Bright, head-turning design and illustration services based in Bristol. Design that gets you noticed.

Copyright 2018 Emma B.

Why every business should have a brand (even you!)

Before I begin to delve into “Why every business should have a brand”, a little personal case study:

My dad’s a self-employed electrician. He’s done the job for something like 40 years and he has no need for any new clients, because the ones he has are repeat and loyal customers who will see him through to retirement. He doesn’t need a website, he doesn’t need business cards. Word of mouth gets him enough business off the back of his outstanding reputation. My dad, as he has told me time and time again, “doesn’t want or need a brand”.

The thing is, he already has one, he just doesn’t realise it! Brand is more than a logo, a catchy name, a website, or a set of pretty stationery items… My dad’s brand is the set of standards and values he represents: reliability, quality work, fair price, and decades of experience.

So, why should every business have a brand?

Because it’s going to secure your future, build your business and create a strategy for success.

Any business, of ANY size – from one-(wo)man-bands to multinational corporations – can reap the benefits of a brand strategy. If you have nothing else, a brand strategy is going to enable you to find fans and advocates, help you employ the right people, keep you on a true and authentic path, allow your customers to build trust in your business and keep them coming back for more.

Brand strategy is made up of the following things:

Who you are, what you do, and how you do it.

In marketing speak, these things could be termed as;

  • Business values
  • Business goals / targets
  • Planned actions

I’ve broken them down a little so that you can start thinking about how a brand strategy might boost your business;

Business values

These are the things that define who you are. Values should be steadfast and long-term if your customers are going to learn to trust them. It could be that you are mindful of the environment in all you do, perhaps you strive to support people in hard to access areas, maybe it is important that your business is always affordable. Whatever it is it has to be authentic and true. Don’t be tempted into buzzwords or things you think you “should” be. Think of your values as the foundation blocks of everything you do. They are what you will become known for – your “brand essence” – and are the basis of your reputation. All of your actions as a business will uphold them, reinforce them and allow you build trust.

Business goals / targets

These are the things you want to do. In my dad’s case; provide electrical services of a type that gains a loyal customer base, so that he can sail through to retirement without worrying about “the next job”. My dad’s example is quite a straightforward one, but you might have long-term and short-term goals as well as the overall “ideal” outcome of your efforts. Write them all down and you will have the target for your strategy.

Planned actions

Everything you do as a business should uphold your values and drive you closer to your goals. Bringing the two together in everything you do will be your brand strategy in action. Having your goals and values defined will help you to be consistent in your messages and interactions and present you as a united business. Whether you’re one person or 1000+ employees, you will all be inhabiting the same idealogy.  You are now also able to make a plan! What are you going to make sure you do to achieve your goals? And how will you make sure you always have your values at the very heart?


Once you have a brand strategy, you might want to think about things such as a logo, a refocused website, and other bits and pieces that can really bring a great brand strategy to life and push things to the next level. If you feel you would like to discuss any creative branding services with me – why not get in touch?

About the Author:
Emma is a Graphic Designer and Illustrator living in Bristol, UK. Her illustration work explores a thin line between creepy and cute; working with kawaii motifs, galactic colours and quirky themes to create unique and fun designs.
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My top 10 design tools for design and illustration

Having worked in design for over ten years, I have quite the collection of design tools! I am a stationery addict, which certainly helps, but I love trying out new things so that they might spark my creativity and push my style further. Today I’m sharing my top 10 design tools that are always part of my main toolkit, whatever the project.

tegne blok sketch book

1. Flying Tiger Bamboo Sketch Pad (Tegne Blok)

When is comes to cheap and cheerful sketching, laying the first formation of an idea out and just having a creative brain dump at the beginning of a new project, my Tegne Blok is indispensable. It costs the mighty sum of £3 a pad and the bamboo paper is better for the environment and great quality. The pages tear out easily without ripping and both pencil and fineliners sit on the slightly textured paper like a dream (no ink bleed!).

Design Tools Pens

2. Field Notes Number 2 pencils

I’m not very fussy when it comes to pencils, to be honest, but I love the Field Notes range for their ethical properties (recyclable, non-toxic, degradable) and the little eraser on the end is a great bonus because it rubs stuff out without smudging it. Sounds silly, but I have ruined countless pieces of work with bad pencil erasers before! Also, Field Notes = Designer cool points haha!

3. UNI Pin fineliner pens

I tried SO many fineliners and for years I used Faber Castell PITT pens which were great. However, when I found myself needing the thinnest of the thin, UNI Pin was there with its 0.05mm nib and Faber Castell wasn’t! To be honest, I think both brands do a good fineliner, but UNI Pin pips it to the post for range.

4. Uni-ball Signo Broad UM-153 Gel Pen, white

Opaque, smooth, consistent, doesn’t clog up / leak / run. This pen is the ultimate white detailer! It’s great for my dark space-y doodles and getting perfect stripes.

5. TomBow brush tip pens

I don’t often colour with ink, but when I do, I use TomBow pens. I love the brush tips as they’re really flexible and the colour range is great, especially on the brighter end of the colour spectrum.

Banana pencil case

6. Banana pencil case

I love a novelty pencil case – it’s always a great conversation starter and of course, bright and cheerful! Also, you need somewhere safe to store all those lovely pens I’ve just recommended. A banana is slimline and easy to see in your bag, if you need a “real” reason 😉

7. Tracing paper / baking paper

SO MANY USES! Recently I’ve started making patterns and tracing paper is great for lining up overlapping design parts, testing tessellation and general repeating elements. However, have you ever tried using ink markers on tracing paper? Give it a go – you can get some great effects as the inks sit on top of the paper and start merging. You can also use it as a blender, or even a palette and then “paint” the inks onto other work with a brush. You can even stamp with it, if you want!

Know Your Onions Design book

8. Know Your Onions / Graphic Design by Drew de Soto

This book is great if you design for print, work in branding or are just starting out in your graphic design career. Drew de Soto covers the foundations of good graphic design in a quick and informative way. It’s a book I refer back to time and time again because while it’s fun to experiment, getting the basics right is so important.

9. iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

OK, so this is a bit of a luxury one, but since I bought the iPad Pro my artwork has found so many new ways to exist! I used a small Wacom for a while, but being able to actually draw onto an image on the screen makes such a difference. The Apple Pencil is amazing – the sensitivity and responsiveness is great – and it’s making me think about offering hand-typography prints in the future. I just love the versatility and options the iPad Pro offers. It has also sped up the “vectorisation” process for some of my more detailed ideas.

Hello Kitty Pen

10. Hello Kitty pen

Sometimes, you just need things that make you happy – if they have seven colour options and make note-taking a colour-coded dream, even better!

 

What are your favourite tools?

For more behind-the-scenes snaps, stationery and sneak peeks, follow me on Instagram!

 

About the Author:
Emma is a Graphic Designer and Illustrator living in Bristol, UK. Her illustration work explores a thin line between creepy and cute; working with kawaii motifs, galactic colours and quirky themes to create unique and fun designs.
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