11. Branding 101: How to Create Your Brand, Rebrand and Stay On Brand with Lucy Hitchcock, Owner Sassy Digital
Whether you’re working with a company, or working on your own company you’ll always need to understand exactly who your brand is in order to effectively communicate this to your customers. If you don’t understand your brand or the direction you’re heading, then it’s likely that your customers won’t either. In this episode I’m going to talk to you ALL about branding. What it is, how to be on brand, how to stay on brand, as well as how to think of a good name, how to transition your current brand into the brand you want it to be and much more!
Whether you’re working with a company, or working on your own company you’ll always need to understand exactly who your brand is in order to effectively communicate this to your customers. If you don’t understand your brand or the direction you’re heading, then it’s likely that your customers won’t either.
Your branding isn’t just about your logo or how you use images to convey who you are. It’s the heart and soul of your company. It’s the reason you go to work in the morning. But it’s not just the here and now, it’s your business plan and where you’re headed.
If you’re following Sassy Digital or me personally on Instagram you’ll know that I am big into branding. So for this episode I asked my Instagram followers on both my account and Sassy Digital what they wanted to know about branding and questions they would want answered.
I’ve picked the best questions to answer so in this episode I’m going to talk to you ALL about branding. What it is, how to be on brand, how to stay on brand, as well as how to think of a good name, how to transition your current brand into the brand you want it to be and much more!
The branding process is all about
Who you are now
What you could be in the future
How you’re going to get there
Now to begin with, I’d like to do a little exercise. This works best for people who are unsure of what their brand is and where it is going. Even if you do know who you are and where you’re going – it’s still a great exercise to get involved with and refer back to as your brand evolves.
Considering what you brand is and what is it not will help you define yourself apart from your competitors which will be a massive part in helping you differentiate yourself in your marketing.
There’s four questions here:
What is your brand – so for this, at face value what is your brand. E.g. Sassy Digital is a no nonsense marketing and branding consultancy for all businesses.
What is your brand not? – what are you not that makes you stand out. You may already have an idea of what you don’t want your brand to be. So here think about specific things that you don’t offer, or your morals and ethics behind the brand.
What will your brand be in the future? – in 5 year’s time what would you like your brand to be?
What is stopping you from getting there? – try to avoid writing money here, but think about resources. For example, perhaps you don’t have enough time in a day to get there.
Once you have a clearer idea of where you are headed, it’s time to think about how other people perceive your brand.
At Sassy Digital we have a 3 step approach to creating a strong brand. You need to ask yourself, how do you sound, look and feel.
How do you Sound – what is your key messaging, who are you talking to and why will they listen?
How do you Look – what tools will you use to personify your brand in a visual way?
How do you Feel – does the way you deliver everything leave your customers feeling the way you want them to?
Once you’ve been through these key things it’s time to perhaps think about whether your actual branding – meaning your logo, fonts and colours – reflect the answers you’ve given in the past two activities.
So let’s look at how we can brand ourselves in the physical and most obvious form – with a logo.
How to choose a logo designer
A lot of people when they first start out develop their own branding. My first logo for Sassy Digital was hysterical, I created it in Canva. Then I thought it might be time to ask for some advice.
I used to work for a corporate comms agency, and while I was there one of my friends was a graphic designer – let’s call him Nigel for the purposes of this podcast – Nigel had designed the logos for massive corporate companies, and helped on projects for huge FTSE 100 companies. He suggested my logo should be a speech bubble, because what I do is help companies find their voice and market themselves.
So from there I knew I wanted to have a speech bubble as my logo. Now I’m not saying it’s coincidence, but lots of people who do similar things to me now have a speech bubble as their logo....which is completely inevitable. Nothing is ever original in marketing, but it’s just the way that you display it. You can make a logo stand out because of the colour, font and way it’s displayed. Then everything else you do should be on brand in terms of colour and font. This is how you can visually create a strong identity.
So whether you have an idea for a logo, or even if you don’t – you’ll always be able to stand out from other businesses based on what you do with your logo.
As someone who sees lots of clients who come to us not satisfied with their logo that they have just had designed, I wanted to share a few things to look out for when choosing someone to design a logo for you to ensure that they’re the right fit.
Firstly, explain your brand and make sure that they display an interest in what you do and ask you tonnes of questions. We always create Pinterest boards in collaboration with our clients to make sure that we are all on the same page before proceeding with the actual design. This ensures that you will most likely be satisfied with the first round of design.
A logo designer should always give you a few options to begin with so that you can choose which route you want to go down and then develop from there. Just be wary that within the price of a logo design you will only get a couple of rounds of amends before they will start charging you. Make sure you know what that extra price is before you begin in case you need to use it. This is where you can get stung with an extra bill.
Once you’ve decided on your logo, another thing I would always recommend is asking them to design a brand guidelines document. This is usually a PDF document which has all of your brand colours, fonts, logo colour ways and where and how your logo should be used to make sure your brand identity is always consistent. Whether or not you’ll be doing lots of design work, this is always useful to have on hand.
You might be wondering why it’s important to always use the same fonts and colours. This is because it makes you instantly recognisable. Whether you’re writing a word document, or changing the fonts on your website – make sure they are always the same font, spacing and colours as they are in your brand guidelines. If you want people to get familiar with how your brand looks you need to make sure you’re following this.
How do I choose a name for my business?
So what’s in a name? We’ve got a question from @po_ten_cy who asks how do you decide upon a new name?
This is such a tricky questions because once you think of your name and settle on it – you will know instantly that this is your name. It’s just a feeling you get. I always knew I wanted to be called Sassy Digital – also something I owe to my old work friends. Sassy was my point of difference. Telling it how it is was always my point of difference. It was also something that would appeal to the type of people I wanted to work with.
Names often come really easily to some, but it doesn’t always come so naturally to others. So when you’re thinking of names, what’s really useful is if you just do a big brain dump.
Grab a piece of paper and some coloured pens and start thinking about what makes your business different. What makes you stand out? For example we helped a client with her name last year. Jen is a hairdresser and she wanted to change her branding from her name because she felt it was holding her back from growing her business. The type of hair Ken styles is very Boho, wild wedding hair, often containing flowers. So after a brainstorm we settled on the name “Wildflower hair co”. The logo is gorgeous and really reflects Jen’s salon and business – and I’m not just saying that because we designed it!
I guess this partially answers the next question which was from another Instagram follower who asked for help with rebranding and transitioning your brand from one thing to another.
If you already have a strong presence in the way that you have a social media following and returning customers, you need to make sure that you slowly start seeding your rebrand throughout everything you do. Begin a few months beforehand – especially if you’re planning to change your name and logo. If you’re planning to change your name then this is something to shout about! Tell the story – be honest with your customers. Why have you changed the name? What about your new name reflects your brand better and how can customers relate to your new brand?
If you’re simply rebranding and changing how your brand looks but everything else is staying the same, then make sure you get all of the collateral you need to change everything at once. So this means your website, social media profile pictures, social media graphics, business cards, flyers, brochures, price lists, or whatever is it that displays your branding in the most customer facing form.
We’ve looked at how your brand looks, so how does it sound?
A lot of people come to me and say that they struggle to find their brand’s voice. I always think this is because people tend to overthink it. If you’re a freelancer, changes are that your brand’s voice is going to be yours. My brand voice is certainly mine – minus the swear words!
If you can think about how you want to sound to your customers and how you want to paint a picture using words you’re already more original than you know. To help with this, you could do another brainstorm. Write down your businesses name in the middle. Then around it, write down all the things that your business stands for, your values, does your brand have a ‘vibe’? write this down. Are there any themes or emotions that come to mind when thinking of your brand? Write these down too.
Once you have an A4 page filled with words, then you should have a better understanding of how you can speak to your customers in a more original way.
How does your brand feel?
Lastly, I wanted to explore how your brand feels. People have such emotional attachments to brands – and the emotion people feel when buying something from you can make or break that relationship you have with them. Using the same brainstorm you just created I want you to think about how you want your customers to feel about your brand, and if you already know how they feel write this down. If you’re not sure about this one, why not ask a current customer? They are your best advocates!
I always find the key to executing your brand well is having confidence in it. If you don’t have confidence in how you sound, look and feel you will not be able to market your business in the way that does it justice.
We’re not all naturally branding people by nature, and starting a business means you have to put your branding hat on as well as whatever it is that you specialise in, and not to mention all of the other hats you have to wear as a business owner! If you ever need any help you are so welcome to ask me any questions about branding, or marketing! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or if it’s easier just message me on Instagram @lucyhitchcock_ or @sassydigital – I’m always giving away free advice and tips so come and join my community of sassy business babes.