The Brand Audit Series / Build Your Brand Foundation

Do you wonder if your branding is working for your business? If so, find out how to build a strong foundation for your visual identity by starting with a brand strategy and no longer question your branding. Includes a free brand strategy template download!

Do you know if your branding is working well for your business? What is it costing you if not? Enter the Brand Audit Series! This four part series will reveal to you how well your branding is working and ways you can improve it. Below are the topics we’ll cover over the next four weeks.

  1. Brand Foundation – What is a brand strategy?

  2. Your Logo - Is it working for your business? 

  3. The Rest – What do I need besides a logo? 

  4. Consistency – How well do you put it all together?

Bonus: If you sign-up for my email list, you’ll have the chance to receive a FREE half hour, one-on-one brand audit from me and you’ll receive the Brand Strategy Template that accompanies this post.

So let’s get started on this week’s topic: your brand foundation. I know we all want to dive into the fun stuff, like discussing your logo or determining what your color palette should be. However, if we tried to do that right now it would be pointless. We can’t know if we’re headed in the right direction without a compass to guide us.

Today is all about defining that compass by creating your brand strategy. We will use this to evaluate all aspects of your brand identity in the coming weeks.

To create your brand strategy we’ll target four different areas: your brand, your audience, your competitors, and your visual inspiration.

Your Brand

We’ll start by reviewing the most foundational areas of your business. The four areas discussed below will eventually guide the visuals of your brand. 


Taking the time to craft a strong mission statement is important because it’s what you will measure everything against. When writing it, consider why you started your business in the first place and what overall purpose it serves. To get you started, fill in the blanks of the statement below.

_____________________ (business name) helps _____________________ (your audience) _____________________ (what benefit do you provide), _____________________ (how do you provide this benefit).

Here’s an example for my own business:

Letterform Creative helps small business owners more confidently pursue their passion by providing high-quality branding and websites. 


Next it’s important to define your values. These are another foundational part of your brand and oftentimes can be visually represented in your branding. Some examples of core values might be simplicity, passion, beauty, quality, sustainability, or diversity. What are yours?


What are you trying to achieve with your business? What are your short and long-term goals? It’s important that your goals are SMART, meaning specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. If you’re not familiar with this concept, here’s a helpful article that can guide you as you set your goals.  


Let's talk about visual aspirations and inspirations for your brand. How do you want your brand to be perceived? Start by making a list of adjectives. Then go a little deeper, what do you want people to think of when they think of your brand? What do you hope they’ll say behind your brand’s back?

Your Audience

The next step is to define your target audience. You can’t speak to the right people if you don’t know who you’re talking to. The more specific you can get about your audience the better. The longer you’ve been in business the easier this will be. Think back on your past clients or customers who have been the best fit for your business. What were some common traits they shared? What made them such a good fit for your business?

If you’re just starting your business this part can be a little tricky, as you don’t have concrete examples to work with. If that’s the case, the best way to gather this information is to observe the audiences of other brands that target your ideal audience. What information can you learn by looking at the types of people following them on social media? What do you learn about their audience by looking at their website? Maybe the language they use clearly appeals to Millennials. Their color palette might signify a commitment to sustainability. Take notes. 

Some specific insights you’ll want to focus on are age, income, location, values, characteristics, hobbies, and style. What problems are they currently facing? What people or brands do they follow?

Your Competition

Some days I’d like to just close my eyes to the competition and pretend they don’t exist. Unfortunately that’s not going to help us stand out. So instead let’s name them and identify what makes you unique. I know sometimes it can be hard to see what you makes you different, especially in saturated markets. I’ve found that a good way to discover this, is to see what others have to say about your business because sometimes you’re too close to it to tell. 

Take a look at your client testimonials or customer reviews and see what specific things they mention. They’re bound to point out something that makes your business special. In my own client testimonials I’ve learned that I’m able to help my client’s feel more confident and that I offer a lot of strategic business advice along with their branding and website. These are both things that I could capitalize on to set me apart from the competition.

Your Visual Inspiration

Now the fun part! Let’s start defining your visual direction. Identify some other brands (ideally not in your own industry) that are examples of the visual aesthetic you wish to have for your brand. Create a Pinterest board and gather inspiration. More on that here if you’re interested. Make note of the typefaces, colors, patterns, illustrations, and photography that are being used. All these can help guide your overall brand identity.

Below are examples of mood boards I’ve created for clients. Notice how different the overall feeling of each is. They both have clearly defined styles and color palettes. This should be your goal with a mood board.

Mood Board 1

Style: modern, clean, fresh, simple, sophisticated


Mood Board 2

Style: creative, fun, inspiring, retro


Ok, I think I’ve given you enough homework for one week. Do your best to complete this before next week because next week we’re going to discuss your logo and it will be much easier to determine if it’s working if you have a solid brand strategy as your guide. Don’t forget to sign up for my email list, so you can receive some helpful downloads, like a free Brand Strategy Template!

Mood / Cool + Collected

Mood / Cool + Collected

This calming mood board is for a registered dietitian, whose mission it is to help people heal their relationships with their body and food, in order to thrive. In the midst of a process that can be messy and tumultuous, the necessity for grace and patience is huge.

Brand Style: Classic / Minimal / Clean / Clear / Comforting / Professional

With this mood board and the brand as a whole, we wanted to create a sense of comfort, peace, and reassurance. I love that even though this mood board is so modern and minimal (which can easily start to feel cold and sterile), it only takes a few splashes of the softest blues to create a completely serene sense.

How to Add Tags & Categories to Your Squarespace Blog Post

Are you using Squarespace for your small business's website? If so, learn how to add tags and categories to your blog posts. Not only will this help with SEO, it will make your site more user-friendly. This post also includes a helpful blogging checklist! Click through to read it.

This post is going to be short and sweet, but very helpful if you’re new to Squarespace. Adding tags and categories to blog posts is something you should learn to do and get in the habit of right off the bat. There are a few reasons why this is important to do, which I’ll mention below. Fortunately it’s a pretty easy once you get the hang of it. 

Why Tags + Categories Matter

SEO Benefits

Adding tags and categories to your blog posts is important for multiple reasons. We all know by now how important SEO is and this is one of the easiest ways to boost it. Tags and categories provide the obvious help of utilizing important keywords for search engines to index. This will help your blog posts to show up in relevant searches. The benefit of tags and categories doesn’t end there though.


Categories allow readers to quickly find topics they're interested in, which will not only improve the overall user experience, but will also keep them on your site. This will decrease your site’s bounce rate. A bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that come to your site and leave after only visiting one page. Although, it’s somewhat unclear (as many things with SEO are), it is possible that having a high bounce rate might negatively affect your SEO. So it certainly doesn’t hurt to lower it if you can.

Bonus Tip: If you're using a Squarespace template that allows for a blog sidebar, take advantage of this by putting your categories in there for visitors to quickly see.

Now that you are aware of the importance of tags and categories, let’s start making use of them!

How to Add Tags + Categories

Step One

Add a new blog post or edit an existing one. Not sure how to do that. Find out here.

Step Two

In the bottom left corner select the plus sign next to categories.

Step Three

If you've added tags before, once you start typing past tags will pop up. You can select those or add new ones. With categories you will see a pop up menu of all the categories you've used before. If you don’t have any saved yet, then you will have to create a new one. Type it in and hit enter.

Are you using Squarespace for your small business's website? If so, learn how to add tags and categories to your blog posts. Not only will this help with SEO, it will make your site more user-friendly. This post also includes a helpful blogging Checklist! Click through to read it.

If you're selecting from pre-saved categories this is where it can be a little finicky. Highlight the category you want (make sure you only click once or you will deselect it). When you see it show up next to the plus sign (see the screenshot below) you'll know it's selected. Instead of pressing enter just click away from the dropdown menu. Make sure the category is still appearing next to the plus sign. Then go ahead and save your post.

Are you using Squarespace for your small business's website? If so, learn how to add tags and categories to your blog posts. Not only will this help with SEO, it will make your site more user-friendly. This post also includes a helpful blogging Checklist! Click through to read it.

To help you remember to add these to every blog post (and for some other important SEO boosters) use the checklist below before you hit publish.

Squarespace Blog Post Checklist

  1. Add a title.
  2. Add your content.
  3. Add headings within your content. 
  4. Add and test all hyperlinks.
  5. Add relevant images, screenshots, or videos within the post.
  6. Customize the file name of all images in your post with search-friendly terms.
  7. Add alt text to all images and videos. Learn more about that here.
  8. Add a thumbnail image.
  9. Add tags.
  10. Add categories.
  11. Schedule or publish your post!

I'm a huge fan of Squarespace and love how use-friendly it is, but that doesn't mean there isn't a learning curve, even for the most tech-savvy among us. If you have a Squarespace question of your own, post in the comments below and I'll be happy to make a tutorial!

Will I Ever Be Happy With My Branding?

Hey small business owner, are you constantly changing your logo and tweaking your color palette, never quite happy with your branding? You're not alone! Hear from a professional designer how you can finally be content with your brand identity! This post covers DIYed branding, professional branding, and even re-branidng. Click through to finally find contentment with your branding!

I recently saw a post on Instagram by a small business owner asking for honest feedback on her logo. She wanted to know how others deal with uneasiness about their branding. I thought this would be a great topic to address because I know it’s a common struggle among small business owners.   

DIYed Branding

Good Enough is Good Enough

If you haven’t hired a designer yet and you’ve done your own branding, the best advice I can give you is that good enough is good enough. Don’t stress over it! I know that’s unusual advice coming from a brand designer, but I’m only saying this in regards to DIYed branding, so hear me out. 

The truth is this is not your area of expertise. You shouldn’t have to become a professional designer in order to launch a business. It’s all too easy to get caught up in making your branding perfect, but this will only hold you back from doing the things you’re good at that can actually move your business forward.

The mindset you should have towards DIYed branding is that it’s temporary. This will free you up from obsessing over it. Ultimately, the goal should be to get professionally branded as soon as you are able. With that in mind, just stick with what you have or find a pre-made logo if you need to, and move on.

Professional Branding

When you hire a professional to do your branding I guarantee you will feel completely different about it than the branding you did yourself. There are multiple reasons that professional design will enable you to finally feel confident about your branding. 

It’s Strategic

The first reason is that professional branding is strategic. A good brand designer will create a brand identity that is so much more than just a pretty logo. She will help you dig deep into understanding what is essential to your brand and find ways to visually convey that to your target audience.

This will usually be done through an extensive questionnaire that you will answer. The designer will then take this information and distill it into a brand strategy. This document will guide the entire branding process and will ensure that all of the visual decisions are thoughtful and intentional. 

It’s Collaborative

The second reason you will finally be happy with your branding is because working with a professional designer is a collaborative process. You will have someone to bounce your ideas around with and someone to contribute their own. When you’re doing your own branding it’s far too easy to get tunnel vision. A professional designer can approach your branding with a fresh set of eyes.

The other benefit is that there is a clear completion to your branding. When you work with a designer there is usually a set timeframe with a set amount of revisions. Once you approve everything you will receive your final files and your branding will be complete. You can finally say goodbye to constant tweaks to your logo and changes to color palette. You will have a solid brand identity that you don’t need to fret over anymore. 

It’s a Good Fit

If you’ve chosen the right designer then you can rest assured that you will be happy with the end product. The right designer is one whose portfolio you love and who takes a genuine interest in your business. A good way to ensure it's the right fit is to hop on a consult call or meet up in person. This will allow you to get to know the designer and ask any questions you may have before committing to work together. 

It’s an Investment

Lastly, when you’ve invested a good chunk of money into something, you will take it much more seriously. It’s one thing to do your own branding. You may rush through the process because you’re eager to launch and you know you can always change things later. 

However, when you’ve made a financial investment in your branding you will take it much more seriously. You will review all the options from your designer thoroughly and provide thoughtful feedback. It will eliminate the temptation to re-brand all the time, which will give your business consistency and credibility. 


On the flip side of all this, it is completely normal to rebrand or at least refresh your branding every couple of years even if you get professionally branded. Your business is going to naturally grow and evolve and this may require your branding to change with it. There’s no pressure to feel married to your branding forever.

I hope this advice is able to put your mind at ease about your branding. Your area of expertise is what needs your attention the most. Leave the branding to the professionals and if you’re not at that point yet, rest assured that good enough is good enough!  

Can you relate to any of this? What’s been your biggest branding struggle?

How to Get People (Besides Your Mom) On Your Email List

Wondering how to get people (besides your mom) to sign up for your email list? Learn where to place opt-in forms on your website and how to promote your lead magnet and your email list will grow in no time! This is a must-read for any small business owner who wants to learn about email marketing!

Welcome to week 5 of Email Marketing 101! Just joining us? Catch up below.

If you can relate to having a tiny list that primarily consists of family and friends (that may or may not have been added without their consent), then this week is for you! 

With a few simple tactics, it’s absolutely possible to have a list full of people who are not related to you! In order to make that happen, I’m going to show you where to put email opt-in forms on your website. Once that’s done, we’ll cover how to promote your lead magnet. 

Putting Opt-in Forms On Your Website

Utilize Your Lead Magnet

With every opt-in form, the most important thing is to mention your lead magnet. Avoid using generic text that invites people to sign up for an email list or a newsletter. That’s not going to entice anyone. Instead focus on the helpful freebie they will receive when they sign up.

It’s also important to include a photo or mockup of your lead magnet. Not only does this make it visually more appealing, it also gives people an idea of what they will receive when they sign up.

Below is the mockup I use for my lead magnet. I found the mockup on Pixeden and customized it in Photoshop. If you don't have Photoshop you can always hire a designer to do it for you ;)

Wondering how to get people (besides your mom) to sign up for your email list? Learn where to place opt-in forms on your website and how to promote your lead magnet and your email list will grow in no time! This is a must-read for any small business owner who wants to learn about email marketing!

Opt-in Form Placement

There are five places you should have opt-in forms on your website. Some of these are Squarespace specific, but you can apply most of these principles to any site.Below are all the areas you should put an opt-in form on your website:

  1. Footer – One of the most important places to put your opt-in is in the footer of your website. This ensures that it will be on every single page of your site. With the way SEO works, you never know how someone is going to stumble upon your site, but many times your homepage will not be the way they enter.
  2. Blog Sidebar – Speaking of SEO, if you’re blogging consistently it’s very likely that someone will find your website through a blog post (maybe that's how you ended up here). For this reason, you'll want an opt-in in the sidebar of your blog (see mine to the right). That way it will be one of the first things people see when they come to your site. Unfortunately, many Squarespace templates don’t have the option for sidebars, but if you’re using one that does, be sure to take advantage of it. 
  3. Pop-Up – Opt-in pop-ups are a new feature that Squarespace has recently enabled. You need a business account to take advantage of this feature, but it’s definitely worth it, since pop-ups have one of the highest conversion rates.
  4. Landing Page – This is an important one, so pay attention! You absolutely must create a landing page that promotes your lead magnet. There should not be any navigation on this page. There should only be an image of your lead magnet, a description of it, and a form to opt-in. To do this in Squarespace use a cover page. Here's mine as an example.
  5. Banner – The last place you’ll want to promote your opt-in is in your banner. Technically this won’t be an opt-in form itself. Instead it will mention your lead magnet and click through to your landing page where people can sign up. This is good to have because like the footer, it will appear on every page, but no scrolling is needed to see it. 

Promoting Your Lead Magnet

In order to get some emails on your list, you have to start promoting your freebie. The best way to do this is to utilize social media, of course.

Create Multiple Ads

To do this effectively create some text-based ads to post on a regular basis. The more often you post the better, but at a minimum post once a week. Ideally you want a few different ads, so you can post them frequently while still maintaining variety in your feed. You'll also want some vertical ones for IG Stories and Pinterest.

Below are some ads I created for my own lead magnet. Every time I post them on Instagram I always get an influx of new sign-ups.

Wondering how to get people (besides your mom) to sign up for your email list? Learn where to place opt-in forms on your website and how to promote your lead magnet and your email list will grow in no time! This is a must-read for any small business owner who wants to learn about email marketing!
Wondering how to get people (besides your mom) to sign up for your email list? Learn where to place opt-in forms on your website and how to promote your lead magnet and your email list will grow in no time! This is a must-read for any small business owner who wants to learn about email marketing!
Wondering how to get people (besides your mom) to sign up for your email list? Learn where to place opt-in forms on your website and how to promote your lead magnet and your email list will grow in no time! This is a must-read for any small business owner who wants to learn about email marketing!
Wondering how to get people (besides your mom) to sign up for your email list? Learn where to place opt-in forms on your website and how to promote your lead magnet and your email list will grow in no time! This is a must-read for any small business owner who wants to learn about email marketing!
Wondering how to get people (besides your mom) to sign up for your email list? Learn where to place opt-in forms on your website and how to promote your lead magnet and your email list will grow in no time! This is a must-read for any small business owner who wants to learn about email marketing!
Wondering how to get people (besides your mom) to sign up for your email list? Learn where to place opt-in forms on your website and how to promote your lead magnet and your email list will grow in no time! This is a must-read for any small business owner who wants to learn about email marketing!

Utilize Your Landing Page

The next thing you need to do is update your website link on all social media accounts to lead to your email list landing page. If you’re tempted to forego this step, stay with me for a second.

Since there is no navigation on this page you will be forcing people to either sign up for your list or leave your site. It sounds scary because we assume most people will choose to leave, but I can tell you from personal experience that’s not the case.

Looking at the analytics of my site, over 86% of people sign up for my list when they visit my lead magnet landing page. That’s huge and a far better conversion rate than any of the other opt-in’s on my site! As for the 14% that didn’t sign up, they probably weren’t in need of my services to begin with. At the very least give it a try for a few weeks and see what happens! 

If you have an email list, what's your best tip for promoting your lead magnet and getting sign ups? Comment below!

Easily Set Up an Automated Welcome Sequence in Mailchimp

Wondering how to get started with email marketing for your small business? One of the first things you need to do is set up an automated welcome sequence for new subscribers to your list. Click through for an outline of what should be in each of your welcome emails, as well as a video tutorial showing you how to set it up in Mailchimp!

If you're new around here, I've spent the past few weeks covering the basics of starting an email list for your business. You can catch up below. Be sure to start with week one and work your way through all the lessons. Don't think you need an email list? Then week one is especially for you ;)

This week I’m showing you how to create an automated welcome sequence in Mailchimp.

What is a Welcome Sequence?

A welcome sequence is a series of 5-7 emails that are automatically sent out over a period of a week or so, after someone has signed up for your list. As I’ve mentioned before, the rule of 7 says that someone needs to come in contact with your business that many times before trusting you enough to make a purchase or hire you. A welcome sequence allows you to hit those seven interactions really quickly.

Why Do I Need One?

The first reason to setup an automated welcome sequence is to efficiently deliver your lead magnet when people sign up. When I first started my list I was manually sending my freebie to new subscribers, which was not very efficient! Save yourself the hassle and setup an automated delivery as soon as possible.

The next reason is to familiarize people with your business and show them your expertise. You can do this by providing free information and resources that will help them with a problem they have. It’s only after you’ve done this that you should try to sell to them.

What Should Be In It?

Below is an outline you can follow to set up your own welcome sequence. Make sure that each email serves a purpose and provides different content than the others. Feel free to adjust this for your own business as needed.

  1. The Welcome Email - Deliver your lead magnet and briefly introduce yourself. People are only opening this for the freebie, so keep it short, sweet, and to the point. (Timing: Immediately upon subscribing.)
  2. Set Expectations Email – Now that people have received what they came for, take the time to introduce yourself and your business a little more thoroughly. Tell them what to expect from your list, including frequency of emails and topics you’ll cover. (Timing: 1 day after previous email)
  3. Check-in Email – This is an opportunity to encourage people to use the freebie you’ve given them. Give them some tips for using it most effectively and invite them to reply with any questions they have about it. Include the link to download it again, in case they haven’t done so yet. (Timing: 1-2 day after previous email)
  4. Best Resources Email – You know all of those blog posts you’ve spent hours writing? Well they’re going to come in handy! Share your most helpful blog posts and free resources that show off your expertise. (Timing: 1-2 days after previous email)
  5. The Social Media Email - Invite people to follow you on social media to help strengthen your connection with them. Only ask them to follow you on the platforms that you’re active on. (Timing: 2-3 days after previous email)
  6. The Sales Email – It’s finally time to sell! Don’t assume that people know exactly what services/products you offer. Be sure to explicitly state how you can help them solve a problem they have. Direct them to a sales page on your site where they can learn more, and let them know how they can hire you. (Timing: 2-3 days after previous email.)

How Do I Automate It?

Mailchimp makes it really easy to setup an automated welcome sequence. Watch the video below to learn how.

As always, feel free to post your questions in the comments below!

Create the Perfect Lead Magnet for Your Email List

All small business owners need an email list! Not sure how to grow yours? You need a lead magnet! Find out what a lead magnet is, why you need one, and how to create it. With the perfect freebie offer you'll have subscribers on your list in no time!

Welcome to week 3 of Email Marketing 101! If you’re just joining us, catch up on weeks 1 and 2 below:

Today we’re talking about lead magnets: what they are, why you need one, and how to create it.

Defining Lead Magnets

A lead magnet is the freebie that subscribers receive upon signing up for your email list. This is the main freebie that you will promote all over your site. If you offer a freebie within a blog post that’s called a content upgrade and is usually a smaller offer than your lead magnet. Since no one needs another email in their inbox, you have to give people a reason to sign up. 

Lead magnets often come in the form of a PDF, but that’s not the only option. Here are some of the many forms a lead magnet can take:

  • PDF guide
  • Email course
  • A discount code
  • Free shipping
  • Free consultation
  • Free product with purchase

Creating Lead Magnets

To create a strong lead magnet identify a common problem your ideal clients have and find a way you can help them solve it. It’s great to get some feedback from your audience. Take a poll on IG stories or put it out on Facebook and see what people need the most help with.

You want to offer something of value, but remember that you’re giving it away for free, so it doesn’t have to be a ten page guide. A 1-2 page checklist is perfectly fine. While this is intended to be helpful to subscribers, a good lead magnet will also show people the value of hiring you. I’ve had lots of people start going through my mini branding guide, just to contact me a few days later because it made them realize how much they need professional help.

Once you’ve decided on the content for your lead magnet, decide what form it will take from the list mentioned above. Here's a more in-depth explanation of each.


These are great for guides and che­cklists. To make one you can hire a designer (I know a girl…), or purchase a template (check out Etsy or Creative Market) and customize it yourself (usually in Photoshop). To deliver your PDF upload it to Dropbox, your website, or Mailchimp and send the link out in an automated email.

Email courses

An email course is perfect for a series or a challenge. It may also be easier to create than a PDF, depending on your skillset. To set it up you will create an automated sequence in Mailchimp (which we’ll cover next week).

Discounts, free shipping, and free products

These are great for product-based businesses. However, for service-based businesses it’s not ideal since services are usually a larger investment than products. It’s better to offer something that doesn't require making a large purchase.


This is great when you’re just starting out, but aren’t sustainable long-term. When I first started my list I offered half hour brand reviews. I sent out a link to sign up via Calendly and used Skype for video chats. It allowed me to connect with people one-on-one and provide personalized help. This gained me new clients quickly since the know, like, trust factor was built immediately. If you have the time, I recommend this while your business is small enough to handle it. Once your list gets larger you won’t have the capacity to devote time to each new subscriber.

Lead Magnet Ideas

To get the juices flowing, here are some lead magnet ideas for a few different industries:

  • Dietitian – 5 easy dinner recipes + a shopping list
  • Wedding photographer – a list of recommended local vendors
  • Jewelry designer – free shipping
  • Personal trainer – a week’s worth of workouts
  • Coffee company – free coffee mug with minimum purchase
  • Business coach – guide on how to attract higher paying clients
  • Web designer – free homepage review
  • Fashion brand – guide on how to hone your personal style
  • Copywriter – checklist for writing the perfect bio
  • Cosmetic company – free skincare consultation 

Have an idea for your lead magnet? Need some feedback? Post in the comments and I'll let you know what I think!