If you’re in your 20’s and working for Facebook, maybe not. But unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg, you probably should leave the hoodie at home.
Like it or not, your professional image does impact the way others see you – and your business.
Think about it.
Would you rather hire the handyman who shows more than you want to see when he bends over to fix the sink?
Or the one with his shirt tucked in nice and neat?
So yes, appearances matter – but that doesn’t mean you have to go all corporate and force yourself into a suit.
Not at all.
It just means that your style says something about your business, and you want to make sure it’s saying what you want it to say.
That same principle applies to your visual branding.
Your best look depends on your target audience, the story you want to tell, and your style.
After my own recent experience, I have a new appreciation for what it takes to get this right. Using the wrong colors and fonts, tag lines or titles, confuses your clients and muddies your message.
But creating a solid style that is clear and consistent, will boost your business and build credibility.
So if you’re ready to craft a visual brand that will move your business forward, start the process with these first steps.
1. Hire someone who knows what they’re doing.
Sure, it’s true. You can get a cheap logo from some stranger on Fiverr. But it’s also true that you get what you pay for.
I’ve spent anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand for the expert help of graphic artists. And I’ve learned that there is a huge difference between a simple logo and a brand personality.
If you’re upping your game, you want a complete visual presence.
2. Keep an open mind.
Living near the mountains means that many businesses in my area incorporate some kind of mountain shape into their logo – including me!
(This is the logo for my counseling practice.)
Logos along the coast often have waves, a yellow sun or palm trees in one form or another.
But be careful about using some kind of pre-determined image you have in your head.
Just because there’s a dominant theme in your area, or your industry, doesn’t mean you have to follow it.
If you can stay open to new ideas, something unique and unexpected could be even better. (I had a huge aha! around this myself, that I’ll share with you in a later post.)
3. Gather examples of styles you like.
Pinterest is a great place to explore logos, fonts, colors and brand elements that resonate. Pay attention to what moves you personally; even images of clothing or home decor can help define the style you prefer.
Start a Pinterest board where you can collect images you like. It won’t take long for a theme to emerge! (To see the branding board that was part of my process, click here.)
4. Decide the feeling you want to communicate.
What do you want clients to feel when they see your business?
Do you want them to see it as simple and soothing or strong and powerful? Light and playful or serious and solid? Do you want to appeal to a certain gender? Age group? Personality type?
What would speak to your ideal clients?
5. Think about what you do for your clients.
This can be a little harder to conceptualize, but it’s an important part of the process.
Think about what really happens when people work with you or buy from you.
I don’t mean what happens literally. If you’re a CPA, they’ll get their taxes done. If you’re a massage therapist, their back feels better.
But what difference do you make in their lives? Do they gain peace of mind and a sense of well being? Financial clarity? Smooth, worry-free corporate events?
Your branding expert can develop graphics to help you capture that difference.
If you’ll take the time to think these through, you’ll have the foundation for a powerful brand.
And the fit will be perfect.
Photo Credit: Mike Mozart on Flickr