If you've read my previous post (where I also talk about a branding deal I have for you right now), you will know that I've been slightly obsessed with the concept of branding. I am a total newbie in this industry, I feel like there is so much to learn but it gets overwhelming sometimes and I don't always know where to start. The one thing that I find fascinating is the concept of how to develop a brand, especially since my brand is defined by my work and essentially myself. But how do you get to that stage, where people know what your brand represents, and where they can connect with your brand?
I have been reaching out to some really talented people - designers, bloggers, creatives, and business owners - to ask them what having a brand means to them, and how they have successfully developed their brands and continued to evolve with time.
Meet Belinda Xia, an Australia-based illustrator who I have been following for a while now. Her work has never failed to inspire me, and on top of that, she's very very humble and sweet. She was extremely gracious when I reached out to her and you can just tell that she's passionate about what she does. In this post, she shares some of her values and what she thinks makes a good brand. Read more about it below!
What's your story? What made you want to do what you do?
I studied Visual Communication and worked as a graphic designer in a corporate environment where I started illustrating on the side as a creative outlet. I'd always loved drawing but never saw how I could make it a viable career. Before long, the illustration work picked up, my contract was ending and I took a leap of faith! The rest is history.
How have you managed to single-handedly create a brand out of your work and yourself, essentially?
I suppose it happened almost accidentally. When I first started, illustrating was a side hobby - when commercial work started picking up, I thought about how I wanted to come across to clients and only then started thinking seriously about branding. Being a graphic designer by trade, I was lucky enough to be able to create and control my own designs.
Because my brand is my name, my values and interests are inextricably linked to my business. For example, when I fell pregnant, I wanted to share the baby love and created Downloadable Pregnancy Cards and Baby Shower invitations. And I'm in love with fashion so a lot of my clients and work are fashion/lifestyle based which in turn attracts more of the same.
What made you decide to materialize this idea into an actual brand (when you first decided to go professional, get a logo, etc.) and how has that helped you?
While studying Visual Communication, we were trained to create logos, business cards, etc. - all the traditional essentials of a 'brand', and I suppose that's stuck with me. Branding made everything more 'real' and it's a mental shift into a more professional realm when you have a schmick business card in your wallet to hand out, and an awesome logo on your website. It lifts the game, and gives you confidence to sell yourself!
And it doesn't stop with stationery. Every time I meet someone during a live event, at a market, even across email - always come across friendly so your brand doesn't become associated with anything negative! How many times have you walked into a shop, had a bad sales assistant and from then on, associated that brand with bad service?
You're essentially a designer of your brand. What have you learned from it? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Branding is always something I come back to because I feel it should evolve with you and your business. You see international multi-millionaire companies rebranding all the time with styles, messaging, even logos, so you know it's important to keep refreshing.
Looking back on the branding I've had in the past, I'm proud to see an evolution - with each new style/logo/website, I can see myself progressing. And because branding to me is a work in progress, I may never achieve the 'perfect brand' but as they say, it's all about the journey! So on that note, don't freak out if one day you feel your branding doesn't suit your business anymore - refreshing can be a nice breath of fresh air!
What are some of your tips and tricks on how to develop a brand especially for creatives who are just starting out and small businesses?
Think about what you want to tell the world! If some random person in Canada/Indonesia/Antarctica came across your website/Instagram/Facebook, what would you want to tell them about yourself/your brand? What message would you want them to pass on to their friends?
Is there anything else you'd like to share that's related to brand development?
Don't underestimate the power of your brand! Sometimes people want to work with you just because you're you!
I hope you have learned something from this - I certainly have! Whatever it is you're doing I think it's always important to stay open-minded and be willing to grow and be adaptable.
Never stop learning!