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Brand and web designer located in Virginia. Enneagram 2, Wedding Photographer, and lover of rainy days. I thrive off of building heartfelt brands for female-led businesses

Meet Andrea

If you’re looking to DIY your brand, there are a few things you need to consider before jumping right in.

If you have more of a time resource vs. financial resource, DIYing your brand might be the right option for you right now (and that’s so okay!) Before you get started, here are some tips that can propel you forward.

  1. Your Values

Voice, Values, Mission Statement, and Your Heart Story all combine to piece together your Brand Values.

Your values are uncompromising truths and guiding principles that articulate what you stand for, and the primary driving force behind your brand, business, behaviors, and decisions.

I have a whole separate blog post on how to discover your brand values – it basically sums up ALL of point #1 into a beautifully packaged blog post with tips on how to find what actually matters to you.

More on the Heart Story later (see Tip #3) BUT I feel like “finding your why” is such a buzz-phrase in the creative business world. Sure, you need to have a reason beyond just wanting to be a business owner, but REALLY dig deep and find why you’re still doing what you do.

For example, I started my brand design company because I longed for a space that allowed me financial, creative, and time freedom. I wanted to allow myself freedom in all aspects of my life, and that’s what I want to provide for my clients when designing their brand and web presence.

2. Your Target Audience

I don’t just mean demographics, I mean the TRUE ins and outs of your audience. Create an audience persona (or 2-3 if you’re serving multiple audiences that don’t have many similarities) and really, REALLY dive deep into who they are.

Here are some questions I ask my brand strategy clients in order to get a more detailed glimpse into their audience:

  • Are they married or single? Why?
  • What’s their income?
  • Did they go to college or are they self-made?
  • Do they have kids? Why or why not?
  • What are their goals? Their fears? What keeps them awake at night?
  • What are their financial habits?
  • Where do they hangout online? Why?
  • Are they more introverted or extroverted?

After you answer some of those questions (and believe me, that list doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the questions I ask) you need to know WHY they do all of these things. Dig really, really deep.

Hot Tip: your audience is ever-changing. It’s okay if, as your business grows, so does your audience, their interests, and their entire identity. Life is full of change, and as you develop more strategic initiatives inside of your business, your business will therefore reflect those changes.

3. Competitive Analysis

Analyzing your competitors is a must when DIYing your own brand. I knowwww it seems unrelated (because your brand is about YOU ya know?) but also

I know it feels easier to blend in versus stand out, but you MUST try to stray away from what competitors are doing. For example: if you’re a photographer and you see a lot of your photography competition have light, neutral colors and a script font inside of their brand identity, that’s a good example of something you should NOT have. Make yourself different from your competition.

After dissecting their visual elements, it’s time to go through their brand voice, values, similarities, and differences. You should spend about 25-30 minutes going through each competitor, checking out their website and social media pages.

4. Your Differentiating Factor

Something I love to include with my brand strategy clients is to outline what makes them genuinely unique.

A differentiating factor is the situation, attribute, experience, or perspective that YOU have within your industry. This is something that cannot be easily manipulated as it’s THAT unique to you. You can incorporate this quality and infuse it into your brand identity.

When going over my brand strategy carryall, I realized that I have SUCH a unique perspective when it comes to brand design because I *literally* went through the process myself. Throughout that brand strategy process, I realized just how unique I was (in a place where I felt like it was a saturated market, instead I realized what I can bring to the table). Just like me, YOU also have qualities, experiences, and values, that literally set you apart from anybody else.

Hot Tip: Think about your Heart Story (credit: Emma Natter). This is what helped define my differentiating factor and unique perspective when it came to my brand design business. I promise it’ll help you to! Click here to find your heart story!

5. The Opportunity Cost of Doing it Yourself

More time for less money? Less strategy?

Believe me, I’m a bargain gal for SURE – except when it comes to my business and it’s goals. I look at professional services as just that – PROFESSIONAL SERVICES. Chances are, majority of the time that service provider knows more than I do, and I trust them to perform the service they’re selling. That being said, you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time figuring out how to work design platforms, figuring out your color palette/font choices, designing your website, etc.,

In all honesty, you’re costing yourself more in the long run. I am a firm believer that your time is the most valuable resource you have, and you don’t get that back (aka it’s not money/renewable). If you’re spending 3 months figuring out your brand identity when you could be working on your workflows, email lists, things that your business could not run without, etc., then that is 3 months of lost work. 3 months of lost time. If you work 40 hour weeks (minimum) for 3 months, and you spend the majority of that time on your brand identity, that’s 480 lost hours of work (hiiii, I’m an entrepreneur and I chronically work more than 40 hour work weeks because I don’t feel like I deserve a break and I know you do that too).

All of this being said, at MINIMUM you’re losing hours because you’re wanting to cut costs, when it actuality it’s costing you more time AND money.

Another opportunity cost of doing it yourself could be less intentional strategy with it. You’re so close to your business that 90% of the time you/your audience could be having a problem and you’re too close to understand why it’s happening or how to solve it. A professional can take a look outside of your business and finds it easier to pinpoint the problem points and offer solutions.

If you liked this, then you’ll love:

Mistakes I’ve Made as a Brand Designer

How to Discover Your Brand Values

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