In this episode, Lindsay and I are chatting about when it's time to hire a pro to handle your brand.
When's the right time? When's the wrong time?
Watch to find out our professional opinion.
In this episode, Lindsay and I are chatting about when it's time to hire a pro to handle your brand.
When's the right time? When's the wrong time?
Watch to find out our professional opinion.
Have you ever gone to check out a website and noticed they are using images you've seen somewhere before? How does that make you feel about that brand? Would you purchase from them? Would you trust them?
For me, it makes me feel like they are still in the beginning stages, which is 100% ok.
But the thing is..I've seen business owners use stock images even after they have been in the game for a year or two. So, if you were to purchase from them, it might make you value what they offer less because they haven't yet invested in their brand photography. Stock images are also extremely generalized for the masses, so it can be hard on your business because your visuals aren't communicating with your audience exactly what you are all about.
Visual content is the most effective marketing strategy today. The major reasoning for this is because 70% of all sensory receptors are in our eyes and our brain retains 80% of what we see. Meaning you can write the hell out of that sales page..but if your images aren't aligned with your brand or selling your mission, values, and goals..then your audience won't remember you. Especially if it's their first time checking you out. First impressions matter! If your visuals don't catch their attention right away, you are missing out on a HUGE opportunity for new clients or customers.
If you want to make the most out of your visuals, you need to use custom brand photography. Stock photography has no context whatsoever, by spending time to create images that have a meaning behind why they are being used for your sales page, website home, or social media post..you can better "sell" your idea to your target customer. (For example.. a shoe company created a boot that can handle all weather conditions. If they were to post an image of their shoe on a plain white background, accompanied by a stock photo of someone climbing a mountain in the snow..would you purchase that boot? Probably not. If the company were to go out and create a visual story about the people that wear those boots, you are more likely to idealize yourself in those boots because the images SHOW you what life would be like after you purchase those boots. This is also where video content comes in handy.)
Why tell them, when you can SHOW them? If someone tells you they love you it means absolutely nothing if they don't show you that they love you. By getting creative with your visuals you can make a descriptive story about your product, or brand. Use videos, photography, graphics, slideshows..you name it. People are more likely to listen to you and buy from you if you visually show them what it is they are getting.
One thing about stock photography is that it makes you look like a boss. Especially when you don’t have the time to go out and take your own photos, or money to hire someone else. But, over time as your business grows, people definitely will start noticing they’ve seen those images somewhere before.
Using custom brand photography in your business will make you stand out among the masses of people doing the same thing, or selling the same product. It will also make you look even more professional because you will look like you’ve invested some time and effort into your business in all aspects. Not only just the actual product but the lifestyle or community you are trying to represent around your brands messaging.
Custom brand photography can give you the upper hand. By diving in deeper to your message, values and really focusing in on who your audience is and what they want.. custom images will give your audience a solid understanding for what you are all about. What really matters to you? Who are you? Why should people want to work with you our buy your products? Those answers should be reflecting in your brand images.
Brand photography doesn’t necessarily mean product photos, images of your desk, or pictures of your staff. Brand photography actually goes deeper than that by capturing your core values, brand message and tells your story visually to your audience. These images can be used in your marketing campaigns, on your social media accounts, blog posts, and on your website to help give your audience a better understanding of the vibes you give off and the type of people you are trying to attract.
Please be sure to download the free worksheet I have provided you to better help you jot your thoughts down and analyze your business and the message you are trying to convey. You can either print it and write on it OR to save some paper I made it completely interactive, that means you can fill it out right on your computer. If you fill it out in your browser window, it will not save your entries FYI. Also, you can have it for free. No need to give us your email. This is an instant download!
Think about your brand, what is the #1 most important thing? Do you want to show support for the environment? Do you aim to help people accomplish their goals? Do you want to support others when they are trying to be fit and healthy? What matters to you? What makes you want to stand on top of the mountain and shout out for everyone to hear? This is your core. The why you do what you do. Think deeply about this and write it down.
For us, we not only love the outdoors, but we aim to be an inspirational source for sustainable living and taking action towards changing the way we do things to better improve our earth and environment. We care about this issue deeply and want that to reflect with the type of people we work with, our imagery, and even in our business decisions.
Think specifically about who you are targeting to. If you are wanting to create new visuals for your sales page for a product you are selling, think about WHO exactly this person is you are selling to. Then figure out where they hang, what they like on Instagram, what they are pinning...etc. You need to have a clear idea of who you want to reach out to.
Our target client that we are trying to reach through our business is brands that feel most alive when they immerse themselves in the wild. So, we make sure to have visuals all over our website that show our adventure and travel lifestyle. We want to appeal to those people the most, so when someone sees our unique image of an amazing place in the great outdoors, they are more likely to click on it to check it out. If they saw a stock photo of a mountain they've seen all over tons of brands websites, they might not even think twice about clicking our links.
What do they like to see? What would be their favorite commercial? Favorite brand? If they have a favorite brand, think about if they are your competitor. Now go and research that competitor and see how they are doing it. What about what they do is appealing to this specific person. Why do they want to purchase from that company? What makes that company more appealing than what you are offering? Really studying your competitor's audience is definitely a great way to get a better idea of who you are trying to target.
Take notes and study what it is about them, and then think about your own business and how you can make yourself stand out. How can you make yours better or different?
So this one is a little different than figuring out what your values are and connecting with that. This is figuring out what you want your audience to feel when they land on your site, read your emails, and purchase your products. Do you want them to feel inspired? Do you want them to feel like they can trust you?
For us, we want people to get inspired to explore the world, to go on adventures, and for them to come back to us for help on telling their stories. We want them to think that our values align with theirs so much that they can't help but support us and build a relationship with our brand.
We all want money right? But that isn't what should motivate you to help people. If your product solves a problem, which most do.. then you really need to genuinely provide a solid solution to that problem that will help them succeed. So, think about what amps you up. What is something that makes you happy to do for someone else FOR FREE.
I want to help inspire people and show them they can do it too. That they don't have to hold themselves back and that anything is possible. I want to help people communicate their ideas through beautiful stories that they can feel proud of. This really gets me excited, which is why I made this challenge for you :) I am stoked about helping others make awesome stuff. I don't care about "giving away" all of my secrets. I just want everyone to know what I know because I believe keeping knowledge to yourself limits you. By giving imagination and ideas life, we embrace the entire world and can work together to make something amazing.
Think about what you really don't want. If you were a positive business coach, you wouldn't want to ever have any images that had a negative context. If you are aiming towards dark and moody visuals, then bright cheerful white backgrounds for your photos just aren't gonna work. Write down all of the things you don't want, that way whenever you are unsure about something you can refer back to these.
This worksheet will help you dig deep and figure out what you are specifically wanting to communicate with your audience. It will give you a better understanding of where to go next with your brand photography and help you think and analyze how to grab your audience's attention. It's important to figure out what you are all about before diving in head first.
If you enjoyed this post and are interested in learning more about how you can make your images stand out and want to learn some non-technical photography skills for any level photographer check out our ebook The Good Eye Guide.
My name is Lexi and I am the Creative Director at State of Mind Studio. My partner Cody and I run our studio out of our converted sprinter van. Together we work with brands that have a passion for the outdoors and help them create breathtaking visual stories through branding, photography, and video.
I've got 15+ years of experience in photography, and have worked with companies like Death to the Stock Photo, KEEN,Stanley PMI, Seek Designs and tons of small business owners. Over the years I've learned that photography is so much more than just the technical skills, and that it’s such a crucial part for your brand’s success.
I've studied what makes photography attractive, what makes people more likely to click on images, how to make it more dynamic and how to communicate with people through visuals. Your brand is more than just a logo, your images are what supports your brand messaging and helps you create a consistent impact on your audience.
The power of social media can be transformative for your business, but as a business owner you have to be careful how you spend your time.
We all only have 24 hours in a day and when you’re the one calling all the shots, sometimes social media can be last on the to-do list.
Understandably so, because it’s always been difficult to judge the true ROI on social media.
But what if you could have a bigger impact on social media, and spend less time doing it?
It’s possible. With some intention, focus, and dedication, you can expand your mission and grow your impact while spending less time doing it.
While this may seem like a waste of time, it’s actually the most important step. Missing this step could cause you to burn out in the future, and we obviously don’t want that happening!
When I pose this question to clients, I often hear back any one of the following statements:
“My target audience is everyone!”
“I don’t want to exclude anyone!”
“But what if someone who’s not included wants to buy from me?!”
I understand that it can be scary to “exclude” people from your audience but it’s the most important thing you can do for you business.
Identifying your target audience helps you hone in on your craft and better help a specific group of people. It allows you to build trust, recognition and likeability with a target market that will continue to purchase from you and/or recommend you for years to come.
Key features to identify about your target audience:
Finding out which platform they spend the most time on is important because that’s where you will be focusing your efforts.
Yes, it’s great to be on every platform but for now we want to focus on the one your target audience uses the most.
You may be saying, “duh!” to this tip, but hear me out.
Have you ever heard of the saying, “build it and they will come?”
Let me give you a piece of advice: don’t believe that saying. We live in a day and age where it’s just not as simple as build it and they will come.
You have to put yourself out there. You have to interact with your target audience.
And no, that does not mean you need to constantly sell to them. What it does mean though is that you have to be genuinely helpful to these people. Offer free advice, ask them questions, listen to their answers, comment on their profiles, celebrate their wins...you know what I mean.
By doing all of these things, you are building a brand with your target audience. You are proving to them that you 1) know what you’re talking about and 2) want to genuinely help them.
Each piece of content you post on social media, whether it’s a post on Facebook, a tweet on Twitter, or an Instagram caption, you should ask yourself these three questions:
No matter what, each piece of content you share needs to fall in line with the questions listed above.
If it’s not a brand building post, why are you posting it?
If there’s no purpose other than you feel like you have to share, why are you posting it?
If the post isn’t adding value to your target audience, why are you posting it?
This doesn’t mean every post needs to be a super meaningful revelation, not all pieces of content need to be that, but they all should have a purpose.
The next time you start to schedule social media content, consider answering those three questions before posting.
Batch processing is doing similar tasks all at the same time, so you aren’t flitting from one task to the next. No matter what type of business you have, I bet you there are similar tasks that it makes sense for you to do all together, versus separately and scattered.
Are you ever browsing on Facebook and then suddenly look up and realize an hour has passed? Don’t worry, it happens to all of us.
That’s why I try to be intentional about scheduling my social media or interacting with others. I’m not perfect of course, but I try to do similar tasks (like scheduling social content) in one big chunk of time instead of trying to plan it out each day.
But, at times it’s best to interact live on social media, so when I need to do that I set myself a timer. I use an iPhone app called MultiTimer to keep myself focused.
People often fall into the trap of thinking you can only promote your content once on social media.
But I’m here to tell you that’s totally wrong! You need to share your content multiple times and on multiple platforms.
Here’s the truth: Everyone does not see every Facebook post, Instagram photo, tweet, or Pinterest pin. In fact, they probably don’t see most.
We’re all inundated with media and content all.day.long so the probability that everyone that follows you sees all of your posts is zero.
You’re allowed to re-share your content multiple times. Use a tool like Edgar to recycle content, or create your own spreadsheet that has pre-written pieces of content (like I do, see a screenshot below!).
Remember that the purpose of building up your brand on social media isn’t to have thousands of followers, but it’s to authentically and genuinely connect with your ideal target market.
I’d much rather have a small group of followers that know, like, and trust me compared to a large group of people who rarely interact with anything I post.
As the person who knows your business inside out, upside down, and sideways, you’ve probably convinced yourself that you can handle your own content. With all the free resources, planning tools, and content calendars floating around out there, it’s clearly doable.
You’re the boss and that means you’re the most qualified person to handle it.
Investing in content strategy would be a huge waste of time and money.
You don’t see your business the way your customers see it.
You don’t know how your time will affect your ability to produce – consistently and strategically.
You don’t know how your lack of expertise might influence the returns you may or may not get.
The time you’ve estimated to tackle your content strategy solo? Double it – at least. Besides generating ideas that have strategic reach and relevance to your target audience, there’s also the work of outlining, writing, editing, considering SEO, formatting, finding the ideal imagery, posting to the appropriate channels, and promoting. Consistently producing content that hits the mark is a serious mindset shift and a sequence of events; not a low-hanging task or a one-time event. What you think you can get done in an hour could stretch through an entire week, piling up on your list of to-do’s and ultimately never seeing the light of day. And if something comes up out of the blue, what’s going to get pushed to the back of the line? Odds are it’s your content…again.
When you hand off your content to a trained content strategist, you allow that person to invest that time for you, buying your days back to propel your business forward and erasing the risk of routinely making content a last-place priority.
Dentists don’t perform their own root canals. Chiropractors don’t twist their own necks. Generations have joked about the fact that the cobbler’s children have no shoes, but the startling sentiment has stood true all this time: when you don’t have time to make your own shoes, you end up going barefoot. While bootstrapping your content seems like the smartest, scrappiest way to go, keep your upstart costs in mind. What you feel you might cut corners on in cost you will definitely double down on in effort. Learning about content – real content that has a specific set of objectives – is just like taking on a second job title. You’ve got to buy and download the resources to learn about it, set aside the extra time to study it, and continually practice it until you become not only proficient, but fluent.
Why double your (already crazy!) workload when trained content strategists have dedicated their careers to helping you get some shoes on your feet and your business in front of the right eyes?
We’re huge ambassadors for the relationship between design and content. We’ve written before about how investing in design without investing in content is a problem half-solved...a problem that sometimes looks like stalled websites that never see the light of day, disjointed brand stories that create friction between identity and message, or most frequently of all, stress about having to produce work you feel unqualified to do. That’s why we consistently partner with designers (like Kristin and Lindsay of Four Oh Seven!) who own their expertise and ensure that neither design or content happen in a vacuum, but always work in tandem ’til the very end. Together, our teams work on the frontlines and in the backend of your project, making sure the content matches wireframes and mockups. While you’re handling business as usual, we’re working together to make sure that content is on-brand and on-message, moving forward to meet your goals. We’re the ones doing the research and strategic thinking that attracts the right people, to the right story, to the right identity – every time.
When design and content meet in the middle, both processes marry to create a feedback loop that ensures your brand’s identity is served by your voice, and your voice is strengthened by your identity.
Finally, but most importantly, does generating your own content get you excited? Is it something you want to be spending hours on each day, week, and month for the lifetime of your business? Because if you’re planning to work your own content, then get very comfortable with the idea of writing and talking about yourself on a regular basis. Of all the concerns our own clients voice about creating their own content, a lack of love for not only the writing, but the vulnerability involved, rises to the top. (If we had a dime for every time our clients have told us, straight up, that they’re not writers...) It’s also worth noting that touting your accomplishments and wisdom is not for the faint of heart. What’s more, you might not even be aware of your own strengths enough to share them, in which case, the job of a content team is to pull all that expertise out of you, arrange it to reach the right audience, and position you as the best of the best.
If you have a hard time identifying and sharing what you already know – but fully recognize that you need share it in order to level-up your business – then it’s time to find the right team to support your efforts.
Beyond taking off the daily pressure to produce, investing in both design AND content multiplies your investment, rewards in recouped time, and adds to – rather than depletes – your precious reserves of entrepreneurial energy. Bringing in content and design expertise far beyond your own capabilities isn’t weak and it isn’t wasted; it’s simply choosing agility so that you can feel seen and heard rather than drained and frazzled.
That second set of hands you wish you could sprout to take care of your content for you?
Make the right one that gives you the time, energy, and enthusiasm to keep moving forward.
Lexicontent is an emotive storytelling studio, nestled between the art of content creation and the science of what moves you. A his-and-hers business born out of complementary strengths, we work with empathy-first brands, businesses, and nonprofit clients worldwide to solve the content equation through specialized processes designed to provoke greater self-awareness. We believe that a magnetic story, paired with an intelligent strategy, says it all. Learn more about our process, packages, and people at lexicontent.com.
Connect with Lexicontent — Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest
You know color is important to your brand. You know what your brand colors are. You know what your brand colors mean.
People, including us, write about this all the time.
But how the heck do you use them? Which colors should be used when? What's too much? And what's too little?
The more you understand your brands colors, the easier they will be to use.
The colors in your palatte need to have some order to them.
Your primary colors are the main colors of your brand. They will be used constantly throughout your brand assets.
While, your secondary colors should simply accent your primary palette. Use secondary colors very lightly and strategically. They're great for calling attention to details!
All colors communicate a message, which you can read more about in this post.
Once you understand the psychology behind your colors, you can better choose which to use and when.
For example, you may want to use a bolder color for the headline of your blog post to draw attention.
It's tempting to change colors up all of the time. You don't want things to get boring.
But in order to help create balance, it's important to keep colors consistent throughout your brand assets.
This means that headlines should be the same color. Body copy the same color. Your logo the same color. So on, and so on — across your website, social, and print materials.
This doesn't mean that there isn't room for breaking some rules. Sometimes you have to trust your gut as to when it's right to use a certain color.
For example, if you use one color on your Twitter cover photo then you probably want to change things up for your Facebook cover.
You also want to keep things distinct. While a bold color is great for headlines, links and calls to action, you don't want to use the same color for all of things things.
But give yourself the freedom to explore and play with your color palatte.
Most of what you do in order to grow your business is designed to help you to find more of your dream customers. Are we right?
But, what if you thought about your story as the way to help your people find YOU?
When your main goal is to find the most people, you reach every which way, you fail to stand for something. If you will not draw a line in the sand which you refuse to cross, your purpose is missing.
But when you put your purpose first, you show people where to meet YOU. Rather than searching for an audience, you begin to attract one. And you do not just attract any audience, you attract the RIGHT audience.
That's what we're chatting about in this month's Inbox Workshop — our free branding lessons delivered straight to your inbox.
There is often a misconception that branding is JUST about logo design, when in reality it is SO much more than that. Strategic branding dives deeper and will help you to share who you are, what you do, and why you do it. To help break down the deets and unravel that mystery, we decided to write the Brand Building Blocks series. Each post will hone in on one particular aspect of a brand, from the basics of strategy to the different creative pieces.
What tone is your brand trying to communicate? Does your type help you tell your story?
One of the most used puzzle pieces in your brand is your typography. While they may not be the star of every design, the typefaces you choose will be in almost everything in your brand. Getting your typography right is a huge part of how your brand will communicate.
When you craft your brand identity as a whole you need to consider how your typography will fit into the big picture. Your brand's typography doesn't only mean the fonts you choose for your logo's design, it includes getting specific about what typefaces you'll use in every part of your brand.
There are a handful of typography styles, and they all have inherent moods, tones, and connotations. When it comes time to settle on typefaces for your brand, ask yourself what vibe you want your brand to give off. The typography you choose should mirror your brand.
Although each typeface is unique, usually you can rely on a Sans Serif font (think Helvetica) to feel more clean and modern. Serifs (like Georgia) are usually viewed as more classic or established. And most script fonts (i.e. Wisdom Script) tend to feel more feminine. Again, these aren't true for every typeface that falls under these descriptors, but it should give you a great place to start your search!
Typography for your brand isn't just about picking a font. It's about establishing how the typeface(s) you choose will work together. Establishing your type hierarchy is a great way to not only build brand consistency, but to ensure the type you're using flows together to tell your brand story in the clearest way.
To create great hierarchy, think about how your logo typography, headlines, subheads, body copy, and any accent fonts would look together. Even if you are only using a single typeface throughout your brand, get specific about how that type will be styled to create a hierarchy. Maybe you'll use all caps on your headlines and bold the same typeface for your subheadings. Whatever you choose, your typography should have fairly easy to follow guidelines.
As we always urge you to in these posts, if you already have typography for your brand, take this time to evaluate if it's still working for you. If you are just starting to build your brand, we challenge you to consider the following as you craft your brand standards.
Some font styles just look better together than others. If your fonts feel like they're all trying to be the hero, chances are they aren't meant to live together. So if you're using more than one font, remember that contrast is key.
We'd challenge you to start create a Pinterest board and pin images that use type you love. What styles are they pairing together? Do any of those fit your brand?
If you're a font lover, it can be tempting to want to pick multiple of your favorite faces and go to town, but we always recommend your brand standards include no more than 2-3 typefaces. The more typefaces you combine, the sooner you will lose the hierarchy you're looking to create with your type. When there is too much going on, people won't know where to start.
Want to dig deeper into the basics of branding? Our monthly newsletters are designed to do just that!
Inbox Workshop isn't your typical newsletter. Each month we'll focus on a topic that will help you to implement your brand in real life. We'll use video, workbooks, and an exclusive chat portal to help you take action — think of it like a mini workshop in your inbox! Learn more + sign up.
It doesn't matter if you're going to do it on your own or hire some help — there are several crazy important questions you should answer before you ever get started with creating your business's website.
Below are our top four questions that we ask any potential web deisgn client.
When a visitor comes to your site, what do you hope they'll do before they leave? You probably hope they buy something your selling, whether that's a product or a service. But we know not everyone will buy on their first visit to a site, so maybe one of your goals will be for them to sign up for your newsletter. Or is it really important to you that they learn a little about your core values? They'll see you're good people and that will stand out when they really need what you're selling.
Make a list of your top three things you hope to achieve. And be sure to make this list go in order from most important to least.
This list should drive the features of the site, the content you write, the hierarchy of that content, and the calls to action featured throughout your site.
You always want to think about your visitors, first. Yes, it's your site and you should love it, but this website isn't about you. It's about your audience.
Who are they? What do they want? What are their problems? How can you solve them?
Again, this will inspire features, content, calls to action — everything. Based on their needs what pages do you need to have? Will a "Start Here" page help them to learn about you + popular content? Will a "Best Sellers" page show them your most popular products quickly and lead to bigger sales?
This question is most important to figure out the answer to if you're working with a web designer/developer. If you want to easily be able to change the text, pictures and more throughout your site on your own — tell your team!
This can limit the design in some ways, but by knowing how much flexibility you'll need will assure the designer/developer can set things up to work better for you and train you how to use everything.
If you want this freedom, make sure you feel confident that whoever you hire can offer this to you!
These sites don't have to be in your niche, but they can be.
Look at all three that you like. What do you love about each? What trends do you see between these sites? Use this as inspiration!
The sites that you hate will help your designer — if you work with one. They can't read your mind about your likes/dislikes so communicating both sides can be super helpful. They same way that you probably found some obvious trends in the sites you love, you should notice some patterns in the sites you hate.