I can tell you until your ears are bleeding that your brand is more than just a pretty logo. But sometimes it helps to hear it from someone else. In this blog post, I would like to welcome Samantha Mabe from Lemon and The Sea, enjoy!
When you hear people talking about their brand lately, it’s all about the colors, fonts, and logo: the look and feel. However, that’s not all there is to a brand: it’s not even the place to start.
As a brand and website designer, I see a lot of people wanting to work with someone to create a customized brand style. And, of course, I love helping people do this, but there are a few things you have to figure out before you can create a look that is really going to resonate with.
"Your brand story is all about where you come from and where you want to go"
Your brand story is all about where you come from and where you want to go. It’s more than just the story you tell about how you started your business: it’s the people you’re trying to reach, the values that you have, the core message you’re trying to communicate, and the services or products you want to provide.
If you’ve spent any time online reading blogs or watching videos from online entrepreneurs, you’ve probably heard about knowing your target audience. Maybe you’ve tried creating a “person” that you’re trying to reach, with a photo, personality and all. If that works for you, great! But for many, myself included, I didn’t find my target audience or ideal client until I started creating content and getting feedback.
The biggest thing here is that before you start changing around the look of your brand, you need to know who you’re trying to reach. Accountants are going to be drawn to something totally different than copywriters. Once you get to know what your current audience is responding to, you’ll get an idea of who they are and what they’re interested in (and if you don’t have an audience yet, just start creating content that you’re passionate about and see what happens).
This is what will make you stand out from everyone else online. (If you aren’t sure what your values are yet, check out this post for a little help.) The things you value are going to be reflected in the content you create, the services you provide, even how you deal with copycats and picky clients. Once you know what’s important to you in how you run your business, you’ll be better able to include that as a part of your brand’s appearance.
What is it that you want people to know when they talk with you? Is there a piece of advice you find yourself giving over and over? Your core message is a statement of why you do the work you do. It’s the reason behind all of your decisions. Mine is: Don’t try to be like everybody else. Design should reflect to the world what makes you unique.
Don’t worry if you don’t know your core message yet: it can take time to really dig into what you’re trying to communicate. Try asking yourself these questions:
○ What do people ask me for advice on?
○ What is the one thing I want all my clients to know?
○ Why do I want to help certain people instead of others?
Then, try playing around with the answers. Your core message is all about the why and knowing that is going to help a designer figure out how to communicate that message.
Your Ideal Emotions
This one can be tough to put into words for most people, but it’s important if you want to get your brand story out there. What emotions do you want people to feel when they see your brand? Maybe you want to evoke a sense of fun, freedom, and whimsy. Or you may rather seem calm, capable, and a little feminine. Try coming up with ten words that describe the way you want your brand to feel.
"Try coming up with ten words that describe the way you want your brand to feel."
These emotions need to make sense in the grander scheme too: if you’re personality is bright and bubbly, a really mellow brand probably won’t work for you. You need to know who you are and who you’re reaching to find the best feeling for your brand.
Again, this isn’t just about the color scheme. Sure, colors play a huge role in evoking emotions. There are whole courses on the psychology of color, but you also need to evoke emotions in your layout, your images, and your copy (your words, if you’re wondering).
You should tell your story, but use it as a lesson and a way to connect instead of as an outlet to vent. Your experiences are unique and the way you handled them is as well. Each of us has a story to tell. Some may seem more exciting than others, but you’ve ended up where you are because of the path that you’ve taken. Embrace that and learn from it. It can be tough to get a handle of your own story and see what you’ve gained from it, but you need to work through it.
Once you understand where you’ve come from and how you’ve gotten where you are, you can better plan for the future you want. And you can share you story with your audience. You never know who is going through something similar and just needs to know that it will all work out in the end.
Your story is also a great indicator of how you can help others. You’ll find pieces that you want to share and things you want to help others with and these are a great way to find your audience and serve them in a way that only you can.
Your brand is about so much more than just the way it looks or the colors you use. It’s about the story that you’re telling to people. Need some ideas about finding your message? Check out this post.
Samantha helps creatives and small businesses stand out online through building a visual brand that reflects the things that make them unique. She is also the creator of Inspired Online: a video interview series featuring online entrepreneurs sharing their stories and actionable tips for those growing their own online businesses. A Pittsburgh native with North Carolina roots slowly making my way south, she loves God, ice cream, and tv shows that were cancelled too soon. You can find her work at www.lemonandthesea.com as well as follow her on Instagram and Twitter.