Why Blogging is Essential to Your Brand

It’s near the end of 2018, your business is running smoothly, your branding is on point, and you’re doing what you love… but you’re wondering: do I need a blog, too?

This is a common question from entrepreneurs, who usually have the same three obstacles: time, money, and not knowing what to write about.

The short answer? Yes, your business needs a blog.

You can skate by without one, but ultimately, the reasons to have one outweigh the time, effort, and money you might save by skipping it.

The basic reasons? You need to establish authority with two parties: Google and your target audience. Basically, it’s not enough to be an authority in your field. You need to make sure people know it, too.

At any given time, people are out there looking for information. And if you have it and you’re not making it available, you’re losing out!

Let’s Talk About Google

Google is one tool to get in front of an audience. Basically, to make use of it, you need to make yourself available, and that means putting out content that people are looking for.

Your goal with Google is to put out “lures” in the form of valuable information your target audience actually wants. This helps you to rank with Google, which rewards you with gradually higher and higher search result placement. The more valuable Google deems your info, the higher you’ll rank, and the greater audience you’ll reach.

Blogs are also great to use as part of your social media strategy, which also direct traffic your way. If you’re an authority in your field, you can also benefit from inbound links, which are simply when others reference your work. You can buy this kind of traffic, but building your reputation and attracting quality inbound links is key.

Your Brand’s Personality

You’ve spent so much time and effort designing your brand’s personality, and blogging is a great way to let it shine. “Humanizing” your brand to an audience helps make you more likeable, more authoritative, more relatable, more human. And that’s what resonates with customers and builds trust.

As you build trust, you gain authority. Think about where you go to find info you need right now, and why you go there. Is it a friend? A trusted mentor? A brand with history, authority, or pizzaz? It’s the same on the other side.

So What Do I Write About?

You’re a subject matter expert. You might be a good writer, too. That doesn’t mean you have to spend your own time writing. But you do want to mine your own experience for subjects or topics that will be relevant to your audience.

You may already be bursting with ideas. If you’re stumped, start by thinking about something you’ve explained in detail recently. How would you break it down simply for an audience?

Alternately, you can just jot down topics related to your discipline and come back to them a bit later. You can read other blogs for inspiration. You can imagine your platform as a way to talk about current events.

Really, the sky’s the limit.

Are you blogging now? Let us know how it’s going in the comments!

Five Quick Productivity Tips For Working At Home

How to stay on track and not go nuts when you work from home.

Something you might not know about us at BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE is that like many entrepreneurs, freelancers, small business owners, and other similarly free-spirited folks, we work mostly virtually. It can seem like the ideal setupbut as any work from home veteran will tell you, it’s easy to go off the rails.

So we have a quick list of things to watch out for if you’re leaving the corporate world and it’s offices, rules, and structure behind. This post is for the individualmanaging a team remotely is a whole other post.

 

Is working at home… good for my mental health? Is it bad? What gives?

If you do a basic Google search, you’ll find a lot of opinions out there on this topic. Not going into an office saves you the time and stress of a commutebut if you’ve grown accustomed to using that time to read, listen to podcasts or audiobooks, call family and friendsyou might notice you miss having that outlet. Going into an office can sabotage your healthy eating efforts with office snacks and having to grab fast food because you forgot lunchbut being at home can mean sitting in front of a computer all day with endless access to your own snacks.

Ultimately, it depends on the individual. What it comes down to is identifying what positives you got from going into an office, and what  you’ll need to be mindful of when those things are no longer built into your day. If most of your socialization is through work, you’ll need to figure out other ways to meet this needMeetups, social media interaction (especially with groups and spaces oriented toward your interests), or reaching out to someone in your field to get lunch or coffee—these are all great ways to both socialize and network. What’s great about working from home is that sure, you have to put in some effortbut you can really curate your interactions to be the best for YOU.

 

Feeling… blah or uninspired

This happens to the best of us, office or not. The upside to being in an office? Lots of other folks around to talk through the blahs. The upside to work from home? The entire world is your inspiration. And so is your space.

Similar to socializing intentionally, when you’re at home, you can plan your space however is most inspiring to you. Even if you’re not likely to have clients or coworkers in your workspace, you don’t want to be stuck staring at institutional-looking walls all day, so be creative! The sky’s the limit, from painting everything Baker-Miller Pink to any number of sophisticated options. Try adding productivity-boosting music (check out this list from HubSpot). There’s no shortage of home office porn online, so have fun with it!

 

Watch out for time-suckers

Coworker chit-chat is almost definitely curbed when you can’t just walk into your neighbor’s office (although instant messaging can work similarly). We suggested social media for productive networking and socializing, but of course there’s the risk of finding yourself three years back in your cousin’s Instagram feed to find a picture of an impressively-sized squash for… reasons.  

 

Have you moved today?

We all know that sitting in front of a computer for eight hours (or more) per day has major health drawbacks. There can be fewer “natural” interruptions when you’re in your own home, so if you’re feeling distractedly stir-crazy, get up and get out! A quick walk or a change of scenery can help reinvigorate you and improve focus.

There are lots of other strategies you can incorporate into your day to break up time AND get movingthe important part is that you do it.

 

S T R E S S

What stress? I work at home!

But of course some stress is unavoidable. A big source when you aren’t in an office can be time and project managementyou have deadlines, timelines, etc., but the only person really monitoring progress is YOU. In fact, sometimes you can spend a TON of time on a project, only to scrap it and change directionbut if nobody sees the original work, did it even happen?

The solution, for the most part? You need to plan and track, and you need a strategy for checking in. We’ve all had the experience of being incredibly busy last week, and then trying to document what exactly you were busy doing. Which is stressful in itself! Do yourself a favor and investigate options for setting and tracking goalswhether using apps or manually with tools like Bullet Journal or or BestSelf.

And finally? Have fun! Enjoy the benefits your work from home setup offers.

 

Thoughts or insights? Let us know in the comments!

How to create a blog strategy for the WHOLE YEAR!

DON’T WRITE ANOTHER WORD UNTIL YOU READ THIS ARTICLE!

Building a company blog is a great tool for getting the word out about your company, you can use this content for a lot of things, including…

  1. Web pages that get discovered in Google searches, to drive new traffic to your website.
  2. Content in your regularly scheduled email newsletters that drives clients back to your site and positions you as a thought leader.
  3. Content to post to Facebook, or Instagram, or Snapchat
  4. The basis for new and interesting Lead Magnets or White Papers, that you can use inside of Facebook Ads, or in a downloadable resources section on your website, to build your email list.

However, you should never, ever ever start a blog that you can’t continue! Too often we see blogs that just… stop. It is the same old story for everyone… You get off to a great start, and then all of the sudden your last post is from 2016, and every new visitor to your website thinks you are dead or out of business.

Why do people stop?

Maybe it’s because they didn’t use the blog posts to generate traffic like they should have with ideas 1 through 4 above.

Maybe it’s because they forgot to put a Call To Action (CTA) at the end of every blog post, to turn those words into LEADS!

Maybe it’s because they did all of the above, and simply got too busy!

Maybe it’s because they  didn’t have a good blog writer that they could call when they got busy?

Who knows!

What we do know is that these are simple problems!

The first step is to follow our 3 part plan…

FOR

THE

WHOLE

YEAR

 

PART 1:

Decide on a theme for every month. If you run a pet supply business it might look something like this:

It allows you NOT to have to think up ALL of your blog articles at once, you can just file each blog topic idea under the appropriate month as they come to you, and gives your creative mind the freedom to come up with interesting blog topic ideas as they come to you, knowing all the while that you have “just the right month” to cover it in.There are a few reasons to plan out a theme every month, including…

  1. It allows your readers to tune in to monthly themes based on their interests, which increasing engagement, and makes you look supremely organized and worthy of their time and attention.
  2. If you have a blog writer that isn’t yourself, it gives them a plan and a format to follow, so that you don’t have to have weekly or monthly meetings, scrambling to come up with blog topics.

 

PART 2:

Once you’ve got your monthly topics all sorted out, now you can start brainstorming specific blog topic ideas. For example, let’s say that the pet supply company publishes a blog once per week, on Thursdays, in the month of March. Their calendar would look like this…

If you don’t come up with all of the ideas all at once, that’s ok, you have time, just make sure to record the ideas as they come.

 

PART 3:

Each blog has a lot more parts than just the words that you write. Make sure that you or your writer clearly stipulates exactly what every blog article should include, including…

  1. The Blog Title: This is self explanatory, keep it short and compelling
  2. The Newsletter Title: Make sure it makes people want to click, and covers a bit about what your newsletter content is about, and features the blog that you are sending in the email
  3. An image: Do NOT simply pick an image that is a visual representation of the blog topic, get creative. For example, if you are writing a blog about “how to pick an unusual pet,” use an image of a man hugging a question mark instead of a man hugging a Rat, it is that simple. Interesting images are more compelling for your readers than images that describe the title.
  4. Meta Description: This is the part inside the code of the blog that might not get read as part of the blog, but that gets picked up by Google when it searches your site for things to include in its searches. Must be 120-156 characters. Include an “SEO Keyword” in the description (more about that in the next item…) This information can be input into your WordPress backend pretty easily.
  5. SEO Keyword: Before you write ONE WORD of your blog, you have to decide what people MIGHT type into Google in order to find it. The trick here is not to go for the most obvious answer. For example, if you are writing a blog about “how to pick an unusual pet,” you wouldn’t use the Keyword “pet” because on Google, there are about 1,850,000,000 results (or OTHER articles to compete with) that have the Keyword “pet.” Instead, you might go with the Keyword “how to pick an unusual pet,” (yes, a Keyword can actually be a phrase!). When you use this Keyword, you aren’t competing against ANY other articles with this specific title, so you will get all the hits when people type it in, versus NONE of the hits when people type in the word “pet.” Last but not least, make SURE that you use the Keyword or Keyword Phrase at least 3 or 4 times in your article, maybe more! This information can be input into your WordPress backend pretty easily.
  6. URL: The URL is the unique web address for the article. The URL that you use should be your SEO Keyword to improve the chances that Google will rank your article well. So, if you use the same article title that we have been talking about all along, your URL would be www.yourwebsite.com/how-to-pick-an-unusual-pet. This information can be input into your WordPress backend pretty easily.

 

That’s it! Follow this 3 part plan and you will be a blogger before the ink dries on a post-card. Just remember, if you don’t like to write, or read, you might be better off with a video blog, rather than a written one!

Professional Is Not A Personality

If you’re trying to make a brand promise around your professionalism, you’re not trying hard enough.

Do you make money for what you do? Congratulations. You’re a professional—but that says nothing about your brand promise.

It means you’re competent. Maybe even skilled.

But it doesn’t make you intriguing, unique or different from your competitors. You could be the most professional person in the world—and actually be incredibly boring to your customers.

 

What your brand promise is—and isn’t

Here’s a secret: in most buying situations, quality is assumed. So is professionalism.

We assume that when we hire an electrician, the light switch will turn on. We assume that when we buy a car the brakes will work.

And that means being “good” isn’t good enough. Your brand can’t just be “professional”—because you’re not the only professional on the block.

By building a brand personality on professionalism, what you’re doing is promoting your credibility. You’re making the argument that buying from you makes logical sense.

These are valid arguments to make, and they DO matter in the eyes of your potential customers.

But a brand promise based on credibility and logic is both boring and weak.

 

Aristotle hated “professional”, too

Noted Greek philosopher Aristotle posited that a solid argument—and argument here means any defensible position, such as a belief or, yes, a brand promise—is based on 3 pillars:

  • Ethos (Credibility)
  • Logos (Logic)
  • Pathos (Emotion)

Professionalism only appeals to logic and credibility, which means, by Aristotle’s definition, any appeal to professionalism will fail.

Let’s make things more concrete with an example.

Let’s say you are a financial planner, and a good one.

A professional.

We all want a financial planner who knows what they are doing—in other words, one that’s credible. And we want one who can make us money—that makes logical sense to hire.

That all sounds well and good, and as a professional financial planner you can deliver on that brand promise.

But without injecting emotion into your brand promise, you’ll only end up telling prospective clients that a financial planner is a wise investment—not that they need YOU.

You’ve successfully advertised for your industry, not for your company.

Aristotle would have HATED that.

 

Your brand promise needs to make an emotional connection

Your competence at delivering your service or the value built into your product is just a single one of the factors that people take into consideration when making a purchase.

But as we said above, prospects already assume you’re good at what you do.

Customers want an emotional connection with you and your brand. They want to know who you are, what you care about, and what you stand for so that they can self-identify with you.

They want to know you understand not only their life, but also the pain they’re going through or the challenge they’re facing, before they’ll ever agree to let you help them.

Only when you share your history (both good and bad) and your personality with your customers will you start to connect with people on an emotional level—and will your brand promise hit home.

This emotional connection is much stronger than a logical connection, or one rooted in credibility, or even a combination of both.

And this is why your brand promise can’t hinge on being “professional.”

 

Takeaway

By all means be good at what you do. (It’s assumed you are.) Be prompt, courteous, and wear a tailored suit everyday if you feel it conveys professionalism.

But just know that in order for your brand to resonate, it has to promise more.

The Difference Between BIG and SMALL Business Branding

Most people, when they think of the difference between BIG and SMALL Business Branding think Apple, Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, and how they can look so good, and be so ubiquitous…

But remember, these are big, established, revolutionary brands. Those are wonderful brands, but they aren’t meant to be your guide for small business branding. In fact, you should most likely do the opposite of what the big brands are up to.

To go back to Apple for our example, they have a simple, clean, beautiful apple icon. Most of their advertising only shows this icon, often as a singular color against a background that creates a sharp contrast.

It’s stunning. It looks high-tech, futuristic, and expensive. Which is perfect for Apple.

Chances are, it’s not a good look for your business though. I don’t know what business you are in, but chances are if you are selling mops, it’s not going to do you much good to have a brand that looks and feels like Apple’s, even if it is as equally beautiful.

The big brands play to their advantages with their branding. They are big, established, and they know it.

A brand like Ferrari is creating a prestigious perception through their branding, and they can because they have a rich racing history and beautiful cars.

As a small business, can you say you have the same history? If you can, go for it, but if you cannot, be true to yourself.

A company such as Amazon has competitive advantages that you might not. They sell everything and their brand communicates that wonderfully. Everything from A to Z, with a smile.

But if a smaller or more specific focus, trying to emulate the Amazon brand wouldn’t work for you at all! In fact it would hurt you as people would come to expect a level of service and a large variety of products that you don’t deliver.

To put things more bluntly, you have to make due with what you have got, and be authentic. You may not be able to tell the story Ferrari can, or match the variety and service of Amazon, but that’s ok because you have your own strengths to play to.

Perhaps you don’t have the massive inventory of Amazon, but you have handpicked, curated, one of a kind items. If so, your branding should reflect that one of a kind nature to your inventory, as that is something Amazon could never match.

As a small business you can be more personable, more customized, or more boutique. You can be more nimble, more focused. You can be branded as the innovative newcomer, or the fun alternative.

The point being is that there are many unique, great ways to brand your small business, but emulating a big business’s brand is not the way to do it. Their brands are specifically curated to play to their strengths, which are very different from yours.

You should aspire to to have your brand be as powerful as theirs, but you shouldn’t aspire to be like them. That isn’t a good brand. Play to your strengths, what makes you special, and watch as your brand becomes its own force in the marketplace.

That’s small business branding done right.

5 Ways To Define Your Target Market

Target Market. Target Audience. Ideal Clients. Your Niche.

These terms have all become business buzz-terms. It doesn’t seem you can have a conversation about business for more than a few minutes without one of these terms coming up, and for good reason.

A brand is a desired perception, which means it lives in the minds of your target audience. Therefore it is really, really important we understand what your target audience looks like and what is going on in their minds.

Understanding as much as you can about your target audience is instrumental in brand building and marketing.

But how do you define your target market? Who are your customers? What does their day look like, what do they care about and what are their purchasing decisions?

Below are 5 ways to define your target market. If you can gain clarity on these 5 areas, you will be on your way to understanding your customers better than they know themselves. When you can do that, you can create a powerful brand that resonates deeply with your target audience, target market, ideal customers, niche, or whatever the new buzzword of the day is.

1. Demographics

Demographics seem to be passé these days but they are still very, very important.
Demographics are still very important because we can only start to understand how people think by first knowing who they are.

Things like:
Age
Race
Gender
Income
Location

Singularly, and in isolation, these tell us very little about an individual, as our age, gender, race, etc, don’t drive our purchasing decisions alone. However, we can take inference on a larger group of people based on this information. How we sell to white women over 55 is very different from how we would sell to African-American males under 25.

Demographics don’t tell you everything, but they’re a great place to start. To understand your target market even further, lets dive into number 2.

2. Psychographics

Just like demographics, where we gain insights on our audience based on who they are, we can also gain insights on people based upon their personality traits, attitudes, interests and lifestyle.
By segmenting our audience on this deeper level, we can market to them in an even more focused manner.

For example, if we know that charitable work is very important to our target audience, this information can help us on multiple levels. For one, we now know that giving back is a core value, so we can craft messaging and marketing that appeals to this value. Additionally, if this core value is a major factor in purchasing behavior we could get creative, and incorporate giving back into our business model.

Psychographics are key to defining your target audience. Great brands always have an eye on their target audience’s behavior and thinking.

3. Wants and Desires

There is an old saying in marketing, sell them on what they want, give them what they need.
You MUST know what your target audience wants, and when we say what they want, we mean what they REALLY want.

For example, if you are selling skin care products, your customers don’t actually want skin cream. That’s simply the tool that delivers the benefit they want, which is smooth, clear skin.
And why do they want smooth, clear skin? Let’s dive even deeper. Let’s go deeper than “skin deep.” Why does someone want smooth, clear skin? So they can look great, and feel confident. They buy skin cream so they can look great, be wanted, and be admired.

When assessing your target audience, ask yourself what your customers are really buying. By effectively utilizing this knowledge of wants and desires, your audience will be yearning for your brand in short order.

4. Fears and Frustrations

On the flip side of wants and desires are fears and frustrations.

We want to know what is keeping our audience up at night so we can eliminate their worry and ease their concerns. For example, if our audience is weary of spending money, we can incorporate a money-back guarantee. Or if our audience’s biggest frustration is that the companies they buy from aren’t genuine or honest, we can highlight our integrity. Many times, people are driven to purchase more out of fear than out of desire. Going back to the skin cream example, do we really want to look young, or are we terrified of looking old?

Understand what keeps your audience up at night, and you will be on your way to creating a brand that speaks to them.

5. Key Purchasing Decisions

What makes someone actually pull the trigger on a purchase?

After all, we all have many wants and desires, fears and frustrations, and there are a myriad of products/services that appeal to these factors. So what is it that separates one company’s product/service from the other?

Many times it comes down to key purchasing decisions. Some people only want to work with the best, and will pay for that privilege. Others are more concerned with “value” and will search for the most bang for their buck. Other times a key purchasing decision comes down to how well you understand where your audience is coming from. Some people want to buy from someone who they admire, others want to buy your product/service because of what it says about them.

There are lots of decisions that determine whether someone buys your brand or not. You must understand them and focus your efforts on making these decisions as painless as possible for your audience.

All 5 of the areas mentioned above are inherently linked, and shed light on the others. When combined, they provide you with powerful knowledge that can be used to shape your audience’s perception of your brand, allowing your brand to resonate with them on a deeper level than your competitors. Take the time to know your audience, define them, understand who they are, what they want and what makes them tick, and you will be richly rewarded for it.

Branding Vs. Design

A lot of design agencies claim they do branding. But what is the difference between branding vs. design, and furthermore, how do you decide what type of agency is right for you?

Great branding incorporates great design, but great design doesn’t make a great brand.

Design is an integral part of branding. Your logo, fonts, and colors are all building blocks of a brand. But they are simply that, building blocks. A logo doesn’t make a brand, nor does a specific color or font. A brand is a desired perception, and design elements are the tools we use to create that perception.

But that doesn’t mean a great designer is a great brand strategist.

Let’s look at an analogous situation for more clarity.

You are building your company, much like someone builds a house. Now most people don’t know how to build a house on their own. They really need help on two levels to build their house. They need an architect to design the house, and a contractor to build it.

Designers are the contractors. They take the blueprints from the architect, and build the house according to their plan. They use the tools of design to bring your brand to life.

But they aren’t the creators of the brand, just like a contractor doesn’t design a beautiful skyscraper. A brand strategist is the architect, the mastermind that creates the blueprint that the designers can take and bring to life.

A brand strategist creates the brands architecture, the pillars that are the staples of your brand. And these pillars go beyond the expertise of design.

A branding agency will help you create a desired perception, including your brands promise, message, positioning, photography, hierarchy, colors, fonts, and design elements. Most importantly, they make sure that all the pieces of your brand are cohesive and work harmoniously together.

Many branding agencies incorporate design in house for synergy and better communication with designers in order to implement the brand vision effectively.

A lot of design agencies say they do branding, but they only do a small piece without the higher-level strategy required for your brand to stand out and resonate with your target market.

When building your brand, be sure you are working with an agency that’s expertise lies in branding, not just design so you have a house that has a strong foundation, not just a house that just looks pretty.

When Should I Rebrand My Company?

One of the most common questions we get asked is “When should I rebrand my company?” And for good reason.

The short answer is that it depends.

It depends on what business problem(s) you have. When you invest in your business, you expect your investment to alleviate a business problem. Branding is an investment in your business, and like any investment in your business you expect an ROI on your investment. Branding can deliver an incredible ROI because it solves a multitude of business problems.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it can also be a poor investment if you expect branding to solve business problems that branding can’t address.

Below are problems that branding CAN solve, followed by problems that branding CAN’T solve. We hope that this will give you guidance as you decide whether or not branding is right for your business at this time.

Problems Branding CAN Solve.

1. You aren’t charging what you are worth

Branding is about creating a desired perception. Therefore, if you are perceived as low-cost or simply aren’t able to charge the prices you deem necessary then branding can elevate people’s perceptions of you, allowing you to charge premium prices.

2. People aren’t clear about who you are, what you do, or how you can help them

The branding process will bring clarity to your business. Clarity around your message, visuals, design and brand architecture will create understanding for your customers, which is, obviously, critical for business success.

3. Your conversions are too low

Branding can take your marketing to a whole new level. If you are at a place where you understand marketing, and understand how to get your brand and message in front of the right people then a re-brand could exponentially increase your marketing performance and conversion rates. Simply put, if you know how to be seen, looking great and saying the right things will be huge for your business.

Problems Branding CAN’T Solve

1. Infrastructure

Branding can dramatically increase sales, which is, of course, one of the best things about branding. However, if your business doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to handle the increase in business then branding can have a detrimental effect on your business. A great brand will quickly deteriorate if customer satisfaction erodes. If you can’t handle the burden of increased fulfillment, then a great brand will quickly do you more harm than good.

2. The selling of commodities

A great brand elevates the value of products and services, barring that the products and services are not commodities. What are commodities? Things like natural resources: sugar, steel, gasoline. Do you really care what brand your gas is, or do you just care about which station has the lower price? Exactly.

3. Sales Conversations

Branding in many ways “pre-sells” your products or services for you. It makes people want your product or service on their own, without a “hard sale.” However, there is no substitute for sales. If you are uncomfortable with a sales conversation, or uncomfortable asking people for money then branding isn’t going to solve your problems. A great brand will get you more sales conversations and make these conversations easier, but it won’t ever replace sales as a necessary business activity.

Before re-branding your business, consider WHY you want a re-brand and what business problems you hope branding can solve. Be sure you are re-branding for the right reasons. If you are, branding can be the difference between your current business and the business and life of your dreams, but if branding is done for the wrong reasons it won’t help your business grow in the right way, and can even be detrimental if you don’t have the know-how or infrastructure to handle everything that comes along with an elevated place in your market.

How To Make A Mood Board

First things first: Before learning how to make a mood board, what are they, and when should you make one?

What is a mood board?

Learning how to make a mood board doesn’t have to be too complicated. A mood board is a collection of images, fonts, patterns, textures and colors. It literally defines the “mood’ of a brand, and is a necessary component of brand building that happens after the brand’s strategy is created, and before the visual identity is created. A mood board is literally a bridge between the concepts and creation of a brand. Picture this: A client or an entrepreneur wants a brand that is luxurious! As a designer, it is your job to translate that desired perception into visuals. However, you’ve got a problem! Every person defines luxury a little differently. It could be a “limited edition” kind of luxury, or an “exotic” kind of luxury, or even a “seductive kind of luxury. Take a look at each of the following examples if you are confused…

LIMITED EDITION LUXURY

limited edition luxury

EXOTIC PLEASURES LUXURY

exotic pleasures luxury

SEDUCTIVE LUXURY

seductive luxury

Mood boards come in all sorts of… Moods! There are dark mood boards for things like spooky movies, vibrant and happy mood boards for brands like Toys “R” Us, super luxe mood boards for brands like The Robb Report, modern mood boards for companies like Apple, and, well… you are starting to get the idea.

When should you make a mood board?

The basic premise behind a mood board is that it must communicate ONE mood, not many. The goal is to embody the brand’s desired perception, visually. To do this effectively, a brander will usually present several mood board options (like the above) once that have gotten the client to describe exactly how they want the brand to be perceived. Once the client has committed, you can then translate what they have told you verbally, into something visually, so that you don’t end up with a visual identity or logo design that it the wrong kind of luxury, or something of that nature.

How to make a mood board:

Well, if you are going to do it with your computer, then you should gather inspiration from all over the web for each of the three mood boards that you are going to design to help the client pick a mood for their brand. Your task here is to find pictures, and patterns and fonts that communicate a mood, the specific mood that embodies your brand.

Take a look at the following mood board and see if you can understand what makes it compelling.

As you can see, the above mood boards capture different kinds of luxury, but you could be trying to capture different kinds of funny, like bathroom humor, or sarcasm, or self deprecation. Here’s a general guide to help you lay out your mood boards…

an example of how to make a mood board

So, now that you’ve got a handle on the basics of what goes into a mood board, how are you going to create yours? Well, here are some simple tools that people use every day in mood board creation:

Pinterest:

Certainly not the best tool for creating a mood board, but definitely the most popular for casual use and affords lots of browsing and inspiration across other user’s accounts.

Go Moodboard:

One of the simplest and easiest to use mood board creators and cloud based systems out there, it comes with ready-made mood board templates and sleek design suitable for any beginner.

Mural.co:

One of the higher end “white board” alternatives out there, it also has great capabilities around image based collaborative sharing, although it might be a bit too much for the casual user, it is great if you are a creative services provider. This used to be known as Murally.

Sample Board:

Yet another pay-to-play option, this service’s ready made mood board selection is vast, and customizable.

Ok, now that you are all set with your basic instructions, and the tools you need to create your mood board, it is time to start creating! Also, if you still have a hankering for more knowledge on the topic, here are some videos for more information.

Thanks for visiting the blog, and we’ll see you next time!

Find a font that matches your personality

How to find a font that matches your personality!

Have you ever looked for a listing of fonts by personality or wanted to know which typefaces are best for communicating different types of messages?

(Originally published May 19th, 2015, updated on May 17th, 2017)

Below are listed 23 different and distinctive fonts by personality, each of which tell their own story!

The most important thing to consider when looking at a font to match your brand’s personality and messaging is the history of the typeface, and what it has been commonly associated with through out its life-span. Anyone can easily figure out how the public feels about a font by looking into what it has been used to communicate in the past. Just like we associate cowboy hats with the wild west, so too do we associate calligraphy with antiques.

Another quality to look for when picking the right outfit for your text is the design of the font itself! Is it bold, sloppy, geometric or curvy? Is it wild and crazy, or fare free? Each of these attributes has its associated feelings, so use them to your advantage and create a comprehensive brand experience by choosing fonts that make people feel what you want them to!

Without further ado, here is a primer on 23 fonts and everything you never knew you needed to know about them:

If you have any questions regarding this article, or any other within our branding blog feel free to contact us with the form in the footer, or leave a comment!

Amity Jack has been striking fear in the hearts of baby boomers for a long, long time. Any font in all red caps like this is bound to look like a piranha in a pond of minnows, and this font never disappoints. If you are looking to inspire fear, awe or courage, this font might be for you. Lower case letters are nowhere to be found with this one nearby. Bold, aggressive, and large: just like the shark of cult-classic fame.

A combination between occupying the beginning of the alphabet and extreme simplicity has worked together to make this entirely forgettable font an easy to read staple of the design world. If “T-Shirt & Jeans” were a typeface, this would be it! Like a little black dress, it takes no thought to select, and looks decent enough for most occasions! An interesting side effect of this font’s simple personality is its all-too-common role in depicting virginal and pure brands, like evian.

This font’s been around awhile. Quite awhile, in fact. Developed in 1757 by printer John Baskerville, Ben Franklin brought this to the United Sta… er, American colonies where it was eventually used in the federal papers of the fledgling government. Perhaps it’s no surprise then, that this font carries a personality of 260 years of tradition and authority.

This font gets high scores for being bold, funky, and even retro. If you are into all of these things, then this font is calling your name. If you are trying to be a trendsetting brand, than go big or go home with Bauhaus. Get into the groove of this font if you want to take a stand while honoring those that have designed before you with one of the most classic fonts on the planet.

Named after the typographer employed by Italian nobility and Spanish royalty, this font has become another classic in the consumer world, particularly for Vogue, Calvin Klein (until February of this year), Columbia Records, and even J.P. Morgan (although the JPM logo is based on another font). Its clean lines, history, and use by high-end and luxury consumer brands give this font a sophisticated personality that aspires to be the best-dressed in the room. No frills, refined, and poised.

Everyone has their own style of cursive writing. When using a font like Brush Script, you are meant to be capturing a personal style and attitude, and helping the reader understand that there is a real human being behind the brand. Enjoy making a personal connection with a font like this!

There’s a reason that Chipotle does NOT use this font: it screams the death of a 1000 tacos made from processed meat and rotten tomatoes. It’s rough, uneven, but a predictable stereotype. You HOPE the chain restaurant you just entered serves strong margaritas, because you know that the real deal is served somewhere else.

Another of the world’s more common fonts, this was the selection when our founding fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence. This font has been revived and revived again over the years, and holds a revered place in font history. If you prefer a nod to the past in your work, with class and a touch of elegance, then this is the font for you.

This font isn’t new, by any means, but it gets made new again with lots of offshoots like when used by the recent MICHIGAN rebrand. This font graces letterman jackets in high school  halls all across America and has become ubiquitous with education and sports.  Strong, enduring, collegiate: it reminds us of our teens and twenties when possibilities seemed infinite… and football was everything.

This font hit the streets in around 1995 and hasn’t looked back since. It has been widely used by people with poor taste ever since. Occupying the title of “Most Hated” by designers everywhere, this font is looked upon as a laughing-stock everywhere it shows up. If you are going to swim in the waters of Comic Sans, we suggest you bring a life raft. This font is only appropriate for those with a unique sense of self awareness and an appreciation for satire, because its use will never be taken seriously except in jest!

If you are an old school character that likes to take up a lot of space, this is the typeface for you! All kidding aside, Courier is the go-to typeface of double-spaced term papers everywhere. As a result of this common application, this font has gained a sense of purpose over the years. Commissioned by IBM, this is a thinker’s font, and conjures up images of higher education. If you are promising a great curriculum to your clients, this could be the way to do it!

If you believed the entry on linotype.com, you’d see that this font takes on the shape of bent, twisted metal. Then again, some people still believe the earth is flat. This is a favored “font to hate” and it’s not getting away from its less-than-chic personality anytime soon. It echos middle school love letters with its near-bubbles over the letter “i” and annoys designers everywhere. When used, it seems limited to candy, ice cream, and pet grooming shops. We doubt “twisted metal” will ever sit with Curlz in the lunchroom.

An early foray into modern, bold fonts, Franklin Gothic makes a perfect outfit for an opinionated and wise person, who appreciates some subtly in their communications. Not quite as brash as a font like Bauhaus, Franklin Gothic is a happy medium for anyone looking to make headlines.

Yes, the font and movie title say it all. There’s a reason Michael Jackson’s Thriller used a similar typography. Thanks to Jason, this font will forever echo slasher-horror flicks where the last thing anyone should do is go outside to check out that noise. A little uncertain? Imagine the title of a nursery rhyme written in this font, perhaps Rock-a-bye Baby. Will that help you fall sleep faster, or check the closets first?

Variations of Futura (light, medium, bold, italics, condensed, etc) are used in a wide range of logos and brands. For good reason: this font was designed in the late 1920’s based on circles, squares, and triangles, omitting any clutter and unnecessary detail. Highly modern and radical at the time, it’s held onto that modern, elegant persona even as it gracefully approaches 90 years old.

Gotham is one of the most recently designed fonts on our list, having come on the scene in the year 2000. Known as Barack Obama’s campaign slogan font in 2008, it is closely associated with change and sleek modernity. If you are attempting to evoke one of the most powerful men in the world, this could be the font to do it with.

Helvetica is the little black dress of typefaces, appearing everywhere, all the time, and always fitting in beautifully. If you need a classy outfit to suit any occasion, and must appeal to everyone, everywhere, this font will work. Perhaps the only typeface with a movie named after it, Helvetica has been showcasing world class corporations such as BMW, Crate & Barrel, CVS, Energizer, GM, Harley Davidson, JCPenney, Jeep, Lufthansa, Mattel, Panasonic, Post-It, Scotch, The North Face and Toyota (to name a few) ever since 1957.

Fun, bubbly, sure to make the trip to the dentist a little more interesting, this font is described as “dancing a whacky line between discord & rhyme” on myfonts.com. We’re not sure about the rhyme aspect, but this font definitely reminds us of the closest thing to bubble gum our mothers would ever let us chew around her. Youthful, less-than-serious, and a bit cartoonish, make sure this is how you want your target audience to think and feel about you.

Tall, thick and bold are three words that sum up this title font. If much of what you say and do is meant to be front page news, you can’t go wrong with this showstopper.

Not only did this font become canonized on a pack of cigarettes, it reminds even non-smokers of the Marlboro Man and the wide expanse of the west: Marlboro Country. If a masculine, rugged, warrior-hero cowboy is the image you want, this font may help. The hazards of smoking (and death of several Marlboro Men) hasn’t seemed to detract from this font’s cult-like personality.

Visible everyday on the West Coast, yet perhaps out of thought, but definitely embedded into our subconscious. This font will forever be linked with the location stamped on license plates: sun, carefree, beaches. If your personality is a barefoot surfer, this font will burn that onto your forehead like skin cancer on a lifeguard.

This font needs no introduction. It is a classic beauty, and perhaps the most read and renowned font in the world. When you need to appear as a classic authority with a strong foundation, Times New Roman is the perfect choice.

According to many, this iconic lettering is a stylized version of Walt Disney’s signature. After almost 100 years of the Disney brand longevity, this font will instinctively take on the ideals associated with the Walt Disney Company: family-friendly, fun, and, perhaps a little bit of an inner child.

If you have any questions regarding this article, or any other within our blog feel free to contact us!