Firstly I just wanted to thank you all for your support and lovely lovely messages over the last 24hours following a little issue I had regarding plagiarism of my original designs.
All of the discussion got me thinking; a lot of you commented on the photography style of the aforementioned images - specifically the use of hand positioning, background choice, and even nail art.
It dawned on me that the consistency with which I photograph my work, the way I design my blog, shop and post to my social media accounts has helped me to build a really solid, recognisable brand - HOORAY!
So I thought, hey why not turn a somewhat negative experience into something positive, that might hopefully help some of you lovely lot!
Here then, are my thoughts on creating a strong brand for your business:
1//. Branding is as much about simplicity as it is about consistency - sometimes we can find ourselves with a hundred good ideas, all bursting to get out. It can be super tempting to say 'yes' to all of those nice ideas.
For example, in a product range - you might sell lovely handmade silver jewellery, but have had a great idea for a range of cards, and also, following a recent passion for the 'Great British Sewing Bee' decided you're actually rather good at making pretty dresses.
Expanding your range can often really benefit your business and solidify your brand image, but you should always consider before adding a new product to your repertoire - 'will this product dilute my brand or enhance it?'. By that I mean, you should carefully consider whether your latest idea builds on what you already sell.
For instance, if you illustrate - having fabric printed with your illustrations on to make into other products might be a fantastic avenue to explore. Harriet of Hello Harriet has done just that, extremely well!
OR does your new idea detract from your current image - i.e. would adding a range of dresses to a shop specialising in fair trade, hand crafted silver jewellery actually take away from to focus of your business and give the impression of a 'jack of all trades master of none'?
As Steve Jobs once said: “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”
2//. Colour is key - This may sound really obvious but its surprising how many businesses seem not to put much of a focus on colour, just as it can be easy to fill your shop with a million different products, I see lots of people fill their branding with a million colours.
I like to focus on one colour for my brand - this year I'm using a slight variation on Pantone's colour of the year - radiant orchid, last year my brand was bathed in a minty hue! My business cards, stickers, logo, packaging, blog colours, Etsy banner, email signature, Twitter background, everything features that colour - and I like to think it makes my work recognisable, and memorable - as well as tying everything together - from products, to packaging, to online presence.
However you don't have to stick to just one colour - often having a small selection of complimentary colours can also work to create a beautiful brand. For example the brand of the VERY talented and rather lovely photographer Holly Booth features the gorgeous pairing of black, white and antique gold - it features across her whole site, in the background she has, her logo, the wording across her images, her business cards, everything and it looks stunning!
So if you're struggling to find a colour that suits your business - perhaps try to pick out one which regularly crops up in your work that you are really drawn to; or why not have a browse of Pinterest to look at the sorts of colours that are currently trending - it's a great place to start.
3//. Font. It's probably up there with THE most important elements to focus on when sculpting your brand. Please, for the love of all that's holy find one you like, and that suits your business and perhaps 2 or at most 3 complimentary ones then stick to them. Don't litter your otherwise beautiful website with a thousand different random fonts. Nothing screams 'was this website built in the 90s?!' more than a front page teaming with different fonts. Use your fonts wisely, tie them in with your chosen colours and focus on letting them enhance your images & design rather than smother them!
Plus, if you want to really create a unique, professional, on point image for your business its definitely worth looking at buying some non-standard fonts. Websites like MyFonts are incredibly easy to use and have a huge variety of really well designed beautiful and often very affordable fonts to choose from.
4//. Your message. If there's one thing I learnt about creating/maintaining a strong brand from working at Apple for 4 years - its that being 'on message' all of the time is really key. I use both my Instagram & Twitter for personal AND business use, so its really important that I don't tweet about anything that could be deemed offensive to any of my followers, not that I would of course - but I'm conscious that whatever I post is a reflection not just of me but of my business too.
Sometimes I see tweets from business accounts on Twitter that I think 'oh my, maybe you shouldn't be saying that, it paints you in a pretty negative light' - especially when I see people day-in day-out moaning and tweeting negative things about themselves or their business. We all have bad days, we all have moments of self doubt, we all go through quiet patches with orders - but tweeting about those 'down' moments all the time can be quite damaging to your public perception, so just try to filter your tweets internally before you post them, and consider how they could be construed.
5//. Photography!! The single most important factor in creating a beautiful, appealing, aspirational image of your work.
Get it right and your products will shine, get it wrong and well, you might just create a shopfront/website that sends a shudder down the spine of every photographer/designer out there and wards off customers like garlic to a vampire!
Now I could waffle on about photography for ages - I've found a little product photography set up that I rather like and that works for me - BUT - if you really want to learn from the master how to build your brand through great photography check out Holly's recent post here - its a corker!
So there you have it - my quick start guide to creating a strong image for your brand. The key at the centre to all of this is to be original, and unique - focus on what makes you tick and what will set you apart from the rest.