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What is Branding - Brand Design 101 - Ep. 1

Updated: Jun 17

Hey there! Today I want to talk about branding and why it's needed if you want to run a successful business that sticks out from the rest. We will go back to the basics and talk about what branding is. What are the different pieces of branding and where brand design fits into all of it. Let's get started!

What is branding?

A lot of people think that branding is all about visuals but it's actually an all-encompassing experience that a person shares with a product/service. It's the feeling you get when you interact with a business. It's the personality of your business.

Say that you are about to interview two different people and the first is unkept dirty, they haven't showered and the second is clean shaven, they're wearing a suit and they have cologne on. With first impression alone you're automatically going to

trust and probably hire the person in the suit.

The same goes for your business. If you were choosing between two businesses and one business had really messy graphics, there's 1 million different fonts, there's no clear color scheme or clear vibe. Versus a business that has a really nailed down look that makes you feel an emotion and really creates an experience for the user, then you were going to go with the second business because you have more trust in them.

The business that doesn't have a clear visual brand you're going to see red flags

and it just looks spammy and unprofessional.

We buy from people we trust.

Which is why having a great first impression is going to do wonders for your business. If your business looks the part then people are going to consider you as an option over someone else.

Let's say you are checking out two different websites that have the same service. If one website has a clipart logo while the other website has a well designed professional logo you are automatically going to remember the more professional logo and when something is more memorable you are more likely to buy from them.

If you've ever watched inventing Anna on Netflix (based on a true story) it's a perfect example of how looking professional makes you more trustworthy.

Anna is con artist who claims to be German heiress who conned millions of dollars from New York's elite. But before people trusted her with their money someone questioned her and said, well you don't look like a German heiress. That was her cue to go out and buy expensive jewelry, fancy clothing and shoes so she would look at the part. As soon as she looked the part people were very willing to invest their money in her.

That's what branding can do for your business it helps you look the part. You can have the best products and services out there but if you don't look the part people will not be willing to spend their money with you.

Another thing branding can do for a business is having your customers be willing to pay more for your product or service. The perceived value of the brand will be elevated. You are always willing to pay more for a Starbucks coffee then you are a gas station coffee because with a Starbucks coffee you're paying for a certain experience you're paying for an expectation that the coffee is going to be high quality and that the taste is going to be consistent.

Branding is the reason that people pay hundreds of dollars for a Louis Vuitton purse versus a normal purse from an outlet store.

Within branding there are different pieces to a brand that work together.

1. Brand personality which is exactly like a personality for a person but for your business is your business more corporate and professional or laid back and fun? Feminine? Loud? Bold?

2. Brand voice which is how you talk to your customers and craft your messaging. Maybe that's in a professional and serious tone or energetic and full of hip words and exclamation points. This all will depend on your brand personality.

3. Brand image which are the pictures or images you choose to represent your brand. So if your brand personality is professional you're probably wearing a suit and smiling directly into the camera. Exactly like the signage you see of real estate agents. Or if your brand personality is more feminine than maybe you're wearing a dress and there's a lot of pink in the background and the overall vibe is softer.

4. Theres your visual brand, which are the visual of your business, logo, website, social media graphics etc.

Now this leads us into brand design.

Brand design is a set of consistent fonts, color palette, elements and vibe that your business will use over and over again to create a consistent look.

Let's use Apple as an example their packaging is always highly recognizable because it's always simple white and very minimal you are able to recognize the packaging and the products without the logo. You will never see their products in a cardboard box because they want to have a high-end experience for their customers. Their boxes are always made custom to the product, you will never see bubble wrap or loose paper because that's not the experience that they want their brand to have.

It may seem boring to you to keep using the same consistent fonts, colors, vibe and look over and over again but that consistency is actually going to elevate your brand. Click here to instantly create your brand with a $17 Brand Kit Canva Template

When you think about branding I want you to think about an iceberg. The top 10% of the iceberg is the only part that you can see above the water. Those are the visual aspects of your brand, so that's your social media graphics, website, logo, posters, anything visual that you use for your brand. The other 90% of the iceberg that is underneath the water is your brand strategy. It's the core, the foundation of your business and you're actually going to use brand strategy as the base when choosing the visual aspects of your brand.

Within brand strategy, there are things like values, market positioning, mission statement, target market, and a ton of other aspects but for now let's focus on your ideal customer. If you've heard terms like, target market, ideal customer, customer avatar they all mean the same thing.

Knowing your ideal customer is super important because your brand should be created for your clients and customers and if you are basing brand design on your customers that's how you're going to get intentional branding that really resonates with your customers and will give them a welcoming experience because they feel understood by you.

So let's say that you are a wedding photographer and your niche is an adventure photographer that focuses on elopements where couples want to be on a glacier or on a mountain or lake somewhere. Then your branding is going to represent adjectives like adventurous, outdoorsy, Alaskan, bold, and daring. Those five adjectives are going to be your brand vibe and it's going to be the base for every artistic element for your brand.

When you're choosing your fonts you are going to go for something maybe Sans serif instead of a serifed font (the font without the little feet at the ends, like times new roman) because a sans serif font screams adventurous more than a thin serifed font which comes off more editorial.

When you're choosing images for your website you're not going to be choosing images of your couples in front of a church because that's not your target market you want your clients to be able to see themselves in your photos. So you're going to choose photos where couples are on top of a mountain, hiking on the glacier, couples having daring and bold adventures.

When choosing your colors you're not going to be choosing pastels because that's not outdoorsy. You want to be going for colors like hunter green, or deep blue. If you wanna go with the bold aspect of your brand then maybe you choose a contrasting orange and teal combination.

Even when you're choosing your elements you want to be constantly referring back to your brand vibe so maybe you want to use a lot of tree artwork or an outdoor texture over some of your background images on your website or posters.

When you deliver the final images to your customer don't go for the cheap plastic USB. You want to use a high-quality wooden USB that matches your brand vibe. Or even a high-quality wooden frame, rather than a plastic frame, because you want to have that brand vibe consistency through all of the elements of your business. Want your brand to Stand Out? Watch this free video training (30 mins)

Consistency is super important for your business because that's how you build trust with your customers. Having a consistent look sells, it's going to make your business look more professional and have customers more willing to spend money with you.

If you lack consistent graphics it can make your business look messy and gives off a really spammy vibe which could be the reason why people wouldn't want to buy from you.

Consistent branding can increase your revenue by 33%. Customers perceive consistent brand messaging and images as high quality.

Imagine if every stage of your customer journey is consistent. Your social media has the same fonts, colors and vibe as your website which leads to the same look on your newsletters and emails. Consistency is going to tell customers that they are communicating with and buying from the same business.

If you were to go from someone's Instagram account where their branding is bold and bright and colorful to their website where it's just blah, bland and gray, you're going to wonder if it's the same business and that's not what you want. You don't want to confuse your customers.

If you were to go into McDonald's and they were to hand you purple and orange packaging you would wonder if it was a scam and you probably wouldn't buy from that McDonald's again because it's not consistent with what you're used to and what you recognize.

Let's talk about how to use brand design in your business.

Once you have all the elements of your brand chosen; fonts, color palette, elements, hopefully you have something handy to reference back too. This is where a brand style guide will help tremendously. A brand style guide is essentially an instruction manual on how a brand should be presented. It can be anything from an in depth 20 page document to a singular page. The advantage to having a style guide is that you can hand it off to a virtual assistant so they can keep your business on brand without you.

If you're feeling inspired to do some DIY branding for your business download my free brand style guide single page Canva template.

You can download it at

On the Canva Template you can easily add your fonts, logos, color palette, brand vibe and mood board. Then you can download your brand style guide as a PDF or JPG. Feel free to update your style guide as your business grows. I will be sharing some more DIY brand tips in future episodes of this podcast so be sure to stay tuned or subscribe if you want to DIY your brand and make the most of my free brand style guide template.

Once you have your handy dandy style guide you're going to use it as a reference to create everything and anything for your business from this day on. This means your website, social media, business cards, email signature, letterheads, it doesn't matter how small it is everything needs to match. This means you need to use the same fonts for your headers, sub heads and body copy. You are no longer guessing what color to use you are going to use the specific hex code or CMYK code for your colors. The style for everything you create needs to be consistent. Do you have blocks of colors behind your headers on your website? Use that idea on the headers of your pricing guide PDF as well. Do you use a marble background on your social media posts? Use it for the background of a section on your website. Can you see how much time you are going to save from branding your business? If you need help I have a free training video on How To Create A Brand that Stands Out Something you can do to help you save even more time is to create templates. Let's say you like to post on Instagram. Create a template with your brand fonts, colors, and other elements in a couple of different layouts that match your brand style. This way when you sit down and create new content all you have to do is add new copy, maybe update an image and voila, ultimate time saver.

You can even do this for your website, use the same 'above the fold' layout but change the image. Or if you have different FAQ's on different pages just use the same design but change the questions and answers. There's no need to start from scratch every single time. Consistency is key and people love consistency.

To recap everything, branding is an experience and is the personality of your business. It's super important to have a good first impression because it can be the reason why someone chooses your business over someone else’s.

Brand design is a set of consistent fonts, color palette, elements and vibe that your business will use over and over again to create a consistent look. Consistency is important because that's how you were going to build trust with your customers because consistency sells. You don't want to confuse your customers, you want them to be able to instantly recognize your brand and feel confident that they are buying from you. When implementing branding into your business make sure to have something to refer to like a brand style guide and use templates to save time. I hope you learned a lot about branding and how it can impact your business for the better. In the next episode I'll be telling the story about when I first learned about branding and how it impacted my business forever. Have a great day and happy designing.


Z Squared Studio is a Brand and Web Design Studio based in Juneau, Alaska. Check out for custom brand design, Alaska logo design, or Alaska web design. Or sign up for our DIY Brand yourself Mini-Course if you're ready for a stand out, scroll stopping brand without hiring a designer.


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