Brand on Brand - With Sharon Davidson Graphic Designer
Hey, I did think the weather was going to start improving after the burst of sun we had a couple of weeks ago, but its got a bit gloomy again I’m afraid – it seemed like the longest winter everrrr doesn’t it. But even so, finally I’m seeing the flowers starting to bloom and that little bit of sunshine we had made me feel a whole lot better, and what with the kids heading back to school next week, life, thankfully, is starting to move forward, at last.
I don’t know about you but the first couple of months this year felt particularly hard, but now I can’t wait to start to come out of hibernation, it will be slow process but it is coming and I want to be ready for it.
I overhauled my website during the first lockdown, to make sure I had a fresh new site to welcome visitors to, with the help of fabulous graphic designer Sharon Davidson www.sharondavidson.co.uk Sharon has been working as a graphic designer for the past 20 years and is very proud to have worked for Waitrose, Debenhams, Tesco, The Ministry of Defence and the Home Choice (now Tiscali) on-demand TV company, as well as for lots of smaller but no less important clients.
As many of you will already know I’m primarily a portrait photographer, specialising working with small to medium sized businesses, with their personal branding photography. And I thought it would be a really great idea to talk though what personal branding actually is and what happens when you decide to ‘properly’ brand or rebrand your business.
Many of us will feel the need to get back out there with a fresh new look after months of being in lockdown, to make sure our business stands out to attract an audience. So where do we start?
Well I’ve teamed up with Sharon to ask her some of the questions you may want answered!
What exactly is Branding?
It’s important to know that branding isn’t just a logo, it’s so much more! Business branding is about creating a comprehensive message for your company and product or service, using names, logos, slogans, copy and other materiel, including photography and actively creating the perception you hope consumers will have when they come into contact with, and experience your company, product or service.
You can break branding down into three areas, which can be covered by either one branding company, or individually with specialists covering each area.
Brand Strategy is a vital part of building a successful business brand, its the plan that focuses on the long term development of your purpose and impact. This maps out how you are different, trustworthy, memorable, and likeable, and communicates your purpose, promises and how you solve problems for your clients.
Brand Identity is the way that you convey this to the public with visuals, messaging and experience. Your brand identity should be applied across all channels consistently. It is the way you business becomes recognizable. This includes your logo, colours and font, website design, content, including copy and photography, advertising, print or packaging and more.
Finally Brand Marketing is how businesses highlight and bring awareness to products and services by connecting their values and their voice to their ideal audience through strategic communication.
I want to get a cohesive brand identity for my business, where do I start?
Before you do anything you need to examine your current branding strategy, what’s working for you and what’s not?
You could do a swot analysis for your business branding. Look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats which can help you analyse and strategize.
Its also really important to work out who your current audience are, has that changed? Do you really know your audience; this is really important to make sure that your branding is attracting the right people. So start by trying to visualize your ideal client, you could try creating an avatar (a fictional customer, based on real data)
So to help define your brand, you should ask yourself
What is my…
• Brand Personality?
The characteristics and emotions customers associate with your brand
• Brand Identity?
The visible elements such as logo, colours, photography and design
• Brand Promise?
The promises that you are making to your customers
• Brand Experience?
The emotions that customers associate with your brand
• Brand Differentiation?
The main points you stand out from your competitors
• Brand Positioning?
The audience, ie parents, children, small business owners, millennials
• Brand Story?
The narrative that shapes your business values which helps connect to your customers
• Brand Guidelines?
The guide on how to use your brand to help designers and marketers creating visuals to keep your brand consistent.
How can I decide what style I really want?
A mood board is a really good place to start as this gives a visual tool to communicate your concepts and visual ideas. It allows you to build a clear design story that can help with creating your brand. The mood board can express the vision you have in mind, which is brilliant starting point to give others who are helping you with your brand.
To create your mood board or a scrap book, you can either do this digitally or manually (cutting out ideas from magazines/printing off visuals and sticking them on a board).
If you prefer digitally you can create a mood board in:
These are both free.
By examining pictures fonts and text you like you’ll start to see a pattern and style. Which can help guide you and your designer. Think about what you want to communicate to your clients and how you can do this with colours fonts and photographs reflecting a cohesive style.
What will my branding designer do for me?
Your brand designer will start by helping you to assess your brand and create an image for you, which will define you and your business in a way that resonates and appeals to your target customer. They should really ensure that your mission and goals are present
throughout all parts of your brand, as this is a critical part of your identity as well as communicating your values to your tribe. Implementing those elements that will either help define or influence – your company’s name, tagline, mission, and core beliefs, are just part of the story.
What is the most important part of branding?
Branding is really a whole package, it is all important, but it all has to start with knowing your audience, your values and your purpose, if you take those three things as a starting point you will get the most of your branding.
Is this just for my website?
Social media is a big part of your branding these days and you need to consistently use the right methods to engage with your target audience on social media platforms. The aim is to boost brand awareness. With this in mind you need to think how you represent your imagery, how will your logo look on social media? And using the right photography that represents your brand and that’s is unique to you.
Branding is something that should expand across your whole business, its not just your website, and it will communicate with your client at every point of contact. Whether it is your website, social media, print marketing or indeed you too. Because the branding is all about you, your products services and your tribe, it should be an honest and authentic reflection of you and your business, which will attract your perfect clients to you!
Do I really need personal branding photography?
Yes, it may seem extra expense but it really is pointless investing in branding and holding back on your photography, we are living in a much more visually savvy age. If you are creating a beautiful fresh new brand, you do need photographs that match the brand style that has been especially created for you to attract your ideal clients.
Its really important when you are having a Personal Branding Photo shoot that you plan that shoot with your photographer properly. I ask my clients to fill out a questionnaire and spend lots of time talking about their business, themselves as well as the purpose of the shoot, we go deep, because it is so important that the photographs communicate properly with their ideal audience.
As a small business, its easy to think that professional photography is one expense you can do without. Here’s why you’d be wrong. Using Stock photography might save you money in
the beginning, but it could end up costing you customers in the long term. If your website is using stock pictures to promote your product or service, it will be noticed and that can have an impact on trust. Customers may start to wonder why you are not using real pictures of your products and we all know that customers want to know, like and trust the businesses they are buying from. Take this concept one stage further: Creating your own images enables you to include your customer in your visuals. There’s nothing more powerful to a prospective customer than seeing a previous customer wearing or using your product or experiencing your service. It gives your business credibility and likeablity.
It’s a big investment - where is this outlay going to get me?
You are right it’s a big investment but actually potentially it will bring you big rewards too.
Why do you need branding? Well if you get it right, the best brand strategy will give you more awareness, trust, loyalty and advocacy for your products or services, from your clients.
It will ensure you're attracting all the right people with a lot less convincing because your message is on-point. With trust people will be buying from you without hesitation because they trust and believe in what you stand for.
You’ll get people start telling everybody they know about your business and how much they're obsessed with it. (classic word-of-mouth for the win!) You won’t just maintain your current client base but really start growing your tribe!
Thats the power of good branding!
Jeff Bezos, the founder of the brand Amazon, says it best:
"Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room."
Convinced? Well if you still need to know more about what branding can do for your business, why not get in touch with Sharon for a chat, or if you’ve done the branding thing, and are looking for new fresh brand imagery I’d love to talk to you, so let’s chat!