This is a guest post by Allison of AllieMarie Design! Hope you all enjoy. I also blogged on her blog post last week
As small business owners, we’ve all been there. You are beginning your entrepreneurial venture and find yourself saying, “I just need to get a website up and running” or “I just need to get my name out on social media” and “I don’t have the time or money to to hire a graphic designer to brand me or work with a photographer on custom photography.”
So, you find a nice font to use for your logo, purchase stock photos that fit your style, and go from there. You’ve added another notch on your very full DIY belt and you gotta hand it to yourself, the visuals you’ve put together look pretty darn good!
It’s part of having the entrepreneur spirit. You do what you need to do to get things done and you are successful for many reasons, especially due to your heart being 100% in it and you knowing your business best!
However, many growing businesses reach a point when they need more. Finding ways to stand out from the crowd, having a professional online presence, showcasing an authentic, impactful and cohesive brand… all of this becomes more and more important. Because as your business grows, your marketing must grow with it if you want to continue your climb toward your goals and reaching your dreamiest of clients and customers.
So, where do you go from here? Perhaps you DIY your new visual brand and stock photos. Or, you may choose to collaborate with a graphic designer and photographer to create visual brand styling and photos that are custom to you and portray the professionalism you crave. Or, perhaps it’s a combination of those options.
Whatever route you take to rebrand your business, it’s important to solidify your visual brand styling first and foremost.
It’s tempting to start selecting stock photos and fiddling with your website design as soon as you decide that, yes, a rebrand is what you need. But resist the urge! Determining an overall “look and feel” for your visual brand should come first, before you start making big changes in your marketing for the whole world to see.
Your Brand Style Guide should determine the look and feel of your stock photos, not the other way around.
The rebranding process produces more than a pretty logo and color palette. Many professional graphic designers bring their clients through a “brand discovery process,” which brings to light your big picture vision for your brand, business goals, target audience, and your “why?” as a business owner. (DIYing your visual brand? Check out my free Branding Workbook to help guide you with this process!) All these details are considered as the designer helps you develop your style… it’s the foundation that helps you create an engaging and effective visual identity, designed to remain strong over time.
Fast forward to after you’ve completed your brand discovery and the design process. If you’re working with a graphic designer, you will most likely walk away with not only a beautiful logo but also a library of branded design elements (a logo, logo variations, font suggestions, a custom color palette, and perhaps patterns and textures), all of which make up what is called a Brand Style Guide. This guide does two things:
Gives you the tools (i.e. your design elements, such as your logo, fonts, colors, etc.) to use across your marketing platforms.
Guides you as you share your brand with the world, giving you guidelines for using these versatile tools to support you in your efforts for consistency and professionalism
Now, it’s stock photo time!
Using your new clear visual direction and Brand Style Guide, give your photographer direction for your custom photos or set out to carefully choose your own stock photos. Staying in line with your established “look and feel” will ensure your stock photos truly reflect your business’ personality and attract the people you intend to attract.
Rebranding before selecting stock photos will also...
… save you time in the long run.
Your criteria for the perfect stock photos will be more specific and your vision will be more focused, saving you lots of time going back-and-forth with a photographer on custom photos or searching for the perfect stock photography to purchase. You’ll be able to easily determine whether you’re attracted to a photo because you personally really like or if it’s truly a good fit with your brand (there certainly is a difference!).
… make working with a photographer a breeze.
With a Brand Style Guide in hand and a strong understanding of your visual brand, you can effectively and confidently communicate to your photographer what you’re looking for.
… allow you to get more life out of the stock photos you select.
The stock photos you select will fit your needs for a longer period of time, because they’ll be mindfully and intentionally chosen to fit within a thoughtful and intentional visual brand.
With that, I encourage those of you interested in a rebrand to consider your plan. Are you thinking about who you are and what you’re all about, before making changes on your website and social media? Are you developing a intentional, carefully-assembled Brand Style Guide before you seek out stock photography?
Remember, a rebrand shouldn’t be rushed. It involves digging deep and yes, time. But it's worth it. Embrace this process and ensure your visual brand perfectly embodies your business and its personality. Your business deserves it!
Allison is a Minnesota-based graphic designer specializing in visual branding and print collateral for small businesses with big hearts. She is passionate about giving her clients a personal, one-on-one experience and using her clean, minimalistic aesthetic to create engaging designs that will help businesses flourish and grow. Bringing entrepreneurs’ visions to life brings her so much joy and she feels blessed to do what she loves every day!
To learn more, visit www.alliemariedesign.com.