Branding

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!

7 reasons that you need a strong brand (no matter how small you are)

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As a small business owner, you might not think that establishing professional and sophisticated branding is necessary until you become a little “bigger.” The truth is, in order to grow, be recognized and become more known, branding is essential and one of the most important investments that you can make in your business. It can take your business from “blah” to “ahh!” and I’ve outlined just a few reasons why, in today’s mini blog post:

1. You will be taken seriously.  

If you look consistent and legitimate, then you will look more professional. And, the more professional that you look, the more that people will view you as an expert, like you, trust you and hire you. Plain and simple.

 2. You will be memorable.

The more that you show up consistently, the more that your potential clients will start to recognize you — over and over again. People like familiarity and to be connected to something that they feel they’ve known forever. Which leads me to #3.

 3. You will be trusted.

You’ve probably heard business coaches and thought leaders mention the “know, like, trust” factor. Well, it’s definitely a very real thing. When it comes to potential customers, they first have to get to know you. Once they know you and see what you’re about/represent, they begin to truly like you. Finally, once they like you, the more likely they are to trust you. And once you have that trust, you have the start of a beautiful business relationship — and they will most likely end up hiring you.

4. Your mission and vision will be stronger.

I always say that even before design and visuals come into play, you need to determine the mission/vision of your business — it’s one of the first and most important parts of branding. You need to know who you are, what you do and who you serve. Who is your niche market? What do you want to become known for? Once these components are solidified, you will find that your overall identity looks so much more professional, because you know exactly who you are.

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5. You will be unique.

Professional branding will set you apart and help you to stand out from the crowd. In this saturated world of online business, there are a million other people who do exactly what you do — they have similar websites, offer similar services and more. So, why should someone choose you over someone else? How can you position yourself, your messaging, your website and your services differently?  

6. You will gain a following.

This goes back to #1. The more consistent that you show up where your potential customers are hanging out and the more legitimate that you look — the more that people, in turn, will take you seriously. If you position yourself as an expert, speak to people’s pain points and offer a lot of value (especially if it’s free) people will like, trust and follow you more and more. Once you have a following (like a solid email list, weekly blog readers or Facebook group members) you will have more people interested in what you have to offer and who will more than likely buy from you, whether it’s now or in the future.

7. You will emotionally connect with your clients/customers.

To add to the idea of having a following and offering a lot of free value to them connects to this point and the “know, like, trust” factor. Again, once people like you enough, they will connect with you on a deeper level because they know that you can help them. Instead of just being someone that they see pop in Facebook groups from time to time or someone who offered them a downloadable freebie once (like everyone else) you will be someone who they regularly seek out and trust. Once someone sees that you can help better their business, they will more likely want to work with you. But, not as many will want to if they don’t feel like you are an expert who can help them. So, make sure that you not only ARE the part, but LOOK the part, too.  


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!

7 elements of design to always keep in mind

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It doesn’t matter whether you’re designing (or working with a designer on) a sales page, brochure, logo, Facebook graphic, poster or even a billboard — the original and basic elements of graphic design apply (and should always apply) to any and all types of design — print, digital and even traditional fine art. The seven elements are the foundation of good design and span centuries back. These same elements can even be applied to other art forms like photography, painting and sculpture.

No matter how modern and digital that design gets or how much that technology changes, these simple elements will always be the core of design. They need to be considered throughout all phases of a project, in order for a design to be thoroughly executed with the highest quality. If you aren’t already familiar with these, think about each one the next time that you open a design file and ask yourself if each one can be applied to and is present in your design.  

Line: This is the simplest and most basic element of design. It is quite literally, what you imagine it to be — a line. Lines can be placed in any direction or orientation (horizontal or vertical) and can be straight, crooked, broken or curved. They can also be thin or thick and any width or length. They connect any “point A” to “point B.”

Shape: A shape is a defined area or dimension that stands out from what is around it. For example, think about a poster that has a big, bright circle placed off to the side, with text placed over the top of it that reads “Special Discount!” The circle is meant to serve as a little, extra “pop” on the page that stands on its own, to display a unique and separate message from the rest of the text in the design. In fact, all objects are actually made up of other shapes. Shapes can be specifically geometric (like a square, circle or triangle) or abstract (like a starburst or organic shape that is made up of uneven lines and multiple sides.) You can use shapes to help different pieces of your design stand out — just like the circle on the poster referenced above.

Space: Similar to shape, space is also a defined area around the other elements in a design. You can use it to separate or bring together pieces of information and other details. You can use it to control what your audience sees or reads first and to illustrate bigger or more important information, or smaller details that can be consumed later.

Value: Value is simply how light or how dark an area of design looks. It can be very dark or really light. The value that you place, similar to space, will help your audience to read and see important aspects of a design right away. Value can help to create contrast, brightness and saturation. Obviously, you will notice something that is darker and bolder in a design a bit more quickly than you will something that is lighter and smaller.

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Size: Quite simply, the size that you apply to an area in your design will determine how important it is. If you create a headline to read in large, bold print across the top of the page or you place a photo that is dominant and it takes up a large portion of the design, those larger size pieces of your design are going to be seen first and as the most prominent.

Texture: When it comes to the surface of a design, you can add extra graphic contrast by applying a texture or pattern to the design or even to an area of solid color. It adds some visual interest and can make a design feel like it’s 3-dimensional or even coming off of the page. It adds a layer to design that none of the other elements can do — to the point of making someone almost feel it if they were to touch it.

Color: Color might just be my most favorite element of design. I love the simplicity and contrast of a black and white design or photo, too, but you just can’t beat a color palette that is visually-pleasing and engaging to a viewer. Color can generate emotion, designate an area of the design and either separate or bring together other elements on the page. For help deciding what colors to use in your branding or in any simple design, refer to this blog post.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
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! 

7 creative resources for non-designers

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Whether you’re a small business owner still DIY-ing your branding and visuals, or you’re a professional designer (like me) — it’s important to have go-to creative resources online that you regularly visit. You might be needing to look for new fonts, piece together a new color palette, design some simple illustrations or icons for your website or need new, strong photos to use within your blog and social media graphics. Or, you might simply hit a wall from time to time and need to download some new templates and find inspiration for your designs.

Below is a quick-hit list of (just a few of) my favorite sites that I constantly defer to when I’m working on a new brand for a client or even my own business development graphics. Leave a comment and let me know what a few of yours are as well, if they’re not listed here, so that I can check ‘em out!

Creative Market: This is absolutely one of the best online resources for design! You can find and purchase anything that you need — from fonts, to vector illustrations, stock photos, textures, patterns — and beyond. They also email featured freebies that you can download (which I do often! Gotta love a free font that comes with a commercial license or some new vector watercolor splashes!) They even offer templates for flyers, brochures, social media graphics, business cards, logos and more. Buy from one of their package options and stay stocked up on your credits, so that you can quickly download what you need, when you need it! (I know that I do.)

FontSquirrel + DaFont: As mentioned in my recent blog post about free + premium fonts, free font sites provide fonts that are free for personal use and often have limited licenses that you must consider. You might be able to use some that have commercial licenses and are still free, but make sure to check first!

FontSquirrel advertises itself as being 100% free for commercial use.

A site like DaFont offers plenty of free fonts (but mainly for personal use) and encourage you to donate to the font designer. Oftentimes, I like to peruse fonts that I want to use for a client job — and experiment with a few. But, once I find the right font, I either find the link to the designer’s site to purchase it OR find a provided link that connects to creative resource sites like Creative Market or Design Cuts, where you can also purchase a commercial license for the font — and that might run anywhere from $12-30. Although other typefaces can cost much more, I like finding these types of fonts that are more affordable and that I know I am legally “OK” using. But again, if you’re using a font for fun or with a personal project (that isn’t classified as “commercial”) then certainly play with free fonts! There are countless collections on these two sites alone, ranging from handwritten/cursive, to holiday-themed, to retro and more!

Pexels.com + Unsplash.com: According to the Pexels website: “It's hard to understand complex licenses. That is why all photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means that the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose. The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use. You can modify, copy and distribute the photos. All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So, attribution is not required.”

The same applies to Unsplash.com. There are many photos that crossover between the two sites, because they are so similar. I use these sites because the stock photos are beautiful, sleek and artistic. They are not like what you will find on iStock or Shutterstock that are a bit generic — and that everyone has used at one time or another. The best part, they are 100%, totally free to use!

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Canva: By now, I’m sure that you’ve heard of or are using Canva for creating graphics, especially if you’re DIY-ing your designs. I used to not be super crazy about this platform, as I felt that it made “everyone a designer” but now, I see its importance as I help to serve small business owners who are creating their own graphics, until they have a budget to work with a professional designer. I’m actually planning to setup and share an account with my social media strategist, so that we can quickly create and access graphics together. I currently design my brand images in Photoshop, so this will help to free up some space on my computer and allow me to be more efficient with the constant creation of small + simple graphics. (And, I can still use my brand + stock photos, fonts + colors, so that my graphics look just as professional as before.) With that said, Canva is great when it comes to creating a template for anything imaginable — posters, flyers, social media graphics, cards and more. And, it uses a drag-and-drop format, which makes it user-friendly and pretty intuitive to pick up on.

Colour Lovers: This is a handy site for browsing and creating color palettes, shapes and patterns. It also provides you with the RGB, CMYK and HEX codes, so that you can use the exact swatches in your designs. If you’re not sure what the color modes that I just mentioned mean, reference this post that I just wrote last week about color systems!

I like to use this website when I’m experimenting with colors for a logo or creating the official palette for a client’s brand. I like to see what works well together and what doesn’t and file/save away different collections and themes. Even if I don’t end up using a particular palette for the current project that I’m working on, I might use it for another one in the future!

With this list of resources, you should be equipped with some solid, go-to sites for discovering fonts, downloading graphic templates and photos, designing your own graphics and creating color palettes. Happy designing!


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
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 color systems that every brand should use

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If you’re a small business owner DIY-ing your visual branding (your logo, website, business cards, social media graphics and more) or if you’re working with (or have worked) with a professional designer, it’s important to be familiar with some “designer lingo” from time to time. Have you ever heard someone reference “RGB” or “Hexadecimal” before and wondered, “what the heck is that?” You’re not alone. When it comes to design, understanding how colors work and effect a design in many ways is crucial. And, understanding that you need to design within specific color modes within specific platforms, in order for your design to be of the best quality and setup professionally, is even more crucial.

The short and sweet of it is this — you must design using a different color system for print than you do for digital. If you’re preparing files to send to a printer (let’s say, your business cards, a brochure, or a banner) they will need to be “CMYK-compatible” for best results. Or, if you’re developing your website or designing a graphic for your blog or Instagram (images that will only be viewed on a screen, digitally) you’ll need to use the “RGB” format or even a “hexadecimal” code.

Are you still confused?

That’s OK. Let me break it down for you! After all, I’m all about keeping things as simple as possible. Keep this information handy the next time that you’re creating on-brand graphics or working with your designer. (They will appreciate you knowing these things!)

RGB stands for red, green, and blue, which are the three additive primary colors. We use this system when designing something to be displayed digitally (think websites and social media graphics), but not to be printed.

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This system is used in 4-color print processing, as these four are the standard inks for producing colors. When a file is sent to print, it must be setup in CMYK mode.

PMS: The Pantone Matching System is a universal color matching system, also used in printing. Pantone colors are specific swatches that are already pre-mixed. So, if you use these colors in your design, they’ll print the same every time. This is important when you’re dealing with brand colors that need to be exact. A CMYK-based blue might print lighter or darker depending on the printer, but a Pantone-based blue should print the same from one printer to the next.

Hexadecimal: I’ve never been a math whiz, so this one can be a little tricky. Although I don’t even (always) understand how the numbers work, this is a color code that you can use when developing a website and when you’re utilizing HTML or CSS code. Within this color system, digits (in pairs) indicate the red, green and blue components in the RGB system, mentioned above. The code uses sixteen distinct symbols and when working within CSS, the symbols “0–9” represent values zero to nine, while “A, B, C, D, E, F” represent values ten to fifteen.

So, you can represent 16 values with one hexadecimal. And, with two hexadecimals, you can represent 16x16 values (which = 256 values.)

RBG looks like this: R=0-255,G=0-255,B=0-255

So, 3 pairs of Hexadecimal symbols are used.

For example: Hexadecimal code: #fefafd is RGB: 254,250,253.

Why? Because: fe=254 (which is red), fa=250 (which is green) and fd=253 (which is blue.)

(Again, don’t stress too much about this one. It’s handy when working with a web developer, but I think it’s important to understand RGB first. If you’re formatting a DIY website, you can often enter the RGB code for one of your colors and it will also display the Hexadecimal code, so you can just copy/paste it to use it elsewhere, if need be. That’s what I do!)

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Now that you have a little better understanding of when and why to use RGB, CMYK, PMS and Hexadecimal color systems within print + digital platforms, you might be wondering HOW to make sure that you have the systems “turned on” and correctly in use. I’m going to breakdown how to set this up in Adobe InDesign + Photoshop (the programs that you should be using to either design materials for print or digital platforms.)

Adobe InDesign: First, use this program for anything that you need to lay out and that will be printed (again, business cards, postcards, annual reports, booklets + more). Secondly, remember that you need to design these soon-to-be-printed materials in CMYK mode. To do this, open your “Swatches” palette. Click on the upper right-hand drop-down menu and select “Ink Manager.” If you’re using CMYK colors, the four of them should appear in a little window: “Process Cyan, Process Magenta, Process Yellow, Process Black.” You should also see CMYK values for each swatch in the palette (unless you’re using PMS spot colors, which is totally acceptable!) However, if any appear to be showing RGB values, simply double-click on the swatch, click on “Color Mode” and select “CMYK.” Before you export a PDF for printing, make sure that ALL of your swatches are setup in CMYK (or PMS options/spot colors.) Either CMYK and/or PMS (Pantone) is what you want your swatches set in before finalizing your design document.

Speaking of PMS swatches, where do you find those, you might be thinking? Simply go back to your “Swatches” palette, click again on the upper right-hand drop-down menu, select “New Color Swatch” and you’ll see multiple Pantone options to choose from. If a designer setup your brand colors via the PMS, ask them to provide you with the swatches. Then, simply add those exact ones to your swatch palette.

*Extra notes: Remember, when exporting your PDF for printing, select either the “Press Quality” or “High Quality Print” option under the “General” tab. Also, make sure that you choose “Maximum” image quality under the “Compression” tab. Finally, don’t forget any necessary bleed or crop marks if your design goes off the edges and the document is a certain size that will require trimming.

Adobe Photoshop: I create my digital brand graphics (for social media, my blog, etc.) in Photoshop. It may also be easier to use Canva. But, in Photoshop, once you create the image, simply go to “Image” (in the top menu) → then “Mode” and select “RGB Color.” In another instance, if you are formatting an image that is going to be printed for some reason (like a logo on a sign) you would choose “CMYK Color.” Are you getting the hang of it, now?

Keep in mind that if you do have a question, simply type in a keyword (like RGB or CMYK) in the search bar under the “Help” tab in the navigation menu at the top of your window (in both Photoshop and InDesign.)  


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
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 keep prospects on your website longer

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In the midst of this crazy, digital age, you might hear the argument that as long as you have a Facebook business page and are on social media platforms, you don’t need a website. First, that is totally untrue. If Facebook pulled the plug and disappeared tomorrow, all of your content, photos and followers would go with it — and what would you be left with?

A website is an absolutely necessary marketing platform to have. It’s a space that gives prospective clients a chance to learn more about your brand and what you can offer them. You also look more professional, legitimate and credible. Often, it can be tough enough to drive traffic TO your website — to check out all of those great things about you and your services, products, or both. Because of this, it’s even more important to KEEP those individuals on your website for as long as possible.

Here is a list of 5 easy ways that you can make sure that they stay:

1. Make it really clear who you are and what you do.
In the first few seconds, if it’s difficult for someone to figure out what your website (or business or blog) is about, they’re going to make a quick exit. Make sure that your logo and name is one of the first elements that they see — as well as some quick hits about your offers. For example, when someone visits my website, they should be able to quickly figure out that I’m a graphic designer, that I offer branding and monthly retainer services and that I primarily focus on working with feminine brands and female-driven small businesses. If someone isn’t looking for what I offer, we might not be a good fit in working together and that’s OK. But, if a female business coach is looking to go through a rebrand and she needs a quick turnaround, then I will probably be the right girl for the job. She will see that — and continue to click through to other pages — to learn more about me as a person, my pricing — and what months I have open to book package jobs.  

2. Provide a call to action — in more than one place.
A call to action is crucial if you want prospects to either keep following you or contact you in some way. This can be in the form of an email newsletter sign-up, an opt-in to download a freebie that will offer them some help and value — or something as simple as a link to your contact page. CTAs keep people interested in and in contact with you — even after they leave your website. They’ll take action if they like what they see and want to talk to you about a possible hire — and they’ll take action even if they don’t have the need or budget to afford you right now, but they might in the future. Or, they want to learn more about or from you. You can sprinkle these in a couple of different spots on each page, or at the end of each blog post. There really can never be too many! They can be a mix of embedded forms directly on the site — or pop-ups. You want to encourage them to call, email, subscribe, share, follow, download or buy.  

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3. Keep the design simple.
As a designer, of course I can’t stress this point enough. Simple design is always the best kind, whether it’s a logo, website, PDF, social media graphic or anything else. The less busy that a page is, the quicker that a visitor will be able to scan it. If the branding is on point, navigation is easy to follow and the visuals are engaging, people will definitely stay around longer.

4. And, the content short and sweet.
In a very similar way, keep the words simple as well. Make sure that sentences and paragraphs — and any blocks of copy — are easy to read and to the point. And, make sure that you’re not just throwing around fluff. Utilize the space for copy in a smart fashion — and make sure that you’re not saying things just to impress a prospect — language that might actually be over their head and difficult to understand. Let people know who you are, what you do and what you can offer THEM (it’s all about helping the client, after all) that they’re not going to find anywhere else, with anyone else. Let the words on the screen pack a punch that can be quickly absorbed — and leaves someone thinking, “I HAVE to talk to or work with (her)!”

5. Integrate photos + videos!
Just like good and simple design, photos and videos can help to greatly elevate a page’s dynamic, look and feel. People relate to people and like to see photos (or videos) of them. This is why I find that posting a photo on Facebook creates so much more engagement than just a status made up of words. People would truly rather read a couple of quick sentences about you and then literally SEE you. It’s just human nature and simply a golden rule of design — to keep a healthy balance between copy and imagery. And, although there are many who would still rather read books than watch movies, I’m a big believer that someone will watch a quick 2-minute video of you over reading an exceptionally long blog post or 4-5 paragraphs of lengthy copy about what you can offer them.   


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
It's 2018 — how is your branding looking? Would you like to give it a bit of a makeover or refresh? 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 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 good places to find fonts

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If you’re DIY-ing your brand, or you’re preparing to work with a designer and you’re searching for some font-pairing inspiration (whether for your logo or your website/graphics), it’s important to know what to look for and where to find it.

First things first, let’s talk about free fonts.

Free font sites provide fonts that are free for personal use and often have limited licenses that you must consider. You might be able to use some that have commercial licenses and are still free, but make sure to check first!

Some of these free sites also encourage you to donate to the font designer. Oftentimes, I like to peruse fonts that I want to use for a client job — and experiment with a few. But, once I find the right font, I either find the link to the designer’s site to purchase it OR find a provided link that connects to creative resource sites like Creative Market or Design Cuts, where you can also purchase a commercial license for the font — and that might run anywhere from $12-30. Although other typefaces can cost much more, I like finding these types of fonts that are more affordable and that I know I am legally “OK” using.

Here are my go-to free sites:

  1. Font Squirrel

  2. Google Fonts

  3. DaFont

To skip the free sites (although they are great for searching a certain style and experimenting with different typefaces in your design — “try before you buy”) and go straight to buying more high-end or premium options...

Here are my go-to purchasing sites:

  1. MyFonts

  2. FontSpring

  3. FontShop

You can usually still find a collection of free fonts on the premium sites as well. Free or premium, the best brands tend to use a solid and effective pairing of serif and sans serif typefaces. For help with choosing the right fits, check out my post about this very topic.

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No matter what font selections you make, just remember that if you’re going to use it for your brand (or you’re a designer working on a client’s brand) you must check the licensing. If it’s a free font, is it free for personal + commercial use OR just personal? If it’s only free for personal use and you buy a license (even for just $12) — that’s just (1) license for your use, on your computer. You’ll most likely need to buy a second one for client or vendor use.


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
It's 2018 — how is your branding looking? Would you like to give it a bit of a makeover or refresh? 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 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!

QUICK TIP: Should your brand fonts be separate from those used in your logo?

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I was talking to a design friend from college the other day that was getting ready to design some new print materials for a client. While the client’s logo (that she did not design) had a decent color palette and “OK” visual elements to it, the fonts were certainly dated and the weakest aspects of the design. In developing the new pieces, my friend asked me if I thought she should come up with some new brand fonts for them, as the client wanted a new and fresh look anyway. After some conversation, weighing the pros and cons, we both ultimately agreed that she should come up with new ones to use in her design. Whether you are asked to develop new typography for a brand entirely (doesn’t matter if you’ve designed the logo or not) or at least for a special project, this is something really important to consider.    

Frankly, there is no right or wrong answer. A lot of variables can play into whether or not a brand should have a set collection of “brand fonts” used on print and digital materials that are separate from ones that are used in a brand’s logo. Overall, it all depends on the strength of the logo fonts. Sometimes, a logo uses a unique, decorative or hand-drawn typeface in an artistic way and other times, a logo uses classic typography choices in a straightforward, simple and clean design. 

So, at the end of the day, should your brand fonts be separate from those used in your logo?

1. No, if the logo already uses a good serif + sans serif combo.  

When I design a logo, I tend to use a combination of two fonts. This might be a serif and sans serif combo or a handwritten + sans serif combo. I tend to make the name of the business the main focus of course, on its own line — and I’ll run a tagline or small description (if needed) underneath that. Regardless, whether I’m working with a logo that I’ve designed or that someone else has, if there is a nice combination of fonts already being used that express the brand well and that I know will be professional and readable across different mediums, I will usually just stick with using them as the “official” brand fonts. You certainly don’t have to, but I don’t see a big reason not to. To learn the difference between the three main styles of fonts, feel free to reference this past blog post.

2. Yes, if the logo is dated and you can’t change it right now.

Like my friend that I just mentioned above, if you’re working with a logo designed by someone else and the brand doesn’t plan to update it anytime soon, you need to decide how you feel about the fonts used in the logo. If they’re dated or too decorative/artistic to use consistently, over and over again on branded materials, then you should recommend a good pairing of fonts that will complement the existing design. This is what my friend and I decided that she should do. You can still respect the existing logo and brand elements, but if you’re not able to offer an entire rebrand, you should at least still offer your thoughts on some fresh typography that can be used to help enhance the current brand.  


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
I got a question for ya. How is your branding looking? Would you like to revamp it for 2018? 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!

How to enhance your branding in 1 day

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If you could improve your business today, you would, right? As business owners, we are always looking for the next best thing — the most popular online courses to help us book more clients, the quick fix to grow our email list, how to come up 56 different blog post ideas in an hour, how to increase our organic reach on Facebook — and the list goes on. I’ve downloaded my fair share of freebies, opted in to multiple email lists of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and even hired a business coach + joined a mastermind group this year. It’s wonderful to keep an idea mind, always be willing to learn and grow and see what’s working for those who are truly successful and earning multiple six figures a year.

While we really know that setting ourselves (and our businesses) up for success still takes a lot of time and hard work — nothing is as easy as it seems or is advertised — I’ve got a few quick tips for you to follow today, that will most definitely improve your current branding. Can you say that you’ve done all four of the following? Ask yourself now…and you will learn a little more about your biz and what you need to keep working on. And, go!

1) Know who you are

You can’t solve problems for others and know what you’re truly passionate about or good at, if you don’t truly know yourself. What do you do? What do you WANT to do? What do you want to be known for? Do you see yourself doing it for a long time? If you know the answers to these questions, then jump to #2. If you don’t, you need to figure out the answers. Realize what you really enjoy doing, if you can provide a service or sell a product around it and if it will truly benefit someone’s needs. 

2) Know your audience
After knowing yourself, what you do and what you want people to associate you with, ask yourself who your ideal client is. Do you appeal to fellow entrepreneurs, mid to large size businesses, corporate companies, non-profits or a different group? You can’t sell to someone if they don’t need what you offer. There has to be a specific audience that wants what you can provide, so make sure that you’re marketing to them. Find them, they need you!

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3) Review your visuals + content
If you know who you are, what you enjoy doing and can sell what someone needs directly to them; you can have a very successful business. But, in order to look professional, you have to play the part. If you don’t have a strong logo, website, social media graphics, marketing materials and messaging in place, you will not be taken seriously by your clients. The more consistent you are with all of the aspects of your branding matching and flowing together cohesively — and your content is delivered in a complementary way with the branding — you will look more sophisticated and legitimate. Your branding is a reflection of your personality, your style and how you serve your clients. If your visuals connect with your words and they communicate well together, your brand will be expressed more effectively and resonate better with your clients.

4) Show up consistently everyday
Along with ensuring that your branding is professionally in place, it’s up to you to always show up. Show up for your brand, your client and the work that needs done. At the end of the day, as an entrepreneur, you have to hold yourself accountable. The harder you work at making sure that your branding is strong, the client work gets done and your business development is taken care of each week — the more consistent your business will be. And, consistency is KEY. Without it, as mentioned above, you won’t be taken seriously. Work hard every single day. It WILL pay off.

5) Outsource what you’re not good at, you don’t enjoy doing or you don’t have time for
Since I just mentioned working hard and holding yourself accountable, an important thing to realize when running a business is also knowing what you’re good at and what you’re not — plain and simple. As a business owner, you will often start off running around, doing everything. I’m a graphic designer. I enjoy designing, writing and client + project management. I don’t love basic admin tasks like email management, posting blog and social media graphics or accounting. So, I’m going to spend my time and energy on being productive with what I love to do and am good at and I’m going to delegate the other work to someone else. It’s better to put your focus on positive energy and hire professionals to do the “other” work that you don’t have time for or like to do. There is nothing wrong with that!


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the end of another business year! Are you ready for 2018? 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!

“Like attracts like” — 3 reasons why professional branding will help you find the right clients

I was talking to a friend just last week who is getting ready to launch her new business. We were talking about branding and how she wants it to look “high premium” because her services won’t be cheap.

I told her: “like attracts like.” Have you ever heard of that phrase? Probably so. We are what we attract — what we put out into the universe is often what we get back. In running a business and developing the visual side of its brand, it’s important to remember that not everyone is supposed to be or will be your ideal client. You need to have a niche market/target demographic/specific style that you serve, so that you only attract and serve those types of people. If you offer a service or sell a product with a fancy steakhouse price tag, you don’t want to attract someone who is only looking to buy a cheeseburger at McDonald’s and not spend more than $5.

The more that your values align with your client’s, the more that they understand that what you have to offer is worth every penny and the more that you will attract the right kinds of buyers. The money won’t matter — they will believe in and need so much of what you can give them, that they won’t bat an eyelash at the price. And, they will happily refer you to other (hopefully) like-minded folks needing the same things.   

1. You will look more professional.  

Not only will you look the part of an expert, prospective clients will also look at you in the same way. When you have professional branding in place and look just a little “fancy” — you will also attract others who are sophisticated. If I am seeking a certain professional to work with, whether it’s a copywriter, business coach, etc., I’m going to look at their logo, website, social media, the way they speak, the way they write, the type of content that they put out and more. If everything is really sleek and professional and I genuinely connect with and like what I see, I’m going to reach out to chat with them about what they can do for me. If their branding isn’t cohesive, they don’t show consistency in any ways, they seem scattered or don’t speak or appear confident, they’re not going to impress me for a second and I will pass.

2. You will feel more professional.   

Plain and simple, when you LOOK more professional, you FEEL more professional. Many of us “work from home” entrepreneurs are definitely in tank tops and yoga pants most days, but when we do get dressed up, have our makeup on and hair done, don’t we just automatically walk with a little extra pep in our step? I know that I do. I feel better about myself and the confidence shows. It does for anyone! When you have a logo, website, photography and content that you’re proud of and want to show off to the world, people will see the pride and joy that you take in your work.

3. The right people will trust and believe in you.    

If you look high premium, feel high premium and have high premium prices to match, you will attract high-premium clients. This is because people who trust what you’re saying, doing and have to offer them (and believe in your brand) will buy from you without questioning it. They realize and see the importance in what you offer and that it will benefit them. They will pay you what you want and on time, because you would do the same if you were investing in a service to scale and grow your business, right? I have come to find that when I immediately connect with a prospective client, they like everything that I’m saying and agree with it, I don’t even have to work at the actual sale of my services. The conversation and process is fun and effortless. They already like me, trust me and know that I can do a great job for them. Then, when I say the cost and that I require a 50% deposit to begin the work and the final 50% due at completion of the project, they say: “Send me the contract and invoice!” Not every client is perfect and like this every time, but the more that you exude professionalism, class, expert thoughts/content, strong visuals and more (thanks to great branding) — the more likely that you will attract the same back. 


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!

QUICK TIP: How many fonts do you need for your brand?

One of the most popular questions that I get from entrepreneurs who are ready to brand their businesses is, “how many fonts do I need?” While you may use a different and unique typeface just for your logo (which is perfectly normal and fine) — you do need to establish at least a couple of typefaces to be consistently used on all of your print and web materials. Your typography selections are just as crucial to your brand as your color palette. They play a huge role in contributing to the overall look and feel of your identity — and it’s important to get them right.

You really shouldn’t use more than (3) typefaces on a regular basis. When more than three are used and not consistently, it makes your brand look confusing, not sophisticated and not professional. Plan to just stick with a classic serif (for example, think “Garamond”) as well as a clean and modern sans serif (again, think “Gotham.”) The third exception is a script/handwritten typeface, which can be used in special instances. Read below to find the definition of each one. Above all else, always remember to keep it simple!

1. Serif

A serif typeface has little lines (or strokes) added as embellishments at the ends of characters. Times New Roman is a generic example. These are good to use when reading large blocks of text (like you often see in books) and are great for professional and traditional purposes.

2. Sans serif

A sans serif typeface doesn’t have the serif strokes coming off its characters. Arial and Helvetica are common examples. This style of font has a cleaner, more modern look and feel.

 3. Script  

Finally, a script typeface is, as you might guess, “script-y.” It’s meant to look like cursive handwriting, or on a fancier level, even calligraphy. It’s meant to not be overused, but is great for accenting pullout or highlighted words in a headline or quote. I like to use one to complement my pair of serif and sans serif fonts in a brand to give designs a personal, classy and sophisticated touch.


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!

3 big design trends (that will impact summer 2017)

I’m keeping this week’s blog post short and sweet. Quick and dirty. Easy peasy.

If you’re a designer or a business owner about to hire a designer, you need to be up on a few things (like in any industry) — if you want your artwork and marketing to be successful and relevant.

Each year, trends come and go. Just like with fashion, certain colors and styles are either “in” or “out” — but with time, usually come back around. With graphic design and branding, there are a few elements in particular that have made their comebacks in a really big way. And, for me, they are particularly important to implement into your summer work. I think that they will help certain designs to stand out and be remembered — which of course is the goal of any good design. They bring good vibes, fun times and that “endless summer” youthful feel that I think most of us really love and long for. Leave a comment and let me know if you agree!    

1. Bright and vibrant colors

Neon has come back from the ‘80s, y’all. The louder, the better. Think hot pinks, sizzling oranges and juicy yellows. With a palette like this, the sun is shining all day. 

2. Bold fonts

The last few design seasons have preached the importance of clean and minimal design. And, while that is definitely my style and one that will never go away, it’s OK to let your hair down, bump up that point size and experiment with some thicker/heavier typefaces that you normally wouldn’t use. Consider arranging typography differently — enlarge the size, stack, run it down the sides or all the way across a page. Go big or go home!

3. Raw and original photos

Who doesn’t still love Polaroid-style instant snapshots, capturing candid, real-life moments? I know that we live in the world of perfectly-filtered selfies now, but it’s time to get back to the basics. AND – stop using generic stock photos that everyone else is using, too. Hire a photographer to take actual brand photos of you — and your products. Or, go to your local dollar or craft stores and find items that you can use to style within flat lays for homemade shoots using your smartphone. No matter your method, the more original, the better. Quite literally, get real! 


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!

7 reasons that you need a strong brand (no matter how small you are)

As a small business owner, you might not think that establishing professional and sophisticated branding is necessary until you become a little “bigger.” The truth is, in order to grow, be recognized and become more known, branding is essential and one of the most important investments that you can make in your business. It can take your business from “blah” to “ahh!” and I’ve outlined just a few reasons why, in today’s mini blog post:

1. You will be taken seriously.  

If you look consistent and legitimate, then you will look more professional. And, the more professional that you look, the more that people will view you as an expert, like you, trust you and hire you. Plain and simple.

 2. You will be memorable.

The more that you show up consistently, the more that your potential clients will start to recognize you — over and over again. People like familiarity and to be connected to something that they feel they’ve known forever. Which leads me to #3.

 3. You will be trusted.

You’ve probably heard business coaches and thought leaders mention the “know, like, trust” factor. Well, it’s definitely a very real thing. When it comes to potential customers, they first have to get to know you. Once they know you and see what you’re about/represent, they begin to truly like you. Finally, once they like you, the more likely they are to trust you. And once you have that trust, you have the start of a beautiful business relationship — and they will most likely end up hiring you.

4. Your mission and vision will be stronger.

I always say that even before design and visuals come into play, you need to determine the mission/vision of your business — it’s one of the first and most important parts of branding. You need to know who you are, what you do and who you serve. Who is your niche market? What do you want to become known for? Once these components are solidified, you will find that your overall identity looks so much more professional, because you know exactly who you are.

5. You will be unique.

Professional branding will set you apart and help you to stand out from the crowd. In this saturated world of online business, there are a million other people who do exactly what you do — they have similar websites, offer similar services and more. So, why should someone choose you over someone else? How can you position yourself, your messaging, your website and your services differently?  

6. You will gain a following.

This goes back to #1. The more consistent that you show up where your potential customers are hanging out and the more legitimate that you look — the more that people, in turn, will take you seriously. If you position yourself as an expert, speak to people’s pain points and offer a lot of value (especially if it’s free) people will like, trust and follow you more and more. Once you have a following (like a solid email list, weekly blog readers or Facebook group members) you will have more people interested in what you have to offer and who will more than likely buy from you, whether it’s now or in the future.

7. You will emotionally connect with your clients/customers.

To add to the idea of having a following and offering a lot of free value to them connects to this point and the “know, like, trust” factor. Again, once people like you enough, they will connect with you on a deeper level because they know that you can help them. Instead of just being someone that they see pop in Facebook groups from time to time or someone who offered them a downloadable freebie once (like everyone else) you will be someone who they regularly seek out and trust. Once someone sees that you can help better their business, they will more likely want to work with you. But, not as many will want to if they don’t feel like you are an expert who can help them. So, make sure that you not only ARE the part, but LOOK the part, too.  


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
Here we are, 2017! 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!

Spring color palettes worth checking out

I don’t know about you, but Daylight Savings Time has kicked my booty the last couple of days. I’ve felt more tired and like I’m just dragging myself around, trying my best to be productive. It’s definitely been tough pushing those clocks ahead an hour, here in the U.S. Now, don’t get me wrong, I also LOVE the time change. It stays lighter out longer and as each day comes and goes, we’re getting closer and closer to summer. Bring on the (consistent) warmth and sunshine!

With Daylight Savings Time also comes the official start of spring — on March 20th! In celebration of that, with the help of some great resources, I’m giving you the scoop below about the popular, seasonal colors to design with during this time of year. These might be ones that you can incorporate into your social media and blog graphics, while still not straying too far from your brand colors. Or, they might give you some inspiration to create or expand your palettes. Either way, enjoy! Comment below and let me know what some of your top picks are…

What Pantone says…
It’s going to be a season of bright and cheery, but also earthy. The hues that Pantone has picked out are reflective of nature and the environment, to evoke and stimulate certain emotions. Click here. 

Creative Market’s choices   
This fabulous, go-to resource for many designers has created and provided (15) different palettes to help you with your creations. They’re inspired by a lot of colorful flowers and food and they’re a mix of warm and fresh! Click here. 

Refinery 29 has their “it colors” picked for the season
This is more fashion-based, but Refinery 29 is all about the fluorescent palettes this spring. Think hot pink and neon orange! Click here. 


Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
Here we are, 2017! 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!

How to choose the right fonts for your brand

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“How do I pick fonts?” is a really common question that I’ve gotten since I’ve been branding clients, especially the last couple of years. Although your brand can evolve, change and certainly grow with you over the years, typefaces and color palettes are major components by which your audience comes to recognize you. You don’t want to constantly be switching things up every few months.

Branding and design is a big investment. You want to be professional and you want to do it right. Choosing a nice combination of typefaces is one way to help your visual identity stand out and be remembered. Whether you are putting some pieces together yourself or you’re working with a designer, here are three quick and easy tips to keep in mind:

1) Start with at least two: a serif and sans serif

While there are endless options and varieties of fonts floating around all over the world, this is a simple, classic and always solid way to look at and start pairing them together. It’s a rule of thumb that I was always taught in design school. Choose a serif (in “regular, non-design terms” think Times New Roman) and then choose a sans serif to offset it a bit (again, in “regular, non-design terms” think Arial.) You want something that is easy to read, especially in large blocks of copy. And, you want something that can be used to help break up the copy and will give a viewer’s eyes something else to rest on and look at. Also, a big tip is to choose fonts that come from “families” basically meaning that there are different variations of each (like regular, bold, italic, etc.) – this way, they will be more versatile to work with.    

2) Find typefaces that express your voice, personality and style

What is your brand representing? Who are you, what do you do, what are you about and whom do you serve? How do you want to make those people feel? Think about the experience that you want them to have when they come into contact with any aspect of your brand. The typefaces that you use within your logo, website, marketing materials and social media graphics need to tell stories and represent your brand accurately. So, consider if you want that style (and in turn, the fonts) to be light, modern, sophisticated and soft — or big, heavy and bold. Fonts and the right combinations of them can provide you with major impact — and look and feel. 

3) Decide between purchasing and/or downloading fonts for free

It’s usually smart to purchase your font collections, so that you can own desktop and website licenses to use them. Less people might be likely to have them. And many times, they are higher quality and legally safe to use. Creative Market and My Fonts are great resources for purchasing them. Other designers will advise against downloading free fonts, but I don’t totally agree with that. I have downloaded A LOT of free fonts over the years and they’ve functioned perfectly fine and fit the projects that I needed them for. You can use Font Squirrel or DaFont to browse countless options. The downside is that of course, anyone can download them, so they won’t always be as original — although they can still be effective and professional to use. The same can be said for purchased fonts — anyone can purchase the same ones that you do. So, it’s really up to you and whatever your budget is!

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Branding 101 - Free Downloadable Guide
Here we are, 2017! 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!