Let’s be honest, we all love looking at pretty things. I mean, how many times a day do you find yourself just scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest mentally scouring for some pretty in your life. If you’re anything like me, my normal life looks a lot like: messy office space, yoga pants, yesterday’s top knot, and a mug that can never stay filled with enough caffeine… yes, as entrepreneurs we need doses of pretty to keep us going. While this in itself isn’t a bad thing, it can really hold us back from building a brand (beyond all the pretty).
You see, we are visual creatures and as visual creatures we want everything to look good, so when we start working on branding our businesses, we get stuck on what it looks like and forget what it can FEEL like. You heard me, your brand shouldn’t just look good, it should evoke feelings! When I see posts about branding, I often see people getting stuck on creating the perfect logo, having the perfect font, or the perfect color palette. We get so caught up in how it looks that we forget that our brands are so much more than the visuals. Yes, the visual impact is so critical, especially for the world-wide-web, but our brands extend beyond the fonts and logos and websites. For me, my brand isn’t about a cursive hand drawn logo, my brand is: authentic, easy-going, genuine, telling the story like it happens, timeless photography.
When people think of me they don’t visualize my color palette, they think of the fact that I love saving puppies, I eat macaroni and cheese every Monday, I think my husband is cute, and I have an undying devotion for yoga pants. You see what I’m saying? My brand isn’t caught up in what didot font I use on my blog or the perfect peach color found in my email signature. My brand is built around ME, not just the pretty. So why does this matter? Because trying to brand our businesses on our work alone will stick us in a sea of a million others doing the same thing. As artists it’s far too easy for us to hide behind our artwork, but the truth is, if we expect people to fall in love with our art, we must first allow them to fall in love with us!
So what does this mean? When you’re focusing on building a brand, you must follow these three steps:
1. Is your brand refined? Does everything you post evoke the emotion/words/feel you want it to? For me, every piece of my work needs to stay aligned with the messaging intended to reach my ideal clients!
Before I post something I ask: is this a real moment? Is there a story behind it? Can people look at this and imagine their selves being lost in that same moment? If I can’t say yes to those three things, it doesn’t get published. Sounds harsh, right? It’s necessary to develop a brand that people remember!
2. What visual aspect is holding you back that you can just publish now and refine later? Chances are you have something waiting to publish, you have a brand you haven’t committed to, a logo that isn’t “perfect” or a webpage you can’t develop because it isn’t juuuussttt right.
The truth is, done will always be better than perfect. One of my favorite quotes is, “Imperfect action makes things happen.” If we are refusing to move forward until things are “perfect” you will spend your whole life waiting. Stop putting things off because you’re waiting for perfect. Publish now, refine later.
3. Poll your audience: post a picture that is consistent to your work and ask your audience/followers/fans/family to tell you what three words they think of when they see your work. This can be an eye opening experience because sometimes the messages we are sending aren’t necessarily the messages we are intending! Don’t give them hints on the words you think your brand encompasses, let them answer and check out the results.
If their responses are aligned with your vision, congrats! You’ve got a great brand! If their words aren’t want you’re going for, it’s time to hit the drawing board and revisit the questions you are asking yourself before you post and curate your work.
Remember, branding is so much beyond the pretty! Yes, that stuff can help send a message, but remember that your brand should show up in every aspect of your work from your website to your Instagram, your email communication to your client experience. In order to effectively market your business, you have to solidify your brand and the feelings you want to evoke every single time someone stumbles upon your work!
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