New Work: Couture Concepts NY

Squarespace web design for wedding events company
Squarespace Website Design for Couture Concepts NY

We recently launched the new design for Couture Concepts NY, an events planning company in New York. The website was designed for Squarespace and looks truly lovely! I haven't made a feminine design that I loved this much since my collaboration with Laura from Trendinozze. Coincidentally, Couture Concepts is run by a designer named Laura. I think Lauras tend to have good taste for design... 

Fio & Fox Branding

I started working with Douglas and Edilse on the branding for Fio & Fox almost 1 year ago. We worked on all the basics first: logo design, product photography, and a basic strategy. 

This was one of my favorite moodboards ever. And definitely one of my favorite initial logo drafts ever. 

We started the website in April, but the project had to be put on hold while they were going through a busy season. Now we finally had time to close the website design, business cards, and Facebook cover!

This was a truly fun project. I loved being able to help with the brand naming, choosing the colors, font style, designing the fox... Oh, and bellow are some photos from their first collection (Sunshine).

Behind The Branding: Lemon Bears

Lemon Bears idea is simple: create comfy and adorable clothing and accessories for kids and young teens. It's starting out with bows, headbands, and bags, but has big plans for the near future. 


Creating the Logo

The branding is minimal but fun and cute. We're taking advantage of the name to make the logo as much of a literal translation of the brand's name as possible -still keeping it minimal and fun, which are the main inspiration words for this project.


The Brand Photography

Some of the product photos are turning out so nicely that it's been easy to use them on collateral materials as well. The brand photography is walking hand-in-hand with the brand strategy (as it should be with every part of our brands, right?)


The Brand Strategy

Photography: To keep a strong sense of uniqueness and branding on the shop, the idea is to have all products photographed from the same angle, the same amount of times.

Social Media: To make sure social media is being handled well, the aim is to keep Facebook and Instagram 5x a week. And Snapchat the behind-the-scenes 3x a week. Pinterest will be added to the game in the next couple of months, when the brand is more stable. Of course, all handlers are the same: @LemonBearsShop

Web Presence: Lemon Bears has absolutely no plans of having a website right now. The plan is to have a blog in the near future. But for now, the focus is 100% on the Etsy shop. BUT, the domain (LemonBears.com) and self-hosted email account (Shop@LemonBears.com) are already guaranteed and setup.

 

Hope you enjoyed learning what went behind the branding for Lemon Bears! Happy weekend, guys!

Tools & Ideas For Managing Time

Managing time is not an easy thing for most creatives... I've been starting my days with a to-do list. Even though I'm rarely able to complete it, it helps me stay organized, focused, and manage my time better. The Business Organization Tools post has a list of awesome to-do list apps and sites -but I'm really a pen + paper gal when it comes to to-do lists.

Ideas For Managing Time

1- POST SCHEDULING is usually the first I do on Mondays. I schedule most of my Tweets and Instagram posts. I've tried Buffer and Dlvr.it, but Hootsuite was the one that fit my needs best. This way, I have more free time during the whole week!

2- Then I go ahead and make my TO-DO LIST. The priority order goes from top to bottom, this way if I can't cross all items off my list, I know the most important ones were done, at least.

3- CHEK EMAILS and social media in the morning, then I do my best to stay away from it until mid-afternoon. These 2 things are incredibly distracting and time-consuming, so the least I do it, the better. Facebook groups will be the death of me... ♥︎

Tools For Managing Time

1- TIMER TAB stays open on my browser all day. I setup alarms to make sure I know when to stop doing one task and start another. I even setup alarms to remind me of eating (boy, am I awful at keep healthy habits! ...)

2- GOBOXI helps me organize emails, plus keeps tasks and calendar in one place. It definitely helps me stay on track with things. *I keep long-term goals and tasks digitally, short-term ones on paper.

As a creative person, I know how hard it can be to focus and get tasks done when our brains are having a million cool ideas at the same time. Amanda Oliver wrote a very nice post with 14 time management tips for creatives that I absolutely recommend to anyone!

Best eCommerce Storefronts For Small Businesses

eCommerce Storefronts
eCommerce Storefronts

I've tried so many eCommerce storefronts, I lost track of it. Some are easy to use, but lack tools and flexibility. The ones with with great tools and flexibility are usually expensive or complex (*cough*WooCommerce*cough*). It's a battle -just like choosing the best  platform for our own website or blog. There's not one platform that has it all or is perfect. The trick is to find the one that will fit our needs and offers the tools we actually need. I LOVE using 3rd party eCommerce-focused sites for my businesses, because they are eCommerce-ready and make it much easier to upload, organize, sell, and keep track of our products. Plus, if you sell hundreds of items, it won't slow down your website due to heavy images or files. There are dozens of pros for using a 3rd party eCommerce service/website, and there are dozens of cons -like fees! The dreadful fees... Well, let me break down my experience with my favorite 5 providers.

Etsy

Some hate it, some love it. It truly deserves a post of it own -that's how long the pros and cons list is. Etsy doesn't allow you to brand your shop much and it almost completely takes away your shop's identity -people remember they bought something on Etsy and not on your shop (they usually don't even remember your shop's name). But dedicating yourself to building a brand experience counts a lot there -like sending follow-up emails and messages, offering discounts, inviting buyers to your newsletter, etc. The best thing about Etsy is that it is a huge marketplace, so if you do it right, you have a decent shot at succeeding.

Best Way to Use it: Have an Etsy shop to attract more prospects. Use it to display your best products, but not necessarily all of them. Think of Etsy like a shop window, one that is filled with few but awesome products that will make people want to go in and see more. Offering things like product customization and top customer experience will make all difference for your shop on Etsy.

Dreadful fees: $0.20 USD for listing an item, 3.5% on each sale.

Creative Market

This is the place for all digital needs. I still remember when they first started and sent me an invitation to join them via Etsy convo. I expected it to be another dead end website, but I created a shop there anyway. Boy, am I glad I did it! When it comes to photography and website templates or themes, Creative Market might be on the top of the list right now (or very close).

Best Way to Use it: Creative Market is great if you want to sell stock/styled photos, Wordpress themes, or fonts. These are definitely top selling products there. They have their own marketplace and generate leads without you having to worry much. Audience there is pretty picky, though. You can get great comments and feedbacks there, but there are many uneducated people in the audience that will push customer service deeply. So be prepared!

Dreadful fees: 30% on each sale. Say whaaaat? Yep.

Tictail

I tried Tictail as soon as it launched and loved it! It has beautiful and minimal designs, and allows heavy design customization, charges no fees for listing, and is the perfect solution for many sellers out there. It is pretty popular in Europe. The down side is that every cool feature is an add-on -a paid one, at that. So adding your own .com domain, shipping calculator, digital downloads, etc, will cost you a one-time or a monthly fee. The add-on fees are not super expensive, but...

Best Way to Use it: Tictail is not ideal if you want to depend only on your online store to succeed online, as they have no marketplace and no strong SEO/mapping/indexing system (or so I heard). Instead, use Tictail as a shop for your already existing website or blog. Your website or blog should be the one doing the work to attract the audience, then redirect them to your Tictail - like having a "shop" tab on your site/blog menu bar.

Dreadful fees: None, unless you need to add the cool add-ons.

Storenvy

Storenvy was another storefront that I tried as soon as it launched. I remember lots of known designers and bloggers had shops there at the time (2012 or so). For some reason, the hype died quickly. I used to make at least 4 sales a week -which I consider not bad (I always sold on different storefronts at once). Sorenvy allows heavy design customization and has a good inventory backend.

Best Way to Use it: Storenvy has a marketplace of it own (like Etsy and CM), but it will work best for your advantage if you redirect your audience to it -like you'd do with Tictail. So focus on building your client base through your website or blog, then redirect them to your Storenvy shop.

Dreadful fees: 10% of each sale.

Self-Hosted Shop

Well, it depends on the platform you'll be using. Seriously, nothing beats having your own, self-hosted shop, if you have the time to dedicate yourself to it. If the client can buy directly from your own website, that would definitely be a plus on the brand experience...  If you have the budget, I strongly suggest running your shop on Squarespace - you have client info security, uptime guarantee, less worries, beautiful eCommerce design. If you're on a tight budget, working with WooCommerce on Wordpress might be the best option. By working with WooCommerce, you will pay zero fees, list unlimited products, be fully responsible for running every little detail of your online shop. WooCommerce appearance sucks, but you can customize it yourself or hire a designer/developer to help you.

Best Way to Use it: Have a secure hosting, as Google has been pretty tight about eCommerce sites lately. Get a SSL for your domain, use a secure and known hosting, keep your site always updated (all plugins, latest WP version, themes, etc). If you're running the shop on a site like Squarespace or Weebly, security stuff is 100% up to them!

Dreadful fees: Depends on what storefront provider you choose. With Wordpress + WooCommerce, you have hosting + domain expenses only. Squarespace has some pretty dreadful fees...

Ficèk Knits Branding Design

Logo Design and Business Cards for Ficèk Knits
Logo Design and Business Cards for Ficèk Knits

Ficèk Knits is a nature and earth-inspired brand, that sells products created with the most pure and high quality yarns and lamber. Made in Oregon, USA, Ficek Knits is a brand with a mission: create heirloom quality items, create memories.

Logo Design and Branding for Ficèk Knits
Logo Design and Branding for Ficèk Knits
Logo Design for Ficèk Knits
Logo Design for Ficèk Knits
Logo Design and Branding for Ficèk Knits
Logo Design and Branding for Ficèk Knits
Moodboard and Logo Design Process for Ficèk Knits
Moodboard and Logo Design Process for Ficèk Knits

Jen Backstein Branding Design

Jen Backstein is an interior designer from Canada, with a minimal and elegant style - for herself and for her work. As her brand expands, we worked on a visual identity that could reflect her minimalism and elegance, in a way that would best showcase her work and help her clients easily understand what they can expect from her work and the experience of working with JBI.

JenInteriorsBranding

JenInteriorsBranding

InitialLogos

InitialLogos

BrandGuideBoard

BrandGuideBoard

Homepage

Homepage

Services

Services

White Legal Strategy Branding

whitelegal
whitelegal
WLogoDesign1.jpg

White Legal Strategy's branding was planned and designed to attract creatives and artists who want to protect their work, but through a lawyer that truly understand how to communicate with creatives and what the struggles of the artist community is. We developed a minimal and modern identity design, with a touch of old school and vintage to make it artistic and unique.

Brand_Identity_Board
Brand_Identity_Board
Cristine_Home
Cristine_Home
ChristineLearnPage
ChristineLearnPage
LawBrandDesign
LawBrandDesign

Branding Process: Inspiration Board and Moodboards

SquaresMoodboard

DOWNLOAD MOODBOARD TEMPLATES HERE

Every design process starts with inspiration. And since Pinterest was created, that's my #1 place to collect images for moodboards. Although my process consists of a questionnaire to help me understand the clients needs and goals, there's nothing like getting visual with things -it really is worth a thousand words (or more). So my first step is to ask clients to create a branding board on Pinterest and collect images that would represent or connect with their brands. Then I create a moodboard...

Moodboards, as the name says, is a board that will encompass the brand's mood and guide me through the design process. 

For the past several years, I used to make moodboards that fit perfectly into a certain area -where all edges were aligned. Like this one bellow.

SymetricalMoodboard

Since early 2015 I've been into asymmetrical moodboards (bellow). They save me tons of time, by not having to arrange and align  each image perfectly.

AssymetricalMoodboard

Breanna shared a moodboard style she's been using lately -which consists of squares only (like the one on the very top of this post) . It's super practical and helpful in getting a beautiful board done + saving loads time.

I have all the templates for moodboards above available for download via Dropbox. So feel free to download and use them as you need!

The Ideal Size of a Blog Post + Link Love

Writing Blog Posts

I always found weird that I love reading books, but usually hate reading a long blog post. Anything bigger than 2 or 3 paragraphs at a time could become a torture to me.  I have recently realized that the problem isn't reading long posts. The problem is that long posts usually don't have a quality that is good enough to keep my attention. The same applies to long landing pages (watch out, coaches!).

One of my favorite blogs to visit is Cocorrina -beautiful images, meaningful and to-the-point text. Perfection.

On the other hand, posts like How To Write Your Best Blog Post by Vanessa Williams, Systemizing Client Onboarding by Breanna, or all of Regina Anaejionu's posts just can't be small. They are long because they are sharing valuable info, that needs to be explained properly. Somewhat long readings? Yes. Boring? Hell no!

Bottom line is: long posts are great, as long as they are great from top to bottom. If not, it's best to just write a short post. Right?

How to Go From Blogger to Business

blogtobusinessHey guys! It's been a busy week, as my birthday approaches (09/23) and I'm trying hard to have the new Branding Creatives up and running. There are so many awesome things coming this way! eCourses and workshops (online and in person!), a whole project dedicated to creatives who are or want to be entrepreneurs. I'm also working with some fantastic businesses on their new brand designs and I can't wait to share with you. For now, let me share that I wrote my first guest post in a long, long time. I'm thrilled! I wanted to share some insight on How To Transition From Blogger to Business and it's live at the Wonder Forest! I thought this would be a great opportunity to share what I know about the topic with a community that is amazing, full of talented creatives who just need a little push to be successful.

So, see you there, right?

PS: Writing a guest post is even more exciting than I remember!

Business Organization Tools For Creatives & Entrepreneurs

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I don't think I could run a business without some really good business organization tools that are available these days. Although I think I actually need an assistant again, I'll make it work with my favorite tools for a while longer. I have a huge list of tools that save my life (and business!) on a daily basis, so I thought I should share them with you.

TO-DO LISTS

Any.do is a great to-do list, specially if you like breaking things into categories and working them on at a time. Great tool for when a project management site is too much, but a simple to-do list is too little.

Wunderlist is a list app and I'm not sure if it offers a web version or not, but looks great. It allows us to upload file, share, comment on a file, etc. Great for people who collaborate on projects a lot and need a list on the go.

TeuxDeux is the simplest to-do list I've ever seen. I have a premium account and think it is totally worth it.

GoBoxi is the one making me leave TeuxDeux little by little. I just discovered it, but it offers a fantastic email tool -which prioritizes emails beautifully; as well as a calendar and to-do list -with a reminder!

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

AsanaTrello, and Podio are my top choices for project collaboration and management. Podio being the use I used the most. All three of them are really great and offer most things we need to collaborate in projects with clients, without flooding our inboxes.

I have tried BaseCamp, but I don't think the price is justifiable. I know a lot of people who love it, but it didn't rock my world...

If I have to go premium, 17Hats is the way to go for me. With collaboration tools, allowing to upload files, categorize projects, questionnaires, contract, send invoices, and more, this is the most comprehensive tool for entrepreneurs and startups. So, if you have the money, this is the one I suggest you invest the money in. But truly, most of us can make do (and really well) without having to use 17Hats or another premium project management tool. 17Hats has loads of features and what kept me from using them was that there were too many features I'd be paying for, without needing them at all.

CLOUD STORAGE

I use Google Drive to keep all my files. Offering 15GB of hosting on the free account, it puts Dropbox's shy 2GB to shame. I currently pay $1.99/mo for a 50GB space and it is so worth it! All the tools and apps Google Drive syncs with, the extra space, the integration with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, among other things, made me stay away from Dropbox for a whiiiile.

Eventually, I gave in to Dropbox. I use it mostly to share files with clients, because it seems like this is the storage platform clients like to use the  most. No idea why. I have to say, though, that the clean design of Dropbox is something that attracts me, like a Mac -mostly, just the design.

What are your favorite tools to help keep things organized? I'll be sharing my list little by little here, so let me know if you have any specific requests (contracts, eCommerce, bookkeping, etc).

SEO in 10 Steps

IMG_0071-1

SEO is such a crazy thing and we all have doubts about it. It's probably more complicated than those physics classes in High School.  While I'm absolutely no SEO expert, I'm often sharing the bits of info I know with one client at a time, so writing a basic post about it was overdue. If you want huge and complex step-by-step guides, the internet is full of them. This is my 10 steps to awesome SEO, to help you nail SEO and help your site rank better.

1 - Register on Google Analytics

You're probably tired of hearing about Google Analytics, but it is the #1 tool to help anyone understand their site's behaviors and performance better. Some of the must-do's there are:

  • Analyze the bounce rates and think of ways to engage visitors
  • Learn where your visitors are coming from and explore your options to the max
  • See which pages are the most visited and make sure everything is up-to-date on them

2 - Bing Webmasters

If you're smart, you've already registered on Bing Webmasters. Bing indexes sites differently from Google and things like how close you are from your prospect comes first, where Google would rank based on popularity and other factors. Bing Webmasters has lots of great tools that you can use to improve your website visibility and let's you keep up on how your site is doing on Bing's search.

3 - Google Webmasters

Talking about visibility, Google Webmasters is the one place you can't miss when working on your site. It keeps you up to date when Google can't crawl any pages or when visitors are reaching too many error pages on your site.

  • Submit your sitemap to be indexed and optimize your site's visibility. If you use Wordpress, Yoast creates a sitemap for you. If you're not, use XML-Sitemaps.com to create one.
  • Use Page Speed Insights to see how well a page is performing and what needs fixing on it
  • Explore other Google Developers tools that could help you improve your website performance

4 - Google+ For Brands

Create a page on Google+ For Businesses. Having a Google account for business is really important, because Google takes several things into consideration when raking a website, one of them being your site's reviews on your G+ business page.

  • Fill all fields in your brand account (business hours, address, add photo, etc)
  • Confirm your brand ownership
  • Keep your page busy and updated with your posts
  • Easily keep up with your page insights, Google Analytics stats, AdWord ads and Reviews from the dashboard

5 - Keywords and Structure

Use proper keywords and structure on your pages and posts is probably the most important thing you can do for your site's SEO.

  • Use Yoast plugin if you're on Wordpress. It is, hands down, the best SEO plugin you could have on your site. Fill all fields on your plugin settings, connect all accounts, and then use it fully on each page and post you create.
  • If you're not on Wordpress, all (or most) sites will give you the option of filling SEO fields for the website (overall) and for each page (individually). Look for your site settings and always fill these beauties.
  • Read this post about best post title length and blog text length that helps your SEO
  • Keep your text natural and interesting, but don't forget to use good keywords. AdWords has a good keywords tool, so does KeyWord Tool.

6 - Quality & Freshness

Believe it or not, keeping high quality content and, specially, fresh content is what could boost your SEO the most. From all search tools, Google is probably the one that considers originality and quality the most. So, if you have a new approach about something or want to share a different point-of-view about something, don't be shy, go ahead and write something refresh and rich in quality, with just the right amount of keywords to give your content that little kick.

7 - Go Responsive!

If your website is not responsive yet, Google is already looking down on you. And it is better to have a responsive website, than having a regular website and a mobile version of your website. A responsive design is a design that will adjust itself according to the screen size, fitting all screen sizes.

No, responsive is not the art of shrinking your site size (making font, image and layout size smaller to fit in a phone screen). If you see your site in the exact same layout, with the exact same elements on a big computer screen and on a tablet or phone, then your site is not responsive -the fact that all is tiny doesn't matter. A responsive design will usually remove the least important elements so that the site fits the screen well, without losing quality, being too small to read or too hard to navigate.

8 - Go Secure! SSL...

Google recently announced that it will be giving preference to secure sites in their search ranking. So, if you can, get a SSL for your site. This is usually a premium

9 - Analyze Your Website

There are some really good tools that helps us see what we could be doing better with our websites. All I just listed above works great, but if you're looking for something faster and simpler, these are the best I've found:

  • Visual.ly creates visual reports (infographics) and sends to your email weekly. Create a report for Google Analytics in seconds!
  • Website Grader is a new and free service that allows you to analyze a website in seconds and suggest what you can do to improve your website performance. I'm really enjoying this one! (Curiosity note: my Weebly websites ALWAYS perform better than my Wordpress sites).
  • Semalt has some really interesting services. They still offer a great free report that you can download (in PDF). The paid features are great and will save you loads of time and headache with SEO.

10 - Keep Things Updated

  • Check for broken links and fix them
  • Avoid 404 errors and make sure to fix them asap
  • Take care of 301 redirects and make sure old/broken urls are redirecting to new/working pages or posts
  • Go through content that is unnecessary or outdated and either fix/repurpose it or get rid of it

Bonus Tips

1 - Register on Alexa: Want to check your national and international overall ranking? Register your site for free on Alexa and keep up with how your site is ranking!

2 - Explore Google Analytics and Google Developers: If you're going to deeply explore that Google Analytics and  Google Developers beasts, you might wanna visit the Google Webmaster Academy. There's some good info there -and it's fairly simple to keep up with.

Hope these tips help you boost your SEO, get better rankings and get more visibility for your site. These are just the beginning, when it comes to SEO. It's a really extensive matter and quite tiring, really. I rather stay with the basics (most of what I posted above), keep sharing good content and cross my fingers. Ha!

Brand Strategy For New Businesses - Intro

IMG_5410-1

I have been doing a lot of brand strategy for new businesses lately, so I thought I should share some of it with you guys. Although every brand is unique and will need unique techniques, I thought that by sharing the outline of what I've been doing could help some new brands out there!

Many people come to me without being sure of what they want. And many people coming to me without realizing their full potential! There are some really awesome people out there, with so much to offer to the world! Ok, let me get started with this brand strategy planning thing.

Getting the Brand Strategy Started

My first question is: What do you love doing?

Because if you just want to do something you like mildly or want to do something for the money, you'll get bored really fast and all this investment will be a big waste of time and money.

Many times, people come to me with one idea for their business and after we start talking, they realize they actually want something slightly different.

#2 - Who is your target market?

Yes, the so called "ideal audience." Who do you want to work with often? Moms are a very different public from 15-year-old girls, for example. Let's say you're starting a customized party favors business, if your style is clean and minimal, your products would be a best fit for weddings, engagement parties, etc. And your target market will probably be women between 22 and 35 years-old. All these details will depend on where you are located -in Brazil, for example, it's unusual to see women over 30 doing the wedding of their dreams party, in the USA, it's very common.

So, research your market, think of your own style and products. Define what is a good fit for you and your brand. 

#3 - What is the budget for the business?

Most people have a really tight budget, so it is important to make a plan first things first to make sure we'll have enough to cover all the initial costs. For services and virtual products-based business, we can start with $0 sometimes. But if it is a tangible product-based business, a budget is essential.

While planning the budget, think about all tools you'll need to buy and research how much each one of them costs. Prioritize only what you absolutely need to buy to start your business and plan to buy the other things as you need them -hopefully, you'll already be making some money and will be able to invest on extra tools.

The Brand Visual Identity

Now you know who you want to connect with and how much you have to invest in each detail. I can not say how important your visual identity is. This is how you will visually communicate your message, your value, and so much more! Having a beautifully designed visual identity will allow you to look more professional and legit, more serious about what you do, more trustworthy. It will also help you attract the right clients and convert visitors into buyers. Of course, there are a thousand things involved in all this and that go way beyond visual identity design, but this is where it all starts. This is how things visually take shape and you see your business taking form. It is an important step and I always suggest you work with a professional. Consider your deadline and budget and find the right professional to work with you.

To get you started, here are some posts about branding and visual identity I wrote recently:

1 - Define Your Brand Identity

2 - The Difference Between Brand and Brand Design

3 - Customer Experience Branding

4 - Understanding Personal Branding

5 - 5 Steps to Create a Brand Design You'll Love

6 - Rebranding Takes Time. Do it Right.

7 - Product Branding

The Brand Web Strategy

#1 - What is the best social media platform for you? 

Not all platforms are good for all types of businesses. Not all platforms will have your ideal audience in it. You won't be able to handle all platforms on your own. There are a thousand reasons why you have to define the ideal social media platforms for you and your business! Choose a couple and rock it!

#2 - What is the best platform for your website?

Some people need the power and flexibility of Wordpress. Others need something where they can build a site and update it themselves. Others want the security. List your priorities and research the best platform for you. There's no need to go with what everyone is using, use what will fit your needs!

#3 - Identify tools to promote your brand

One of the most important things is your portfolio, and here's a recent post about connecting your portfolio to your brand. There's also blogging, newsletter, paid ads, FB groups and an infinite number of options. Again, you'll have to define the ones you can handle, that fit your schedule and your budget and go for it! But having tools or tactics to promote your business is an absolute must in your brand's strategy.

I'm writing a free mini-course 5 STEPS TO BRAND CLARITY where I'm breaking all the above into parts and have more important points added. I wrote the outlines yesterday and will probably finish all of it today (the writing part, anyway). I wanted to add videos, but I don't think it will be possible until September. Anything you'd like me to add to this mini-course?

Define Your Brand Identity

Letter and Responsive Website Design

Brand identity is one of the most important things in your brand. It visually represents your brand, helps you connect with the right audience and makes you unique. When it comes to visually defining it, things become tricky. A lot is involved in visually defining a brand:

  • Being able to be true to your style
  • Connect with the right people/community
  • Clearly sending the brand's message

One thing I've learned is that we all should be branding with purpose. Defining the audience and giving the brand personality are essential parts of branding, but when we have a clear purpose for our brands, it all becomes much easier.

So, before I finish this post, I'll leave some things I think can help anyone on their journey to achieve the perfect branding (if such a thing exists!):

Discover

  • Understand your purpose
  • Define your audience
  • List your goals, services, products
  • Be honest about the things you like and dislike in your brand
  • Organize your ideas and eliminate what doesn't seem doable at the time

Define & Develop

  • Collect inspiration and define your visual style
  • Define your brand's message and purpose clearly
  • Research your market
  • Understand your audience or community needs
  • Shape all aspects of your brand (experience, visual design, mission...)

Deliver

  • Choose the right social media platforms according to your brand's needs and purpose
  • Have a consistence presence in your field or community
  • Inspire your community and make the difference
  • Always stay one step ahead: get creative at all times and pay close attention to what works
  • Change whenever needed and learn with your branding changes -it is called evolution!

Stay fresh and ahead of the game. Be bold and experiment. Live the dream, dare and be yourself all the time. Being unique is something that will reflect on your brand, so don't be afraid of being different!

New Branding Design Work: Lost Inhibitions

Branding Design is one of my favorite things to do, and I've been working on some awesome branding projects lately. One of them for Lost Inhibitions -a blog that talks about novels, lingerie and being free from inhibitions. Perfect theme and name, right? Jai, the editor-in-chief, found me through my Etsy shop . It was a super fun and quick project -and we were done in about 2 weeks.

It's fantastic to work on projects that have a real meaning behind it, with easy-going and open-minded clients who know what they want.

The moodboard has bold colors, interesting women poses and strong font styles. 

Here are some of the first logo drafts for the project. We ended up with the logo you saw on the photo (with the feet/shoes up) -which was definitely one of my favorites. 

Connecting Your Portfolio To Your Brand Strategy

Business card design by Kelly Brito

DOWNLOAD WORKSHEET HERE

Like everything else on a small business, building a portfolio looks easy, but isn't. And we know that building a portfolio the right way is a big part of the path to entrepreneurial happiness. So, I created a simple worksheet to help on connecting your portfolio to your brand strategy. After all, everything should be a part of your strategy, including your portfolio.

It all revolves around silly mistakes that happen when we are not sharp on our business or branding clarity. Even I, after 10 years+, still do mistakes that won't help me get or communicate exactly what I want. Keeping every little detail in check can be difficult -specially if you do it all on your own. That's why things like creating editorial calendars, having a clear business strategy and a business coach can be helpful!

Your portfolio is part of your brand, can be part of your branding and should be part of your strategy.

When I say that your portfolio can be part of your branding, I mean that many of us use the portfolio is such carefree way, that it sometimes do the opposite: completely disconnect from our branding and sends a message truly far from what the rest of the branding does. Let's say your brand has this romantic and vintage vibe, but your portfolio showcases edgy and modern work. Something is wrong there! And visitors will definitely be confused.

When building a portfolio, there are quite a few things we need to keep in mind. Some of the most important are:

  • Are these the things I want to keep offering?
  • Is this the style of work I want to attract more of?
  • Is this the quality I want to display as my work?

Now, when I say your portfolio can be part of your strategy, you can probably see why, right? I mean, your portfolio is just another mean to attract the right clients. Well, not "just another", but one of the best guns you have. Your portfolio should be an important tool in converting visitors into clients. And the way to do it is building a strong portfolio, with the right work, that clearly represents what you do. It will not only show what you can do, but will get you more of that same type of work -which, hopefully, is what you want.

This worksheet is more of a mini-deliberation paper -divided in Questioning, Understanding and Fixing it!, that should help you first define the basics about your brand and branding, then how to properly connect your portfolio, so that it helps you attract and convert more of the right type of clients. No worries, it's short! 3 pages with 2 to 5 questions each, which will help you go deeper into what you want for your brand and business.

If you  have any doubts, feel free to mention me on the PDF file -it's open to comments.

How To Start A Podcast

How to start a podcast

A new wave of podcasts have hit us lately. Many of them are really terrific. And I know many creatives out there would like to create a podcast too, so let me share what I know about how to start a podcast.

I first got into podcasting in 2005 and created my first podcast at the end of that same year (a spirituality-oriented podcast in Portuguese, which I don't quite recommend, but you can hear it here. ) Podcasting has been getting popular very fast for the past 2-3 years, and the creative field is taking a huge advantage of it (lucky us!). Listening to podcasts is a way to connect with creatives we admire.

Podcasts keep popping up and we keep being fascinated by them. Being Boss, Make it Happen... beauties like these two are being created more and more, daily. And I'm so freaking glad that creatives are getting out of the shadow and sharing what they know. But this wave of podcasts on our creative field is relatively new, so we don't see many people sharing why we should have podcasts or how to start your own.

There are many ways to look at why creating a podcast can be beneficial: creating a podcast is a way to share our knowledge, build influence, create a community, connect with like-minded people. It is a great addition to your web strategy, if you want to use it with that sole intention. So, whatever reason moves you, here are some steps to help get you started:

1 - Get the equipment

Honestly, any built-in microphone will do, but their quality is not great. If you can, start with a good usb mic. If you can't get it now, keep it in mind for the near future. Good audio makes all the difference in a podcast, just like good video on webcasts and good photographs on book covers. Snowball has some great tabletop mics.

2 - Decide the schedule

What can you do now? Once a week, twice a month, once a month? Be honest with what you can handle at the moment, as people will be expecting it at a certain day and time once you've set the date. Being unstable on podcast episodes means you'll be talking to nobody really soon.

3 - Plan the first 5 episodes

Because things can pick up really quickly and you have your work, your family, your life... Once you've set the schedule, you'll have to stick to it as best as you can. So, planning, recording, editing and posting will take time. At least have the ideas laid out and ready to go.

4 - Research and write down what you'll talk about

If you're hosting the show alone, a quick research can be really helpful. One thing is just go with the flow and keep talking with a co-host. Another is talking for 30 or 60 minutes on your own. You may run out of things to say. So, if you have to, do a quick research. Do bullet points on what you're going to cover.

5 - Don't read your whole episode

Please! It is painfully obvious for the  listeners when you're reading the whole episode from a paper. It sounds disappointingly artificial. Not that it is a bad thing, everyone will still appreciate your efforts, but doesn't sound natural -even if you're a great reader. Reading well and being spontaneous is very different. Which one do you prefer?

6 - Record ahead of time

As I said, it takes time. You may have to record the same thing a few times. Then editing it. The busier your life is, the more ahead of the scheduled air dates you should record it. Wavepad is a pretty decent voice recorder and editor that you can download for free. Audacity is even better than Wavepad, with more features, and also free!

7 - Upload your podcast!

There are great hosts out there. If you don't have a blog or site, something like Podomatic, Podbean or Libsyn might be the best option, as they come with an audio blog for you -easy to post audio + text, share your post and have a blog at the same time. If you already have a website or blog, using Soundcloud and iTunes is the best choice. They both have really wide reach -in fact, you should upload your audio on those two even if you decide to primarily use another audio hosting service. Make sure people rate your podcast on iTunes, as this will boost your visibility as you rise.

8 - Generate a podcast feed

If you are hosting the audio through your own site or blog -Blogger, Wordpress and Squarespace allow audio hosting- you may need to burn your podcast feed. Your site will probably burn your feed as RSS2 and you'll need your audio feed to be XML. Wordpress has a few podcast plugins here, which should already give your audio feed the needed XML format. You can also go to FeedBurner and burn your feed through there -it even offers an specific option for podcasters.

9 - Spread the word. Hardcore.

Share the news on social media, make sure to get iTunes reviews/stars, stick to your schedule, keep content and audio quality high. By doing all these, you have big chances of having a successful podcast.

10 - Accept advertisers

A short 30 to 60 seconds advertising does not bother that much, honestly. It bothers much more on videos than on audio -specially if you're the one recording it. I would suggest that you do the ad mid-way through the episode.

If you're planning to start a podcast, share it here. And best of luck with your podcast! Let me know if you have any doubts and would like to chat about it. Stay creative, friends!

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