Hello there, and welcome to another episode – and this one’s a little different! You see, I had actually planned to take a break this week, because I’ve got the entire week off and I am behind on my podcast batching. I was doing so great there for a while, with episodes lined up for several weeks, and then… life happened! So yeah, I wasn’t going to publish an episode this week.
And then I realised: holy shit! This week is my 6 month podcast anniversary, I can’t not post an episode! Cue wild panic.
So I reached out to my people over on Instagram, because I thought it would be super fun to do a Q&A, ask me anything, episode to mark the occasion! And I’m recording this last minute, with people in the house and whatnot, but what the heck… Here we go:
The first question I received was: What was the biggest surprise in the early days, and what’s been the hardest? Oooh, I’m gonna start with the last part of the question: the hardest was actually getting over myself and my perfectionism to just do the damn thing! Did you know I put this podcast off for two years?! I did. I was so scared that people weren’t going to like it, that I was going to sound like an idiot, that I wasn’t going to be able to come up with stuff to talk about… Name an excuse and I’ve probably used it!
The biggest surprise in the early days. Honestly, I feel like I’m still in the early days! I think it has to be how much I enjoy podcasting now that I am actually doing it! It’s put me in touch with so many awesome people, I love love love having these conversations with other business owners and guest experts on things related to branding and business, conversations that just seem to flow to also encompass other areas of life as a business owner. I can’t wait to see where this goes next!
Next question up was about colour psychology and fonts in branding, and whether it really matters that much. I do go into this in much more depth in episode 5 (where I talk about fonts) and episode 6 (where I talk about colours) – so if you haven’t already tuned in to those episodes, I recommend checking them out!
Let’s start with fonts. It’s all too easy to head on over to Google Fonts and just pick a random font that “kinda looks ok” – and while it might look fine, there are a few other considerations you need to have in mind too. Does your chosen typeface create the right associations? Have you thought about whether or not it communicates your brand personality? I like to think of typefaces as if they were people. Well, maybe not. But they do have personality! And you want to find a typeface that is the equivalent of your brand’s soulmate.
And then colours. In branding, there’s a lot of talk about colour psychology and the internet is full of pretty infographics with colours and their meanings. Colour psychology is the study of how colours affect our feelings and behaviours. In marketing and branding the focus is mainly on how colours impact people’s impressions of a brand – and whether or not they persuade consumers to consider a certain brand or buy a certain product.
Colours can communicate feelings or set a mood, and allow a consumer to form an initial impression without even really knowing what your product is about.
But is it really as easy as looking at the typical traits that are associated with each colour, and then picking the one that fits the bill on paper? No. Because colours are so subjective. We all react differently to colours, depending on our personal experiences, our cultural and/or religious background. Where red can mean danger! In one country, it can mean luck in another.
Your choice of fonts and colours will ultimately communicate a certain vibe, and you want to make sure that vibe matches your brand personality and values. But it’s maybe even more important that you stick with the colours and fonts you choose – so you can start to build a consistent brand that people will recognise.
OK, next question: How do you revamp your brand without changing everything, and how do you know it’s time for a revamp? I could talk about this forever, but it just so happens that I have an episode about this too – in episode 22 I give you four tell-tale signs your branding isn’t quite right – and how to fix it!
So again, starting with the last half of that question; here are some signs that indicate it might be time for a revamp: You feel a constant urge to tweak and make changes to your visual brand. We’ve probably all been there at some point (yes, that includes me!) – you see a pretty new font and you decide to give it a go… you’re always tweaking your colour palette a bit, because ooooh, that deep teal that the other brand is using is niiiiice! You get lost in all the pretty (and free!) Canva templates out there and because there are so many you end up using a different one for each social media post… But no matter how many fonts or colours or fancy templates you try… it still doesn’t feel right. Yup, that’s a sign.
So is falling into the trap of copying other brands – because they’re doing so great, so it has to work for you too, right? Nope. This is just a sign that you’ve not 100% nailed your own brand yet.
Another sign is if you’re getting clients through the door, but they’re not the right kind of client. If you’re only getting enquiries from people you’re not really keen to work with, or people who ask you to do the kind work you hate – something is definitely off.
And one final sign is if you find it hard to be consistent in your messaging and tone of voice – resulting in a mishmash of different messages and verbal styles. This is super confusing to your audience btw!
Now for how to revamp your brand without changing everything. So many people think a rebrand has to be a total makeover – which is just not true at all. Sometimes a full rebrand is appropriate and necessary, but really… you might only need to tweak things a little. It all boils down to knowing that inner core of your brand, and It’s so important to get clear on what you want in your business before you start building your brand – because when this isn’t in place… that’s when you’ll start to experience those signs I’ve just mentioned. Sometimes the solution can be as simple as refining your brand fonts or colours to better reflect your brand personality. A lot can be done with consistent use of fonts, colours, image style and tone of voice. Creating a “user guide” for your brand, even if it’s a simple one page brand board or a google document even, where you keep a record of the fonts and colour codes, maybe even describe how your brand should “sound”. All of that helps. But all of that is pointless if you’re not clear on who you are as a brand – so start there! And then start showing up as you.
Moving on to the next question, because otherwise I’ll be here for hours!
How do you think about pricing, and what is your pricing strategy? This… is a juicy one! I wish I had the blueprint for this question, but like so many other business owners, I don’t. What I will say though, is that we’re probably all under charging! When I started out, I did a lot of work “billed by the hour” – that’s something I’ve totally moved away from now. Very rarely do I bill by the hour, and when I do it’s only for regular clients needing a minor thing. I prefer instead to price by project, and using value based pricing (google it!). Basically that means I will charge based on what the project is potentially worth to a client, rather than exactly how long it will take me to complete. Why? And isn’t this unfair? No. What is unfair is if I’ve spent almost two decades getting really good at what I do, so I can do it maybe three times faster and better than a newbie… should I be “punished” for improving my skills by billing 2 hours where a junior designer would bill 6-8 hours? I love this quote by Paula Scher:
“It took me a few seconds to draw it, but it took me 34 years to learn how to draw it in a few seconds.”
Essentially: charge for the years, not the seconds.
Also, I try not to feel like I have to be affordable to everyone. I don’t. You don’t either.
Next up, someone asked me: Can you recommend any brand strategy certifications? Umm… the short answer to that is no. I can’t, really. Why? Because I am practicallt a dinosaur, and my certification is my degree in Design Management from wayyy back in 2002 + 19 years of experience after that.
I know there are some programmes out there, but I can’t really vouch for them since I’ve not tried them. I know Marty Neumeier has something called Level C – and he’s been well known in the branding world for years… but really, I can’t say. I’d be a bit wary of programmes that promise to make you a certified expert in… anything really, in just a few weeks, days or hours tbh. That might make me a party pooper. Sorry!
Last question: Why should you work with a branding expert, when you can just have a web designer do it? Well, because branding, identity design and web design are three different professions. Branding is about so much more than what you can actually see, it’s more about defining who you are and what you stand for than about creating pretty visuals. Identity design and web design are both tools to express your brand’s uniqueness, once you’ve nailed that underlying brand strategy. So whereas you can absolutely find people who say they do it all, keep in mind the old saying “Jack of all trades, but master of none.” If your water pipe bursts, do you call Peter Plumber or Harry Handyman & Haberdashery? This is the exact reason I stopped selling web design services: I just can’t keep myself up to date on everything, so I’d rather focus on my zone of genius. Which just happens to be at the intersection of brand strategy and identity design – my “magic” lies in being able to help my clients see the bigger picture, and then translating that into strategic visual brand identities – that a web designer can then use as a base to craft you a kick-ass website. So unless you have a web designer who is also a brand strategist (they do exist!) you will be better off working with someone to get your branding right before hiring a web designer.
Right, that’s it – time for me to round off and go enjoy the rest of my week off! Thanks to all of you who sent me questions, and thanks to everyone who tunes in and everyone who has been a guest so far – without you there would be no podcast. Well there would be, but it’d be a bit boring just talking to myself.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these first six months as much as I have – I look forward to the next six months and beyond. If you have a topic you’d like me to cover, or if you feel you’d be the perfect guest for the show: please don’t be shy – send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
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