Shoestringing your brand
10 Top Tips on managing your brand when you don't have the budge to hire a Graphic Designer
You don't need a logo right away
Consistency is key
Define what's important to you – your brand personality
Pick a colour that represents your customers core values
Keep it simple, very, very simple
Guess what? Consistency is key!
Choose your voice (Tone-of-voice)
Find the online platform your customers hang out on
You don't need a website right away
Consistency. Is. Key
1) You don't need a logo right away!
As long as you have a name, this is the start! It can be any name, even your own name! You can create a brand, a website and an online social media presence as long as you start with a name. You can type it up on a Word doc or on Canva, export that as a jpg and this can be your placeholder logo until you're ready to invest in branding your business. Things to consider are:
Don't make it too fancy, simple is best – choose a Sans-Serif font (like Helvetica Neue or Tahoma) to represent modern, casual, honest and unfussy – or a Serif font (like Georgia or Times New Roman) for a brand that is more serious, professional, mature
Use your primary colour for your logo, this will start injecting a little bit of personality into your brand from the get-go
When you're ready to invest in a deeper branding exercise I'll be here and we can really delve into your brand in detail. In the meantime, if you want regular Hints & Tips sent to your inbox, sign up to the Mystery Hare newsletter here: Hints & Tips
2) Consistency is key
This is the most important part of any brand – showing up consistently (regularly) but also in the same way (look-and-feel). It's what creates rapport with your potential clients based on a platform of trust. It doesn't confuse your audience, it helps them to navigate across to all of your customer-facing touchpoint online (social media as well as your website when its up and running) and provides a sense of comfort and assurance. It keeps everything tidy and uncluttered and, for something that has such a large impact, is one of the easiest things to do:
Make sure you have the same profile image of yourself on every personal platform
If it's a business page, you can use an element of your logo or an icon or even your logo (tip: if your logo is long, a stacked version would be suitable for this instance)
Use your logo with a relevant background image in your social media page banner
Try and choose a standard positioning for your logo on all literature – perhaps it's always at the top-centre position of the page – maybe you prefer it to live at the bottom-right-hand-side of the footer? There's some flexibility here but remember: consistency is key!
Don't deviate from your colour palette, you may introduce a secondary colour palette to add a little more interest but stick to a minimum colour palette: – 1 primary colour with 2 supporting colours – then a further 3 or 4 colours in your secondary colour palette to dip in and out of
3) Define what's important to you – your brand personality
'People buy from people' but people are loyal and refer business to people they know, like and trust. They can't know you if you don't express your personality which means they can't get to like and trust you. The best way to ensure that your business represents a set of core values or personality traits is to write them down. Ordinarily, as the person behind the brand, YOUR personality traits are in the forefront because you are your business. So jot down the personalty traits you want to bring to the forefront, it's easy, just list a bunch of adjectives that describe the best version of yourself and also add some aspirational traits too, we're always striving to do and be better.
Here's some categories to get you started:
Soul – this is who you can't avoid being, no matter what. It's part of your DNA • perhaps you're quirky and love making others happy or laugh • maybe you're rebellious and fight for causes you believe in • perhaps you're a people-pleaser and can't help but nurture those around you
Customer service – how would you like to engage directly with your customers? • friendly, casual (like a close friend), helpful? • serious, professional, reliable
Market Position – look at the brands you buy or admire and consider why that is. It could give you a clue as to your own brand personality and you can position yourself in their categories • do you want to be rebellious but exceptional quality, like Urban Decay Cosmetics • do you want to be inclusive, frivolous and fun like Coca Cola? • maybe you love the bold foolishness but exclusivity of Vivienne Westwood? – a basic set of positioning measurements are: • bargain / cheap • affordable / value • expensive / luxurious This exercise often helps you with setting your prices because you tend to look closer at your offerings and how your product / service is delivered during this exercise
4) Pick a colour that represents your customers core values
Once you've identified your brand personality, you need to select a colour that works to compliment these and not fights against them – this sets the tone of your visual identity. A great tool for looking into colour meanings is: canva.com
You can also type into google: 'colour psychology [blue]' or whatever colour you're thinking of to see if it makes sense to the brand. A fun, frivolous brand won't use a serious colour like navy blue, for example, they'll most likely select pink, yellow or orange as their main colour.
When you hire a graphic designer to create a brand identity for you this exercise is done with you as well as the brand personality definition. At Mystery Hare, I've come up with a strategy that takes you through all of these exercises. We create you a robust brand and communicate it all with you along the way so that you're educated and can stand by your brand with confidence and courage. I've seen how these exercises improve a business owners confidence, self-belief and even raise, or double their prices! Branding is a powerful beast!
If you want to speak to me about branding your business drop me a line
5) Keep it simple, very, very simple
Stick to one, very strong font for your logo, perhaps introduce a second font – only if you need to display a tagline or accentuate a feeling on a second word – and keep your colour palette small. It's tempting and exciting to get 'creative' with this and add all sorts of decorative display fonts and keep adding colours because you're feeling frisky on a certain day but this only works to confuse your audience and water down the power of your brand.
Keep your website organised and tidy and, for all customer-facing visual communications, keep it simple. Some questions to help you when you're having to do design work yourself is:
what does the reader want to know?
how does my service transform their lives? What benefit am I providing?
how do they get hold of me to continue the 'conversation' – supply a few options so they contact you in a way THEY'RE most comfortable with
what's the user-experience like? Is it enjoyable and intuitive? – does your website make it easy for the user to navigate and find the information they're most interested in? – if there are too many pages to click through they'll get bored, confused and give up – is the information organised in a way that intuitive? If it's too complicated and disorganised, you'll lose their attention
if your pricing is simple, display it!
if pictures and content are old, delete or update it!
6) Guess what? Consistency is key!
Remember what we spoke about earlier? It's very easy to forget when you're in the throws of selecting a colour palette, setting up your Insta or creating a website to get lost in the process and forget about the rules.
Go back to number 2 – CONSISTENCY IS KEY! Re-read this section and action it.
7) Choose your voice (tone-of-voice)
You know what, you've probably already done this when defining your brand personality but didn't notice. If you're friendly and nurturing, guess what, that's how you need to speak to your customers – this is how you answer the phone, write an email, create a social media campaign. Keep your brand personality thread going through your tone-of-voice. This emphasises your brand in yet another way and keeps that consistency throughout your touch-points. It's working to create that well-rounded, trustworthy brand that everyone desires to be and to work with.
8) Find the online platform your customers hang out on
If you're a small business, chances are you're so busy with business-building activities but nowadays, if you're not on social media, no one really knows you exist. Good news though – you can show up fo' free (paid advertising comes later, when you feel like you can afford it and provides you with a return on investment – for now we'll look at Organic Reach, which is the fancy way of saying 'free').
To make the right impact however, you need to show up where your customers are, not where you want to go or where others in your industry are. It's all very well you want to attend the sales conference where your mentors and 'colleagues' hang out but your business won't make money that way. That's just a hang out, not a business strategy. You need to show up where you'll be seen by people who want to throw their money at you. So, start by thinking about the social media cultures and which one (or 2) makes sense for you to stand out:
LinkedIn – Business-to-Business – this is great if you're looking for corporate clients or selling to other businesses, this is your playground – the tone is a little more serious here, this isn't where you post pictures of you crying over a cuppa (or at least it shouldn't be) these kinds of posts are out of place (to some extent) here – this is also a place for hiring and actively looking for work so show up wearing your interview suit (metaphorically speaking) not your tracky bottoms – this is also the platform for learning so it's a great platform to teach! This will solidify you as an industry expert, especially when you share educational content to do with your field of expertise
Facebook (soon to be Meta) – this is more like a large friends and family, and extended family, bbq. It's relaxed and casual with advice and inspirational quotes – you can be your most authentic self and cry over that croissant now, it's ok, we're all here for you hun. But make sure to intersperse your crying pics with advice and inspirational quotes on the good days too. Nobody wants to be friends with Debbie Downer all day, every day! Add a bit of variety to create interest and loyalty
Twitter (who knows?) – this is not my platform of choice so I've lost all clues about this one! The last time I looked at it my impression was it's a writers playground. It moves too quickly and is so fleeting and didn't leave a long-lasting impression on me – but that's because it's not where my customers hang out so please, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong – the thing I do love about Twitter however, is that this is the access-to-celebrities platform. You can get called out or replied to by your celebrity, there's easy access but, again, is Gal Gadot really going to want to buy tickets to your new webinar series?
Instagram – ah yes, the visual paradise that is Instagram – the new shopping platform for clothes and art that is the ol' Insta – it's all about the grid • the strategy is to not overload the grid with sales, sales, sales, look-at-me content but ultimately it's really all about selling and influencing. This is a tricky but powerful platform, it's the cocktail party where you've shown up glamorous and snuck out the back when you've torn your tights, pissed as a fart and hope no one sees you this way If you have a visual brand, and even if you don't, this is a great, powerful platform for getting attention and eyes on your brand, providing value and growing your email list. With a well thought out strategy you can even make sales but be careful not to overload the grid with too many promotional tiles, you need to give more than you take so split your content up with: • promotional • inspirational • testimonial • lifestyle (basically lunch pics) The more interesting your content, the more followers you get, it's about providing an escape for your viewers first then the loyal following and supports will come. This is a great opportunity to direct eyes over to your website. Definitely include the link in your bio if your site is up and running.
9) You don't need a website right away
That leads nicely onto your website. Guess what, because of all this social media nonsense, you don't NEED a website right away! You can promote your business on your social media platforms instead! Commit to at least one that you can regularly post on and try to adopt another as a back up or post different audiences the same type of messaging / promotions. Not the same content, the same type of content. This is important!
DO NOT COPY AND PASTE from one platform to the other, consider the culture on each of the platforms, use the same content with pleasure, but rewrite it and display it in slightly different ways depending on where you're posting.
You don't need a website right away but a website, when you're ready for it, offers your business the following:
It gives your business legitimacy, – users know that websites costs money, social media does not (organic reach). Having a website shows financial investment into your own business and self belief in success. Having a website means you're most likely going to hang around as a business for longer because you've paid for your domain for, at least, a year
It's another opportunity to control the narrative – modern culture and information freedom means that when a potential customer wants to know you, really know you, they'll look at ALL your profiles to get a fuller, well-rounded view of who you really are. They'll review your Facebook, LinkedIn, Insta and yes, your website. Your website is the most filtered so they may start there and then look at your social media to make their minds up. This is your opportunity to put your best face forward and, if you're an honest brand, this will be backed up by the content and engagement on your socials
It can earn money for your business – yup, you can take payment here – set up passive income, like your webinar and digital downloads here
And it can also work towards creating Brand Recognition, remember you're showing up where you customers feel most comfortable! They feel more reassured that you have a website, even if it's the least used platform. So when you're ready, let's chat about your goals for the site – how do you want your website to work for you? It's an investment so you want it, just like the rest of your brand identity, to have a purpose.