How to choose the perfect colours for your brand (Part 1)

How to choose the perfect colours for your brand

the perfect colour

 

I’ve loved colour forever. I used to spend hours dressing up my barbie dolls in fabulous costumes imagined out of scraps from my mother’s sewing. I wouldn’t make up stories for the dolls; of them going shopping, or being school teachers, or of being whisked away to a fabulous ball by a handsome stranger. No; I would simply sit there and try pattern against pattern, colour against colour. For hours.

Which all just goes to give you an idea of how crippled I was when I was trying to choose colours for my site. OMG, what the hell do I choose? I love …. everything….  .

More on me later.

 

You know, colour is just about THE biggest identifying feature people see when they first look at something, and can be a major consideration when they purchase something (acid green two piece suit, anyone?). And although I’m not suggesting that people won’t visit your site/read your blog because it’s not their favourite shade of blue, it’s still a pretty important factor in conveying the right mood – one that is not only expressive of your brand’s values and attitudes, but more importantly, one that’s in line with your audience’s expectations.

 

The Meanings of Colours

Now before I go too much further, I want to talk a bit about the meanings of colours. I would like to emphasise that colours have a wide range of meanings which vary from culture to culture and also with context, so don’t get bogged down in them. For instance, in Western cultures, red sometimes means danger, but in other contexts it is associated with Christmas. In China, it often symbolises good fortune and happiness, while in other cultures red is the symbol of mourning.

Here’s some very broad generalisations that may be used when it comes to branding (but don’t take them as gospel).

Blues and darker colours are often perceived at trustworthy and solid (think banks).

Blues and greens are seen as calming, especially pastel hues of mint and aqua.

Greens and browns are seen as earthy and natural.

Red especially, but also orange and yellow are often thought of as active colours.

Tertiary colours such as magenta (red-violet) and lime (yellow-green) are usually thought of as more youthful, fun colours.

I’ll stop there, because as I said these are broad generalisations, and in each case it also depends on how vivid the colour is, how light or dark it is, and what other colours it’s used with. (I’ll go over a bit of colour-combining basics for websites in the next post too.)

 

Stop crippling yourself and start choosing

How do YOU feel about colour? Same as me – like you’re stuck when it comes to choosing colours for your brand, because everything looks wonderful? Or, you find a great palette and love the colours, but it’s just not pinpointing the mood you’re looking for? Or, maybe you think you have very little confidence with colour, and just feel plain scared?

You know, it really doesn’t matter why you have difficulties choosing colour – the end result is the same; and that is that you can’t settle on anything. Fortunately, there’s a solution (or even two or three).

 

Work with your business personality

It helps if you have a clear vision of the mood/personality of your brand (so you know what mood you’re going to project). If you don’t, than have a stab at this – write a list of half a dozen words or more personality traits that you would like your brand to express. (Better still, read this article in order to get a grip on your business personality.) You can start with masculine or feminine, young or mature, then get a bit more specific with descriptors such as dreamy, modern, dramatic, or sentimental.

Next, keep those words in mind and go searching through places like ColourLovers.com or Design Seeds, and try and match your mood words to the colour palette you’ve chosen. These places have thousands of pre-made palettes that you can use for anything you want. Each palette lists the hex codes for each colour, so you can recreate them for yourself.

I especially like the Design Seeds palettes – although Jessica tends to create palettes based around gentle images of flowers, nature, and weathered textures, she has a great eye for extracting the colour essence out of a picture. (Each image is linked to the original post if you’d like to find out colour codes).

 

design seeds - flora hues

design seeds – flora hues

 

design seeds - color heaven

design seeds – color heaven

 

design seeds - color set

design seeds – color set

 

I know not everyone is as skilled as Jessica! Don’t fret – there are other ways you can find your own palette too; I’ll get to them in the next post.

So for now, I want you to go exploring. If you’ve found a palette you LOVE and want to show it off, leave a link in the comments. If you’d like suggestions for your website/blog/shop, leave a link and we can all have a look and make suggestions!

Oh, and my blog’s palette? Yes, this blog’s been through a few renovations and reincarnations. Fortunately, I’ve finally settled on something. Hells, it’s a rainbow of sorts – I just can’t help myself.

 

tractorgirl proportional palette

 

J x

 

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{edit: You can read Part 2 on choosing the perfect colours here.}

Looking for your ideal customer? Here’s where to find them

looking for your ideal customer

 

OK, so you’ve got a fabulous product that you’re head and heels totally in love with and you can’t stop talking about it.

But you know, there’s one thing missing. HAVE YOU EVEN CONSIDERED YOUR CUSTOMER?

When you aim for everything you hit nothing, so they say. If you try to appeal to everyone, then you’re appealing to no one.

The only real way to have a product that sells is for it to solve a problem for your customer, fill a need, or make them feel great about themselves. (And you can figure out who they are here.) Ask yourself what does your product or service help them with (for instance, if you’re a fine art photographer, your product helps them with their interior design; or if you sell baby clothes, you make them feel great by having a well-dressed baby). You absolutely need to get inside your potential customer’s head and figure out what it is that they’re wanting. And to do this, you need to be as specific as possible about who they are. (Yes, there is definitely trial and error and a certain amount of guesswork in this. But the more you do business with them, the more you’ll find out about them, so just keep going.) And when you know who they are and what they want, you can start to speak their language, and ask them the questions they’re asking themselves.

Because when you speak the same language, when you have the same world view as them, you automatically make an emotional connection and that’s the key to turning them into paying customers. You’ve built up rapport and trust. And when you deliver what they want, they’re so thrilled with what you do that they not only become return customers, but they spread the word about how fantastic you are. 

Ba-BAM! Business explosion! Right?

Hmmm yes well it’s all very good in theory, but WHERE IN THE HELL DO YOU FIND THOSE DAMN CUSTOMERS? You can have THE best product in the world – one that’s going to end global poverty, keep the oceans free from waste, and make small children excited about keeping their rooms tidy – but if nobody knows about it, what’s the point?

You need to get out there and find those customers.

SO here are my top seven tips for searching out and connecting with your tribe.

  1. Facebook groups – Listen, as much as you hear all the time that FB “isn’t worth the effort” because they limit and fuss around with what everybody gets to see in their feed, I absolutely believe that it’s still worth getting in there and using it – for all sorts of different reasons. If you’ve got a Facebook page for your business, use it!How FB decides what goes into people’s feeds is based on a number of factors, pretty much centred around how active the group/page is.  So if you’re in there posting every day, AND your people are commenting and liking on your posts, then your posts will be shown to more and more people. The trick is to make your posts engaging for your people – ask them about themselves (because people love talking about themselves); ask provocative questions (only if they’re relevant); entertain them with a (relevant) beautiful or amusing image.The bonus is that by asking questions, you find out heaps more about the folk who DO like your page! Use that knowledge to fine-tune your ideal customer profile.”But I only have a tiny FB following” you moan! Well I say, have you invited all of your FB friends to like your page? Your family? Asked your close friends if they mind sharing your page with their friends? Posted links to your FB page on your website? On other social media? Round ’em up, get them engaged, post shareable content, and you are well on your way to growing your following.

    JOIN OTHER FB GROUPS. Have you engaged in other groups to let them know who you are and what you’re doing? It doesn’t have to be all icky push and salesy (and it’s better if you aren’t) – many business groups have set days where you encouraged to share what you do and what you’re offering (for instance #PromoThursday), and sometimes people straight-out ask for particular services in these groups too – so make sure you’re around and can put your hand up! Search some hashtags to find relevant conversations about what you’re doing – this will not only allow you to see what people are asking for in your niche (so you can help tailor your services), but you can also find other groups to join. Win-win!

  2. Twitter and Instagram. Use the same strategy with your other social media –  Follow others AND ENGAGE WITH THEM, offer up good content, and use the hashtags – they’re a great search tool for finding other conversations that are happening in your niche.
  3. Pinterest – is not really ‘social’ media in the same sense that the other three biggies are. If you use it, think about how often you actually engage with the people you follow – hardly ever, right? It’s primarily a search tool for finding stuff you’re interested in (especially pretty stuff). BUT, it’s still a rich source of information about your potential customers – use the search tool to see what others are pinning, and particularly what has been pinned from your website – this will give you the best ideas about what your customers actually DO love the most (so you can keep doing more of it. You can find yourself by using www.pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com – and seeing what pops up.
  4. Use search engines. Google your business’s keywords and see what other conversations you can find from potential customers. You might find a great forum, or another fantastic website with a heap of interesting comments. Depending on what you find, you can join in the discussion and help out with excellent advice – people will love you for it.
  5. Guest blog about your area of expertise on a site you admire. Reach for the stars – go the Huffington Post if you dare!  If you’re not quite there yet, simply look around at the sites that you love reading and approach them for guest posting opportunities. Some don’t accept guest posts and that’s OK, but many do. Once you’ve found a site you’d like to try, make sure you do 5 minutes research and find out the name of the person you need to be writing to. I DON’T open emails that start with “Hello blogowner”, and rarely open ones that start with “Hi there”. But if it’s got “Hi Julie”, I’ll read it.Keep your proposal short and sweet – start with why you love their blog, what area of expertise you have, and a couple of suggestions for topics that are closely aligned with THEIR audience.  You might like to include a couple of links to your best articles. Be beautiful, be polite and say thank you for their time, and that you look forward to hearing from them. And follow up – if you don’t hear back from them in a week or two, contact them again with a short, polite reminder, because hey, sometimes things get put aside and forgotten! We’re all human.
  6. Reach out to other people in your niche for a collaboration. Find others with complementary skills/products – what can you do to collaborate? How can you benefit both audiences with a super valuable offer? Join forces, brainstorm, get it out there and you’ve doubled your audience! Magic.
  7. Start up a mailing list. Probably THE best strategy ever for connecting with your customers. You know that if they sign up to your list, they’re already interested in what you do. So make sure you have plenty of opportunities for them to do so – on your website sidebar, on your “About” page, and on your “Contact” page.And reward them for it. Most people don’t bother signing up to a list that merely promises “regular updates” (unless of course you’re Seth Godin). If you’re selling products, you could offer to put them in a draw for a prize each month, or you could write a short e-book on your area of expertise. If you’re a jeweller for instance you could offer your best tips and tricks on looking after jewellery, and/or how to look after it while travelling. If you’re a portrait photographer, you could offer a round-up of your best tips on how to prepare for a shoot – what to wear, makeup, choosing a location, how lighting can effect the mood of your shoot, etc. If you’re a service provider, it’s a simple matter of offering an intro or brief version of one of your paid courses.

 

So that’s it! There are LOTS of different ways of searching out and connecting with those beautiful customers; you’ve just got to put in the time.

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BACK TO YOU! Have you found some innovative ways to connect with your customers? What’s your best customer-connection story? I’d love to hear! Pop a comment in the box below, share your biz name and how you’ve connected, and you never know – you might just connect with some other great people here too!

Julie x

Who is your ideal customer? How to figure them out with mood boards

who is your ideal customer

 

Who IS your ideal customer, and why do you need to know?

Because if you’re trying to appeal to everyone, then in reality, you’re actually appealing to no one. You’re boring.

“Next…”

And because if your website conveys a vibrant, fun and youthful business personality, then that’s no good if your ideal customer is the mature, conservative bank manager type (OK maybe I’m being a bit mean to bank managers… I’m sure some of them dye their hair purple and listen to experimental electronica).

The point is, it’s vitally important to know who you’re selling to so you can gear the mood of your business personality towards them.

One method of getting to grips with your customer is to use a mood board (have you used one for your business personality as well? You should – just keep these boards separate – you’ll see why in a minute).

Now, I know there are lots of people who have a bit of a haphazard attempt at putting together a mood board for their biz via Pinterest and the like. However, it’s not just “whatever you like” – it needs to be more strategic and there is definitely a method to using mood boards in order to extract the information you need. That’s because you’re coming at it from two points of view – what you want your business to look like, and who your IDEAL CUSTOMER is. It’s like those Venn diagrams you learnt about in high school (you know, the ones where two circles overlap) – the area in which these two groups of things overlap is the sweet spot you should be aiming for. If you’ve got the right business for YOU, those two circles should have a pretty big overlap.

It’s most important to focus on your ideal customer, and what you want your business to look like will grow fairly naturally out of that – because you’re picking the pictures, right!? My best tip is to do this via Pinterest, because it’s so easy to find pics that suit. Better still, when you’re using Pinterest you can research things that are harder to investigate from the comfort of your own armchair (unless you’re a complete magazine/TV junkie…).

If you know exactly who your ideal customer is that’s great, but if you’re a bit fuzzy on them, that’s OK; you will probably know a little bit about them anyway.

Get a sheet of paper, and title it “My ideal customer”. Start with the basic demographics – stuff like gender, marital status and family situation, income level, education, and culture/race (if it’s important – for some products it can be).

Next, it’s time for a bit of educated guesswork about some other aspects of your customer’s likes and dislikes, and so you need to get into their head a bit more. Really, take a guess – because as we said at the start you need to appeal to someone. And as your business grows and you get to see more of your customers, then the more you will refine your ideal customer and figure out how to appeal to them. So have a think about these questions, and write down your answers.

1. What are their goals and aspirations?

2. What do they read? Magazines? Blogs? Books? You can list broad genres, but also get specific and list titles.

3. Where do they hang out – in real life, and online? There are some great infographics out there that match demographics to the different types of social media they use – for instance Facebook users tend to be a bit older because they like the chat as well as the pictures, Instagram tends to be a younger crowd; it’s more visual and faster.

4. What’s an average day like for them?

5. (And this comes back to the all-important connection between your product and your ideal customer!) What problem do they have that your product solves, and what do they hope to experience when they use your product?

 

OK! Still will me? Good.

 

Get on over to Pinterest.

Ask yourself, what magazines does your “IDEAL CUSTOMER” like to read? Are they likely to read Better Homes and Gardens? Or Frankie? Or the Renegade Collective? Or Country Living? Concentrating on these style magazines is great, because each of them has a very distinct aesthetic and focus, and you can get a very strong vision of what kind of lifestyle your customer is aspiring too and what they like to surround themselves with. You can soon figure out whether they are likely to live in an apartment in the city, or a comfy family home in the suburbs.

In Pinterest, search your magazine title, and pin a bunch of images from what comes up. Pin lots. What interior decoration images are there? What colours come up – are they muted and soft, or lots of neutrals with pops of bright colour? How does the style make you feel? For instance, Better Homes and Gardens is very comfy and family home oriented, while Frankie is younger and a retro feel with lots of ditsy floral prints in soft colours.

Work your way through the images you’ve chosen and try and pick out the common things you see – colours, patterns, textures, and how those images make you feel – heroic? glamorous? cosy?

Now go back to your “Ideal Customer” page, and go through those answers again. Is there anything that doesn’t fit? Cross it out. Is there anything you’ve missed? Add it in. Is there some new insight into their aspirations? Write some more.

Write it down. It’s your reference sheet, for whenever you come up with a new product idea, or a new marketing idea, or someone approaches you for a collaboration, or…    Then ask your ideal customer if it’s something they’d be interested in. If not, put the idea aside and move onto something that will be more to their liking.

And yay, look at those Pinterest boards again and you’ve got some great colour palettes to work with for your own branding as well!

 

I pinned a bunch of stuff from BHG - look at those colours!

I pinned a bunch of stuff from BHG – look at those colours 🙂

 

A last word from the wonderfully astute Tara Gentile.

People don’t buy because what you do is awesome. People buy because it makes them feel awesome. - Tara Gentile Click To Tweet

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Got any questions about your ideal customer?  If you do, pop your questions in the comments below. Do it! You never know who else might be wondering exactly the same thing but be too shy to ask.

Let’s help each other!

Julie x

(p.s. the launch of The Clarity Sessions – One on One Brand Coaching is only TWO DAYS AWAY! Get in on the ground floor and get a huge early bird discount on this service, by jumping on the mailing list below! {And there’s a free consultation as well} )

 

How to define your business personality (with case studies)

 

brand personality - jg

 

In the last post, I talked about defining your business personality with words. It’s fun, did you have a go? How many words did you come up with? If you’re anything like me, I can find an enormous list of words that fit aspects of what I do. I’m so complicated LOL! (I’m the same with colour – it’s so hard to limit myself to just a few). But with your business, you need to be clear-sighted and cull those words down quite a bit, to get to the essence of who and what you are (6-10 words is great).

To explain how that business personality is expressed visually, I thought it would be useful to look at a few great shopfronts and websites. As I said last post, Business Personality and Business Identity work hand in hand. With the visual stuff we’re getting more into the area of Business Identity here – the colours, fonts, imagery etc that you use in your branding, but the point is that it should be very expressive of your business personality.

 

THE COLLECTIVE.

If you’ve been hiding under a rock, The Collective is part magazine and part inspiration for business-minded creatives. It’s the brain-child of Lisa Messenger (and if you’ve never heard her story, you should – it’s a gob-smacker).

The Collective labels itself as “game changers | thought leaders | rule breakers | style makers”. It’s aimed at 35-ish creative folk who are intending to go places, completely on their own terms. It’s glossy, romantic and big. So, it uses lots of stylish, large-format vista-type images,  with a bold, hand-painted script font. It’s lots of black and white too, which further emphasises strength. Black and white is uncompromising.

brand personality 3

 

 

MEET ME AT MIKES

Meet Me At Mikes is a blog about life, crafting, and a whole bunch more, written by Pip Lincoln who is the author of several books on crafting, and writer for a number of other well-known places such as Kidspot and Frankie Magazine. It’s completely colourful, cosy, homey and happy. I love this header! Its collection of bright, clear colours are wonderfully cheery, its shapes are simple and clean. Using a variety of colours in this way conveys inventiveness and a vibrant interest in living, and there is always tons of colour throughout her blog. The scattering of blocks on the end only add to the whole playful effect. Her imagery is filled with retro, cute, and lots of closeups of homespun textures. It’s like she’s inviting you into her home.

brand personality - meetmeatmikes

 

 

THE DARLING TREE

The Darling Tree is an entirely different kettle of fish. Jo Klima founded The Darling Tree as a shopfront for her design services (which she still offers), but has more recently extended into surface design and products printed with her patterns. She has shifted from a quite feminine, gentle style, to one that is more expressive of her spiritual journey, and focuses on a vibrant palette of purples, pinks, and aquas, in a variety of bold, painterly patterns (her site loads a different pattern in the same palette every time you refresh). Like The Collective, Jo chooses a bold, handwritten font to be expressive of individuality and strength. The whole suggests artistic expressiveness, femaleness, strength and daring.

brand personality 4

 

 

THE PAPER MAMA

Chelsey Andrews is the force behind The Paper Mama, which focuses on DIY crafts, personal style, and food. As well as her own blog she writes about DIY and craft for companies like HP Create and Better Homes and Gardens.

Her style is definitely very feminine, with tons of flowers. Her colours are warm, rich, with some lovely soft textures in both the aqua background and the handpainted header. They are also not overly bright and a bit muted, giving a sense of the old-fashioned. The handpainted header and the not-quite-straight hand drawn chain circling her photo all evokes that  retro homey, DIY attitude, with the big blooms making it full and sensuous and very girly.

brand personality 5

 

 

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Now, if you’ve got an Etsy shop or similar, it can be a whole lot harder to convey your sense of brand personality, because so much of the screen space is taken up with Etsy’s set format. While it can be harder, it is not impossible as these shops show inventive ways to use their header space.

 

POAST

Within Etsy, you’re mostly limited to your shop banner to convey your brand, unless people choose to scroll down. But POAST (who I featured a little while ago here) still manages to create a space that is cool, modern, and very definitely Scandinavian. The Etsy banner space is quite long and not very high, so you need to use an image that uses horizontal space well. Laurie has used a misty image of the mountain forest to great effect, choosing one that has virtually no colour to complement her mostly white ceramic style. The shop name is in a clean and modern san serif font with the horizontal removed from the A, making it both distinctive and classic at the same time. It is also smack bang in the centre, giving a sense of balance and maturity.

brand personality 6

 

 

THEATERCLOUDS

Many people choose to use an image of some of their work for their header, and if it’s done with care, this can be a great idea as it can instantly capture your mood and colours. Theater Clouds  (who I wrote about here) has evoked the whimsy and serenity of her work with an image of tiny sailboats. The image is beautifully lit (as is all her work), has a lovely horizontal flow to it, and is warm and inviting with the use of soft red in the boats and text.

brand personality 9

 

WIRED BY BUD

A bit more “blokey” by the very nature of using hulking buffalo as his subject matter, Wired By Bud has created a scene specifically for use as a header. It’s kind of humorous and fun, and shows off what he can do. His shop name is in a strong, classic font that contrasts well with the wire shapes. The only thing I would tweak is the quality of his banner image, as I find it fuzzy and grainy and that’s distracting.

I know Etsy does compress images so you might not get it perfect, but if you are having any similar problems, try uploading your images as the highest quality .jpeg, or even a .png file.

brand personality 8

 

 

JEANETTE ZEIS

Of course, you don’t have to incorporate any of your work into your banner, or even any images. Ceramicist Jeanette Zeis relies on an extremely simple, hand drawn banner of her name. Why this works is that it strongly echoes her ceramic style –  there is evidence of the hand-made in its uneven lines and edges, it is soft yet strong, with a touch of the classic in the wreath of leaves, reminiscent of ancient Greek crowns. Overall it looks open and gentle, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

brand personality 10

 

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Got any questions about ANYTHING in this post?   If you do, pop your questions in the comments below. Do it! You never know who else might be wondering exactly the same thing but be too shy to ask.

Let’s help each other!

Julie x

(p.s. I’m just about to launch into Brand Coaching for you! With Questionnaires, Skype sessions and a whole heap more. If you’d like to be in on the ground floor AND get a substantial discount on this service, get on the mailing list below!)

 

Small biz how-to: Defining your business personality

 

the wrong sea - defining your business personality

 

Business Personality? Yes, it’s a real thing. Your business does indeed have a personality; it’s part of your brand. It’s conveyed in everything you do to present yourself to the world. Even if you choose to ignore it, your business will still convey some kind of personality anyway – like confused, messy, or downright boring. Want that? I thought not.
(And please note – this is different to your Brand Identity, which is all the elements like colours, fonts and imagery that you use in your brand. Personality and Identity work hand in hand, so read on.)

You need to take control of that personality and present a cohesive, positive self to the world because it’s tied to how you want your customer to feel – i.e. their emotional response to your brand. And once you’ve figured out what your personality is, you can move on to choosing the visual aspects of your branding that confirm and project that same personality – so it’s kind of important to get your personality sorted out first! Personality also helps you decide the sort of tone or voice you should use when you’re talking to your customers.

 

Figuring out your #BrandPersonality is essential to figuring out the visual aspects of your brand. Click To Tweet

 

Defining your BP is not a new idea, and it does depend a little on the country you’re targeting. But some qualities you might want to focus on as the underlying driver of that personality include sincerity, excitement, competence/skill, sophistication, or ruggedness/durability. Something else to keep in mind is that usually (but not always), your brand’s characteristics reflect the characteristics of your target customers – for the exact reason of being immediately relevant to them; your customers can easily relate to your brand.

Figuring out this personality is all about YOUR business, so think what personality words first come to mind when you’re thinking about your brand. How would you describe your business when meeting someone for the first time?

First of all, you can decide whether it’s traditional or modern. Then, think about other identifiers, such as male or female, an age group, and general terms such as happy or serious.

NOW comes the real bit – list down everything you want your business to project – choose words like sophisticated, socially responsible, friendly, boisterous, classic, serious, offbeat, high-tech/geeky, and more. (If you’re struggling with coming up with words, here’s a list of more than 800).

Once you have a list, project those qualities onto an imaginary person – and then think about how they would speak to your customers. Would they be offering serious technical advice, or would they be inviting you on a fun adventure? Would they be offering you ideas and encouraging personal expression, or would they be offering a solid, trustworthy structure for you to work within? Are they giving you a glimpse of strength or whimsy? Keep on listing those words down!

 

 

If your #brand was a person, what would they be like? And what would they say to you? Click To Tweet

 

Awesome! Now you’ve got a list of words to describe your business personality, you can use them to help you decide on fonts, colours and imagery to go with your brand (I’ll go through that in more detail next post, using real examples). You can use them in other ways too – when you’re writing your “About” page, or your product descriptions for instance. But we’ll get onto that in the next post too.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of other fabulous resources for you to check out to help you figure out your Brand Personality.

  • BigBrandSystem has got a great quiz to help you decide where your personality lies on the spectrum.
  • 99designs has got some excellently fun games to help you decide what your personality is.
  • And A List Apart has some wonderful case studies (written by one of the guys from MailChimp), so you can see how big businesses put together their personalities! He goes right back to Gutenburg in the 15thC and the invention of moveable type – it’s quite fascinating.

 

Next week, I’ll be pulling apart a couple of beautiful brands to see exactly who they are and what they’re saying, so stay tuned!

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Do you have ANY questions about how to figure out your brand’s personality, or how it can translate into everything else – your writing style, your font choices, your colours….?  If you do, pop your questions in the comments below. Do it! You never know who else might be wondering exactly the same thing but be too shy to ask.

Let’s help each other!

Julie x

 

Small biz how-to: Make product labels with PicMonkey

Another tutorial on PicMonkey? Yes yes of course! Because it’s easy and it’s free and you can do fabulous things with it for your business 🙂 In this one, I get to grips with making beautiful packaging, as presentation is another indispensable tool for grabbing your customers’ attention and making them fall in love with you.

So without further ado, here’s how to make product labels with PicMonkey.

 

DIY labels

DIY labels with PicMonkey

 

I wanted something a bit more modern than retro, which means I need something clean, flat and fresh. One minimalist trend at the moment is to layer a white shape over a pattern, so I started with this pattern in fresh, clear colours.

 

watermelon stars by tractorgirl

watermelon stars by tractorgirl, made using colourlovers.com

 

 

There are several websites you can download patterns for free – but as always, check the licencing! Some are free only for personal use and not available for commercial purposes. I didn’t want to bother with all of that, so I made my own pattern in ColourLovers, which is also a free online program (and VERY fun!).

 

Step 1. How big does your image need to be?

SO! There’s a bit of maths involved here, but don’t panic. Just make sure you measure and double check everything before you print, so you get the size you’re after. Take it slowly and write it all down logically so you don’t confuse yourself.

Print quality is something you need to consider – a good quality print is at 300dpi (dots per inch), although an OK result can be achieved at 150dpi. What this means is that for an A4 sheet of paper printed at 150dpi, your total image needs to be 1240 pixels x 1754 pixels, and for the same A4 printed at 300dpi, your image needs to be 2480 pixels x 3508 pixels.

How many labels are you going to print onto your sheet? If you’re printing at 150dpi and there are 2 across the page and 3 down, each label image needs to be about 620 pixels by 584.  If you’re going to buy printable sticky labels, the sheets are already precut into various sizes so that will dictate the image size you need to work with.

 

Step 2. Getting it to the right size

Go into Picmonkey, click on Edit and load up your background pattern. Go into Crop, and get your image to the size you want – either by using Crop, which will cut the edges off, or with Resize, which will simply shrink your image.

 

Step 3. Designing your label

Here’s the simple and fun part! Go into Overlays. Choose whether you want a simple Geometric, or something a bit fancier – scroll down PicMonkey’s list to find Labels and Banners. Click on the one you want, and resize it by dragging the corners.  The default colour is black, but that’s easy to change by adjusting the colour in the pop-up box – I’ve changed mine to white.

Centre your circle (or label shape) within your image. There are no specific tools in PicMonkey to do this (booo PicMonkey – this is a basic thing!), but you can either do it by temporarily overlaying a grid (you’ll have to upload one of these yourself as an Overlay, set the Fade to 50%, align what you need and then delete the grid layer), or by simply by grabbing the nearest ruler out of your kid’s pencil case and measuring the screen.
****Update! I’ve made a transparent grid to help you do this. It’s yours for free here! ****
Don’t try and do it by eye unless you’re a ninja.

Next, pop in your text. Go into Text, click on Add Text, then choose your font/s (I’ve used a PicMonkey font for most of it (Special Elite), and Goblin for tractorgirl, which is a font loaded on my computer). Then click in the box that appears on your image and add in whatever you need – item name, ingredients, etc.

 

tractorgirl - picmonkey tute

 

Finally, flatten your image by clicking on the Combine icon, second from the right on the top of the screen, or simply just hit Save. Name your file, choose the best image Quality (“Sean”) on the right, and then hit Save to My Computer.

 

For the next part, you’ll need to close that image (click on the cross at the top right); PicMonkey will drop you back to the main page.

 

Step 4. Getting your collage sheet to the right size

Click on Collage, and then it will ask you to choose a photo to upload. Choose your label image.

Go into Layouts, and choose the 3 x 3 in Square Deal – we’ll change the dimensions next.

You’ll see the dimensions listed underneath the collage grid. Make sure the proportions aren’t locked – the little lock icon should be grey (click on it to lock – it will show blue). So for A4 at 150dpi, click on the left-hand dimension (width) and put in 1240, and on the right (height), put in 1754.

 

Step 5. Getting the right number of cells and adding images

Click on the Images icon on the top of your left sidebar – it will already show your label image. Click on Open Photos, and add in your label image again – keep on adding in as many copies as you need to fill your page.

If you’ve got too many collage cells (e.g. I just want 2 across and 3 down), just hover over empty cells until the cross appears in the corner and click on that. If you need to add in some more cells, drag one of your label images over and hover in between cells – a blue area will be highlighted where the new cell will be. (If you’re not sure how big/where the new cell will be, drag your image around to different areas of the collage to see what happens with the cell position.)

 

Drag your images one by one over to the empty cells and presto! A page of perfectly sized labels to print.

 

tractorgirl - picmonkey tute - label collage3

 

And as before, when you save your image, do so at the best quality (“Sean”) – every little loss of information from your image means lower print quality. Your products are worth the best, aren’t they!?

 

(p.s. you can download my pattern Watermelon Stars to use as you wish for free! And you can even recolour it. Here.)

 

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Did you like that one? Not too hard really, was it? 😀

If you’ve got any problems, tricky issues or any other questions about PicMonkey, or about labelling your products, I’d love to know! Hit me up with a comment below.

AANNNDDDD…. What would you like to know next? Would you like to have a tutorial about how to make neat-o patterns in ColourLovers? Because that’s awesome fun too. Suggestions please!!!

 

All my best always,
Julie X