How To Build Your Own Brand 101

From what you should name your business to what color your logo should be… it’s all so fun, yet overwhelming at the same time.  No worries though, I’m here with some tips and advice!  I have been running my own portrait photography business since January 2011 and have been blogging fairly regularly since October 2011.  Granted, I’m not claiming to be some business expert, but I know a thing or two… especially when it comes to building your brand.  

When I first started my business and my blog, it was sort of a “spur of the moment, just go with the flow” kind of thing.  So I never really had taken the time beforehand to develop a brand for myself.  It just developed itself overtime.  But once I realized how important and how FUN it is to put all your personality into what you do, I couldn’t stop myself!  Even three and a half years later, I’m continuously re-branding, trying to keep up to date with what my business and blog are all about.  Aha, that’s my first word of advice right there – you may just build a brand once in your life, but you really never stop building that brand until you’ve closed up shop for good.
Don’t let that scare you!  If you’re the creative, DIY type like I am, then you’ll probably be loving it.  To be honest, re-branding is one of my absolute favorite parts of being a business owner.  Yes, it’s time consuming, but once you get started, you won’t want to stop!  
So first things first, what’s the name of your business?
Before deciding on the name of your business, you might want to consider 2 things:
  1. Does your business take more than 1 person to run?
  2. Do you want your business to take more than 1 person to run?
And I don’t mean just someone who plays the assistant role, I mean someone who is full-on running your business with you.  If the answer is yes to either of these questions, then you may want to consider going for a name that isn’t your name that fits what your business is.  Ha, did I confuse you there?  We’ll use A Beautiful Mess blog as an example.  Two sisters, Elsie and Emma, for the most part, equally run the lifestyle blog A Beautiful Mess.  They have also taken on other vital employees, such as a photographer and someone who manages the business-y side of things.
Because it’s not just one person who you’re constantly reading content from, but multiple, the name of their blog, A Beautiful Mess, fits them perfectly.  They’ve created a brand for themselves that expresses that life is it’s most beautiful when kept messy with content focused on DIY projects, fashion, life, cooking, crafts, home, and so on.
Maybe that isn’t what you have envisioned for your business.  Maybe you always want it to ultimately be a one-woman kind of thing.  Maybe your brand is so personal and so very you, that nothing is a better title for it other than your name.  Ain’t nothing wrong with that!  There are tons of small businesses that go this route – including me!  Well, sorta…

My given name is actually Alexandra Brown, but I’ve been going by Ali ever since I can remember (thanks Dad), and throughout my early years of college people began referring to me as “Ali B.”  No, there was no other Ali, it just had a ring to it and well, it stuck!  Liking the playfulness that the sound and look Ali Bee gave, I chose that as my official business name.  It’s personal without being the end of the world when having to change my name after I get married.
Next up, what does your business do for people?

You don’t have to offer services to “do” something for people.  Sure, you may be a photographer or an interior designer, but you don’t just do that for people.  You offer them an experience, right?  Sure you do!  Because you’re awesomely unique like that! (Please comment below if awesome is no longer a cool word to use, I’m dying to know)

We’ll use my brand as an example, simply because it’s a brand I know better than any other.  Ali Bee is someone on a mission to help women feel beautiful, confident, and happy.  She does this by offering photography services that show women just how beautiful they are, blogging about inspiring things, and making YouTube videos that are usually tips on beauty and being happy.  Woah, it was weird to talk about myself in the third person, but it had to be done.  Basically, what I’m trying to “sell” isn’t just pretty pictures, I’m offering an experience that in the best case scenario, can be life changing.
Blogger, photographer, art print designer, jewelry maker, graphic designer, WHATEVER you do, you do more than just that.  So what is that something special that you offer people?  Happiness, inspiration, fun, confidence, etc.  That is your brand.
Don’t go just yet, you need to primp your brand before showing it off!
  
Now for the fun part! Choosing colors for your brand can be harder than it sounds.  You want to make sure the colors you pick represent what you do, but you also need to love them… these colors are going to be the most repetitive thing people will see within your brand.  Something my college self-promotion and marketing instructor told me the other day was, “the response to color can account for up to 60% of the acceptance or rejection of a product or service.”

It’s always good to know what colors make people feel a certain way or how we relate a certain color to certain things.  Here’s a color chart to get you inspired!:

Your next step is likely choosing a font.  Another super fun part!  At least I think so.  It can be overwhelming at first, I mean there are A LOT of fonts out there… probably more than you realize.  It helps to look at other logos you’ve grown a liking to.  What type of fonts do they use?  Is it super bold?  Is it sleek?  Is it simple?  Is it cursive?  Does it look handwritten?  It must also fit with the service and/or product that you provide.  Stephanie Pana Photography is a great example, so let’s gossip about her.  😉

Her logo is bold, to the point, modern, and likely eye-catching for her target market.  She claims to be a senior portrait photographer for the modern teen and she typically photographs high school girls.  I think overall Stephanie did an amazing job at choosing her colors and her font and I think you’ll agree after you’ve skimmed through her stunning website!

Now it’s time for a little behind the scenes of what goes on in Ali Land!  

I’m going to tell you why I’ve chosen what I’ve chosen to express my brand.  Make sense?  Or is that just sounding weird in my head.  Anyway, here’s how it goes… 

Let’s talk about the obvious first.  I chose my main colors to be yellow and black for three major reasons:

  1. The color combo fits perfectly with my business name, Ali Bee
  2. The contrast that the two colors together make it totally eye-catching
  3. I just like these two colors together a lot

Let’s refer back to the color chart I shared with you earlier.  Yellow symbolizes happiness, joy, playfulness – well, that’s spot on for my brand!  Black symbolizes sophistication (or in my eyes, professionalism).  These two contrasting colors and somewhat contrasting meanings behind the colors really seem to fit nicely for me, my brand, and most importantly, what I’m passionate about.

Patterns and textures are also something you should consider including in your brand.  It’s not required and many businesses don’t use either, but they are a fun way to add depth and interest to the look of your brand!  I have chosen to use polka dots, stripes, and a glitter texture.  Polka dots are a playful yet sophisticated pattern.  Once again, fitting my brand beautifully.  Stripes, well I just love stripes!  I’m a sucker for bold, black and white stripes.  My brand actually began with black and white stripes, but I added in polka dots for a nice balance and to have the option to change it up every once in awhile.  Ahhh and the glitter!  Funny story about glitter… all throughout a majority of my high school years and super early 20’s, I couldn’t stand glitter.  I found it tacky and quite annoying to be around as it stuck to your skin like freakin’ specks of ninja super glue.  Anywho, long story short, I didn’t like it, but then I began to love it.  Now I incorporate it into my brand from time to time to add a little extra festivity and fun!  It’s also very girly and tends to attract many beautiful ladies that fit right in to my target market.  😉

Lastly, periwinkle, a third color to compliment the yellow and black when I’m feelin’ funky! (aka just when I want to use more than two colors).  It’s also a good plan to have a color that isn’t constantly used within your brand, but it is thrown into the mix every now and again and when it is, it does an amazing job at complimenting your main color(s).  For me this color is periwinkle.  This color compliments yellow and black quite nicely because it is much cooler than yellow and tends to tone down the dramatic contrast between the yellow and black… in a good way or course.

Let’s-go make a lo-go!  Yeah, I thought I was being clever there.  Now I’m going to be honest, creating your logo might be one of the hardest parts of this whole “How To Build Your Own Brand 101” lesson.  I say this because there are just endless options and you don’t even realize it until you step into the logo designing world.  So how did I decide?  Like I mentioned previously, I did a lot of researching of other brands/logos I loved.  I ended up falling in love with the handwritten styled fonts, so I skimmed through over a hundred of them on the site 1001 Free Fonts.  I finally settled on the font I have (with the help of a handful of my besties aka superfans), which is called Gust of Wind, in case you’re curious!  I changed 1 thing about the font and that was to change it’s heart shaped dotted i to just a plan dotted i.  It made quite the difference for me and a change as simple as that can really make your logo completely personalized.  I decided to go for this font because it’s bold, which makes it really pop off a page, and it has that handwritten style that I love and find very personal and feminine.  

Adding graphics is another option and addition you can choose to do with your logo.  I’ve never done this and don’t have plans to anytime soon, so I don’t have much advice on where to begin there.  The best advice  I can give on that matter is to make sure you choose a graphic fitting to your brand.  If you feel your brand is luxurious and sophisticated, then I suggest going for a cursive font and perhaps a chandelier graphic.

If you’d like to check out my brand in action, then head on over to my official website!  🙂

Choosing color, font, textures, patterns, and so on may be just the beginning of developing your brand, but once you’ve figured these vital details out then the rest should be easy peasy lemon squeezy!  xo Ali Bee

p.s. Don’t forget to comment below whether or not you found this post helpful.  Also, I’m dying to know what your business is all about!  Just please share with me because I love hearing from you.  🙂  More posts like this? 

p.s.s. I credit AAU, Alex Beadon, CreativeLive, and many other online resources for all that I have learned about running a successful small business!

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