Investing in professional branding is a big and exciting decision to make. Aside from saving up the money to hire a designer, there are other things you can do to prepare yourself for the branding experience.
The information outlined below will be important for your designer to know as part of the branding process. Most likely your designer will ask you for this info in a questionnaire or intake form.
The more in-depth answers you can provide, the better it will be for your branding. This valuable material makes the difference between branding that is just pretty, and branding that meaningfully speaks to your ideal audience, and accurately represents your business.
Whether you’re going to take the plunge soon or it’s still a ways down the road, the following tips will ensure that you’re prepared to hire a designer when the time comes. The more time and thought you give each of these, the better. So why not get started now?
1. Nail down your mission + vision statements
Although writing a mission and vision statement can be time-consuming and tedious, these are so important if you want your branding to really reflect the heart of your business. If you’re not quite sure about the difference between the two and need help drafting yours, this article is helpful.
To show you how your mission and vision statement might affect your branding, here is the mission statement of one of my former clients, Your Milk Shoppe:
“We will eliminate the stress of your day to day life by acting as a full service management team of your parenting experience.”
To visually communicate this, we used a soft blue as the main color for the brand. This particular shade of blue is very calming and reflects their desire to eliminate stress from their clients’ lives.
The hand-painted, watercolor elements used throughout the brand create a personal, welcoming feel which is important for a company that is catering to new moms who are overwhelmed by the parenting experience.
2. Establish the core values of your business
Your core values are important in the same way that your mission and vision statements are important. They are part of the foundation of your business and give meaning to what you do.
Some examples of core values might be integrity, creativity, quality, customer service, or authenticity. Many of these types of attributes can be reflected in your branding. Once again, this is what will make your branding unique and meaningful.
For example, one of the core values of Mari Wuellner Coaching is fun. We communicated this attribute through the vibrant pink in her color palette and the use of playful patterns.
3. Identify your ideal client
This is such an important one because your branding needs to attract the right people or else it’s pointless. Some things you will want to consider are their age, gender, income, location, and job. Dig as deep as you can.
If you know or can find people who match your ideal client talk to them to gather further insight. What other companies do these people like? This one is really helpful for understanding the kind of branding they’re attracted to.
4. Define how you’d like to be perceived in the marketplace
Although it’s okay to have an idea of the visual elements you would like to see in your branding, it’s better to communicate to your designer how you want your business to be perceived.
For example, rather than saying that you’d like your logo to have hand-lettering and floral elements, your branding will benefit more by telling your designer that you’d like your branding to reflect your company’s welcoming, personal nature, while appealing to your primarily female clientele.
There are many ways that those traits can be visually portrayed. By being more general, rather than requesting specific elements, your designer will be able to explore all of the possibilities and find the best way to communicate the heart of your business to your audience.
For example, when I first started designing the logo for The Butterfly Cake Factory, my client was interested in using a geometric butterfly in her logo because she wanted her business to be perceived as modern. I completely understood where she was coming from, but saw that there might be another solution that worked better.
Luckily, she was completely open to my ideas. When she saw the option below she knew that it represented their elegant cakes and would appeal to the high-end brides that they were hoping to attract.
5. Establish short and long term goals
Knowing where you’d like to see your business go is important to communicate to your designer because your branding can aid in reaching those goals if done correctly.
For example, if you’re a birth photographer who wants to transition into brand photography in the next year, it’s important that your branding appeal more to small business owners, rather than moms-to-be.
Maybe you’re a wedding planner who has been working primarily with brides on a budget, and you’ve decided that you want to start attracting higher-end clients. If that’s the case you’re branding needs to have a high-end, luxury feel to it.
6. Identify your competitors
Knowing your competitors is important because it enables you to set your business apart from others in your industry. If all of your competitors have similar branding, then you’ll be able to stand out from the crowd by having branding that is truly unique.
Within certain industries it’s common to see certain trends because it speaks to the target market. For example, within the wedding industry it’s common to see soft color palettes, the use of florals, and watercolor elements because this appeals to a lot of brides. However, there are other ways to appeal to that audience without looking like everyone else.
For example, the submark below that I designed for Made Weddings, uses a soft blush color that is common in the wedding industry. However, the hand-drawn elements of the submark give it a lot of unique personality, and appeal to an audience that appreciates hand-made items, like those sold by Made Weddings.
7. Know what makes your business unique
Building off the last guideline, it’s easy to set yourself apart from competitors when you know what makes your business unique. Identify what you offer the market that others do not.
Do you custom-make each order, whereas your competitors only offer pre-made options? Do you send a hand-written note with every product you sell? Do you make the experience incredibly smooth and fun for clients?
These special touches that set your business apart, can and should be reflected in your branding, which is why it’s important to communicate them to your designer.
Give a lot of time and thought to each one of these and you’re designer will be so impressed by how prepared you are to begin the branding process. If you’re not quite ready to hire a professional, then use this information to guide you as you do your own branding. My mini branding guide will help you take this information and put it into a visual identity. Sign up to receive it here!