Dream Smarter Podcast Ep28 - Branding 101


Dream Smarter Podcast Ep28 – Branding 101

Below are the show notes/summary for this episode. Please listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify for the full show! Xo, Alex


So today we’re going to get down and dirty with some branding.

I look at building a brand. Like I look at branding like building a house. I imagine it is like the foundation of a house, like the concrete that’s underneath. Like, you can’t even see it, right. Stuff. You can’t see, that’s your strategy. It’s like, okay, we have the blueprint. I mean, it’s the blueprint to the house. Your strategy is the blueprint. It’s the foundation, all of that. And then everything that you built on top of that, it’s like, you’re building, you have to build one before you build the next, right. You have to do that before. You have to do the studs and all that before you put it on the sheetrock. And then you put on the paint and all the fun stuff afterward. It’s really about nailing your strategy. Like really picture your brand as a house. You don’t build a house in a day.

And why do people think that you can build a brand in a day? I don’t know, but it is a constant. And honestly, too, as like your house, you are constantly making updates to your house. Your window breaks. You need to replace the window. The same goes for your brand. If something isn’t looking cute and it’s old, you need to replace it. You need to continue to build upon your brand. Good brands. Brilliant brands have years and years, and years and years of just edits and changes and adjustments and pivots to make it what you see today that was not built in a day that was built over years and years and years and years and years. Know that going into branding. This is branding 101. Speaking on the same topic, we all know your logo is not your brand.

So why do people think they need to fit everything into their logo? I don’t know because those logos are, are not cute. If you’ve seen any of our work, our logos are very typographic. And there’s a reason for that. It’s because they are a part of the brand. They are not the brand. When you have some crazy logo and then use some crazy patterns in your brand, it starts to look tacky. Nobody likes a messy house when you walk into somebody’s house, and it is messy. There’s everywhere. It’s like the walls are wallpapered. And then they have these crazy light fixtures, and they have these crazy pieces of furniture. You’re like, Whoa, this is like sensory overload way too much. I don’t even know where to look or what to do. That’s how people feel when you have a crazy logo with some crazy illustrations, and then you have this wild website.

You need to keep it clean and keep it cute. You can have a personality. You don’t just want some clean and boring site either. On the opposite end, there’s too minimalist in my eyes. There, there is such a thing as too minimalist because there’s no personality in it. When you don’t have personality in your brand, people don’t know who you are, what you do. And I know brilliant, brilliant designers. And I have hundreds of students now; I would have about 500 students that I have taught around there. I have seen time and time again, the messy. Like that needs that. That needs some work. And they know that, right? They know that. But I also have extremely talented people, wonderful designers, super clean.

They know design. They know design better than I do. But it has no personality. And I’m like, this is why you’re not selling because people don’t know you. Who are you? What is your point of view? And when it comes down to branding, it’s all about building a strong brand. It’s all about what is your point of view. As a business, everybody has something that’s special. You right now, you, you who are listening to this, don’t know your name, but you, I am looking at you right now. You are special. You are unique. You have something I don’t. You have something your friends don’t. You have something your competition doesn’t. You have something so special about you. And it’s your job to figure it out.

How can I use what is so special and so unique to me to help other people? That’s where the magic is. That’s where it is. And you need to make sure your point of view is unique to you so that nobody else can grab it and say, no, this is mine because it’s not theirs. And if somebody else can grab your point of view. I’m saying like, if you’re writing it down, writing it down, what makes you special? What separates you from everybody else? If somebody else can take that and use it for themselves, then it’s not yours. It’s no longer yours. It’s others. Get very, very, very, very clear on that. And then it’s all about the consumer, so right. You have your point of view and all of that, but how will you use it to help people?

It’s all about the people. Other people, all they care about is themselves. And I say this in the most kind, loving way possible. Like I just care about myself. You just care about yourself, right? I mean, of course, we care about other people, but you know what I’m saying? Like, in all reality, when you’re selling something to people, they don’t give a damn about you. They just care about like, how are you going to help them? So that’s how you need to build your brand. And it’s all about a feeling. Everything is about a feeling. I always picture my brand as if it’s a storefront, and I want people to walk in and want to hang out. I want them to be like, oh my God, I love the way it smells in here.

Oh my God, the music, oh my God, I can’t stop looking around. This is amazing. Like, I want them to feel so good. I want them to feel so good that they can’t help but stick around. And that’s how you should feel, or that’s how your target audience should feel when they come to your website. That’s how they should feel when they come to your Instagram account. I re-posted this the other day. And it was, I think, Kayley Reed. She’s awesome. She does influencer campaigns. We did their branding at Hermana agency. So follow them. But she posted something, and it was like, the best brands are the ones that make you feel like you want to be best friends with the person who’s running the account. And that’s so true. And that’s how I always want to run like this podcast.

That’s how I want to run my account. Like I want you guys to be like, wow, I like her. And I know not everybody’s going to like me. And I’m finally okay with that after many years of therapy. But really, it’s like figuring out who your target audience is, what are their problems? How can you fix them from your own unique and very, very, very special and beautiful point of view? And how do those people like to feel? And then you, I need to emulate that in your brand. It’s all about a feeling. If you’re listening to this right now, I hope that you’re feeling good. I hope that I’m making you smile. I hope that I’m making you laugh. I hope that I’m making you think big and dream big. I hope that this podcast inspires you. I hope that it takes you somewhere in your brain that you don’t normally go.

And I hope that it just makes you feel again. So good. I hope it makes you feel something that you love feeling because if you’re listening, that’s why you’re hanging around. So that feeling, the feeling that you feel right now, is the feeling you want your audience to feel in every single thing that you do. It’s all about the feeling. So there, we got into the emotion behind branding and like how I view branding. Now I’m going to get into some takeaways. I suggest working with a professional, but if you’re somebody who’s doing it yourself and you’re, these are all the things that you need.

We also have a DIY your own brand course I’m going to create. I have lots of plans for the future on building that out and just doing more with that. But anyway, I’m going to just share with you my must-haves. And these are things too, that you should look for in a designer when you’re looking to hire a designer because I think all of these things are very important. And I think when it comes to hiring a designer, if you’re not somebody who is a branding expert, you probably don’t know what to look for. And I get that from many people. What do I look for when I’m looking for a designer when I’m hiring a designer? And these are all the things that I think that you should get from a designer when hiring.

#1: Strategy

All the things that I just spoke about before we got into this, about the feeling, building the house, how your logo is not your brand, making it all about your consumer, coming from your own point of view, that’s all about your strategy. You need to get deep and strategy. So whoever you’re working with, make sure they do strategy. I haven’t always done strategy, though, with my branding. So there, there is a difference between a brand designer and a brand strategist. We now include it in our packages brand strategy, but we didn’t always do that because now I have a team. But before, my focus was definitely on the brand design. If your designer does not do a strategy, then work with a brand strategist; you do the design step.

The design stuff is super fun. That’s the most fun part of building your brand. In my opinion, I’m like doing the branding and getting the logo. Like that’s like the most fun, but guess what? You can’t get to the fun part unless you do the hard part, which is the strategy. And it’s not super fun to do the strategy, but it is so important. So do it before you get to the fun part. I promise it’s going to be worth it because if you don’t, you’re going to do the fun part, and you’re going to struggle. If you do it correctly, when you go through strategy, and then you get to the design, it should be very, very clear, like what the design needs to be, because it’s based on your target market and you, and your point of view and all of those things.

It will be so clear. You won’t have any FOMO about other styles or anything. You’re going to be like; this is it. And I know it for a fact because we went through strategy, and we nailed this down, like a math equation. That’s what it’s going to feel like. If your designer doesn’t do strategy, make sure that you find a brand strategist to work with before doing the design-heavy target market influence. Like you need to know who your target market is, period, the end. And then you need to figure out what is the vibe? What is the feeling? What keywords do I want people to feel based on, how my target market likes to feel, and what can I offer as a beautiful, unique human?

#2: Creative Direction

Then once you’re done with a strategy, you want to get into the creative direction. And I love doing creative direction because you’re not getting into the actual branding yet. In the creative direction, we will move in creatively to execute the feeling that we know our target market likes to feel. That is based on our point of view. It all comes together. So basically, you want to do like your Pinterest boards and all that. You want to find your patterns. You want to connect the dots with your target market and perspective and how people like to feel. And all of those things and the creative direction are really about coming out with execution ideas to emulate that feeling, that beautiful feeling you want those people to feel. So that’s what it’s all about is coming up with the execution ideas. Let’s say you are doing something for a very modern female. She’s affluent. She’s so busy, and she’s overwhelmed all the time.

What she likes to feel is clarity. Clarity is a feeling she absolutely loves because she’s so busy and overwhelmed. She just wants to see it as it is. With that, you would want to do a more minimalist brand. So with a minimalist brand, maybe you want to use strokes and lines as an execution idea to emulate that feeling of cleanliness and order, and organization. It’s mostly about the organization and making it super, super clear to the target audience. So that’s an execution idea. That’s, that’s just an example of one that you could do. I like to come up with at least three execution ideas per project execution ideas that change with trends, and as your target market and your target, you’re just your target audience.

Like your ideal dream client, whoever that is and the way they like to feel, that’s going to change as they grow in their life. And your execution ideas need to change as well. But that’s great because your brand is always evolving. You’re always building your house. You’re always fixing your windows. You’re fixing the roof. You know, things are always breaking. You’re fixing them. Execution ideas are a way to do that. We’ve done strategy. Now we’ve done creative direction.

#3: Branding

Then we get into the actual branding. And the branding, remember your logo is not your brand. You need to put everything together. Like I am such a macro person. I’m a visionary. So that’s why I have people on my team who are the organizers.

So realistically, I like to take a step back. And I like to pretend like I have an out-of-body experience. And I’m looking at the branding as a whole house. You have your logo, and you have your color palette, have your type suite, and have your photo and video direction. That’s something that’s new that I include in all of our packages because that is such a big part of branding. I mean, especially for product lines, you go to a product-based business site. If they don’t have good photography there losing. You have your logos, color palettes, type suite, photo, and video direction.

And then I also take it a step further and say your social direction, which also includes r brand, voice, copywriting, all and of that stuff. All of this is combined to build your brand. You don’t want to look at like, okay, let’s do the logos first. Then let’s do the color palette. Then let’s do the type suite. It’s like, no, you build this together all at once. And you look at it as a whole house. You say, how do the wall color and the flooring and the tile work together. When you see people decorating a house, right? Like an interior designer, they literally will put a piece of the floor plank next to the tile. That’s going to be in the kitchen next to the countertop next to the wall color. They can see it all together.

Because if they decided like, okay, we’re just going to choose them all separately. Then they’re not going to work together. They’re not going to work. And I’m getting passionate. I know because I see this happen so many times. Make sure you choose somebody who can be a macro visionary. How, and honestly, too, it’s all about finding a designer who thinks ahead because for me, for my client, I can picture my clients in five years. Like they can’t picture that because they don’t have the mind that I do, which is, which is why I’m doing what I’m doing. Right. They’re hiring me for a reason. When I look at their branding, I’m thinking about tomorrow, but I’m also thinking about how this will evolve for them? As people, as businesses, as humans with everything that’s happening in the world and what their target market and all of this stuff and everything they want to do in the future.

Like, I will always ask my clients, especially when I’m building their websites, I’m like, okay, so these are the courses you have. Now, what courses are you planning on coming out within the next five years? Or just not, maybe not five years, but like, what are you coming out with in the future? And they know, they tell me, and I’m like, okay, great. Oh, you’re coming out with a podcast. Okay, awesome. I’m going to build you a podcast section on your website. We’re going to hide it until you’re ready to show it. That future planning, that visionary mindset is like for yourself or your clients. If you’re a designer, you need to think that way. Think beyond the carrot in front of you. Like there are many, many, many steps beyond what is directly in front of you. And if you can take a step back and look at it as a whole, you will be building a strong brand.

I hope that this helped you and gave you some tips on branding. And I’m sure you guys are looking at your own brands like, Oh, I have some work to do. And that’s my job. My job is to help you. And my hope is not always going to be easy. It’s never going to be an easy fix, but it will be a fix that is worth it. And it’s going to make you way more money. I want to help you make money. I want to help you. And its money to me is energy. Tina, my friend, Tina taught me that, and I was like, oh my God. Becuase I’ve always said, like, I don’t look at money like money. I don’t care about money, but really, I care a lot about it, but it’s, to me it’s not money.

It’s energy, it’s all energy. And I want you guys to be filled with energy so that you can live the life that you deserve because we all deserve to live beautiful art. I mean, our dream lives, whatever it may be. Your dream life is different than mine. We all have different dream lives, and they are all 100% valid and beautiful and worthy, and we all deserve. We all deserve it. So again, I am always going to give you tips. And sometimes you’re probably going to feel overwhelmed of like, oh my God, I have so much work to do. But that, that is a blessing. Is it not?

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