I first met Emily, the owner & artist of Fresh Paper Studios more than a year ago over coffee at Sellwood’s Blue Kangaroo coffee shop. I was immediately impressed with her energy and, of course, her fresh and fun stationery (you can take a peek at www.freshpaperstudios.com)
Now, Emily is taking her passion for helping small businesses brand themselves and turned it into an online course. The course starts November 16th and you can join here.
As she has said more than once, “Branding is more than a logo!”
Talking to Emily and hearing to her perspective has given me, a non-designer, new perspective on how many ways there are for a small business to put their own unique twist on every aspect of their marketing.
She was kind enough to answer some questions about what branding means to her and how important it is for a small businesses.
What does branding mean to you?
Your brand is the total experience your customers (or potential customers) have when they interact with your business. It’s not really a tangible thing (like a logo), it’s more like a perception people have about you.
So “branding” is what you do to create that experience or perception. Everything from your customer service to your packaging and your website copy to your graphic design--big things like mission statements, and little things like satin ribbon--these are all ways we brand our businesses.
Why do you think visual branding is so important?
People make snap decisions about who they’re going to work with and what they’re going to buy.
We’re visual creatures and--like it or not--we do judge books by their covers!
That’s just the way our brains work--we take in visual information before we even have time to read a description or listen to someone’s brilliant sales pitch. So creating a visual presence that’s both authentic and appealing is an important part of building a successful business!
If someone is thinking about starting a business, do they need to have a logo before they start?
Absolutely not! That’s the first thing I teach my students: your brand is not your logo!
Logos have their place--I’m not going to say they’re not important at all--but they’re certainly not the most important part of your brand. They’re not even the most important part of your visual identity. You can’t slap a logo on something and call it a brand--it needs to mean something.
So start with the inner work: your core values, your mission, your message, your strengths, your customer experience, the unique flavor you bring to the marketplace. Then work on communicating that visually.
Choosing one font that you use every time you display the name of your business. There’s your logo! You can always design a new logo later.
What is the one thing you wish businesses would do with their branding?
I feel like Danny Tanner talking to Stephanie in an episode of Full House with that advice, but it’s true. I think there’s a lot of noise out there about branding that makes it seem so much more complicated than it really is.
You don’t need to do an in-depth analysis about how your target demographic responds to the color blue. You just need to get in tune with yourself and your personality and let your visual presence express that. There’s always that one girl at the party who’s so totally herself, she just glows and everyone is drawn to her--be that girl! Authenticity is captivating!
Tell me about your upcoming class.
Oh I’m so excited for it! It’s a six-week online course where I’ll teach entrepreneurs how to design a visual brand identity that feels authentic, fabulous, and fun.
At the end of the course, students will graduate with a brand style guide that they’ve designed, including a color palette, font choices, photography style, and yes--even a logo! And my goal is that they also graduate with a new sense of confidence when it comes to sharing their business with the world because their visuals look great and are meaningful.
(Your readers can learn more about my class at bit.ly/designclass)
What will the focus of the class be?
We’ll focus on defining our core values, superpower strengths, and the unique flavor we bring to the world.
Then we’ll learn how to translate those into visual brand elements like colors, fonts, and photos! In a nutshell, we’re getting in touch with our inner magic, then learning how to express that visually.
Do you have to be a designer or artist type to take you class?
Not at all! I created this class for people with NO design experience.
Several of my students have come in saying, “I am soooo not a designer.” or “Design is really not my strong suit.” And then they leave with the best designs!
It’s really cool to see the transformation. One of my very first students cracked me up when she said, “I couldn’t give two flying flips about fonts before this! Now I’m SO excited to have a font that I can call MY font.” My goal is to make design accessible.
Other than this e-course, how else can someone work with you?
I offer one-on-one branding consultations and private design lessons.
The easiest way to get in touch with me about those is via email (at firstname.lastname@example.org) And I also design really fun invitations, personal stationery, and gift items, which you can find over at freshpaperstudios.com!
Emily has also created a FREE brand check up pdf - click here to download.
Emily's photo was taken by Julie of Traveling Julie Portraits.
Musings about marketing, social media, and small business.