brand identity

3 Reasons Why Any Entrepreneur Can DIY Their Own Visual Brand

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I’m a big believer in not being a “jack of all trades.” While it’s great to be multi-talented and have different skill sets, it’s very important to focus on what you’re really good at and outsource the other tasks that you don’t have time for or enjoy.

Hold the phone, for a second. I know what you might be thinking. Not every entrepreneur is in a spot to hire help. Sometimes, that has to wait and come a little further down the road. Everyone is at a different place in their journey. And, I also agree with that!

Designing visuals is definitely an area that can be a bigger investment — hiring a professional designer to not only take care of your branding upfront (establishing the official look and feel of your business) but also providing support for on-going print and digital design tasks is something that needs to be budgeted for. And, there’s certainly a professional skill set that comes with using design software and working with high-quality graphics.

Until you’re able to do that…

You might be thinking that if you’re not a professional designer, you can’t create a professional brand for yourself.

You’re not sure how to even start. How to pick colors, how to find and download fonts, what software to use, what file formats a logo should be saved in, what else you even need beyond a logo — and you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Never fear, I’m here to let you in on a little secret:

ANY entrepreneur can DIY their visual brand!

Here are just 3 reasons why...

1. You know your business better than anyone.

You can translate your ideas, thoughts, feelings, strategy, mission, values and creativity into a foundational, visual brand identity that will be consistent, cohesive, look professional — and attract those dream clients you’ve been wanting to find. Because, only you know who you truly are, what you want to do or be known for — and who you want to work with

2. You are more creative than you realize.

Growing up naturally creative and an “arts-y” kid, I really used to dislike the idea that “anyone can be creative.” It made it sound like it was too easy and I felt that it downplayed the arts and those who were really gifted towards them. Because I was young, I simply didn’t realize that creativity involves so much more than just having the ability to draw on paper, like I always enjoyed doing. Now, I know that truly anyone can be creative! If you have a brain and a heart — and you’re passionate about your business, you have the ability to transfer your ideas, thoughts, visions and dreams to the screen or on paper, with the right help. All you have to do is see the bigger picture!

3. You’re smart and willing to learn.

As entrepreneurs, it’s a very innate thing to have an unquenchable thirst for more — learning, growing, evolving. How do we make ourselves and our businesses better? With that comes an open mind for continuing education and investing in professional development. As long as you have that drive and desire to learn more and be/do better, then you have the smarts to follow simple instructions, guidelines and templates that would show you to build a visual brand, right? I thought so!

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5 steps for designing your visual brand

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Have you ever wondered how a visual brand identity comes together, from concept to completion? From finding inspiration for the brand itself, to the first sketches and drafts of logos, to piecing together just the right combinations of colors and fonts, to creating the secondary logos, icons and assets that get used on a website, social media graphics, slide decks, printed materials and more?  

It can be a challenge to know when and how to start the design process in an orderly way that allows certain ideas and concepts to naturally develop, evolve and flow from one step of the process to the next. A lot of time, revising, refining and hard work goes into a visual brand that will look professional, be relevant and stick around for a while, but the framework can still be simply broken down in ways that are easy to implement and execute.

I have refined my design process over the years and nowadays, there is a simple, 5-step framework that I follow each and every time someone signs on to work with me. This way, my workflow is consistent and systemized — and I can give someone the same quality process over and over. Follow these for yourself and discover the amazing results.


1) Create a Mood Board: I go through a "brand personality assessment" with the client to nail down the style, vibes and emotion behind the brand — that then translates into a mood board that sets the tone for the brand "at a glance." The mood board is a collage of imagery (that consists of photos, colors, textures, patterns, icons, quotes, etc.) and it's digitally-generated. Only meant to serve as inspiration for the overall visual identity that will soon be built.
   
2) Design Logo Concepts: While many designers take the "1 concept" approach and maybe I'll be brave enough to try that one day, I personally like to give my clients a variety to choose from. Sometimes this is 4, even up to 6 — if I'm feeling really inspired and creative. We go through revisions + tweaks until we have a final design that is "the one." If we already have a set color palette to work with, then I design using those colors and format the final logo files in the proper sizes, formats, resolutions + color systems. If we need to explore palettes a bit more, then I will design the concepts in black and white for the moment. This way, the focus is really on the design and clients aren't as distracted by the initial color drafts.
    
3) Choose Colors + Find Fonts: Next, we move onto exploring different color palettes and font pairings. If particular fonts used in the logo happen to work for the regular brand fonts (to be used across the board of various materials and graphics) then we roll with those. As long as there are serif + sans serif options. If we used a more decorative, handwritten or unique typeface in the logo, then I offer a mix of font pairings that I think will complement the brand and the client can choose which ones they like the best. Usually, a client will have a general idea of the colors that they like, so I will keep those in mind and generate 3-5 palettes that reflect those. Sometimes, if necessary, I will throw in a "wildcard" — just to give them something different to consider that they otherwise wouldn't have and to compare others back to.    

4) Build the Brand Assets: Here is the fun part! Now that we have a beautiful logo, colors and fonts all solidified, we get to build out the rest of the brand identity! This includes whatever assets are needed. I will create anything from textures and patterns, to a secondary logo to an icon library — it just depends on what the client plans to use for their collateral, website, etc. I then piece it all together and design a brand board. This is a single display of all of the assets organized and how they can work together, to give a quick preview of the entire identity. It's helpful to share with other client partners, vendors, printers, etc. so that the brand visuals stay intact and are used cohesively and consistently across various platforms.

5) Apply the New Brand in Real Life: Now that we have the entire visual brand created, it's time to "apply it in real life." Through the creation of social media graphics, business cards, PDFs, a website and more — it's important that the same elements are used over and over — to again, ensure consistent and professional applications of the brand. Whether someone experiences you online or offline, through your blog, a podcast, a sales page, etc. — they should always see the same identity. I always refer to Starbucks as having an obvious strong brand awareness — whether you walk into a shop, use a gift card, visit their website or follow them on Instagram, you will always have the same visual experience. The same should be true of any professional brand!

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7 ways to update your brand for the new year

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As you approach the end of another year in business, it’s always beneficial to reflect on (as most business owners do) the last 12 months — and to evaluate the ups and downs, what worked, what didn’t, where you reached or exceeded your expectations or goals, where you perhaps fell short — and you set the goals and create the game plan for the new year, to get you one step closer to where you ultimately want your business to be.

Often, within the growing and scaling of a business, there are so many moving parts and tasks to complete. Some business owners hire strategists, copywriters and designers to help launch their visual brand professionally right off the bat, so that they can be taken seriously, look as legitimate as possible and attract the right niche/client base — and focus on the other areas of their business that they’re good at, like business development and client service. Others DIY their visuals for a while, until they have the money saved up to make the investment in professional branding — because they do realize the importance of it. And, some have had very successful businesses that they have grown without any professional branding, until they hit a wall and realize that in order to grow and scale their businesses even more in the right direction, it’s time to level up and make the leap to working with a designer or team of other professionals. Regardless of which business owner that you are, you most likely have some kind of branding in place, that has gotten you to a certain point. With that, the new year is the PERFECT time to enhance and tweak that brand, so that it’s fresh and ready to take your business to the next level for the next 12 months. The good news is that you don’t always have to pay for a complete rebrand or overhaul — unless it’s absolutely needed. But, if you really like your brand or at least several aspects of it — and your clients are already familiar with it visually (because of how consistently you show up on various platforms, in the same ways, everyday) never fear! You don’t have to totally change things up or become unrecognizable. Below are a few ideas for quickly and simply adding to and enhancing your current brand, so that it stays polished, sophisticated, unique and relatable in the new year — without the price tag of an entire brand overhaul.

1. Create a secondary logo mark. If you still love your logo, you can absolutely keep using it as your primary version. But, you can also create a supporting graphic to be used when you need a smaller, more “iconic” or monogram-style of your identity. This mark can be used on certain materials, for certain times and places — and adds a fresh, new face to your brand.

2. Add a new color or texture to your palette. Again, remember that you can add to or create small extensions of your brand without changing it all up. Take your color palette for example. If you like it, you can keep what you have, but just add an extra color or two (or) replace a couple that you don’t love so much (or haven’t felt as strongly about as the others.) You can also always add a fun texture to your collection (imagine something like a gold foil, marble or metallic swatch) that adds some flair to your visuals.

3. Introduce a new font to your typography. This point is similar to the one above. Hopefully you have a classic serif and modern sans serif combination already in place that you implement. If you still love them and use them for all of your branded materials, then introduce a fun script or handwritten style font to sprinkle throughout certain designs from time to time, to highlight special pieces of copy that need to “pop.” Or, replace the serif or sans serif that you might have gotten tired of using the last few years with new ones. Maybe introduce a new font to only use on unique or separate designs, like in emails, or for a specific launch, course, podcast or other product. A new launch is actually the perfect time to use some new colors, imagery and typefaces that still complement your “regular/everyday” branding — but allow your followers to know that these visual bits are for a different platform within your brand. You can still stay on-brand and look familiar to your clients, even with the addition of a new font. It just helps to freshen things up a bit.

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4. Create a collection of new icons or assets. Many brands use a collection of illustration-based icons to represent the services or products on their website or are used within social media graphics. Many also use patterns or textures (mentioned above) like watercolors or metallics. If you don’t already, then get some created! Or, if you do use them, like with adding fonts and colors, create some new ones or replace current ones that you don’t love anymore. Elements of design like this are just as important in visually supporting your brand as the right typography, color swatches and other imagery, like photos.  

5. Schedule a new photography session. You might have had brand photos taken a few years ago and although they have been great and more than served a purpose, appearing throughout your website and countless graphics, it is probably time for some new ones! Looks change and we grow with our businesses, so therefore, we are always evolving. It’s important that the photos that we use on a regular basis are aligned with who we truly are, as well. Plus, who doesn’t love getting their edited photos back from an amazing session? New photos alone can make your website and other visuals looks totally new — which is just, fun!

6. Update the design of your site. This doesn’t need to be a major overhaul and it doesn’t even have to involve any code! (Whew!) Sometimes, just moving around some content, adding some new testimonials, replacing a few photos, adding a new opt-in or contact form and making small, stylistic edits will change the look and feel of the site altogether — making it look and feel new. This will only attract more of the right visitors to your site and make your brand look confident, sleek and professional.  

7. Update your email template. If you send a newsletter to your subscribers, very similarly to the website suggestions above, simply update the design and layout of your weekly or monthly emails. Change up the header, the style of the headlines, update any necessary information in the footer or just change what content that you already include. Add in a few of those new colors, fonts or icons that you’ve created. If you don’t already have one, add a bio at the bottom (with one of those new brand photos... wink, wink!) and introduce yourself to new subscribers or remind current subscribers who you are and why you’re grateful to be in their inboxes.

Once again, a few simple changes can go a long way! I have personally done several of these and plan to revisit others in the new year. You’ll find that it’s fun to quickly update all of these various aspects of your brand, so that it looks like you’ve gone through a facelift, when really, you’ve simply changed the way that you did your makeup. New year, fresh brand!

10 ways to brand your business

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When it comes to building a new business from the ground up (or rebranding an existing one) it’s important to know that if there is no proper branding in place, the business will not be nearly as successful or leveraged as it could be. Professional branding allows a business to be known for certain skills, services or products, to stand out, to be memorable, to be valued — and to be able to stick around for a long time.

Creating the brand for your business can be done in multiple ways — both visually and non-visually — and below, I’m breaking down 10 simple and quick things that you can work on now, to accomplish this.

1. Figure out who you are and what you want to do and be known for.
Before you do ANYTHING, you must establish who you are as a business owner — what you want to be an expert at, the things that you want to be known for and how you plan to stand out in a saturated market. Why should someone hire you? What do you want prospective clients to think when your business comes to mind? How do you plan to blend who you are with what you do?  

2. Decide on your values.
Once you figure out who you are and the purpose that you want your business to serve, make a list of your core values. What will your business stand for? What ethics will you incorporate into what you do every single day? Very often, a client is more likely to hire you if they feel that their own values are aligned with yours. Get your business grounded and clear on the emotional impact that you want to deliver through your work, to your clients, to your communities — and beyond.

3. Write a mission statement.
Now that you’re clear on your business’s values, literally write out a mission statement, mentioning them. This can be simple — even just one sentence that breaks down (in seconds) the services that you provide or products that you offer, the goals and focuses of your business and the value that you will offer to your clients. A mission statement is important because it’s a specific declaration that will resonate with your prospective clients — and it’s also important for you and any members of your team to keep in mind as you work every single day. Always remember not only what you do, but why you do it — and for whom.  

4. Find your voice.
Establish the words that you want to consistently use and the sound and tone that you want to have, whether you are writing or speaking. The voice used in your messaging on your website should match up with what you say on video or how you talk to a client. The more consistent that you are with this, the more that someone will view you as an expert.

5. Create your messaging and craft content for your blog and social media.
Now that you know the words that you want to use and the tone that you want to have, put ‘em to work! You might be DIY-ing your copywriting or hiring a professional, but either way, hammer out what you want to say on your website, in your blog, on your social media platforms, in emails, on video, during a consult — and more. Touch on your client’s pain points — show them the emotional value that you can offer, no matter what kind of service you provide. Let them know that you have what they need and you can solve their problems. Make sure that what they read on your website is the same thing that they’ll see on social media or during a meeting with you. Sound like the professional that you are!

6. Design a logo.
Now that some of the important non-tangible items are crossed off the list, let’s move onto the “pretty” stuff! Similar to copywriting, make plans to either DIY this part or work with a designer. Before the actual design of the logo, though, make sure that you create a moodboard, decide on fonts and a color palette, get some brand photos taken care of and figure out the overall style and vibes of your visual identity. The right colors and imagery, tied in with your copy, will attract the right clients. Figure out if you want a type-based logo, one that incorporates an icon or some kind of imagery, a monogram, etc. The simpler, the better! Just make it memorable and easily translatable across different mediums on-screen and off.

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7. Develop a website.
Once the logo is designed, move onto the website phase! Make sure that it matches up visually with your moodboard and logo — use the same colors and fonts. You can easily customize templates through platforms like Wix and Squarespace (my preferred choice) or develop one using Wordpress. Even if you just put up a landing page temporarily or a simple site with just a few, necessary pages — that is fine. Just make sure that it’s clearly stated what you do and offer — and how you can help your prospective clients. Have a strong balance of visuals + text. List your services and products, link to social media platforms and have calls to action in multiple places. Make it easy for someone to contact you. It’s important to have a Facebook page, too, but your website is still crucial because it’s literally the online home of your business — you own it and control it. Social media channels can come and go (and with them, your followers) but your domain is yours, along with your blog and email subscribers.

8. Brand the proper social media platforms.
Once you have figured out where you’re hanging out online (AKA where your clients do) — whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., make sure to brand those pages. Create and upload cover and profile photos, backgrounds and use your brand colors as much as possible — those are just a few quick and easy ways to stay consistent with your visual branding. Again, this way, when someone leaves your website and goes to your Facebook page, they will know that it’s still your business that they’re experiencing online.  

9. Create templates to be used for print + digital mediums.
Now that you have the bigger components of your visual brand established — your logo, website and social media channels — design some templates that you can start using on a regular basis! If you don’t have access to Adobe Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator, that’s OK. Use apps like Canva that already come with pre-made and ready-sized templates for all online platforms. Think of your everyday post graphics, possible Facebook ads, blog imagery, Pinterest pins and emails — which are all digital designs. Also consider print templates that you can use for your business cards, brochures, product tags, thank you cards, client questionnaires, fliers, letterheads and any kind of document imaginable. Make sure that your brand assets are on every piece of collateral that you put out into the world.  

10. Establish consistency!   
As I’ve been touching on throughout the last few points, you must be consistent! This means showing up in the same ways, every single day, when it comes to your voice and tone, the words that you say and write, the values that you stand for, the services or products that you offer, the ways that you work with your clients, the content that you put out and your visual designs. Someone should experience you in the same ways online and offline. Whether someone is talking to you in person, visiting your website, reading your blog, looking at a social media graphic or holding your business card in their hand, they should always know that it’s you. The more consistent that you show up in every way, the more professional and legitimate that you will look — and therefore, the more seriously that you will be taken. Your prospective clients will turn to you because you will be positioned as an expert!

4 ways to refresh your brand

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Refresh vs. Rebrand – a never-ending debate in the life of a small business owner!

How do you know when it’s time to add some spark back into your visual identity or wipe the slate clean and start from scratch all over again?

Sometimes, we can get ahead of ourselves. It’s easy to want a new logo or website when we stare at these major components of our brand day in and day out. I get it, we tire of them. I feel the same way about my own print + digital materials.

However, the point of branding is to establish consistency. You need a cohesive look and feel to everything that represents and expresses you, so that people become familiar with and trust you. On the flip side, sometimes a logo can become outdated and after years of looking a certain way, it’s OK to take the leap and go through a full rebrand. However, before you step off that ledge, think to yourself – what if I just refreshed my brand in a few small and easy steps? You might be surprised at the simple ways that you can enhance it and add extensions – to make it feel new – but without the time and expense of executing an entire facelift.

1. Add a font to your typography collection.

I don’t recommend using five different typefaces throughout your branding, but if you have one or two that you consistently use (and hopefully they’re a serif and sans serif combo) it’s OK to add in a third option. Maybe this is a script, handwritten or more “fun” font that you use for some headlines, quotes, social media graphics, highlighted blocks of text, etc. Something to add additional interest or flair to your content and design.

2. Add a color to your palette.  

In a very similar and really easy way, introduce a new color to your existing swatches. I believe that you can have 4-5 different colors working together for your brand (unlike fonts, I cap those off at 3 max) and it can be fun to add one more to the mix. Even if you don’t add something super vivid and different, it could be as simple as a neutral option like a grey, ivory or beige. This can also add a sophisticated touch to your branded materials. And, here is what I have to say about choosing the right combination of colors.

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 3. Introduce elements like a secondary logo mark/icon, textures or patterns.

Adding some visual elements that can be used throughout your website, social media graphics and print stationery can be a great way to bring a new dynamic to your branding, without doing an entire overhaul. No matter how great your logo is, you do have to look at it every single day. You probably think of ways that you would tweak it or what you want your next one to look like. Instead of going that far, though, why not add a secondary version of your logo to be used for special occasions? Many businesses use icons and monograms as simplified versions of their logo, when they don’t want or need to use the original version. These smaller marks can absolutely be consistent with your brand and use elements, fonts and colors from your logo, but in a new and unique way. You can create some icons to be sprinkled throughout your website, to help break-up page sections or represent your services or social media handles — that still match your brand. You can also introduce some nice textures and patterns as extensions to your color palette, to add more visual interest to your graphics. I especially like this step because it allows you to add some new elements to your brand, without doing a full-blown rebrand.

4. Invest in brand photography.  

This is a step that I took myself in my business this year and it’s such a game changer! If you’re using the same stock photos over and over again or you don’t have any actual photos of yourself and your working space, now is the time to invest in a professional photographer! At the beginning of the year, I found a photographer whose style I really liked on Facebook and who was located in my city. We met at a local studio/co-working space that is a renovated warehouse and spent the morning capturing headshots and shots of me working with my “tools” – like my laptop, iPad, sketchbook and journal. We incorporated two outfit changes and some different backgrounds — and they turned out perfect, exactly as I envisioned. She gave me around 100 to keep, so I use them regularly on my website, in blog graphics and social media graphics. I feel so much more professional with them — and, I like posting them knowing that nobody else in the world as the exact same shots. I highly recommend investing in unique photos, rather than the same stock photos that everyone else on the Internet is using. **Sidenote, you can also go to a craft store like Hobby Lobby, buy up some paper textures to use as backgrounds, office supplies and fun props — and style your own photo shoot of flat lays to freshen up your blog and Instagram feed. Again, this way, you’re at least using your own photos!**


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

5 ways to get started with brand visuals

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If you're just starting out as a small business owner, or you've been at the game for a while but haven't established a professional presence just yet — BUT — you also know your biz inside and out, what you want to be known for, who you want to serve, where you want to be seen, your overall vision, mission and strategy, this blog post is for you!

As I've mentioned before, it's EXTREMELY important to have those above non-tangible pieces in place and be really clear about your brand, before you even think about the visuals. Because, a brand is the emotional experience that your client has when they come into contact with you. It's what THEY think and feel.

So, if you're clear on the above and ready to design a logo, website and other materials, here are a few places to start and resources that you can use to get off the ground — until you're ready to hire a professional designer. (Which I highly recommend doing in time!)

1) Create a mood or "inspiration" board. This can be a physical or digital collage of colors, patterns, textures and photos that evoke a specific sense of style, emotion and personality when someone experiences your brand. This is important because it sets the tone for the rest of your branding and helps you get really clear on design aspects. You can cut out images from magazines and put it together yourself or create one in Canva or Photoshop.

2) Use Pinterest to not only help you create your above mood board, but to also help inspire your color palette and logo possibilities. Create specific boards for colors, logos, typography and more to help yourself stay organized — and to give you good visuals to constantly reference.

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3) Think about what style of logo that you would like to create — you can create something that is simple and type-based, or you can incorporate certain iconic, illustrative or design elements that express what your business does. Take a basic Adobe Illustrator course and download a trial version of it, if you're feeling brave enough to create it using a professional program. To make things a little easier, you can always use Canva.

4) Once your logo is finished, try your hand at using Squarespace to design a simple website. There are other platforms like Wix and Weebly, but I've always been a Squarespace girl myself. It's pretty intuitive and user-friendly. You can connect to an existing domain (in GoDaddy, etc.) or purchase one through Squarespace and it's even free for the first year. It's crucial to have an online home for your business, separate from social media platforms, in case Facebook decides to pull the plug one day — and your page and all of its followers go with it. Your website is something that you own and will be online, even if other social channels come and go over the years. Make sure that it's easy to navigate and visitors can quickly learn about what your business offers and the value that you can provide THEM with. Make it visually interesting and attractive, packed with good content, so that they will want to stay and not quickly exit the browser window.

5) For other print and digital materials, like social media graphics, business cards, brochures, PDFs and more — you can download trial versions of specific Adobe Creative Cloud programs like the trio that I use (InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator) or use the free version of Canva. Strive hard to keep all of your branded materials consistent and cohesive. Whether someone is following you on social media, reading a blog post on your website, browsing a free worksheet or checklist from your opt-in or holding your business card, they should have the same visual experience over and over again. 


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
It's 2018! How is your branding looking for the new year? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

6 signs that it's time for a rebrand

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When is it time for a total rebrand? This can be a tough question for any entrepreneur — especially when you might be busy and perfectly successful, but you’re noticing that some of what used to work before just isn’t cutting it anymore.

Before you consider an entire rebrand, consider the signs below and if you’ve been experiencing the majority of them. If you’re not experiencing them so much, but you feel like your brand could at least use a little refreshing (without the time and investment spent in a rebrand, check out this post first.) If not, keep reading!

1. Your logo is dated

When you don’t love your logo anymore or want to show it off, it’s time to change things up. Maybe this is an identity that you used to like and has worked for years, but it doesn’t work anymore — and that’s OK. Creating a new face for your brand will set the tone for everything else — your colors, fonts, textures, patterns, social media graphics, photography and more — that will all work together well, be memorable and people will know and recognize that it’s you.

2. You’re not consistently using specific color palettes and typography

Speaking of colors and fonts, does anything seem to match anymore? Are you using different templates, photography and graphics that just aren’t cohesive or represent your brand? Do you feel like everything is all over the place? A rebrand will establish you with not only a new logo, but also a new color palette (primary and maybe even secondary ones) and at least 2-3 (no more than that, though) fonts to use for everything — throughout print and digital platforms.  

3. Your website is also dated and hard to navigate

Like your logo, if your website is outdated, visitors won’t want to stick around for very long or even know you, what you offer or what they’re even looking at. Is your site mobile-friendly and responsive? Do you use opt-ins to capture emails for your subscription list and to reach prospective clients? Do you blog? Do you give visitors a quick and easy way to contact you? Do you use photography or generic stock photos that anyone can see anywhere? Outside of a Facebook page, a website is absolutely necessary to have because it’s your business’s online home. Even if Facebook or other social media channels disappear tomorrow, you will still have your website (and email list!)  

4. You can’t explain what your business does or who your ideal client is  

You’ve been everything to everyone. What services do you offer? Who do you enjoy working with the most? If your branding is all over the place, less than ideal people will want to hire you for services that you don’t want to offer anymore or even like doing. You won’t attract those you want to. But, if you have a brand that really speaks to what you’re about, who you serve and the specific services that you offer, you will filter out (for the most part) those who aren’t going to be a good fit for you.  

5. Your mission statement and values aren’t clear anymore

These are elements that should be in place and solidified even before you have visuals created. If these aren’t clear, then not much about your brand is. Who are you? What do you do? Who do you serve? What do you want to be known for? Once you can answer these, you’re more likely to have visual branding that complements your messaging and makes you stand out even more, especially in a saturated online market.

6. Your business model or strategy has changed

Like your mission and values statements, if your business plans and strategies for running your business and getting clients changes or is non-existent, it impacts your entire brand in a huge way. Be clear on where you hang out, where you want to be seen, who you want to attract, how you want to work with clients, how you plan to deliver services and products (and get paid) and more. Again, once that is reestablished, your new visual branding will more easily be created and implemented.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

4 ways to refresh your brand

Refresh vs. Rebrand – a never-ending debate in the life of a small business owner!

How do you know when it’s time to add some spark back into your visual identity or wipe the slate clean and start from scratch all over again?

Sometimes, we can get ahead of ourselves. It’s easy to want a new logo or website when we stare at these major components of our brand day in and day out. I get it, we tire of them. I feel the same way about my own print + digital materials.

However, the point of branding is to establish consistency. You need a cohesive look and feel to everything that represents and expresses you, so that people become familiar with and trust you. On the flip side, sometimes a logo can become outdated and after years of looking a certain way, it’s OK to take the leap and go through a full rebrand. However, before you step off that ledge, think to yourself – what if I just refreshed my brand in a few small and easy steps? You might be surprised at the simple ways that you can enhance it and add extensions – to make it feel new – but without the time and expense of executing an entire facelift.

1. Add a font to your typography collection.

I don’t recommend using five different typefaces throughout your branding, but if you have one or two that you consistently use (and hopefully they’re a serif and sans serif combo) it’s OK to add in a third option. Maybe this is a script, handwritten or more “fun” font that you use for some headlines, quotes, social media graphics, highlighted blocks of text, etc. Something to add additional interest or flair to your content and design.

2. Add a color to your palette.  

In a very similar and really easy way, introduce a new color to your existing swatches. I believe that you can have 4-5 different colors working together for your brand (unlike fonts, I cap those off at 3 max) and it can be fun to add one more to the mix. Even if you don’t add something super vivid and different, it could be as simple as a neutral option like a grey, ivory or beige. This can also add a sophisticated touch to your branded materials. And, here is what I have to say about choosing the right combination of colors.

 3. Introduce elements like a secondary logo mark/icon, textures or patterns.

Adding some visual elements that can be used throughout your website, social media graphics and print stationery can be a great way to bring a new dynamic to your branding, without doing an entire overhaul. No matter how great your logo is, you do have to look at it every single day. You probably think of ways that you would tweak it or what you want your next one to look like. Instead of going that far, though, why not add a secondary version of your logo to be used for special occasions? Many businesses use icons and monograms as simplified versions of their logo, when they don’t want or need to use the original version. These smaller marks can absolutely be consistent with your brand and use elements, fonts and colors from your logo, but in a new and unique way. You can create some icons to be sprinkled throughout your website, to help break-up page sections or represent your services or social media handles — that still match your brand. You can also introduce some nice textures and patterns as extensions to your color palette, to add more visual interest to your graphics. I especially like this step because it allows you to add some new elements to your brand, without doing a full-blown rebrand.

4. Invest in brand photography.  

This is a step that I took myself in my business this year and it’s such a game changer! If you’re using the same stock photos over and over again or you don’t have any actual photos of yourself and your working space, now is the time to invest in a professional photographer! At the beginning of the year, I found a photographer whose style I really liked on Facebook and who was located in my city. We met at a local studio/co-working space that is a renovated warehouse and spent the morning capturing headshots and shots of me working with my “tools” – like my laptop, iPad, sketchbook and journal. We incorporated two outfit changes and some different backgrounds — and they turned out perfect, exactly as I envisioned. She gave me around 100 to keep, so I use them regularly on my website, in blog graphics and social media graphics. I feel so much more professional with them — and, I like posting them knowing that nobody else in the world as the exact same shots. I highly recommend investing in unique photos, rather than the same stock photos that everyone else on the Internet is using. **Sidenote, you can also go to a craft store like Hobby Lobby, buy up some paper textures to use as backgrounds, office supplies and fun props — and style your own photo shoot of flat lays to freshen up your blog and Instagram feed. Again, this way, you’re at least using your own photos!**


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!

3 reasons why your brand is more than just your visuals

It’s sometimes easy to forget that your brand is more than just your logo. It’s more than the way that your website looks and functions, it’s more than the feel of your business card in your hand. It’s more than the words that you say, the strategy that you stand behind and the stories that you tell. It’s more than just the vision that you have for yourself (and your visuals.) It’s ALL of those things. All of them working together, as a team, to give you an overall and cohesive identity — one that your clients remember and makes them feel something. Your brand isn’t just an identity, though, either — it’s an expression.

Today, I want to hit on just (3) reasons why your brand goes beyond the design that you invest in or create (and that’s the honest truth coming from me, a designer.)

1. Your brand is an experience.

Your clients (and prospects) should have the same experience every single time that they come into contact with it. All of your materials, tangible and non-tangible, print and digital, in-person and online — should be cohesive and consistent. Whether someone looks at your business card, browses your website, reads your social media posts or the content that you put out, meets with you via video conference or over a coffee chat, etc., they should know that it’s you, each time. They should feel something and be able to see how genuine and authentic you are and what value you bring to the table, with the services that you provide.

2. Your brand reflects what others think of you.

If your brand is professional, legitimate and polished, people will feel the same way about it (and you.) They will take you seriously and more confidently hire you, if they truly like and trust you. If they are digging what you’re about, who you are, what you offer and see that you can serve them (all with the help of the different aspects of your brand that they experience, see point #1 above) — they will undoubtedly want to work with you. I want to hire someone that I feel is not only professional, talented and experienced — but who I can also relate to. As humans, I’m sure that most of us feel that way, as well.

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 3. Your brand includes your vision, mission, strategy and content — not just design.  

These “non-visual” elements should come first, even before design and your logo is created. When you get super clear on who you are, what you do, what you want to be known for, who you want to serve and how you’re going to serve them, it will be much easier to decide on things like color palettes, typography, style elements, website function/development, printed/in-hand materials, social media platforms and more. When you have brand clarity, by knowing yourself and your craft really well and the words, strategies and systems that will attract paying clients in place, the “fun and pretty” aspects of your brand will come to life more quickly because they will simply complement and express the other aspects that you’ve already established.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Do you have a logo, website and more that you absolutely love…or…not so much? If you’re not a design professional, branding might be something that you don’t love to do for your business or you simply don’t have time for, so let someone else take over! Sign-up below to receive the link to download my new and free PDF tool “Branding 101: What it is, what it isn’t and why you need it” — right now! This quick and simple guide will walk you through why it’s important to establish consistent and memorable branding within your biz — and if you can DIY some of it or if you should hire that professional. If you have any questions after going through it, let’s connect and chat some more!