In our first episode of In Demand Brand, Jen, Vardeep and I (Jana), discuss our journeys into branding and how we discovered its importance through our experiences with our clients. We each serve different client bases and live thousands of miles from each other, yet our experiences as visual designers transitioning into brand strategy are very similar.
We'll be continuing to release episodes where we discuss branding tips, trends, and techniques that any business can utilize to build their brands. If there's a topic you want to hear more about, please let us know!
Jana Hey everybody. Welcome to the first episode of In-Demand Brand.We're here to provide an expert perspective on branding and share any tips or advice to help small businesses understand how branding can help their business grow and thrive. we are here also to get out of our comfort zones and just speak authentically as to our business and our passion and what we do.
I'll do some intros first. I'm Jana Bramwell. I work for my business, jbloommedia, and I work with startups. I help them build consistentbrands that gain the attention of users and investors alike. And Vardeep?
Vardeep: Yep. So I'm Vardeep Edwards and I run the Branding Fox. Where I help small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to grow their business really, take it to the next level with creative branding and strategic design. And Jen?
Jen: And my name is Jen. I'm in Atlanta, Georgia, and I connect people who care to causes that matter using brand strategy and design.
Jana: Love it. I feel like we should also provide our locations. I am in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Vardeep: Yep. I'm in Rochester, Kent in the UK.
Jana: So pretty awesome to just have
Jen: all of us all over and that's great.
Yep. Different perspectives, different countries, different client bases. Cuz I like working with, purpose driven organizations. Doesn't have to be a non-profit, but I do like working with non-profits who are trying to make a difference in the world or for-profits who are trying to impact. Social change, social impact. Then Jana, you're working with startups?
Jana: Yep. Tech startups. definitely a broad range of things, but I love it. It keeps creativity fresh and just digging into people's beautiful, technology solutions and how I can help them. And really the twofold of that is a lot of these companies are looking for investors as well as gaining traction of users. So it's the dual of how do we appeal to both of those audiences?
Jen: Which likewise for my industry, it's how do you attract, people, volunteers for the cause and you also attract donors, which those are two different audiences. And then Vardeep, you're, you have even, a different audience.
Vardeep: Yeah, definitely.
So most of mine are service based is quite a range of different industries. quite often it's running their own businesses. With a small team.So still quite small to medium size organizations. but it's generally about elevating their presence, and aligning their strategy with the way that brand is expressed.
Cuz somewhere on the line, something's gone awry and it's not connecting for them. So I help piece it together and then just take up to the next stage they're normally ready to grow, as an organization and kind of, in terms of what they're offering as well.
Jen: Mm-hmm. . What I think is so cool about the three of us is that we have similar backgrounds and what we do is very similar, but we do it, for different audiences.
And that's why we've come together because we all love design. And we use strategy in order to make our services better for our clients in order to create clarity and create alignment within the organization so that those, companies and organizations that we work with, can have a bigger impact, can grow their business, grow their organization, and reach the target market that they want to reach.
Vardeep: Yep. Absolutely.
Jana: Yeah. I think it's the one most wonderful thing is to get on board in someone's business journey and you're with them on their dream path and, for me, and I'm sure both of you as well, just really invested in their success and it's an exciting place to be in terms of a business journey.
Jen: So Janna, Tell us why did you get into, brand strategy? what attracted you to brand strategy? What's your story?
Jana: I think it's the need. my background is design and I, actually went to school for animation and it just wasn't the path for me. And that's beautiful. But, I. I took a little detour in that career path.
I became a flight attendant for seven years, and while I was there, I couldn't, give up my creativity and I just, would hear people have conversations about a business they were starting and they needed a logo. And I just slowly started to offer my design services to people. And, it really did start with logos and, just building that key piece of a brand. And that was great, but, it needed more. So I noticed I can't just give a business a logo and they go off and they're successful. it's one tiny thing. And that grew into helping people with their brand identities completely. So building that whole visual face for their brand. And then I started to notice, that's still just one piece and they need to know who to talk to and how to talk to, or even have they defined that. that's where the whole brand strategy, component came in. And to really offer somebody a way to honestly treat their brand as if it's a person or an entity of its own and help them really understand that, on multiple levels and how to communicate not only how they're gonna appear visually. So that's where I am. I'm so glad to be here. And it's just providing a much more valuable product by being able to do all of those things. Yeah. And then how about you, Jen?
Jen: Yes. I have been, I got my start in as a print designer and I still love print. and whenever I would use, brand strategy in creating, a logo, I would ask a lot of these really far out questions in order to get my mind around. What is the personality of the brand? what is the owner like, what kind of shoe? if the brand were a shoe, what kind of shoe would it be? If it were a car, what car would it be? I didn't know anything about brand strategy at the time.
And then over the years, I started working with brand strategists, and I found I could do a much better job as a designer when I had that, who the audience was, what the purpose of the organization was, and why they existed, what their values were. And then, then I learned about brand personas and how you can make a brand a person. And if you can make a brand, a person, and the client, a person, then, like, you can create this love relationship, and they call that brand strategy.So I felt I could do a much better job when I had those questions answered.I've always asked these questions, I just didn't know that's what you called it.
so yes, that's how I started learning. I started reading a ton of books on brand strategies so that I could start asking these questions with clients in order to help them be more effective.
Vardeep: Yeah, it's so interesting, isn't it?I think, we've all come up branding later on in our careers. I was also a designer when I started out, very much a print designer to start with. I think I did some web very early on in the days when it was like Adobe Dream Weaver, those were the days. So yeah, I was always interested in design and I think my first sort of foray into branding was when I was working in a design agency and I was brought in as a team of freelancers to work on a rebranding identity. The logo had been redesigned, but then we were working up all the different elements of the other identity for the guidelines. That's what needed to be designed. And it was my first point of call of. "Oh, that's what this is." And it was just brilliant to actually work on something that connected altogether, whereas I think somebody else's projects that I had been working on were single one-off type projects. Where suddenly working on a brand identity, you're working on this living, breathing thing that other people have got to incorporate within their own business and an organization and be able to use you to communicate effectively about what they are. but yeah, like you, Jen, I didn't know that was branding really at the time, but I was still very much from the visual perspective.
And I dunno what the turning point was for me. I started learning about branding I think a few years ago now and I had that sort of, that moment, which I dunno if you guys have had as well again. Ah, that's what you need to do so that you can communicate and that's how you communicate what it needs to be. And I think perhaps some of that was delving into choice of colors, the fonts. And I think once you've been a designer for a number of years, you were getting to a point going, I can't just design what I like.There needs to be some structural reason and strategy behind it, And what is that? And suddenly it opens up this whole other world of brand and brand identity and brand strategy, story. And and as suddenly, all the pieces clicking together. And it just, Yeah, like you Jana, I felt like I was doing my clients a disservice by just giving them a logo because we know that a logo's only a very small part of a brand identity, let alone a brand.
Vardeep: So how can we be doing our best if we know that there's all these other elements that they could be benefiting from? So yeah, I found it really interesting and there's so much still to learn and to know and understand about how that works for an organization, especially as it grows as well and evolves because that brand will change, a strategy might change, so yeah, I find it a really interesting area.
Jana: I think branding is a really, huge bubble. A lot of people inour industry all have a little bit of a different way that they define it. AndI'm curious, how do we all define brand or branding? Vardeep?
Vardeep: Yeah, it's a tricky one. There's so many definitions out there, and I'll be honest, I do think mine change a little bit from time to time.
I think essentially, I think it still goes down to what you are about. Because, if we are going with the definition that branding is how you feel about a certain brand or an organization can't quite pinpoint what that is, but I think it's at the core ofwhat that brand stands for or what it means to that particular end user. I feel like it's the heart of what you stand for.
Jen: Yeah. It's the gut feeling, isn't it?It's, and it lives in the hearts and the minds of your audience. And I think when I first heard that definition, I wholeheartedly disagreed with it, but it really is true. And so everything that we do as creators, are, it's gonna influence that gut feeling, and that's where brand's strategy comes in.
How do we influence that gut feeling? We want people to love our. The brands that we work with and the companies that we work with. So how do we influence that? It's the way we talk, it's the way, it's the visuals that we choose. It's the fonts and the colors that we choose. Cause all of that influences that gut feeling.
Jana: Yep. Yeah. So agreed. it's about perception. Brand is perception. How are you perceived? And so the, branding. Doing brand strategy is creating a plan to affect how you are perceived. If you don't have a plan, you're leaving it up to the masses to make that decision. With a plan, you can shape, form, and hopefully guide the perception in the way that you want.
And what's really interesting that I think is you can make a plan for anything like it seems, it's very obvious to talk about, the visual identity. Very obvious to talk. messaging, but let's talk about customer interactions. any touchpoint your business has, you can make a plan for that, for your branding and how you want to behave with your employees, and customers to build a better brand in the way that you want.
So I am curious, what are brands that we all connect with? What are brands that we have that heart connection with in our lives? and can you define exactly why? Vardeep?
Vardeep: yeah, the obvious one is Apple, but I really like in terms of an independent, smaller brand, I would like one here in the UK called Splosh, and it's a sustainable, ecological, sort of household products. So it's, plastic, it's no throwaway, plastic, sorry, products. And, it's a subscription service to get all your products. It sounds really boring now. It's cleaning products and toiletry products. but honestly, I feel like I'm doing my service to the environment by reducing the amount of plastic that gets thrown away. AndI'm quite conscious of that in our household. I've got two young children. but also they just make it really easy for you. So everything is posted. Iliterally have got an app, I, set up, amount times I want to subscribe to particular products and it just gets posted to me, and I think that's a brilliant. I think it's brilliant when a brand [00:14:00]understands what you need, and how it's helping you, but also it's connected to some of your values as well. So I feel like I'm doing good. but it's also, it's created the right touch points for me as well in terms of the user experience.Jen,
Jen: Very good answer. I also really Apple because no matter what Apple comes out with, I wanna buy it like, and because they have done such a good job of simplifying their branding and simplifying their, their products so that they're easy to use. they're, I just, I love, Ido love Apple.
but since I love working with non-profits, I'm gonna point outa non-profit that I absolutely love. And I think they have done a really good job of putting branding as a forefront. They prioritize branding and marketing as a non-profit, even though technically they are a non-profit, they don't function like a typical non-profit. They, prioritize things the way that a business would. Okay. And their name is New Story. You should totally check them out. They're amazing. but they are making the point that they are about eliminating poverty worldwide. And so they're starting in many, impoverished countries in order to build communities.Like they build one house, at a time. And by building one house at a time, they end up creating a community. And how do they do that? They connect with donors.They connect with business leaders in order to help make this happen. And they do that through brand messaging. They use branding. and they just, they look beautiful. They've invested in technology, they, So it's very easy to contribute. It's very easy to navigate their website. Anyway, yeah, they're I Heart. IHeart them. Okay, Jana, you.
Jana: My favorite brands? On the tech side, I love, love web flow, right? It's for me, very easy to use web building platform. and they're, they have so much education on their back end and it's delivered with such humor. They have people that guide you through how to use their product. They are characters. and. the lessons are short, quick, and easy. I know what I'm doing and they make me laugh all the way along. So some of these things, like especially when you're frustrated with technology, trying to figure out how to get something to work, there's like a way to go watch a video and get a little bit of a giggle and just get it done and feel relaxed and just feel like I'm like, I love using this product. It's the only product I ever wanna use to build a website. And then I also, we love Toyota and our family. We've had manyToyotas over the years and, they're just such reliable cars. They've got lovely styling and it's just maybe such a Colorado thing. But we're a Toyota family, and I love that brand too.
Jen: That's awesome. We're a Porsche family.Oh, wait, no. . .
Jana: Someday. Someday.
Jana: So for some branding advice, like each of us probably have some key things that we think are really important, when building a brand. Jen, will you kick us off? What is your key branding advice?
Jen: My key branding advice is know your target market. Cuz if you don't know who you're talking to, this could be really hard to write copy. It's gonna be really hard to, create visuals that are gonna connect with that target market. Know your target market. Okay, Vardeep?
Vardeep: Okay, so I think it's knowing what you stand for, because that becomes the heart of what you're about and how you stand out from your competitors, as well as take the lead on how you are to express yourself and what story you are telling.
Jana: Yeah, mine is consistency, right? You spend a lot of time focusing on building a brand if you're engaging a brand strategist, and, use the tools that are there. brand recognition is really important, and if you're not consistent, you will lack that brand recognition. So be consistent.
Jen: Awesome. Okay, ladies, time for my random question of the month. what are you guys, I know that Verdi, your kids are about, we're in the summertime, so your kids are finishing up school. So what are you looking forward to in the next couple weeks? I know for my kids they're about to go back to school, so life looks very different for me.
But for you work wise, what are you looking forward to in the next four weeks?
Vardeep: I'm actually looking forward to just taking a little bit of a backseat, because I find it just gives me the space to just be, rather than thinking about what I need to keep doing. and I think it's important as a creative as well to just take that step back, be inspired for something else, go on holiday, go somewhere else, forget about work for a bit and come back and feel refreshed.
Jen: Rest is so important. that's awesome.What about you, Jana?
Jana: Man, similar boat, school's gonna be in soon enough, and I feel like summer has really flown by. I have been coaching my son's baseball team and we're having our last game on Monday, so I'm it's been fun, but I'm ready to resume a little bit more of a regular routine. and, just thinking about prepping for second grade, we might take a family trip. business wise, I'm in the middle of working on doing my own rebrand. And I'm in the very beginning stages, so I'm doing my target market research right now. So I'm getting some user interviews and working on that piece, and hopefully within the next quarter I will have a brand shiny new brand to present.
Jen: Yes, fabulous. Same. my kids are going back to school in two and a half weeks. I'm not that I'm counting down or anything. I love it. It's awesome. I love that. I have three girls and I love them very much. they're all gonna be in school. This is my first time that they're all gonna be in school, so lots of new things coming. I'm super excited for them. I Am wrapping up a customer journey for, a client. He really wanted to go take a really deep dive into his customer journey and be able to communicate that in a certain way to his customers, and then also have an internal document that really documented. the customer's journey and what their, his teammates are responsible for and what, what really each and who they're working with because they have three decision makers that they work with that kind of trade off different pieces through throughout the customer journey. And so I'm excited to wrap that up for him, so that he can start using it and really seeing how it makes a difference in his business. So that's, exciting. And also like you, Jana, I am taking my old website and putting it onto a new platform. I use Squarespace. And that is such a time intensive thing to do and so I am like weaving that in and out of, customer work. And our client work. So I'm looking forward to getting that built and then to really, tear it apart and rebuild it again.So yay for being a business owner, And working for yourself. You're always doing new things, right? .
Jana: All the hats. All the hats.
Jen: All the hats. So hopefully I'll have that made the next time that we meet. Bye
Vardeep: bye. Thanks for watching and listening.