Makers Month: Branding Q&A with Kim Lawler

We know that a lot of you that read our blog are fellow creatives, with your own business or want to one day have your own creative business. So one thing we knew we wanted to talk about this month that we hadn't covered before was Branding. It is always a hot topic but right now, in a world of social media, it has never been more important to make sure your businesses brand is on point. We knew there was only one person to ask. Not only is Kim the owner and designer behind laser cut jewellery & homewares brand Finest Imaginaryshe also runs a design studio as Kim Lawler Creative, which works with small, creative businesses on their branding and web presence.

Hi Kim, Lets jump in to the Q and A shall we... 
Firstly what is your favourite thing about running your own businesses and creating your own brand/s?

I love having control over both of my brands, one of the most fun things is being able to play with them and experiment with new things. I love the freedom of running my own businesses, they’re my creative playgrounds for sure. Both of my brands have evolved over the years, and being in the thick of it has given me so much valuable experience to pass on to my clients.

Why do you think branding is so important for creative businesses?

Having clear branding, and a clear brand style will set you apart from your peers and make you instantly recognisable to your customers and fans. It makes stuff like designing packaging, banners, writing copy and promoting your business 100% easier when you know how things should look and feel from the get go. Having your brand clearly defined (even if it’s constantly evolving) means the difference between looking like a hobbyist and a professional.

Could you give us a quick explanation of what you think makes a great brand?

Sure! I’ll talk about this from two different aspects, the visual parts of a brand, and the overall brand.

Your “Brand” is everything about your business, it’s what you say, what you do, how you deal with customer service, how you respond to emails, the products you make and how you present yourself on social media. Everything. As Jeff Bezos (Amazon Founder) says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. Nailing what makes your business unique will really elevate your brand.

The visual parts of your brand (your logo, colours, the typefaces you use) should all support your brand as a whole, they should be totally cohesive and resonate what your brand stands for.

What do you think sets a good brand apart from the crowd?

I think it’s that cohesion, of having a really great narrative behind your brand, and making it really obvious what you (and your products or service) stand for. You can spend all the money in the world on a fancy logo, but if your overall message is shit, your brand won’t be that strong.

What advice would you give to someone who has some ideas but isn't sure how to turn them into a brand?

I’d say start small, and start simple. Start at the heart of your business (your products or service), and get them sorted before anything else. There’s no point creating a brand around something that’s unlikely to sell! Once you’re there, start small. Figure out what you want to call yourself and if you can’t invest in a logo from a designer, use a nice font and keep it text only. Select some colours (check out for lovely palettes) and use the same colours and fonts across all your visually branded items. Write yourself a mini mission statement - What does your business stand for? What won’t you compromise on? Who are you selling to? - and remember that while doing anything in your business.

What three things do you think every brand should have?

  • A strong sense of identity (you don’t have to look the part just yet, but you should damn well know who you are).
  • A clear idea of who they’re serving (because if you don’t know who you’re selling to, how’re you gonna sell to them?).
  • A willingness to continually refine and tweak (your brand will evolve as it grows, which is great! You just need to keep refining your message and making your brand even stronger as you go).

Do you have any good tips for creators to keep them from getting stuck comparing themselves to others?

Man, it’s hard. Especially with a 24/7 social media feed of what everyone else is doing. But you just need to remember this, there’s enough room out there for everyone. More than enough room! Keep your head down, create awesome work, and bring your customers what they want.

What would your advice be to help keep a brand fresh and current?

I don’t think I’d want to keep a brand fresh and current - that sounds like constant hard work and a sure fire way of diluting your brand message! Instead, my advice would be to keep your brand strong and adventurous. Keep communicating with your customers and fans, find out what they’re doing, what they’re digging, and what’s troubling them. Work out how you can help them, what you can make for them, and what they’d love for you to do. Don’t focus too heavily on trends, you should be a trend leader, not a follower.

What do you think are the best ways to stop your work being too heavily influenced by others?

I think you need to look at work outside of your niche, I make perspex laser cut jewellery so I always avoid looking toooo hard at other people who make the same. I get my inspiration from artists working in other mediums, using completely different techniques and different styles. One of the best books I’ve ever read on this subject is the short book “Steal like an Artist” by Austion Kleon, I heartily recommend it!

What are your top three things you think everyone should do after reading this to improve their own businesses branding?

  • Work out and write down your brand message, what do you stand for? How do you translate this into your business?
  • Refine your visual brand, if you’re using a million different colours and typefaces, DON’T.
  • Figure out who you’re selling to, once you’ve done this you can tailor all your branding to that particular group of people.

Lastly, a question we get asked a lot here, do you have any tips for gaining a genuine and engaged following?
Communication, communication, communication! Talk to people who comment on your posts, Instagram and who message you on twitter. Getting an engaged following is a two-way street, find your customers on Instagram or twitter and pop them a quick message!

Thank you so much Kim for all that amazing advice, I feel that there are so many tips in there for new and seasoned creatives alike. 

Head over and show Kim some love over on her Instagram, twitter and check out Kim Lawler Creative for lots more creative business advice. Then head over and lust after her jewellery at her website, seriously yummy stuff over there!

Don't forget to stick with us for the rest of the month for more amazing makes and advice from a brilliant bunch of creative folks. Is there anything else business related you would be interested in us talking about here? Let us know in the comments below.

Sammy and H

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