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Branding 101: The Complete Toolkit

Lesson 9 of 9

Keys To Branding Success

Danielle McWaters

Branding 101: The Complete Toolkit

Danielle McWaters

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Lesson Info

9. Keys To Branding Success

Lesson Info

Keys To Branding Success

Moving on to the big picture, right? So we've covered a lot of material today. So we really started with this initial idea of if you are somebody who has a product or a service and you're kind of overwhelmed and you don't know where to start, at this point, hopefully you have enough tools now to say actually, I do know where to start. And I actually know that there is this methodology that should work for me. And in terms of how you're defining all of these concepts as it relates to you. And again, if you have a business that's an organization for products or service or if this is your business. And figuring out how to define those concepts but also how to create a strategy. An execution strategy for yourself. How to really bring it out into the world. And then to visually bring it out into the world. And to recognize that it's a great opportunity to be yourself and to be bold and to be authentic. But that the best brands do stand for something. And it's a big idea, or strategic positi...

on, defined set of values, or a voice that stands apart. So it's, it's empowering. I hope it empowers you guys to think about whatever it is you wanna do, because I think the scary part is you're like, "Gosh, how do I put all this together?" And really, it's already there. You already know these things. It's really taking pen to paper and really saying these are all the things I'm passionate about and I believe in and I know that I can actually deliver to someone. But I think the overwhelming part about this too is, you have to hold yourself accountable. Again, that's why not everybody starts a business. It's scary. It can be intimidating. But I think that's just kind of like the perception behind it, right. But it does take hard work, but if you love it and you wanna do it, do it. Go for it. And figure out what is gonna be your thing. Is it this position, is it this voice? Is it the sum of all of these things? And the keys to being successful when you're starting your business and building your brand is this uniformity. We've talked about this a lot. This is like consistent in terms of both the verbal and the visual that we talked about all day today. Is making sure that all of those initial concepts that we talked about, your mission, your vision, your ethos, your values, how do they all align to create a sense of consistency across all of your brand touchpoints. And it will, it will grow with you. But you do have to take the time and think about it and think about your approach. And using a clear and authentic voice to help you, to help your audience navigate. Basically that's saying how do you get your audience to choose you? And I think now more than ever is be authentic, be transparent. Again, people can sense it. People can sense when you're being real, and people can sense when you're not. And I think that, particularly for people out there who are starting their own business and it's just themselves, remember that no one else can be you. So you have that already going for you. So it's now just taking all of those things, thinking about it in a business and branding mindset, and then giving it a shot. And show your difference. Make it easy for your audience to understand why you're different. And you want your customer to not only see you're different, but want to experience it. Want to say, "I am actually gonna switch from you "to you." So don't wait for opportunity. Create it. And I really, really believe in this. And again, I can speak to this because I've been there. And it's scary but it's really invigorating. And you will learn so much about yourself and really what is important and what is true to your passions and what you wanna be spending your time doing for the short term and the long term. And now is as good a time as ever, people have been building brands for a long time. You just have to want it. And hopefully you feel empowered today and realize that it's already there, you just gotta tackle it and organize it and really take a chance on it. It's a risk. It is. But after today, you should have enough resources to make a really good educated risk. Any questions, comments? Yeah. What would you recommend as some best practices? Like I love in everything you've spoken about, really sitting down and being objective about who you are, and that your brand isn't necessarily who you are and your audience isn't necessarily who you are, but in creating this whole identity for what you're trying to convey in order to then make these materials and support it. But there is this question of objectivity around your work. It's your baby and you may think that what you're seeing reads as something else. But then somebody looking at it blind is like, "I see something completely different." I could use examples, but I do see people that I'm sure are messaging in a certain way, but what I read is completely different. So what are some best practices to get those objective opinions so that you can make a more informed decision about approaching your own audience? Sure, sure. So I think this touches on a couple of things we talked about today. One thing is from, speaking to being objective. So one part of this is design. Design is objective. It just is, right? So what I see as really beautiful, you may see as, doesn't do much for me. So part of that comes from, and this is why I feel like your brand essences are so important, because they really are from a place of your core values, which are the things that already exist and you believe. They're already in the foundation of your product and service. And they're also part of your spirit. And so there is this element that you will come through in your identity. And that's okay. There's a reason there's so many brands out there. Not every brand is for everyone. So that's part of it. And I do think the other part of it is really, again doing the research in terms of who, particularly in the beginning stages, you don't have market research to say specifically as it relates to your brand who is your audience. In the beginning you're thinking about it in the sense of who is my ideal target market. A year from now, when you launch your business, that's when you get to actually go back and look at the tangible numbers and information and say well I thought this was who my target market it, but it's actually looking like this audience. And then you get to say great, I actually feel good about this, or we need to pivot again. So part of it is having some sort of guideline to help you stay authentic to those essences. And then there is the other business part of it of saying okay, this is who I think my target audience is, this is what I think that they want, but how do I make maybe something that already exists again different. And that to me is why branding is so fascinating and exciting is because it really is about this position that you have to create for yourself. But to me it's already there. And as long as you are authentic to what you're actually being able to deliver, and actually staying true to your values, then the audience and the rest of it should naturally follow. Yeah? As your brand grows and evolves with your business and some colors or fonts might change, how is the best way, assuming that your core values will always stay the same, how do you shift that and take your audience with you in a way that's gonna keep them engaged and evolving with you and growing with you? Sure. So when you're doing a redesign, there's a lot of those elements that come into play. And to your point it's that you can say that your values still haven't changed, but that part of us is just taking a new direction. And you're allowed to do that. And I think the biggest thing that you can do, though, is thinking about developing it, but figuring out, the tough part is re-entering it. And so I believe your best practices should just be like be honest about it. Be transparent. Be like, okay, we have been in business for five years, we've had some incredible successes and it turns out that we're gonna make this transition, and this is the new look and feel of our transition. But these are the things that are still true about us and about our services that we're offering to people. And we just got, basically, a make over. And it doesn't, I think it depends, people are really scared about it. But I think you just have to own it. And I think there is this expectation that, if you've been doing something for 20 years, might be a little dated. It's time to give yourself a refresh, and it's looking at it as an opportunity, not from just a design perspective, but an engagement perspective. And yeah, so just kind of like going for it and being honest about it, and understanding that that's really common. It happens all the time. So it's not gonna be the demise of your company if you change the typeface. Yeah. Yeah. I do have one more that we can wrap up on. Sure. This was originally posted by Elizabeth. A couple people voted on this. Hi, Elizabeth. Yeah. And so Elizabeth says, "What should I pursue to become a brand consultant?" For example, like obviously you live in the world of branding. We talked a little bit about your background, but if people just love branding their own company so much, and they wanna start doing it for other people, is there any advice you can give to those people? So I would, I guess I would say, is just to continue to immerse yourself in it. Follow trends, do research, see what cool companies are doing, and look at it not just maybe in the specific industry you're really passionate about, I would say two things, one become an expert in that industry and know what the heck is going on, understand where it's been and where it's going. But also really look at different industries that are doing really cool things and maybe think about how that could cross over to some of the clients that you wanna have. And think about maybe ideal, or maybe your favorite brands, and you have great ideas for them. And you're like gosh, I would love to do some brand strategy for them, do the leg work. Create it. Because if you see it and you have an opportunity to pitch it to them and they see it, voila, you're in. So I would say just continue to just educate yourself, there's so many amazing brand strategy books, and marketing books, and positioning books out there that you can learn from some incredible people. And just start applying it to yourself and to businesses that you'd like to work with. All right, well, I think you have one more slide, people wanna keep in touch with you after the class. Thank you, everyone! So yeah, so if you want to keep in touch with me after today's class, or follow us on social media, follow us @DesignsakeStudio on Instagram. Or reach out, check out our website, and if you guys ever need any branding strategy or packaging help, our studio would love to help you. So thank you so much for taking the time today to listen in on this course, and I hope you feel empowered to go out there and start your business. Yeah. Well, thank you again, y'all. Yes, let's give her a round of applause. (clapping)

Class Description


What does it take to create a successful brand? A strong, clear message and visual consistency is what builds trust, and this course will help you define this. Danielle runs her own successful design studio, specializing in branding. 

She’ll guide you through the process of branding your business from start to finish, including how to:

  • Establish a point of view through tone, messaging and voice 
  • Define your vision, core values and how you position yourself in the market 
  • Create a visual style guide that provides a reference for color, typography, and image styling
This class will teach you how to effectively articulate and communicate your brand to your audience visually, creating cohesion through every touch-point. From how you talk about yourself, to what typeface you use, creating cohesion and clarity builds trust. Position your brand to stand out from the crowd!

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Brand Questionnaire

Branding 101 - Companion

Branding 101 - Resources

Style Guide Templates

Style Guide Example - Slow Candle Co

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


- Emma -

Just finished watching the course. Absolutely loved it! I have no experience in branding at all and this course has given me so much information that will help me a lot. I am so excited to get started and creating my brand style sheet. Thank you so much Danielle you were brilliant! Constructive criticism: If would be better if you knew the information rather than reading off the screen in front of you. Paraphrasing would help, too. But very good job nonetheless!

Vivian Bustamante

Great information with handy resources to use after and apply into our own project. The concepts explained made it more clear and I loved the quotes Danielle used to explain this words we heard a lot when talking about branding, the mission, vision, etc. These weren't clear to me up until this point. Thanks so much!


This was so comprehensive and the resources are wonderful! I couldn't recommend this course enough. I loved the deep dive into the colors, type, and all visual aspects of a brand.