When you’re a creative entrepreneur, your brand is what helps you stand out, grow your business, and make a difference. But it can be overwhelming to know what is involved in branding, and what you should be focusing on. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
First things first: let’s talk about what goes into branding — and what doesn’t. Branding is not just a simple company logo. Branding is more than that: it represents everything you do and what you stand for. It’s the whole enchilada (or taco plate, if you prefer).
Branding is about connection
Your brand is the overall experience someone has with your business. What your website and products look like, what people think of your business, how you interact with your audience, how you make people feel: it’s all part of your brand. It’s not just the visual aesthetic, although that is part of it.
Let’s think of a real-life example of the branding experience. Take meditation app Headspace (which, if you haven’t tried, we totally recommend it for stress relief!). Their website is designed with cheerful colors, readable fonts, and pages that are easy to navigate. Their language is soothing and gentle (pretty appropriate for a meditation app, right?). No matter how you engage with the brand — whether through the app or their social media — it’s easy to tell that they want to help people feel good through meditation practice.
We’re just guessing here, but Headspace’s thoughtful branding might be part of the reason it had about 40 million downloads in 2018. People connected with meditation, but also with the Headspace brand itself. That’s what a strong brand can do, and it has nothing to do with their logo.
Ensure your brand makes a connection: Does your design, voice, and digital presence make it easy for your ideal audience to connect with you? Are you ensuring that everything you put out there speaks directly to the people you want to attract?
Branding makes you unique
What does your company stand for? What makes you, well, you? Take those questions as a way to decide what your company’s “personality” is. Your personality has to be unique and memorable in order for your business to stand out, especially if you’re in an industry with a lot of competitor noise.
Think about how many individual brands there are in the beauty industry. Every beauty company has to have unique branding that shows customers what they’re all about and why you should choose them over the next one. Glossier is one of the hottest beauty brands right now. Why? Because they place a huge emphasis on personal style and choice. They put their customers in the driver’s seat; with Glossier, you decide what’s best for you, rather than a beauty company telling you what products to buy.
That message is reflected in their branding: a black-and-white color scheme on their website, photos with natural lighting and makeup, and simple product design. It’s almost like Glossier is a blank slate or an empty canvas, ready for you to fill it in. And that goes perfectly with their customer-centric mission, which is what makes them unique.
Make your brand truly unique: Think about what makes YOUR brand unique and incorporate it into your brand copy and visuals. Are you an eco-friendly brand? Make sure that comes across in the clean, green visuals and clear copy that lets people know. Have a bit more sass to your services or products? Let your brand show it with bolder images, colors, and copy.
Branding is about communication
Your brand isn’t just your logo, but that’s still an important part of your branding strategy! Visuals get your message across without even saying a word. A lot of the time that’s the first thing your customers will see. Visuals include logos, color schemes, photo imagery, typography, shapes, textures, digital design, print design, and much more.
Here’s a quick example of the different messages visual branding can send. Look at H&M’s website, then look at Forever 21’s website. Quick, spot the differences! Both brands sell fairly inexpensive clothes for women, men, and young girls, but that’s where the similarities end. H&M’s website sticks to simple fonts, simple shapes and lines, large rectangular photos, and straightforward CTAs. They showcase quality pieces that look more expensive than they are. Compare that to Forever 21’s website, which is packed with bright colors and textures, whimsical fonts, and flashy animation. They’re all about inexpensive fashion that you can experiment and have fun with. Even though H&M and Forever 21 are in the same industry, they’re very different companies, and you can see that reflected in their brands.
Communicate what your brand stands for: Aligning all of your visual assets (fonts, logos, imagery, design, etc.) is so important for creating a solid experience. Don’t share things that are “off-brand.” You can find stock photos that match your brand’s tone and message; pay attention and don’t settle.
Branding is about the experience
We know, we know: this is A LOT of marketing info to digest. However, creating a memorable, impactful brand is so important when it comes to marketing yourself and your business. Building a great brand takes a lot of thought, research, and work. It also takes attention to detail. People aren’t going to remember your logo, but they will resonate with the experience you create.
Streamline the experience: Does your content “sound” like your brand? Does your social media “look” like your brand? Does your website “feel” like your brand? Make sure each facet of your business reflects a part of your brand, you’ll create a more cohesive experience for your audience. One that, after they become familiar with it, they can recognize from a distance.
Lean into how much impact you can have with your brand
The best example of a brand that is more than a logo: Have you ever been scrolling through Instagram and saw a photo that you just knew was connected to a specific brand — without even seeing who posted it? Whether it was the filter, the subject matter, or the general “feel” of the post, you knew it was theirs.
Here at Styled Stock Society, we want to help you craft a brand that people can recognize — and want to engage with. When you join Styled Stock Society, your membership gives you access to 2,500+ photos that will elevate your visual brand and ensure your audience knows exactly who you are and what your brand is about.