How to Create a Brand that Reflects Your Business (and deletes any doubts)
Tell me if I’m wrong. One of your main causes of doubt as an entrepreneur is not knowing if your brand is fully capturing your message. You look at your website, your logo, or the last piece of graphic you put together, and you’re not confident that you’re communicating who you are and what your business is about successfully.
You guessed it, it all comes down to branding. But what does it mean? How can you make sure it speaks YOU and doesn’t get you into doubt mode a month into your business? Here’s my top tip: START WITH A GOOD BASE. That simple. Before you get all in with the day-to-day of running your business, pause for a second and take step back to think who YOU and YOUR BUSINESS are. And I didn’t say ‘stop’, I said ‘pause’: know that you’re not interrupting the flow of your business – you’re actually taking a conscious moment to set yourself up for success in the future.
There are 2 ways you deliver your message: voice and visuals. These are the texts on your website, your Instagram captions, the colour palette, the fonts, the style of photos, etc. There’s no right or wrong, but you want to make sure your choices speak YOU.
I know you’re PASSIONATE about your business, and you’ll do anything it takes to make it succeed. So trust me in this: honour it and take a moment to do these little exercises. I promise they will give you the perfect standpoint to ensure you’re always delivering the perfect message, one that is right for YOUR business.
Step 1. Identify who your customer is
Don’t get hung up on this one. You’re probably sooo over it people telling you that you need to know who your ideal client is. But, really, it IS essential. I’m gonna make it easy for you: copy and paste the text below into a new document, or grab pen or pencil, and fill in the blanks or underline your choice:
My ideal customer is a male/female, is _____ years old, lives in big city/mid-sized city/small area, is single/a new mumma/family mum/etc., closely follows ____, ____ and ____ on Instagram, adores knitting/going out/being spiritual, her home is eclectic/minimalist/femininely designed, she loves _________, is super passionate about __________ and something very unique about her is _____________.
Step 2. Imagine your brand as a person
If your business or brand was a person, how would she or he be? How do YOU WANT her to be?
- Pick ONE or TWO colours that describe her.
- Pick ONE photo (via Unsplash, Pinterest or Instagram) that identifies her. I recommend you choose a photo of a person, which you’ll be able to use to imagine she’s the one speaking to your people.
- Pick THREE words that describe her. For example: bold, playful, fun, high-tech, inviting, warm, feminine, sexy, rustic, natural, etc.
Print it all out and stick it to the wall in front of your desk. Now, every time you create something, make sure that it comes from her, or that it speaks to her.
Step 3. Write out a short business description
But not a boring, formal description. Do it from your brand’s voice (hint: think about the person you just created in step 2). Now that you know WHO you are, and WHO you’re talking to, spend the next few minutes writing WHAT you do. Make sure it’s your brand persona who is saying it, and that you’re communicating it to your customer.
Here’s a couple of examples. They both reflect a web design business, but a completely different one:
- “We build sexy websites that skyrocket you to world domination”
- “We craft beautiful websites that connect you heart-to-heart with your people”
Get the idea? By choosing each and every WORD, you infuse a specific voice to your brand. And this simple and short descriptive sentence that you create will help you infuse this same voice to every text you craft in the future.
Paste it to your homepage, your social media profiles and print it out so you look at it every time you have a new piece of content to write.
Step 4. Choose the right visuals: colour, fonts and photos
Now, you need to show your personality through your visuals. You know what they say: an image is worth a thousand words. Your visuals can refer to:
Go back to your personality exercise. Remember which one or two colours you chose. Colours convey distinct emotions, and have different connotations. You can decide to use a colour that’s not been used before to make a statement about your business. You make the rules, as long as it is aligned with your business personality. Let’s take Stevie Says Social as an example, taking bright pink by storm. If you’re scrolling on Instagram, or on the Podcast shows feed, and you quickly spot a bold use of pink, you immediately know it’s Stevie.
On the other hand, you may decide that what’s right for your business is a more subtle use of colour. And that’s totally fine too. Have a look at Marie Forleo. We see that she mainly uses grey, white, black and has only little accents of pale pink. Nothing onto your face.
Whatever strategy you choose, make sure it speaks your brand and, very importantly, use it CONSISTENTLY. Stevie’s strategy wouldn’t work if she suddenly started using blue, or Marie began using a specific colour all throughout her platforms. Keep it consistent. It’s useful to pick one, two or three colours and play around with them.
With types, you have few options:
- Sans serif fonts – with a more elegant, sophisticated and even high-tech connotation
- Serif fonts – more classic, warm, natural and inviting
- Script fonts – very personable and feminine.
Choose TWO from any category, and stick with them. Think of your brand, not your personal preferences. If you’re still unsure which ones to choose, look at businesses that you feel aligned with, and find out which ones they use.
Be super intentional with the style of photography you go for and, again, always keeping your personality in mind. Are they beautifully composed photos? Or do they have more of a relaxed, natural, rustic look? For example, for my business, I try to not choose images that are overly styled, because it’s not me, and you’ll not see a lot of make-up, pretty nails or glitter. What you will see is spacious, natural and relaxed images. If you spot flowers, they’ll probably be wild, not pretty bouquets.
Also, think of the colours: do your photos use strong, saturated colours? Or are they black and white imagery instead? Are they candid photos, or studio-arranged ones? Make quick notes of your choices, and keep this checklist handy when searching for photos for your graphics, social media or as a guideline for your photographer.
Remember being thoughtful and intentional when choosing your photos and, always, keep consistency.
If you ever feel you’re not delivering your voice, it may be you’ve been giving conflicting messages through your texts or photos, or you’ve missed consistency in the use of your colours or fonts. Go back to these basic steps and always follow through. Remember it’s not about your personal taste, your decisions need to support who your business is and who it speaks to.