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Epic Branding: How to Get Started


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Free guide to help with creating a brand as memorable as you are. Make it epic!

Published in: Design
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Epic Branding: How to Get Started

  1. 1. Hi. I’m Jessica. I’m going to try and get in your head. Oh, and I’m going to pull out whatever burning passion is inside there and throw it at the world like a ginormous fire ball. Does that freak you out a little bit? If you have an idea that you want to share with the world, you need a system of delivery. Your brand is what carries what you do to who you do it for. A brand is not a logo. It’s not a tagline. It’s not a color scheme or typography. A brand is your core truth. Developing an epic brand is a collaboration. It requires passion, dedication, thought, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. And wine. So, let’s get started.
  2. 2. You need a brand. Simply put, your brand is how clients feel when they think of you. You can think of it as your reputation. Things like an amazing logo, original fonts, stunning colors and a flawless website can help people form a positive impression about what you have to offer. But to be effective, you need to start with an honest vision of what you want to represent. Whether you like it or not, if you have a business (regardless of size), you have a brand. How you build that brand can make or break your success. A brand is founded on the core truth of your company. Through branding, you leverage these core concepts into an emotion your customers can connect with. BRAINSTORM SESSION Answering these questions will help you create a brand that truly represents you in the best possible way. 1. Who is your ideal client? 2. Why do you DO what you DO? 3. What do you want clients/customers to remember about you? 4. What do you offer that sets you apart from everyone else? 5. What do you want others to say about your brand? 6. Who is your ultimate brand crush (Kate Spade? Chanel? AmEx)? 7. Does your brand live only online or do you need physical materials (product labels, business cards, stationery, etc.)? 8. What is your budget for developing your brand? 9. What is your essential core competency — i.e., what do you love doing above all else?
  3. 3. Brand Basics  Come up with your BRAND NAME. See the Branding Tip below for some help in this department.  Create a strong visual identity. This is where your color scheme, typography, and logo come in. They are the foundation of your brand.  Test your ideas but avoid branding by committee. Before you apply your corporate identity to all your other materials, run your logo and key messages by trusted members of your target audience. Do they understand the benefits you are communi- cating? Beware oftoo much feedback: if you form a committee and put everything to a vote, you’re likely to end up with a least-common-denominator brand that’s bland, unin- spired, and may look more like a hybrid camel-elephant than the thoroughbred you’d hoped for.  Invest in marketing materials. Leverage the look and feel of your logo to extend your brand. The next key customer touchpoints will likely include your stationery, social media cover photos, website, business cards, product packaging (if necessary), and bro- chures.  Be consistent. Branding is about applying your values to everything you do, clearly and consistently. From the way you format your email address to the design of your Face- book page, everything you do should map back to your brand’s core concepts, look, and feel. BRANDING TIP: HOW TO PICK A NAME Choose one: descriptive, evocative, or whimsical. You have a fundamental choice with three basic paths. The first path is to select a name that’s descriptive of what you do – think WebMD, The Home Depot, 1-800- flowers, or Urban Outfitters. The second path is to choose a name that says nothing about what you do, but is evocative. Oracle is a great abstract-but-evocative brand name, evoking wisdom and an ability to predict the future. Another is Warby Parker, the online purveyor of eye glasses that intentionally chose a name evocative of old- line, preppy Eastern retailers (rather than a descriptive tag akin to LensCrafters). The third path is to select a memorable, unique nonsense word. Nice examples of such whimsical brand names include Hulu, Zynga and Tapjoy.
  4. 4. Brand Checklist Every business is different, but here is a list of branding elements you will probably need to create your online & print identity. Typography & color scheme Main logo Alternative logos/monograms for social media, favicon, watermarks, etc. Email signature with logo, site link & social media links Website & blog design (optional) Social media banners & profiles Professional photos Slidedeck for pitches, product explanations, and demo’s Email autoresponders & newsletter designs Online advertising & promotional materials E-book Design (optional) Printed promotional materials: Business cards Brochures Stationery Note cards/thank you cards If you have a physical product: Product mock-ups (displays for use online depicting your product) Product packaging If you have a brick-&-mortar (physical location): Signage
  5. 5. FEELING OVERWHELMED? DON’T WORRY! ONCE YOU HAVE A BRANDING/INSPIRATION BOARD, ALL OF THE DIFFERENT ELEMENTS OF YOUR BRAND START TO FALL INTO PLACE . . . MAIN LOGO This is your primary logo design. If you have a tagline, it is usually included in this design. COLOR SCHEME These are your colors. This serves as a simple go-to reference for all other designs related to and created for your brand. ALTERNATE LOGO This can be a design used for banner creation or just broken apart into elements for web- site design. INSPIRATION THUMBNAILS These are thumbnails taken directly from your brand inspiration — maybe they started out as your favorite Pins, personal photos, or random online imagery that spoke to your soul. SOCIAL MEDIA ICONS These are the graphics you will use to create links on your website to your social media accounts. TYPOGRAPHY These are your fonts. They will be used to create all of your online and printed materi- als. Consistency is key — always use the same fonts to create brand awareness and recognition with your client/customer.
  7. 7. GET REAL Branding icons Spade (the husband of, yes, THAT SPADE) and Sperduti have eschewed the idea that the best way to sell a product is to tell your customers what they should think about it. Instead, they believe that a brand should speak for itself through its interactions with cus- tomers. Those interactions,in turn,must be driven byan authentic and clear brand vision. The general idea, says Spade, is that no matter the size of your company, your brand should "act small." There is A LOT of competition out there. The more authentic you are, the more true to your- self, the more your brand reflects your passion, the more clients/customers will be attracted to you and what you have to offer. 1. STRATEGIZE, LISTEN, & FOLLOW INTUITION I listen to what a client says: what colors scream their name? What brands inspire them? What is it they are trying to communicate? Who is their ideal client/consumer? I get flash- es of inspiration based on my client’s passion — they say, “I don’t know why but I love that scene in ‘Chocolat’ where she is hanging up the sign with the sun symbol . . .” (actual quote from Priscilla Stephan, the gorgeous lady whose branding is on the previous page) AND I LISTEN. And, guess what? I get it. 2. DO THE RESEARCH I want to understand the personalityof the brand - its history, function and the ethos be- hind it all. I attempt to extract every nuance of who the client is and what the company's about, including the intended target market, how it wishes to be perceived, and formats and outlets for where it wishes to promote itself. 3. SCOPE THE COMPETITION Want to compete with the greats? Good! I’ve got your back. I see what they’re doing. I’m familiar with their clientele and their look. I can create a brand for you that not only fits in their space but kicks their butt. 4. EXERCISE RESTRAINT ‘Nuff said. 5. SPOT WHAT’S SPECIAL If that 'something special' about the product or client isn't identified at the beginning, you'll be missing a massive opportunity to connect with the people you're creating the brand for, and the audience it must attract. I see it and I knowhowto make it SHINE.
  8. 8. REAP THE BENEFITS While building a brand may be easier and more affordable than you imagined, it still does require some time and money. So why is it worth the effort? Here are a few ways building your brand will help your business succeed.  Stand out from the competition. When customers have several choices, branding helps them make a decision. Your brand should highlight your unique virtues and let customers know what they can expect from your small business.  Build credibility. Quality counts when it comes to design. If your logo looks like it was thrown together without much care, customers will expect the same from your products and services. To establish trust, you need to look the part.  Increase the value of your offering. There’s a reason people are willing to pay 75% more for that Coke than a generic version of cola. Branding elevates your offering from a commodity to a unique product, distinguishing you from a discounted brand.  Make your small business look bigger. Sure, you may run your business out of your basement but your customers don’t need to know that. If they do, they won’t be as likely to compensate you fairly.  Grow word-of-mouth business. When customers emotionally connect to your brand, it leads to brand loyalty and trust. And you can bet they’ll tell their friends about it. In a business climate where the internet, social media and technology create a lot of static, it’s crucial to develop a clear brand voice to cut through the noise. Building a brand is an exciting process. Enjoy it and the rewards it brings.