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Branding, TF? The 3 Essential Steps To Branding For The Creative Industries

Kathryn Holeton is a multi-talented creative with a knack for poetry and lyrics. She is a Brand Designer for Creatives, has collaborated on several musical projects, and is the author of "You're a Deity: An Inspirational Poetry Collection."

 
Executive Contributor Kathryn Holeton

“What the heck is branding?” That’s what I thought when I read the term while scrolling through my Instagram feed late one night. This question kickstarted an interest which has now become my business. What I’ve learned about branding is that it is far more than what people think, and it’s even more important than graphic design.


 Creative team brainstorming around table working together on new project.

What is branding anyway?

According to Allie Decker, “A brand is the identity and story of a company that makes it stand out from competitors that sell similar products and services,” and “…branding is the process of researching, developing, and applying distinctive features or sets of features to your organization so that consumers can begin to associate your brand with your products and services.”


To simplify, your brand is how you appear to your audience, and branding is the process of deciding how to appeal to your audience. Sounds simple right? Here’s the thing. For a creative DIY-ing their brand, there’s literally no end to the possibilities. There are so many options and personas and markets to niche down on, that deciding what your brand should be and how it should appeal to your audience is often an arduous and time intensive experience. 


So, why bother going through all the trouble of creating a brand when you can just focus on your logo, social media posts, and website design? The answer is simple: stories sell faster than images and color palettes. People should have a reason to care about your brand and what you’re doing. In this article, I will show you the basics of creating your brand and how to increase your brand’s visibility.

 

1. Creating a unique brand = hard questions

Before you create your visual identity, you need a solid brand identity. To do that, you need to focus on your storytelling and why your audience should care. For example, consider the following questions: 


  • What niche do you want to break into?

  • Who is your target audience?

  • Why should your audience care about your brand?

  • How will you address your audience?

  • Where is your target audience most active? (Social media, blogs, websites, etc.)


For creatives, your brand identity is often linked with your personal brand, which you should use to your advantage. Your personal brand will have a more emotional impact on your audience, which will help your audience relate to you. You should also consider these questions by Alek Angelov and Rober Murray when creating your brand identity:


  • What is your background?

  • How long have you been in your field?

  • What obstacles have you faced on your journey?

  • How did you overcome those obstacles?

  • What solution did you find that helped?

  • How did finding the solution change your life?


By answering the difficult questions, you’ll have set yourself and your creative business up for success by defining yourself, your goals, and your target audience. This step is never easy because it forces you to take a hard look at yourself and your dreams and ambitions. You also need to do lots of research into specific niches, how to market to your target audience, how you should present yourself online, and more.


For creatives, this could feel like performing brain surgery. It’s hard to think of your creative practices, like writing, making jewelry, and painting as your business when you’re just starting out. All you want to do is create and craft. But once you get this part of your branding journey done, you’ll be able to move on to the creative part of branding, which is creating your logo, website, social media theme and more.

 

2. Your visual identity

This is where the real fun begins in creating your brand. Your visual identity will be the first thing your audience sees when they land on your socials, website, or when they get your business card or products. There are 4 pieces that make up your visual brand identity, which are:


  • Typography

  • Color Palette

  • Custom Patterns

  • Logo Designs


These elements are all part of your visual identity design. After these are created, you’ll use them for your social media posts, website, landing pages, business cards, product packaging, posters, flyers, and much more. This is why it’s important to have your brand identity defined before you work on your graphics. Your brand identity will help guide your visual identity design choices. Your visual elements should support your story, not the other way around.


You should focus on creating your visual assets for an online setting because, as Alek Angelov and Rober Murray said, “...we are visual creatures after all…,” and the online world is visual focused. People will begin associating your colors, graphics, logo, and patterns to your brand’s messaging. It’s your unique identifier, like a signature. As a creative, you want something to be distinctly you because it's your work you’re showcasing, your products, your services, and your goals.


There are some rules to follow when creating your visual brand identity. You should follow graphic design rules, like K.I.S.S (Keep it simple stupid). Always track what other people in your niche are doing. If you see a visual trend in your niche, take inspiration from it and find a way to make the trend work for your brand.


Helpful tip

This bit is something I’ve learned through creating my brand. I recommend using references for your visual identity. You don’t have to recreate the wheel to create your visual identity. There are others in your niche that have already done what you’re doing, so you should draw inspiration from them to help you create your visual brand identity. It's easier than starting from a blank slate. Just don’t copy them exactly, that’s copyright infringement.


3. Getting your brand out there

“A visible brand is ‘omnipresent’ – it is seemingly everywhere, with a consistent message, and a memorable essence.” – Hanna Hermanson 

The final stage of creating your brand is to launch it out into the world for your audience to see. At this stage, it’s all about marketing and advertising. You need to get your message out on your social media platforms and make your brand visible. Show off your hard work and spread it everywhere.

So, how exactly do you market yourself and your brand? There are many ways to advertise yourself. The most mainstream ways are through social media, blog posts, running ads, and word of mouth. The best way to determine how to market yourself is by figuring out where your target audience is most active.


If your audience uses Instagram and Threads, then you should plan your content for Instagram and Threads. If your audience loves reading blogs and sharing across Facebook and Twitter/X, then your content should be geared for that. Being where your audience is how your brand will start to gain visibility.


Your content strategy will vary on what your niche is doing, but some general strategies suggested by Hanna Hermanson for creating your content are:


  • Personal Stories

  • Collaborations and Partnerships

  • Thought Leadership that Establishes Your Authority

 

By sharing your personal stories, you’re making an emotional connection with your audience. Your collaborations and partnerships will introduce your brand to a larger audience. Sharing your knowledge with your audience will help you establish authority in your niche as a thought leader. You should also focus on posting consistently because all the algorithms focus on consistent content. The more often you post, the more often your content will be shown to people.


The most important thing to remember when marketing yourself is to focus on what feels right for you. You should create content you would enjoy watching. Lean into all your quirks and let yourself shine through your brand. For a creative, this is what will sell your business and your services. People love interacting with people.


In closing

There’s so much more to know about branding, but I hope this overview helps you no matter what stage you’re at on your branding journey. As a parting gift, these are my favorite tools that I use daily to maintain my brand:


  • Canva: Content Creation

  • Adobe express: Social Media Scheduling

  • Threads: Topics for Social Media

  • Wix: Website Hosting

  • Dropbox/Google Drive: Sharing large files


If you follow these 3 steps, you will create a successful brand for your creative business. If you’re a creative that’s ready to create your brand, check out my website to see how I can help you on your branding journey!


Read more from Kathryn Holeton

 

Kathryn Holeton, Brand Designer for Creatives

Kathryn Holeton is a multi-talented creative with a knack for poetry and lyrics. She is a Brand Designer for Creatives, has collaborated on several musical projects, and is the author of "You're a Deity: An Inspirational Poetry Collection."

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