Crafting a brand identity for creative business should be one of the first things you do after deciding that you want to start one.
If you want to know the first steps of starting a creative business, read this (and then come back!)
As you’ve heard before, branding is not just about the logo. That’s one of the later steps in this whole process. Branding is about what you want other people to say when they see your business. That’s probably why it’s called a brand personality.
It’s like thinking about a friend and describing that friend to someone else.
You want to define your brand well from the start. To do this properly means that people will be saying what you want them to say!
Here are the first steps in creating your brand.
Start with a casual questionnaire
With a blank sheet of paper (or document for those who prefer digital), leave two spaces. One will be called “personal” and the other “business”.
In “personal”, start writing every single thing that comes to your mind about yourself. List things like who you are as a person and professional, skills you have, your personality, your interests, and your passions or hobbies.
Important: Do not be nitpicky with your words and do not edit this.
Next, fill up the “business” space. List the type of people you want to help, how you can help them, and why you want to help.
Create a mood board
First, find photography that speaks to you.
Next, look for fonts and quotes.
Pin items that fit the mood you’re going for. Do what feels right. Find a few of each category so you can compare them later.
Finally, find colors that resonate your personality. Choose ones that make you happy first. You’ll start seeing a theme. If you’re all over the place, you can read up on color psychology. It will help you choose a color based on the mood you want to bring.
A quick guide to color psychology:
- Yellow: Attention, Happiness, Warmth
- Red: Passion, Action, Urgency
- Purple: Nobility, Sophistication, Spirituality
- Green: Environment, Health, Money
- Gray: Neutral, Authority, Practicality
- Orange: Creativity, Fun, Lighthearted
- Pink: Feminine, Gentle, Innocence
- Blue: Confidence, Trust, Power
- Black: Boldness, Elegance, Seriousness
- Brown: Nature, Simplicity, Utility
Check out my mood board here if you the widget doesn’t show.
A visual board filled with inspiration is the best way to see your brand in one sitting.
Dream up your customer
It’s time to talk specifics about your dream customer, reader, or client. You answered the questions in the first part of the article about who you want to serve. It’s time to narrow it down to one (yes, only one) fictional person.
Tip: If you’re trying to attract people like you, this will be a breeze!
So, who is this person? Give them a name, occupation, age, location, etc.
Now sum up what you wrote. Think about websites with a section called “Who This is For”. They describe who would get the most value from this business. Write that down based on your answers above.
Give yourself an official mission
This is where we dig more into the “why” you’re in business in the first place. Some of your answers may repeat and overlap with the other answers. But that’s a good thing. You’ll be reinforced of your values and beliefs.
Here are some examples from other businesses:
- Skillshare: “We started Skillshare to close the professional skills gap and provide universal access to high-quality learning. By teaching the skills needed in tomorrow’s world, Skillshare empowers creators to pursue the work they love today.”
- Creative Commons: “Creative Commons helps you legally share your knowledge and creativity to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world — unlocking the full potential of the internet to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.”
- Patagonia: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Choose 3 words to describe your business
Now, you need to refine what you wrote. Go back and look through your questionnaire and circle any words that pop out. Do you have any repeated words?
What is the theme you’re starting to see?
- Your first word should describe a personality. Maybe it’s “fun”, or “energetic”.
- Your second word should be an adjective or something visual. Something like “colorful”, “beautiful”, “original”.
- Your third word should be about your service, what you do or what you can offer. Examples are “art”, “hand lettering”, “web design” or “consulting”.
Look for visual patterns in your mood board
The beauty of mood boards is that you can see everything on one page.
Take the mood board seriously! It speaks for you if you were at first unable to explain your brand.
Put it all together
Congratulations! You’ve tackled the beginning stages of branding a creative business. It’s not easy and it’s an extensive process.
However, once you’ve truly defined who and what you’re working for, it will cancel out anything that is not in focus. A curated brand is a contagious brand. If you’re too general, it will not attract your dream customer.
So what’s next? Well, if you’re a designer, start creating brand guidelines! If you’ve never designed one before, there are great tutorials on Skillshare. I want to emphasize my phrase “if you’re a designer”.
But you are not a designer, I would leave it to the experts. Invest in your business by giving it a polished look. People will notice half-hearted unprofessional branding. It will turn people off your website, business card and social media!
ARE YOU STILL UNSURE?
Get my ebook, DIY Branding for a step-by-step guide and workbook on defining your brand identity.