My branding process – make your brand stand out

I always want to pound it in every hero’s brain that they should make sure that how they present their brand online should not be an after-thought. Time and time again people harp on how a good business isn’t about a fancy website or logo and it’s about the content you provide. While that is true, how do you stand out in a world of millions of entrepreneurs who are doing the same thing?

In a world full of back-alley entrepreneurs how can your brand be taken seriously among the world?

You have to create a cohesive, professional looking, stand out brand.

Imagine this scenario. There is one client who has to choose from your business and 9 other businesses with very similar niches to choose from. All of you really believe in your product, really believe in the value of your content, and really believe YOU are the one who can provide the best value to the potential client. So if you all have similar value, and similar high-value content, then what left does the client have to choose from?

A: The professionalism and cohesiveness of your brand.

Everything from your logo and color palette; down to your email address may be the minute factors that help you get chosen by that potential client out of the rest.

Having a cohesive brand doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to fork over hundreds of dollars for a fancy logo or website. Any budget can create a cohesive brand that can help you attract more clients and add more success to your business. Outlined is the process I took to create branding for Ebony Can Help


1. DETERMINE YOUR NICHE FIRST

MY NICHE – IMPROVING YOUR FINANCES, BLOG, PRODUCTIVITY, AND CREATIVITY (GRAPHICS)

If you don’t hone down on a particular niche, then you are setting yourself up for brain Ping-Pong. (That means your thoughts are going to be all over the place *wink*). If you want to have ‘Lifestyle’ as your niche then you may still want to narrow down the topics within that niche to not confuse your visitors. If you want to have a Lifestyle niche that supports topics such as health, clothing, and fashion then you need to keep your content and flow of your branding and website along those lines. If your website is technology on Monday, ice cream flavor fun on Tuesday, clothing on Wednesday but next week you talk about politics and workouts your audience may be a bit confused as to what you’re offering.

Having a problem determining your niche? Think about what you have always been GOOD at that you LOVE talking about. 

2. DETERMINE YOUR BRAND’S “MOOD” (optional)

People normally lump mood boards with branding boards, however I believe that a mood board precedes a branding board especially if you haven’t determined a color palette. I skipped doing a mood board as I had an idea what my color palette was going to be. In addition, I didn’t feel it was necessary as I didn’t feel a particular “mood photo” could match the style I was going for in my blog. Lifestyle or fashion blogs are really good for mood boards because the photos can really….you know….. Set the “mood”.

HOW DO I KNOW WHAT PHOTOS TO CHOOSE FOR MY MOOD BOARD?

Think about your brand, and also think about yourself as the owner of that brand. How do you want to introduce yourself and your brand aesthetically? Are you looking for a bright, funky, fun brand? Or are you looking for a classic, feminine, and sophisticated brand? Look in a magazine, online, or even a great IG photo to pull inspiration from. VERY IMPORTANT! If you are planning on publishing or publically sharing your mood board, make sure that the images you use are commercial licensed, or get permission from the owner! Even if you aren’t planning on making any money from it, taking someone’s photo without permission is still a HUGE no-no. However, if the mood board is for your personal use, or to be shared privately with your designer or colleagues, then it fine to use any photo you’re inspired by.

*TIPS Optional: Finding photos of your ideal client

Shooting for a demographic? Sometimes finding a few photos of your “ideal client” may also help determine your brand’s mood. See an awesome woman with a bad-ass haircut, tattoos, and a leather jacket as your ideal client? Then your brand’s mood may start to lean towards edgy. See a man with a yacht and golf clubs as your ideal client? Then your brand’s mood may lean towards sophisticated and sporty.

3. CHOOSE YOUR COLOR PALETTE

MY COLOR PALETTE IS VIOLENT VIOLET, JAZZBERRY JAM, VIKING, MINT, AND ALABASTER

My color palette is definitely fun and colorful, and it’s a palette that I use very carefully as I know how easily obnoxious it can be for the average viewer if I use them incorrectly. My two primary colors for my brand are violent violet, and Alabaster. The Jazzberry Jam, Viking, and Mint colors are all secondary colors that I use to brighten up my brand and keep it like my personality…FUN.  I actually toned DOWN my color palette as all my colors were a bit more neon than I finally decided. I had to find a happy medium between colors I love, and colors that would help my website and brand flow while being easy on the eyes. It is important that you do the same, ESPECIALLY if you’re going for a fun and colorful palette.

If you decided to find a photo that best represents you and what your brand/website mood is, you can sometimes find your ideal color palette right in that photo! Canva actually has an amazing color palette generator that will allow you to upload a photo, and from that it will pull a color palette from that photo’s colors. Find it here: https://www.canva.com/color-palette/ . You can either use the suggested color palette or you can select a color, or few from it to build your ideal palette.

4. CHOOSING THE BEST TYPOGRAPHY FOR YOUR BRAND (https://fonts.google.com)

MY BRAND’S THREE FONTS ARE PEACH SUNDRESS, OSWALD, AND ARCHIVO NARROW

Honestly, I feel this is extremely important in your design element and can really cause a potential client to turn around from your brand. Cohesive typography is great, but it’s even more important that the font you choose for your brand is legible. Tons of bloggers use WAY too much fancy font and use them in places where they should not be. I see tons of graphics, or blog posts that use really thin, or cursive font as it makes it such an unnecessary struggle to try to read. A HUGE design mistake is not using the fancy font sparingly, and not having a proper font pairing that balances the fanciness of a script or super thin font.  For instance, my “fancy” font is Peach Sundress which is a thin, outlined, cursive font that I absolutely love. However, I use this font ONLY for my main logo and for headers. It’s a font that looks amazing with as a nice big header, but the smaller it gets, the harder it is to read, and so it is a font I would never use for paragraphs. My second font, Oswald is one I use for paragraph headers or as my secondary font on my logo. Oswald is a gothic typeface and I tend to use a really heavy weight on it as I love how the font looks in bold and all caps; however I felt it wasn’t as easy on the eyes in its regular weight for blog content as it was either too thin or too heavy.

Archivo Narrow is the font I use for all my blog posts which is very similar to Oswald. It has a grotesque sans serif typeface; however the regular weight of the font is thinner than Oswald’s regular font weight so it is easier on the eyes. Because I care about your eyes of course *hearts*.

5. ADDING THE EXTRA DESIGN “SPRINKLES”

MY “SPRINKLES” INCLUDE TRIANGLES, CIRCLES, GOLD BORDERS, AND HYPOCYCLOID ELEMENTS

You should have a pretty solid starting point of what you see yourself and your brand offering your ideal clients if you have followed the first four steps. You decided on a niche, created a mood board, found a color palette, and decided on the proper font pairings for your brand. Now it is time to add some sprinkles to your brand, which are the tiny design elements that really connect it all together.

Design elements are things like graphics and icons that marry your design together. For instance, I used circles and triangles as shape design elements because my secondary logo is built from very simple geometric shape manipulation. (It’s literally triangles, circles, and hearts). In addition to that, since my logo is created with Peach Sundress, a script outline font, I wanted my icons to also have that same effect so I have “outline” hand drawn icons. Another design element that is a bit more detailed is the effects that I put on most of my graphics, which is either bevel or drop shadow. I wanted my elements to NOT be flat; I wanted them to pop a little bit off the page and adding a light bevel or drop shadow gave me the look I was going for. So with the design elements that I determined, I made a few patterns that I can use as a background, header, border, or anything that I desire. My favorite thing that I have done is probably the graphic you see the most, which is ME! My profile photo is probably my favorite design element I have created so far and SERIOUSLY stands out amongst everyone. These design elements are the basis of what you use to help build graphics for your brand, across social media, on stationary and business cards, etc.

PUTTING YOUR BRANDING BOARD ALL TOGETHER

Cohesive branding shows care and consistency and is the very first impression that a potential client has on your brand. It takes the work out of convincing a client that your content is valuable if you have a choppy looking aesthetic for your brand. It’s also great to have all the important design elements of your brand in one easy to find place for yourself or your graphic designer for reference when creating or updating graphics. You can create a mood board using Canva, or my personal favorite Pic Monkey which optimizes photos for you which saves you from the infamous blurry Canva graphic look. The best part is, you can create a mood board with ANY budget and it really helps provide a bit of peace of mind when brainstorming what graphics to create for your brand.

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