This week we’re sitting down with Emily Belyea, founder of Bel Creative and our go to creative gal to talk about all things branding and web design. Emily designed and built both the Bryony & Birch and Bryony Body brands and websites for us and she’s who we call if we need anything designed or updated. For all of you entrepreneurs and budding business owners out there, we thought it would be interesting to get Emily’s thoughts on what goes into the making of a brand.
First things first, talk to us about the Bryony & Birch brand identity. What inspired it?
In our earliest conversations about the Bryony & Birch brand, we explored themes of duality, growth and elegance – all words that so accurately represented the kind of brand and business that Katie wanted to build. From those words of inspiration, I designed a mood board that helped us define a color palette, font style and general vibe. That mood board also helped us to discover that we felt drawn to the use of sacred geometry in the logo. From there, we created the logos and brand marks, which really brought our vision to life.
When it comes to building a brand identity, what brand assets does a small business owner really need?
One piece of advice that I always give to business owners at the starting line of a brand identity project is, be thorough – your brand identity and messaging are the foundation of how everything else will look, sound and ultimately, make people feel. Bare minimum: make sure you have a color system, font system, a primary logo and a brand mark. If you have more resources: go for the full enchilada: a color system, font system, primary and secondary logos, brand marks, brand patterns and mockups of how the brand will look in both a digital and print environment.
Should business owners DIY their brand identity or hire a designer?
This really comes down to two questions: A. is your time best spent designing your own brand identity? and B. do you have the design skills and understanding to execute a brand that not only looks good, but works for your target audience? If you’re a yes-yes on that one, then it sounds like DIYing your own identity is a great option for you. If you have even one no, then you may look into hiring a designer to help you out.
If you decide to go the designer route, the best way to get the most bang for your buck is to show up prepared: know who your target audience is, know what you’re offering them, know how they’ll be engaging with your brand and most importantly – how your brand should make them feel. You can also come in with mood boards, Pinterest inspiration boards and anything else that will give your designer a very clear idea of what you’re envisioning.
What are your top 3 tips for someone who is starting to think about their brand identity design?
Identify your target audience using customer avatars
One of the best ways to truly understand who you’re targeting is by building out actual customer avatars to represent those very unique and specific people who will buy from you. Give them a photo, name, age, marital status and a whole bunch of detailed facts about their life. In other words, you’re basically building out a LinkedIn or dating profile for your target customer. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how effective it will be to build your brand if you know who exactly you’re building it for.
Get clear on what you offer by building out your value proposition
Use a value proposition template to map out a very clear understanding of what you offer, the problem that your offering solves for your audience, and the value it provides by solving that problem. Sounds technical, yes, but what you’ll end up with is a spreadsheet full of sound bites that you’ll be using over and over again as you continue to grow your brand.
Start collecting visual inspiration
Take it to Pinterest or Instagram and start collecting visuals (think: images, fonts, color palettes, other logos, etc.) that inspire you. Obviously you want to create something completely unique for your own brand, but seeing what else is out there, what inspires you, and what you feel your audience will connect with, is an excellent place to start.
Can you tell us a little about your own design business and how you help small businesses with brand identity & web design?
I work with small business owners to design and build everything they need to get launched: brand identity, website design, website development and eventually – ongoing website maintenance. My favorite part of the design process is the website design! For me, that’s the perfect moment when the fonts, colors and logos come together to create something that can really work for your brand.
Take a deeper look behind Bryony
👉 Learn how to plan a photoshoot with our go to Amesbury photographer, Kate Donovan.
👉 Go behind the scenes with Bryony & Birch’s designer and architect, Hillary Mateev.
👉 Meet the entrepreneur, hair stylist and yoga instructor behind Bryony: Katie Cavic