From almost the very beginning of my biz, I’ve been lucky enough to work with an incredible graphic designer
Her name is Dani Hunt, and she’s the founder & creative director of Neverland Studio, a design agency for inspired brands that seek to capture the attention of a contemporary audience. She is also the maker of Creative Vacay, a weekend escape for creative renegades, and is currently launching her latest project, The Brand Bazaar – a brand marketplace for entrepreneurs.
Dani’s design aesthetic is sleek, energetic and electric; she combines hand-crafted elements and digital design to create a unique visual experience. Her creative process uncovers a brand’s individual vibe, and translates that into a compelling piece of digital art that tells their story.
Her work is beyond beautiful, and hand on heart, I don’t where my biz would be (or what it would look like!) if I wasn’t working with her.
Dani is an enthusiastic advocate for creative small business and female entrepreneurship. She encourages others to take the leap with her favourite quote – “You know all those things you wanted to do? Well, you should go do them!”
In this post, Dani and I chat all things branding and storying-telling through design.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
What is branding?
Branding refers to all of the ways that you establish a unique brand image in your customer’s mind. Quality branding helps to establish a unique presence in the market, attract and retain loyal customers, communicate one’s values and confirm your credibility. (Yes, please!)
Visual design assets such as your logo, colours and fonts play a big role in creating a captivating and consistent brand image! Other tools may include your photography, language, and beyond.
Why is branding so important?
When it comes to purchasing decisions, people are driven to buy from businesses that they know, like and trust. Branding is key to building a thriving business as it helps you to establish these three things… a unique presence in the market, an all-important emotional connection with your tribe, and buyer confidence. In other words, awesome branding helps to create a shortcut in people’s purchasing decisions.
Good branding greatly increases the value of a business, and sends a clear message to potential consumers that you are legitimate, and worth investing in. In short – It’s an intangible, yet invaluable asset.
What’s the most important thing to nail when it comes to branding?
First up, it’s so important to establish a captivating brand image with a killer logo, defined colours and fonts, quality photography and an engaging design style. From there – the most important thing is to remain consistent. Ensure your branding, print materials, website and social media accounts are all telling the same story.
Consistent branding helps you to deliver your message cohesively, cultivates trust through reliability, aids in brand recognition, builds relationships and encourages referrals.
What can an entrepreneur/business owner do to ensure consistent branding?
First, focus on building a library of killer assets that you love, and rolling those assets out cohesively across all facets of your business. Stay true to your unique brand story at all times – don’t be tempted by trends, buzzwords or industry standards. When you begin from a place of authenticity, it’s much easier to remain consistent.
Try to set some time aside to conduct a review of your brand presence regularly… Pull together screenshots of your businesses website & social channels, as well as any print materials, products and offerings, and ask yourself “What do I love?” and “Does anything feel out of whack?”.
It certainly helps to establish a close and long-term relationship with a designer whose skills you value, and whose style is a good match for your brand. But in the early stages of your business, you may need to dedicate resources cleverly, and choose to DIY. In this case, try to keep things simple and sleek, rather than going overboard with fancy fonts, textures and layouts which can more easily form a messy composition.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you see entrepreneurs making when it comes to their branding?
The top 5 would have to be…
1) Failing to properly define their brand personality prior to investing in their design assets. One’s brand personality should inform their brand image – so this is an important first step.
2) Failing to take action due to fear. Quality branding is super important, but the immense pressure of having quality branding can easily become a barrier to putting yourself out there. (If this is you, check out my upcoming free 5 Day Challenge!)
3) Underinvesting, and settling for visual assets that they’re less than in love with. It can be daunting to invest in your business, and for some folks, to manage a designer. Often, people rope in family & friends to help and end up with assets that they’re less than proud of. A lack of belief in one’s brand image will massively affect their willingness to promote their biz and make an impact. If you’re just starting out and want to dedicate funds elsewhere while you feel things out, my advice would be to DIY a simple logo while you establish your initial following. Or, hit up my online marketplace The Brand Bazaar, where you can browse through a library of high-end brand concepts, and find the perfect match for your brand personality – zero designers to manage and without the 1:1 price tag.
4) Failing to think beyond their logo. Remember, branding goes beyond your logo into your colours, fonts and design style. Further still – into your brand language, photography, and the entire customer experience. In fact, your logo needn’t communicate every aspect of your brand image… it should be a simple and stylish asset that aids in brand recognition in print and online, and is legible in its simplest form.
5) Trying to mimic the graphic materials that a designer has created for them to cut costs. The audience can always tell the difference, and this breeds distrust in a business’s reliability. If taking the DIY path, my advice would be to extend on, rather than mimic the vibe, and use your colours, fonts and logo in a sleek and minimal fashion.
If you could tell an entrepreneur three things to do to help ensure consistent branding across their business, what would it be?
1) Take the time to delve into the heart and soul of your business, and consider your brand personality. This is the story that should guide your language, visual assets and beyond. It will become a clear guiding light for your business.
2) Set yourself up for success by building a library of foundational brand assets. Start with your logo, colours and fonts, some quality photography, and a clear grasp on your brand voice/language.
3) Use your brand assets cohesively for maximum impact & success. Ensure your website, social channels, print and marketing materials are all telling the same story, and keep DIY materials simple and aligned.
How can beautiful, consistent branding help an entrepreneur tell a story in their business?
Most potential customers will first encounter your brand either online or by stumbling across your product/venue itself. In other words, unless you have the opportunity to reach them one-on-one and explain your brand story, their first impression will likely be formed through a visual, experiential interaction.
You have roughly 7 seconds to grab someone’s attention the first time they land on your website or spot your product. How can you communicate your uniqueness in such a short timeframe? With captivating, cohesive branding.
Try it for yourself: Jump on over to a website you’ve never visited before, count to 7 and close the page. What are 3 words you’d use to summarize that brand? A business with quality, cohesive branding would have left an impression in that short amount of time.
In other words, branding is a way to tell your story, without a one-on-one interaction. Are you an outgoing, bubbly, playful woman with bright red lipstick and a show-stopping laugh? Use bold colours and fonts, and energetic imagery to tell that story. Are you a gentle, warm, natural tea brand with a focus on ethics and mindfulness? Use natural tones, a loopy script font and tender imagery to tell like-minded folks they’re at home.
How do you help entrepreneurs with their branding?
As the creative director of Neverland Studio, I work one-on-one with big-vision entrepreneurs to brand their businesses and launch their products/services with a bang. My ultimate goal is to help entrepreneurs capture the attention of a contemporary audience, and tell their story in a captivating and consistent way.
I’m also set to launch a new biz in the coming weeks, which will totally transform the way that entrepreneurs brand their businesses (+ products)!
It’s a marketplace, stocked with designer logos. Each concept will be sold once, and custom-fit to the purchaser’s brand name. We’ll take care of your colours, fonts and style guide too. I’m super excited for this to launch – it’s going to make it quicker, easier, more cost-efficient, and far less stressful to brand a business!
For all those folks in the start-up phase that are looking to define their brand personality and take action on their branding, I’m also running a free 5-day course starting July 1 that would be perfect for you. It’s called: 5 Days to a Jaw-Dropping Brand Identity.
Find Dani and her amazing work at:
I hope you’ve loved this interview, and I know you’ll love Dani’s work! (It’s impossible not to!)