BRANDING SERIES VOLUME III
And while I can't overstate the importance of thoroughly understanding your "why" and providing parameters to focus your brand direction, what really gets me excited is when the rubber of theory meets the road of action – when we can finally start putting into practice the concepts we've been talking about. Today, we get to do exactly that...
SO LET'S TALK AESTHETICS.
I get asked questions about aesthetics more than I get asked about anything else.
+ How do I craft a visually-cohesive social media presence?
+ What should my website look like to best reflect my brand?
+ How important is my logo?
+ What color palate should I use?
The list goes on.
Unfortunately, there is no cut and dry answer to developing an aesthetic – if there was, everyone would simply follow those steps and have perfect visual cohesiveness. There are, however, some things I've discovered throughout my years of building my own brand that can serve as a resource to you as you craft and curate your own aesthetic – so today, I'm going to offer those to you.
3 WAYS TO CURATE YOUR BRAND AESTHETIC
1 – CHOOSE YOUR COLORS
Choosing a color palate and using those colors as the aesthetic guidelines for all of your work is the first step to developing a cohesive visual identity as a brand. You want clients to be able to recognize your brand by simply seeing the work you've created but how can they do that if you don't even know what your brand looks like?
Here's how you do it –
I built the color palate for my business using Adobe Capture CC. This app is amazing because, among other things, it automatically builds color palates from any image you take. So if you're struggling with color, pick up this app and start taking some photos.
I started with screenshots of Instagram accounts I liked, took photos of the clothes in my closet (not even kidding – if you are your brand, start with your wardrobe!), and imported images of awesome locations that inspired me. The colors from these images helped me lay down a very earthy, warm color palate that has defined my work for the past several years.
2 – DETERMINE YOUR VISUAL MOOD
Every time someone looks at your website, social media, products, or marketing content, they're receiving messages from you about the style and personality of your work. But before you can tell that story you have to determine what that personality actually is for your brand. Are you modern and refined? Laid back and raw? Bohemian yet chic? Organic and earthy? Determine what your visual mood is – and then showcase that mood through every piece of content you share.
Now, I can just hear you saying "Well, Josh, won't my visual mood be determined simply by my line of work?" To a very small extent yes, but mostly no! There are an infinitely huge variety of clothing companies out there – but each has a distinctive feel. There are countless photographers, each one with a unique personality and style. Why? Your brand's visual mood is built from your "why" and because every "why" is unique, every brand has a distinctive visual mood.
In my work, I'm all about raw, authentic images that tell a story. And because I'm about showcasing real life and everyday moments, when you look at my website/social media/etc, you don't just see photos from sessions I've photographed – you see content from my life.
I recognized early on that I couldn't expect to photograph other stories authentically if I wasn't willing to share my own story in the same manner.
Figure out what the visual mood is for your brand – and then showcase this distinct personality in anything and everything you publish.
3 – BE RIDICULOUSLY CONSISTENT
This is the hard part.
Once you have a color palate and a visual mood – stick to it...relentlessly. One of the most crippling mistakes you can make as a brand is to publish content that's inconsistent with the rest of your brand. You need the watching world to know what to expect from you and that requires developing a consistent brand voice (more on that in coming blogs)...which starts with consistency on the aesthetic front.
When you're first starting out, searching for consistency is the absolute worst thing ever. You'll have to say no more than you say yes. And even creating consistent content can be a struggle. But over time it'll become easier – you'll train yourself to start seeing the places you're lacking in consistency and need to make changes and you'll begin to naturally create content consistent with the direction you want to go.
It's a process.
There will be times you have to say no (even to good content) – there's a lot of quality work that I never publish because it doesn't fit my visual identity. It's all about determining parameters and owning that lane (woah, it's like these blogs are actually intentional).
HERE'S WHERE IT GETS BRUTAL...
...YOU MIGHT HAVE TO TAKE A KNIFE TO YOUR BRAND.
You might have to go through your social media and delete posts (yep, that's way painful). It may require you to take down your website and rebuild it in a way that's consistent with your brand (and I get it, that takes a lot of work). It may mean your product line needs to change. But in the end, the effort you put into developing a consistent aesthetic will pay off by providing you with something far much more powerful – brand recognition.
THE EFFORT YOU PUT INTO CURATING YOUR AESTHETIC WILL CREATE BRAND RECOGNITION.
At the end of the day, curating your brand aesthetic is all about intentionality and consistency. Does it take a lot of work? Absolutely. But it's absolutely worth it and I can say from experience that I wouldn't be where I am today as a creative if it weren't for my relentless pursuit of aesthetic consistency.
This coming Tuesday we're going to start talking about building tangibles – the fonts you use, the social media platforms you are active on, the type of website you have, etc. I can't wait to share my thoughts on when and how to utilize those resources in your brand...but for now, let me know if you have any questions on aesthetics – I'd love to hear from you.
See you again next week!