visual brand

What Do Your Brand Colors Say About Your Business?

 
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The color palette that you ultimately choose for your business shouldn’t happen by chance.

There is a lot of psychology involved with the meanings of colors, so the right collection of swatches may make or break how a prospective client or customer perceives you when they come upon your website, scroll through your Instagram feed, hold your business card in their hand — and more. 

At first glance, colors evoke certain emotions. Not only do you want your color palette to express the style, personality, voice and values of your brand, but you also want it to speak to and attract the right audience to whatever it is that you’re selling. In order to attract that ideal audience, consider using colors that will resonate with them. 

First, think of colors within these two general categories:

  • Warm: red, orange, yellow

  • Cool: blue, green, purple

 Next, think about what each color within those two categories means:

  • Red: excitement, anger, energy, heat, loud, meant to grab attention.

  • Blue: corporate, professional, cool, peaceful, serenity, calmness.

  • Green: health, fresh, nature, environmental, growth.

  • Purple: bold, unique, royal, power.

  • Orange: similar to red, but on less of an “alert” or “anger” scale. More bright, fun, hopeful and positive.

  • Yellow: similar to orange. Youthful, happy, positive, cheerful.

Next, think about how certain colors pair with others, by taking some inspiration from the good, old-fashioned color wheel!

  • Complementary: These are two colors that are fall opposite each other on the wheel, think blue-yellow and red-green.

  • Analogous: These are three colors that fall next to each other on the wheel, think blue/blue-green/green.

  • Triadic: These are three colors that are spaced out like a triangle on the wheel — think purple, orange and green.

Your color palette should be like a puzzle, where the pieces fit together just right. Consider the psychology behind each one that you’re using and let it help you to create a strong combination. 

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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!