Where do I start with branding?

When starting up in self-employment, it’s important to stand out from the crowd and also retain your unique personality. Every experience you’ve had to date makes your journey, and thus the service you can offer is different to the next person’s. So, how can you design a brand that reflects all of this? If you have little experience in shaping a brand, this may feel a little daunting – but thankfully, it doesn’t need to be.

creating a brand

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started:

1. See what other people are doing

Finally! Developing a brand is one time when you’re wholeheartedly encouraged to be a nosy neighbour. It’s crucial that you scope the activity in your industry and see what your competitors are doing and how they present themselves. Spend some time exploring and note down some typical themes that arise: if everyone is blue, go red! Like the successful 1982 Levi’s ad said, “When the world zigs, zag”.

2. Create a simple logo

While you’ve probably seen thousands of logos in your life, you may not have noticed that these pretty much all fall into seven types. Really established brands (or daring start-ups) can often use abstract or pictorial marks (think the Nike swoosh and the Apple…well apple!). But If you’re just starting out in your field, it might be worth developing a simple logo that clearly communicates your identity. And it doesn’t need to be cryptic - let your name stand out.

If you’re looking for some logo inspiration, check out this link.

3. Have a think about colours

There are some really great psychology studies that link colours to moods, and when creating your branding, it’s definitely worth some consideration.

Every colour is symbolic and can bring different energies to your branding. For example, finance brands are often blue, which helps to communicate trust and security. More recently these sectors are being disrupted with a more diverse colour range. Check out this great colour chart from Ignyte Brands.

4. Understand your fonts

You may not know it, but fonts can often make you love a logo or hate it. They can convey heritage or that you are a start-up. Even if you find the perfect font, the kerning (the space between every letter) can make a huge difference. You don’t have to be a leading design expert to develop your own logo but it’s worth knowing the difference between a serif, a sans serif, a script and a decorative font. Try to understand what fonts works well with your business and note: not every piece of text needs to look the same.

Have a read about the difference between fonts here.

5. Sharing your masterpiece: do you know your PPI vs DPI?

Once you’ve created your perfect logo, you’ll probably want to use it – but how? Online or in print? To ensure your logo isn’t pixelated at any stage of its life, you’ll need to make yourself familiar with the export settings. Export for online in PPI (Pixels per inch), export for print in DPI (Dots per inch). In short, it’s all to do with the resolution of your logo or, more importantly, the resolution of your brand. If it’s seen as blurry does that mean your service is amateur? Always consider the optics!

Here’s a quick guide to PPR vs DPI.

TOP TIP: Make sure you get the right specification from people who need your logo to ensure it is the right size and resolution. Don’t be scared to send your own brand guidelines too. Make sure you set logo clearance zones to ensure that others don’t squish up against yours.

6. Test it

The best way to see if something works is by testing. Does it work when it's stripped back to its basics in black and white? What does it look like when it's very small or used on different platforms?

Click here to wrap your head around logo variations.

Don’t be put off by the process, you can’t finish anything if you don’t start it. You’re not going to create ‘ADIDAS’ overnight: and besides, the strength of a brand isn’t just in its logo. People need to see the personality, the tone of voice, the actions: together these build a brand, and time will help with that.

If you’re not the design type, that’s fine! You can always work with some other great freelancers who can help get your branding up and running or if you want to create something yourself a great place to start is Canva.

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IPSE is the leading association for contractors, consultants, interims, freelancers and the self-employed. We strive to bring our members the most comprehensive and useful range of information and services and all the latest news about what affects your business.