Let’s start this weekend off with a bang! It’s time to finally reveal the brand design for custom cookie studio, The Baked Equation. And when I say cookies – these aren’t just any cookies, ya’ll. Melissa and her team are masters at baking and decorating one-of-a-kind cookies for any theme complete with perfectly matched color palettes and details. Each batch is made with the highest-quality ingredients and designed with the customer in mind. The tagline we created, “We take cookies seriously.”, speaks to their obsession with detail, typography, and color. This is a company after my own heart!
Our goal with the branding was to elevate the brand above “custom cookies for your event”. They go way beyond that. Cookies from The Baked Equation are simply special and we wanted to convey the level of quality in both the product and the customer service. I created a luxe brand design inspired by the ingredients that go into the process of baking these yummy pieces of art. The textures, aptly named “Marble Swirl”, “Sugar Sprinkle”, and “Rolling Pin”, were so fun to create to help tell the design story. Most importantly, the brand now matches the price point of these sweet treats.
Next, was a brand new website. A typical WordPress theme, the site functioned just fine but didn’t convey the high-end experience The Baked Equation provides. It was time for a major upgrade (yay!). We created a totally custom WordPress site that not only tells the brand story, it enhances the entire The Baked Equation customer experience through class announcements, answering customer questions with a comprehensive FAQ page, a beautifully integrated blog, and galleries that really show off their work. Melissa topped it off by using the new brand design to luxuriously package her deliveries and connect to her clients in a new way: including a custom postcard, branded sticker, and tying it all together with a black ribbon. I want to get one of those boxes in the mail!
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this one! Congrats on a brand new brand, The Baked Equation. It was truly a pleasure to work with this talented team.
So, you have a small business (yay, congrats!) but you don’t know where or how to invest in your branding? What are the best choices when there are so many options? Where should you spend your sweet small business cash (smartly)? I have clients in all stages of their business lives – from a new retail product to seasoned event planners with a staff of 10 people. In both cases, they are coming to me for some of the same reasons: they want to make the right investment to help push their business to the next level. Sound familiar? Read on for my top 5 best branding investments you can make in your small business (creative or not!).
Photography. This is a BIG one. I have been known to steer clients away from investing in a custom site with us and instead using that money to hire an amazing professional photographer. This is a visual economy. Images are everything. If you don’t have right photos to tell your story and connect with potential customers (hint: people like to work with other people, not just slick marketing copy and patterns) you’re probably not going to love the way your site looks or feels. This is especially true with businesses just starting out! Invest in photography that shows you and your process. Don’t have a lot of finished product yet? That’s ok, focus more on yourself and your skills. If you don’t have the money for a custom site just yet, use Squarespace to get started and bring some business in the door. Save up the cash for the fancy non-template site (I can help with that, you know). Your photography goes such a long way in telling your story and attracting the right clients. Don’t underestimate it!
Brand Identity. Ok, this one isn’t going to surprise you. Investing in the right designer that understands your business on a deeper level and can reflect your values through design is so important. None of this premade logo stuff that looks like everyone else. Find someone who wants to dig into your business and create something tailored to your brand and mission. Design breeds trust and attracts the right people for your business. You can’t afford to have something that doesn’t fit. The great news is, there are so many awesome designers out there! Just looking through Pinterest is proof that there are talented creatives to fit any budget. Take the time to find the right one for your personality and style.
Website. We all know a great website is one of the biggest choices we make in business. This is the proverbial face of your business. Your storefront and your office. No matter where you are in your business journey, one thing is for certain – a beautiful site is a must. A site that doesn’t work (yikes) or isn’t well thought out is going to work against you and can repel potential customers. You need to stand out in the saturated online marketplace and a beautiful, detailed site design can make all the difference. Just think how those gorgeous photos you invested in are going to look online!
Photoshop or Illustrator (my personal fave). Or Canva. Or whatever you are comfortable with in order to make beautiful, shareable branded images to promote your business. You have the brand design. You have the photos. You have the site. Now you need to share it. I always recommend my clients get comfortable with a creative program (it’s way easier than you think) to create their own designs to share on social media. Since I give them so many elements, it’s easy to put together something that looks gorgeous and is cohesive with their branding. Sharing images like these drives traffic to your site! It’s an investment of time and a little money that will pay you back exponentially. And guess what? Creating these branded images is simple. I wrote an easy to follow “how-to” post about it right here called “8 Simple Steps for Creating Branded Images to Promote Your Business”.
Yourself. Finally, the best investment you make in your business is in yourself. Not to get all cheesy here but the truth is that you are your best brand asset. You’re the ambassador, marketer, and creative director, among 100 other titles. Your individual skills, talent, and personality are what makes your business unique, so don’t try to be like everyone else. Invest in yourself by constantly learning whether through courses, workshops or classes. Reach out to other business owners in your industry (yes, even your competitors), and get yourself out there. Stay healthy and don’t isolate yourself! Stay inspired and don’t work yourself to death. Think of yourself as the batteries of the brand. The goal is to grow a sustainable business and magnetic brand, so take care of its number one asset first. Trust me, this is an investment I wish I would have taken more seriously early on in my career.
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(Pssstt….I am about to launch a FREE mini course on creating an emotional brand. It’s a great guide for designers and any small business wanting to connect with their customers in a deeper way. Meaning: they love you before they hire you. My newsletter friends have first dibs!)