In this episode I get vulnerable as I take you behind-the-scenes into my session with marketing and story strategist, Christie Bilbrey, where she takes me through the process of her new and unique storytelling method. In this episode, you’ll see first hand how to leverage your most valuable, yet priceless asset to sell out your product, service or program: your story.
In this episode of the Brand It Girl podcast, we are sinking our teeth into the 5 brand elements that you need for your blog! Blogs can be incredibly helpful for your business - it can establish you as an expert, it can help you to grow a community or tribe, it drives new traffic to your website and can improve your SEO. But what branded elements do you need for your blog?
Have you ever experienced the utterly flat feeling of sitting down to write a blog post or an email to your list and nothing comes to you? Or worse, you write the blog post or email and read back over it and you're like "whhhhhat? am I talking about?".
Yep, this used to happen to me. And confession: it still does from time to time. But I have a way to sort it all out in my head that allows me to get back to writing quicker, and in a much more efficient way!
My method is to create a story for my ideal client.
It's an exciting time here at Brand It Girl HQ. We have just launched our brand new membership site, The Brand It Boutique and it's doing so well, we have members starting to come in already!
I created The Boutique because I know that there are three main reasons that women either don't starting their own online businesses and blogs or that they fail to growing those businesses and blogs sustainably:
- THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO IT.
They either don't have the skills or knowledge that they need to get it started or to grow and develop using specific growth strategies like email list building, funnels, social media and systems. OR they know that they need these skills but they don't have the time to trawl through the internet, trying to find the answers and the be honest, they don't have the money to take a course on every topic!
- THEY DON'T THINK THEY CAN DO IT.
Another huge issue is mindset. They don't believe that they can or they don't think that they are worthy of success in this way. A big part of this is the dreaded Imposter Syndrome that traps us into believing that we don't really have the knowledge and skill that logically, we know that we do! Their mindset and physical health is often the reason women don't propel forward into their purpose!
- THEY DON'T HAVE THE SUPPORT NETWORK.
And lastly, being an online business owner, solopreneur &/or blogger can be terribly lonely. We often work from home on our own and it can be isolating! Friends and family don't necessarily understand what you are trying to build and why and this can mean that women taking this path are left feeling unsupported and like they are tackling this alone!
With these three big issues in mind, The Boutique was created based on these three pillars: education, wellbeing and support.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with a beautiful soul, and wonderful artist, Maggie Minor. We had a great Skype chat all centred around the space in which so many of us spend our day and the vast and varied forms that this particular space might take. We spoke about the ways in which we can maximise the creative potential of this space and how the artwork and furniture in this space really does impact on the work you do. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
We are starting off the year with a brand plan! What am I talking about?
I am referring to the 5 Days to Plan Your Brand challenge/mini-course that I ran in November 2016! After a highly successful run, with so much brand clarity for so many people, I will be running the program again in January. We kick off on the 16th January and I would love to invite you to join us!
This is a 100% live program! Each day, for five days, you will receive an email in your inbox with the challenge and action item for the day. These challenges are designed to bring you brand clarity and move you towards a more cohesive brand identity. Then, you'll head over to the private challenge Facebook group where you will post your home work or the results of the challenge for the day and I will give you feedback, answer questions and your peers will chime in and give you their support, thoughts and encouragement too.
I will also deliver a Facebook LIVE training centered around the topic for the day and a downloadable workbook each day. These workbooks are designed to guide you through auditing the brand you have or can be used as a roadmap to design the brand you want. The LIVE sessions delve deeper into the topic of the day and offer strategies and tactics for you to try, give you a chance to ask questions and share your own ideas. So each day, for the five days, I will be jumping on live and chatting with you to ensure you are seeing the clarity you need!
And the best part? It's absolutely free
The allure of starting your own online business has never been stronger. You are hearing the stories of wildly successful web-based start-ups and you are constantly inspired by the scale of the transformations people are seeing in their lives in very short periods of time. It feels like everyone is having 5-figure months and everyone has a sales funnel in place and you... well, you feel like you have been left behind.
I am not going to sugar coat this for you. Here it is, straight: You can have all that too.
When Sandra and Jim approached me to design a new brand identity for their Victorian holiday cabins, I was absolutely thrilled! I had never designed for an accommodation company before and I loved their easy going, kind vibe right from the start. So I knew that this would be a great project to sink my teeth into!
Do you ever feel like the black sheep amongst your friends? Like they don't understand what it is you do when you talk about your online business, or how you work from home, or your life as a blogger.
I'm making it sound overdramatic, but the reality is that ladyboss entrepreneurs and bloggers can feel super lonely. We work alone, we strategies alone and work out all the nitty gritty details of our business - ALONE.
And I am honestly over it.
So I have created a FREE Facebook group to kind of pull me out of isolation and hopefully pull you out too!
Let me introduce to you Brand It Society!
So here's the aim:
- To create a community of women who are putting their heart and soul into creating brands, business and blogs that they love.
- To create a community of people that understand each other's struggles and support each other through the ocean of uncertainty when it comes to online business.
- A platform to share what you are working on, what you have created and what you are super proud of!
- A place to ask questions, get advice and run ideas by people who can actually give you the feedback you are looking for!
So what do you say?
We will be doing a bunch of fun stuff in the group and each day there's a different prompt!
SOCIAL SHARE FRIDAYS
So there is always something you can get involved in OR you are welcome to post questions and thoughts at any time!
I hope to see you there!
A lot of my job involves making logos for individuals and companies that reflect their personality, unique value proposition and the brand as a whole. It is important for me to understand the people behind the logo; what they do, what services and products they provide and who they are, as special, one-of-a-kind people.
Since starting out as a freelance designer, I have developed a process that helps me to get into the minds of my clients to determine what they want and need. A designers process is unique to their practice, but I have simplified my process to a point where you can emulate what I do. It's a three step process to creating a logo that looks like this:
STEP 1 | I get to know my new client by asking them to fill out a New Client Workbook. The workbook has a range of questions: some that are designed to get to know the market this brand will operate in, like "What is your target market, who would you like to be targeting that you aren't already?" and others that help me to understand what the client is looking for, like "Aesthetically what are you drawn to? What colours, patterns, shapes, typefaces?" and "List companies whose branding you both love and loath."
STEP 2 | After reviewing the workbook, I create my own Pinterest board and collect images and example of branding that help to clarify the brand direction I will be proposing to my client. From here I create a moodboard that reflect my ideas for the branding.
STEP 3 | Once I have a good idea of the brand personality and direction I will take the brand in, I create four initial logo designs to present to the client and then from here we narrow down the choices and really start to see the brand identity emerge.
So as you can see here, the cornerstone of a strong brand is a strong logo. Of course, hiring a brand designer will ensure that this cornerstone is set firmly in place, however I know we can't all afford a designer, especially when we are just starting out with our brands!
The good news is, if you want to DIY your logo, I have the 5 principles you need to keep in mind!
1. RESEARCH, BRAINSTORM + SKETCH!
The very first principle of logo design is to do your homework. This is why I take the time to ask my new clients a range of questions that help me to understand the product or service, the market and the person behind the brand! Taking this time to research and brainstorm is crucial! But how do you conduct this kind of research and brainstorming?
- Consider brands that you, as an individual are drawn to - what elements appeal to you? Is it something about the colours, shapes, textures? What feelings go these brands create for you.
- Check out your biggest competitors - the brands, businesses and blogs that your target market is drawn to. Look at their brand aesthetics and what it is about those brands that really make them stand out. Perhaps even talk to your target market and ask them what elements of their favourite brands attract their attention.
- Browse Pinterest and find images that give you the same feeling that you hope your brand will - save them all in one place like a secret Pinterest board so you can see all the images together. Find a range of different images - photographs, illustrations, graphics, typography, quotes, textures and patterns.
- Create a moodboard from these images that captures the feeling of your brand.
Once you have a firm grasp on your brand concept, start to design your logo. I recommend creating 4-6 initial designs and remember: keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate it! This is one point where DIYers often slip up, they will try to create something complex when really something clean, crisp and relevant will be far more sustainable in the long run. I also recommend sketching these design ideas out on paper before you turn digital.
One tip though when designing your logo - don't follow trends. While I encourage you to be relevant, I also don't want you creating something that has a shelf life - and often following trends will ensure a shelf life! Following trends also unfortunately means that you might inadvertently imitate the work of others, and we don't want that!
2. SELECTING FONTS - LESS IS MORE
When you are designing your logo, 99% of the time you will need to select fonts and this can be a stressful part of the whole process! But like I said in the last section, this can be overwhelming because people tend to overcomplicate it!
I recommend picking 1-2 fonts for your logo. Choose more fonts than this can create a really messy look if it isn't done properly - and in my opinion, that kind of complexity is better left to the professional designers. Keeping it simple and selecting only 1 (or max, 2) fonts will make it easier to be conscious of how your text will look across different communication points and at different sizes. We will talk more about sizes soon, but when I say 'communication points', I mean, how will this font work on your website, on your business cards or even on your packaging?
Other considerations to remember when it comes to selecting your fonts is first the character of the font you are choosing. Let’s look at the character of some fonts:
Some fonts are strong and solid, giving an authoritative feeling of stability and boldness. While others give more of a feeling of fun and playfulness. Considering these font personalities and comparing them against your brand personality is a great way to ensure consistency across this element of your branding.
Remember you can always adapt a font too and changing the structure of letters can be super effective in giving your logo font character! So for example, you will notice clever little ways these brands have altered specific letters to make quirky, unique logos!
3. SPACING + COMPOSITION
When considering the image that your logo creates you will need to consider the space you are using. Or rather, the space you are not using. One of the key principles in creating a successful logo is to pay attention to the space within and around it.
So by this, I mean the area that the image, icon or text occupy as well as the space that is left blank - we call this negative space.
As you can see from the examples above, the space you don't use can be just as important as the space that you do use. So consider the role of negative space in your logo design.
Another situation that spacing plays a role in your design is letter-spacing. Now, I am a huge fan of letter-spacing and all good graphic software will allow you to change the space between letters in your words. Giving the letters some space can drastically change the appearance of a word. Here's an example of how letter-spacing can completely change the feeling of a word using the exact same font:
4. BE MINDFUL OF SIZING + CLARITY
Remember that your logo might be used at different size points and you want to ensure that it is still legible at these different points. So, the issue here is that sometimes when you reduce the size of a logo it becomes difficult to read and distorted. This is particularly the case when you logo has a lot of finer details.
To combat this issue, make a list of all the places you might use your logo. Here are a few ideas:
- ONLINE | Social media, email signature, website header, landing pages, registration pages, webinars, avatar images, profile images, newsletter header, image watermark.
- PRINT | Business cards, letterhead, packaging, tags, signage, clothing/uniform, welcome packs, labels, books, notepads and stationary.
Once you know the range of places you might use your logo, determine the size of these places and test your logos at the different size points to ensure it will work properly.
5. CREATE LOGOS THAT ARE ADAPTABLE
(ALTERNATIVE LOGO VARIATIONS)
One thing that I love to do with my logo designs, is create logos that allow for variations. This means creating a brand identity that is adaptable and versatile, with logo variations that can be used in different places.
Knowing where you might use these variations is the key to creating them successfully, so before you start your logo design, brainstorming all the places you might use a logo and if there are any specific requirements, is a great idea (see the list of possible places you might use your logo above). For example, determine if you need a logo variation that is square for use as your social media profile images, or if you need a logo to be white in order to overlay over images as a watermark. Knowing how you will use variations upfront is key in creating meaningful alternative logos and having this in mind when you start your logo design process will ensure you are creating a cohesive and consistent brand.
Here's an example of the Brand It Girl logo and variations. As you can see, they all work together as a cohesive brand logo team, but the different variations give me options to use at different communication points.
DOWNLOAD THE LOGO DESIGN CHEATSHEET!
Let's take the guess work out of designing logos with this cheatsheet - re-capping on the 5 principles of logo design + questions that will get you clear on exactly what you need when designing your next logo!
Don't forget to leave a comment (with your link so I can visit you back!) and let me know what you find most challenging about designing logos! Or if you don't design then, tell me what you do and don't like about your current logo!
Ok, so you have fallen into the branding myth trap. Don’t stress! I have some quick and simple brand fixes for businesses, brands and bloggers that need some serious myth busting tactics to get their brands back on track! But what if you don’t even realise you have fallen prey to these common brand misconceptions? It’s ok, don’t beat yourself up - let’s go through them and get those branding mistakes sorted right now!
Also, I know you might prefer to listen to this blog post rather than read it! So I’ve got the audio version for you right here:
MYTH 1: “I have branding: here’s my logo!”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say that they are starting a business, so they’ll need some branding, followed swiftly with “how much would it cost to have a logo made” - I tell you, I’d be one rich lady! You see, this is one of the most common branding misconceptions out there, people genuinely believe branding is simply a logo. And they are equally genuinely surprised when they find out that it is so much more. Let me explain:
Your logo is a hugely important part of developing your brand but it is just the tip of a much bigger iceberg. To create a successful brand, you need to consider the four foundational pillars:
Each of these elements that make up your brand require equal attention. So, as you can see, your logo is only one piece to the branding puzzle. If you are focusing on just creating a logo, you are missing the bigger picture, and you are likely not building a strong brand!
THE FIX: To avoid falling into the trap of believing that your branding is just a logo, think about a brand you like and connect with. Think about all the elements that make up that brand: it might be the logo, sure, but what about their brand colours, fonts and elements? Their packaging, their store layout, their website, their photography, their social media graphics and what they post there, their e-news communications, their swing tags, their shopping bags, their flyers, their brochures? And you might not realise, is it’s also how they talk to you, what they offer you that is unique, how they make you feel, the language they use and the community they build. All of this comes into a winning brand identity. So the myth buster here is to really think about that brand and consider everything about it that goes above and beyond simply their logo.
MYTH 2: “I’m just a small business, so I don’t really need branding.”
Piffle! Of course you need branding, why would you NOT need branding? It doesn’t matter if you are a solopreneur or a lone blogger - branding is for businesses of all sizes. Every business and blogger should be well branded, and likewise every individual too. So even if you ARE your business, you need branding. And I’ll tell you why:
Your brand is always communicating with your clients, customers and readers and it’s important to identify what your brand is saying. If you fall into the trap of thinking that branding is not for you because you are a small business or a solopreneur, you could be giving your clients mixed signals and confusing them. This can be deadly for a small business as confused brands lose customers.
THE FIX: The fix for this one is really all about mindset. Stop playing small! You might just be a small business or blogger but you have big ambition! Get into a BIG brand mindset. How do you do this?
Understand that your brand is worth it. Regardless of the size of your business - you are doing this for a reason! Think about all that time and energy you put into your business - don’t you think it deserves every chance of success? I do. And truly believing this means you will see instantly that branding is vital for you and your business!
Get really clear with your brand mission. What are you and your brand setting out to achieve and who are you both here to serve? Knowing exactly what you are doing and who you are serving will help you to stay focused and create an authentic brand!
MYTH 3: “I can change it later, so this will do for now!”
Not only is this a huge myth, it’s also a massive mistake. There are two key reasons that this is a bad idea. Firstly, if you are leaving your branding uncompleted or not in its ideal form, you are giving your customers the wrong message. You are essentially telling them that you don’t care about your brand enough to put the effort in that it deserves. And you might not realise, but this is translating to your customers and readers in a negative way. They start to think “if she doesn’t care about her own business and brand, then she sure as hell won’t care about me either”. Essentially what you are doing here, is making it extremely difficult to trust you!
The second reason is that businesses that often change their branding confuse people. They become used to seeing one image, one theme, one brand and when it drastically changes (and in the case of some indecisive brands, changes often) it is like brand whip-lash for your community. They feel like they don’t know you and stop noticing your communications and before you know it, you are starting over in more ways than just your brand - you will need to rebuild your community too! Don’t get me wrong, rebrands and brand updates are important (not sure what the difference is? Read about it here.) but remember that these take a huge amount of time and energy. Rebrands and brand updates are not really what I am talking about - I am concerned by the brands that settle for a brand identity that is less than perfect purely because they believe they can work on it later. It doesn’t work like that in such a busy marketplace, you have to be on your game from the start!
THE FIX: Don’t leave it a second longer. Yes, the truth is, you can change it later - but this won’t be without consequence! So whatever point you're at with your branding, ask yourself some solid brand clarity questions (I even have a free mini course walking you through this whole process!). Be honest with yourself about if you are leaving elements of your branding until this illusive ‘later’, or if you are in fact happy with your branding as it is right now.
MYTH 4: “I can’t afford a designer. Branding is just too expensive!”
Now this myth, I can understand. When you are just starting out with your brand and throughout those first few years, money can be in short supply. And if you are a blogger, well, the possibility of generating income might take some time! So paying a brand designer to create your brand identity and all the bits and pieces that go into it can be costly and often not an option.
Your brain starts to go into over-drive: you have the logo, of course, the colours, the fonts, the photography, business cards, packaging, website, storefront, signage, social media, graphics and that’s just the branding. You also have to worry about all the other costs associated with starting your brand. But here’s the thing. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to create a brand you connect with and that communicates effectively with your target market.
THE FIX: A popular solution to the issue of not being able to hire a designer is absolutely to DIY your brand! And this isn’t as scary as it might sound. You don’t need fancy software, Canva is a fantastic tool for creating graphics, including logos and Squarespace makes it super simple to create an effective and stunning website without needing all that technical coding skill that scares so many new business and bloggers away from creating their website!
Related: Getting Started with Squarespace
The main things to remember when creating your brand identity DIY is:
- Keep it super simple. No matter what your skill level, keeping your branding simple is by far a better decision! So many DIYers get caught up in creating a complicated brand identity and it just confuses people, looks messy or fails to stay sustainable over time! Keeping it simple will create a clean, fuss-free brand identity that will adapt and grow with your brand over time.
- You are not locked in. While I am telling you not to change your brand too often, I do want to emphasis that when you create a simple brand, it does have the potential to evolve over time and this means you are not locked in. Sure, the overall brand identity might remain the same, but as you and your brand grow and trends shift, a simple brand identity can be updated easily without losing face with your community.
- Be specific and consistent. I recommend selecting 4-5 colours and 2-3 fonts for your brand identity. Be very specific with what you are choosing, type them up and print them out. Using these colours and fonts only when creating graphics for your brand will ensure you stay consistent and here’s the secret to branding: consistency. Consistency is the difference between a good brand and a great brand that they won’t forget!
MYTH 5: “I let my work do the selling for me, if it’s good, they’ll buy. So branding doesn’t matter.”
I can imagine you put your whole heart into your work. It’s your pride and joy, after all, your offering to the world and it makes you genuinely happy. Let me paint the picture for you: You had that crazy, burning idea - a way to create a better life for yourself, for your family. Freedom, flexibility. Something different. You have a skill, a product, something you can sell and something you can say that will impact others. So you take the plunge, you work evenings and weekends on this idea. You are exhausted after a long week but you know if you can just get this business and blog up and running, everything will change. You won’t be exhausted anymore.
You quickly realise that you need to invest more than just your time. You are happy to do this, remember, this business and blog is a game changer for you. You produce your product, you list your services and you spend hours slaving over your blog posts to make sure that it’s the exact info your people need. You have invested so much money and time and more than anything, you have invested a piece of yourself.
Here’s the thing, without a brand identity that connects with your people, the product, service or blog you put your heart into, it will not sell. And here’s why: Branding connects your brand with your ideal customers and readers. It establishes relationships and builds trust. Without it, your brand is essentially a stranger to the people you so desperately want to serve!
THE FIX: Like Myth 2, this fix is all about mindset. Realising that for all the effort you put into creating your product, services or blog content; equal effort should be invested into your branding. Why? Because you have already invested so much time, money and soul into what you are selling, so your brand really deserves a little attention too!
Think about brands and bloggers you really love. What is it about them that you connect with? And more importantly, would you feel so connected with them if they didn’t have the branding that they do?
My guess is that their branding plays a huge role in how you feel about them and there is one very good reason for this: good branding makes us feel more like ourselves, more authentic and more powerful than you would without it. Essentially, when we look at a brand, we are measure the degree to which we feel it reflects our ideal self. The YOU that you want to be. If a brand can’t establish that connection with their customers, then it’s likely they won’t even get to the point of browsing your products and services, and reading your blog.
If you felt that tingle of familiarity while you were reading these top 5 branding myths, then I encourage you to take action! I don’t want anything at all to hold you and your brand back! So I have created the Branding Mythbuster Workbook just for you. It is full of questions, checklists and cheat sheets to get you and your brand on the right track!
Since moving my website over to Squarespace, and all the changes I have made lately too, I have been working on a brand new opt-in offer for you. It's a totally free course that is designed to help you reach a point of brand clarity!
Let me ask you a question?
Do you wake up in the morning and feel a flutter of nervous energy because you know you are living a life that is perfect for you. You know that your brand makes a difference in the lives of others and you are proud to get out of the house and tell everyone you meet about the great mission your brand has.
If not, then I am sad for you. This is exactly how I feel about my brand. And it's how I want you to feel too.
You might be feeling flat, disconnected, uninterested or even embarrassed about your brand - and I don't want that for you! You deserve to have a brand that makes you feel excited and engaged. And while a good brand will never be easy - I promise, growing an amazing brand is hard work - if you're heart is in it and your brand is right for you, it will be easy to put in that hard work.
Let me introduce you to the course. I am so excited to share it with you! There is also a Facebook group you can join and there will be a prompt for each day there! But first, let me tell you what you can expect!
WHAT IS THIS COURSE?
The 5-Day Brand Clarity Quick Course is designed to give a fresh perspective on your brand and where you could be going wrong. The course will shine a spotlight on the parts of your branding that make you feel uncomfortable and will give you ideas for branding elements that you may not have thought about before! The course will also give you strategies and tactics for making your brand identity stronger and more in line with what you and and your target market really wants!
In short, this FREE course will give you the clarity you need to reignite that love affair you should have with your brand.
And if you are really starting to burn out with your brand - it could just be the very thing you need to save it!
WHAT DOES IT INCLUDE?
This course runs over 5 days, with an email each day being delivered straight to your inbox. You will find in each email:
- A video, where I will be talking you through the lesson.
- A downloadable workbook to accompany each of the five lessons.
- And a question or conversation prompt that will get you connecting with other participants on Facebook.
On each of the 5 days we will audit a different part of your brand:
Day 1: You will conduct a brand audit to get to the bottom of how you really feel about your brand and what that means.
Day 2: With a client audit, you will uncover and solidify what you know about your client and identify any gaps in your knowledge.
Day 3: During this visual branding audit you will assess all aspects of your visual branding, from your logo to your business card, plus lots more like your brand photography.
Day 4: We will then undertake a website audit to discover how you feel about your online presence and identify ways to improve it!
Day 5: On the last day, we will draw out key strategies for moving forward.
This course is self-directed, so you can start at any time and go at your own pace!
WHO IS IT FOR?
The 5-Day BCQC is for anyone who has a brand! Whether you are just starting out or your brand is established, this course is perfect for everyone. How do you know if it is for you? Well, let's see:
- Are you struggling to connect with your brand?
- Did you used to be excited about your brand, but now you are feeling flat?
- Maybe you feel you are not engaging with the right clients?
- Or perhaps if you are just starting out with your brand, you just don't know where to start?
If any of these sound like you, then this is the course for you. It will step you through questions, activities and ideas that will give you brand clarity in only 5 days!
WANT TO GET STARTED?
I am super excited today to introduce to the newest addition to Brand IT Girl: The Brand IT Girl Resource Vault.
I want to offer all of my readers exclusive, FREE access to this library that includes all of my blog post giveaways. So will find everything I have ever offered as a blog freebie plus anything I will offer in the future and you'll be able to access it all in one convenient place using a password.
I know you are wondering how to get hold of the password for vault page but first I want to give you a little sneak-peak at what you can expect to find in there!
If that isn't enough to get you as excited as I am, you will find new additions to this library on a regular basis. The best thing is, you only need to get the password once! Worried about forgetting it? Don't be! I will include it at the bottom of all my eNewsletters so you will easily find it again when you spot a new freebie that you want!
HOW DO YOU GET ACCESS?
IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE VAULT?
I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you would like me to create for the Brand IT Girl resource Vault!
I am sure you have seen those Pinterest accounts that just kind of blow you away with consistency, clarity and the pretty branded board covers. Accounts like these don't just materialise out of nothing. There is a lot of time and effort put into these boards and the strategy behind them.
I have recently started to research how to use Pinterest more efficiently to help my business and blog to grow, while simultaneously helping other people by providing them with what I believe to be quality information. One of the big things that is coming up again and again in my research is how important it is to have branded Pinterest boards that has a clear strategy and message to communicate.
Here's the thing - you can't keep looking at your social media as separate to your website. That is the entirely wrong way to use social media and it's not helping you one little bit. You invest so much time and energy (and often money) into growing your brand and interacting on social media, so why not maximise your resources to ensure you are getting the return you deserve. Keeping brand consistent as you cross over to social media from your website is not only vital, it's actually not that difficult either!
Let's look at the best ways to brand and style your Pinterest boards:
1. DETERMINE WHAT YOUR ACCOUNT IS FOR AND DECIDE ON LOGICAL BOARDS
Here's a common misconception: "the more boards I have on different topics, the more people I will attract". Wrong.
Just like we talk about niching and narrowing the focus of your blogging topics/categories as a way of building a strong blogging brand, so too should we narrow the focus of our Pinterest boards. Think about what your business and blog is about and create boards that relate to your chosen niche. There is no point having 'automobile maintenance' boards if you are an interior designer, for example. This only confuses fellow Pinners and will ultimately send them on their way. It dilutes your brand.
One great way of deciding on what boards you should include is to look at your blogging categories. For me, I have six blogging topics: Blogging, Branding, Business, Design, Productivity and Web Design. These six topics make up six of my boards. I also have Social Media, Photography, Email Marketing, Workspaces and Brand Love. What do all these topics have in common? They are 100% relevant to my target audience. There is no recipe boards or hair style boards thrown in there. They are all on brand for my target market.
Laura James Studio does this particularly well. All of her boards are relevant to her target market and she doesn't make any exceptions.
2. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU PIN
When you are pinning images to your boards, I recommend looking for pins that fit in with your overall brand aesthetics. Sure there will be variations in colour and composition but keeping a general, overall feeling to your boards will really help to attract pinners and keep them interested. I know it sounds harsh, but avoid ugly pins. You know the kind I am talking about, the blurry, slightly fuzzy, the mismatched fonts and weird colour pairings - just steer clear of them. Don't forget that you also have secret boards that you can set up to include the less attractive pics, so if you find a killer article with an image that kinda 'kills' the mood, save it to a private board instead!
Here is a snippet of my Business Board, as you can see the image aesthetic is fairly consistent. They don't overly conflict with my own branding and all the pins are on topic!
3. STYLE YOUR BOARD COVERS TO MATCH YOUR BRAND
One thing I love to see on Pinterest is board covers that are styled to match your brand. Let's look at some people that do this really well!
I particularly love what Julie Harris has done with her board covers. It is very clearly on brand and utilises similar images in the background of each board cover.
Maggie Patterson uses a set colour and font pattern to mix and match, creating a cohesively branded theme for her Pinterest board covers. She selects different images and then places a coloured wash over the image before placing text over the top. This creates a very clear brand identity.
If you are feeling really creative, you can follow Lindsay Goldner's lead and create completely unique cover photos for each different board. This is slightly more time consuming but creates a great effect! Just make sure you stick to similar colours and fonts!
It doesn't take long to create these board covers and they are super easy to put into place! Board covers display at 217px X 146px but I generally create my board covers 2x bigger, so 434px X 292px. Do you use Adobe Illustrator? I have a surprise for you! Scroll down for my FREE Illustrator template. I also recommend saving your cover images as PNGs, but JPG will work too.
I thought I would show you a little before and after so you can see for yourself what a difference this small thing can make to your overall Pinterest account!
As you can see, the topics were consistent and clearly relevant to my target market but the visual was all over the place! Some of the covers were my branding but not on purpose! There was a mishmash of colours, fonts and images and it felt really cluttered and inconsistnent.
So to add your own custom cover photos, open your board and click on the Add A Pin option to the left. Upload your new pin and then go back to your main Pinterest page. Click on the Edit button at the bottom of your board icon and a popup will open with the option to change your cover image. The cover option is half way down the panel, just click on Change. It should display the last image you uploaded/added to your board, so that should be your custom cover photo. If not, just scroll through until you find it and save both the change of image and the edit panel. Your new cover photo should appear! Here is my board all branded. It makes a huge difference and is far more relevant to my brand!
What do you think? It makes a pretty big difference and is definitely more pleasant on the eye! I have saved the Illustrator file I used to create this so if I need to replace any of the images in the future, I don't have to try to match these images - it's all still there, and all I need to do is edit them images if needed!
So what are you waiting for!
What do you need to get started on your own branded Pinterest covers?
- Illustrator (and you can use my template below), Photoshop or even use PicMonkey or Canva
- Your brand fonts, colours and elements.
- Backgrounds or you may decide to create solid coloured backgrounds.
- Half an hour and a bit of imagination!
DOWNLOAD YOUR PINTEREST BOARD COVER TEMPLATE
Brand specialists, coaches and designers often talk about branding your business, and while business branding is absolutely my jam, I also want to talk about something I think is just as significant - Personal Branding.
What do I mean by Personal Branding? You may have your own business or perhaps a 9-5 job in an organisation, so you might think personal branding is not for you. Trust me, it is. You are most likely engaging in personal branding activities without even realising. Think about when you post images on your Instagram - even quotes and product images - it all somehow says something about who you are, wether you want it to or not. Regardless of your job and your intention, YOU are a product and also a service. I don't say that to sound crass or to make you feel objectified or anything like that - the opposite: I want you to understand how truly valuable you are!
We all know that every person has a unique identity. Things that make them who they are and equally, things that they clearly aren't and won't stand for. These are elements of your personal brand, and it is really just touching the surface. You personal brand includes everything from what you wear and how you talk, to the images you display, the way you make people feel and your daily life and business systems and process. You are, in essence, your own brand.
Here's the thing. People like people that they can relate to and they trust people that they can sense are being 100% themselves. It's one of those weird sixth sense things, but people can smell authenticity a mile away. When someone relates to you and trusts you - you can literally sell them anything! Being really clear on who you are, what your personal brand is and what you stand for is a sure fire way to land that job, make those sales and most importantly, make a real impact on the lives of others! Good personal branding comes hand-in-hand with success and I want to share with you today strategies you can employ to develop your brand identity and how to 'package' yourself in a way that communicates who you are, who you want to be and everything in between!
YOUR PERSONAL MISSION STATEMENT
Before you do anything else, consider developing your own personal mission statement. Being really clear about who you are and what you stand for is the best way to lay the foundations for a strong personal brand. Ask yourself questions like:
- What do you really like to do? What makes you feel invigorated and alive? These are things you really should be doing more of and definitely the things you should be putting at the forefront of your personal brand! Think about your skills and your passions - be honest about how good you are at those things! Consider if there is something you would like to improve with and consider taking a class!
- Think also about the people you admire, what qualities do you admire about them? Can you learn anything from these people that will help you to become more of your desired self?
Think about what words you would use to describe yourself. Not sure? Why not open this question to your Facebook friends or community too! Doing it this way keeps them accountable - they are less likely to have a laugh by posting something nasty if their name is attached to it! This can help you to identify how you perceive yourself (or even, how you want to perceive yourself) and any gaps between your list of words and the words of others. Think about how you can bridge any gaps that bother you, look for trends and commonalities between your self-perceived words and the words of others and also be open to words others use that you may not have related to in the past, especially if they are reoccurring. You never know, you may learn something about yourself along the way!
Finally, you most likely have a resume and that is super necessary but try your hand at writing a short bio too. Think of this as your elevator pitch; so if you were in an elevator with a stranger and they said "who are you?" (firstly, I know, that would be weird and you'd be like "eek! stalker!", but run with me!), what would you tell them? It should be one to two paragraphs and to the point, stating who you are, what you do and what your mission is! You can also include your education, achievements and aspirations. Whatever it is, it should be clear, concise and it should enrapture who you are and what you're about!
YOUR UNIQUE VOICE
Know your voice and actively assess the way you speak. I think it's best to keep this flowing into your online persona as it comes across far more authentically. Sometimes I read things on the internet and wonder to myself how that person could possibly speak like this in real life. It feels wrong and so I don't really trust the person who is speaking to me.
To practice writing in your own voice, rather than writing in words you think people want to hear or expect of you, consider the following:
- Read your written word back to yourself. You will be able to tell instantly if it sounds like you or if it's laboured and awkward.
- Use a dictaphone - the Dragon Dictation app for iPhone is perfect - and speak your message first before typing it down.
You won't have to take these measures forever. Slowly your voice will start shining through automatically and you won't need to think about whether or not it sounds like you or a stranger!
DEVELOP YOUR WEBSITE
Consider creating a website for YOU rather than for your business. It doesn't need to have a blog component, perhaps it's a portfolio website that showcases who you are, what you're about and all the while, making that mission statement loud and clear! It might not even be more than one page, but it should clearly define your style and aesthetic and of course, show a photo or two of you!
Following on from the website, it is a good idea to have a LinkedIn profile too. Enter in as much detail as you can and while you don't need to update it regularly, having this information in one place is a must!
YOUR IMAGES AND THE IMAGE OF YOU
I believe that personal branding extends to your wardrobe too, to take a minute to consider your personal image. This might be controversial but I honestly believe that the way you dress and the environment you live and work in really does impact on your personal brand. While I don't think you need to rock around in 'brand colours' all the time, I think if you were honest with yourself and really thought about what makes you happy (and let's face it, a happy you is an authentic you) then you would notice that you are drawn to particular colours and styles. I say, nurse this and develop your sense of style as a deliberate act of personal branding!
Let's also think about YOU on social media, showing your face and putting as much effort into how you look and are perceived as you put into those 'artistic flat lays of your coffee cup and book nestled in your bedcovers that tell the story of your relaxing Sunday morning' is a must! The Think Creative Collection blog outlines why seeing your face is so important and I tend to agree. I want to know who YOU are and what your pretty face looks like and while selfie city is not somewhere I want to be all the time, I enjoy getting a glimpse of who you are visually!
But the images of you that you share on social media isn't the only important image related aspect to consider! The images of other things that you share on social media is also really important. Think about your interests, your broader missions and align them with images you're displaying.
CONNECTING AND NETWORKING
Get onto social media, even if you only use it for 'business' purposes, ensure that the way you are interacting is on point for your personal brand too. This also flows into what companies you work for and/or how you develop your business brand - make sure you are never compromising your personal brand to fit a corporate or business brand. At the end of the day, if the two aren't compatible, you are probably in the wrong job.
Build your network both in and out of the office. For small business owners and bloggers, this might be spending time on social media in Facebook communities for example, but it can also include physical networking events, clubs, societies and conferences. I recently joined the Australian Business Chicks community after attending their 9 to Thrive Expo and it opened my eyes up to how valuable this kind of interaction is in developing my personal brand. People got to meet ME rather than just seeing my logo and display picture on social media and it gave me a chance to really evaluate if my personal brand and business brand were aligning!
The last thing I want to mention is that perfection is a process. So I really want to highlight that you don't need all the answers and the ones you do have are in no way set in stone! Give yourself the room to develop and grow and be prepared to reexamine your response to these cues again and again throughout your life!
I HAVE A SPECIAL DOWNLOAD FOR YOU!
I want to help you develop your personal brand! I honestly believe it is super important, and so, I have created a free workbook just for you! Download and print it or use it on your computer. I guarantee it will give you clarity!
DOWNLOAD YOUR PERSONAL BRANDING WORKBOOK NOW!
Just like your wardrobe, you should spring clean your Instagram feed every now and then and delete under performing and irrelevant posts!
One of the main reasons people don't edit their Instagram is that they are afraid to lose all their photos which may have been deleted off their phone or computer after posting. what if I told you that there is a easy and simple way for you to save your images AND edit your Instagram? But first, let's talk about why you should edit your Instagram and what that actually means!
I recently posted about using Instagram stats to get to know how your Instagram account can work for you. Today I want to talk about the very real need for Instagram Editing.
WHAT IS INSTAGRAM EDITING?
Let me ask you this: when you see an Instagram account that get's you excited, what attributes are you actually seeing?
- A clear strategy and cohesive aesthetic?
- A colour palette and intentionally snapped images?
- Meaningful and value adding photos that inspire you?
I think you would probably say one or two of those, if not all. What you don't want to see is a mishmash of images that are meaningless to you. Don't get me wrong, we love seeing snapshots of people's lives, this is crucial to help us get to know you! But for brands, business owners and bloggers, this can sometimes confuse your visitors.
Instagram editing is something that is not widely talked about, but it really should be. Smart Instagramers are doing it and you should be doing it too. It requires you to consider your Instagram strategy and delete anything that doesn't fit in with the theme, feeling and message you are trying to communicate to your visitors. A few things you should be striving to achieve:
- Content Consistency Don't confuse other Instagramers. Be consistent in the types of images that you post and the subject matter.
- Visual Consistency Design a visual strategy for your Instagram. Think about what colours you will predominantly use and how these will fit together with each other.
- Using Text Think about how you will use text and quotes. Have a strategy for when they will appear and how you will distribute them evenly across your feed.
- Glimpses of You People love to see glimpses into your life, but think before you post and think about if it is relevant and of interest for your viewers.
I actually used to be pretty bad at the Instagram game. This is an example of the kinds of posts that you would find on my feed. Everything from blog adverts, to travel images, selfies and product advertising. It was a mess of colours (and not in the intentional way). My viewers were confused about what to expect from me and a lot of my posts weren't really relevant to anyone but me!
Applying a bit of IG editing, an investment of time and a Instagram strategy allowed me to transform my feed into something far more interesting, visually appealing and relevant for the audience I want to attract.
I began to post a combination of inspiring and motivational quotes, lifestyle images and blog post adverts that help me to connect with the people I really want to be connecting with. On top of that, I chose a distinct colour palette that was in line with my brand and created quote images that displayed my logo at the bottom. Since I have started to be intentional with my feed, I have noticed a drastic increase in followers and engagement! And I am sure you will too!
Want to see more? Follow me at @thebranditgirl
SO HOW DO YOU PREVENT LOSING YOUR PHOTOS?
There is a great (free) service called Instaport and it is going to make it possible for you to edit your Instagram without actually losing any of your photos!
Login with your Instagram account. It will ask you to authorise the app, go ahead and do that and it will take you the next screen.
Select 'All My Photos' in the 'Choose your export options' palette and click 'Start Export'.
It may take a few moments depending on the size of your Instagram feed and once it's finished, download it to your computer. It will download in a Zip folder and again it may take a few moments to download, but once it does, all your Instagram photos should be there in a folder for you!
Get to it and edit your Instagram! You won't regret it!
How about some actionable brand tips for you today! These are my top 5 quick and highly practical brand tips to help not only your business thrive, but also you as the individual behind it!
FIND YOUR NICHE AND FOCUS DOWN
When I started my business just over a year ago (and a whole brand name and identity ago too!) I was confused, often erratic with my brand decisions. I think it was because I was trying to be something to everyone rather than everything to someone. That's a loaded sentence right there, isn't it! I wanted to have something that drew in every person that crossed my path and as a result I was burnt out, flat, and downright disinteresting - both to my readers and more importantly to myself!
Around 6 months ago, I decided that I needed to rebrand. I needed to focus down my offering and really target the people I wanted to be connecting with and doing work for. I cut a lot of the bull and removed all the fluff that acted as fillers on my website and my blog and I decided to specifically target ladies that were building their brands, businesses and blogs, offering Wordpress themes and design tips and tricks. I removed anything to do with fashion, interior, knitting, painting, photography and life stories and while I was afraid niching would alienate people, I saw the opposite. It's given me focus, a purpose and has really helped to carve out my place in the industry as a leader. Niching isn't limiting, it's what happens when you are honest with yourself.
SECURE YOUR NAMES
One of the things I see people struggle with is securing their names on the web. By 'names' I am talking about your domain name, your Facebook name, Twitter and Instagram handles. Even your LinkedIn, Google + and YouTube. Having the same name/handle on all of your platforms is obviously ideal, but sometimes this can't happen, so it's important to aim for as close to a complete set as possible. If you need to deviate, try just small deviations and these need to make sense. For instance on Facebook, I managed to obtain Facebook.com/branditgirl but on Twitter @branditgirl was taken (annoyingly by an inactive account!!) so I opted for thebranditgirl instead. The 'the' is just a small deviation and it makes sense when put together with other social media handles (for instance 'thebranditgirl' makes more sense for my brand, opposed to 'branditgirl2015').
CONNECT AND NETWORK
Connecting and networking is a huge part of establishing your brand. Not only do you need to seek out the people who will be your customers, but you should also seek out the people that can help support, encourage and mentor you. I am a big believer in surrounding yourself with likeminded people. This helps to encourage you, get you excited and gives you a platform to launch ideas of others who understand what you are trying to do! A few ways to connect and network with others include:
- Facebook Groups - I spoke recently about taking your brand to the next level by engaging in Facebook Groups. You are also very welcome to join the Brand IT Girls Connected community!
- Twitter Chats, Periscope Broadcasts and Google Hangouts - You don't necessarily need to host one of these, but just contribute in one and get to know others in the community.
- Guest Post or Collaborate - guest posting or featuring on someone else's blog is a great way to meet new people and be exposed to a wider audience. Use this guide to writing an email pitch to help you get started!
BE THE BEST AND PRACTICE YOUR CRAFT
Being the best and practicing your craft really comes down to one thing - authenticity. If you truly have a passion for what you are doing, it will shine through and people will undoubtably be drawn to you. But passion is just the start. You need to practice your craft and actively seek to make yourself a professional in your industry. Read books and blog posts, spend time honing your skills and trying new ways of producing your products and services and above all, be humble and willing to receive feedback when it comes your way!
Here's a great way to work towards being the best and practicing your craft: Find one thing you can do every week that will not only improve your quality of work but that will also surprise you, teach you and bring happiness into your week. If you are constantly seeking improvement in a fun and good willed way, your work will only benefit from the effort!
KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU STAND FOR
My final tip is to be very clear on who you are and what you stand for. Ask yourself what your beliefs are, what are your core values and what do you want to be know for. The best thing about life is that you can be anyone that you want to be, you simply have to decide who that is and do it! Consider what people think of when they think of you. Is it what you would hope they were thinking? If not, take steps to change people's perception.
Here's the thing, being a lady boss is not always easy. You will have people trying to define you, trying to fit you into a mould. So you need to be extra sure of who you are and what you will and will not allow. Write yourself a code of conduct and be really clear about your boundaries and personal policies.
(Photo Credit - Hair/MUA: Rene Spears)
I recently posted about my rebrand from Sam Bell Creative to Brand IT Girl and this got me thinking: sometimes people get a little confused between the two concepts and so today, let's work it out.
Think of a Brand Update as a haircut, perhaps some new makeup and a new set of clothes. A Rebrand, on the other hand, is more like changing your name and creating a new identity!
So how do you know what's what?
A rebrand changes the identity of a existing business, and repositions the business in the minds of current and potential clients. Rebrands involve the following:
- You would consider changing the business name or part of the business name.
- You would also redesign your logo and elements that make up the brand identity.
- You would need a new email address and website URL to reflect these changes.
- You would need to rebrand your Social Media or start new accounts.
- You would require a new and unique product and service range, or update your existing offering.
You may decided to pay tribute or nod back to the old brand, but rebrands mean that you will not carry over the original brand identity in an formal way when designing the new brand.
You can tackle rebrands yourself or hire a designer, brand strategist or even a business coach - either way, a rebrand is the perfect time to correct mistakes, implement lessons you have learnt and to ensure you and your customers love your future brand.
Brand updates, on the other hand, are not so dramatic (not that drama is neccessarily bad!). Brand updates keep the original identity of the brand but updates the image to be more relevant to your customers, clients and readers. A few ways you could update your brand:
- You may like to redesign your logo to better reprenent your business and attract new customers.
- A website facelift may be all that you need to update your business.
- You may choose to get new brand photos - either taking your own images or hiring a photographer!
Like when you rebrand, you can correct mistakes here but the idea of a brand update is that the brand identity stays fundamentally unchanged and instead it is simply refreshed to be more relevant for the clients and customers that you want to attract. Brand updates can often be cheaper to implement than a rebrand, however updates do limit you by requiring you to stay in line with the original brand. You may choose to engage a designer but could also do this yourself by making your own graphics, using premade website themes or by searching through Etsy for premade logos and site graphics.
Are you considering rebranding or updating your brand? There are heaps of great designers out there and Brand IT Girl offers services that can help you too! Drop me a line and we can discuss working together!