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Branding Tips for Creatives: What Impression Are You Making?

After dropping out of college and taking out a $10,000 loan for a failing design company, I waited tables and used Craigslist to land creative gigs on the side. Knowing nothing about running a business, I took on every project that came my way, slowly but surely finding my niche within the photography community. The more clients that came my way, the more necessary it became to develop a brand, not just a business.

I sketched out a logo & printed off a round of business cards on the little inkjet that served as my first office mate. My first website cost less than a tank of gas, but I was really proud of it and I made myself sound legit! Ahem, “we” sounded legit…little did they know it was just a scrappy kid piecing together their branding materials with an X-Acto Knife and double-sided tape. People would ask if I could create accordion-fold wedding invitations printed on metallic paper, and the answer was “Yes!” If they needed sizes or materials I’d never heard of, the answer was “I’ll do it!” I purchased a laser printer I’d later return once the project was complete and& recruited my (now) husband to help me fold paper into the wee hours of the night. I made it work, and clients were happy.

Image by Jasmin Vant

It’s all about creating a vision that doesn’t just look pretty on paper. It has more to do with the way your brand makes people feel when they interact with you & your work.

First impressions are key.

Let’s pretend, for a minute, that you’re on your way to meet up with a blind date. You’re meeting at a fancy schmancy restaurant in the middle of downtown, so you’re rocking stilettos & a little black dress. You walk in, giddy with excitement. As the hostess leads you to a table, you realize your date hasn’t yet arrived. Another 30 minutes go by, and you finally notice someone walking toward your table. Mr. Blind Date greets you with a high-five & a mouthful of gum as he apologizes for being late.

Relationships are an investment. You wouldn’t waste your time & money on someone who didn’t bring value to your life (i.e. Mr. Gum Chewer), and the same can be said about a brand. We form a psychological relationship with the brands we choose to invest in with the expectation that they will serve us well.

Make Clients Fall in Love with You.

Within a few seconds, your brand can make or break someone’s decision to hire you. Your branding gives you the opportunity to showcase your personality & talents while leaving a lasting impression. Your brand is the concierge that greets clients as they walk into your space, whether it’s a brick & mortar studio or the home page of your website. It’s the chef who selects the perfect ingredients to prepare your favorite dish. It’s the server who makes sure your glass stays full without asking & the general manager who stops by to make sure you have reason to return in the future.

We rely on our branding when we aren’t able to have a face-to-face meeting with a client or give them something they can physically touch & hold in their hand.

Be Inclusive.

When we think about creating a brand, we envision beautiful logos & snazzy marketing materials. What’s often overlooked is the VOICE behind the brand, which goes far beyond the visual aspect of any business identity. In a literal sense, it’s the voice you use to answer the phone & the language used within your social media posts. It’s the look of your booth when you present your work at a tradeshow and the overall feeling someone gets as they scroll through your Instagram feed. As humans, we crave human connection & the feeling of belonging. If your content seems biased or disrespectful to certain groups of people, clients will feel less like members of your tribe and more like outsiders.


Stay True to YOU.

Does your branding represent you as a creative, or are you mimicking someone else because they have a lot of followers? Brand loyalty is created whenever your work is easily recognized as something that has been created by YOU. When you copy someone else’s work or try to mimic their branding, it only creates confusion. We all want to stand out, and the best way to do that is by staying true to yourself! You are the best representation & most valuable asset your brand could have. Check out how HoneyBook is making it a point to stand out with their recent brand refresh. 


To celebrate HoneyBook’s brand refresh, Bittersweet Design is giving away a set of 2 Instagram templates & 2 Instagram Stories Templates. Click here to access. 

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