If you have a brand design that includes a logo, website and collateral that looks pretty good and you think should be bringing in new prospects or business, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much…you might wonder what’s wrong. If you look at your website, you might wonder if you should change some images, or the layout, or add different information…but if you’re not really sure what’s wrong, then how do you know where to start making changes?
If you think things look okay (and people are seeing your information) but it’s not doing much for your business, this video suggests another approach you can try. It’s not another “tactic” or new feature–it’s something less obvious, but more powerful: the tone and personality of your brand.
Why is the tone or “personality” of your brand important? Because it’s what gives it LIFE! It’s what adds character and distinction. It creates the opportunity for people to like your company, because you have a style that resonates with them.
This is why getting a nice-looking template to build your website only goes so far when it comes to converting leads into customers. A template, by it’s nature, is a tool that can be used to produce a result quickly. You need a website, you search for a cool template, you plug it in and Voilà! You have a website.
But a thousand other people can do the same thing, so your site can look like Joe Accountant’s website and John Mechanic’s website and Mary Bakery’s website. The chances of someone remembering you from all the other sites they see that look similar are very slim.
Even if your site doesn’t look “great” but it OWNS that particular style of not looking great–it’s going to stand out in people’s minds. It will resonate with the audience and STILL work better than a website that looks a lot like every other site you see. (Think of Craigslist.org or Wikipedia.org, for example.)
Tone and personality create likeability with an audience. Likeability builds rapport. Rapport generates leads.
To offer some examples, I’ve gathered some of my favorite sites with style and personality to show you ideas.
[/vc_column_text][mk_padding_divider size=”60″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][mk_image src=”https://techdivamedia.com/wp-content/uploads/mailchimp.jpg” image_size=”full” align=”center”][mk_fancy_title color=”#0a0a0a” font_weight=”400″ margin_top=”10″ margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”Lato” font_type=”google”]Mailchimp knows how to have a playful, approachable tone to welcome people new to email marketing[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][mk_image src=”https://techdivamedia.com/wp-content/uploads/method-people-against-dirty.jpg” image_size=”full” align=”center”][mk_fancy_title color=”#0a0a0a” font_weight=”400″ margin_top=”10″ margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”Lato” font_type=”google”]Method cleaning products convey a tone that looks fun, fresh and hip[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][mk_image src=”https://techdivamedia.com/wp-content/uploads/annie-lalla-annie-lalla.png” image_size=”full” align=”center”][mk_fancy_title color=”#0a0a0a” font_weight=”400″ margin_top=”10″ margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”Lato” font_type=”google”]Love coach Annie Lalla’s bold, feminine aesthetic shine through to compliment her coaching philosophies[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][mk_padding_divider][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][mk_image src=”https://techdivamedia.com/wp-content/uploads/tech_diva_media_6.jpg” image_size=”full” align=”center”][mk_fancy_title color=”#0a0a0a” font_weight=”400″ margin_top=”10″ margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”Lato” font_type=”google”]Dr. Dan Engle’s focus on brain injuries, holistic healing and a simplified wellness approach come through in his website style[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][mk_image src=”https://techdivamedia.com/wp-content/uploads/aubrey-marcus.jpg” image_size=”full” align=”center”][mk_fancy_title color=”#0a0a0a” font_weight=”400″ margin_top=”10″ margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”Lato” font_type=”google”]Aubrey Marcus uses illustration and bold colors to convey his tone and attract his particular audience[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][mk_image src=”https://techdivamedia.com/wp-content/uploads/hermes.jpg” image_size=”full” align=”center”][mk_fancy_title color=”#0a0a0a” font_weight=”400″ margin_top=”10″ margin_bottom=”0″ font_family=”Lato” font_type=”google”]Hermès uses typography, specific wording, white space and imagery to carry the tone of the brand through all aspects of their presentation[/mk_fancy_title][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row]
When I discover a video I like on YouTube, I usually want to know who’s behind it. Often I’ll click on the Channel name to see what else they have in their video library. This takes me to their YouTube Channel page, where I’ll see its channel art — the horizontal banner displayed across the top of the user’s YouTube channel. Ideally, this is well thought out and consistent with good design and clean branding.
A YouTube channel banner will be shown in different dimensions depending on the device where it is being viewed. For example, a banner might have different dimensions when viewed on a TV, desktop, or mobile device.
Google recommends these YouTube banner dimensions:
Recommended: 2560 x 1440 px
Minimum for upload: 2048 x 1152 px
Minimum “safe area” where text and logos are ensured not to be cut off: 1546 x 423 px
Maximum width: 2560 x 423 px
File size: 4MB or smaller
This can help you visualize how it will display depending on where it’s viewed:
Biggest mistake, which turned into my biggest lesson was from the job that I wasn’t able to complete this year.
The client and I started working together, but amicably ended the project before completing the design phase. The client hired me to create the branding and a new website for a new business she was expanding into.
After researching her target audience and competitors for the new business, I created a series of design mockups for her. I spent considerable time considering the color choices, typefaces, her positioning message and market approach. I was proud and excited to show her my design ideas.
Instead of being excited, she requested a new round of designs…she wasn’t sure what she wanted exactly, but she knew what I showed her wasn’t right.
I went at it again, this time sure that I could find the aesthetic presentation that would speak to her target audience. After another round of designs, again, she didn’t like what she saw and decided to end the project before we went further.
Here’s what I learned from this experience:
1 – there’s a balance betquicween creating something that I think will resonate with the target audience and what the client will personally like. Sometimes they’re different. Next time, I’ll spend more time understanding what the client is actually looking for. One isn’t better than the other–But I need to be clear on what’s priority, in the client’s opinion, because that’s why they’ve hired me.
2 – I wasn’t receptive to what the client was wanting, I was focused on delivering what I thought would work for her audience. Next time, I’ll focus on being more receptive–and presenting what the client wants. I can always offer an alternative suggestion that I think would work, and suggest split-testing.
3 – If a new client isn’t sure on his or her unique offer or position in their market, and doesn’t think there are competitors offering anything like what he/she has…more time needs to be spent researching the market before jumping to designs.
How can you make your brand assets more effective with your audience? This video walks through the questions I ask a client when we start working on a new design for their business, whether it’s a website, brochure, landing page, brochure, etc. These questions are to help me understand who we are designing for.
For example, if I’m designing a landing page for a fitness product for an audience of 28 year old ladies, I’ll choose different images, typefaces and messaging than I would if the product is for 55 year old ladies.
I hope these questions help you work with a designer or enhance the designs you create for your business so they’re even more compelling to your audience.
I’ve been working as a professional designer for 16 years now. With the help of my team, I design, build and launch an average of 45 sites a year (3-4 per month) along with designing branding collateral, apps, product labels and landing pages.
To get to this point, I’ve seen a lot in regards to web design: the ugly pages that convert really well, the long form sales pages that take a half hour to read, flashy photo galleries and distracting trendy effects, the predictable + stale look from using a bunch of cliche stock photos.
I’ve also learned a lot from working with clients: where they get stuck, what troubles they run into when working with designers and developers, the expenses and time that can sink a once-great idea.
One thing I’ve noticed is that there are certain things about outsourcing design that nobody talks about.
From quick + cheap jobs to in-depth, long-term relationships, I want to share what I’ve learned over the years so you can save yourself some of the frustration and emotional turbulence that come with working with a designer.
Keep reading if you are thinking of hiring a designer sometime soon — or if you’ve worked with one before and you want to see what others have gone through.
Outsourcing Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring a Designer
Until you’ve worked with a range of designers and invested in premium design services, you don’t know exactly what could be missing. It’s the difference between mediocre results with unnecessary expense and time and kick-ass results you want to show the world.
1. Lack of consistency
Say you run a contest to get a logo on 99Designs, get a website designed by someone on Upwork.com and get your business cards + stationery created from a person on Fiverr. Unless you have a clear and thorough style guide to give them to work from, you’re going to have a cluster of deliverables that don’t look like they’re from the same place.
Looking disconnected looks sloppy and amateurish; take the time to establish a set of brand guidelines that say what a brand is, what tone and personality it has and how it communicates to customers. With that clarity, you can confirm the colors, typefaces, style of images and message of your brand.
With a detailed style guide, you can increase the chances that your final results will look connected and congruent.
2. Overcomplicating your designs
A tendency of less experienced designers (or the company hiring them) is to fill up space in a design with more and more information to maximize the space. It doesn’t need to be complicated to look good! In many cases, adding more elements, colors, text, etc. dilutes the overall impact the design. If you look at high-end fashion brands, for example, many times their labels, websites, logos and ads are full of space. Less is more: having less to focus on gives power to the things that remain.
Make sure you’re working with a designer that understands the reasoning behind including each element of your design.
3. Copying others
It’s one thing to research and find examples of brand elements of companies you respect. That helps you understand the tone you’d like to capture in your own designs. But if you imitate their design or messaging too closely, you’ll blend in instead of standing out for your own unique attributes.
You can’t build a serious long-term income or business if you’re constantly piggy-backing on the work of others.
4. Going cheap
It seems to make sense to look for the cheapest price when it comes to outsourcing…and, therefore, get as many designs for as little money as possible. But going cheap can cost you more in the long run.
First, you risk having unscrupulous designers rip off the work of others, creating copied designs to get you a result cheaply and quickly.
Secondly, you may find that what initially sounded good in the designer’s marketing spiel ends up being different from what’s delivered. For example, some designers on low-cost platforms like Fiverr will advertise $5 for a design – but require an additional fee to release the final, full quality vector (or editable files).
5. Focusing on price instead of designs
When you’re shopping for a designer, rather than comparing prices, compare portfolio examples and look for the style of design that looks something like what you want for your own project. If you find a designer you love, you’ll want to develop an on-going relationship with him or her. You can negotiate on price later. When you’re getting started with someone new and want to get a result you love, go with seeing what you like already created in their portfolio.
6. A badly written design brief
Getting high-quality designs and creating a design brief that will get what you want is a skill unto itself. Many folks have a hard time explaining what they want. They figure they’ll “know it when they see it.” If this is you, and you outsource to a designer hoping he or she will hit on it one way or another, you could be left spending twice the time at twice the cost (either from multiple revisions or having to fire a designer and find another).
Designers (especially those in countries other than your own) are not going to be familiar with the terms, references and meanings behind the ideas you send their way. So be as explicit as you can – and provide them with reference information and something to provide context if at all possible. For example, send a crude sketch, a written description, a few reference images or website,
7. Not taking responsibility
It’s your business, so it’s your responsibility. If a designer rips off someone else’s design, that’s on you to make it right. If they misspell a word, or use an unreadable font, it’s on you to notice it and request it to be fixed.
8. Not building in time for potential problems
You need systems in place to catch all of the little hiccups and problems that come with a new project. Guaranteed you will have problems. It takes time to get into a rhythm of working with others, and there’s going to be a lot of back-and-forth – especially in the early days. Prepare ahead of time by giving yourself time to request a revision (or multiple), brainstorm a new idea or incorporate additional features.
9. Overestimating cost savings
Similar to the mistake of going cheap, outsourcing never saves as much time and money as you hope. To start with, managing the relationship and the project itself takes time: measuring performance, offering feedback, answering questions, overseeing unexpected developments, etc. It adds up in the form of extra days, weeks and service expenses.
10. Getting in too deep too quickly
You find someone to outsource to, you like the initial results, you’re pumped! The tendency is to want to turn over a greater amount of responsibility in the early stages of working together—the honeymoon period. The designer may be awesome, but go step by step into the relationship.
11. Not getting involved enough
In the opposite direction of getting too deep too quickly, swinging the other way can make a project painful for both parties. Outsourcing works when there are clear guidelines, procedures and rules. The challenge is that it takes time to create guidelines, procedures and rules. Don’t mistakenly assume that some things will be automatically understood or interpreted correctly. Put everything in writing. That way, if there’s any issues down the road, you can refer back and avoid disputes.
12. Putting all your eggs in one basket
If you become heavily dependent on one person for all your design across all products and mediums, what happens if they suddenly go out of business or have a personal emergency? What if you increase your workload and they can’t handle the additional requirements? If you start with a clear style guide for consistent results, you can get support from several vendors. For example, you could have one designer for print collateral, one for your website design and another for infographics for your social media.
13. Ignoring communication frustrations
When you start working with someone and are excited by what he or she initially produces, you may overlook the fact that you won’t hear anything from her for a week at a time. Or that he’s always 5-10 minutes late for calls. Or that she’s not receptive to feedback. Watch for frustrations early on, before you get too deep into your project and start resenting the quality of service.
14. Missing the opportunity to negotiate on price
Most designers want to find on-going, reliable work. If you can offer or deliver this, then you can negotiate on price. But it’s important to figure out what a “good” price would be for you, based on what you expect to make from the designs. You may not be able to determine this until you’ve worked with the designer some initially. Once you know it’s a good match, propose some options for a price that is a win/win for both of you.
15. Not getting feedback on the designs
If your designer creates something you like but your target audience isn’t drawn to, then is it worth the investment? Make sure you get outside opinions on the design during the process–ideally from existing clients or people that represent your target customer. That extra step could save you from making a pricey mistake that gives you nothing in return.
16. Not looking at your design in the “wild”
Where is your final design going to be seen? On a product label, sitting on a shelf next to competitor products? On your website, viewed from a smartphone? On an image in a social media feed among the hundreds of other images in the feed? As the cover of a book on a bookshelf, with only the spine showing?
Wherever your final design will live, it’s important to view the design as closely as you can to that context. Print out your label, take it to a store and hold it next to the other products. Print your book cover and wrap it around a book tucked between two others. Display your site mockup on your phone and notebook devices, considering the other websites your target customer would likely be visiting on a regular basis. You only have a few seconds to make an impression with your design. Knowing what you’re competing with will help you make better decisions about what to keep and what to drop.
To sum it all up…
Your design immediately sets the tone for your brand, your messaging and the personality of your marketing. Because first impressions are hard to change, it’s crucial to take steps to get a great result with your designer. It usually gets easier as you go. Once you create something that works, additional designs can be made from those guidelines.
Get the design that makes you look good and connects with your audience…working with a Tech Diva to make the process fun. Contact me to see what we can come up with for your next project!
How do you use social media for your business? How do you make it effective–or is it a waste of time for your particular audience? There are a lot of different answers to this question. You might wonder if you really need to invest time or resources into keeping up social media profiles (or paying someone to do it for you), even though it’s common to hear that it’s something that “every business needs to have” to be relevant.
I don’t believe it’s a clear cut answer for everyone, and I think it could certainly be a waste of resources for some people. So how do you decide how much to put into it, or what to share if you decide you want to be active?
In this video, I offer my opinion on this, based on working with small businesses, startups, consultants and solopreneurs. My answer isn’t a fit for everyone, but I don’t believe ANY answer about marketing is. 🙂
I’d love to know what you think in the YouTube comments.
In my last post, we discussed getting clear on your market first in order to plan a business strategy that will pay off.
We noted that most people start with a random idea, dive in to “pseudo-business” activities (building a website, getting business cards printed, opening Facebook/Twitter accounts) and then try to target basically everyone. (I’m as guilty of this as anyone.)
Successful entrepreneurs start with a list of ideas, and then begin testing for profitability before they invest months into something they’re not sure will work.
I asked you two questions:
1. Who are you trying to market to? 2. How are you targeting your market?
Janet wrote to me and said, “I’m targeting entrepreneurs making over $100K/year that have been in business for over 5 years looking for a mastermind community.”
Steve said, “I’m targeting people in urban areas interested in organic gardening in small spaces. I can diversify with 3 programs focused on common vegetables, rare vegetables and mushroom gardens.”
Both of these guys are well on their way to having a focused business. Janet could offer “business consulting” and Steve could offer “gardening advice”, but this is so much juicier.
Now we’re going to go deeper to better understand your target customer.
Step 1. Make a list of your customer’s characteristics.
Here’s an opportunity where it’s okay to stereotype. Start with 3 characteristics and get as specific as you can. This includes everything from likes and interests, whether they’re married with kids or single, biggest fears and concerns, the area they live in, etc. What do they like to do for fun?
1. 2. 3.
Step 2. Define your customer niche with the 2-Qualifier Technique.
Based on answers from my previous email and the question above, you’ve now gotten more specific on what you’re offering, outlined who you’re marketing to, how you’re targeting them and what their characteristics are.
Create your target audience by using 2 of the qualifiers and what you are specifically offering.
[Qualifier 1] + [Qualifier 2] who need (your service).
– Women who are 20lbs overweight who want Paleo diet meal ideas for their whole family that fit on a budget – Single professionals in their 30s that love adventure travel who want vacation tour packages for singles – New moms battling hormonal changes that can benefit from acupuncture – People with desk jobs that have arthritis and need solutions that offer pain relief – Vegetarians/vegans/raw foodies interested in green smoothies that want smoothie recipe ideas
What does this have to do with your website?
When you know exactly who you’re speaking to, all of your content–from the homepage to the images to your emails and blog posts–can be shaped around this persona. When you know who you’re speaking to, you can then target the values that you want to highlight in your branding.
Different audiences will respond to different values. Your website visitor will feel like you really “get them”, because you’re “speaking their language”.
Imagine if you’re a stay-at-home mom looking for tutorials on how to set up a new website. You find one site offering training, and it’s very corporate and technical-feeling. The images, headlines and text sound technical and confusing. You then find another site that’s warm and friendly with little cartoons, and “layman’s terms” explanations of things. It resonates with you, so you sign up for one of their courses.
Both websites offer the same thing, but they have two different “tones”. This is part of their branding.
To recap, first you want to determine who you’re targeting. The 2-Qualifier Technique can help you dial it down. Next, you shift focus to what values you want to communicate, using this to brand yourself.
Targeting, then branding and finally positioning combine to create your marketing. We’ll get into positioning in the next round.
In the meantime, take a moment, jot down your answers to the 2 Qualifier Technique. Leave a comment below and share with me.
When I first started with Tech Diva Media, I thought that one of the things I needed to invest in first was business cards, postcards, and maybe some online ads. It seemed like that’s what I needed to do to get “known” in order to build a business and get more customers: get my name out there.
How many times have you heard in business that it’s important to “get your name out there”?
So I did that. I printed business cards, I mailed out postcards locally and I created a few Google ads.
And…that did diddley-squat.
To this day, I have not gotten ONE job from someone that saw my business card, postcard or self-promotional ad.
That’s when I started to consider that there was something between exposure, or “branding”, and how that translates into purchasing customers.
Just because you know my name does not mean you will buy from me.
I don’t know anyone who has built a business ONLY on branding. Branding seems to “work” when there’s other components in place. Consider Nike and their “Just Do It” slogan. Sure, millions of people know Nike and this slogan. But that slogan and the brand was built over years of selling shoes, producing quality products and generating a reputation, and then building the branding into their marketing.
“Getting your name out there” verses creating marketing to get your prospects’ name in HERE (meaning, on your mailing or customer list) is a directionless journey.
Which would you prefer?
1. a 5-minute spot on the #1 television network to an audience of 2 million to be able to introduce yourself and what you do 2. a list of 100 people pre-qualified and ready to buy what you’re selling
For me, I’d leap towards option #2. This is way more attractive because it’s much more likely to generate a profit.
What does that have to do with your website?
The website alone can get your name “out there” in the interwebs…but it will do nothing to get you people to the site or buying from you if that is all it does.
However, if you use the website as a tool in your direct-response marketing campaign–it absolutely can drive you profits faster than any offline method can.
Direct-response marketing is a type of marketing designed to generate an immediate response. You make a direct offer to the prospect to guide them to engage directly with you. For example, this may be a free report, a downloadable PDF guide, a free online course, YouTube videos, or a complimentary assessment or consultation.
This offers value forward to initiate a relationship with someone. You’re offering something to them that they will find useful in exchange for their email, name, or phone number. Now you have a response–and you have a list of people that have expressed interest in you.
When you get to this point and then move towards a sale, that list is “warm” towards you and the offer you make them for a sale.
It may take a few tries to learn what it is you can offer people to get them to engage with you. I’m still learning this and probably always will be. It’s something that changes as my target customer changes. But once you start putting something out there, then you have measurable data to guide you along. You can see what works and doesn’t work, and keep tweaking.
If you want to take your marketing up a notch, dial into the thing that your customer wants most and figure out how to offer that to them from the start. I recommend that you do this with someone to be objective as you brainstorm ideas. Email me to discuss how we could work together to help you to this.
In the meantime, notice how many sites you see as you surf around that have a direct-response offer and what the offer is…especially your competitors.