One of the questions I'm asked the most, is "Can we use this particular pattern or texture within my brand?", Or "How about we go for this kind of style for the logo?".

When I get asked this question, particularly before we've done any of the groundwork and foundation-building for your brand, I tend to sit down with my clients and ask them a question in return: "WHY do you want to use this pattern, or create this style of logo?"

You see, most of the time these sorts of styles tend to be something that you're seeing elsewhere or online at the moment. For example, one of the biggest trends of the moment is an abstract-style painted texture. It's not to say that these sorts of textures aren't beautiful – because most of them are! But if the reason that you're choosing these is because you’re seeing the design style around and you like it? I'm sorry to say that your brand visuals and design will not last for the long term.

Why Design Trends are a Bad Thing

The problem with design trends is just that: they are a trend. Trends come and go over time, and if you create a brand brand design style that is purposely fitting in with a particular trend then as soon as that trend is over and no longer fashionable, then your brand will soon look outdated and unfashionable itself.

The other reason that trends are bad when it comes to designing your brand is that you are often basing the visual style for your brand on your own personal preferences. Instead, you should be creating brand visuals and styles that help you to connect with your ideal audience, reflect your values and personality, and make clever use of design theory to craft brand foundation and style with real intention and purpose behind it.

How Design Trends can Impact your Business Long-Term

Using design trends as inspiration can be useful. You can get a feel for where the market is heading in terms of visual style and what works with real audiences. After all, trends are a trend for a reason.

However, using design trends as your main source of inspiration for your brand visuals and styles can also be harmful to your business in another way. The more businesses that create brands that blindly follow trends, the more these businesses blend together. You can no longer stand out from the crowd because your visual style (and therefore your brand and your business) looks just like everybody else's does. I bet you don't have to look far to find a gold (or some other 'precious metal') texture used in someone's brand, or an editorial style serif typeface.

And where does that leave you? Well for one thing, it makes it incredibly hard for you to differentiate yourself. Let's also link back to your values. Let's say that one of your values is ‘being unique’, because you create incredibly intricate and unique cake designs for your customers. If your brand is looking like everybody else's, you're not living your values out through your brand – because your brand looks like everybody else's.

This is why brand strategy and brand foundations matter. There's no point in diving straight into the visual part of your design, without first taking the time to establish your goals, figure out your vision and mission, and work out a way to weave all of this together with your brand visuals.

Consistency is more Important than being Fashionable

I also want to encourage you here. Creating a brand is hard work. Imagine having to do that every couple of years, which is what would happen if you followed design trend blindly when creating the visual style for your brand.

One of the most important pillars of any brand – from your foundations through to your visuals – is consistency. Consistency breeds familiarity. If you want to redesign your brand every couple of years, your audience would only become confused.

By taking the time to properly consider what your brand should be on all levels, you're going to create a more consistent feel, style, and tone to your brand. And this ripples out into your business at large as well. Because by choosing to focus less on what is popular in the world right now, and being a little bit more introspective and figuring out the real nitty-gritty of your brand, you can craft a brand that is built to last.

What you can do instead of following Design Trends

Now don't worry, I'm not gonna leave you high and dry. Here are a few tips of things you can do instead of following design trends in your business and brand. These are things that you can either do yourself, or you can work with your designer on to weave into your brand.

#1 - Figure out your Core Values.

First of all, you need to figure out what your core values are. These can be both values for yourself or for your brand. As an online business owner, it's more than likely that you are your brand. Your customers or audience by into who you are as a person, and how you present yourself in your business. By figuring out your core values you can make sure that these are weaved into every single aspect of your brand, from the brand foundations all the way up to your brand visuals, and the content that you put out into the world.

#2 - Review your Vision + Mission.

You also want to review your vision and mission. These are two of the core aspects of your brand foundation that will help you to create a more sustainable business in the long run, because you're always going to have this vision and mission that shape what you do and the decisions that you make.

#3 - Use Design Theory to your advantage.

Finally, you can use design theory to help you shape the visual brand that you want to create. For example, learn more about colour theory and how the colours you choose will impact the way the audience interacting with your brand will feel. For example, it might be that one of your values is calmness, in which case it is unlikely that you will use colours that are more energetic in feel and nature.

By using these three tips, you can shape how your brand appears visually, as well as how your audience will feel when they interact with it. From that point, you can make decisions on your visual brand that unless design trend led and are instead based on the feelings, values, and theory that is most relative to your own journey.

Connecting with your audience online can sometimes feel like a momentous task. And how do you know how much of your story to share? I know that over the years, particularly when I’ve come to share more vulnerable parts of my story, I’ve asked myself questions like…

But the answer I always come back to is this: your story matters. And people need to hear your story.

Where your Story fits into your Brand

Creating your core brand message is one of the most foundational aspects of your brand. The way I love to do this for myself, and with my branding clients, is by using your story to help shape your message.

There’s huge power in the story that brought you from where you were, to where you are now. There’s a reason behind what you do and that reason is one of the things that powers you to move forward and take action.

But your story is also a unique way of connecting more deeply with your audience and building a stronger brand. Nobody has had the unique set of circumstances and events that have led you to this place - nobody. So by figuring out what your story is, you have a unique advantage over those that don’t.

Brand Messaging vs Your Story: Which matters most?

When I talk about ‘your story’, I am also talking about your brand messaging. I believe that you can’t craft a brand message that will help you to stand out from your competitors in your line of work without your story. You simply can’t have one thing without the other.

That said, here’s a description of both to help you:

Your Brand Message

Your brand message is everything that connects your audience to your brand. It’s weaved through from the content on your website, how you speak + write on social media, through to the emotions and feelings that your brand visuals evoke 

At its core, your brand message will connect everything you create for your brand.

Your Story

Your story is the meaning behind your brand message. It’s the narrative that is the foundation of your brand message, and also your brand mission and vision. 

At its core, your story is what helps connect the dots behind the ‘why’ of what you do.

My Story: A Tale of Twists and Turns and Enough-ness

My story begins when I was a kid: I was at college (in the UK our equivalent to US College is University - this was in the two years before that) about to turn 17, and I had had enough. I was doing terribly by all statistical standards - failing to get good grades in the majority of my classes and exams.

I remember during one particular exam that I sat there and cried for almost all of the 90 minutes. I wrote my name on the paper, tried my best to answer some of the questions, and felt like a total and utter failure.

I ended up dropping out of that college after my first year - and found myself being accepted onto a vocational course, a HND (the equivalent of the first two years of a degree here in the UK) all about interactive media and design. I was accepted a year early as it was an adults-only course, and I was 17, by exception of the exam board that the course was marked under.

It was at this point that I realised there was somewhere for me in the world - somewhere that my creativity and weirdness and uniqueness mattered.

It wasn’t until years and years later - in fact only recently - that I felt like I had found a place that I truly fit in. And to be quite honest, most of the time I’ve had to create that feeling and place of acceptance within myself first and foremost, and then create or join communities that reflect that after.

But the journey to that place wasn’t easy.

I started my own business when I was 22 - at the time of writing, I’ve just turned 29 and my 7-year biz anniversary is coming up in September, just a few short months away.

But around 18 months before I started working for myself, I was diagnosed with a condition called Hypermobility Syndrome, often known at the time as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type III. There’s been a whole lot of hoo-haa recently about reclassification of the condition itself, but in a nutshell: I suffer with a connective tissue disorder that causes me intense chronic pain, every single moment of every day - it’s rare that I have a moment without some sort of pain, in some part of my body. The condition affects everybody differently, but I also suffer from chronic fatigue due to the slack my muscles take up that my connective tissue should be doing. I also have many subluxations today - and in fact, it was only working with my most recent physio that has helped me realise just how many I suffer with on a daily basis.

I’m not saying this for sympathy: but it is a part of my story. It’s one of the reasons I now work for myself - not only because it’s easier on my body, but also because it’s incredibly hard to work for people when they don’t understand, care or respect disability and disabled people. It’s also a part of my daily life, so it’s not something I now feel that I should - or want - to hide.

But the main point of me telling you all of this is: several years ago, heck - maybe even a year ago - I would never had posted all of this, let alone popped it into a blog post.

Because it was a part of my story that brought me shame, and that made me feel ‘less than’.

But it is my story - and mine to choose to share, if I want to. I have been shamed, scolded and told that I shouldn’t share about my condition and disability in my business because “people won’t want to work with you” or “people will think you’re unreliable” - and my answer to that is: those are not my people...and I don’t want to work with anyone that is not my people.

But my chronic illness led me to the work that I am doing today - specifically with branding. I was so ashamed about my chronic illness that for many years of running my business I did hide it from the world. Only my closest friends and family knew the daily impact, while many people knew of my condition but not the daily struggles.

But living that double life was intense, and hard, and exhausting. It was only going through my own journey of uncovering why I held onto this shame, and why I allowed other people to keep me small and not share my truth, that I discovered that many, many others feel this way too. And many others struggle with how to embrace what makes them truly special (spoiler alrt: it’s you, as you are, right now) and show up as the incredible person they already are in their brand and business.

It was only through doing the work myself to uncover what truly mattered about me that I was able to see how much others need my work. How much they need to embrace every single part of themselves - from the parts they don’t like, the parts that others have told them they don’t like, to the parts they love - to become a whole person with a business that’s built on the foundation of their values, their incredible personality, and their STORY.

Because your story matters - more than you might think. Your story, your experiences, and the combination of all of this is what makes YOU unique. It’s what makes what you have to offer to the world unique. And it’s what will help you to distinguish yourself from others that do what you do - and the world needs you and your work so, so badly.

Your action steps:

If this article resonated with you, I want you to grab a pen and piece of paper (or a simple note taking app on your phone or computer will do), and map out the following:

Once you’ve answered those questions, start to review your answers. Look for any patterns you can see, and see if you can start to weave together a timeline of your journey from where it began, to where you are now.

Look for the moments that were catalysts - the moments that signalled the beginning or end of something. Maybe you had an illness or period of burnout that helped you switch everything around (I landed myself in hospital due to burnout twice in 2 years - but that’s a story for another day!), or maybe simply having children motivated you to make your business a success.

Even if you’re in the messy middle, and don’t feel like you’ve got it all figured yet...that’s okay. So many of us are right there with you - or we have been before.

The thing you need to remember is: your story MATTERS. And the reason it matters is because someone out there needs to hear you and what you’ve got to say. Remember - you might want to impact hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of people! - but your story matters to one person.

And one person at a time, your story can help change the world.

The most unusual part of my branding process is something that often stumps my clients - until they see it in practice. I'm always asked: how can you take something as abstract as brand values and turn that into a complete brand design and system? How can I create brand visuals that feel authentic to me? Here’s how.

Look for Patterns in your Core Values

Whenever I review a client questionnaire, the first thing I do is start looking for patterns. I’m obsessed with patterns - from visual patterns through to number patterns, date patterns, angel numbers. You name it - if it’s a pattern, I’m bound to notice it or seek it out.

But when you’re looking for patterns in your core values and brand questionnaires, the key thing to look for is feelings and emotions.

Visuals are highly emotive - they can make or break a brand, let alone a blog post. Use the wrong image to reflect a specific part of your work and you can create a whole different feel to what it is you’re trying to say. That old saying of ‘a picture speaks a 1000 words’ is absolutely correct - and I want to prove it to you.

Hop over to Unsplash and search for the word ‘emotion’.

A screenshot of the Unsplash stock photo website displaying three photos that each relate to the word 'emotion': a young girl looking cheeky, a brightly coloured wall + person with balloons; and a double-exposure of a woman looking introspective.

So let's look at the results. At the time of writing in the first three results alone there’s: a young child looking a little cheeky; a bright wall and person with a whole host of happy looking balloons; and a double-exposure style photo of a woman appearing lost in her thoughts. Each of these photos are direct results of the word ‘emotion’ - but each photo illustrates a different emotion.

The same should happen with your brand visuals.

Every brand visual should be working in harmony to build a visual picture of your brand that reflects the feelings and emotions of your brand, and what you want your brand to say.

If one of your core values and emotions is positivity, don’t go for gloomy, blue and dark style photographs. And if one of your core values is reflection, having incredibly bright, positive photos doesn’t match that feeling either.

Now I’m a walking contradiction (and happy to be one!) so sometimes I like to mix and match. Plus, adding a fun element of surprise to your work and visuals can also be fun. But make sure you’re not going too far ‘out there’ and create visuals that work together, rather than driving your brand apart.

Ask yourself: how do my brand values feed into my brand's visual style?

This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. On a practical note, one of my favourite ways to do this is to crack out a good old mind map.

Mind maps are one of my favourite techniques because (and this is one of my favourite terms I use EVER) - you can fart it all out. Just brain fart (or brain ‘dump’ - but fart sounds way more fun, let’s be honest) all of the ideas out. Don’t filter yourself, but put your core value in the middle and dump ALL THE THINGS onto the page around it. Again, don’t filter yourself here - you can always tidy up the mind map later on. What you want to do here is start building out other words you associate with the value itself. You can even add visual styles that you think might work well with your brand.

A screenshot of a mind-map, showing a brand value in the centre and several branches off the mind-map that are attributes or related emotions or feelings to the original value.

Once you’re done, start cross-checking your mind-map list with the feelings and emotions you want to evoke through your brand. Do any of these words match up with that? Do they feel like a good fit?

If they do, then start to make a list of the words.

Here are some examples below.

How your Visuals match with your Values

If you want your brand to inspire and be a positive beacon for people, you might consider having:

If you want your brand to have a calming, soothing feel, you might consider having:

And if you want your brand to reflect your active attitude and sporty nature, you might consider having: 

Do you see how you can start to weave these elements in to your visual brand and style?

The key here isn’t to necessarily be ACTUALLY designing your brand at this point - you’re instead getting crystal clear on the exact things you NEED from your brand and visual brand style.

You can then use this yourself if you’re confident enough in branding your business, or you can hand it off to a designer - but you can have clarity on exactly what you brand NEEDS to evoke and look like visually, not just based off your own visual style and preferences.

And that’s what makes a difference between any old brand design, and a brand design with purpose. Because you’re designing and building the brand foundations that will help you to help achieve your goals and grow your business to a whole new level - all with clarity, confidence, and a whole lotta intention.

When you think about branding, what do you think of first? A logo design? A colour scheme? A tagline? Any, all, or none of the above? Well all of these are great and are, of course, integral to your brand. But branding is so much more than that. And I believe that the most important thing to start with is to establish your mission and vision.

What’s the difference between your mission and your vision?

I want to preface this by saying that what I have here is what _I_ believe your vision and mission are, in terms of branding your business. First of all, I believe that one builds on top of the other. For example, you can’t have a larger vision for your work without knowing the mission.

The reason for that is because your mission is like the nuts + bolts of what helps you to build up to your vision - which is like the final, larger, big-picture image of what you hope to achieve.

In short:

Your mission is the HOW.

Your vision is the WHY.

Your mission is often described as a ‘mission statement’ in the more Corporate world. It sets out what your business aims to do, and how you aim to do it.

But your vision goes one step further than that. Your vision is about the WHY behind what you do.

Because your vision is such a large, big-picture thinking style of statement, it makes sense that you can use your mission almost as a visioning tool, to help you figure out what that larger vision should be.

For example, here is my own mission:

To empower every creative entrepreneur to brand their business authentically, aligned to their core values, mission + vision, through my unique tools and methodologies.

And here is how my vision builds upon that:

To encourage + empower business owners to realise their unique superpowers and create more impact through their work.

Let’s break them down a little bit.

Part of my mission on this earth is to help empower other creative entrepreneur folks like myself to brand their business more authentically. And I want them to do that by aligning their business + brand with their core values, their mission, and their vision.

But my vision goes one step further than that. My vision is that I want to empower every single business owner to realise that their unique blend of superpowers and skills are what set them apart - and for them to realise they’re good enough to do what they want to do, no matter what. And I want more people to be positively impacted in the world, which I believe can happen when we believe in ourselves.

Do you see how they build on each other? Your mission feeds directly into your vision. And your mission has the power to help you dream up that larger vision that’s at play for how you create, what you create, and ALL that you create in the future.

How to Create your Mission

When it comes to creating your mission, there are a few questions I like to ask myself:

And then I review those answers, and look a little deeper inside...look for any patterns. Notice any words that give you that fuzzy feeling, or that intuitive kick or gut feeling that make you feel good, and that feel right.

Then, try to fit them into the following recipe:

My mission is TO _________________

BY _________________

Let me give you a few examples.

Examples of your mission statement:

Maybe you’re a financial planner - your mission might look something like this:

My mission is TO create more wealth among women BY empowering them to manage their own financial growth.

Or maybe you’re passionate about helping older generations learn new skills, in which case your mission might be:

My mission is TO empower older generations to learn new skills BY making learning accessible to everyone no matter their age.

How to Create, Develop + Hone your Vision

Okay, so we’ve got our mission. But how do we then figure out what our vision is for our work?

Well, first of all - I want to ask you to close your eyes. Obviously have a read of this next paragraph first - but then, close those eyes of yours. Turn on some music that inspires you. That motivates you. That clears your mind. Get into the zone, and take a few deep breaths.

You see, I’m a believer that you need to be in this relaxed, calm, clear mental headspace to be able to start to DREAM about your work.

Because whereas our mission is more of a practical exercise to work through, that we can develop over time, our vision is not only supported by our mission...but it’s the WHOLE reason behind what we do.

Once you’ve taken the time to get into that mental headspace, start to slowly dream about ideas for your work. What would you do if you had no limits? On money, time, your energy? If you could achieve anything with your work, what would that look like? Who would you help? What would you be doing? How + WHY would you be doing it?

Let these questions almost merge and float around in your head until you feel some dreams forming. THESE are what will start to inform your vision.

Once these dreams have started to come to life, see what you can do to put them together into a statement that shares this dream and vision for your work.

Examples of vision statements:

Going back to our earlier examples, the vision for the financial planner might be:

To create a world where more women are financially independent and able to manage their finances, helping them to live an independent, courageous life.

And the vision for the next might be:

To create accessible tools + methodologies that support and empower the older generation to realise and develop their own learning skills, even if they feel they’re ‘past it’.

Do you see how both of these vision statements build on their missions?

Not only does the financial planner want to help her clients create more wealth, her vision is for a world where women have more financial independence and can in turn live a more independent and courageous life as a result of that work.

And the educator that wants to help older generations doesn’t want to do it simply to teach them skills, but to also show them that they are capable even when they feel like they’re not.

Amplifying your Mission and Vision

Going back to my own mission and vision:

To empower every creative entrepreneur to brand their business authentically, aligned to their core values, mission + vision, through my unique tools and methodologies.

To encourage + empower business owners to realise their unique superpowers and create more impact through their work.

Can you see how my own vision builds upon my mission?

Whereas my mission statement is about practical empowerment, to help every business owner brand their business in an authentic way…

...my VISION is about that empowerment transforming the way that my people see themselves after realising their own unique superpowers.

My vision goes one step further than my mission, and is more about the inner transformations that I know my work can create and almost instigate in my clients and my audience.

In the same way, your vision should be a reflection of your mission - yet amplified.

Why your Mission and Vision even Matter

The reason I believe your mission and vision matter is for one reason, and one reason only: they help inform every single thing you do in the future.

They can aid you as a decision making tool (just like your core values). They can help give you direction on what to work on next. They can help you to say no to more things, if they don’t align with the larger vision that you have for your work.

They help you to live out your life + business in a way that creates more impact, because everything you do helps focus on what will truly make a difference and help you to achieve the mission + vision you have for your work.

So when it comes to developing your mission + vision, just remember this: your mission comes first, and your vision comes second. Take half an hour over the next week to develop your mission statement and dream of the vision for your work - I promise, it won’t ever be time wasted.

Look anywhere online, and you’ll find that you’re given ALL the advice on branding your business the "right" way - but how do you know what to believe? Well I’m gonna tell you that the one + only person you need to trust is YOURSELF. And the reason why comes down to one thing: your brand values.

We are so often told the way we should do something in our online business: have a funnel; don’t have a funnel. Do video - no, do a podcast! Create an online course - oh, but first, have a sell-out service. Do you get the gist? It’s tiring - and quite frankly, following the advice of others instead of listening to your own intuition doesn't work. Doing that led to the worst period in my business in terms of sales + growth than I'd had for a long time.

So why do brand values matter so much when branding your business?

Your values can become an incredibly useful decision making tool in your business. Along with your intuition, your values are there to help guide you along the path that feels most right and aligned TO YOU - and nobody else.

Values matter because they are a reflection of who we are, but also who we strive to be. They impact the choices we make, the things we create, and link deeply into our purpose - our reason for doing what we do.

But values also matter because they can become a guiding light that helps our audience connect with us. Make choices and decisions based around aligning your actions with what you value. When you do that, you’re instantly going to attract the people that resonate with those values the most.

How to figure out your Brand Values

When it comes to the nitty gritty of actually figuring out your brand values, I like to ask myself a few questions:

These questions - but most importantly, your answers - are what will help to discover what your values are.  Review your answers, and look for any patterns that stand out. Also make note of any powerful words or phrases that make you feel good. That feel aligned to the person you are, the business you want to create, and how you want your audience to feel.

You might have to ask yourself the questions multiple times to get to the heart of what you’re creating. And that’s okay - that’s a part of the process!

Examples of Brand Values

I hesitate to include a list of values here as it's easy to try fitting your values into what someone else says they should be. Discovering your values is a process that is incredibly unique to you, who you are and who you want to be. It shouldn't be something that you are inspired by someone else to create.

The meaning of our values can also differ from person to person, even with the same ‘value’. Values are words, at the end of the day. It’s what we do with them, and the meanings we attach to them, that make them our own.

An example using my own brand values:

One of my own values is to ‘be the light’, and another is ‘share your pain’. At first glance, these might seem completely contradictory. However, when I explain the meanings that _I_ have attached to them, they become much clearer.

‘Share your pain’ means to share all that comes my way in life, both good and bad. It also means to not hide behind a mask, or share only my highlight reel in life. The reason for that is because of the years I spent hiding my chronic illness from the world, particularly in my business. This was due to the fear that I had of showing my real self in case of criticism. But ‘be the light’ means to also be a positive voice for change, and to show an example of what a person with chronic illness can achieve, and do, and be.

The reason I have both of these values is to give me a constant reminder to be my most authentic self, no matter what. To remind myself to make sure that everything I do aligns with these values, and doesn’t stamp out my voice, and to show up as my most authentic self.

Can brand values change over time?

Controversial opinion time: YES, they absolutely can.

Many people will tell you that your values are a static thing and that they can’t change. I don’t think that line of thinking could be more wrong.

Have you changed or grown as a person over the years? Have you evolved, formed new opinions, created new friendships, lost others? Have you grown up, or relaxed more?

Yes, you have. And yes, you will continue to do so.

The same can be said for your values. My values have felt pretty solid and constant for the past year - but it took me several years to get to that point. Just like with your brand visuals and style, as YOU grow and evolve, so can your values.

So don’t let thinking that your values have to be this set-in-stone thing stop you from creating values now, and thinking that it has to be perfect. Simply create a set of values, and sit with them for a while. And if they need to change over time, then let them! You can pivot at any time that you need to.

How to use your brand values as a decision making tool in your business

Okay - so you have your set of brand values. Now, what do you do with them?

I like to think of my brand values as a decision making tool in both my business and my life. But how do I do this?

Well the answer is pretty easy. I simply filter every request, decision, or choice that I have to make through my values.

That might sound a little strange, but it looks something like this:

A request comes in to speak at an event. The theme looks great but they want me to speak on a topic I’m not fully comfortable with. They also don’t have a great track record on diversity and vulnerability.

This instantly becomes a no for me - because I’m not able to show up as my most authentic self, and I don’t feel like it’s helping me show up and truly share my pain and be a positive light. It also matters to me to build real community and connection wherever I go. Because of this event's track record of lack of diversity, it doesn't feel right or aligned to support an organisation like that.

Let’s give you another example:

A new client request comes in. The client is after a style that feels a little out of my comfort zone, but has similar values to me and I can tell they value creativity and the experience I can bring to the table.

This feels like a hell yes for me - despite the uncomfortable-ness of being pushed out of my comfort zone, this is an opportunity that aligns with my own beliefs and values.

So as you can see, it’s not quite as black and white as your values dictating exactly what you do. It involves you feeling into each opportunity and request that comes your way - and figuring out if these opportunities answer these three questions:

When I answer those questions, most of the time I have my answer.

And the times that I have ignored that answer, and gone against what my intuition is trying to tell me? Those are the times I’ve regretted it most in my business.

Remember: you have a responsibility to use your superpowers for good in this world. The world NEEDS your work, that much I know if you are reading this - so make sure that you create a set of values to help shape your brand and business into a powerhouse of goodness, and go out there and make a difference.

PS I'm going to be launching a very special digital product soon that I've been working on for the past few months. Sign up to my email list to be the first to know when it launches, and to receive email updates in the meantime!

When you run your own business, there are (let’s face it - MANY) times when you’ll go through a period of huge growth. That growth might feel uncomfortable, or it might be the thing you’ve been waiting to happen for what feels like years. Those periods of intense growth can be uncomfortable, can make you want to curl up into a ball and howl at how hard running a business truly is - but they are also an opportunity.

I had one of those growth spurts just a few months ago (followed by another two since then). The growth hasn’t always necessarily been in tangible ways that you can track - such as a spike in my email list size (though I had that at one point too) or a huge growth in my client base.

In fact, many of these growth spurts have been internal, that have happened to me, not in spite of me or what I am doing. One of these moments of growth helped me realise that I wasn’t walking my talk as much as I should be doing. I realised that I wasn’t showing all of my true self, in my business OR in my brand.

This was a huge realisation for me, as it’s something I quite happily preach (yep, I get all excited about it) to my clients + to everyone I get to speak to branding about.

I truly believe that your brand should be a full, unapologetic representation of you. Who you are, your values, your beliefs, your loves. It should be a visual insight into who you are, the message you want to share with the world + what matters most to you.

But was this what my own brand was doing? The short answer: No.

The long answer? My brand is great. It’s getting noticed where I want it to get noticed. I’m getting the attention I know that it deserves. I spent a lot of time + hard work on creating the visual brand that you see on this site, here, today.

But this brand is not a full representation of who I am and what I + my business stand for.

Sure, it shows my attention to detail, my love of colour + texture and it shows the prestige, polished side to my brand that I love. But there isn’t enough of ME.

And that I’ve been hiding is the crazy-pants, slightly cuckoo, full of laughter, smiling all the time kinda person. The person + business woman + designer that values creativity mixed with strategy.

My brand is missing the polished yet creative mess that is me.

And with that realisation, I knew that I needed to rebrand. While my current brand serves a purpose, it doesn’t let people really know what they’re in for when they come into contact with me - whether that’s through reaching out to me personally, following me on Twitter or Instagram or even working with me. At the moment, my brand feels like it is a façade and glosses over what truly matters to me.

So yes, my brand is now in the process of being updated. I’m going through that point that most designers will tell you exists - where you know what needs to change, you know how it needs to change, but now you need to find the time to just. do. it. (Nike have a point there, y'know).

Most of my clients come to me when they need a revamp of their current brand - it’s actually rare for me to create a new brand completely from scratch. When I look at the patterns from potential client calls, as well as my own experiences with this, I realised there are a few key reasons that come up time and time again that show you it’s time to rebrand your business:

1. You’re taking your business to the next level.

This is one of the most common signs I see when it comes to revamping your brand. But, if anything, this can sometimes be the worst time to rebrand your business (even though it’s probably needed). It all depends on how you handle this when it comes up.

Your business is evolving - and you know that your newfound clarity on your message + what you are here to do in the world doesn’t match up visually or mentally with your current brand. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll feel like you can’t do anything in this growing stage of your business until your new brand is launched.

The problem with this is that you are allowing your current brand to hold you back. I did this myself for around 1 whole month before I realised that my current brand is more than strong enough to stand up to the work I want to do, right now. It’s not exactly what I want it to be...right now. But it is more than capable of holding up the fortress while the new brand is being created.

The problem wasn’t my current brand - it was more about my own mindset to push through and get the work done, regardless of the outside circumstances. Once I realised how silly that was, I following through with the plans I had created, instead of putting things off and then making zero progress.

The key takeaway here: your business is growing, and that’s brilliant news! But don’t let your rebrand hold you back. Instead, use it to help educate you on what matters most to you in your business and keep moving forward.

2. You’ve already evolved your business and you feel like your brand doesn’t speak your language anymore.

This is one of the best times to rebrand your business or your offering. You’ve done all of the work to evolve + grow your business, yet you now feel stuck because your brand just doesn’t match up to the bigger vision you now have. Here, you have all of the pieces that you need - you just need to put them together.

When it comes to redesigning your brand at this stage, all you need to ensure is that your brand is growing WITH you. It’s important to note where you’re at right now, but where you want to be in the future. A truly powerful brand is one that provides a solid platform for your business that allows you to grow as and when you need to.

Key takeaway: By having your big picture vision for your business in place, you know what you need your brand to be capable of. Your brand should help you achieve your goals, not keep you stuck where you are now - or worse, behind where you should be.

3. Your current brand follows a lot of “design trends” or feels outdated.

Now I’ve been teasing a lot in the past couple of blog posts about design trends (think - glitter, gold textures, specific layout styles, and so on) - and I promise I’ll get to it soon. But a clear sign of you needing a rebrand is when your current brand follows a lot of design trends and doesn’t have its own clear identity.

Your business AND your brand both deserve to be unique. To be unapologetically you, in both your brand + business, you cannot have a brand that visually reflects styles of somebody else.

In the same way, if your brand followed design trends of the past, or is even simply a few years old (it happens!), it’s likely that business or brand is starting to feel visually tired and out of date.

Your brand deserves to have its own unique qualities - and it’s high time you need a rebrand if you are blindly following design trends instead of creating a brand + business that is truly, unapologetically you.

[Funny side note: This post is even more timely than I expected, with Instagram pushing out an update to their app + familiar icon just before I clicked publish. I’m in love with their new UI + although their app icon is a huge departure from their old one, the branding system they’ve created for Instagram and its sister apps (Hyperlapse, Boomerang and Layout) is divine. What wonderful timing as a great example!]

About Rachilli Creative Studio.

Rachilli is a creative studio dedicated to empowering every independent creative, business owner + small business to brand their business authentically, aligned to their core values, mission + vision.

We also want to empower other's with chronic illnesses to carve their own path and create a life + business that works for them, and to lead the way by creating a platform for, and being a voice alongside, those with chronic illness in business.

Rachel, the founder, is an award-winning designer + photographer, published logo designer + author, and is mama to two - slightly crazy - dogs, Storm + Jasper.

My Core Values.

Cultivating community through connection.

Embracing My natural flow in life + business.

Embracing my most authentic self, always.

Being courageously creative.

Creating with intention.

Sharing my pain.

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