While branding may seem like a complicated concept, it’s really fantastically simple once distilled down to its essence: branding is the visual encapsulation of who you are as a company. In my consulting business, I meet with makers each and every week who are struggling to convey who they are to their audience. And when I pop open their hood and start rooting around under there, I often realize that it’s because the makers aren’t certain of who they are.
In my LBU: Secrets to Wholesale Success program, we spend a considerable amount of working through key branding exercises, since strong branding is the cornerstone of every successful wholesale program. You can’t expect a shop/ gallery/ spa to communicate what your products represent to the public if you can’t successfully encapsulate that yourself. Several of my LBU students have said they’re overwhelmed by the process of building a brand because they’re simply not certain which aspect to tackle first.
Have you ever heard the saying: “How do you eat an elephant?”
Touche! So, too, is it with the process of branding: one step at a time.
Step 1: Get clarity.
Employ laser-focus and Buddha-caliber patience to answer these questions:
• At its core, what does my company offer?
• What distinguishes my products in the marketplace?
• How do I want my customers to feel when they see my products?
• What five adjectives could be used to describe my brand personality? (hint: it’s not pretty or nice or cool- drill deep!)
Viola… You just defined your brand! That wasn’t so hard was it? The Buddha-caliber patience comes into play because I want you to jot those answers down and then spend a few minutes with them daily for ten solid days. That focus will help refine your initial thoughts and deliver the clarity you seek.
Step 2: Visually encapsulate that clarity.
A logo is the cornerstone of any brand and as you begin to marinate on yours, return continually to those core questions. Select colors which communicate your brand personality and elicit the emotion you want your customer to feel. Need color inspiration? I’m a huge fan of Design Seeds and its creator, Jessica. Follow Design Seeds on Facebook for a continual river of color inspiration and gorgeously assembled palettes. When designing a logo, limit color choices to 3. (Pro tip: See a Design Seeds palette you adore? Here’s the 411 on how to identify the HEX values and replicate the precise hue in your branding.)
Now, create a Pinterest board and fill it to the brim with inspiration. Pin packaging you love, colors you lust after, images that elicit emotions similar to what you want your customers to feel, snippets from brands you adore. This Pinterest board is a powerful tool in your branding arsenal and will make life oh-so-much easier when you bring on a designer to help articulate your brand. And this needs to be said: unless you have some serious design chops, you need a professional designer. Your logo is your introduction to the world… make it a good one!
Step 3: Be obsessively consistent.
After that designer whips up an irresistible logo, have them construct a branding guide (mine is seen at right). Think of this as the visual Bible for your business and follow it to the letter. Incongruity is the kryptonite of good branding. Every color, every font, every photo, every illustration, every website, every shelf talker, packing slip, and every line sheet should be radically consistent, working synergistically to speak in harmony with a singular voice to communicate who you are to the public.
Lucky Break utilizes four core colors and I use them religiously. It’s not just any red, it’s E8113A and I use that same red every. single. time. I consistently utilize three fonts: Belinda, Populaire and Museo Sans (Hey! You’re reading that Museo Sans right now- how’s it looking?) I also asked my designer to create spot illustrations to be used across various platforms (social media, curriculum videos and my website) and they’re articulated in the same style. My signature colors are all nice + fiery and are meant to convey energy and empowerment. I want you to feel invigorated and excited after seeing them. How’d I do?
Branding doesn’t have to be tear-inducing. It shouldn’t necessitate a bottle of wine and an early bedtime (though truly: I adore early bedtimes!). So often on my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve had a tendency to morph fantastically simple concepts into scary, scaly monsters that paralyze me with fear. I think that branding is like that for many of us. Over the past decade, I’ve learned to embrace the art of branding and it’s evolved into a process I utterly adore. Through my consulting services, I enjoy helping makers of all sorts build their brands!
Branding in 3 simple steps.
1. Get clarity.
2. Visually encapsulate that clarity.
3. Be obsessively consistent.
That wasn’t so painful, was it?