Many thanks to Kelsey Christine for this amazing info on branding – I’ll definitely be referencing this the next time I dive into a design!’
The word “branding” tends to get thrown around a lot among business owners, but do you truly know what your brand is? Spoiler: it’s not a logo. Logo design is just a small piece of your brand—an important piece, but still just a piece. Your brand is the entire experience that you create for anyone who comes in contact with your business.
Your brand is an extension of you, the badass biz owner. It’s everything from your personality, to your logo and color palette, to the way you write your emails and social media posts, to the layout of your website, to the presentation of your actual product or service. To make this easier to take in, I’ve split up a successful brand into 7 main components:
- Niche & Mission
- Your “Why” & Values
- Ideal Client
- Brand Aesthetics
- Brand Voice
- Web + Social Media Presence
- Internal Processes
In my “WTF is Branding?!” workbook, I delve into each of these components and share some fun worksheets to help you start tackling them on your own.
But for now, I want to jump into my favorite of the seven pieces: aesthetics. The pretty stuff. The fun part. The aesthetic design of your brand should be intentional and meaningful to your story and your overall mission. It should be cohesive across all client touch points. It should feel like an extension of YOU. So, where to start?
My one-on-one branding process always starts with a Discovery Phase. This is where we dig deep into the story behind the business, the human behind the business, and some key foundational elements like mission, values, ideal client, and goals.
Once that groundwork is set, it’s time to start piecing together aesthetic inspiration. Start with a few brands that you admire. Ask yourself what it is about that brand that draws you in. Then bring your search over to Pinterest. I encourage my clients to pin anything and everything that inspires them or attracts them while keeping their biz in mind. Whether it be textures, color palettes, images from nature or the home, other brand designs, people, quotes, or anything in between–you will likely start to see some trends emerge. Strategically choosing and piecing some of those together (buzzword alert: this is your mood board!) will help create a cohesive vibe that sets the foundation for the overall desired feel of your brand.
Colors + Textures.
Once you’ve gathered your inspo, you can start pulling colors directly from those images to piece together your color palette (this can be done in any basic design software). There is a lot of psychology and color theory knowledge that goes into a well-crafted color palette, but for those of you trying this on your own, just make sure it gives off the right vibes.
It also helps to share your mood board and color palette with some friends to get their initial reaction before moving onto the next phase.
Of course, your logo!! As with every other part of your brand, a good logo will have a lot of meaning and thought behind it. But no matter what you do, make sure that it’s legible! A good text is to shrink your logo design down and make sure that it can be read at a smaller size, too.
I also like to emphasize the importance of having alternate logo options, or variations. Alternate logo variations are created to fit anywhere that your primary logo can’t fit. For example, if your primary logo were a banner-style rectangular layout, you’d also want a stacked logo that will fit nicely as your Instagram or Facebook profile picture. In turn, this gives us room for more creativity when designing additional brand collateral like business cards, letterhead, stickers, advertisements, etc.
It’s beneficial to also have a custom submark or icon that acts almost as an extension of your logo. A mark or icon can be used to literally mark your work/client touch points without slapping your whole logo on everything and feeling too salesy (they make a great favicon, too!).
After (and sometimes during) designing your logo, it’s important to determine what fonts will be used throughout your brand. If you have used specific fonts in your logo, those can be carried out throughout your website and other touch points. If your logo is hand drawn/hand lettered, look for fonts that compliment the style of your brand without overwhelming it. Again, remember that legibility is super important–especially the font that you’ll be using for the body text on your site/blog. One of my favorite tools of all time is wordmark.it. This site allows you to type in any word or phrase and see it displayed in EVERY FONT YOU OWN. #designerheaven
Brand Style Guide.
This can be formatted in a ton of different ways, but the main idea is to create a document that recaps everything we just went through. Your style guide should include the color codes for every color in your palette, the font names that you chose, and your logos as they are intended to appear. I also like to include some of the inspirational images from the first phase to help give an idea of the overall vibe. This document will come in handy when creating additional design work for your brand, but also especially if you plan to hire out help for any future design work. This way, no matter who you hire, they will quickly have a solid understanding of your brand aesthetics and how to use them.
With all of this info to take in and then some, it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed. If you’re just starting out with branding your biz, take a deep breath. Start by prioritizing these tasks and setting mini goals for yourself. Successful brands aren’t built in a day!
Kelsey is the owner, designer, and brand strategist behind Honey Side Up Creative, where she provides custom brand design for other female creativepreneurs. With a background in Marketing Consulting, she helps clients dig deeper than just creating a pretty logo. She’s a craft beer-loving crazy cat lady who collects vinyl records and tattoos. She started her business in California, but will be relocating to Virginia this summer with her fiance. Honey Side Up Creative was built on the following ideals: creative entrepreneurs should empower one another, positive vibes should be the only vibes, and working relationships should become friendships.
‘WTF is Branding?!’ Free workbook download: www.honeysideup.com/WTF-is-Branding