'm thinking about writing book. Some Yeah, but right now it's causing negative workshops about that. Okay, so how does the coursework the course works? I mean,

Richard Bown 8:32

is it about sorry? Is it about teaching drawing, firstly, as well, what do you seen this level of competence,

Ingrid Lill 8:38

I have several courses, I have a whole year of, of content that I'm doing. And this part is where we are right now. That's why I'm also doing this free branding cafes is just about finding your message. So you don't have to be able to draw to do that, you can just draw a stickman it's about it's more about the spatial design of the page. So you know, where which information has to go because often we confuse the process what we're doing with the outcome, and we don't talk enough about the outcome and it's all a big muddled thing. And in my template there, you have three buckets and you have to you can sort them where they belong, and it's much easier to create a webpage or anything a video from that because you know, now I'm in this section now in the pit section and the problem then I'm in the process section and here I'm in the in the Paradise in the what they imagine that they want and this is what I'm teaching. Yeah, but also give access to my simple illustration course so they can if the people who want can also make pretty pictures, pretty drawings.

Richard Bown 9:51

Okay, so yeah, I was thinking So you believe that anyone can do this. Can we draw it?

Ingrid Lill 9:57

Yes, yes. I mean, it will I'd look equally good people who have drawn or a design background, they have more of a more practice with making it look good than others. But it's not about it's not about looking good. It's about clarity. This part here, yeah,

Richard Bown:

I can imagine that some people do cuz I've seen these big designs. Sometimes people are like, for example, my wife, she runs a business and she had someone live sketching some of her some of her talks once do people use that as a kind of inspiration as well as good could they create like, a background, for example, for their for their zoom calls, or for their office, out of this kind of stuff. Because the message on one thing I find day to day is that you have to stay on message, don't you. So once you found, you've got to a point where you actually understand you hope the person you're going to serve the people that you're going to serve, you found that message to stay on that is it's then it becomes a bit of a treadmill, again, you have to be like you say template, you've got to be in that mindset as a creator and as an entrepreneur, where you do retread those messages over and over again. So I find that personally quite challenging coming from a creative background, myself movement engineering background, well be at creating stuff. I like to do new stuff. So when you're confronted with a challenge of having to promote yourself repeatedly, through them a message like that is quite strong to kind of remind you Oh, yeah, I should do that.

Ingrid Lill:

I think it was also Donald Miller says that marketing is a exercise in you have to repeat your sentences again and again.

Richard Bown:

Exactly. And that can take some getting used to. So how do you feel find that from with your clients as well? Because sometimes, well, I think they're all your clients are entrepreneurs, is that right? as well. So mostly to discover their brand. And then they will have the similar challenges. So they'll then say, Okay, well, I found my hero, I found where they need to go. And I found some of the processes I need to do every day. But how can I stick with it? So did they come to you for that as well?

Ingrid Lill:

Well, then, the next step is then to design your website and to implement this stuff on your site and on your, for example, LinkedIn page. So it's all consistent, it should all have the same messaging, and then put posts out there. And that is the next stage of my business year. In September, I'm running a course called find clients. So that my whole business year of course, is we start in January with find your vision, and draw your ideas and what what you want, find your superpower, find your niche. Then we do the Find your message thing, where we do the communication towards the clients, which we're what I'm starting next week. Now, then there's a summer pause with just drawing for fun. And in September, we start with, find your clients and post on LinkedIn. On social media, I'm mostly on LinkedIn, but you can illustrate your drawings or you can just make posts that are consistent with your with your messaging. But the people who come to me for the course mostly want to illustrate and draw, because that's what I'm doing. And that's what they want to learn from me. Do you know, Tim urban Wait, but why? He's great. He's one of the most successful bloggers in the world, I think. And he does actually drawings. That's his thing.

Richard Bown:

I'll check him out. For sure. Yeah. Yeah, that's interesting. I mean, that's the thing that interests me is the system, you know, because that's, that's my background. So it's a bit late and later in the year is the bit where I started getting excited. Because yes, I have to go through this schlep now of like, deciding who I want to serve. And I really agonise over that, but at the same time, I can build some content, I can do some stuff at the same time around that, which is the stuff that I enjoy doing. So I know the bits that I enjoy, I know some of the people who may want to work with, and I can work towards that or finding that vision better. However, to get it to really fly, I need to be able to put a system in place which enables me to work around it on a day to day basis. I think this is something that both how can I say approach in the right way? Personally, I find that I can't do these things in isolation, I have to do them all kind of simultaneously. Because I imagine in your experience that you've had to kind of say, well, I can target this market or targeting this niche. But I may need to be brought the temptation is always going to get increased to go slightly broader. We're told we have to be told to niche down to find a group that we can speak to however you have that kind of panic at the back that reflex that says yeah, but if I do that, I'm not going to get enough clients, you know, the usual the usual discussions that go around so

Ingrid Lill:

niche down on people and niche down on my on visual on a very specific product and process on this brand storyboarding. And whoever is drawn to that I'm working with I just narrowed down my story. versus very, very much. And then if I should define my niche, it's coaches and consultants and creatives, and which is about everybody. And the reason that I'm not mentioning companies on corporate is that I don't have any overlap. But then because I have haven't worked there, it's not that I couldn't and some, but somehow a software co found me. And now I'm also working for a company. And that works just as well. So I'm, as I said, I'm niching doesn't niching always sounds like you have to have a certain group of people you're working with, but it can also be something else.

Richard Bown:

It is a type of person that was No, I think the term I've heard is psychographic.

Ingrid Lill:

If I should define my upcycle, graphic, people, it's people who have too many ideas. And I help them to map them out on paper. Because often the people with many ideas who are creative, they're also drawn to visual thinking, or they are visual thinkers who are drawn to something that I'm doing.

Richard Bown:

Exactly. I'm nodding my head here. But yeah, it's definitely true. Because I feel like yeah, ideas come ideas. The easy bit is something I've always said I think is a famous quote by somebody else's ideas are always the easy bits that picking the ones that you like, and sticking with them, which is the hard bit you know. So no, that's really good. Really good to hear. And for me, yeah, as a visual thinker myself, I know that this really helps me. Okay, cool. Yeah, actually, on that part, I'd like to talk a little bit around the way that you go about this online live, but I believe you use what you tell me what what tools do you use,

Ingrid Lill:

we haven't even mentioned that I'm, I'm of course drawing live, I do have a session with my with my clients, we meet on Zoom. Sometimes people here locally come to my studio, but that's very rare. So we meet on Zoom, and then I share my screen and I draw on either the iPad in an app called concepts or I use Adobe Illustrator, because that's on my computer here. Yeah. And then I asked him questions like, Who is your clients? And then they say something? And they often say, Well, I could be a software developer, or whatever. And then when I get more specific, Is it male or female? It could be anything, what is the age? What are they wearing? And what I what I want them to picture to start with is, what state of mind? Or what thoughts do the people have? And what where are they, when they're going to call you when they're like in a really desperate state? In the moment before they really have to call you for help?

Richard Bown:

Yes. Why? Why is it always gonna have to be under pressure? Will that narrow the type of client that you will want to be? Can it be someone who's actually

Ingrid Lill:

it helps you to get into it doesn't have to be under pressure, maybe they're just slightly bored. And they just want by eating, but but it's the minute before they call them? So you're, you're in this buying decision? Okay, that's, that's fine. And sometimes, yeah, and sometimes I have to press a little bit to get really specific. And the nice thing about drawing it is that they have to make my clients have to be specific about their clients. Because otherwise I can draw them and need details and what what's around them either sitting at the desk or whatever. And then you can always go back. And when you're writing social media posts, you can go back to this picture and say, what this person want to hear what you're seeing now, or is it irrelevant for them?

Richard Bown:

Yeah, Indeed, indeed. It makes a lot of sense. So you use Illustrator, which is a venerable tool. And yeah I used it back in the day, and I find it really complicated. I use myself like I mentioned so far, he's miro which I really love.

Ingrid Lill:

And it's also great miro. Yeah, yeah. Yeah,

Richard Bown:

there's quite a few. There's a lot of competition out there now. And it makes it so simple online as well now, so how does that set just from a technical perspective, how does that setup work? So you have like a camera if you're doing on the iPad, you must have a camera. So no,

Ingrid Lill:

it's a wireless connection with with a with Zoom. lens which share the iPad screen. That's cool,

Richard Bown:

really cool. But typically, and how does it work with illustrated same thing you can just share the screen? Yeah. And you have multiple monitors, I presume? Yes. Tell me how many monitors have you got?

Ingrid Lill:

I have to an iMac and then I have a Cintiq Wacom Cintiq if that tells me something way calm is like a drawing tablet. The Cintiq is something that is a big and bulky thing that with a screen where it can draw on. Okay, and I bought that before the iPad came out. I had it for A long time. And it was expensive. And I wouldn't recommend anybody to buy it. But now that I have it, and I'm so used to Illustrator and to, and it's hardwired to my computer, that's why I'm using it. But usually, the iPad, is this nice to go on.

Richard Bown:

Yeah, cool. Cool. Now it sounds like you've got plenty of options in case one of them goes down as well. Which

Ingrid Lill:

is, yeah, it sometimes happens into that one of them doesn't work and where it says something stupid, like the IP address doesn't work. Yeah. I also have a document camera. Okay. And when I'm working on paper, which I do, sometimes not so much for this kind of work, but then I can show my hand and my my paper.

Richard Bown:

Cool. Okay, here's another question for you. Do you ever work with groups?

Ingrid Lill:

Yeah, often I work with with only one person. But I have worked with groups. I mean, there are these group collaboration tools like neuro, which, which are wonderful, but I haven't used them yet. But I might in the future. But the way I'm working with a group is that everybody's sitting, it was under COVID. on their end, with with their camera, and everybody was looking at my screen. So everybody knew what what we were talking about. And then they were discussing what should be on the website and how it is, who the target group is, and I'm drawing, and then they see it, and then they can agree, this is how it should be. This is our person, and this is the problem or not. And so so it's like I'm the discussion, the visualizer

Richard Bown:

lay the leader of the discussion. So what did you take in that example, you take, like, you'd pick and pick a subject, for example, you discuss it.

Ingrid Lill:

In this case, it was it was a nonprofit organisation, talking about homeless people somewhere in Canada, and on their website, they had the homeless person, the hero, which is in a way nice, but on the other hand, they are not their target group, they are helping homeless people. But these people don't go on the website to get in, they're not interested. So we found out that their target audience that they have to direct their website towards is the shop owners mainly in the business, the citizens who are supposed to have a problematic relationship to this organisation. And all these problems have to be addressed. And so we it was a complicated thing, but we found out how to tell.

Richard Bown:

So that's a real life problem working through with a company challenge. And so the the outputs of that was to was to drive more donations, or what what was the what was the desired outcome?

Ingrid Lill:

To get more sympathies? What how do you call that? Acceptance? And of course, also donations, but explain that we are on the same side, you all want functioning community and the problem doesn't go away? If you're trying to get rid of us

Richard Bown:

here. Yeah, yeah, that's really interesting. And this is something that you've done, you do regularly as well, because that sounds like a brilliant opportunity for organisations to be able to also not only unpick their problem, but also agree together on a on a direction to going often I find that it's easy for someone in marketing to come up with an idea or another website should look but the whole organisation isn't necessarily invested in this. When you bring various parts of the organisation together to discuss problems around these kind of things, then you you by default, agree a direction, which and commit to it as well. So it sounds like a wonderful way to facilitate that.

Ingrid Lill:

And I would like to do more of that. But mostly I'm attracting people. Yeah. solopreneurs. But that's because of the space. I'm moving in. I'm also helping software CEOs to just brainstorm

Richard Bown:

Okay, so that wouldn't b e with your three Plate your three,

Ingrid Lill:

yes. Oh, also also just freeform that sometimes it happens once or that act ually happens all the time that I draw the three panel messaging thing, and then around it, I have this infinite artboard I draw details and ideas free form. So it's like a it's a growing picture. And it's funny that people and then I sent them the text sometimes I write the text and they don't want the text or some of them. They want the whole picture so they can walk the journey, trace the journey back. And then we went down there to the left and talked about this and then we we Yeah,

Richard Bown:

Because it was visual memory is so much more powerful than words, they get jumbled up. But there's some reason that you look up there to the top right when you're accessing certain parts of your memory apparently isn't there? It's completely tied to the way that our brain works. Yes. Yeah, for sure. Sacred will link all of your templates and your website, of course in the shownotes. And that'd be really good to share within about half an hour as well, which is good. So I'll just say thank you so much for joining me today.

Ingrid Lill:

It's been a pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

Richard Bown:

No worries. Well, I think we also have plenty more to talk about. So once we get this edited together and sent out there, I'll think about it more, but we can talk again later. Yes. It was really good to speak to Ingrid this week. I learned a lot. I hope you did too. And I look forward to speaking to you again on automation for the nation. Until next time, this is Richard Bown saying Goodbye and good luck.

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