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. 

Mission

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. 

Values

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?

Goals

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.  

Style

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_1

Mood Board 2

Style: creative, fun, inspiring, retro

Mood_Board_2

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 / Playfully Modern

Mood Board / Stylishly Playful

I have recently been working on the branding and packaging design for a children's brand with this mood board as the inspiration. It's always fun to work on a children's brand because there's so much room to be playful with it. 


Brand Style: Modern / Stylish / Playful / Unique / High-end


For the branding we've paired hand-lettered and hand-painted elements with a playful, modern sans serif. We're using a simple, feminine color palette that will appeal to mamas and won't compete with the color of the products. Can't way to share the final brand!

Branding Advice / How to Choose a Color Palette for Your Branding

As a small business owner, you already have enough to stress about and your color palette shouldn’t be one of them. Learn how to choose the right color Scheme for your brand identity. These helpful tips will provide Entrepreneurs the inspiration and guidance needed to choose a color palette in order to establish a  style guide. Once you have a palette chosen use it for your logo, website, patterns, layouts, and graphics for a cohesive look.

My blog posts have been a little less frequent as of late, but for good reason. I've been spending time writing guest posts, one of which was recently published by The Rising Tide Society. This is the second time I've had the opportunity to write for them (see the first here). 

This time around I'm talking about choosing a color palette for your branding. I outline how to use the following steps to define your brand's color palette:

  • Knowing your audience
  • Knowing your competition
  • Finding inspiration
  • The difference between hue, value, and saturation

As a small business owner, you already have enough to stress about and your color palette shouldn’t be one of them.

Read the full post to start planning your color palette >>

Mood Board / Unique Minimalism

In need of some branding design  inspiration? THis beautiful mood board is the perfect balance of classic and modern. Clean, minimal lines meld perfectly with unique handmade touches. The simple black + white color palette is beautifully balanced with pops of bold, modern color. Click through for more branding advice and ideas. learn how Letterform creative can create a custom logo and brand identity for your small business!

This mood board is for a project that I recently wrapped up. The brand makes the sweetest, classically minimal jewelry.  This board is a spot on visualization of the overall brand and the final design. It's the perfect balance of classic and modern. Clean lines meld perfectly with unique handmade touches. The simple black + white palette is beautifully balanced with pops of bold, modern color. 

There is something so satisfying in creating a mood board that perfectly represents a brand.

It's such a fun exercise, and especially enjoyable when you have wonderful brands to work with and clients with great taste. Hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!

Branding Advice / How To Keep Your Brand Voice And Visuals Cohesive

Need some professional branding and copywriting advice? This article has helpful tips for your small business that you can implement yourself. It's full of ideas for keeping your your visual design and copy cohesive throughout your marketing, Blogging, Emailing, website, and on social media. It includes some creative copy-writing prompts to infuse your personality into your copywriting. Click through to gather some inspiration!

A few weeks ago I had Melanie of Copy Refresh on the blog sharing how professional copywriting can enhance your brand experience. You can check out the post here if you missed it.

Melanie also gave me the opportunity to write a post for her blog, which I gladly took her up on. Continuing along the lines of branding and copywriting, I decided to discuss how to keep your brand voice and visuals cohesive. 

Here is what I outline in the article:

  1. How to establish your brand personality

  2. How to visually portray your brand personality

  3. How to communicate your brand personality through your copy

Each section has some "take action" cues to guide you through the process. I've also included some fun copywriting exercises that will help bring your personality out and keep your copy aligned with your brand identity.

Read the full article here >>