Best 5 tips for branding: Part 1 – Graphic design essentials

5 best branding tips- graphic design essentials


YESSSSS a brand new series for you – and a short one so that you can get back to doing what you do best! Five posts on the five things I think are absolutely essential for branding your business, whether you’re selling a physical product or selling a service. Get these five things sorted, and you’ll be a very long way in front of your competitors. First one’s on Graphic Design Essentials.


Basic graphic design mistakes are something I see ALL. THE. FREAKING. TIME.  And it’s really the main reason that made me want to get started in branding (soooo many ugly Etsy shops!). Because before your customers even get to your lovingly crafted words and inspect your lovingly crafted goods, that mess just stops them in their tracks. They’re too spoilt for choice, and something prettier’s only a click away.

I KNOW technology’s made it easy for us to DIY everything (yes, Google’s my friend too). But in this age of DIY everything in five minutes, there is a huge amount of excellent knowledge that’s lost in translation, with inevitably poor results. And bad-looking websites with terrible layouts and awkward graphics make me sad.
(OK, getting off my ranty high horse now.)


Now that I’ve said that, I would also like to say that these simple fixes are super duper easy. You don’t have be a graphic design guru to get these things right; heck, you don’t have to have any kind of design training – anyone can do them, with even the most basic of image editing programs.



Please. Make sure things are lined up. A header on the left and a thumbnail pic in the middle and a quote that’s kinda halfway across the page and random assortment of different sized pics doesn’t convey “free-spirited and creative” – it conveys “disorganised, messy, and unprofessional”. Yes. You’ve seen those websites too. And you’ve cringed a little bit, haven’t you.

It’s all about creating flow.

It has to be easy for your audience to absorb your message – if it’s all over the place, it just makes things that little bit harder for your audience. If things are supposed to be centred (like your name in your website header), make sure they’re actually centred. Don’t do it by eye; use whatever snap tool or guide functionality you have in your image editing software.

Likewise, make sure that when you use images in a straight line, that they’re all the same size (i.e. if they’re in a column, make sure they’re all the same width; if they’re running horizontally across the page in a row, make sure they’re the same height).

Text needs to be aligned properly too. If you’re writing a document and you want to put in sub-headings, make sure they’re all aligned with each other – whether that’s left or centred doesn’t matter so much, as long as you’re consistent through the whole document.

When you’re working with a space that is going to present only a small amount of information (such as a website header, a business card, or a social media graphic like an ad for Facebook or a pin for Pinterest, make sure it’s all aligned together.


tips for branding - alignment is important





Make the important things stand out more. When it’s text, and you’ve created variety through size, colour, italics and bold, think about what your eye is drawn to the most, and use that for your most important headings. Newspapers are experts at creating hierarchy within text – check out how they arrange their articles for headline, subheading, author byline, and article text.


5 best branding tips1- graphic design-fonts


Also: “Show me where to click.” I love Seth Godin, and this little gem from him’s been stuck in my head for quite a while now.

You can use contrast to create hierarchy too – if your brand colours are mostly black and white with a pop of red, DON’T fall for the next-to-useless ‘make your BUY buttons red’ rubbish; you need to make them contrast so that they stand out, so make those buttons bright blue or green or yellow, so they pop!




Don’t try and jam everything into the smallest amount of space possible. Your audience won’t know where to look. Too much choice = confusion and as I said before, there’s bound to be something prettier that’s just a click away.

Let things breathe. Surround them with enough space so that it’s easy to look at, and easy to read. Your products, your images, and yes, this goes for text too.

When you’re photographing your products, make sure it’s obvious what it is that you’re selling, and don’t crowd your shot with props. When you’re placing images on your website, ensure they’ve got a bit of blank space around them so that they’re easy to focus on without distraction. And break up a big slab of text with headings, and/or important snippets – solid slabs of text are for academics, not for your sales page, or for your “About” page.


5 best branding tips1- graphic design-text1

A BIG slab of solid text.
Boring, right!? Did you even read past the first line?

Let’s try it again –

5 best branding tips1- graphic design-text2


Now doesn’t that look a whole heap better? Think about it. You scanned the second article, didn’t you? And then you got intrigued by the fabulous house, and read a bit more. Ha! The text is absolutely no different; it’s all to do with layout.


OK, go fix up your websites!! Go on, I’ll wait 🙂

(And come back here and tell me when you’re done, ‘k? I’d LOVE to have a look!)

See you next week with the next tip.
(Update: You can find all the tips here)


Julie x

The best laid plans of mice and … women

Happy International Women’s Day!!

You know how we women tend to take on too much and try to juggle everything – mother, partner, business owner, and a dozen other roles … not to mention tech issues and the like ….

So I just wanted to pop in here and let you know that despite being tripped up by one or more of those things that the Rebrand is almost done DONE! How do you like the new look? Feels so much fresher and lighter to me. I think I’m going to enjoy this space 🙂




AND today marks the launch of my thoroughly rejuvenated, revamped and expanded (SO much better it’s not really even the same book) e-book, VIZ BIZ – branding for small business, worth $35.



It brings in my 7 years of small business experience and my 20+ years of design knowledge. EVERYTHING you need to know about branding for small business, in a convenient e-book size. 92 pages, jam-packed with know-how and inspiration.

You can grab your copy at the super special launch price of $21 – that’s 40% off – but only for a week – finishes Tuesday 15th March. 

Use the code VIZBIZ40 at checkout and get your copy here.



That’s it for now, keep your eyes peeled to the changes, AND my final video in this series. It’s been a blast.

Julie XX

Branding and Marketing in Finance.

Branding and Marketing in Finance? Why yes!! Although I know a lot of you aren’t involved in the finance sector, I KNOW there are still some of you who are! And in any case – good branding is good branding. This information is absolutely every bit as applicable to you as to the next business, no matter what industry you’re in. Read on.

Guest post by Tom Dawkins.


2016 feb CMC markets


When we think of a brand, we probably tend to stick to the private sector and its products. And that was the market reality back in the old days. As it turns out, branding can be put to practice outside the commercial world. No matter which sector or particular niche you are working for, we can all benefit from a proper branding (or rebranding for that matter).

The main reason being because your customers need and want to connect with you in ways that are personal to each and every one of them. People need to feel that they can bond with your company and its ideals because if they don’t, they will simply move on somewhere else.

Even the government and the public sector, in general, is starting to use branding in their marketing campaigns, because it’s very important that the general public feels connected to these campaigns. They need to know that there is a greater purpose in them, and, therefore, create a larger acceptance rate.

There is a general consensus regarding some archetypes which everybody can relate to, these are called Jungian archetypes, first presented by psychiatrist Carl Jung. He believed these 12 archetypes were inherently familiar to all of us, as a part of a collective unconscious identity. They are The Innocent, The Hero, The Regular Guy, The Nurturer, The Creator, The Explorer, The Rebel, The Lover, The Magician, The Ruler, The Jester, and The Sage.

The Financial Sector also Benefits from Good Branding.

In today’s economy, the general population is starting to gain increasingly more control over their financial statuses, and just like with every other market, they will place their trust in a company which makes them feel more comfortable, and provides a more seamlessly bonding environment.

So there is not one single answer as to which archetype will fit best with your company’s identity. This really all depends on the message you’re trying to communicate with the world, on the principles you truly believe in. Because no matter which branding archetype you choose, there will always be a group of people which will connect with it almost instantly.

One subsector that particularly benefits from good branding is that of financial advisors. For example, a company which specializes in online assets trading and in return for your trusted invested capital, they offer you a state-of-the-art secure platform in which to trade and elite financial counselors. A company like CMC Markets for example.

They need to know exactly who they are as a company, their principles, their strategy map, and who their customers are going to be, in order to have a proper corporate identity. Branding can help all these companies with some serious potential problems, such as:

  • Corporate Uniqueness: If you or your current or potential clients, can’t quite understand the differences between your company and the competitors, it means you have a branding problem. People need to know exactly why you’re different, and what makes you truly unique. This way your customers are much less likely to replace you, because you can offer them something nobody else can.
  • Referrals: If either your clients or their entrusted advisors, can’t easily explain why your company is better than the competitors, then it is much less likely to acquire new clients.
  • Prices and Services: In a world so competitive in terms of pricing, your company needs to step up from being just a commodity and possibly even reflect the actual value of your services to your clients, by charging premium fees.
  • Corporate Uniformity: If you take 100 people from your company and every one of them gives a different vision of what you stand for as a firm, it could hurt your corporate identity. Everybody needs to know exactly what makes the company different than the others.

So as it turns out, branding is not just for ordinary products like sodas or smartphones, everybody can benefit from it, and especially the financial sector.


This post has supplied and supported by CMC Markets. 


Rebranding tractorgirl – video #4 – it’s all in the details

We’re up to video #4 for rebranding tractorgirl – go me! I’ve been having lots of fun working stuff out – including working out how to edit video, which has been so very useful. And I still get butterflies about actually doing the video in the first place, but the ONLY way to get better is to practice, right!?

Let’s look at today’s content.

So once you’ve got your colours and fonts sorted (peeps on my special Rebrand list will already have had the reveal on where tractorgirl’s going with this ;D ) – now it’s time to add in the finishing touches (which my peeps will also already have seen!). I start this video with two of my very favouritest quotes from the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe –

“Less is more”


“God is in the details”

They’re NOT contradictory statements – it’s all about getting to the essentials of what you want to express.


As I say, your graphic design fundamentals (they are ESSENTIAL) are Alignment, Hierarchy, and Negative Space. PLEASE consider them each and every time you lay out any of your visual stuff – website, business card, brochures, social media posts, memes, … EVERYTHING. To ignore these things is doing you damage. OOOOH! It totally gets me ranty.


Get your audience concentrating on your message, not the mess.


Right! Now I’ve got that off my chest, I wanted to let you know that I’ve got one more video to go – it’ll be the wrap up of the rebrand, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the whole process, as well as winners of my meme comp (if you’re on my Rebrand list, all the details are in my last newsletters and you’ve only got until MIDNIGHT TONIGHT to enter), and I’ll announcing some special offers on conjunction with the rebrand!

Stay tuned.

Julie x


(p.s. As always, if you’ve got any questions, comments, suggestions, anything {and TOTALLY include a link to your site and ask for feedback}, pop a comment below. I’d love to hear!)

Rebranding tractorgirl: Part 3 – colours, fonts & images

Rebranding tractorgirl

Finally, we’re up to the juicy bit – colours, fonts and images… woohooo!!
But of course you can’t get to this point unless you have your foundations in place first. Don’t short-change yourself – skimping on the groundwork means you never have a solid base to refer back to when you get caught up in the next shiny thing (because there’s always a next shiny thing!). So put in the groundwork and the rest becomes simple.

I know this video is a bit longer,  and that’s because there’s LOTS to cover – how to manipulate colour using value and saturation, and how that impacts on your audience’s perception; whether or not to use your own images on your website, and what to look for when choosing stock photos, the different types of fonts and how each of them is perceived, AND my very best tip to choosing between fonts when you really can’t decide.

Are you ready? Let’s go.



I would LOVE you to join in the fun of the comp and have a chance to win free coaching with me, copies of my e-book, and more!! I’ll be sending deets out again in the next newsletter in a couple of days – and entries close 29th Feb AND THAT’S REAL SOON.

AND there’s not many entries so far, so your chances are excellent. You can join in here.



Have you got any questions about your colours? Found a great palette you’d like to share? Same goes for fonts! Leave a comment and share it – the more we share, the more everyone learns, and that’s a good thing. I’d LOVE to see what everyone’s up to.

Julie xx