Welcome to another blog in this months branding series! It's been a lot of fun brainstorming and putting together different types of information to share. When I go through the branding process, I get a lot of similar questions from my clients, and that's where I started in deciphering what topics to touch on this month.
Today's topic is 10 things to know about branding. These tips are things I have learned or told my clients throughout the branding process that we sometimes forget or take fore granted.
- Branding is not just about pretty colors and fonts...and it's more than just the logo... it's a representation of who you are both as a person and a business.Yes, these elements make it visually appealing, but the colors and fonts represent so much more of your business. There are entire theories that go into color choices that talk about the emotions they evoke (power, creativity, balance, etc.), therefore color alone sets the tone for all aspects of your brand.
- Be open minded. Branding is all about exploring and learning things about yourself through the process. There are a lot of hard questions, and some of them aren't going to be easy to answer. As cliche as it sounds, keep your mind open and follow your heart. Trust yourself.
- Define your target audience. I will admit. I didn't truly define my target market or niche until about 6 months ago at the Creative at Heart Conference...Oops! This question was so daunting to me because I didn't want to exclude anyone. But in an epiphany during the conference, I realized that my niche wasn't necessarily a specific type of person, but was more of a specialty, which is taking care of people. I take care of everyone in my personal life, sometimes more than I take care of myself. And while I did it to an extent in my business too, it wasn't something I capitalized on or put an extraordinary amount of time or effort into. Now that I have made it an effort to go above and beyond to truly take care of my clients in whatever way that may be, I find myself creating an entirely new client experience that has brought me a whole new clientele.
- Understand your value. This can mean so many different things: your value as a person, value in your pricing, the value you add to your products or services. You are incredibly valuable to all aspects of your business as no one else can be you! That's amazing and something to be proud of. You are the biggest piece of your business puzzle, and the most precious. Please don't ever let anyone else tell you differently.
- Be honest with yourself. I won't lie, this was one of the tougher ones for me when working on my new brand. I had these ideas in my head of who I thought I should be or what I thought my brand should look like based on competition and comparison. Which is not a good way to start a great brand! If you want the best possible brand for YOU, you have to be honest and true to yourself during the process.
- Don't be afraid to make decisions. I know it can be really hard. I am the most indecisive person ever, mostly because I don't ever want to let other people down. But when it came to my brand, I had to be the one making the decisions because it was about ME. It's okay to be selfish when building a brand because you are the one that needs to connect with it, love it and want to use it. I LOVE using my brand in any way I can and am proud of the work that went into it.
- Be consistent. I can't lie. It's a huge pet peeve of mine when someone has a brand, and it's GORGEOUS, but then they use different fonts or colors in different areas or pieces of collateral. The best part about having a brand is taking out the guess work. Everything is already decided for you: colors, fonts, imagery, keywords. That's why designers provide branding sheets, and that's why you should utilize it. Matching is a good thing...that's why it's called 'branding.'
- Be authentic. I know there are tons of other graphic designers and stationers out there. I am friends with a ton of them, and I absolutely love them. But the biggest difference between us? We are all different! We have our own styles, specialties and ways of doing things. And when someone chooses to use ME instead of someone else, I know it's because they had a connection with me and liked MY style, not because I'm necessarily better than someone else. As hard as it can be sometimes, there truly is no comparison when it comes to personal style. Be confident in yourself in knowing that no one else can offer exactly what you do.
- Start with a Pinterest board. I mean, who doesn't love playing around on Pinterest anyways? Maybe you are thinking of a new brand or a rebrand, or just want to mess around with your personal style. Either way, creating a branding board is such a great place to start because it will show you more about your personal style.
- Take your time. I cannot stress this enough. Seriously. I love it when clients come back to me and tell me they need a little bit longer to think about something. To me, that means that they are truly putting in the time and effort that a brand requires. I know it's easy to just push through and get a brand accomplished. And sometimes clients already know exactly what they want! But don't be afraid to sleep on it, eat on it, run on it...whatever it takes! As I reach the end of the branding process, I always encourage my clients to print out their new brand or logo and tape it somewhere in their office and leave it there for a day or two to really live with it. It allows them to mull it over and make sure that it's the right brand for them.
Photos by Hope Taylor Photography.