Lovely FAQs and Advice: Branding for Your Business

Lately I’ve been receiving quite a few emails from readers asking questions beyond wedding planning and in to other aspects of life, specifically focused on starting your own business. One topic that comes up frequently is branding; how to decide on branding, how to determine what is best for you, and how to go about getting your branding put together. Now of course I am no expert, but as hindsight is always 20/20, I wanted to give you a little advice based on first-hand experience. Here goes…

Stay True To You
Whether you are starting your own hot dog stand, wedding/event design company, or just need something for your blog, always remember to stay true to who you are. Your clients/customers/readers want to know about you, because after all, you are selling yourself first. When thinking about branding, think about yourself - what are your likes/dislikes/personality traits or favorite things/colors/activities, etc? Keep these things in mind when you are trying to come up with your own branding. Your brand should feel like a second home; something comfortable that represents who you are as a person, and something that makes others think of you.

Find the Right Design Partner
It is OK to interview several different design companies, if you are going to hire someone to make your logo. This is going to be your baby, so you should find someone who shares your passion, understands you, and will create a perfect representation of your company. Know that if you want a logo that is not made from a stock image that can be purchased online (stock images are perfectly fine, by the way, if that’s what you’re going for), you need to specifically request custom illustration. This means that your designer will hand draw your logo, something that was important to me. You should be able to feel comfortable asking your designer for revisions, telling them if you don’t like something, but be able to clearly explain what kind of changes you need. You should also read carefully through your contract to be very clear on how many hours are budgeted for your logo, and know that if you are doing custom illustration, you will likely be spending a bit more time and money. When I hired the designer who ended up creating my final logo, I found this information to be really helpful to ensure I was asking for the right thing, and we were both on the same page from the get-go.

one of the many rounds of design options from my final designer, Courtney Talbot

Do Your Homework
Contrary to what you might think, the wedding industry is pretty small. Chevron, bunting, flowers, muted colors, ruffles and lace are things we come across often, which is perfectly fine (and makes things oh-so-pretty to look at). But do your homework: see what else is out there, and make sure no one else has the same logo as you. Don’t rely on your designers to do this if you have only hired them to make your logo. If you are hiring a marketing team for full company branding, they should be researching this, but it is always safe to double check. You should do the competitive intelligence on your end to make sure that you stick out from the crowd, and you don’t look too much like someone else. Do the same when you are searching for your company name - google will be your best friend in this instance, before you order your lovely little business cards and arrange for your LLC, if applicable.

Stick To Your Guns
I learned early in the game that you will always have people challenging you and your thinking, but if you stick with your guns, you will prevail and end up with what was meant to be. When I was starting out, I considered using my name for my business, but was initially told that my married name was not as “appealing” as my maiden name, and it would not be a good brand image. Nice, right? Here I was, uncertain about whether I was even going to change my name, and now I was being told that my new name wasn’t very “attractive”? Awesome. I was also told that some of the things I wanted {the mason jar, the four-leaf clover (read About)}; basically the things that best represented me were not good for branding, and I was made to feel silly for even thinking of such things. My first round of branding was something I was not necessarily comfortable with, but at that point, I felt I needed to settle with because it had taken so much time and I felt like I was being difficult. In the end, fate intervened and I wound up hiring a new designer to I end up where I am today, with something I love and something that is very me. Long story short, do not ever let anyone push you when it comes to your branding, but do take designers advice with a grain of salt, as they might have insight based on their own experience. Remember that your branding is going to represent you and your company, therefore you want to be 100% satisfied and comfortable with the end result. Take all the time you need to make sure it is what you want, and listen to your instincts - they will lead the way to your final product.

Think Ahead
I learned from others how important it is to make your branding a part of who you are, and think ahead a few years down the road to ensure your brand is timeless. It is less about the pantone color of the year and current trends and more about what will last, but also know that a few years down the line it is always OK to refresh and revamp your style as needed. Think about those logos that have survived over the years, and are universally known by all - what makes these logos stand out? Their simplicity and ability to trigger your memory through time. You want your branding to do the same. Side note: there is no way that I am comparing my lovely little mason logo to these, but I’m just trying to make a point on this one :)

Think Beyond The Logo {Make it Memorable}
With all the blogs that I read and wedding prettiness I come across through other wedding designers, etc., there is one thing that makes me think “wow, they really nailed it”, and that is when I see something offline that makes me think of them. If I see a light-filled image that makes me think of a specific photographer, or a certain colored shoe that makes me think of a specific event designer, this means that those individuals have succeeded in their branding because long after I’ve visited their website, I am still reminded of them in my daily routine. I get lots of lovely emails each week with “I saw this mason jar and thought of you” and that makes me happy, because it means that a) the mason jar is still kickin’ and b) my branding made an impact. I try to take my branding beyond the logo by posting Mason Jar Sundays, and incorporating my branding colors in to my attire for events (and my everyday office gear). When I come across a pretty LLD-colored bag or cute pair of sandals in that perfect shade of turquoisey-teal, I am immediately drawn to them (and sometimes have to restrain myself from buying on the spot). When you find yourself wanting to represent your brand when the workday is over, you know you have come up with something that is perfectly suited to you and your biz. And even better, when your customers/clients/readers find things that make them think of you, you know you your branding was successful.

Strength in Numbers
Lastly, pat yourself on the back because you are going for it, throwing fear of failure out the window and taking a leap of faith to make your dreams come true. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: life is short but sweet for certain (thanks DMB), so what are you waiting for? You only live once. So what if you jump and fall? At least you can say you took the leap. Good for you. You can do it. Remember that there are others out there who are going through the same thing, and it is OK to ask for help/advice/insight/feedback along the way. Ask friends/colleagues for their thoughts on first-round logo drafts but remember that your gut will have the final say. And of course you will have this mason jar loving chick behind you all the way to push you along if you need it. If you ever have any questions or just need someone to remind you that you are awesome, feel free to drop me a line!

Happy Monday, lovelies!

  • Kismet says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    This article has come to me at the right time! I cannot tell you how confused I am! This has been real helpful! Thank you:)

  • lucinda says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    Perfectly written Jacin!!!!

  • Claire says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    This is such a great post Jacin, thank you!!

  • Kewain Scott says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    Every word is so right! I had to hire someone else to design my logo and I went through the sleepless nights of if I choose the wrong name and then friends didn’t like what I liked so I second guessed myself. Though I appreciate their opinion this is my baby and I must be the one confident enought to promote the logo and it can not be done unless you fully believe in it yourself! Every wall just made me want to climb harder though - in the end some people have the dream and not the guts (thank you Kurt on Glee for singing this song) but they want to critique other people dreams. So ladies don’t give up - if one idea doesn’t work scratch it off the list and try the next.

  • Lisa says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    What a great post! It’s so interesting and helpful to get your insight on something you’ve obviously been very successful with! Hope you had a great weekend :)

  • Greer Loves says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    Great advice. Fun to see the design evolution of your own logo!

  • Koru Kate says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    What a lovely post with sound advice, Jacin! I’m long past the branding stage but I love that you wear your branding color to events. I’ve never thought of that before & I’m going to start doing the same. It’s the little things that count :-)

    For those just starting out, best wishes! You CAN do it!!!

  • DearSarah says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    Great advice and tips! Thanks so much for sharing. :)


  • alicia@Charitywedding says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    Excellent advice!! At some point I want to do a little revamping and I will definitely refer to this post!

  • HiLLjO says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    I enjoy the personal branding info you share. You’ve been there; I listen!!! I’m currently branding HiLLjO for Sock Monkeys since I make them and people tell me they think of me when they see them. I LIVE my brand by driving a beetle, making my clothes/accessories, always being HiLLjO, etc.
    If only we were all so lucky to come to mind at the sight of a beautiful yet simplistic mason jar. You definitely have it goin’ on, Jacin!

  • Paloma says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    thank you for writing this jacin! i am considering updates in the near future and this type of honest, open dialogue on branding is exactly what i needed to read

  • Anni says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    Great post, Jacin! I really struggle with this, because I definitely covet some of the “higher end” branding companies/concepts out there, and I have a hard time “budget branding” - this was really helpful to read though! And I adore your mason jar. :)

  • Naomi says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    Lessons learned!

  • Sarah says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    So A) What the hell is wrong with Fitzgerald? Jacin Fitzgerald works really well as a name!
    B) I love that you love your colours so much
    C) Thank you for sharing this. I love when more experienced people share their experience with the rest of us mere mortals!

  • Jenna says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    I love you sample logos… you did good picking the right one. This is a very helpful post1 Thanks so much for sharing

  • bijouxbride says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    Such great advice! I am working on all the little details to work with the logo on my blog and will be checking back to your post to make sure I consider all your points when designing them!

  • Lena says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    This is AMAZING, and exactly what I needed to hear right now. I’m starting the very exciting but totally nerve wracking process of a big ol’ redesign, and every once in a while I need someone to say, “Stick to your guns, Lena!”

  • Em says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    preach it, girl. preach it.

  • Claire - English Wedding blog says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    A brilliant and inspiring blog post - and so, so right about the importance of branding a wedding business.

    I love the ‘stick to your guns’ section.

    Claire xx

  • jillian says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    wow! so many fantastics tips. im bookmarking this page :) xoxo jillian:: enter in TWO GIVEAWAYS over at cornflake dreams

  • Steph {bubblerock} says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    Stick to your guns and think about the future (timeless brand): thanks Jacin. You rock!

  • erin mcginn says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    This is awesome advice Jacin, thank you :)

  • Krystal/Village says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    this was so informative and well written! it’s an amazing resource!

  • Nikki {Perpetually Engaged} says on June 6, 2011 Reply

    Love the last piece. I need to throw caution to the wind. Now I need some caution and wind.

  • rabbia says on June 7, 2011 Reply

    perfect timing, im just thinking about branding, great read!! thank you!

  • Lane says on June 7, 2011 Reply

    Great advice. My blog needs work in the branding section. I just don’t have the time to devout to it now.

  • Stephanie U. {Preppy Chic} says on June 7, 2011 Reply

    Thank you SO much for this Jacin. I just got back from engage!11 and learned all about branding from people like Lara Casey, Jasmine Star, Sean Low, etc… and they made me really rethink where I’m going with my brand… however, I’ve been over-thinking it so much that I feel EXACTLY like you did in “sticking to your guns.” Many people keep telling me ~ “Preppy Chic Events isn’t a great name b/c it’s narrowing your customer base and it’s too ‘cutesy’… instead maybe use your name, but not your last name b/c Uchima is too hard to pronounce.” ahhh… but I LOVED that you just inspired me to really think about what represents me and what my branding should be. Jacin you’re awesome!!!

  • jennie says on June 8, 2011 Reply

    well said! good for you for putting your experiences (good and bad!) out there! Together, we can all help each other by sharing our lessons learned. Thank you for your candidness! xoxo

  • Dancy says on June 8, 2011 Reply

    LOL I remember when you were going through all those different logos. I still don’t know how you picked just one! And I still like the shamrock one too :)

  • erin * sparkle & hay says on June 8, 2011 Reply

    SUCH good advice!!! i love your mason! :)

  • Jessica says on June 9, 2011 Reply

    I read this on Monday and then re-read today.. thank you so much for this post! As someone who is currently in the middle of being ‘branded’ it helped.so.much. Love hearing the perspective from someone who has already gone through it all, and to be reminded to stay true to who you are!

    Ps. Just a side note - love your brand. Every time I see mason jars you come to mind! And jam ;)

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