design process

Why Your Brand Needs to Reflect Who Your Are

Why Your Brand Needs to Reflect Who You Are | Lemon and the Sea: Your brand is so much more than a color palette or logo - it's how you share what you do and how you work. And when your brand is authentic, it's easier and more enjoyable to work in and grow your business.

Your brand is so much more than a color palette or logo - it's how you share what you do and how you work. And when your brand is authentic, it's easier and more enjoyable to work in and grow your business.

Authentic is a big buzzword right now and it's gotten muddled up in lots of ways, but to me, being authentic means that you are being yourself - no faking, no pretending - in everything that you do. Sure, you should probably dress up to meet with clients instead of wearing your yoga pants, but there is no reason to wear a suit if that's not what you spend most of your time in.

As creative business owners, we spend most of our days in our brands.  We're always representing our message - on social media, in our content, while networking, during client communication - so it's vital that your brand be authentic to you.

Your Brand is Sustainable

So why is an authentic brand important? Because it's much more sustainable over time than a brand that doesn't fit you.

When your brand reflects you, it's sharing your bigger why, your message, with the people who are coming into contact with you. It's something that you can talk about for hours because you're passionate about it.

Your brand shouldn't be something you chose because it's trendy or seems like it's what people want from you - those brands fail quickly because the people behind them don't really believe.

And when your brand message is true, you have so much more flexibility in what you're doing because the why stays the same. You can go from offering one-on-one services to courses, or move from client work to education because the basis for what you're doing never changes.

You Brand Supports You

I recently had a meeting with a potential client who is a little different than the people I normally work with. It would have been easy to change my brand and my process to make myself fit into what I thought they wanted, but instead I decided to stick with what I do best. When they asked me to send a proposal, I spent a little time tailoring my sales slides to their needs, but I stuck to my message, my way of working, and my brand.

I'm sure they weren't expecting a teal and gray document full of branded images because most design proposals are fairly boring Word documents, but I knew that if I booked this client based on a proposal that wasn't authentic to my business, I would be starting our working relationship out the wrong way.

The best part of running your own business is getting to decide how you want to work. You set the hours, decide how communication will take place, and set the schedule so that you can serve your clients well. And your brand should support that.

You do a disservice to your potential clients and yourself if you change your brand to fit what you think people want in order to book that big client or attract that wholesale account you've been eyeing.

When you stick to your message, you're going to attract people who believe in what you're doing because they know why you're doing it - and they'll respect you because they know that you're an expert.

Your Brand Doesn't Dictate Your Life

When your brand reflects who you are, it fits into your daily life. You don't have to worry about having the perfect house or always wearing stilettos if that's not you. It also means that if you want to have a Tutu Tuesdays just because you love wearing tutus, you can because it's a part of your brand.

An authentic brand also allows you a lot of flexibility in your business. You don't have to follow industry standards or do what everyone else is doing - you get to decide what works for you. You can shift and change as your business grows and as you learn more about what you're truly passionate about.

And when you show up as yourself in your brand, people know what they're getting when they meet you. We all know people who act one way in front of certain people and another when they're somewhere else (personally, I think that would be exhausting). When you're always putting on a front, people don't get to know the real you - the one that will come out in client meetings or late night emails. But when you're true to yourself from the very start, people feel like they know you before you even meet.

What is your message?

If your brand isn't feeling like a good fit, ask yourself a question.

Is it my brand visuals or my message that aren't authentic?

I've found that often when I'm struggling to feel like my brand reflects who I am, it's has less to do with my logo or color palette and more to do with the fact that I've lost my why.

I want to be known for helping my clients communicate who they are through brands and websites that are authentic, for a process that makes it easy for them to get what they need so they can focus on what's most important - family, and for educating and empowering my clients to have control over their brands.

And it's those three things that help me decide what services or products to offer and how I work to serve my clients and myself best.

So, what is it that you want to be know for?


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


The Branding Process: Assets

Having consistency in your branding is vital to building your business, which is why the branding process doesn't end after your logo is created and you have some designs in place. It's important that you know how to use all of the brand assets that you've built in a way that will keep building your brand.

Launching a New Brand

Whether you're launching a new brand or updating your current one, it's important that the changes are reflected in everything you do. This means that you need to inform anyone who works for or with you, your clients, and anyone who champions your brand.

In order to get everyone on board, start by telling them about the changes you've made and why you decided to move forward with the update - once people understand why your brand is changing, they're more likely to go along with any updates they need to make.

These are some of the areas that may need to be updated to reflect your new brand - and these are especially important if you're changing the name of your business - in order to keep your clients informed and keep them for being confused.

  • Stationary and Business Cards
  • Forms, Questionnaires, Exercises
  • Email signatures
  • Advertisements
  • Website
  • Marketing material
  • Contracts, Quotes
  • Software / Subscription services
  • Directory Listing
  • Guest Blog Posts
  • Social Media platforms
  • Voicemail
  • Blog signature
  • Newsletter (template, list name, on-boarding emails)

After you've introduced your new brand or name, you don't want to confuse people by forgetting to change your Welcome email or Contract information.

Branding Guide

One of the easiest ways to keep your brand appearance consistent is through a Branding Guide. This will include the basic Style Guide, but it can also include information about where to use which brand colors, which logo design works best on different applications, and even how you'll introduce yourself and your business.

Your Branding Guide can be created in a variety of formats - including online, toolkits, or PDF manuals - and should include the following:

  • Your Business Vision, including your brand statement, values, mission, goals, and growth plan.
  • Your Dream Customer
  • Your Unique Perspective, including your expertise and your story. This section can include the type of personal information that you will and won't share.
  • Your Content, including your brand voice, types of content, swipe copy, and your content strategy.
  • Your Business Systems, including your process, any systems you use, your expertise, and your packages.
  • Your Brand Style, including a description, your Style Guide, your brand assets and use guidelines, photography guidelines, and website guidelines.

The great thing about a Branding Guide is that you can give it to anyone who will need it - employees, your designer, partners, copywriters - without having to create an individual packet of information for each. This way, anyone who represents your brand receives the same information and can easily reference any information they made need to know about your brand without having to email you with questions.

Reproduction Files

In order to make use of your Brand Assets, you must give anyone who needs them access to your reproduction files. You should always check with the type of reproduction so that you can send the right file type for the best quality.

Vector graphics are best for anything that will be scaled because they don't lose quality with resizing. Usually you will get these files in an EPS format, but some PDFs can also be used this way.

Raster graphics are made of pixels, which makes them difficult to scale without losing quality. When using a raster graphic, you should check the resolution and color type to make sure your reproduction will be accurate. These file types will include TIFs, JPGs, GIFs, and PNGs. Each  file type works best in different situations and a designer should give you access to all of them.

Harvest

Along with The Branding Process outline, I'm going to give you a look into how I use this process to design a brand step-by-step from initial consult to launch. Because I don't want to share any of my client's amazing brands before they are complete, I'm going to be walking you through the design of a business I created: Harvest, an eatery and market.

For Harvest, it was important to define which logos and brand colors would be used on which items and how the website would relate to any physical material, especially in terms of photography and color selection. These guidelines help to keep the brand consistent, whether it's being presented by the owner, employees, or just people recommending the restaurant.

Harvest decided to share its Branding Guide with all of their employees, the marketing director, social media expert, and the farmers and instructors who work with them. This helps to keep the brand consistent no matter who is talking about it. For example, if a farm includes a section about the restaurant in their email newsletter, they know which logo to use and already have access to the file, without having to wait for a response from Harvest requesting that information.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


The Branding Process: Website

The Branding Process: Website | Lemon and the Sea: In the branding process, your website falls under the touchpoints category because it's just one of many ways that your clients and customers will interact with your brand. However, because websites are so important to running a successful online business, I decided to dedicate a post just to website design instead of condensing it in with the previous post.

In the branding process, your website falls under the touchpoints category because it's just one of many ways that your clients and customers will interact with your brand. However, because websites are so important to running a successful online business, I decided to dedicate a post just to website design instead of condensing it in with the previous post.

Because so many people are now finding businesses online, it's very important that you have a website that is both functional and branded well. It's no longer enough to have a website that works okay and get the information across - people want to get to know your brand and business through your website before they ever reach out to you.

Website Basics

When setting up a website, there are a few important terms that you need to know. Whether you're designing your website yourself or hiring a designer, this things will need to be set up before you can launch a website.

Domain: Having a domain for your website is like having an address for a house. You can have an address without an actual building, because your address tells people where to find you. It's the website address people will type in when visiting your online home. You can buy a domain from many different places (I use BlueHost) and once you own a domain, that address belongs to you as long as you keep renewing it.

When buying a domain, you won't be able to use one that someone else already owns (even if they aren't using it). This is becoming a more and more common problem as people are now buying domains in hopes of selling them later. If this happens to you, you have a few options.

  • Buy the domain from the owner. This can come at a higher cost than the next options, but if you're really set on something, you can find the owner of the domain and reach out to see if they would be willing to sell it to you.
  • Find an alternative. Try coming up with a variation on your business name and check to see if those domains are open. For example, if harvest.com was taken, you could try harvestrestaurant.com or harvestmarket.com.
  • Try a different extension. This is the option that most people are turning to and it's become pretty normal. If the .com version of the domain you want is taken, check into other extensions like .co or .net. There are always new extentions being added, which is why sites like beingboss.club are able to find a unique adress that also builds upon their brand.

Hosting:

If your domain is your address, your hosting is the actual piece of land on which you will build your house. Your website host provides you with a server that stores and runs all of your website files. Without hosting, you can have a beautiful website, but no one will be able to see it because there is no where to put it online.

Just like domains, there are a lot of different hosting option.

  • Host your own website. For most small businesses this isn't practical, but it is an option. You can actually set up a server to host all of your own website files.
  • Buy hosting with your domain. Many domain providers (BlueHost included) also provide hosting. This may add an additional cost to your bill, but it does keep everything in one place.
  • Hosting website. Squarespace provides this type of solution, as does Wix and other website builders. You can actually host your website through the same platform that allows you to build your website.

Website Files:

Your website files make up the house of your website - it's the part that people will see when they visit you online. You can either have a website coded specifically for you or use a website builder with template (like WordPress and Squarespace) to make the process easier. Once your files are created, they sit with your website host so that people who type in your domain can see all your hard work.

Website Design

Once you have a basics in place, you now need to design your website. You can either do this yourself or hire a designer to help you. The most important part of any website design is that it is easy to use for your visitors, but it also needs to look professional and should match your brand.

Whenever I'm designing a website, I always ask my clients what pages they need (home page, about page, services, portfolio) and the main purpose of each. Knowing the purpose of each page helps me to design a website that functions to help bring in business. For example, my home page is designed to show people the main things of interest on my website - my design services and my blog. If I had links to every page page, it would be confusing and people wouldn't know where to go first, but because I give them two main options up front, I can control the way people travel through my website.

Once I know the purpose of each page, I focus on branding the entire website before designing the individual pages. On Squarespace, this means updating all of the Style settings to match the brand identity. From there, I add and design each page to meet the purpose it needs to serve. Once the pages are all in place, I'll go in and make any custom design changes and updates.

For some other tips and tutorials on website design through Squarespace, check out these posts:

 

Harvest

Along with The Branding Process outline, I'm going to give you a look into how I use this process to design a brand step-by-step from initial consult to launch. Because I don't want to share any of my client's amazing brands before they are complete, I'm going to be walking you through the design of a business I created: Harvest, an eatery and market.

For the Harvest website design, I used the Pacific Squarespace template. I kept the design very simple and only included pages that were absolutely necessary for the restaurant. Each page is designed to demonstrate one area of the business's offerings - menu, classes, and history. I used teh brand colors and some stock photography to give the website the colorful, warm feeling that the Harvest brand is aiming for.

Harvest Eatery and Market | Lemon and the Sea: Website for Harvest designed on Squarespace featuring warm colors, beautiful images, and everything a restaurant website needs to attract customers.

Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


The Branding Process: Touchpoints

The Branding Process: Touchpoints | Lemon and the Sea: Touchpoints are the items that use the brand identity to promote the business. This can include business cards, a website, icons, stationary, signage, product design, packaging, and any other collateral that the business might need.

Many times, people think that branding ends after the brand identity is established. In fact, the logo, color palette, and other basic brand information is just the beginning of the design process. Touchpoints are the items that use the brand identity to promote the business. This can include business cards, a website, icons, stationary, signage, product design, packaging, and any other collateral that the business might need.

It's important that while designing the touchpoints, you keep the brand identity firm and at the forefront - you want all your collateral items to enhance and build upon your brand, not confuse it. Everything needs to work together and communicate the big idea of your business.

Stationary

Many online business don't think they need stationary, as they operate mainly by email. But I always recommend at least having a business card and basic stationary design. This way, you're prepared for networking opportunities or to meet a client in person. It's also nice to be able to to send actual mail or a nice note during a project.

You want to keep your stationary design simple, but eye-catching, especially in a creative field. Business cards are a great way to stand out at a conference or event and it's important to consider the card material, color, and finish. 

Product design and packaging

If you're in a product-based business, it's important that both your products and your packaging match your overall brand. (You can always design your brand around a product if you already have one.) This ensures that your product looks good and fits with your business strategy - and it can help you sell more.

Collateral

When I design a brand, I'm almost always designing collateral items as well. It makes a lot of sense to design at least the most important collateral items along with your branding so that you have those in place for your first clients. Some of the most popular collateral items include Welcome Packets to help you explain how you work, marketing material for events, social media graphics, and blog post graphics. I've also designed t-shirts, packaging, merchandise, resumes, and menus.

Each and every touchpoint is important to the overall brand - even if it seems like just a small thing. In order to build trust and brand recognition, consistent branding is important. Of course, there will be times when you want to think outside the original box - maybe you're launching a big new project (I am!) or adding a new branch to your business  that you want to stand out. In those cases, a designer can help you use the brand identity you have already established and expand it to cover your new venture, while still maintaining the brand recognition that you've built.

Harvest

Along with The Branding Process outline, I'm going to give you a look into how I use this process to design a brand step-by-step from initial consult to launch. Because I don't want to share any of my client's amazing brands before they are complete, I'm going to be walking you through the design of a business I created: Harvest, an eatery and market.

Harvest Eatery and Market | Lemon and the Sea: Brand touchpoints including business cards, bags, t-shirts, and stationary.

For Harvest's touchpoints, I created both merchandise, in the form of bags, shirts, mugs, and gift certificates, as well as staionary, including business cards, a menu design, and packagining. Each item uses the fonts, colors, and logo (or alternatives) to build upon the Harvest brand. 

Harvest Eatery and Market | Lemon and the Sea: Brand touchpoints including menu design, take out boxes, coasters, and coffee mugs.

Each of these touchpoints builds upon the others to create a consistent brand identity. Other touchoints could include a sign for the store, class information, produce and merchandise displays, and graphics for social media. As the business grows, these items and others can be added as needed and use the items already designed as a starting point.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.


The Branding Process: Identity

The Branding Process: Identity | Lemon and the Sea: While your brand identity is the most well-known part of branding, it's more than just a logo.

While your brand identity is the most well-known part of branding, it's more than just a logo. Creating a brand identity is all about taking the research you've done and strategy you've created  and translating it into one visual essence. This visual essence is what most people think of as branding - logo design, color palettes, and typography - but it also guides the decisions about the remainder of the brand design (and there's a lot) that comes in the next step.

Logo Design

Your logo is one graphic that generally combines a brand mark (the graphic element) and logotype (the actual text) to create a brand "signature." The design of each element should work together, but should also be able to be recognizable separately.

For example:

McDonald's Golden Arches are used both in conjunction with the restaurant name and separately and a simple graphic, but both are instantly recognized around the world.

Starbucks has a logo that's a bit more complicated, but the brand mark and the logotype work together.

Amazon's brand mark actually combines typography and a graphic that is also a part of their overall signature.

 

When designing a logo, you want something that reflects your brand statement, but also allows for flexibility depending on where it is used. Having a logotype, brand mark, and signature (and sometimes an alternate logo) allows you to use the most appropriate design in different places. You might choose to use just your brand mark to watermark images and as a simple design on a t-shirt and use your signature as your stationary header and on your website.

Look and Feel

When designing your brand identity (and later all the collateral items), you need to pay attention the look and feel of the brand and make sure that it fits the brand strategy you've already created. This is what is going to make your brand stand out from the rest and be recognizable in your industry. It guides all kinds of choices - from your logo design and color palette to the types of images you share on Instagram.

Color

I have a confession to make: I could spend hours tweaking and perfecting color palettes. I love playing around with color and I know that it's so important to the branding process. Your brand colors should evoke emotion and express your personality to your target audience. It needs to be consistent, but flexible enough to give you a variety of options when desiging. It also has to work in all mediums (on screen, in print, on clothing, and maybe even on a billboard or television) and stand out from other business's in your industry.

When I choose a color palette for my clients, I focus first on their audience and the feelings they want to evoke. From there, I make sure to check out their competition because I don't want to create a design that is too similar to someone else's. Color is a great way to show off who you are and the things that make you unique, so don't feel like you have to stick with what is trending right now.

Typography

Choosing fonts may seem simple, but it can actually be pretty complicated. You want your brand typography (from your logo to your website paragraph text) to embody your brand, covey the feeling you want your audience to have, work in a variety of sizes and applications, be legible, and have personality.

I recommend sticking to just two or three fonts - one with lots of personality for your logotype and one or two others to round out your design and that are easy to use as regular text. (You don't really want to use that pretty script font as the body of all your emails.)

Collateral

Your logo, color palette, and font choices make up the basics of your brand identity and are important to get nailed down early in the design process so that you can refer back to them as you design all your brand collateral and touch points. Knowing which colors and fonts you use (and where you should use which) will make designing your stationary, packaging, or information packets easier because those design decisions have already been made and you have a framework to work in.

 

Harvest

Along with The Branding Process outline, I'm going to give you a look into how I use this process to design a brand step-by-step from initial consult to launch. Because I don't want to share any of my client's amazing brands before they are complete, I'm going to be walking you through the design of a business I created: Harvest, an eatery and market.

Mood Board

The first part of building a brand identity is to use the client's Pinterest board and questionnaire answers and build a mood board. This mood board features colors and images that will become the reference for later design decisions. My mood boards don't generally feature a logo design because I don't want to pigeon-hole the logo concepts into one style, but it does drive the decisions I will make as far as colors, style, and imagery for the brand.

Color Palette

I chose Harvest's color palette because the client wanted to have a bright, fresh brand that would stand out and reflect all of the amazing colors in the food they prepare and serve.

Fonts

I kept the fonts for Harvest fairly simple - a textured Serif font for the logo paired with a simple, legible sans-serif fonts for the tagline. These two fonts also inform the fonts used throughout the collateral design - a serif for headings and titles, a sans-serif for body text and other designs.

Logo

When designing the logo for Harvest, I wanted something that would be simple enough to be reproduced easily on all the collateral the company would need, but still flexible enough to allow for alternative designs.

Overall, the identity step of the branding process is making sure that all the basics of the brand design are set and ready to be used to build the collateral items that every business needs. These collateral items can include websites, advertising, business cards, stationary, signage, packaging, and much more depending on the type of business. This is way the initial identity design is so important and can take much longer than the later steps - this is the basis of everything else. For my clients, this means that their brand identity needs to be unique, reflect their business, audience, and mission, and be flexible.


Lemon and the Sea is a brand and website design company located in Richmond, VA. I specialize in making the branding process personal. I work with creative women who have a heart to serve others grow their businesses so they can focus on what's most important - family.   I work closely with small businesses to help them dig into what makes them unique, share their vision, and build a business that genuinely represents who they are.