Do you find creating marketing graphics in your business takes you hours?
Fiddling around with different colours, fonts and images and it all ends up looking a bit like the dog’s dinner?
Suffer no longer! I’m going to show you the 6 Branding Essentials, that you need to nail, to transform your design process and make putting together those essential graphics so much quicker, easier and effective.
Each of the branding essentials I’m going to talk about come together to create your overall brand identity in different ways. Miss one and you’re missing out!
Branding Essential 1: Your Logo
The first of the branding essentials is of course your logo! This element plays an important part in appealing to the correct audience. However, I don’t want you to think that your visual brand identity is just your logo. It is actually just one tiny little element of your visual branding.
A logo is not your brand.
Think of it as your business’s signature. In fact, I work with a lot of entrepreneurs who are building a personal brand and I’ve actually used a form of their signature to create their logo. It’s a trick a lot of the big entrepreneurs employ to show that they are real people, approachable and experts in what they do. Keep it simple. Use as few colours, fonts and elements as possible so your audience can recognise it instantly.
Top Tip: If you’re an online or personal brand just go for it! I’m so going to get hate mail from all the graphic designers out there! Investing in an expensive logo when starting out just isn’t necessary and won’t be a huge part of your brand strategy. However, If you’re a product-based business and investing in packaging then you might need to invest in something a bit more future proof.
Branding Essential 2: Your Colour Palette
Your colours set the mood! Use the right colours and your customers will feel right at home. Use the wrong colours and you can really put people off! This is because colours have a remarkable psychological power! They can influence our mood, our feelings and even our behaviour which is a powerful place to be when creating your persuasive marketing graphics.
Ah the control!
Top Tip: Deciding on what your colour palette needs to be will tie all of your marketing together and make your powers of persuasion much more effective. I suggest including no more than five or six main colours at the most with one standout action colour to make people take those actions and buy from you.
Branding Essential 3: Your Fonts
The fonts you use, set the style of your brand. We are opinionated beasts and fonts come with a whole raft of preconceptions. Use a font that is misaligned with your brand and you could be sending out completely the wrong message to your audience. For example:
Using a childish font for something serious can make your business look unprofessional
Having a handwritten font for signage can be hard to read and look like you just threw it together yourself on a word doc.
Using overused default fonts can make your business seem bland and old-fashioned.
These are not the impression you want to make!
Top Tip: A great rule of thumb is to stick to two fonts. One with a bit of character that you can use for your big titles and the other for the smaller body text that needs to be easier to read.
Branding Essential 4: Your Patterns
This is a much-missed but essential element of your branding because patterns can be such a flexible tool. You can use them as backgrounds, to fill space and to make stock photographs look like your own. If you have a set of patterns that you use consistently – and consistency is the key when building a strong brand across all of your marketing – your audience will instantly recognise your post, your videos, your products and your downloadables as uniquely yours.
Top Tip: Don’t go overboard! Choose just two styles of patterns that suit the character of your brand.
You may want to check out this fabulous little website creativemarket.com for some pre-prepared patterns and graphics. Let me know if you go on there – it’s a little addictive I warn you!
Branding Essential 5: Your Graphics and Icons
These are so helpful because you can use them pretty much anywhere. Get a set of icons or mini graphics that match your brand and your marketing will be so much more effective. Consistency – I might have said this before – is key to building your brand.
Items like arrows, circles and icons all the way up to illustrations help to establish your look. Once you have them you’ll be able to easily brand up all your marketing so it’s recognisably you.
Top Tip: I know it’s tempting to pick a random arrow or free illustration in Canva when you’re trying to create your pics but this can really make your brand look unprofessional and thrown together. So, choose a graphic style and stick to it!
Branding Essential 6: Your Photos
Images can really evoke emotion. Using the right image at the right time can communicate the right message in seconds. Nowhere is this more evident than on websites, where decisions to stay on the site are made in a scarily short three seconds of landing on the page. An image really does say a thousand words – quickly!
Deciding on the style of all your images, that reflect exactly how you want your audience to feel about your brand, will make your marketing far more consistent and effective.
We don’t all have the budget to get professional photos done. And with the number of images needed for social posts, we often have to use stock photos or just take our own some of the time. (Or all of the time!) Just make sure they match your image style. So, use similar lighting, colours, filters and subject matter.
Top Tip: What do you do with all these brand identity elements once you’ve pinned them down? I always suggest creating a simple style guideline sheet that you can refer back to when you’re creating your marketing graphics. The elements of a style guide include:
The colour codes to use on canvas
Having this sheet will help you save so much time deciding and it will make your graphics far more consistent and much more powerful.
If you still need help pinning down your brand identity elements, I’ve created an easy and fun brand design course for complete beginners, untechys and not at all arty business owners called BrandUp. Shimmy on over for more info on the course or if you’re ready to start creating some of these elements for yourself, check out this blog for some easy ways you can get started.
Is it possible to build your fantastic brand on a shoestring budget?
Yes! Knowing what makes your brand tick is a powerful place to start and there are many super whizzy apps and websites that will help you do it all yourself.
This week I’ve been talking about how you can build your brand on a shoestring budget, yourself, and make your job of creating visual super easy in a series of lives on Facebook.
I cover what a brand really is and why it is so important to get right, why you don’t have to be a professional designer to start, what tools you can use with no experience and much much more.
Grab a cuppa and a biscuit and have a binge-watch…
Episode 1: What is a brand anyway?
What a brand is and what it isn’t and why you should care. This one is important to get your head around as understanding what elements make up your brand is so central to getting the right message across to your audience.
Episode 2: Easy Design Tools for Beginners
My top (easy) design tools that YOU can use yourself. Yes, you don’t have to be a professional designer to build your brand. You can build it on a shoestring with these fabby, free online design tools. Some of these are so good I use them myself.
Episode 3: Easy Design Rules = Easy Design
How having an easy set of branding rules can save you time and have a much bigger impact. It’s not about being strict and limiting yourself but freeing you up to do the things that really matter in your marketing. And getting that all-important consistency.
Episode 4: How bog-standard generic branding is hurting your business (ouch!)
To build a successful business you need to show what you do better than anybody else. Using generic and overused branding can result in getting lost in the crowd, losing you credibility, brand loyalty and sales. Find out how to make your brand stand out and shout your message loud.
Episode 5: Why DIY is a GREAT option for branding when you don’t have a huge budget.
Yes. it would be lovely to have a big chunk of money to spend on branding but going DIY can help you boost your own knowledge, skills and brand strategy. Find out why DIYing your own brand can be a boon to your business.
Liked these but don’t know where to get stuck into building your brand yourself when you have a teeny tiny budget?
I can help! Check out my BrandUP Branding and Design Course. It’s made especially for beginners, people who think they are as arty as a carrot or business owners who feel embarrassed by the look of their own branding (eek!). Find out more about BrandUP and get your business all branded up and attracting the right customers.
My Hair’s had a rebrand! Find out how it just goes to show that done for you branding is better value than off-the-shelf.
I’ve got a gorgeous auburn shiny brown barnet now! Do you like?
My old hair was making me feel washed out and old 😟 I was even starting to be embarrassed about the state of it and avoiding mirrors. I’d not had time to visit the hairdressers to get it all done ‘properly’, because for me ‘properly done’ took 3 and a half hours. I have A LOT of hair!!!
But every time I’ve tried out an off the shelf hair dye affair, it’s all turned out a bit pants. I always miss a bit, or a lot, I run out of dye because I have a lot of hair and it always looks as if I’ve bought the cheapest hair dye is Poundstretcher I could find. This nearly always resulted in me getting another hair dye for round 2 or booking a hair appointment to get it done properly. Not a classy look.
So, not having the time or having got my arse in gear to get a hairdressers appointment I decided to try out a new type of hair dye online. This one promised to create a special for me hair dye that would take into account my multicoloured, roots down to my ears, current hair colour. It promised that my new hair dye would be created just for me by a stylist who I could contact if I needed to.
I uploaded photos of my hair (cringeworthy at this point). They didn’t laugh! And then sent me through a beautiful package of made for me Hair Dye (called Katherine’s Hair Dye – nice!) with very detailed instructions how to use it to get the exact colour I had chosen online.
What a different experience! I had special gloves, a dye brush like the ones they use at the salon, a skin protector cream, a wipe off any smears on the skin cream, shampoo and conditioner. I’d bought a special dyeing kit that included hair clips, a bowl and everything else I’d need to make this work. I can now give my online stylist feedback on the colour so she knows what to supply next time. Needless to say, I’ve subscribed so I don’t have embarrassing, urgh hair again!
And since then, I’ve been complimented on my new hair by everybody. All were very surprised that I didn’t get it done at a salon! Bingo!!!
You may be wondering why you need the full account of my hair experience. Well, apart from being able to highly recommend the company that creates this lovely hair dye (eSalon), it’s a fantastic story of why off the shelf is more of a quick fix that can go wrong and why done for you can be much better value.
Was the done for you dye more expensive than popping a hair dye from the supermarket in my basket? Yes, but not a lot. And I didn’t run out, I got the result I wanted and didn’t have to go to the salon. Yay!
Grabbing a quick logo or predesigned brand can be great to get you off the ground but it’s not going to get you the results longterm. Throwing something together in Canva for social media is fantastic when building your audience but to up your game, turn them into buying customers and keep you and your message top of mind, it just doesn’t do the job.
I love how my hair dye experience was a mixture of DIY and bespoke. I got exactly what I wanted because it was created for me and I was given the tools and information to make it work.
Every ‘done for you’ branding I create is designed with my client’s business in mind, their audience, their personality, the message they need to shout out to the world.
Every ‘done for you’ website I create is built with SEO (to make the website easy to find) designed around the problems they solve, the results they can get and the answers they can provide.
Every ‘done for you’ website I create is built to make buying simple and easy for their customers.
Every ‘done for you’ website I create is designed to appeal to their ideal customers and match the rest of their gorgeous branding.
AND every client I work with is given the tools to use their own branding and website so they can grow and create spot-on branded marketing for themselves.
Can you buy off the shelf brands and off the shelf website packages? Yes! Is it the same experience? Nope! Get started with off the shelf because getting started is the most important part of business, but don’t limit your potential. Investment in ‘done for you’ is key if you need to grow.
Don’t look like every other business out there – do yours with style
It’s not easy to be individual.
I’m not a very interesting dresser. My wardrobe is full of bland clothes, jeans, comfy trousers, plain tops and a couple of hoodies (so I won’t be allowed in Lakeside then). None of this reflects my bonkers personality. If I was to wear my character out there I’d probably be dressed in multi-coloured floaty dresses with a hint of tutu about them. Plus long socks because they are comfy. With ballet pumps because I hate wearing them without socks.
I don’t, because I’m not five, but really, because I’m just not brave enough. At least, not on the school run. So I stick to my Mummy Uniform.
But my business is another matter!As my brand has developed from staid (ish) to beautiful and magical I’ve found that it’s been closer to the real me. I find it easier to sell, to shout about, to write and to connect with people who love the five year old in me. I know I’m getting it right when my Dad looks at my latest video offering and shakes his head with the smile that says, ‘that’s my Katherine’. Well, I was dressed up as a Christmas tree! Big grin.
I love my business. It feels effortless and amazingly simple. I’m just being me and creating things I love! Am I smug? – well, maybe a bit.
I’m sure you started your business because you were passionate about what you do. It’s part of being an entrepreneur (even if you don’t really think you are one in your own head). You’ve created something that is totally yours and completely and wonderfully you. At least, it should be…
I know, we are told we need to appeal to our ideal customer, that our brand should attract the right people to buy. And that is true. But it is also really important that you don’t lose sight of who you are and your own contribution to the business. Your unique selling point may be a revolutionary way of doing things, outstanding customer service, a stand out invention that is going to change the world but without your character driving your brand there will always be a disconnect between your brand and your business.
Do you love your branding? Does it make your tummy do little flips of excitement? Do you love showing it off? Do you find it easy to create new content, sell new products and shout about your business all over social media? Yes? Great – go and make a cup of tea. No? Read on…
Here are 3 ways you can align your brand with your true, underneath it all, if you could, you would character.
Put yourself in the limelight and shine
I work with a lot of solopreneurs whose business is all tied up with their expertise but when it comes to having their face up there in lights they all want to hide in a corner. ‘What should I be doing?’ ‘What poses should I do?’ they ask me. I always tell them to show what they are best at and to show what they do.
So if you are a speaker, a communicator and a teacher then show yourself speaking. If you are a writer, show yourself writing or thinking with the tools of your trade before you. If you are a creator, show the behind the scenes you. If you sell beautiful things, show the moment you discover the perfect addition to your shop. That is the interesting stuff. Not the coiffured, suited and booted headshot we see on most websites.
Choose colours that make your heart sing
Yes, I know, your ideal customers should like them to. But you will naturally attract the right people, the people who will buy, if your brand is aligned to you.
I teach how to find your brand colours at the very start of my Online Gorgeous course as colour is such an important part of your visual brand. It can create the right mood, make an impact, attract the right people and guide people around your website. One of my gorgeous ladies took inspiration from her favourite scarf, saying she always gets complimented on it and once she’d built up her new colour palette it just felt right.
If you are stuck for inspiration hop onto Pinterest and pin pictures you love. What patterns emerge? Or visit www.colorlovers.com and explore the fantastic range of colour palettes. If it catches your eye, it’s bound to catch your customers’.
Pick images that do it for you.
We are all sick of the average, corporate looking, smiling twenty something model smiling at the camera. These pictures are everywhere and are nothing but space fillers. The images you pick to support your marketing should add to your content, or even stand on its own.
So how can you find the right sort of images? First, have a think about the character of your brand. Is it fun, quirky, elegant, traditional, playful or humorous? Jot down how it makes you feel. You’ll end up with a whole lot of adjectives that will help you to pinpoint the right images for your brand.
My key words for The Business Beautician are playful, magical, zesty, simple, colourful, straightforward, whimsical, storytelling, transformation and many many more. Then, when I move on to finding images for my marketing I will use these adjectives for the search.
So when I was on the hunt for an image to support this blog I typed into the image search, ‘dressing up play’, ‘colourful fairy clothes’, ‘magical transformation girl’. And I think this image says it all – both about me and about the blog itself. Perfect!
If you find it really difficult to find those perfect images for your brand, you can also download my free images cheatsheet so you’ve got a list of really handy and commercially useable images for your marketing. Helpful, eh?
Brand consistency gone wrong = Toto, I’ve a feeling we aren’t in Kansas anymore
Have you ever been happily scrolling through your Insta or Facebook feed, find an account you LOVE; great content, gorgeous pics and they’ve really got something that speaks to you. So, you click the link to view their website and er, wait a mo, this doesn’t look right, did I click the right thing!?! Yep, the logo is there at the top, but the feel of the website is totally different to their ad and their social account. What do you do? You peddle right on back outa there and back to scrolling.
If your branding isn’t consistent everywhere, including your website, you are at best giving your crowd mixed messages and putting up a huge barrier to them getting to know you and trust you enough to buy and, at worst, just putting them off you altogether. No brand consistency? Bye bye.
We’ve got the attention span of pre-schooler when it comes to the internet. We don’t read things properly, we scroll through looking at the pretty pictures and click the next shiny thing that catches our eye. Decisions are taken in a split second and are often unconscious. The decision to like your brand can be instantaneous. So, mix your messages at your peril! Da da Daaaaaaaaah!
Building a strong visual brand can be as complicated or as simple as you like. Just don’t trip yourself up and keep to these few simple rules to stop you shooting yourself in the foot.
1. Your logo isn’t everything
I had to put this one first, because it is the NUMBER ONE thing that business owners get wrong. They think their logo is the NUMBER ONE thing that matters in their branding. It is NOT!!!!!
A logo is one of many visual cues that identify your brand. A really well designed logo can be an asset, build recognition and communicate a core part of your brand. BUT its primary role is to identify and separate your business from all the other noise out there. A shiny new logo is just a shiny new logo, it’s only when it gets to work as part of your brand, your message, your other visuals, the way you talk, the things you sell, quality and service that your logo carries any meaning.
So, use your logo to accompany your marketing and at the top of your website. But DO NOT RELY ON IT. Making the ‘logo bigger’ will not make your message clearer.
2. Give your Colours meaning
Choosing a colour palette to communicate your message is powerful stuff. Settling on the right branding colours will:
Evoke the right feelings about your brand in your customers
Help build that brand identity so they recognise you instantly
Save you time wondering what colours to use every time you create new visuals
Just keep the same colours across all your marketing, including your website. Don’t opt for bright neon pink buttons on your website because it will ‘stand out’ and make people press it when your branding colours are earthly greens and soft greys. They might think that this product is aimed at a 7 year old girl with a barbie obsession and move on past.
3. Fonts have feelings too
I choose a couple of fonts for my clients, often one full of character that we use for big headings and conversational visuals and the other for easy to read text. Both on websites and on other marketing.
It’s amazing what we associate with different fonts, at a glance. A swirly script font can seem old fashioned or elegant or traditional. A thin serif font can seem classy and remind the reader of fashion mags. A handwritten font can seem personal and friendly. Using a plain easy read font can seem approachable and straightforward.
Choose one that says the right thing about your brand and STICK to it. You don’t want to entice a new customer over from the Gram with your fun handwritten visuals to your website full of a boring standard font that ‘just came with the theme’. They loved your quirky fun and are now faced with just a bit dull.
4. An image says a thousand words
Just don’t let them say the wrong ones!
A website full of obviously stock images is going to be a bit of a shock after your facebook feed full of selfies, energetic videos and shares that demo your love of what you do. Social media is of course the ultimate opportunity to show off your wonderful character but so is your website.
If you only have selfies then use them creatively on both platforms. If you need to use stock images, choose ones that light you up and would make sense in all your marketing – pair them with your own words and make them yours.
Don’t just add an image because you feel you have to add an image. If you don’t have one that says the right thing and ADDS to your message, then just use words. A character font and the right colours can visually communicate just as well (all those viral memes prove this point!)
5. Patterns and shapes
Don’t have background images but your page is looking plain? Choose some interesting patterns or shapes to give it some oomph. Just remember to use them in your other marketing too!
Having some accompanying patterns, backgrounds and illustrations can be a way of tying together your visuals AND will save you time hunting for another stock photo of a woman twirling on a beach.
Above all the most important thing to remember is that your website is just another marketing tool for your business. It’s not a separate entity to all the other stuff you do. It’s not just something you have to have. Play with it the way you play with your social media marketing or your videos and it will be a fantastic asset for building your brand.
Spend money on a website = invest in your business
Yes, there are loads of fan dabby dozey FREE ways you can market your business online. Networking on social media is a brilliant free resource and one of the major ways I have built my own business over the years. Emarketing can be completely free and gets you right up front and personal (ooh er) with your most interested customers. Even creating a website can be free – a simple wordpress.com website or a free Wix website won’t cost you anything to set up (as long as you don’t use your own domain name and use their free templates).
But (you knew that one was coming!), the free stuff is great … to a point. After that, you are missing out on oodles of opportunities.
Here are 5 ways that a beautifully crafted website can boost you beyond what free can do…
1 Help your crowd
My Facebook page is packed full of tips and advice in posts and videos but if I had a question it is not easy to search and find the answers there. My Instagram videos, posts and stories can be seen, but beyond a few highlights aren’t easy to explore. Youtube hosts videos but for people searching for an answer to their question, it won’t just show your stuff – you are competing for attention.
Designing a website to host all your content is a must if you want to help your crowd. A well-crafted website can guide visitors to the right information and then point them to read more, or sign up to receive more help with a freebie or newsletter, or even buy something! Once they are on your website, they are reading only your stuff – no distractions.
You can not only guide them to buy, but you are helping them find what they need. A good website developer will help you design your customer’s journey through your website.
2. Brand Consistency
This is the part that the free websites really fall down on. Using a pre-made website template means that you are shoehorning your brand into something that wasn’t designed with your business in mind.
At best it can seem disjointed or confusing to people clicking through to the site from your social media as if they have clicked through to the wrong place, at worst it can look unprofessional and put your customers off.
A specially designed for you website will make your brand shine and boost your business, not harm it. A beautifully branded website sends a clear message about the quality of your business, your products and services. A beautifully branded website will be perfectly aligned with your core message and communicate just the right things to help you serve the pants off your crowd.
3. Be discovered
Yup, the free stuff is great for being found on social media but if you don’t have a website you can’t take advantage of boosting your own Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – you are reliant on algorithms and time-consuming networking. Since 93% of online searches start with a search engine, that is an awful lot of traffic you are missing out on.
Great SEO should be a key part of your website and there are some fantastic tools to make sure each post and page is doing its bit to get you noticed. All that content you have produced can be working away for you in the background, helping new and old customers find what they need and BUY FROM YOU!
4. Make selling easy, make upselling even easier
We are in business to sell things – whether they are physical products, services or teaching, CIC, LTD company or freelancer, we don’t just run a business for the fun of it.
There are lots of ways to sell, a simple paypal link from Facebook, Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Infusionsoft (Keap now apparently), Teachable etc. But they will charge you commission on sales or require a hefty monthly subscription fee for the service or take people off your platform and breaking up that nice smooth journey to buy. A well-designed website can guide people to buy, all consistently branded up to give your customers confidence in your service.
5. No website is a no no
One of the first things I do when buying anything, particularly but not exclusively, online is to check out the website. If they don’t have a website or if it looks naff, then that is a HUGE turnoff. ‘Proper’ businesses are expected to have a ‘proper’ website and if you don’t then you can’t be a ‘proper’ business – at least, that is the impression we give. Don’t give that impression!
If you are just starting out or are concentrating on getting your bricks and mortar business selling then don’t panic. A little free website built with a free template can be a good way to say hello to online. Getting chatting on social media, networking and building your crowd is more important at this stage and branding up a beautifully crafted website can come later when your message is clearer and your crowd is raring to hear more from you.