The Brand Process Done Right: 9 Questions to Ask If You Want Impressive Branding

From everyday, casual wear – boyfriend jeans and leather jacket – to your little black dress and heels, to me branding meant having an upscale wardrobe for your business. Something that was nice to have, but not necessary to get the job done.

A simple name logo with clean text was all I needed… until I actually went through a real branding experience, which I’ve dubbed as brand therapy. I’m sharing all the behind-the-scenes lessons learned to help you determine if your business – and your clients – are ready for branding.

My brand journey began as an idea that hit me out of the blue while driving my kids to the doctor – you know, because the best ideas come while in the shower or driving, right? I found an insanely awesome (and slightly profitable) way to help our community through our website. However, I wanted it to be pretty. In order for that to happen, the rest of the Fearless and Framed brand needed to be developed. The point here, I started the branding process only because it was the first step needed before starting my real project. In my mind, it was just a part of the fun, but boy did this journey teach me otherwise!

You might wanna pin this one… some serious food for thought here you may wanna use later. Pin this real quick:

branding your business and website questions

Here are 5 things I learned through the branding process:

  • Branding is another form of communication. Your visual branding should be designed to attract your people – not just something that’s all about you and your philosophy. It’s crazy important to think about your client’s perception. In the past, I’ve seen photographers who used elements in their life to create their logo and site look + feel. These are cute and make you feel good, but unless they actually speak to your clients and potential clients, you aren’t maximizing the power of branding to its potential.
  • The brand process, if done by an actual brand expert, should feel like brand therapy. Your brand designer will ask you the hard questions – the emotional stuff – and you need to be willing + choose to go deep (even slightly vulnerable) in your answers.
  • Branding isn’t about sexy words, patterns, and colors. Branding is about your company’s story in relation to your client and solution offering put into the right words, the right patterns or textures, and colors. Make sense? I think sometimes people go backwards and pick out the things they like, but it may not be on point with their brand’s story and messaging to clients.
  • It’s fun!
  • If done professionally, your new branding can give you near instant results in web traffic with minimal effort (our Pinterest traffic DOUBLED and became our #1 traffic source in 2 months). Of course, the sister element here is providing content that actually speaks to your dream clients… but if you’ve gone through your brand therapy, I’ll bet you’ll be more in-tune with your potential clients and customers’ needs than ever.

Things to consider when hiring your brand designer + developer team

The hunt for the right brand design + web developer team was the most difficult part of the process. If I only had a nickel for the amount of people I reached out to who responded with, “What’s your budget and timeline?” rather than actually taking the time to look at my project! Hot damn. This was THE BIGGEST TURN OFF (I hope every design team reads this, because it was annoying + frustrating + unprofessional all around). It became clear to me that a lot of designers are hit with people who end up not having the budget or expecting an overnight job. So, I started to send a screencast of my project and clearly state in my emails that I realize this project will have a price tag and will take time. This seemed to work, because when I was recommended by a designer I love to Ann with Grit & Wit, her and her developer, Iurie, actually listened.

We had several conversations before committing to the multi-phase project together. I can’t speak for them, but for me it wasn’t about finding an order-taker who solely designed and developed my vision. It was about finding people smarter than I am in this topic, who really listened and took this on as an all-in project, not just another job. While you’re seeing my new branding and core site, you’re not seeing the site idea that started all of this. With that piece, I wanted to add that as I was in total dreamland for what the idea can do for our community. Iurie even took the time to be like, “how are you monetizing this?” So rather than just taking the project to get paid and giving me what I asked for, it was obvious their care in my results was exceptional. Ann made it clear that the branding process really is a process (I call it brand therapy) and Iurie was there to make sure this was a smart business investment.

So you see, our pre-contract signing chats weren’t just about due dates and money. It was about truly understanding everyone’s goals and affirming the possibilities can happen. It was about setting expectations and being on the same page to be clear on the results. It was about understanding how each person’s role will impact the end result.

And speaking of results, this is a snippet of the site’s transformation:

business branding before and after

 

9 questions to ask yourself before branding your business + investing in your website for impressive branding

  • Why do I want to give my business professional branding?
  • Am I branding for the pretty and fun or because I have a message to share + will use my new brand look to attract more of my best clients?
  • What message does my brand send my clients now? What message should my new branding send to my clients? (if this question isn’t crystal clear, your brand designer should help you refine this through the process, at least, through Ann’s process I totally gained the clarity and confidence in this I needed)
  • How do I want my clients to perceive my branding?
  • Do I know my dream clients WELL? (I’m talking to the core almost as well as you know yourself – you know their fears, hesitations, values, motivators, etc.) This answer needs to be a big, fat yes before investing in branding if you expect your brand to speak to your dream clients. If not, this can help you get there.
  • What does my pre-potential clients world look like before they turn into potential clients and eventual booked clients? How can I use my branding to speak to these people?
  • How can I make my branding on point with my clients, but also leave room for my business (and even myself) to evolve?
  • Once my visual brand is spectacular, am I ready to seriously think about the navigation path of my website visitors? What does this path look like? Developing a website is not about creating something pretty and laying all your “this is what I do” cards on the table. Your website should act as an assistant at the head of your digi-storefront saying, “How may I help you?” and leading your visitors to the right place. Often, this needs to begin with education your visitors may not even know they need… this is where my own knowledge in my customers came into play when designing the site. Luckily for you, I have an in-depth blog post about this coming soon, so jump on our list to be notified when it’s posted.
  • How will I implement my branding and new site into my business + marketing efforts to maximize my investment? I’m not talking about throwing a “new site is live” party (though, this is super fun and important too). I’m talking about your day to day. Let’s face it, if you don’t have traffic, is it really gonna matter much to have an on point brand + seamless site navigation? For me, it meant getting serious about Pinterest, list building, and cohesive, memorable look. We made a tiny investment (seriously only $5/month) with BoardBooster*, have made our content more actionable with content upgrades that lead to list growth for us. The icing on the cake: we hired our incredibly talented team graphic designer, Jillian, to maintain our brand look throughout our blog, products, and social posts. This girl saves me so much time and is truly the star behind taking the look and feel that Ann of Grit & Wit created to a consistent, memorable piece of our messaging.

Good stuff, right? Download these questions on our pretty little worksheet (see… content upgrade in full force) to think through the process before investing.

Why branding really matters

If you’re on the right track with the 9 questions, but still on the fence about giving your business an impressive brand look. I want to share an excerpt from a book I freaking loved by Sevenly’s Co-Founder, Dale Partridge, called People Over Profit*.

Partridge writes:

Visual Quality.

The twenty-first century is an aesthetic era. The way you look in an interview can determine whether or not you get the job. You may not let your child play with a neighbor, because the other kid’s appearance unsettles you. The visual presentation of a billboard or commercial can influence whether you patronize a business or visit a website. Colors and fonts and layouts have never meant more than they do now.

In our current age, visual elements are no longer representations of the brand but an expression of the brand’s heart. So design must be a core value of any organization. Whenever something has your name or fingerprints attached, it can’t be less than great. Visual design is the first touch point most people will have with your company. It can dictate the rest of your relationship. So make sure you stack your creative tam with all-stars.”

There was a point during the brand + site development process where I was frustrated. I’m not going to sugar coat it and make the process all fun and games. It takes some real effort and hardcore patience on your part. There were times I felt like I was putting so much time into something that wasn’t doing anything for me or our community (yet) – like I should be working on other things on my long to-do list. That part of People Over Profit* landed on my lap at just the right time. The excerpt reaffirmed that once our project was complete, our site will be an impressive first touch point… and according to my test site users and performance goals in the first days, it is.

Totally worth it!

When you pay attention to detail and graciously give away some of your profit to quality and experience, people notice. This kind of notice is memorable and will influence your clients and web visitors to return.

Impressive branding isn’t about being cool or resulting in an oooooh reaction. Impressive branding should be about leaving a memorable impression with your dream clients or customers.

So before you click away, let me leave you with this.

Take these 9 Questions from above and set them in a place you’ll remember once you get serious about branding your business. On this worksheet, I’ve also included all the links recommended in this post so you have ’em for safekeeping.

Links mentioned in this post:

Links with * are affiliate links – we get a small kickback, but the price never goes up for you.

Enjoy!

Let’s play a marketing game – What do you think Fearless and Framed is all about? Comment below.

I’d love your feedback and open-ended conversation so we can continue to serve you better.

 

Author: MarieMasse

I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.


Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • I was so honored to work with you on bringing your vision to life, Marie! Fearless & Framed is an amazing community and you are truly a fearless leader. Cheers to your new beautiful new “home” on the web!

  • Huge congratulations again, Marie! The redesign is gorgeous, and these lessons are exactly what I wish more people knew before going into a rebranding process. It’s been a long journey here, and these projects are always a huge amount of work. I hope you and your audience is loving this new phase of your business and that you’re relaxing and enjoying a little now that the launch is done!