The Very Best Practices for Branding + Designing Your Creative Business Online [Day 7 of The 12 Days of Business]

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Finding your online swagger takes some time if you are trying to go it alone.

Being a graphic designer, I thought that I would be able to nail my brand, no problem! Then I realized how hard it was to design for myself. I am definitely not a neutral set of eyes, and as you know, if you are a designer too, that we could tweak things til the cows come home. Right?!

Another thing to remember is that there is a way to design your online spaces. Now-a-days it isn't just designing, it involves strategy. It involves professionalism.

Imagine your online business as a storefront. Would it be light, airy and streamlined? How about bright and fun with pops of glamor, like glitter and gold? Maybe, your target audience would be drawn to a feminine but professional style! Think of your online business as a real, touchable space and how you would decorate it. Be an interior designer for a moment and think of different elements of your website and social media platforms, as accents.

When I first created my Squarespace website in June of 2015, I made a huge mistake. It was glaringly obvious that I DIDN'T use a professional photographer. I myself am not one, but I thought I could pull it off. WRONG! So wrong! It took me paying for a course on Instagram, to find out that my photography probably wouldn't attract a high paying client anytime soon.

In fact, I met a woman in the Facebook group attached to the course, that was honest enough to tell me that my images weren't going to cut it if I wanted to do it right! We have since become friends and love that we have been supporting each other from the beginning.

How can YOU Brand your online creative business right?

I'll show you how.

Branding Your Online Biz | Where to Start
{Even If you Are A Graphic Designer}

Brand colors

Just like you would do for your clients, you need to start by choosing colors for your business's look and feel.

I wrote a very thorough post on this and you can go to it here, but make sure you grab your notebook or your Trello board so you can make yourself a checklist. Checklists have gotten me to where I am today. Seriously! Some call it bullet journaling, I just call it effective. I make a list of ALL of the things that are involved to get me from the starting line to the finish line on each project. 

TWEET THIS! Branding has a lot of moving parts, so to get it done right, I recommend making a list on paper and THEN create boards in Trello.

If you will be delegating tasks to independent contractors, such as, copywriters, virtual assistants, social media marketing managers, photographers, and/or stock photographer's monthly subscriptions, Trello will help you keep it all organized.

I just found this great class from Think Creative Collective called Trello for Business. It is only $29 and is perfect for Creative Biz owners like us! If you have trouble getting and staying organized, don't know how to prioritize for your biz, and need to put scheduling into place, THIS is for you! What are you waiting for? Read the "Color" blog post and click the "great class" link. I can't think of a better gift for you this Christmas. The gift of sanity and a business branded for growth is worth their weight in gold!

Patterns

I love using patterns to anchor my social media posts and add interest to them. If you notice, I use the same teal shaded pattern for consistency in my headers on my website. Pick a pattern or series of patterns that compliment each other. I created a pretty, modern mix of patterns and textures and bundled them up and put them in my shop. See below, how they can be used together. Click here to get an easy solution to branding your business and have all of the design elements at your finger tips!

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Design Elements

This means icons. Icons are simple images that, depending on the look of your brand, could range from hand drawn images to stylized images that are more geometric in nature. They are great to use when outlining your services, when you want pretty clickable links for you website or want a stylish icon in your logo.

I created stylized icons when I was re-designing my website. I wanted the steps in my design services to have icons that reflected the style of my brand and touched on the target markets' style, as well. See how I used a few of the icons I created here

I am also bundling these up and putting them in the shoppe before Christmas (oh my gosh! That is in 2 WEEKS!).

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Logo

If you want a logo fast, for not much (if any) money, go to Canva. They pair fonts together. This makes it super easy to create a professional looking logo, either until you can afford to hire a graphic designer or until you can hire yourself (winkie face). Other economical choices are Etsy and Creative Market.

Social Media Post Templates

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Above is an example of a social media template that I use, every week, on my Instagram page. I have created some days that are "theme" based and you should too.

Your audience will like the consistency and look forward to the theme days, because they know they will get a tip that they can use. It builds trust. To start, go to canva and select the type of post that you want to create a template for and start plugging in your digital papers as the foundation. Again, I used the teal pattern as an anchor to my design. My logo fits perfectly between the styled stock photography above and connects the three images together.

Get your Trello board, like I discussed above and pick a day to create 4 or more social posts. You are doing what is called "batching". By creating at least 4 designs, you are ready for one month of posts. Then go to grum.co and schedule out the date, day and time, that you want them to post. Grum only posts to Instagram, but, if you want to post to Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter and/or Google+, I use Buffer's free service for scheduling.

Cover Photo Designs

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The Must-Have's For Your Social Media Cover Photos:

  1. Beautiful, On Brand Photos | Choose a sharp photo that will get a response. This photo of my son, trying to see the bottoms of the daisies that he stripped off my flower bushes, makes me so happy because of all the colors. It just commands attention!
  2. Color | Use your brand's colors. By coupling a bar of color with an image, you tie all of the design elements together.
  3. Call to Action | Tell your audience what you want them to do. This is an excellent place to gather email addresses from your target market. Include a link to your opt-in freebie, which links to your email provider, such as Mailchimp or ConvertKit, to name a few of my faves.
  4. The Description | Don't forget to click on your Facebook Cover Photo and fill out the description. When you advertise your opt-in freebie in the cover photo, when they click on it to get the freebie, they are taken to the description box. This is where you tell them what they are getting and how they can get it. Be specific, such as, click here to get your freebie. Simple, but effective!

There it is! You are going to do wonderfully online! If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear them below. Remember: if it feels overwhelming, take a walk, think of the goals of your business. Think of how far you have come and with each step online, how far you can go. If I can do it, you can do it! Anything is possible!

 

 

 

 

 

Jean Coelho