Last week I got a chance to attend an event for small businesses put on by Meta (the company that owns Instagram and Facebook). I'm glad I was able to take some time off from my design projects to go get my learning on… just one of the perks of being your own boss. 😉 I was also lucky that it was within driving distance of my new place in San Antonio!
Throughout the day, there were different workshops you could attend and one of the workshops was about Marketing with Instagram. Of course, I was super interested! One of the very first things the speaker said was “Your brand is not just your logo."
I was so excited to hear this because it’s something I'm always trying to educate people about.
In fact, the entire presentation validated everything I know to be true from my own personal experience as a freelance designer, which is that most people don’t need a logo: they need a cohesive brand design that includes a logo. Your brand might START with a logo, but a logo, on its own, cannot carry the weight of everything your visual branding needs to do.
Let me break it down a little bit:
WHAT A LOGO CAN DO FOR YOUR BRAND:
✔️ Create a strong visual memory. A good logo will instantly conjure a memory of your company. The more people see your logo, the more it sticks in their brain.
✔️ Make a good first impression. A professionally designed logo shows you’re a trustworthy brand. You’re investing in your visual identity and you aren’t some fly-by-night operation.
✔️ Attract the right audience. A good logo is very strategic in communicating — without words — to your target audience. It works to signal that what you do is for them.
WHAT A LOGO CANNOT DO FOR YOUR BRAND:
✖️ Tell a story. Your logo is one part of it, but you need a full brand identity to tell the complete story. Think about the Apple logo. It doesn’t tell a story about tech, but it’s still not a bad logo.
✖️ Communicate your values. This will come across in your website copy, tagline, mission, core values, and your consistent actions. One little graphic cannot possibly do all that.
Maybe you’re reading this and wondering if you have been guilty of this. There’s no shame at all if you have only invested in a logo for your brand up until now. In fact, it might be a good thing that you now know where to focus your energy as you move forward and grow your business!
If you feel like you do have a full brand identity, it’s important to check in each year and see if that brand identity is still still working for you. You can ask yourself these three questions:
👉🏼 Is this brand identity embodying the highest vision for my business?
👉🏼 Will your brand identity be sustainable for years to come?
👉🏼 Does your brand identity position you as thought leader in your industry?
If you can’t answer “yes” to all of them, it might be time to consider working on a rebrand with a professional designer. I work with people on brand identity refreshes all the time if you have outgrown the overall design or your target audience has shifted.
Do you have questions about logo design or do you want me to take a look at your logo and share my honest thoughts? I would be happy to do that for you! Sending me a DM on Instagram is the best way to reach me these days, or you can email me at email@example.com
Let’s talk about asking for help. This is something I’m *not great* at, but I’ve had to become a lot better at it. I recently navigated a cross-country move by myself as a single mom and let me tell you, I had to reach out and ask for a lot of help during that process. It was immersion therapy!
I don’t know about you, but one of the worst aspects of moving for me is putting furniture back together once you get to your new place. I always go into it with an optimistic spirit, but after 10 minutes of trying to figure out which side is “Side C” or which bolt is the #14 bolt, I’m sweaty and annoyed and ready to give up and just buy inflatable furniture (remember that from the 2000s?)
After landing in San Antonio and attempting to tackle this awful task myself, I finally had to admit that this just isn’t something I am willing to do alone. I had to ask for help… just for my own sanity’s sake! I found someone on TaskRabbit and he took this dreaded task off my plate.
He also ended up helping with a bunch of other little projects that were overwhelming me. I wanted to kick myself for not doing it sooner. Why did I think I had to do it all myself?
I think my problem is I don’t like to “bother” people, especially if it's something I think I should just do myself. I am capable of assembling furniture, so there’s no need to get help.
But I am at a stage in my life where if I can reasonably afford to outsource things that are frustrating or challenging, I am going to do it. It’s just a little bit of kindness I can give myself.
As a designer, I will have clients that come to me sometimes after attempting to DIY their branding and I can tell they’re frustrated. They thought they could handle it, but found it to be so much more than they thought it would be.
✨ This is an act of courage! ✨
It’s not easy to admit that something is over your head or that you just don’t have the time or energy to take it on right now, especially once you’ve already started. It’s tough to bring someone in and at that point and admit that you actually don’t have the situation under control.
But I will tell you that I am always glad when someone does this. I am SO happy to take this task off your plate so you can do whatever it is that you do best and that lights you up and makes you feel excited. Just like the guy who helped me assemble my furniture! He was happy to step in and help because he knew what a relief it was to me that he was there to handle it!
When something feels like it’s stretching me too far, I’ve been working on reaching out to someone who can help or hiring a professional who can give me peace of mind. If design is one of those things for you — even if it’s just branded social media graphics or a quick logo update — I would be SO honored if you reached out to me so I could help you!
Can you relate? Do you find it difficult to ask for help sometimes? Leave me a comment below and let me know if you have any tips or advice for me! Yes, I am asking for help with asking for help! 😂 Seems like the perfect way to end this blog post, don’t you think?
At the time of writing this post, I’m still buried up to my neck in boxes from my recent cross-country move. We moved from Connecticut to San Antonio, Texas and I am having so much fun getting to know the area! I’m mostly looking forward to the fantastic Mexican food.
Our long trek across the 1,900+ miles between our old home and our new home went pretty smoothly. That is, until the very last leg of it (🎶 cue the dramatic music 🎶)
We needed to stop for the night around Little Rock and I thought, “hmmm… maybe this last overnight stay is an opportunity for me to teach my son a little lesson about resilience.”
A few days ago, we had been talking about the differences between hotels and motels, and he had informed me that motels “suck” and he didn’t ever want to stay in one.
I will admit that I’m not a *huge* fan of motels myself, but I have stayed in some nicer ones. But either way, I really wanted to teach Lennon that sometimes it’s okay to go with the second best option. I want him to be okay not having his way all the time, especially if it’s just for a short amount of time. It’s not that big of a deal. We can be resilient.
So, I booked us a room at a Motel 6. I specifically chose this one because I stayed in one in Atlanta that was pretty nice and didn’t have the doors that faced out into the street. Those always creep me out, especially when I’m traveling alone or with my kid.
You can probably guess how this story plays out. We got there and it wasn’t “just okay.” It was pretty bad. The rooms faced the street (nope, nope, nope) and my first impressions of the staff and the neighborhood were not the best. I could see on Lennon’s face that he agreed.
We spent about two minutes in our room before I pulled the plug on the whole operation. I got on my phone and booked us a room at a hotel across town for about $50 more.
I soooo wanted to have this amazing parenting moment, but this just wasn’t going to be the time. On top of that, I ended up losing out on $70 because the room was non-refundable. But you know what? I learned a valuable lesson out of it: a good night’s sleep where I feel safe is worth more than $70 to me.
It’s the same way with anything! Paying a little extra to get what you really want usually ends up being the right choice. I know for my business, every time I’ve tried to scrimp and save, I have regrets. I always wish I would have just saved a little more to get the tool or coach or course I really wanted instead of the cheaper option.
You can always find someone on Fiverr willing to make you a logo on Canva for $5 but trust me, you are going to be able to tell it’s a $5 logo. Always. Saving up for a brand identity package or even a professionally designed logo is always worth it, and it will communicate so much to your potential clients and customers!
I’m curious to hear what would you have done if you were in my shoes at the Motel 6 in Little Rock… would you have toughed it out for the night to teach your kid a lesson? Or would you have bailed like I did? Let me know in the comments!
Another perk of staying in nicer hotels is their beautiful aesthetics! I loved this mural!
People are pretty curious about the various tools I use as a professional designer, and today I want to talk about the most underrated tool I use ALL the time: Pinterest. Are you surprised?
Aside from Affinity Designer, which is my go-to design program, Pinterest is probably the tool I use most often when I’m working on projects for clients. It is just so easy to use when it comes to swapping ideas and inspiration, because everyone basically already knows how to use it.
Whenever I get a new client project, I will set up a new board on my Pinterest account and invite the client to be a contributor. Then, we can both add images to the board that we think align with the vision for the project.
We can leave notes on the pins to communicate and collaborate and I can really get a sense of what they’re envisioning for their project and similarly, they can see my thought process well before I hand over a design draft.
I thought it would be fun to share some screenshots of some of my past projects, along with the Pinterest boards that accompanied them so you can see how I pulled inspiration from them!
As you can see, Pinterest is NOT just for recipes and wedding planning! I think it’s pretty cool that you get to see the progression from idea to final product, and I know my clients like to participate in the ideation process, especially when they get to use a platform they already know and feel comfortable using.
If you’re a designer, do you also use Pinterest like this? Or do you have a different approach for sharing ideas with your clients? I would love to hear what you do and how well it works for you!
I have to say, I fall in love with all my big branding projects, but the work I did for Kris from Marble City Ballroom is definitely near the top of my “most fun projects ever” list.
When you spend months working with a client on their brand identity and website, you think about it all day long. Sometimes you even dream about it. So, I always make sure that I connect emotionally with the person and the story behind the brand before I say “yes” to working together. If it’s going to be such a big part of my life, I want to love it!
When Kris first reached out to me, he already knew exactly what he wanted. He had spoken to several local branding agencies, and just didn’t feel like they were taking the time to listen to him and get to know him as a business owner.
Even though I consider myself to be an introvert, I really love getting to know my clients on a personal level and learning more about their passions! Kris was so fascinating to talk to, and I could really feel how much he loved teaching people how to dance.
The first step was to chat about what his goals were for the brand and his vision. I have a simple questionnaire that I have clients fill out, and then we hop on a call to discuss it further. He really liked the direction I suggested and he gave me the creative space to do my thing.
This project consisted of a new brand identity and a website. I started with the brand identity because it’s so important to get the logo, colors, fonts, and style nailed down first before you even start working on the website or any other add-on materials.
He loved the logo design I came up with for Marble City Ballroom. He was looking for a brand identity that was fun, romantic, and classy. So, I chose a modern script font that I felt incorporated all of those elements and also looked sophisticated since his target audience is split between newlyweds who want to learn some dances for their wedding day and adults who want to learn the art of dance and get a little more joy out of life.
Here you can see the difference between the business card he was using before he hired me (left) and the new digital card I created for him (right):
Once he signed off on the new brand identity, it was time to get to work on the website! This isn’t something he originally planned on doing because he didn’t think it would be in his budget, but we were able to make it work by packaging it with the brand identity. I am so glad we went this route because the website is so stunning!
In addition to achieving the goals he wanted, this new brand identity and website has already brought in several new clients! When I initially chatted with him about working together, he said he really wanted his brand to look “better than the local competition” and I think he has definitely achieved that goal.
He wrote the kindest testimonial, and I just wanted to share that with you here:
If you’re interested in talking about branding services, you can always reach out to me via my contact page or by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Karla is an award-winning designer, branding expert and mentor. She has designed for brands including BRIT+CO, Discovery, HGTV, Food Network, Facebook, and more.