You know what one of my FAVORITE parts about being a creative entrepreneur is?
I freaking love branding!!!!!!
Creating a brand is SO. MUCH. FUN.
An amazing brand goes beyond simply having a cool name, nice logo and a few awesome graphics. A brand is't just a few design elements; it's the overall VIBE of the company. An awesome brand makes you FEEL something. And they make you FEEL something through their communication, their writing style, their design elements, the colors they use, the way they respond to e-mails and answer the phone, how they interact on social media, etc.
Your brand is YOU. (Which leads me to the FREE online Strong Brand Mini Course which I created just for you! It's the perfect starting point for bloggers, entrepreneurs and creatives who want a brand that's strong, consistent and totally awesome! Plus it's got worksheets, slides and videos. Just say'in.)
In a world completely saturated with small businesses, it's so important to stand out. And you know the best way to stand out? To have an awesome brand! The best part is that no matter how many people are already doing what YOU want to be doing, no one IS you. If done correctly, your brand will be completely unique because it will be a direct reflection of YOU.
So today I'm sharing 10 steps on how to create a unique, kick-ass brand!
1. Know who you are.
Sounds so obvious and yet this step is SO important and yet often overlooked! After all, your brand is YOU. Write down your brand's mission statement by writing down the purpose of your business/blog. Some questions to consider ... what gets you excited everyday? Why do you do what you do? What makes your business different than others? What are you hoping to accomplish? Ideally, make your brand's mission statement out of 2-3 sentences.
2. Write a personal outline.
Because your brand is an extension of YOU, you should also take the time to write down a personal outline of yourself. This part is fun! Write down anything and everything about yourself. Your ideal day, your passions, your favorite foods, favorite places to shop, what inspires you, what you do for fun, what you'd like to blog about ... just get it all out there!
3. Pick out 3 words to describe your brand.
What do you want people to FEEL when they think of and see your brand? Happy? Relaxed? Fun? If you're feeling stumped, ask your friends to give you three words that come to mind when they think of you. I've done this a few times and some words that I hear from people over and over are "creative," "colorful" and "bubbly." (And I have incorporated those into my brand!) Once you pick out your three words, you should use them as a filter going forward when choosing things like colors, fonts, graphics, your tone of voice, etc.
4. Create a mood board.
I love this part! A mood board is a collection of images, fonts, colors and more to articulate a theme. You can create them on Pinterest, Photoshop and of course the old fashioned way; by cutting out things like magazine clippings and putting them together on a board. Take the time to collect fonts, colors, images, fashion inspiration, graphics and icons to create a mood board. Once you've got a decent collection, look for themes. Are there any particular colors or fonts you keep going back to? Any similarities between your photos and different elements? Once you've identified these, refine your mood board by removing anything that does not fit. In order to keep it from getting overwhelming, try to get your mood board down to 30 images or less!
Here's a peek at the mood board that I created for my own brand:
5. Choose your colors, fonts, photos and other brand elements.
If you want to have a strong brand it is ESSENTIAL to have consistency! You want to choose specific colors, fonts, graphics, illustrative styles etc and use them on EVERYTHING like your blog, website, social media and business collateral. Try to stick with 3-5 colors and 3-4 fonts. Anything beyond that has the potential to look sloppy and busy- and we don't want that! I love browsing pretty color pallets over at Design Seeds and check out this AWESOME color generator if you need help choosing your color pallet! Also, enjoy downloading free fonts from Font Squirrel!
6. Create your logo.
Whether you are designing your logo yourself or hiring some one else to design it for you, make sure that it's something that can grow with your business over time. You want your logo to be iconic, relevant to your business and also appeal to your ideal audience. If you'd like to hire a totally amazing graphic designer for this, I highly recommend Nathan Evans! Or if you'd like to DIY, check out this helpful post about Lauren's process for creating logos!
7. Create a brand style guide.
This sheet should contain your brand's specific colors, fonts, images, your brand's 3 keywords and mission statement, etc. for you to use to make sure you keep particular standards and consistency. This way you can use it as a reference and always make sure that whatever you do moving forward is in line with your brand standards! I keep a copy of my brand's reference sheet on my desktop so that I can take a quick peek at it any time I make a business decision to make sure that it's in line with my brand's standards. It's also important to set particular parameters for your brand. For example, will you allow your logo to be displayed in multiple colors? If so, WHICH ones? Will you display it in ONE color only? (You might find this post on how to create a style guide for your blog helpful!)
8. Define your voice.
Just like with every other part of branding, you want to be consistent with your voice and for it to properly reflect the feeling of your brand. Is it fun? Witty? Formal? Friendly? Personal? My voice here on this blog pretty much reflects how I talk in every day life. I want it to be fun, personal and maybe slightly funny? Or just like ... weird? I dunno, it's ME! The way I write for my brand is the way I talk in my head, pretty much haha. (For more help on how to define your voice, check out this post!)
9. Create your brand goodies.
Once you've done the hard (yet super fun!) work of picking out your colors, fonts etc. you want to create all the goodies that you might need! Goodies like:
- Business cards
- product packaging
- Stationary & Notecards
- Website & Blog
10. Create specific steps for a kick-ass client experience.
Incase I haven't said it enough times already, consistency is KEY in creating a strong, kick-ass brand. This includes each and every experience that you give your clients! Take the time to write down each and every step you will go through with each client; from the first e-mail to the last thank-you card. This will allow you to give each client an awesome experience AND it will make sure you don't forget any of the steps!
And that's it! After you complete all these steps you should be well on your way to kicking some major butt with your brand! If you're feeling extra excited and wanna kick your brand up even further, check out this post on 18 ways to make your brand stand out!
I hope you are super, duper excited about creating your own awesome, one-of-a-kind brand! Got any questions related to branding? Feel free to ask away in the comments, I'd love to help!