It’s time to work through some tangible steps to create a brand that shows off your goals, dreams, and mission. If you haven't read Part 1 or Part 2, I highly suggest starting with those before reading through the rest of this blog post.
If you're ready to finalize your branding, there a few important steps I recommend you go through (before the popular stuff like logo, colors, and fonts). Please, take out a piece of paper or open up GoogleDocs or Microsoft Word and work through the following questions/steps.
Don’t waste your time by skimming through this and knowing you should do something different! Take the time to figure this out...If your time is limited, hire someone else to help you do it!
These are the steps I recommend you follow to establish a brand that’ll help your business flourish:
1. Establish The Foundation (A.K.A. Start From The Beginning).
Start by asking yourself these questions:
What does your business currently look like in terms of branding? What are you doing right? Wrong? Evaluate where your branding currently stands.
Are you currently attracting the customers/clients that you want to be working with? If not, consider WHO you want to work with? Who is your ideal customer?
What would your clients say if they were referring your business to a friend? How would they describe you, your offerings, and your business? What would you WANT them to say?
When you take the time to answer these questions FIRST, you’ll have an easier time making important decisions down the road.
2. Establish Your Goals.
The next step is to write down the goals you want to achieve! Your goals can be business-related or personal. Think of anything that’ll help you get where you want to be by writing down the answers to the following questions:
What do you want your income to be?
How many clients do you want on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?
How many employees do you want to have?
Who do you want to work with? Who is your IDEAL customer or client?
Where do you want to be 1 year from now? 5 years from now?
3. Finalize Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
What makes you different?
What do you offer?
How do you do it better than your competitors?
4. Start Fine-Tuning A Brand By Establishing Some Branding Keywords.
My favorite question that I ask all of my web design clients is…
What are 10 adjectives that you want your customers to feel or think when viewing your website? (See an example here).
The same concept goes for your overall brand.
Write these down and place them next to your desk!! Remember them because it’ll be so beneficial to refer to them when you need to write content, market your business, or if you need to remember your ‘why.’
5. Now Comes The Fun Part: Visuals!
This in itself can be its own blog post (aha future blog post idea); however, as this is a blog post to help you get started, I’ll keep it as concise and useful as possible!
1. Your tone/message:
Before officially piecing together colors and fonts, you’ll want to establish a tone/terminology for what you want to promote (fun, professional/serious, upscale, funny, etc.). This will help you imagine more visual aspects to include in things such as your logo, sub mark, photography, copywriting, etc. Pull from the brand adjectives that we discussed above.
One other suggestion: Take a look at some other brands that have nailed this piece of their brand. The tone/verbiage needs to encapsulate everything the brand does...from the colors to the choice of product names, etc. One pet brand that comes to mind for me is Barc London. This brand is all about luxury for urban professional pet parents. So, not only do they use metallic and upscale colors to show the modern luxury of their items, but the names of their products and the colors they use are very purposeful. The colors of the collars, for example, aren’t just ‘grey’ and ‘black.’ The colors are ‘Cool Grey,’ ‘Carbon Black,’ ‘Classic Cream,’ and ‘Champagne.’ Can you feel the brand now? Because I certainly can. Other great examples of this are….Anthropologie, Target, Nike, and Zippy Paws.
2. Gathering inspiration:
Look at other businesses. Consider creating a Pinterest board or physical vision board. Take into consideration that the photos or images to select should make you think or feel what you want your audience to think or feel when coming in contact with your business. It can be easy to fall into just selecting and pinning our own preferences and favorite colors, but that’s not necessarily the way to go. So, again, go back to your feelings/message/your why/adjectives. Head back into that mindset and use that to create your visual inspiration.
3. Logo Time:
Are you keeping your same logo, refining it, or starting from scratch? Regardless, it’s worth it to get a professional to do this for you (unless you happen to also be a designer, in which case, you probably wouldn’t need to read this blog post!). Beware of using things like Fiver or 99Designs because many times, they reuse designs or clipart visuals. I’m not lying when I say that I’ve had more than a couple of clients come to me with current logos that other businesses are using as well without their knowledge - and that’s no bueno!
Now don’t just pick neon pink and orange because you love those colors. Yes, you can totally take into consideration your favorite colors, but there is a lot more to it than just your preferences. There is endless research showing how different colors evoke different emotions and responses, which is why they’re so important in the branding process. Google color science/research and you'll learn tons. It’s been said that color can increase brand recognition by upwards of 80%, which is essential for a pet business (since the saturation is real!).
I typically recommend 4-6 colors depending on your brand. Be sure to combine dark and light colors, dominant and accent colors, etc. Be sure to also research the psychology of colors before selecting your color palette. Spend some time piecing this together, pulling inspiration, researching, and toying with options.
Because there is so much strategy behind colors and their palettes/combinations, this is another area where it can be really easy to piece not so great combinations without expert help. So, I’d recommend either researching how to piece together color palettes (hey, maybe a future blog post) or hiring a professional!
I recommend 2-3 fonts - 1 bold header font, one body text font, and one accent font (the one that’s either decorative, fun, out there, etc.). The most important thing here is to make sure that they work well together, they are readable (i.e. not too much of the accent font), and you stay consistent.
Contrast is always (well, 99% of the time) a great thing when it comes to fonts/typography. It’s great to add it in, whether you’re doing so with types of fonts (serif vs. sans serif) or font weights or sizes. Again, similarly to the colors, you want to play around with this and do some research into font pairing recommendations.
Lastly, it’s time to determine the style of your graphics. Are you adventurous, outdoorsy, minimalist, chic, ethical/natural, playful, curvy/soft edges, geometric, etc.? Stay consistent with this, whether you’re doing branded photography or just using stock photography.
Now, of course, I could go on and on about how this can relate to your social media, your promotional products, your written content, your advertising, etc. but just following the above steps will guide you in the right direction!
These are the stepping stones that’ll help you get started. Take note that it’s okay to change your brand and start fresh. There is always value in consistency; however, there’s no point in keeping the same branding for 20 years when it’s not attracting the right customers. In fact, many high-level designers will tell you to consider a rebrand or uplevel every 5 years (depending on your industry/situation).
Branding is such a beautiful piece of our businesses. It’s probably my favorite piece of what I do. I LOVE working with clients to refine, strategize, and develop a brand strategy that they love personally AND professionally.
For 1:1 help with your logo, branding and/or website design, click here and we can chat!