When you have an inkling you want to rebrand your business, it might start to make you feel unconfident to show up and share what you do with the world. Or perhaps it’s the other way round, you’re feeling unconfident and you’ve realised you need to shake things up with a rebrand.
A rebrand isn’t the absolute be all and end all, there are many ways to gain confidence (like working with a brand strategist, self-confidence or business coach, or getting help in any area of your business that feels sticky). But a new brand identity really will help you to raise your vibration and bring some new energy into your business and build momentum.
You brand for the future; the ‘you’ that’s a couple of steps ahead. This helps you to shift energy and meet the vibration of this new season in your business and get you moving towards it.
It’s important to note that a brand identity on its own won’t bring you more clients, customers, and recognition. It’s you and your actions combined with your wonderful new brand identity that are going to move you forwards. You need to be fully behind your new branding and so there are certain steps to take to make sure that it speaks of your soul and really represents what you do and the impact you want to have on the world.
When you’re fully behind your new branding you’re going to feel more confident to share everything you’re doing with the world.
It helps to go back to basics and make sure you understand what your brand identity and all the moving parts within it need to do.
Then, once you have a handle on the purpose of each moving part you can review and assess what you already have through a new lens, asking yourself if each part is functioning as it should be.
This first puzzle piece is one I find my clients have sometimes missed in the past. Having knowledge of what each item is supposed to do means you’ll know when your branding or rebranding efforts are on track and are going to be cost and time effective for you to do.
Creating a brand identity really is simply telling your brand story through typography, imagery, illustration (if that’s needed), and colour.
If we’re talking about your brand as a whole, you’re telling the story through your words and actions too.
Storytelling with visual branding isn’t linear. Think of it as “Telling a story with layering”. Layering up different elements in your brand to build up a technicolour picture.
When you’re thinking about all the layers in your branding rather than simply the logo and maybe the flat block colours, that’s when you start to build a brand identity that feels technicolour, evocative, exciting.
I have a 20 minute video for you all about demystifying what branding is and what the purpose of each part of the identity is. It’s the first of 5 videos in my branding mini course, The Rebrand Roadmap.
You can sign up to my online course cabin The Tree House to watch this first video for free!
“Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and insight in such a clear, simple to understand and accessible way. It was exactly what I was looking for – a framework to get me started, and a few insider tips too. I will be dipping in and out of it again and again over the next few months I think as I start thinking more in depth about my rebrand. I just wanted to let you know how happy I am with it.” – Lauren Clegg Jewellery
“I have been working on a logo after watching and working through the Rebrand Roadmap – it was so so good – thank you Meg! I got so much out of it, useful information, tips and tricks – I have really enjoyed the whole process.” – Kathryn Goddard Photography
Recently, my bike had a bit of a spruce-up (stick with me…). The bike itself is a sweet ‘ladies’ style one I bought when we were on a campervan holiday in France years ago.
I had still been using an old Saracen mountain bike that was a bit rubbish and really uncomfortable, and in a bid to make bike rides fun again I bought this new one. I let the old, uncomfortable one go and it felt good.
This new bike made the holiday SO MUCH MORE FUN for me. I was excited about riding again because the ‘sit up’ style of the bike and the comfier (wider ?) seat meant I wasn’t in pain after every ride.
I bought a cute basket for the front from an outdoor market and we rode to the bakery and back again for baguettes and pastries in the mornings. I was living the dream.
Fast forward to when we got home again to our rather hilly area of North Wales. My low budget bike meant that the thing is made of steel and is HEAVY. That’s no bother when you’re cycling along the flat, but it makes life a lot harder when cycling anywhere means you have to ride up hill all the way back home ?
My lovely new bike sat in the garage gathering dust. Cycling just wasn’t fun again.
Now, my Dad is really into his bikes and cycles for miles up and down dales, and in a bid to get me back on mine again, he and my husband hatched a plan to fit it with a motor and battery and turn it into an e-bike for my birthday.
What a bloody brilliant idea – they did an epic spruce-up of my bike and it certainly did the trick!
A pregnancy and a newborn baby meant it sat for a little while longer until we found a kids seat that fits over the pannier and battery at the back…but now I’m all ready to go and am EXCITED and looking forward bike rides again.
I was reflecting on this and it made me think of our businesses and how they can either serve us well and feel light and FUN, or when things are no longer serving us they can just feel like a real hard slog.
Things change over the years, and our businesses need to shift and change with us. Things should feel exciting and light and fun and if they don’t, we need to think about how we can make moves in the direction of excitement again.
I’m not talking about ‘shiny new things’ necessarily. Sometimes ‘new’ is what’s needed, and sometimes it’s just about letting go of some things, sprucing some things up, and doing more of what feels light and enjoyable.
Here are some ideas for sprucing up your biz world and for tuning into what feels light and enjoyable!
Are you on ALL the social media platforms? Are you trying to do ALL the things to market your business? This can just make you feel scattered because you’re spreading your energy too thinly. Doing a couple of things well and with great energy is so much better than trying to do everything. Which social media platforms do you enjoy? Stick with those.
Go further and think about which features inside the social media app you enjoy using. Yes it might be true that apps like Instagram ‘reward’ (for want of a better word) those that go all-in and use every feature, but what’s the ‘reward’? A bigger following? Can you stay engaged with that following or are those numbers just a vanity metric? I’m absolutely not telling you to not try each feature. Please do try them all if you want to and have the headspace to do so. But find out what works for you and let go of the rest.
Do a digital de-clutter and shut down the profiles that aren’t serving you. I’m taking my own advice and shutting my twitter account down. I don’t really get it, it doesn’t serve me, and my mind will feel less cluttered with it gone. Remove people from your following if they don’t engage with you, and unfollow anyone that doesn’t inspire you.
Sometimes brand new is necessary, but not always. It’s amazing what a little spruce up can do, you could feel renewed and excited again. Refreshing your branding is an obvious one (you know I’m here for you for that ?) but there are so many other things like making improvements to your website or refreshing the things you share or the ways you share on social media. Mix it up!
Refresh your product offering, client packages, or process. Especially when you’re delivering services you can repackage things in a slightly different way perhaps with a refreshed process too, and suddenly it might click with people who have been following you but haven’t bought from you or invested yet. This happened for me with this new offering. For products, you could refresh your packaging and make the experience of buying from you even more magical.
Repurpose past things you’ve created/written. With a few tweaks it could feel like something totally new ??. Think about new ways of delivering what you’ve already created. I recently discovered HelloAudio (affiliate link) which is a way to create private podcasts. You can create audio content, or repurpose video (they’ll do it for you, just upload the videos) and create a link that will allow your audience to subscribe and get the episodes in their own podcast app. No specialist app needed, most podcast apps work – it really is like a private podcast feed! You could provide it for free, as part of a course you’ve created, or it could be a standalone paid offering. This is something I want to take advantage of because it means people can take your content AWAY from the screen and listen to it whenever, wherever ??. Even things that need visuals can work – it takes some of the overwhelm away just consuming the content with one of your senses first. Then people can look at the video or visual elements afterwards when they feel ready alongside the audio.
If there are some things you’ve let go of, can you start something new that feels aligned with your values and the way you want to run your business? I want to encourage you to experiment. Ask yourself ‘What would happen if..? and insert your own crazy new way of doing things that might just actually work. Sometimes we have to offer our audience NEW ways of working with us, at different price points. Sometimes people have been following along and for ages and are just waiting for the right time and the right thing to invest in.
If the way you’re presenting yourself and your brand online feels particularly misaligned maybe it is time for an overhaul. A new brand identity that perfectly shows the heart and soul of your business will make you feel excited about showing up and sharing your magic again. After working with me on her branding, Katie said “I’ve adored the experience of working with Meg on my branding and I’m totally in love with the final result. The concept she came up with is so stunning and so me – I still can’t quite believe it’s mine! I can’t wait to start using it.”
Is there a new tech tool or some new hardware that’s going to make your life or your work easier and more efficient? I invested in a macbook pro earlier this year which is loads more powerful than my desktop computer (and so is quicker with many tasks) and allows me to work away from my desk. That’s invaluable to me – I need ultimate flexibility because we want to travel soon and I’ll be working on the road more. Just because something is expensive it doesn’t mean it’s not the right thing to invest in. Reflect on what will make your life/work/business easier, more efficient, or more enjoyable and invest in that.
I hope this has helped you to think a little differently about your business. If you feel like you need a little clarity I can help you un-muddle things via a 1to1 session.
May will soon become June and this year (2020-2021) has certainly been one I will never forget. I’ve had some amazing opportunities to work with some incredible businesses and had my largest earning month to date in March, but there’s also been a couple of things that really didn’t go to plan.
I had to terminate the contract for one project I was really excited about working on. It’s the first time this has ever happened to me and I’ll be honest and say it really knocked my confidence. The client paid a deposit, we had our kick-off call to make a start which went really well, but there was information I was waiting on.
I asked multiple times for the information I needed and in the end really couldn’t wait any longer. After not hearing anything for over a month I offered to restart the project at a later date (with no restart fee) but have had to shelve it for now with the earnings from it I was expecting to make crossed out of my books. I still haven’t heard anything!
That, coupled with the easing of lockdown in Britain where everyone is happy to be able to see friends and family again (and rightly so) has made for a slower couple of months in terms of earnings compared to my mega month in March. I’m STILL learning, after 4-5 years in business that this is just the way it works.
It’s an ebb and flow, a seasonal rhythm, yet it still catches me off guard. You have times where your business makes you feel like you’re on the top of the world, and then something shifts, and you’re second guessing whether you’re doing the right thing, whether you’re really cut out for running a business.
I’m learning that everything moves with the seasons – my business tends to be busy for bookings from late Summer through to Spring, it’s that ‘back to school’ energy where everyone is hyper focused on starting new things, and it’s the same with the new year too.
That energy runs all the way until about now, where everyone seems to just slow down. It makes sense now I’m thinking about it, Summer is to be enjoyed, it’s for relaxing and going on holidays (staycations this year maybe!). And I think I need to let myself ease into that too. Soon enough the energy will shift again, and if I don’t let myself rest and be at peace with the season I’m in, I won’t be ready to be swept up in all that energy again.
Sometimes though, it gets to the point where you just need a little sign from the universe that you’re in the right place and it’s ok to rest for a little while.
My sign came in the form of a message through my website:
“I came across your website last year & was COMPLETELY wowed by your work & your warm approach, WHICH SHINES THROUGH ON YOUR CORNER OF THE INTERNET. I wasn’t ready to “take the leap” in my own business then…but I am now. So where did I head to once I made this decision? Straight to you!”
A few days later, this lady has booked into my calendar and we’re looking forward to working together soon. It flowed with ease, no back and forth about scope and pricing, just warmth and excitement and it’s been an exchange that will stick in my mind for a long time.
It reminded me that the seeds you plant now might not bloom straight away. But some time in the not too distant future those flowers will spring up and you’ll realise the things you put in motion in the past made this happen TODAY ?
A potential client and customer that finds you will likely not book or buy straight away. They need to see you and hear from you multiple times until they’re at the point in their life when they ARE ready. Then you’re the obvious choice if what you’re sharing resonates with them and they’ve been reminded about you enough times.
Keep showing up, keep shining. You are seen even when no one ‘says’ they see you in this moment.
I was super excited when Anna Dunleavy got in touch with me about her branding via Instagram. We had been following along with each other for a while and I loved all the work she was doing. I knew she was a personal branding photographer and had recently set up her community – Fearless Hustle Collective.
Anna created the Fearless Hustle Collective to provide a supportive community of likeminded female creatives where everyone can help each other on the way to achieving their goals.
There are a few different elements within the Fearless Hustle Collective. There’s the super valuable paid membership club where Anna provides group coaching calls, monthly expert sessions, accountability calls, downloadable worksheets, and a closed Facebook group.
She also has monthly in-person meet-ups in Nottingham (UK), and a podcast where she talks to other business owners and creatives to share their stories and the nuggets of wisdom they’ve learnt along the way.
Anna felt that she was struggling to grow her reach because her branding wasn’t memorable enough and didn’t stand out. She wanted a look that other female business owners would feel connected and drawn to. Anna has a real spiritual side (like myself) so we were inspired by sun and moon symbolism and I dived deeper into other symbols and their meanings in parts of the branding too.
I also created the three sigils shown in the following images that incorporate the moon along with symbols of strength and support, clarity, and wisdom for each section of Anna’s business. A sigil is where you set an intention and then distill that message down into a meaningful image or design. The sigils feel like a tangible representation of the benefits of being part of the Fearless Hustle Collective.
After sending through the first brand design draft to Anna, she had this to say: “YOU HAVE BLOWN ME AWAY!!! The branding is everything I wanted and more. It couldn’t have felt more me if you tried! And I can’t tell you how thoughtful the sigils are. Thank you so much for all of your hard work. I’m honestly so so happy, and can’t wait to start using the branding. Thank you!”
I hit the nail on the head first time with this design and after a small tweak to the weight of some of the text, we were good to move onto collateral items such as business cards and blog graphic templates!
If you’re looking for a stand-out design for your brand please get in touch, I take on a very limited number of projects each month
Caro is an in-home family and newborn photographer who approached me via Instagram. She is also a passionate photography coach and mentor who is moving into the teaching world as another branch of her business.
With the shift in her services Caro knew it was time to update her branding so I created a bold, striking brand design for her that blends seamlessly with the stunning light and shadow play that is so distinctive in her photography.
Caro’s previous business name was Blue Cicada Photography – at the time of setting it up she was living away from her original home of Provence. Cicada’s reminded her of the summer months back at home and ‘blue’ came from the very unique blue of the Provence summer sky.
With a move back to France and a business that has evolved into teaching and mentoring alongside photography, Caro felt it was time to make her brand feel more like her.
She told me a story about how some types of Cicada’s stay underground in the dark until they shed the skin that has protected them while they were growing. Once that is done they come out into the sun and sing their hearts out. This is a beautiful metaphor for where Caro is at with her business – she’s ready to celebrate her hard work over the years and be the name and face of her business.
After reading this story I knew we had to keep Cicada imagery in Caro’s branding even though she was changing the name because it represents her business journey so well.
I put together the mood board below as a starting point for the project.
I combined hand-drawn Cicada wings with bold but refined typography that plays on the light and shadows that are a distinctive part of Caro’s photography. I overlapped the 2 hand-drawn wings to create the rectangular mark on the right shown below.
And below you can see a GIF animation of me creating the custom typography logo.
In the below submark, the word Caro is rising out from the circle to show that she is bringing herself to the surface. We chose colours that feel warm but dramatic to strike the balance between compassion and strength.
This was the very first concept I created for Caro following on from the approved mood board and she fell in love with it right away! She said: “It feels like you have materialised my vision…I feel elevated and energised!” To finish off, I also created some instagram templates for Caro, a business card design, and a keynote presentation for her training sessions.
Jess from Rosy Revolver contacted me via my website after finding me on Pinterest and we immediately knew we were a great fit for working together!
Jess is a Silversmith and a Jewelry Instructor with online courses – I studied some Silversmithing back during my college degree and so having some working knowledge of her industry meant I understood her business easily and intuitively.
At the beginning Jess said:
“I’m struggling to bring all the aspects of my business into one brand image – partly because I sell to jewelry consumers but also to other silversmiths. The one thing I know for sure about my client is that she’s highly create and individual… beyond that, I struggle with how to get started, finding the time to create the brand I know in my heart that RosyRevolver could be, and creating beautiful visuals that translate into the story that my jewelry and company try to tell…“
To unite all the parts of Jess’s business I created circular design that feeds into each of the logo varieties. It was so much fun to design with the wild rose theme and to make each design feel like a collection of trinkets – gathered, treasured, arranged.
Jess’s jewelry work is just like that – collections of repeating elements, sometimes including precious stones, vintage glass, African clay, and always with fine and sterling silvers.
She builds these materials into beautiful, wearable pieces that are bursting with stories to tell. It’s jewelry with heart and soul and history, ready for you to wear and layer with your own story and meaning after the many years you’ll treasure it.
Of course there was custom typography in this branding too – the little spiky thorns on the letters feed into our wild rose imagery. Jess has always had a rose motif within the branding for Rosy Revolver, we just shifted it to a Dog Rose – these wild plants grow by climbing up other plants and shrubs for support. This represents Jess’s online courses and resources and in person workshops where she helps others who have no formal silversmith training to create work they can feel proud of, supporting them through the process.
At the end of the process Jess said:
“I’m thrilled with the care and thoughtfulness Meg put into my brand design. Absolutely cannot recommend her enough – if you want something custom, curated, meaningful, and of the highest quality – Lemon & Birch is your best bet.“
To me, being visible in your business of course means being ‘seen’, but it also means being heard and understood. I’ll be honest, I’m not the most confident person, but I have found comfort in sharing who I really am through social media and my website because it has connected me to people that ‘get me’.
When you find those people that understand, those people that are on the same wavelength as you…that’s where the magic is.
Those are the work relationships that are going to make being self-employed both enjoyable AND profitable. Those are the people that are going to be loyal followers and buyers. Those are the people that are going to champion your business whenever they can – you make sense to them.
The only way you’re going to find these people is to BE VISIBLE in all your perfect imperfectness.
I know that how we are perceived by other people is something we all worry about. It’s natural, even the most confident people can’t help that. What I think is important though is to show up anyway, as our most authentic selves.
I grew up, as I think you reading this will have too, before social media was a thing. The people I saw on TV and in films were heavily stereotyped – one thing or the other, no in-betweens. What we learn as we get older is that people aren’t really ever one thing or the other. We’re all multi-faceted, ever-evolving, and endlessly interesting!
What I love about the internet and social media, is that it allows us to be seen just as we are. There’s no casting director, no one to tell you what to wear, what to say, or how to show up. Real people telling real stories. You write the script, you set the scene, you can be inspirational just by being your very own self.
On social media I’ve found people that look like me. People that don’t look like me. People that have a similar story to me, and people that grew up in a different country and culture. I’m friends with people that have disabilities, both visible and invisible. I’m friends with people who are on the same journey as me and I’ve been allowed an insight into journeys I might never have known about if those people had not been visible.
I learn every day about things from different perspectives to my own. Social media gets a bad rep, but I believe when it’s used wisely it helps us all to realise we’re more similar to each other than we think.
People buy from people, and when you are visible and you share yourself and your story, people get to know you. They root for you, they want you to succeed.
We really are in the ‘age of the small business’. People like you and me are choosing to spend their hard earned cash with other people just like you and me.
Be visible so that people can find your amazing business and connect with you on a deeper level.
Be visible so that the person who feels alone in their journey realises they aren’t as alone as they thought.
Be visible so that people understand why you do what you do and understand where your passion comes from.
Be visible so that someone who doesn’t feel pretty enough, or clever enough, or skinny enough realises that none of that really matters.
After having a brand photoshoot this time last year and starting to show my face more on my website and especially on social media, my engagement levels and the sense of community around my brand increased really quickly.
I also started sharing longer captions on Instagram just over a year ago alongside my images, sharing snippets of my business journey, snippets about my personal life, and just my general musings on business and my lifestyle.
Being visible can be as simple as sharing a picture of your workspace, or the beautiful view on your weekend walk. I truly believe that social media can help you grow your business when you use it as it was originally intended to be used and don’t just try to sell all the time.
However you currently feel about being more visible, I promise that it’s not as scary as it might seem. Start small if you need to, all those small steps add up. Most people are actually lovely and you’re very unlikely to get anything but love and support when you share more of yourself.
At the end of 2018 and start of 2019 I had a really slow season in my business. It was crickets, I had not had a new project enquiry in a couple of months and I had really started to panic.
I set my business up in 2016, but I did some full-time and part-time design agency work alongside it for a while. 2018 was my first solo year and I earned only half (about £12k) of what my full-time ’employed’ salary had been.
It all came to a head in January when I seriously considered getting a part-time job to supplement my income, or completely quitting altogether. I felt so lost and completely stressed out.
Thankfully, I didn’t quit. In hindsight we all go through slow seasons in business. Truth bomb – sometimes it’s our own fault. Sometimes it isn’t and it’s just the way the market goes, but sometimes it’s definitely our own fault. We can be our own worst enemies.
I realised that my own slow season had been my fault because I’d just been drifting along. I’d got too comfortable in the easy-ness of clients filtering through to my website via Pinterest and Instagram. I’d got lucky that my work had been popular on the two platforms and I kinda stopped working for it.
I hadn’t sent an email to my mailing list for months, and I had taken down my opt-in freebie – I can’t even remember why. Probably imposter syndrome about it not being good enough. January put things into perspective, and I realised that I love my work and owning my own business too much to quit and I just needed to find the magic again.
I needed to explore what I really want this business to become in the future and how I could start to be more intentional about the way I was working rather than just drifting along expecting the work to keep on coming to me.
Here are a few things that I worked on, and that you can do too to get the momentum going again if you find yourself in a slow period.
Most of us are really lucky to have family and friends as a support network, so do not panic. The mindset you’re in when you’re panicking is not helpful to anyone. You’re not thinking clearly or rationally and you’re likely to start looking up jobs at the local Aldi like I did. I’m sure working at Aldi is lovely, but you’ll have much less time to do the work you love. Maybe a part time job is the answer, but it doesn’t have to be the only way.
Ask for help if you need it. Paying bills is more important than your pride.
Instead of panicking, sit down and work through some numbers. How much have you got in the bank, how much do you need, what bills are due soon? Facing the numbers head on is the only way to move forward. How much do you you need to earn for the year to be comfortable?
Work backwards from that and see how much that equates to each month. How many products do you need to sell to hit that, or how many projects do you need to book in?
As a small business owner you probably have some kind of accounting software (I use freeagent* – it predicts my tax bill, my bank transactions get added automatically and I can file my self assessment return directly through it ?) or an accountant, but I find it’s good to have a separate spreadsheet somewhere on my computer where I simply track my cashflow each month – the money that is actually coming into my business bank account.
At the top I write my income goal for the year, along with a stretch income goal. I write Jan-Dec down a column on one side and add up exactly what goes into my bank account each month and write the values in the next column. I can see at a glance how far along I am to hitting my yearly goal each month.
Accounting software is fine and necessary for logging business bills and invoices and you can pull reports etc. but there’s just something different about having a super simple spreadsheet that I open often which gets me used to looking at my numbers.
Remember to work out how much tax you’ll owe on your income goal and have that value written somewhere so you can set money aside accordingly.
Because I book projects a few months in advance I ask for a deposit to book, and then ask for two payments during and at the end of the project. I have a section on my spreadsheet where I write how much each client is owing so that I can add all that up and see at a glance what is projected to come in over the next few months or for the rest of the year.
Again, all stuff my accounting software or project management software can do, but the act of typing it all in and looking at it on at least a weekly basis means I am more intimately aware of my money situation. There’s also a section with my (small) credit card debt – the act of reducing the number each time I make a payment makes me feel good.
Seeing all these various numbers together in a file I can just open quickly has majorly helped to keep me on track and stay motivated this year. If less has gone into my bank account than a previous month it’s in the forefront of my mind rather than buried somewhere in my accounting software.
I’m not saying you need to become numbers mad because there is much more to life, but do look at your numbers often. I also feel like it’s a bit of a manifestation tool, but let’s not go into detail about that in this post!
Here’s the thing. It’s a bit weird to talk about ‘owning’ people, but, you do not ‘own’ your Instagram or Facebook following. They are amazing places to build community around your brand, but if one of them goes down forever, or your account gets hacked and you lose your following, where would you be?
This is something I am still learning myself, I rely heavily on Instagram for business, but we all need to make sure we have a business and a community outside of these platforms. Your email list is important because it’s a list if people that have let you into their private inboxes.
You can export that list of emails at any time and move to a different email provider. See the difference? These people are really valuable to you, so nurture them.
During my slow season I created a new freebie download for people who signed up to my list. I made sure it was really valuable and jam packed with information and I released it to the world. I said “not today, thank you” to imposter syndrome and just did it.
I placed the ‘download my free branding guide’ button in prominent places on my website and I promoted it (and continue to promote it) on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
Social media is fun and necessary, but try and use it to drive people onto your website and email list as often as you can, rather than just being happy with a growing social following.
With an increasing email list comes the need to nurture that list. Most mailing list providers will allow you to set up a sequence of emails that get sent out automatically when people sign up at any interval you choose. Set up a sequence of emails with some valuable content that goes out automatically, and then email your list at least once a month with updates and helpful things to build that sense of community with your audience directly.
A sure-fire way to get people talking about your business and create a buzz around your brand is to provide a top-notch client or customer experience that wow’s people. It’s not just about delivering a great end product, it’s about each touchpoint with your business being professional, or beautiful, or personal – whatever suits your brand.
For me this meant making booking easier, especially for oversees clients where it’s not as easy to just bank transfer money, and thinking about how I could better explain the process to clients in the beginning. I set up a template web page with all the information they would need for their project once they’ve booked in.
Now I duplicate the template page, change names and timeline dates etc, and send the link off to them. They feel that they have a personalised, dedicated space where all their project info lives and I also add all the work I do to the page so that it’s always in the same place and no one has to go hunting through emails to find things.
I did some research and got my brand discovery questionnaire up to date so that I’m asking the right questions at the beginning of projects – this means I can deliver thoughtful and well considered design work that hits the mark more often than not on the first concept.
If in doubt, research, refine, and improve. None of the changes I made to my client process cost any money – just my time and effort which I had plenty of during my last slow season ?
Got projects you’ve done but not blogged about yet? Get those case studies up on your website and promote them like crazy. Research what other people in your industry are blogging about, don’t copy, but it should at least give you some ideas of what you could blog about yourself.
New blog posts means there is new content on your website which Google likes. I am no SEO expert, but what I do know is that the Internet likes websites that are kept fresh with interesting new things to read. Don’t let your site get stagnant, even rewriting your homepage or services page is helpful.
Repurpose content you’ve sent out to your email list into blog posts. Repurpose instagram posts on the same subject into a blog post. Whatever you can do to get more content on your website, do it. Promote. That. Content.
Think about spending a little bit of money on a website audit if you need help. It doesn’t have to be expensive and sometimes you just need a helping hand. You can get pointers on what to improve with the user journey and the flow of the site. There is a lot of information out there on the Internet about SEO, do some research and try to improve things yourself, or speak to an SEO expert.
All these things that I worked on helped to build my confidence back up. I gathered momentum and soon I was receiving lovely replies to my newsletters, people were enquiring about working with me again, and I managed to book projects in for the remainder of 2019.
Remember that nothing changes if nothing changes. Do the work, try something new, and stay positive.
There is no rule book for running a business and there are always so many questions circling in your ahead about what should be a priority and what should be put on the back burner.
To a new business I would say that brand design should be high up on the list of priorities if there is the budget to go professional first thing. For a more established business though, how do you know when the time is right?
Maybe you have been in business for a few years and feel much more set on the direction you’re heading in, or maybe you’ve been in business for a long time and have a niggling feeling that something needs to change.
If that seed has been planted in your mind and you’re at least considering it, it probably is time, but let’s go over a few signs so you can get a clearer picture.
Sometimes that font that seemed to suit your brand perfectly in the beginning just becomes a nightmare to work with. A very fine or thin font won’t have a big impact and when reproduced at a small scale it might well become unreadable.
Fine lined fonts also don’t translate well in a number of other situations – if letters are not thick enough there may be problems with things like hot foil or letterpress stamping, spot gloss printing, screen printing, signage, embroidery – any time that you want to reproduce your logo on products or stationery.
If you want to grow your business and want to be able to use your logo in a wide variety of situations it’s definitely time to rethink your brand design.
There is a difference between incorporating an element or design tend that feels authentic to your business and having a logo created in a certain style because that is what everyone else is doing.
For example, botanical and floral themed branding is still having a majorly popular moment, but as long as florals and botanicals fit with your brand vision and values then it’s perfectly ok to use them in your branding. Just having a floral logo because it looks pretty however may feel restricting in the future, and you might find that you grow out of it quickly.
Every design decision should be backed up with meaning so that the final outcome is truly tailored to your business – you’ll find that it feels timeless and authentic even though there might be ‘popular’ elements incorporated.
Perhaps you only have a logo rather than a full brand identity. Chances are that things don’t look cohesive and that might be holding you back.
Think about how larger brands look, they have set colours, fonts and styling for their products, stationery, website, and social media. This cohesive and intentional look is absolutely within reach for you when you work with a professional designer. Make sure your designer provides a style guide at the end so you can stay consistent going forward.
If your business has pivoted and the direction you’re heading in has changed or become more clear, or you have new product offerings, then it’s definitely time to rebrand.
Your brand design should be rooted in your vision and all those things that matter to you and your customers. When that alignment isn’t there you can end up with a confusing and inconsistent message which can turn off potential customers.
You might just have a niggling feeling that something doesn’t match up and if you’re unsure, please get in touch with me here for some friendly advice.
This almost goes without saying, but a business name change is the perfect time to review everything and as mentioned in the previous point – make sure your message is still consistent. A name change often signals the start of a new chapter and your current logo design is probably more suited to your old business name – simply changing the words used within the logo might not be enough.
If you’ve identified that you want to target a different type of customer, a rebrand should definitely be high on you list of priorities. Good design can elevate your offering and connect on a deeper level with your ideal customer.
Customers buy from you over someone else offering something similar because they feel an emotional connection to your business and product. Brand design and your visuals are a huge part of triggering that emotional reaction. Please also consider refreshing your brand voice and hiring a copywriter if you can in this instance, words and visuals go hard in hand here.
Before we dive into the elements that make up a strong brand, let’s first recap what a brand actually is. It’s a big buzz word, but what does it mean?
What is a brand? In simple terms, your brand is what you mean to people, or what your business means to people. It’s not your logo or your colour palette, it’s more of an abstract thing. it’s the substance below the surface of all the visuals – without substance and meaning, your logo is just a pretty book cover.
Your brand is what your customer thinks of when he or she hears your business name. It’s an experience that’s not repeated by any other company they interact with, and is guided by a set of values that they understand and that resonate with them.
There are 7 basic attributes of a strong brand – when you get these right your brand will naturally flourish. You may currently be strong in many of these areas and need only to tweak a few in order to grow the number of loyal fans and customers you have!
“If you confuse, you’ll lose.” ~ Donald Miller That quote is a pretty blunt way to put it, but it’s true. It can be tempting to use flowery language to describe what your business does and what you stand for. In reality, people have perhaps already spent their daily quote of brainpower elsewhere that day – they don’t have the time to decipher your meaning.
It’s so important that they understand what you do quickly and with ease. As soon as they feel a little confused, or that they need to use some brainpower, they’re likely to leave your website, shop, Instagram profile etc.
Assess the way you talk about your business everywhere. Ask a friend or family member, or better still, a customer. How can you simplify things? Do you describe your business the same way everywhere? Make sure you use simple language that’s free of jargon.
Not everyone is your customer, so you do not need to appeal to everyone. You just need to be relevant to the right people and understand how you help them with your product or service.
Do you understand your customers’ situation and where in their life or day you come in for them? Make sure the messaging and content you share is relevant to them.
Sometimes it might feel like you’re repeating the same things over and over but I assure you, the repetition is necessary to help strengthen your brand.
You must have something that makes you or your business different to your competitors and makes sure you highlight it often. Maybe it’s the way you create or manufacture your product, maybe it’s how or where your materials are sourced from. Maybe it’s a personality trait and the way you show up on social media.
Your unique mix of brand values and the reasons you do what you do are also a differentiator. Point out or illustrate your differentiators often so that they stand out in your customers’ mind.
Make a list of the ways you and your business are different and start weaving them into your messaging and content.
When you’re truly passionate about your product or service it’s plain to see. I think this is the area that most small businesses have no trouble with. We’re all here because we’re passionate about what we do, right?
Making a success of your business is hard – you must have passion in order to move past the knock-backs and the things that go wrong and keep ongoing.
It’s important that your people believe that you’ll deliver on your brand’s promise. There are many ways you can increase your credibility, such as:
The reason that social media is such a valuable marketing tool now is that it helps your business to be more visible. You can pop up in the news feeds of your followers on a daily basis, keeping you front and centre in their minds.
People are much more likely to buy what you’re selling after they’ve interacted with your brand multiple times. Having social media accounts and a mailing list so you can pop into the inboxes of your customers are both so valuable for visibility of your brand.
Visibility of you as a person also counts, showing the face or faces of the people behind the brand. People buy from people, they want to get to know you and hear about your story.
Last but definitely not least, we have consistency. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be consistent with everything you do. I’m not saying you cannot pivot or fine-tune things, you absolutely can and should as you get further along in your business journey, just build that consistency back up again. If you take nothing else away from this article, make ‘be consistent’ your mantra!
I have questions asked of me over on Instagram often by fellow designers as well as small business owners. I always make a list of the questions I get asked so that rather than just answering once, I can create blog posts like this that help more people with the same questions! I also have some digital products and online masterclasses in the works right now so keep your eyes peeled for those launching in a few months time.
If you’re new to the world of branding, or are a designer looking to learn more about what the ‘best practices’ are when designing a brand identity for a client, I really hope the following tips are helpful to you. As I said, digital products I’m creating at the moment will expand on all this knowledge, but in the mean time, here are 4 ‘best practices’ for creating a brand identity design.
During the research phase when you’re gathering imagery to inspire the look and feel of the brand identity, it can be tempting to only look at other logo designs that have already been created. Worse still would be to look at only logo designs from the same field of business.
Of course you need to know what else is out there in the field of business you’re creating the identity for, but there is SO MUCH MORE to see, and I don’t just mean on Pinterest. Really dive deep and think about the story of the business owner and their journey to where they are now.
Are there little ‘story’ elements you can pick out, are there themes you can build on, are there any images that come to mind when you’re reading all the information your client has given you? It’s important that a logo design has elements that feel familiar and not totally ‘out there’ but that it also feels like it has something ‘new’ to offer.
The most original designs come from combining different inspiration sources together. For example, combining a style of typography or text layout you may have seen in another logo design with some interesting angles or shapes inspired by a tiled floor pattern that gave off the right vibe for your clients’ brand.
It’s important to know what the future goals of the business are so that the new design can be aligned with this. You brand for the future of the business, not the past or present.
If the business is looking to expand in some way, an objective of the new brand identity might be to diversify the overall design so that there is scope to add more product lines or service offerings. More design elements might be needed for product packaging, or set colour combinations for each new service for example.
If the business is looking to target a slightly different customer or an additional type of customer, an objective of the new brand identity might be to elevate the overall feel of the brand to bring it in line with the revised target market.
Always discuss goals and objectives so you have a marker on which to judge the effectiveness of the new brand identity.
There may be more than one font used within a logo design, but the main typeface or font used should not then be used in other parts of the branding like for headings.
There are always exceptions to the rule – sometimes if your logo has illustrative elements or has had lots of customisation done to the text, you could feel that the same font is going to work best for headings. However, as a ‘best practice’ try to find a heading font that blends nicely rather than using the same one – or at least use the logo font very sparingly. This will make the overall brand identity look and feel much more professional.
In addition, you might think that adding more elements to a logo design will make it stand out more, but this just makes things complicated. The best logo designs have one or two ‘wow’ elements (this could be an illustration and custom letters in the text for example). Don’t try to add too many ideas into your design so that it becomes confusing or too busy.
Make sure you think about (or talk about with your client) all the places the brand identity and logo’s might be used. If you go ahead and start designing using a really thin weight font in part of the logo and then it’s decided that the logo needs to be letterpress stamped onto stationery, it can be impossible to make a stamp at certain sizes to get the desired printed result.
Similarly if the logo is going to be blown up very large onto a shop sign, make sure it’s going to look perfect at this larger size! Hand drawn elements can sometimes be tricky at larger sizes and may need a bit more tidying up so they don’t look too messy.
Another example would be involving colours – some blues and turquoises don’t replicate well from screen (RGB) to printing (CMYK) and you may need to use Pantone printing to replicate the correct colour. Same with neons – spot colour printing is the only way neons are possible in print. Make sure your client is aware of any colour printing limitations if they are keen to use colours that might present problems and try to explain Pantones and spot printing if you can.
I hope these tips have helped you get clearer on some aspects of designing a brand identity. As ever, if you have any questions for me or things you’d like me to cover please do send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’m always happy to help!