Are you looking to start a business, blog or creative enterprise? The first and most important step in the start up process is effective branding. Branding is so important when starting a business or blog - your image is the first thing people see and the mental picture that your name will evoke as you start to gain a following. Branding can be so effective it becomes subconscious; when we think iPhone, we see an Apple, coca-cola, we see summer. Good branding is memorable, recognizable and connects with people on an emotional level.
It can be easy to accidentally send a jumbled message when trying to creatively brand yourself or your business. Being in the drivers seat and navigating from inside the business machine is difficult because branding is only understood as a collective , it is a catalogue of infomation best viewed from a distance. The following 5 steps will help you through the process of branding, after all if your going to spend time, energy and passion on something you should do it right the first time!
Have A Long Term Vision
Branding is not something to 'wing' or make up as you go along - it is the first step in the journey of business, blogging and creative endeavors. Start with a vision, ask the question 'who do i want to be, what do i want to say?' then work backwards. This consistency must begin with any launch, it is difficult to go back and make changes so get it right the first time. Of course you will grow and evolve, but your message should remain the same because your vision was clear from day one. Do you want to be approachable, or cool and untouchable? Do you want to cater to a niche market or cast a wide net? Do you have a social message behind your brand, a health or lifestyle passion, a charity affiliation or potential sister companies/people you want to brand with?
Be clear from day one, familiarize yourself with your vision by asking yourself these types of questions.
Stick To One Style
So you have your vision in your head, now it's time to mold that vision into the image. "Stick with one style" refers to everything stylistically you create (excluding product and services of course). Select a logo, or have one designed, then work around this logo. Every website page, blog post and all communication should be cohesive. Don't go font and image crazy, select one and use it repetitively. Over time this will become your signature and will be immediately associated with you. This rule applies to website layouts, backgrounds of blogs, Instagram, Facebook and all social media. Use either one filter consistently or no filter at all. Have a clear voice through comments and captions which becomes familiar over time - no surprises, just clear, consistent delivery.
I have had the same logo and font for years. I don't think I will ever change it. My business cards have always looked roughly the same, my website features 2-3 fonts maximum and I keep the layout as it is, making little updates and changes when necessary.
Choose A Colour Palette
This is vital to branding and while the above step covers this, I think this is so important it needs it's own subject heading. Having the right colour palette draws people in and speaks volumes about your brand. Colours are symbolic, they each have associations and connotations eg - green is representative of health, red is passion, black is edgy etc. Educate yourself on colour theory. Working on an effective colour pallette is fun and a great way to say a lot without shouting. A strong, well considered colour palette is vital to a successful brand - a few businesses that are wonderful examples of this are The Lane and Stylebk - I featured an interview with Stylebk founder, Emiyl Highfield recently, to read click here.
No surprises The Lane is a bridal styling business. The branding is spot on, the colour palette is soft,romantic, with vintage elementsmixed in with modern, minimalism. I highly recommend having a look at The Lane to see a great example of utilizing a colour palette and imagery effectively.
Stylebk is a fashion, interiors & lifestyle blog based around a minimalist aesthetic. The black, white and grey theme runs through out, representing minimalism, the Melbourne life and modern styling. Pops of green represent the lifestyle factor. Stylebk is instantly recognisable, the branding and message are consistent and cohesive.
Do Your Research
Look at bloggers and businesses in a similar field. What works? What doesn't? Go further than a quick visual browse, understand the roots of the brand, look at earlier work and try to see the vision extending from the start to the current. Drawing inspiration isn't about copying, it is about educating yourself. One of the best ways to increase your success is to start thinking with a business mind - try not to focus on the details and look at the bigger picture. The details are part of the business process, but that will inevitably (and exhuastingly!) come.
When starting out it is about the dream, the goal, the vision.
Be Comfortable With Being Unique
After reading the above step, this might seem slightly contradictory but there is a way to draw inspiration while remaining creatively unique - it is all about selecting the things that resonate with you, finding out why, then using that "why" to create something of your own. Inspiration is, more than anything, about feeling, emotion, connection. Consider for a moment why something or something inspires you, most likely they stir an emotional reaction in you - a beautiful image, a strong woman, a clever product. The 'wow' is in the feeling. Being able to identify brings you closer to understanding yourself, which helps you to identify your own unique voice.
What do you have that no one else has? What do you have to offer? If you want to start something, it means putting yourself out there, jumping in head first and realising that no one is going to give you wings (except Red Bull - their very effective branding means they basically own that sentence ha!). The truth is when starting out on a new journey, career or business, you will have to have crazy amounts of self belief because until others see and understand your vision, you might be lucky to get so much as an applause let alone a 'good for you'. If you want to chase your dreams, its time to be your own cheerleader!
If you are interested in learning more about creative direction, business skills and branding, check out the details of my Fashion Careers, Blogging & Business Seminar coming next month by clicking here or head directly over to the ticket sales page here to get your early bird tickets now!
Images via pinterest, stylebk & the lane