A lot of what Ink & Well does involves helping companies and individuals curate and cultivate their brands. A big part of this, especially with existing brands, is to perform an audit to make sure everything fits together and looks and sounds cohesive. In a situation where you aren’t sure whether your branding is quite hitting the mark, but you can’t afford an agency to step in and help you out, here are a few simplified steps you can take to make sure you’ve got it all under control.
Identify your audience. Make sure you take some time to think through and write down who you’re selling to, talking to, etc. Sometimes it even helps to create personas for these people. For example, “Steve is a mid-level employee at a finance firm. He looks to impress higher-ups by making wise choices,” etc.
Research that audience. Now that you know whom you’re talking to, make sure you’re doing it properly. Research comparable businesses (comps), blogs or websites, and make a list of them. Visit blogs this demographic would likely read, read magazines they’d peruse, and check out authors they seem to gravitate to.
Audit your content. Does the way your website communicates properly reach your audience? If not, go through sentence-by-sentence and try to match the tone of your comps.
Audit your visual content. Check out your website. Does everything on your site, from your logo to the social icons, speak to your audience? Get really granular here. What about the colors? For example, if you’re looking to reach a gender-neutral audience, you’ll want to steer clear of colors that traditionally sway too far in either direction.
If you feel unsure about anything, ask for a second opinion, but not from your mom. Is there a friend you can count on to be honest with you? If so, reach out to that person and have them take a look at your website and branding against your list of goals. If not, check out Fiver, where you can find an actual designer to take a look for $5.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER: Branding is not all about what you “like” or don’t like unless you fall into the exact demographic you’re trying to reach. Remove yourself from the situation a bit and try to see it from your customer’s perspective. The most difficult, but most vital thing to remember about branding and messaging is that it’s not about what you want to say, it’s about what your reader/customer/client needs to hear.
Some Great Branding and Brand Building Tools:
WordPress: In our opinion, one of the best web hosts with a great SEO plugin called Yoast. This platform is easy to navigate and gives you more freedom than many templated site builders.
Pinterest: A great way to isolate visual inspiration before you put anything into action
Tailor Brands: If you cannot afford a designer, (who can sometimes charge upward of $250 for a logo) use this service to create a logo yourself.
Vistaprint: Can’t beat their prices for business cards. Looking to get a little fancy? Check out Moo!
Kate Albie Creative (on Etsy): an awesome resource for stamps to showcase your business in a consistent way without having to order branded materials or packaging (stamp Kate made for us above). We use it almost every day! An added bonus? you’d be supporting a small business! Kate also did the Ink & Well logo. We love using individual designers for projects like this, but we know it’s not realistic for everyone. See below for a stamp by Kate used on packaging for a client.
And of course, Ink & Well: We can help with everything from site building, branding, brand audits, copy writing, marketing, and everything in between including art direction and social. Check out our website and give us a holler. Don’t worry about budgets, just let us know your needs