One of the things I love about running a small business is branding. When you think about branding your brain may immediately go to your logo, but it is so much more than that. Your brand is how you want people to see your business, its the feelings you want to envoke in your customers, and yes your logo and other marketing materials are apart of your brand as well.
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A great example of branding in the big business world is Chick-fil-A. They have got their branding down to a science! Using cows instead of chickens is genius, and I’m sure you think of the color red when you think of Chick-fil-A. But what else comes to mind when you think of their brand? I go straight to how friendly, kind and polite the staff always is (at least that’s been my experience at all the Chick-fil-A’s I’ve been to), how clean and well kept the restaurant is, and that they are a Christian based company. All of that stuff combined gives you the “Chick-fil-A ” experience.
I am not an expert on branding (or on anything really) but I have learned a few things, and continue to learn every day! Here are 5 great topics to get you to think about building a brand for your business!
1- Create a physical brand board
This is actually something I have been wanting to do for myself for a while. I am a visual person, I have to actually see something, feel it, move it around before I am able to absorb it. A physical brand board is a great way to make a tangible representation of what you want your brand to encompass.
Look around you and see what catches your eye! Check the “pictures you’ve liked” on Instagram, do you see anything repetitive? Pull colors and patterns and textures out from the things that draw your attention until you start seeing a pattern! Maybe you really like white wood, like shiplap, maybe you like pictures with greenery and plants, maybe you are attracted to a certain color palette, cotton stalks, walnut colored wood, metal, ceramics … just look for repetition and see what stands out to you! Once you start to get a feel for the patterns, textures, and textiles you are drawn to, go get physical samples of these things and begin attaching them to a cork board (affiliate link).
If you want to incorporate a lot of natural wood into your branding maybe attach a wood slice to your board. If you love the look of buffalo plaid, put a fabric swatch of buffalo plaid on your board. Maybe you really like the look of cotton stalks, go get you a couple of those to put on your board. Once you find a specific color palette you like, add some paint samples to your board. If you really like the look of a white wood background, maybe print off a picture of it to attach. Think of 3-5 words you want your brand to reflect. For example, words I like to have in mind for my brand are encouraging, positive, transparent, eco-friendly and helpful. Then you could do some research and figure out what kind of fonts you want to use for your brand. Type your words in your favorite fonts (not too many fonts, you don’t want to go crazy), print that off, and attach it to your brand board.
Once you’ve started a pretty good collection of things on your board take a step back and see how everything flows together. If you have a whole bunch of neutrals all over the place then suddenly you see something super colorful, maybe that colorful thing isn’t exactly right for your brand. Pull down anything that feels out of place. I would suggest hanging your brand board up in your workspace, that way you can look at it regularly and be inspired to stay on brand for your business.
You can also make a digital version if you are computer savvy. Find images of things you like or are drawn too and create a collage. Or just go to Pinterest and make “branding board” board. Start pinning things you think are pretty, go nicely together, or that you want to incorporate into your business.
2- Use your brand board as inspiration for your photos
Now that you have your beautiful brand board hanging in your workspace, use that as a reference when you go to take pictures for your business. If you are staging a photo for Instagram, look at your board and see what kind of props you could use. Maybe you’re going to start using wood slices and cotton stalks in your pictures, or maybe you need to get a shiplap looking backdrop. You could incorporate the fabrics you like in your pictures, fabric is a great way to add texture. Use your paint chips for inspiration and maybe stick something in your photo frame that is one of your brand colors like a coffee mug, or one of your tools. You can also use a specific filter for your images. If you consistently use the same filter your pictures will all the same look and feel to them. Check out Megmade With Love and TLYarn Crafts on Instagram. Both of these ladies are rockin’ the filter game!
If you pull inspiration from your brand board for your social media images, your feed and your pictures will start to have a similar feel to them, and I believe this is the goal on Instagram lol. My feed has no particular rhyme or reason to it, but if you look at some of the bigger Instagram accounts you will definitely see some that have a very similar look at feel. DeBrosse is a great example of an Instagram feed that is cohesive and “on brand”, just looking at her feed gives me a sense of being “put-together”.
Pro Tip: DeBrosse also has an AMAZING MasterClass that is perfect for anyone trying to grow their business, increase their sales, or build their brand! use code MCAF25 to get 25% off your purchase
3- Use your color palette in everything you do
Another way you can incorporate your branding into your business is through your color palette. My friend Angie over at Harper Baby Shop does an amazing job at this! The main color she uses for her business is purple. When she posts things on Instagram she always uses the purple heart emoji ???? ( I love it when there’s emojis that can be incorporated into a brand), she also uses it when she comments on other peoples posts, and when you order a hook from her shop (she makes and sells beautiful polymer clay crochet hooks) it comes in a box that has a strip of purple duct tape on it and your hook is wrapped in a sheet of purple tissue paper. Those are some very simple, inexpensive things Angie does for her branding and it absolutely works. I can be grocery shopping at Walmart and see something purple and my brain automatically thinks “Harper Baby Shop”.
4- Your logo
When it comes to designing your logo or paying someone to design it for you, you can start to feel overwhelmed pretty quickly. Just take a step back and start breaking it down into little pieces. Think about all the places you will be using your logo. You will have your logo on your business card, watermark, digital marketing, a banner for your Facebook/Etsy/Website, printed marketing materials, tags etc.
Your logo design could directly correlate to your business, like a yarn ball if your business is yarn related, or your logo could be something totally different, something that is special to you, like your favorite flower. Whatever you choose, you want to make sure it makes sense for your business and your branding and you want something that is unique so it can be easily recognizable to your customers. You don’t want your logo to look like everyone else in your industries logo because that might create confusion for your customers and potential customers.
I like logos that can kinda of be manipulated in design but still be recognizable. Like my main logo has A Crafty Concept around my yarn ball, but I can change it a little and write A Crafty Concept out to the side and it still looks good and “on brand”. I also like to add fun things to it for different seasons or holidays. Around Christmas time I stick a Santa hat on my yarn ball and around Easter, a pair of bunny ears.
Think about a logo design that has aspects of it you can easily find. Like Kim from Southern Day Crochet. She recently rebranded and her new logo is a circle frame of sunflowers with her name “Southern Day Crochet” in the middle. Kim could use anything with a sunflower on it and be on brand. She could use sunflowers as props in her pictures, the sunflower emoji,???? take styled pictures in a field of sunflowers, sunflower washi tape, sunflower poly-mailers, sunflower stickers, the possibilities are endless because her logo has sunflowers in it.
You could design your logo yourself. There are lots of different computer programs, like Canva, that are free (there is a paid version as well) and user-friendly. I would turn to your brand board for logo inspo.???? Or you could have someone design it for you, which is what I did. Hiring a graphic designer can be pricey, so if it’s not in the budget at the moment, just start with something you design yourself, you might be surprised and really love what you create!
I do recommend getting a couple different formats of your logo though. A png file is nice to have. That is when your image has a transparent background. I think this looks good because you can easily place onto images or into other designs without having a big white square around your logo. You also will want a version that is compatible with your social media platforms. For example, on Instagram, you have this tiny circle space as your profile picture and not all designs will fit in there nicely. You may also want a png version of your logo that is all white and kind of transparent for you to use as a watermark.
5- You are part of your brand
Now that you have your brand board, your photos are cohesive, you use your color palette regularly, and you have an awesome logo, the last thing I want to touch on is how you yourself are a huge part of your brand. How you talk to your customers, the tone of your posts/comments/captions, the vibes you put off, the way you dress, your hair, all these aspects of you help make up your brand and you should totally embrace that!
For those of you that follow The Hook Nook on Instagram (there’s only about 107 THOUSAND of us that do ????) if you think of pink hair, you probably think of Jessica. If you follow Knot.Bad and you see someone headbanging to metal music you probably think of Vincent.
Think of a few of your favorite Instagrammers, what makes them unique? What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of those people? The same can be said for you! So keep that in mind when you are doing things for your business. If you are an upbeat, happy-go-lucky kind of person, let that show in your business. Have that tone in your blog and social media posts.
I love reading posts by Jessica (The Hook Nook) and Megan (Megmade With Love) because they type like I would imagine how they talk; even in their crochet patterns! I can be reading it and working on a project and its almost like they are sitting right there with me. Don’t be afraid of the things that make you quirky or unique, use them to your advantage. If you have freckles, start sticking freckles on silly stuff and have fun with it. If you like wearing bright blue lipstick, wear bright blue lipstick in your pictures. The best thing about your business is you, 100%. You are the maker behind the products, the brain behind the blog, the fingers on the keyboard, you are the reason your business even exists, take that and RUN with it!
Thank you so much for hanging out with me! I hope you found this post useful and it helped get some creative branding juices flowing in your brain. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions, I am happy to help in any way I can. Also, if you would like for me to do a step by step branding board for my business as a tutorial, here on my blog, comment on this post and let me know!
15 thoughts on “5 Steps to Start Building Your Brand”
Love this so much!!
Yay thanks lex!! I’m glad you found it helpful ????????????
Lovely post Ashley! I would love to see a tutorial for a branding board!
I’ve been wanting to rebrand my business for awhile, your post is helping me get back to the drawing board!
Yay I’m so happy to hear that!! Thank you so much! And I really need to make a branding board! Writing this post got me all fired up ????
This. Is. AWESOME!
I know I need to brand myself ???? for my sewing business, but it overwhelms me to think I haveto pick something forever! I love everything you’ve said here. I may have to hire you to teach me all your tricks!
Thank you so much shelbi! It’s easy to get overwhelmed 🙁 when I get overwhelmed I just don’t do anything at all. It took me 4 years to even open an Etsy shop! Baby steps sister 😉 and I’m happy to help!!!
ASHLEY YOU ARE SO AWESOME!!! This post helped me SO much!!! Definitely would love to see a branding board tutorial!! 🙂
Thank you so much sunny! I’m so glad you liked it and found it helpful!! I have already started “preplanning” my brand board ????????????
Yay!!! Super excited!!!
Also, I loved all the examples you gave!! I’m totally visual like you, so examples are always super helpful!
How do you create your wraps?
Hi Jennifer! Everything I make I do on Canva.com. It’s a free user-friendly designing website and I totally recommend it! I send out a free sheet of “Handmade with Love” wrap labels every Wednesday through my newsletter. If you would like to get in on that action here is a link you can follow to subscribe! Just scroll down to the bottom 😀
I’m glad u liked it! ❤️❤️❤️