This is the story of our we crafted our own brand and how you can learn from our experience as you build yours.
Our business, Fisher Green Creative, was launched when Kathy and I made the decision to merge our two marketing companies to form one, unified agency. This enabled us to provide all of our services under one roof. The result was simpler billing for our clients, easier communication, and overall improved efficiency. Merging also kept our overhead costs down, allowing us to pass on those savings to our clients. It was a win-win for everyone!
The exciting next step was figuring out our new brand identity.
Creating a brand identity to share with the world can be a little intimidating if you don’t have any prior experience. You want it to be just right. From picking out the right colors that reflect your image to strategically creating a tagline, the results are in the details and you don’t want to miss any!
According to businessdictionary.com, a brand is a “unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind (see positioning). Thus brands help harried consumers in crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefits and value. Legal name for a brand is trademark and, when it identifies or represents a firm, it is called a brand name.”
That’s a lot of pressure on this thing called a “brand” and it you won’t be able to put it together overnight. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to break it down and we’ve outlined them here.
Specify Your Target Audience
It sounds a little cliche, but you really do have to figure out who you are going to be talking to before you create a brand identity that will relate. Kathy and I knew we were going to work with small to medium sized businesses who needed help with their marketing. Simple, right? We thought so, but then we started digging. It turns out our audience is much larger than we thought, much to our delight. (Another reason why this step pays off!)
Our target market is not just small to medium sized businesses, but also solo entrepreneurs, other agencies who might subcontract our services, educational institutions who might want us to teach courses, and more! On top of that, we also had to look at geographical locations and specific industries.
As an example, we love working with bed and breakfast establishments, so this opened up a whole new target audience: innkeepers, realtors who buy/sell B&Bs, and professional B&B agencies.
We hope you’ll find these tips helpful as you define the target audience for your brand.
- Be specific when you create your lists.
- Collect data on any current customers you might have or would like to have (age, location, interests, buying patterns, etc.)
- Use metrics to gather information (Google Analytics, Facebook, etc.).
- Study your competitors.
Define Your Voice and Personality
This is the most single, most critical step in the entire process of creating your brand. It defines all future marketing efforts. Defining your “voice” and “personality” should be straight-forward, unless you’re trying to be something you’re not. Always strive to be better, but don’t change the true identity of your brand.
Recognizing that neither of us is loud or overly-boisterous by nature, Kathy and I stayed away from bright and bold colors, themes, and language. Instead, we used calm and soothing images on our website, wrote copy that reflects a warm and nurturing approach, and always err on the side of wholesome when writing our own content. This worked great for us, because it’s who we are as people and as a brand.
- What emotions do you want your customers to feel when they work with you?
- What are five words you would use to describe yourself?
- What is one word your best friend would use to describe you?
- Why would your customers trust you?
- What pain points do you solve for your clients?
Write Your Mission Statement
Once you know who you are targeting, you can work on the promise of what you’re going to provide to your customers.
Kathy and I looked to our favorite companies for inspiration to develop our mission statement. We knew we shared the same values and similar brand personalities, so it helped us find our voice.
We wanted to promise marketing results, of course, but we also wanted to place emphasis on the client relationship, which is a top priority to us. After multiple drafts, we’re pretty proud of the end results.
Do you need some inspiration?
- Define your purpose.
- Be specific.
- Inspire your readers.
- Be authentic and honest.
- Pull your tagline or slogan from your mission statement.
Name Your Business
Our first challenge was deciding on our name. It’s also the necessary first step in defining a brand. Kathy brought “Sunflower Web Design” to the table, while I added “Three Green Pages” to the mix. The question was how to create a new identity without losing our respective identities. Here are some quick tips that helped us figure it out.
- Think of what you want your business name to convey.
- Be creative, but not so creative that the name might be confusing, hard to remember, or difficult to spell.
- Consider acronyms even if you don’t plan to use them (Awesome Sea Salts, for example…).
- Think long-term and how the name will grow as your business scales.
- Do your research to make sure no one else already has the name you want and the URL is available.
Select Your Colors
Blues, greens, and oranges tend to be our favorite palate of colors, so it was only natural that we went with those during our first design rounds. However, you can see the metamorphosis of our logo below. Our initial primary-colored choices began to feel a tad gaudy. Thankfully, we listened to our instincts and worked with it until we got it just right! Check out these quick tips to help you select your colors.
- Pick your favorite colors to begin with.
- Research color palettes on-line and let the pros guide you when it comes to narrowing down the exact hues. (Here’s our favorite.)
- Select two primary colors, one neutral color, and one “wow” color that stands out from the others.
Design Your Logo
Being a little partial to creative projects, the design of the logo came naturally once we picked out our business name. We wanted to visually share that Jenny Green and Kathy Fisher had come together, so it made sense to connect the “F” and the “G”. We also loved representation of a circular pattern, as so much of marketing is cyclical and overlaps.
One of our all-time favorite logo designs happens to be that of one of our clients because of the beautiful story behind it. As a child, Savoir Claire would go into yarn shops with her mother. While she waited, she would get to pick out a button to take home. When searching for inspiration for her logo, she gave us the last button she got while yarn shopping with her mom and said, “Use this.” We did and you can see it here.
We always recommend working with a professional designer to create the perfect logo. However, there are some things that you can keep in mind if you’re going at it alone.
- Err on the side of minimalistic.
- Consider what it will look like in black and white.
- Make it scalable so that it looks good when it’s big and small.
- Give it a deeper meaning so that it has a story.
- Ensure it represents your personality.
At this stage, you should have a fairly clear idea of your brand identity. (Here are a few more tips, just in case.) You can now use these cornerstones to build the channels to share your brand, such as your website, brochure or just a simple business card.
One of our favorite finishing touches was adding images of succulents throughout our website and social media content. Not only are they beautiful, we felt they represented the growth that on-line marketing can achieve without taking all of your time and energy. Since most of the small businesses we work with have limited resources, we work to help their marketing strategies be manageable.
As you grow, your brand should grow and evolve with you, so don’t hesitate to go back and review these steps from time to time. As always, we’re happy to help if you get stuck!
~Jenny Green, Co-Owner @ Fisher Green Creative, firstname.lastname@example.org