visual identity

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!

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!