[Editor's note: this is a re-post from November 2010. Part of a series of year-end posts I write each year. When we migrated to the new site design, all the old posts were archived.]
Being married to a Grammy-nominated graphic designer is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, he's super humble and very customer focused. He WANTS you to have the best possible design for the investment you're making. On the other hand, details matter to him in ways that I wouldn't even think of. That's fine for graphic design projects, but it can be a little stressful when you're trying to decide what color to paint the living room. We left the paint store with 10 different color swatches in shades of turquoise and yellow to find just the right fit for our space.
He's not the first designer I've worked with. Tracy Lay over at Digivisual Design has been my brand guardian for years. She makes sure my marketing materials are cohesive and on-brand. Or said another way, she makes sure my brand "doesn't go out of the house looking like that!" We spent months working on the current design of my website and we're in the middle of a months-long brand update that will culminate in the release of my newest book (coming soon!). Along with that update, we needed to craft a wordpress theme page that would compliment the new branding for the book.
The new book has a more sohisticated feel than my current branding. Eventually, everything will migrate to this "upgraded" look and feel, but for now, and for my budget, getting the book page done first was the important thing.
According to a recent study by Tyton Media, 94% of customers reject or mistrust a site because of poor web design - that includes responsiveness and the way the look and feel measures up to the buyer's expectations. Your brand needs to look and feel consistent both online and offline, but how?
Most creative entrepreneurs think that getting their logo designed will solve their problems, but more often than not, it doesn't work that way. There's a lot of behind-the-scenes thinking that has to go into creating that logo. Things like your messaging, your audience, and the values of your company. If you're not clear on that stuff, slapping a pretty picture on things may only serve to confuse your audience. All of those details inform the aesthetic of your visual brand.
I currently use a bold mix red, white, and blue with some animal print thrown in to elevate the fun factor. that brand aesthetic says "fun, quirky, bold, dynamic" - all the things that I want Creative Freedom to be. But our new branding is more sophisticated, so we're making the blue a little darker, to give it a more formal, elegant feel. We're still using a script font, but it's more refined, to reflect the elevation of the brand. At some point in the future, I'll do an entire brand deconstruct with Tracy and post it on the blog for you. Here's a sneak peek:
If I tried to sell my new book (and the direction it's going) with the old branding, people wouldn't take it seriously. This brand re-fresh keeps the things that are familiar and starts to move everything into a more sophisticated place.
Let’s say you run a gym. Are you clear on who you're serving? What is your position on health and fitness? That will dictate the kind of people who show up. Different kinds of people attend a yoga studio than a Gold's Gym. If you're not clear on who you're serving, you could have a company like Performa Custom create a bunch of custom merch and you wouldn't even be able to GIVE it away to your customers!
Whether it's your website, your social media posts, or any other marketing content, it's important that your brand shows up consistently everywhere. If you're hot pink and green in one place and blue and gold in another, your audience gets confused. And a confused mind says "no".
Creating a brand bible - a set of guidelines - will help everyone in your company (and the contractors to whom you outsource) know, at a glance, exactly what your brand looks and feels like. It includes your specific colors and fonts, yes, but also messaging, ways to use (and not use) imagery in things like blog posts, social media, and other marketing. Your brand bible is a touch point that helps everyone keep your brand consistent and "on brand" at all times.
You don't have to go it alone, and if your budget doesn't allow you to hire a pro right now, you don't have to suffer in silence, either. There are templates available to get you started. Or you can step into a program that helps you build things right from the start. Tracy and I are quietly working on a great first-step branding program that we hope to launch later this year. Keep your eyes peeled for updates!
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