Trust is a big thing when buying from a business and we trust people we’ve seen before .. so why aren’t you visible in your business online?
That’s me on the left with my self portrait I did to represent me online. I’m a professional photographer so of anybody, I have the least excuse to a) have a bad photo and worst of all b) have no photo at all!
When you have an about page on your website, does it have a photo of you, of your business .. the team of people you work with? Why not? Yes, its natural to feel fear and be shy but we connect best with those we see and recognise. To do so its great to be able to see you in your business.
Its a lesson I’m learning myself as I’m okay at putting up a photo of who I am but haven’t really focused before in putting me into surroundings of my business .. so I too am learning and growing regarding this.
How can we know ‘you’ in order to trust you and what your business is selling. This is especially relevant for the small business that is growing .. the large business has already grown and made its impact on you or people around you and has word of mouth, reputation and its own level of kudos. If you don’t have any of that, the way to build it is individually and showing who you are, what you stand for in your business and what you do.
So let me issue the challenge .. if you don’t have a profile picture up to show who you are and your team as well, why?
Branding is more than just what you see, it’s also about the experience and how your customer feels. A great analogy for describing this is an iceberg, we all know you can only see the small tip, yet below is a huge amount of ice supporting it to float.
Most people are familiar with the visuals of branding but it only works when supported by all the assorted events around it, of running a business.
You can be forgiven for thinking that a brand is just a logo, it’s what a lot of people think it is and you’re right to an extent .. it is THE thing we recognise when interacting with a business product or service. It’s how we ‘mark’ a business and there are a variety of ways to make logos. There are word marks, symbols and icons, letter marks, emblems and combinations of the above. All of these elements can make a series of logo elements that when combined provide aspects of a brand. This way you’ll have brand recognition across all platforms that you work within, ie. social media, website, printed promotional materials etc.
So there’s the logo, well that logo also has a colour or a few colours, more than likely a texture somewhere involved and may have a strapline / tagline, depending on how you personally name it. Mine is simply my services: photography, branding & design. Very simple and clear. Clarity can never be overvalued .. the ability to get a point across in a short space of time is very very valuable. It’s your elevator pitch in 5 seconds.
There’s also a business portrait, not well known as a branding move but it should be. As customers we buy from people we trust and recognise, a faceless business is just one in a million. But you, you have a story and your presence tells that story with 10,000 words in a single photo. Cliché I know, but still apt.
So all the above is what helps us visually recognise a business but what comes after is all about the soft warm fuzzy feeling we want to have. Although the cool, clinical calm of a job well done is never to be overestimated either. When interacting with a business we are seeking a solution, one that either inspires a feeling or one that removes a negative feeling and leaves us calmer, ie. removing stress. All of these feelings come from interaction with your business and that is the ‘hidden’ part, as a customer we don’t usually record a phone call dealing with a complaint, but we feel better if our complaint has been heard, appreciated for the pain it caused and resolved quickly by an excellent customer support person.
We feel great when we chuckle as a business having a sense of personality and wit, that helped us solve a problem with a smile. That is the business voice, its a living personality and outward presentation of value. Most often they can be very boring and dry, but the smaller and medium sized businesses that don’t have the thousands of voices talking internally (rather like the borg *geek humour alert*), then the ‘talk’ has a chance of vibrancy and life. Rather like how I’m writing this. I’m a person, talking to a person, I’m a business, talking to you a potential customer wanting to know about branding. It doesn’t have to be more complex than that.
A brand also shows through our website and social media consistency, do they look the same, share the same profile picture or style of ‘voice’? Do all the systems work together or disjointed. If it’s disjointed then that is a fragmented voice talking and consistency is a high priority in my book.
So in just one short blog post, you can already see that a Brand has a high visual impact, but what lasts beyond that is how we make customers feel. All of that is influence by how we interact with our customers .. so we need a smooth system to be able to talk to them in places they socialise, help them ask questions of us as a business, guide them in solving problems or providing solutions for some or all of their problem.
For me, you my reader are a potential client. You probably need help with branding a consistent voice for your business which includes its visuals. You don’t know enough tech to make your website and social media integrate smoothly, how to pre-qualify your clients using a contact form, how to build your business process so that it integrates with and is supported by your business systems.
I build websites, brands and do fabulous photography for you and your business, but what I really do is listen to your problems and provide a full business solution to help you find more paying customers. That there, is my value by integrating all the seen and unseen aspects of branding, supported by tech.
Good design is something I fundamentally believe in. Design isn’t just about how something looks but also its function and purpose. Good design, when it really achieved is effortless to the user. Its only when it doesn’t quite work that we notice problems, niggles and annoyances creeping in.
Good design is good business
Great design is about problem solving and finding solutions until all the problems and issues melt away and you just use the device, product or service seamlessly into your life. You can find ‘design’ in the way you talk to clients, you may have unknowingly prioritised calling to connect with your clients or email / skype / text etc. You can see design when ever you walk into any specific store and what to buy that stores clothes, objects, food etc. Design inspires feelings, saves effort, instantly recognisable or purposefully blends into the background so that things get done almost like magic. It .. just .. works.
On this site we focus on information design, process design, system design and visual branding design. So lets break it down.
Content is key when building a website, with no content .. there is nothing to share. All the design in the world of online websites can be fabulous but deliver no worth because there is no content. How we structure content and what takes priority over lesser content is Information Design, alternatively known as Information Architecture.
You can see it clearly here on this site as Photography, Branding, Design & ETC. These are the key points this business focuses on.
This is about how you work as a person and how your team works together. What do you need to do? How do you want to do that thing? Lets take a look at it from customer lead generation.
- How do you want customers to find you?
- How will they get in touch with you?
- How will you collect their information?
- How will you contact them?
- What information do you want to know about your customer?
All these kinds of questions will shape a process of how a customer finds you, contacts you and you in return contact them back via their preferred contact method (ie. phone / email). How do you do, the business that you do .. depending on that is then how the system should be designed around how you work. You can alter how the human process works to fit around technical systems but for large scale things its easier to fit the system around the people.
Right, now we have our content so we know what need to be said, shared and also done. We also know what the business needs to do to function, eg. find customers, sell products, receive emails etc. The previous two ‘Designs’ give us the system requirements for your website.
There’s a reason for having Content and Process discussed first. It sets the stage for the real needs of the website and not what we think is needed based on seeing other businesses. There will be some commonalities but you are uniquely yourself and so is your business in its niche.
Visual Design & Branding
This neatly flows onto the ultimate design that almost everyone knows about, visual design. Its gotta look good! Instantly recognisable, must evoke feelings .. even if its just calm to continue onwards, that is a feeling. A lack of stress, bolstered by good system design as well as aesthetics.
Most people associate branding with a logo and you’d be right to an extent, a logo is one instantly recognisable aspect of a brand for a product or service. Yet, it isn’t the only thing. Good branding is about a great experience, it’s about what we feel, in addition to what we see.
You can read more about: branding and how its more than just what you see.
It’s finally here .. my new website and new content and awesome stuff being created right now. Here’s to the softly softly slow launch of The Heart’s Design.
So why am I launching on International Womens Day? It’s not so much that its ‘womens’ day so much as we celebrate achievements on this day for me. We recognise the hard efforts of our elders in history, they’ve paved the way for us to have an easier life by inventing new things, discovering new science, advancing humanity forwards. These are all great things.
For me I wanted to recognise an achievement of mine, I’ve been working on this business of mine for a long time now, mostly under my previous business name which wasn’t working for me. Hopefully this new one will! Life can bit a bit of a battle ground when you have a limited amount of hours you can work in a week, so its taken longer for me to reach this stage than planned. But, I made it!
So why the softly softly slow launch? That’s because I’m not quite there yet with my ‘shop’ system, since I’m registering for a VAT number (I’m a business in the UK) and must have that number in order to be able to have access to VATMOSS to pay Europe its VAT dues as the law states. I will be supplying digital images and I need to wait until my legal side catches up, its taking much longer than I thought it would. So instead of one huge launch and I’m doing a pre-launch by getting my website up and live and I’ll complete and launch the shop later.