When you’re a small business owner, one of the most important things you can do is develop a clear brand identity. Of course, that’s much easier said than done! There’s a lot that goes into branding and marketing and all that jazz – whole courses have been developed on this topic alone – but this post will walk you through the basics about how to choose a theme for your brand.
Step 1: Freewrite
I am a huge fan of freewriting when you need clarity on something. I set the timer for 10 minutes, open up OneNote, and write whatever crazy stuff pops into my head without stopping. It’s so simple, and I always come out with a new idea that I’m stoked to get working on ASAP. In fact, it’s how I developed my plan for this blog’s content!
When you’re figuring out how to choose a theme for your brand, freewriting is a great way to help you define your brand’s message. What are you selling/providing? What kind of customer do you want to attract? The more detailed you are in your description, the easier it will be to write all of the content you’ll need: product descriptions, blog posts, social media posts, etc. Just the other day, I spent ~10 minutes just listing all the words that came to mind when I pictured VanDuinen Studio. Now I have a go-to list of language to reference when I’m stuck on something for the site. That’s the best part about freewriting: you never have to share the crazy results with another soul, but you’ll end up with a secret treasure trove of marketing copy and inspiration.
Step 2: Research
I don’t recommend comparing yourself to others very often. After all, the best part about running a creative business is knowing that you offer something unique to the world. But when you’re working on branding, it’s never a bad idea to poke around other similar sites to figure out what you like and what you hate. What fonts are you drawn to? Which ones are impossible to read? What colors do you like, and which ones make you leave a site immediately? What logos stand out to you and why? Jot down your answers in the same space as your freewrite, and you’ll be well on your way to defining your brand and its theme.
Step 3: Create a Mood Board
This part is the most fun! A mood board is great for visualizing all the different pieces of your brand in one spot. To make mine, I searched for a mood board template on Canva. I use the free version and have no trouble getting everything done, so no need to invest!
There are a lot of different elements you could add to your mood board, but the most important puzzle pieces are:
- Colors. I recommend choosing 5-7 coordinating colors. This streamlines a lot of the decision-making when you’re designing your website, creating pins, updating your social media accounts, and so on. If you need or want some color combo inspiration, play around on Design Seeds until you find the palette that speaks to you.
- Fonts. At the very least, pick two fonts: one for your headings/titles and one for your body text. Not all platforms you use will have the exact same list of fonts available. But if you have a mood board, you’ll at least have a guide for choosing the closest fit. Of course, the more money you’re willing to shell out, the more you can guarantee access to your favorite fonts.
- Logo. Design it yourself, or contract it out – whatever you feel comfortable with! I had my cousin do mine since she’s a graphic designer and that is most definitely not my specialty. No matter how you acquire it, your logo will come in handy for immediate brand recognition. Put it on business cards and social media accounts, use it as your website icon, and so on. The possibilities are endless!
- Photos. Whether you use stock photos or take pictures of your own art, you’ll need a handful of photos that are easily recognized as part of your brand. These photos come in really handy when you need header images, pin backgrounds, branded landing pages, etc. You will also want 1-3 good photos of yourself you can use as profile photos on any websites or social accounts you have.
- Signature. This one is really useful if you plan on blogging or sending out marketing emails. (If that’s not part of your plan, ignore this item!) To make mine, I wrote my name in permanent marker about a hundred times, scanned it in, then cropped out the best one and digitized it using Gimp. Yay free software!
Now you know how to choose a theme for your brand!
We’ve made it through the basics about how to choose a theme for your brand. If you’d like a FREE CHECKLIST for an easy-to-read reference guide while you work on your branding, you’re in luck:
Also, if you have any questions about any of these steps, feel free to drop me a line. I’ll be happy to talk through this process with you!
Until Next Week,
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