What better way to kick off a new year and new blog than with some branding advice? Friends, let me just tell you, even though branding is one of my specialties, I know exactly how you feel about it if you’re just getting started. It’s not that long ago that I was just getting started too, and it was overwhelming, confusing, and made me second-guess myself every day when it came to my personal branding. Here’s the bottom line: it can be really hard to be objective about yourself and your business when you’re in the thick of it day in and day out. Sometimes it just takes a little outside perspective and a gentle nudge to help you get to the guts of your brand and determine how to position yourself in your market.
Forget Your Brand
OK, so this one may sound counterintuitive… But something that has really helped me personally is truly just not thinking about it for a bit. When I was getting hung up on what to call myself, how my logo should look, how to launch my Instagram account, etc., all I was doing was not putting in the work I really needed to kick-start my business. Don’t be afraid to just jump in head first and start doing the work before you have your brand 100% nailed down. Once you get started, you’ll start to gain some clarity from the work you’re doing and how clients are responding, and the “brand” will not only come more naturally, but will prove to be more authentic.
Know Your Why
The one thing that matters most about your brand is not your logo or your color palette or your website – it’s being incredibly clear on your why. Keep asking yourself why you want to start this business, why you want to serve your customers, why that matters to you. Keep drilling down until you get to your ultimate why. This is core to your business’ essence, and when you get clear on this, everything else will fall in line. Even if your branding changes 5 years from now, or you have to change your business model or service offerings one day, if your why stays constant and at the forefront of all your decision making, everything else will follow suit.
Do The Research
One step you absolutely can not skip is doing your research. You need to understand your market, your competitive landscape, and your target audience before you can determine how to present yourself to them. Not because these factors should change who you are, but because it will help you determine your true differentiator.
Create Cohesive Branding Assets
Once you’ve done all the leg work, it’s time to get started tackling your brand identity design! Whether you choose to DIY or work with a professional, it’s important to make sure you have a full suite of assets you can use. You’ll need a primary logo – the one that will be seen in most places and applications – but that may not always work in all instances. You’ll probably need some variations, including an icon (favicon for your website), a logo treatment for small spaces, and a one-color logo. You’ll also want to solidify your color palette, typography, graphic elements or patterns, and photography style. Once you have all of this in place, you’ll want to use this to create consistently branded assets for all of your materials – from website and business card to your social media profiles and blog images. Consistency is key in branding!
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