Tag Archives: branding

Rock n Roll Bride: A Brand New Website & The Big Picture

Rock n Roll Bride Website

I am so happy for my good friend Kat Williams because after many long months of hard work, the brand new design of her wedding blog Rock n Roll Bride has launched!

This has been a huge labor of love and part of a string of projects we’ve been working on for two years now. Kat and I met through a mutual friend in 2010 and perhaps the most ironic part of our design relationship when we began working together is that I was completely clueless about weddings. COMPLETELY. At the time, I’d never bought a wedding magazine or read a wedding blog. Looking back, in a way being an outsider turned out to be a benefit because I wasn’t weighed down with expectations of how her brand should look.

Creating A Brand You Believe In Doesn’t Happen Overnight

When Kat approached me needing a rebrand for her business in 2010, the typical wedding finery didn’t particularly link up with what I had in mind for her. I thought she was much too badass with her pink hair, attitude and all to go down that road — and with a name like Rock n Roll Bride, I was way more inspired by one of the original sources for rock and roll news, Rolling Stone. My gut was to embody the the timeless, rock and roll vibe that they had but with a purposely feminine twist.

Rock n Roll Bride Website

Differentiation is Key

When creating a brand, while it’s important to do market research and see what’s out there, don’t be afraid to add that unique twist and think outside of the box. Instead of thinking about what makes you the same as your competition, ask yourself what makes you different. Early on, it might seem safe to do what your competition is doing when it comes to your branding in the hopes that you can ride on their coattails and get some of that recognition too but then you’ll just be second best. Remember that if a bunch of brands are put into a lineup, the one people will usually remember is the one that’s different from the rest. With Kat, the differentiation we created with her identity by doing less wedding and more rock and roll is what makes her stand out.

After the identity, we did new headers for her blog, a media kit for advertisers and then, we went a step further designing a 40 page print magazine for her to take to a wedding fair (1,000 copies flew out the door). All that was a great platform for where she saw her brand going but looking back, I didn’t think it was polished enough yet. After all, the wedding industry has high standards and deep pockets — there’s no denying that a tight, polished image plays a huge role in staying competitive.

Rock n Roll Bride Website

Rock n Roll Bride Website

Rock n Roll Bride Website

Rock n Roll Bride Magazine Issue #2, 2012

Momentum really built in early 2012 — I met Kat for the first time in February with a proof for her fully redesigned 80 page magazine inspired by Elle, W, O and Martha Stewart Weddings. I’d dug deep into my favorite fashion magazines (and finally a few wedding ones too!) and this was the turning point for her having a more refined image. Remember, her blog had been going strong for many years by this point. This branding evolution takes time!

Rock n Roll Bride Website

Rock n Roll Bride Website

Rock n Roll Bride Website

Digital Media Kit #2, 2012

Kat is relentless and I admire that about her. Once her print magazine was done and the site comps were delivered, she wanted me to redo her media kit to match the more grown-up, editorial feel of the mag. We finished that in the Fall. Finally, things had come full circle.

The Final Piece of the Puzzle: The Site Redesign

Rock n Roll Bride Website

Rocknrollbride.com, 2013

Kat’s website launch is the final piece of her brand revamp we’d been slowly chipping away at. We finally finished the site comps over the summer and in the the next few months, the deceptively simple looking design came to life. Kat’s husband Gareth does all the development (he’s my hero) and I know how hard he worked to make many of these features come to life. Even when I was building the layouts, there were many times where I said, “Are you SURE you want me to do this? I’ve never seen it done before!”

Rock n Roll Bride Website

One of the features I’m most excited about is the header area. When you visit Kat’s site, it’s all white with just her logo (see above). But, if you click into a wedding feature, the logo shifts upwards and the space reloads with an image of the bride. In this way, every featured bride becomes a cover girl! I also like the use of the drop caps (something we used throughout the print magazine).

Rock n Roll Bride Website

At the end of each wedding post is the Supporting Cast, also styled very similar to the magazine. I like that all of the resources are consistently called out in one spot. I’m sure this is a huge time saver for brides-to-be.

Rock n Roll Bride Website

Another interesting point is that Kat skipped over the usual sidebar fare. In an effort to make the site less about her and more focused on the weddings, she’s saved much of her personal content for an extended footer at the bottom, freeing up much of the sidebar for valuable advertising space. It’s an uncommon move but because her brand is so recognizable in the wedding blog niche, she’s able to take some chances.

In Closing

I’ve shared much of this in an effort to remind you that brands take time to build; nothing will be perfect overnight. Take time to let yourself evolve and invest in pieces of your collateral when you can. And, while it’s good to plan, that one project that comes out of left field may actually shape the way things go. At the time, we didn’t know that Kat’s print magazine would end up driving the way her blog and media kit looked. She was already established online but it took that fresh look at the offline to realize this was the way to go.

Kat has a successful brand now but it took years to build, piece by piece. This is often the reality. And that’s okay. Don’t wait for the perfect everything, perfection is a myth when it comes to branding. Instead, think of it as an ecosystem of interconnected pieces. It should shift, change and grow with you.

The Brand Audit Part 02

the brand audit

Photo by Lisa Devlin

In its most basic terms, a brand audit is an assessment of a brand’s strengths and weaknesses. When thinking about your own brand, it’s a two-way street. Ask yourself the following:

1. What’s the view from the inside out?

Are you actually coming across as who you say you are? How do YOU feel about your brand? Are you reaching the audience you’re hoping for? Is what you’re offering differentiated enough?

2. What’s the view from the outside in?

Who do your readers / customers think you are? What kind of feedback are you getting? Is there any sense of passion? Any sense of loyalty?

Here’s a challenge: gather up a solid mix of what you’ve sent out into the world over the last year. Take screen shots of your social media profiles. Of your bio page. Of your logo. A handful of blog posts. E-newsletters. Presentations. Gather up your collateral; business cards, stamps, stickers, products and so on. What does all this stuff convey about you and your branding? Is it consistent? Does is say what you want it to say?

What do you want your brand to stand for? This is your chance to move into action.

When it comes to my own brand, I had one key inconsistency between the online and off. While my name is Shauna, I often used a nickname online, Nubby. It was a holdover from when I was in high school — when I first made my way onto the internet in 1997, everyone I knew had a persona. Part of that was due to the fact that at that point, the world wide web was still a very big unknown. A lot of that mystery evaporated in the decade that followed but most noticeably, at least to me, with Facebook, where everyone is who they say they are (or at least we hope!) Now, with a constant internet connection on us all times, the online and offline have merged into the same reality. While I always valued having a distinct divide between the online and off, I’ve since realized that it’s all mashed together now and above all, I value consistency when it comes to myself, my brand and my business.

At the same time, over the last few months I’ve been doing a lot of growing beyond just Nubby Twiglet, my blog and studio. While this blog will continue on as it always has, I’m also thinking ahead to what the future holds: The Blogcademy continues to grow and I am working towards launching another business in mid-2013.

The one common thread between all of these projects I’m working on is myself. As you’ve probably noticed over the last few months, I’ve transitioned all of my social media accounts over from just being under Nubby Twiglet to being under my name, Shauna Haider so that as I grow as an entrepreneur, they will grow with me.

During my online brand audit, these are some things I took into consideration:

1. Naming.
Do all of your handles across your social media accounts follow the same naming conventions? I generally use this as my thought process: Nubby Twiglet is more well-known but I am the founder of my business and the voice behind the accounts. So for example on twitter, my handle is @nubbytwiglet but right next to it is my name, Shauna Haider.

2. Introductions.
Do all of your social media intros match? Think of this as your 10 second elevator pitch. How can you say as much in as few words as possible? Mine looks like this (and yes, I hate the cluttered background of the new Twitter headers so for now, black it is!):

the brand audit

In short:

a. Who are you?
What’s your name? What’s your company’s name?

b. What do you do?
What defines you? Is it a business? Is it a hobby? Being a parent? Something else? Tell us!

c. How can we contact you?
Include your email.

What’s something random you can tell us about yourself? What are you passionate about? What makes you excited? This makes you relatable.

3. Profile Photos.

This is a huge one. Do your images match across your profiles? A lot of people are very visual and though they might not remember your handle, they just might recognize you. For all of my accounts, I use the same photo of myself but if you’re a company with multiple employees, consider using your logo instead.

4. A Short & Long Bio.

When people visit your site, chances are that they’re curious as to who you are (I sure am — I always click on the About section!) When it comes to bios, I like to first get to the point. People are busy and chances are, they don’t want to read a novel about you so that’s where the few-sentence intro comes in handy. And then, if you want to read more, you can continue on.

5. A Consistent Voice.

I never, ever want to feel like I’m talking to a robot. While it’s important to be professional online, especially if you’re running a business, it’s equally as important to be relatable. How can you inform, help and entertain people in a style that’s true to you? The tip I’ve always remembered is that you should write blog posts (and social media updates for that matter) as if you’re talking to your best friend. Be natural.

6. A Consistent Image.

This is going to sound basic but I come across it often so here it goes: Does your website match your blog match your social media backgrounds? Does everything you do feel like it’s part of a bigger picture? If all your online brand components aren’t consistent, it can create a lot of confusion. If you can’t get on the same page with your brand, how can you expect others to? Think about the colors you’re using. The fonts. The logo. The backgrounds. The photos on all of your social media accounts. Everything. It should all tie back together. Whenever I complete an identity for a client, they receive a PDF guide with all of their lockups, fonts and swatches in one place. I’ve seen corporate identity guides close to 100 pages on length but for us small businesses and individuals, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. Just focus on the basics.

7. Define who you are and what you stand for.

Ask yourself why what you do matters through the following:

What value are you providing to your readers and customers? What makes your content unique? What’s your secret recipe? If you’re a blogger, think about your formula for developing original content — this is what differentiates you from everyone else.

I also like the idea of creating a slogan. My slogan on this blog is Design, Marketing and Style Magnified.™ I’m telling you upfront what this blog is about — not only design but also business-related content and “style” (lifestyle / personal style). To be fair, this is about four years old and probably could use some retooling to be even more specific but that perfect string of words hasn’t come to me yet!

So there you go. Brand audits are meant to test if you’re coming across as who you say you are, if you’re actually saying what you think you’re saying and if people are hearing what you want them to hear. It’s about creating a consistent message.

Readers: Is there something you’ve noticed about your brand that feels less consistent than you’d like? Have you ever overhauled one of your brands or shut one down? What did you learn from the experience?

The Blogcademy New York: A Quick Recap

the blogcademy new york

I just returned to Portland at midnight last night but I wanted to stop in and give you a quick recap! The first ever Blogcademy took place in New York over the weekend and since I’d never done a workshop before, I had no idea what to expect. On Friday, Kat, Gala and I saw each other for the first time face-to-face since February (crazy, huh?!) and we had a lot to catch up on in one day before the workshop! We ended up pulling days that lasted from 6 am until 12 am every day, making sure our content was in tip-top shape. And while hosting a workshop was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done, it was also the most rewarding. Bonding with 30 amazing, driven women with big dreams over the weekend was so inspiring in ways I can’t even put into words (the whole weekend is still sinking in). Sharing the strategy and insights we’d gathered was heavy at times — our presentation numbered nearly 150 pages and that can be a lot of content to absorb in just two days. But our attendees remained focused, scribbling down page after page of notes.

This first workshop is an experience I’ll never forget — we poured our hearts into the content and I hope that everyone walked away with a better understanding of how to take both their branding and blog content to the next level. Thank you to every single student who believed in our workshop; we feel like we’ve made some new friends and your questions and insights are what drive us to keep raising the bar.

Stay tuned for a full Blogcademy recap (I have a lot more to say once I’m settled in) as well as a thank you to our wonderful sponsors who helped make this event extra special.

The Blogcademy is Stamp Crazy!

The Blogcademy Rubber Stamps

Over at the Blogcademy, I’ve been working on getting the rest of our branded collateral together. Pulling directly from our Identity Guide, I took some of our favorite elements and had them made into rubber stamps.

As I mentioned earlier in the year, I am a HUGE fan of rubber stamps because they’re an extremely affordable way to add that extra special touch to all your business basics like envelopes, on the outside of packages, on letters, on the backside of postcards and more.

The Blogcademy Rubber Stamps

As I work through the rest of our business collateral, I’ll be sharing more sneak peeks in the hopes of giving you some fun, accessible branding ideas of your own. And in case you’re wondering, I order all my stamps through Simon’s Stamps. Speedy service, great rates and old school wooden handles make them the best around, hands down.

Rubber Stamp Crazy!

ask nubby advice

As of late, the blogosphere seems to have gone rubber stamp crazy. Everywhere I look, I see a new rubber stamp! The uptick in custom rubber stamps makes total sense. Printing promo materials can get get really pricy and the ease of applying your logo and branding to nearly any surface is not only cost effective but adds that personal, hand-done touch.

I’ve been wanting to order rubber stamps for quite awhile but this post took awhile to put together due to some trial and error. On my first custom stamp attempt, I went the Etsy route in an effort to support small businesses but when my designs came, the wood was sub-par and there were no handles or any other way to grip the stamps. The quality just wasn’t there. So, I regrouped, did some googling and came upon Simon’s Stamps. This place is the real deal. Not only do they have super reasonable prices but they ship fast and uploading your designs is a breeze. I cannot recommend them highly enough!

ask nubby advice

Because of the reasonable pricing at Simon’s, I was able to order a variety of designs and sizes to give a test run. Yeah, I went a little crazy. Most of the stamps are based on elements from my current branding.

Here are some rubber stamp thoughts and tips

1. When creating your design, print it out to scale first before ordering! I’ve ordered stickers and other stamps in the past so I already had a pretty good idea of the sizes I wanted but Simon’s offers a HUGE variety of dimensions.

2. When in doubt, keep it simple. The more clean lines and the simpler the text, the better the outcome.

3. Beyond your logo, think of quotes, shapes, letters and numbers of significance, and your favorite patterns to draw inspiration from.

4. Stamps are MUCH cheaper than business cards. Two agencies I worked for in the past switched their business cards to blanks with just logos and then provided each employee with a rubber stamp containing their personal information. That way, everyone stamps as they go and there isn’t excess, unused stock sitting around.

5. Besides stamping the expected (mailing envelopes and boxes), think of new uses. Maybe you could sign your letters and then stamp your name or logo underneath. How about stamping your logo in the corner of screen prints you make? Or, on the back of photo prints and artwork?

ask nubby advice

6. Invest in a good, basic stamp pad. Mine is jumbo-sized and features archival ink. Get one here.

ask nubby advice

Here’s a mood board of rubber stamp inspiration: 1. Olly Sorby. 2. Meanwhile. 3. Semiospectacle. 4. Bigger Than Giants. 5. Lovely Package (unknown). 6. New Amsterdam Gin. 7. Twig & Thistle.

ask nubby advice

In closing, here’s a trip down memory lane. When I first got into rubber stamps, I was around five. Just for laughs, I dug out my original collection this weekend and, as you can see, back in the 80s I thought dinosaurs, Cabbage Patch Kids and rainbow stamp pads where the ultimate! Should I put that rainbow stamp pad back into rotation? 😉