Best 5 tips for branding: Part 5 – “It’s not a tattoo”

5 best branding tips - it's not a tattoo


“It’s not a tattoo.”

This has to be my favouritest ever quote about branding, from one of my favourite people – Karen Gunton. Your brand is not something that’s cemented onto you permanently, so don’t stress about choosing colours and fonts and then feeling anxious because you’re stuck with it. Or even failing to choose anything at all. 

You’re not stuck. As much as you should be deliberate about choosing your branding (and you absolutely must take your time, choose carefully and deliberately), as much as you should be consistent with it, and as much as you should live with it and give it time, take the pressure off yourself.

Choose it, use it. Love it, live it. Tweak it. 

And change it when you’re absolutely certain it’s no longer a good fit.  Like I said last week, you’ll know when that is.


(Update: You can find all 5 of my best tips for branding here)

Julie x

So, you want to brand your crafty biz?

Brand Your Craft 14 day e-course


OH MY GOODNESS. So freaking proud of this little baby – it’s the new e-course I wrote for Jess Van Den over at Create & Thrive, specifically aimed at makers in business who want to get all their ducks in a row (and their branding right).

Seriously, how good are these testimonials about it already!? –


I am so glad I decided to do this course – I wish I could have done it years ago!

Even though I’ve had my business for a couple of years and have been continually working on creating a cohesive brand, this course really helped me to identify some areas where I was lacking and some that I hadn’t even thought of.

It’s delivered in manageable chunks, is easy to follow and is full of thought provoking ideas. The daily action steps are easy to complete and very worthwhile. –  ~ Vicki O’dell-Fontana


The Brand Your Craft course is a definite must-do for anyone running a handmade business, or even looking at starting one.

With simple step-by-step daily actions, it will help you to develop the design skills you need to create your own unique brand.

You don’t need to be a designer to start.

This course will give you everything you need to learn the basics so you can build your own beautiful brand for your business. ~ Donna Duncombe


Or this –

[This] latest class on branding is amazing whether you’re just getting started in business, or have been doing this for a while.

It’s delivered in a way that’s easy to consume yet packs a huge punch – you end up accomplishing so much over the 14 days!

I’ve done a lot of work on my brand, but there’s always room to grow, and this course helped me step back and look at my branding with fresh eyes, tightening and adjusting to make it even stronger.

Most of all: I love that it’s aimed specifically at product-based businesses, so I could really relate it to what I do! ~ Arielle Rassel



So yeah, I know I wrote it and all and of course I reckon it’s pretty darn good, but you really can’t beat testimonials like that. If you run a handmade biz, you’ll love it. Promise.


It’s a $65 investment, runs for 14 days, with one lesson per day delivered in written format.
Check all the details here.


Julie X


Best 5 tips for branding: Part 4 – Give yourself time


5 best branding tips1- time


OK! You’re excited! You’re busting to go! You’ve got those fonts sorted! You’ve got your colours too! You’ve found the most awesome-est collection of public domain/creative commons images EVA, and you’ve been to the photographer and got some super hot shots for your profile pics. Let’s do it! YAY!


But here’s the thing: your brand will not, in all likelihood, come together at once. How on earth do you put those graphic design elements together in a meaningful and consistent way? How big should each element be? Where should everything go?Layout/composition is yet another piece of the branding puzzle. You need to consider it for every graphic you put out into the world. What goes on your business card and where? Your website design? Flyers? SM graphics? Packaging? And what about those fancy watercolour overlays you want to include? Or those colour blocks? Where do you use them? And how much do you use? How much is too much?


It seems there are endless decisions to make (and perhaps there are). But the important thing is to start. Keep your brand style guide close by, and keep one eye on it every time you make yourself a new graphic. At the same time, keep the other eye on your ideal customer and ask them, do they like it? Is it balanced/edgy/real/beautiful/wild/romantic/whatever enough for them? And does it feel right for you and your brand?

Once you’ve settled on your style guide, stick to it (for a good while at least). Tweak it, don’t change it. You’ll grow into it, and it’ll become more and more comfortable, like your favourite pair of jeans. And like your favourite pair of jeans, you’ll get to know what accessories look good – use your style guide frequently and you’ll know how to mix and match your elements so that they look right every time. Keep practising, keep going, and get inventive with what you have.


And yes of course, in all likelihood there’ll come a time when those jeans don’t feel right any more – they’re old and daggy and it’s time for a complete change.  You’ll know when that is.


(ps. Update: This is Tip 4 of my 5 best tips. You can find all 5  tips for branding here.)

(pps. I know this particular tip was short and to the point – but I stand by it; it’s absolutely my top tip.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to branding than 5 simple pointers. If you seriously want to knuckle down and sort out your branding AND be thrilled with your results, go grab a copy of my 92-page e-book, “VIZ BIZ: Branding for Small Business ” hereIt’s my 20+years of experience in design and teaching all bundled into a neat package. Because you don’t have 20 years to figure it all out – do you?)

Julie x

Best 5 tips for branding: Part 3 – Build your atmosphere

5 best branding tips - build your atmosphere (photo credit: Uzair Nazeer)
(photo credit: Uzair Nazeer)
Build your atmosphere

“Strike a pose” said Madonna. She did, and she mesmerised millions.

That’s what you need to do to build your brand – you need to project a distinctive idea. You’ve got to put something particular out there – anything less than distinctive is … well, ordinary. Boring. And there’s a squillion “ordinary”s out there, and you’ll disappear into a sea of nothingness.

But as cool and sexy as Madonna’s pose is, branding is not about one moment of glamour, it’s not a single, elegant flex of the body (or mind), it’s not a short burst of doing your thang on the dance floor (although it can totally incorporate those moments, and should).

What branding is, is a complete and consistent story built around those moments; but it’s something more than those moments besides. Your brand is a mood, a vibe; your brand is like a world enveloped in an atmosphere that you’ve created.

Just like in real life friendships, people are attracted to you because of your approach to life; your personality. Because you’re consistently YOU, and no one else (think: how did people react when you last did something completely out of character?).  Same is true of branding – consistency is paramount. And branding exists at every touchpoint you have with your audience – the visuals, the words you use, how you treat your customers. Consistently using the same colours, the same fonts, the same imagery style (and using the same kind of language when you talk about what you do) = the same feeling.


A blank canvas is death

What happens if you aren’t consistent? If you don’t set yourself parameters? Well, I learnt in art school a long time ago that a blank canvas will result in one of two things:

(a) You’ll play it small and safe and conservative, stick to what you know, and end up with something that just looks same-same.
(How your audience perceives this:         { …yawn…  next please}     )

(b) You’ll end up with some kind of random, unstructured, disorganised mess (although this might give you the spark of an idea for something else and that’s great, it’s extremely rare that this approach will result in a useful, finished piece on its own).
(How your audience perceives this:         { …ewww…  next please}     )

When you DO have parameters, it makes those creative juices start sparking up, you become more inventive, you start to think of ways you can push the boundaries, all the while staying within your boundaries.
(How your audience perceives this:         { …oooh…  stylish! hmmm… interesting… }     )

So, get yourself a guide and a game plan.


Your Brand Style Guide

A Brand Style Guide is a very useful document that simply lays out all the elements you’ve chosen, so that you can refer to it any time you need to (print it out and stick it up next to your computer for easy reference). With your own style guide, you’ve always got a starting point if ever you need to make a new graphic for anything (blog post, ads for social media, newsletters, business cards, flyers, whatever…) all of which saves you a LOT of time.

Here’s a simplified one for tractorgirl. It includes my palette, the fonts I’ve chosen, and a bit about how I treat the typography in layouts.

revamp - tractorgirl colours and fonts


When you get to making your own, there’s lots of other things you might like to include in a style guide too; whatever suits your business. Here are some suggestions –

  • Your brand name
  • Your brand description/personality in words
  • Your logo and tagline if you have one
  • Brand colours (include a colour swatch and the hex code for each colour)
  • Brand fonts – writing the name of the font in that font is often easiest (include different weights, italics etc if you like)
  • Styling notes on product photography if you’re selling physical items
  • Notes on style and mood for any other imagery you use
  • Examples of any fancy elements you’re using – borders, background imagery or patterns etc.
  • Any other notes on when and where to use particular elements.


And get ready to dance – show off what you can do.



(Update: You can find all 5 of my best tips for branding here)

Julie x