I’ve been doing freelance marketing for over 10 years, but it was only last year that I thought “You know, I should actually make an effort at this.” So I did what so many of my clients do – I leapt without looking. I created the original brand, website, and logo in under 2 days, without putting much thought into it. I designed business cards, a banner, post cards… and you know what… they’re all going to have to get tossed now.

Where did I go wrong?

I made TWO big mistakes…

1. I didn’t think about who my ideal client was.
I knew I wanted to work with small businesses, but I thought I’d need to have a stuffy corporate feel (with the hot pink as an expression of my inner rebel) in order to land clients who didn’t already know me. Up to the point of my launch, all of my work had come from referrals, and I thought I’d have to be serious for strangers to take me seriously. But here’s what happened… in 7 months, I had exactly ONE client say to me “I saw your website and that’s why I wanted to work with you.” Everyone else came through referrals, or through social media, which meant I was free to be myself and I’d STILL get business. (In fact, I’d get MORE!)  And here’s the best part – I didn’t need hot pink to as a little rebellion, because in getting to be myself, there’s nothing to rebel against.

2. I didn’t think about how I wanted to make people feel.
I came from the corporate world originally but NEVER felt like I fit in, so why I made this my original target client kind of baffles me to be honest. I wanted people to trust me – and they do – but that didn’t come from stuffy marketing materials, it came from how I made them feel. (Which is why my social selling was so much more powerful than my yucky website.)

Sure, I looked branded… I had similar imagery, colours and fonts… It looked professional, but it wasn’t ME and it didn’t speak to the people I actually wanted to work with.

What made me change?

I knew I needed a change, but I was stuck in a rut. I was too busy to sit down and research the inspiration I’d need to make the big leap. Until one day… the inspiration found me.

It all started with a quest for stock photos for a client. I stumbled upon an image that was completely unrelated to my search, but it took my breath away. It was exactly what I wanted my brand to feel like.

love-pen-bed-drinking

Don’t you want to crawl into this pic, curl up and spend an afternoon there?

THIS is what I’d been waiting for. It was soft, feminine, dreamy, romantic. It has a quiet confidence and it makes you feel so cozy and comfortable. And I felt this click inside which told me I’d found the one. And you know what… it NAGGED me. I was in the middle of a few projects and couldn’t stop to work on my own brand for a couple of weeks. And the entire time my little heart was singing, “Seryna… don’t forget that pic.” And I’d go back and look at it and sigh dreamily.

Bringing the vision to life

The picture gave me the feel I was going to capture… Then I looked at the websites of entrepreneurs who inspire me and looked for common elements. All but one had some kind of hand-drawn elements (calligraphy scripts, marker fonts, doodled icons) in their styling. I looked at gajillions of fonts (that’s a totally real number), and I mixed and matched colours until I found a palette I felt would capture the essence of this romantic, dreamy brand. Designed a new logo and website and SHAZAM – here we are.

Don’t try this at home, kids… just kidding

I will admit… this is not an easy exercise to undertake on your own – especially not with a tight time line. But with some time, patience and a whole lot of clarity, you can start this process. It’s always better to work with a pro, but I know that’s not always possible. If you’re going to DIY your brand, here are some things I’d recommend:

  • Start a Pinterest board and plunk all of your inspiration in one spot. Once you’ve got loads of juicy content, start looking for common themes… Are there colours, fonts, styles, colourings that stand out for you? Will they lend themselves to the brand you’re creating for your biz? Write them down.
  • Get an Eyedropper tool. There are some free ones to download, and if you’re using Chrome, there is an eyedropper plugin you can add. Eyedroppers will give you colour values of anything you can open on your computer. Is there a pic you love and you just HAVE to have that shade of green? You can find it. You can then use these colour values in programs like Canva so that all of your materials have the same palette used. You can also give these colour values to any designer you hire so they can make you materials that are in line with what you’ve created.
  • What the Font_ is an awesome tool for finding out what fonts you fall in love with are. You can take a screenshot of the font online, upload the graphic into What the Font and it will do pattern matching to find either that font or similar ones.

A couple of quick final notes

  • Choose about 6 colours in your palette. 3 primary (these will be the main colours on your website, in your images, etc) 2 accents (these will be little splashes of colour) and 1 neutral. Make sure they work well together and that they capture the feel of your brand, and the attention of your ideal customer audience.
  • Choose 2 fonts max, outside of your logo font. Anything else begins to look cluttered. If you want to cheat, you can make one of your fonts a font family (ie: Montserrat) which has lots of variations and weights within it. This will give you a tiny bit more wiggle room on variability. In most cases I tend to prefer a sans-serif and a scripted font, but some combinations of sans-serif and serif work too. Consider mixing and matching fonts with different weights so you have some variety.
  • Keep readability and scalability in mind. Sure, that font is gorgeous when it’s in 50pt print… but what happens when you need it to be itty bitty like on a business card? Make sure you factor in how you intend to use your fonts when choosing them.

That’s it for now! If you need me, you know where to find me.

Happy branding!

seryna signed