When was the last time you thought about your website and branding? I used the time during lockdown to rethink my brand identity.
Tall Tartan Talks here … I asked myself the question: how do I want to be seen? What should my branding convey about my personality and the services I provide?
In the beginning
When I started my Proofnow Proofreader business in January 2017, all I was concerned about was publishing a website to advertise my proofreading services. Happy to have any old branding, preferably using an inoffensive shade of grey, I read advice from Louise Harnby (haven’t all of us editors?), investigated Canva (more later) to create my logo and header.
I was happy with the design. I was ready. I felt I could be treated as a professional.
In my original blog post on branding here, I first mentioned making your branding the same across all the places where your profile is seen: your website, social media, freelance directories (e.g. Find-a-Proofreader), etc. Doing this means your branding identity will stick in people’s minds and you will become a familiar face. Which is a good thing if you want to be found.
Blog posts – BitmoAnnie
When I started blogging monthly in November 2018, I wanted to create an identity which readers would recognise was me.
I used the Bitmoji app to create BitmoAnnie, my alter-ego. The app is such fun – try it! I dressed her in my burgundy, uploaded her to Canva, inserted my logo and tweaked the completed image.
For later posts, when I had created my hashtags, I found a tartan shirt in the app wardrobe section which she wore for several posts.
As a branding identity, tartan grew in my mind.
How to refresh my branding?
By mid–2019, I could afford to buy, nay invest in, a professional headshot. I booked the services of Capture House, a local photography company. I was nervous – what should I wear for just a head and shoulders portrait? It was the end of August. Very hot. I grabbed a favourite burgundy t-shirt.
During the photoshoot we discussed my business and what I wanted to achieve. Some photos were taken in the studio – more formal; others were taken outside in the sunshine – more relaxed.
I was sent a folder of about 20 images for my use. Now came the hardest part: choosing a single headshot to represent my brand. Everywhere.
Having looked at other people’s websites, some prefer not to have a photo of themselves. I argue that the personality of the business owner is important, and that means knowing what you look like. Clients like to know who they are dealing with.
I wanted to come across as approachable, friendly, but with professionalism and authority. To emphasise that I am the face of MY business.
I have since learnt that using a variety of headshot images across different areas of my website adds interest. Hence the addition of my more relaxed Facebook profile image to my Resources page (more later). Which is the image at the top of this post. More cheery.
Wheel of emotional triggers of colour
Once I had decided on burgundy as the main colour on my WordPress website, I used the colour scheme in the Customise section to find a complementary colour with its accompanying hex number. Turquoise is another favourite colour. My grown-up website version is teal.
So, my brand colours represent calmness, devotion, and harmony.
I have adopted these traits on my social media bios. My updated tagline is Adaptable. Dedicated. Easy for you to remember as I opted to use the letters A and D – my initials.
Now that the main colours for my website were chosen, I applied them to my existing logo which I tweaked using Canva. The suggestion of a star shape appeals to me – us teachers like using them for motivation.
Use of logo
When I uploaded my logo to the Media section in my website, I copied the attached URL link to my email client signature. This element of branding can be forgotten but easy to make visible.
In addition, I could insert my logo into my CIEP (Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading) forums signature.
Humour in lockdown
By March 2020, we were in full lockdown, so I had transferred my primary tuition pupils over to online teaching using Zoom.
A networking colleague, Anne-Marie at Carbon Orange (Cambridge), demonstrated her design range of Zoom backgrounds when she networked virtually. Her quirky style grabbed me.
This was too good an opportunity to miss, so I commissioned a background … of my virtual classroom.
Included in my brief were the hex numbers of my brand colours, my logo, my email signature, and a photo of the last classroom where I taught. My new background would encompass my brand identity.
Not a single child could fail to be amused by me waving hello in front of my ‘washing line’ of posters.
I have since used this background for the video of introduction on my website. (But only go and look when you’ve finished reading this. Promise?)
I began to get seriously excited as I could see the possibilities of my rebrand.
Getting serious about identity
One factor of my branding design of which I was certain – it should incorporate tartan.
My hashtags on social media are #TallTartanTalks (was #TallTartanTells) which I use to tag (or sort) my blog posts; and #TallTartanTips to tag my tips for newbie proofreaders, editors and freelancers, particularly on LinkedIn.
The hashtags reflect my USP: my heritage and my … height. (I stand at an impressive 6 feet tall, which is difficult to visualise if you’ve only seen me on Zoom.)
I visit a particular café in Luss, on the banks of Loch Lomond, which my parents loved. My eyes lit up when I saw their napkin. Tartan! I’ll hang on to that, I thought.
Once again I contacted Anne-Marie, sending her a photo of the napkin, with a specific brief: Could she design me a tartan in that pattern, with my colours, which would be a header for my website, and that I could also use for my social media profiles?
How to use Canva to make a header
Canva is a free design programme (findable by your favoured search engine) which is easy to use:
- Find a background which text can sit on and be read easily. There are hundreds! Go for a free one. I liked a marbling design.
- Lay your chosen image on top. This could be from the image bank or upload your own.
- Insert a text box on the plain background. I inserted my company name.
- Experiment with fonts. Again, there are hundreds! Go for a free one. I went for a playful signature and san serif title.
- Adjust to personal preference.
- Save the completed header, then download it as a PNG file to your device. I saved it in My Pictures on my main device (laptop).
- Upload it to your website and profiles.
I really enjoy this creative side of my business marketing. I also relished creating classroom displays as a teacher. And I am pleased with the result.
Even better if …
Now that my rebranding is complete and marketed, I have ensured consistency by making sure that the new design appears wherever I appear on the internet.
Additionally, the same design appears on my paperwork and admin documents: my terms & conditions contract, invoices, and feedback form (as mentioned previously on my Free resources for editors page.) Feel free to borrow and tweak for your own use.
To me, this way of marketing represents ‘joined-up thinking’. Putting the same image and message out there means that you are remembered. Keeping yourself in people’s minds is a marketing strategy that works.
It will help clients remember who I am. That I am a proofreader who is available for proofreading. That I am a primary tutor available for tuition.
No blog post of mine would be complete without BitmoAnnie. Here she is wearing my improved logo … and my new spectacles. Which I bought just AFTER my headshot images were taken. Not great timing, eh?
With thanks to:
- ‘Content DNA’ by John Espirian
- ‘Branding Lite’ by Louise Harnby