Updated: Aug 23, 2020
Hi guys! I am a total novice at branding, but today I thought I'd help you out with what I have learned in the first year and a half of my business. Much of this is very new - as I just completely rebranded my website yesterday, eee! - but I thought if anyone is just starting out on their business journey, what I have learned may help you too!
#TopTips Number 1 So, to start off, the most important lesson I've learned is that branding is not just your logo. That's right. Instead, your brand is a message. It encompasses everything your business is and wants to say. You have to align everything your business does with your one message. If you want your business to say 'handmade, sustainable' for example, don't choose a jagged, harsh, red theme for your website. Align your website with your brand aims. Which leads me on to number two....
#TopTips Number 2 Find your brand identity. Wtf? What's a brand identity? *Brain Explosion* These were my thoughts when I read this. You want to know the thing that helped me most? When I found out that businesses had a 'personality' that aligned to different seasons (Winter, Autumn, Spring, Summer). Each of these seasons has a colour palette, a style of font you should use, words associated with it that sum up your brand identity, etc. For example, Howell Illustration is a Spring (personally, I'm an Autumn, my business is different to who I am). That equates with the words:
supportive, helpful, forward thinking, open, honest, creative, fun, fresh, clean, colourful, warm, bright, clear, light and a few more.
When I read this, it just fitted exactly what I wanted my business to be, and I think that's what it is too. I believe that the artwork I produce is fresh, clean, colourful, warm, bright . . . I know that I want to be helpful and supportive to others. One of my key tenets is that I am open and honest . . . etc.
Along with this, there are colours I should use. I looked on Pinterest for spring colour palettes I am drawn to. This one came up:
Perfect, I love this colour palette, and I have spoken so often of my obsession with green and orange on Instagram that it's getting silly now.
To find your brand identity, there are quizzes you can do online, and you can read more about the Spring personality here, but I also really enjoyed reading a book called The Little Book of Colour: How to Use the Psychology of Colour to Transform Your Life.
And this leads me nicely on to . . .
#TopTip no: 3. Create a Branding Board. This is something I should have done right from the start. The key point of a brand is that everything is consistent. I spent a long time worrying about whether or not I was consistent. If I'd known about and had a branding board from the start, it would have helped enormously and removed that worry. A branding board combines your colour palette, logo, fonts and inspiration together in one sheet of paper, so if you worry you're not being consistent, you just get it out and have a look. Here's my new branding board I just finished last night:
Ah, so now you may be starting to see why I spoke about the other stuff first, you'll need it to make this. For a helpful post on how to build a branding board, head here. Alternatively, you can search on Pinterest to find other branding boards as examples and pick and choose the elements you want. I've built a board to get you started here.
Please note: if you are downloading fonts from the web to use, as I did with Fox in the Snow, White Angelica and Josefin Sans, check the license!! You need to make sure you can use it on your website etc. I had to pay a small amount to use Fox in the Snow and White Angelica on my website because it wasn't contained within the standard license. If you break copyright law you could be in for a world of trouble, especially if you are selling things with the font on without paying for it - this is effectively stealing another artist's work.
#TopTip No. 4 Consistency is Key When building a new empire (c'mon, dream big!) you need to be consistent. I hate that word now, but it is important. Make everything you do relate to your brand board. Does your website tell visitors instantly about your brand? Does your Instagram tie in? Does your pinterest board work with what you do? You must be able to tell people a consistent story through your branding.
#TopTip No. 5 Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes You learn best through making mistakes. There's no way on Earth I would ever have learned all this, if I hadn't made mistakes over the past year or so, if I hadn't been able to feel out my brand and understand what didn't work for it and what I didn't like. If I hadn't learned that I can throw in a little of me into my brand as well (green and orange can also be autumn colours). So go ahead, make all the mistakes you want. That is the beauty of the brand being yours. You are flexible, you can respond to problems without seeking persmission. You can change whatever you like.
I hope this was helpful! If you'd like to know any more then you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM me on Instagram @howellillustration.
Have fun on your branding journey!