Let's face it — branding is tough! It's the first and last thing your clients experience with your company. It's the wide-eyed grin when they see your beautiful package on their doorstep and the sigh of relief when you've gracefully put out the fire on their marketing emergency. It's the "It's so perfect, I could cry" and the, "I could've never done this without you." It's a feeling. It's an emotion. It's everything.
Think about it... why do most people choose Starbucks over Dunkin' Donuts? Why do people pay double for Starbucks than the "same" thing at McDonalds? Here's a hint — it's not the coffee. It's the branding! Although I prefer the taste of Dunkin, if I'm meeting a friend or client, it's Starbucks hands down. Why? They've created an atmosphere that's warm and inviting. It's not just your afternoon pick-me-up, it's your safe haven. From the coffee in the cup to the cup itself, their products are consistent, beautiful and always high quality. Starbucks understands the importance of the brand experience, which allows them to charge more and still have a line around the corner.
For years, I had it all wrong in my business, thinking that my branding was my logo and website. Those are brand elements, but they aren't the brand! I was constantly tweaking my logo, graphics and my website, wasting so much time on trying to get it "perfect" (read the story here). The biggest thing missing was clarity — clarity on who Legacy Loft was; clarity on the clients I wanted to serve; and clarity on how to create an look & feel that attracted said clients.
My business was built on quicksand, and it was bound to sink if I didn't find focus and cohesion (and just finish my branding already!!!). I needed to start at ground zero and build on a firm foundation. It wasn't easy, especially trying to design for myself, but once I uncovered my strategy, I was confident I wouldn't fail.
If you want to stop the rebrand madness and create a beautiful, effective brand, you must find clarity on the following:
A Firm Foundation
What is your business built on? Define your why, how, what, and who. Why do you do what you do (please, don't say money)? How do you go about that? What do you offer along those lines? And who is best served by all of that? After tons of research and practice, I've found a pretty successful way to actually define these, not using those cheesy "where does your ideal client shop" type of questionnaires.
Here's what my foundation looks like, so you get a feel for it:
- Why: I want to see all businesses have elegant and cohesive graphics, that look professional and stand out, to effectively communicate with their ideal clients.
- How: I take the stress out of branding by bringing strategy and clarity and by making designs that are unique, clean, sophisticated and smart.
- What: I create beautiful branding, Squarespace websites and wedding invitations.
- Who: Creative boss ladies, such as photographers, coaches, copywriters & beauticians; and beautiful brides that want to stand out .
A business can't stand without a clear foundation, so don't move forward with aesthetics until you've gained clarity on this step – and don't be afraid to seek help on this (pssst... I offer a brand strategy sessions, so don't hesitate to reach out)!
Strong Frame Work
Here in Florida, cinder blocks homes are preferred since they're oh-so-much-sturdier than wood. Without this stability, the house can crumble when the pressure on the outside is stronger than they can handle (are you getting where I'm going with this). Between the "look and feel" of a brand, the "feel" is your frame work. If you ain't clear on this, you ain't going to hold up under pressure, no matter how pretty your colors are! Here's where you take from your why, how, what and who, and create relatable key words that determine how you want your clients to – you guessed it – feel when they work with you or visit your website. If you're struggling with your branding, or you've rebranded over and over, perhaps you're lacking solid frame work!
TIP: Physically write out your why, how, what, and who; add your feeling words, and keep that by you as you work on the aesthetics... don't stray from this!
Paint and Pictures
You've finally made it to the aesthetics stage — at least I hope you aren't trying to paint before finishing your foundation and walls, right?! It doesn't quite work that way! You've gone through this stage relentlessly in the past, trying new things and never getting it quite right. Look through your ideal client findings, your feeling words and your foundation. See what color palette and "look" works well with those. By now, everything should flow! If you target relationship coaches and your words are "bold, sassy and sexy" your colors will be bright and contrasty (maybe hot pink and black). Perhaps your words are "elegant, calming and feminine," so you use soft shades of teal, navy and lavender (oh, that's Legacy Loft)! Create a few mood boards to really hone in on this look.
From here, you can now have a logo created, as well as social media graphics, a website and stock photography. I decided to take my own stock photos to be really on-point with my branding and to really stand out. If I donated a dollar for every beautiful white desk with gold accessories I saw, I could end world hunger! Don't be afraid to be different, as long as you're still following your key words, mood board, and foundation!
The Final Step
If you're ready to stop the rebrand madness and finally get a brand that's clear, cohesive and effective, it's time to stop DIYing! Let the experts handle it and find a brand designer that fits YOU (which is a post for another time)! You can check out my branding services here.