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Branding 101: The Complete Toolkit

Lesson 7 of 9

Your Brand Voice And Imagery

Danielle McWaters

Branding 101: The Complete Toolkit

Danielle McWaters

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Lesson Info

7. Your Brand Voice And Imagery


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Introduction To Class Duration:26:35
2 Define Your Brand Duration:34:49
3 Finding Your Brand Identity Duration:10:32
4 Creating A Brand Moodboard Duration:09:10
7 Your Brand Voice And Imagery Duration:11:50
8 Create A Style Guide Duration:17:24
9 Keys To Branding Success Duration:13:51

Lesson Info

Your Brand Voice And Imagery

So, now I'd like to dive into voice. Okay? So, voice is basically, you know, how you're saying what you're saying. (laughs) Right? It's like, what is my tone? What am I trying to say? What am I trying to communicate? And voice is really important, and it needs to be clear, it needs to be concise, and it needs to be consistent. Right? Because people don't have time. We live in a fast-paced world, right? And you're getting a lot of brands thrown at you all the time. And so, don't confuse your potential customer audience. Because the moment you lose them, it's really hard to get 'em to come back. Right? So you have to think about, what do I wanna say? Why is it important? And how do I say it in the most effective, concise, and consistent manner? So, you wanna think about also the hierarchy of your messaging and your tone. So, you know, what is most important for people to understand about what I'm doing? So, is it that I want, and am I using my voice to either create awareness, to create ...

a community? Think about what your goals are and how you can use voice to basically further execute or implement that. Right? So, yeah, you need to figure out what you're saying and why it's important, right? Remember that how your voice and your tone come across should continue to support your mission and your vision. So it's all about what you say and how you say it, right? And you want that voice to be really clear, so when people engage with your brand, they're like, "That sounds like something I would say. I get that." Right? So let's bring it again back to the case study. So here's an example of how we developed our voice for SLOW Candle Company. So, we're thinking about what the competition uses and then how we're gonna say it, right? So the competition is saying phrases like, when they're talking about their candles, they're saying that they're therapeutic and it burns for hours and it has natural ingredients and they'll cause you to relax, right? At SLOW, we like to use phrases like, "Nourishes your mind and body." It is "warm from within." "Nature knows best." And "stop and pause," right? So, do you kind of see the difference here? How it's like, this one is just kind of, those things should all be true, right? And the things that we're saying about our company are also true. But it's the tone in which that we're saying them. Okay? So, think about it. And again, it should kind of tie back to your essences and your ethos and your core values. It's like, okay so you have all of this messaging available and that you wanna put out into the world, but how do you wanna say it? And what feels authentic to you, and then also what feels authentic to your audience? Next is imagery, okay? So imagery, we kind of showed a little bit of this at the beginning when we created that mood board. But it's thinking about how imagery can basically be used to communicate your brand's tone and voice. It's basically another visual element or opportunity for you to communicate a message to your audience. So, when you're selecting your imagery, reference your brand essences, right? So we talked about using nourishing and using friendly in our imagery. So nourishing in terms of the ingredients that we're using and friendly in terms of showing the people the lifestyle behind our brand. So, again, go back to those, guys. And then when you're thinking about your imagery that you're pulling, you wanna think about how your colors and your typefaces pair with it, right? So that's why that initial exercise when you're starting to pull inspiration, it's good to pull not just imagery, it's good to pull color. And it's good to pull typefaces, 'cause then, essentially, you're already kinda doing that initial leg work. But it should complement it and pair with it well. And then again, it's like figuring out what purpose you want imagery to be used for. So, some campaigns are all illustrative, you know, where I'm like, "Actually, we're not gonna use illustrations "at our brand, we're really gonna focus on photography "and product photography and lifestyle photography." So, figure out where imagery is gonna be relevant to your communication. And here's just kind of a simplified version of the imagery that we originally created in that mood board, right? And this is also what we have kind of pulled together for you guys in that one-page style guide template. And so that way you're getting multiple images, so you're really getting to see a sense of how all of this is visually coming together from an imagery perspective. So we're touching on color and ingredients and hands, right? People, texture, this human element that we wanna make sure people are getting. So, yeah. So again, and maybe you're thinking maybe some of your imagery you'll do monochromatic or maybe they'll have a color tone to it overall that supports your color palette of your brand. So your imagery doesn't have to be straightforward. You can kind of manipulate it and pair it well so that it's fitting within your brand essences and again, kind of acting as another point of differentiation for you. Okay? Any questions on imagery? Yeah? Sort of, just in terms of imagery. Yeah! Let's just say you're a visual artist and you have a bunch of work. Would you pull from your own work or even things that inspire? Why not? Okay. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, you have to think of that as like, so you're always getting like a two-for-one, right? It's like you're showcasing your work, but you're also kind of creating a tone and this like messaging. So maybe if you only wanna show specific types of images from your portfolio. I think any opportunity, particularly for a visual artist, if you can showcase your own work, do it. It's only gonna help you and showcase more about your abilities and what you bring to the table to whoever you're working with. Yeah. Yeah? Have you created mood boards for your work Before? I have. I've started playing with that recently and it's interesting how much that really can sort of help you to brainstorm when you pull your images within the conceptual images too. It really guides it a lot. That's a great suggestion. Yeah, absolutely, that's a great suggestion. And also then you really also get to see almost what's the strongest work that you have that's like really supporting your ultimate goal. Yeah, yeah. Awesome! I'll ask one question that came in here. This one's gotten a couple of votes. Christina originally posted this question and her question, to consolidate it a little bit, it's really about finding a balance between her personality and a corporate feel for this, since it is a business. I guess, as you're putting together a mood board like this, do you ever think about two different aspects of it? It's like, okay, I'm making a mood board and I want half of the images to reveal my personal side, half of them to reveal my professional side. Do you ever think about it in terms of having multiple tones in your brand? Sure, absolutely. And I think you for sure can have multiple tones. I also think it's about, to me I see those as essences and where I want those essences to be best communicated. Or where do I see them being the most effective. So if you have kind of like this, whether it's your personality that you're just, you know, my personality doesn't necessarily match with this visual aspect, but maybe that comes through your content, maybe that comes through writing, or maybe that comes through your typefaces and maybe less through your imagery. Yeah, again, that's really why you have some essences in terms to guide you visually. But I feel like what she's talking about is kind of like the bigger picture, right? It's like almost taking the things that are, again, maybe those are things that are part of your core values but you want to make sure those come out. But maybe that's more through your practices or your company culture or other brand touchpoints. But I think particularly if it's your brand, if it's you and it's all about you selling a product or service, I think it's important to be true to yourself and what you feel is really the most authentic. But there is this other element too of understanding who your audience is. So it's important to be true to yourself, but again, you do wanna think about how they're gonna be interacting with you. And are they getting the sense of what you feel or what you believe? 'Cause to me, that is so important because that's how you hook 'em. That's how you create this relationship and emotional connection. Great, yeah. I think for a lot of people out here in the chatroom, they're saying how it's really fun to do the mood board exercises. People like doing the images, but you really need to spend the time working on the brand essences, working on your core values. You gotta do that first before you get into all the mood board-ing. Exactly. And I think, again, that kind of goes back to the bigger, broader idea that of course naturally it's way more fun to dive into this stuff, right? It's the visuals, it's all the fun stuff, but really when companies come to me and sometimes they already have a logo or they're like, "Oh we have all this "put together." And I'm like, "Okay, so what's your mission statement? "What are your values? "How do you share them?" If you don't have answers for that, you gotta go back to the drawing board because all of your visuals, all of your actual brand identity has to be built on a successful position and strategy. If you don't have answers for the first part of what we talked about today, the second part can't really connect. It can't align. And it's really setting the foundation so that even as this part, right? 'Cause this part will change with you too. Your identity will change and evolve as your business evolves. But just like your position and your strategy, as long as it's solid and you spent the time understanding where it comes from and how to make it clear and intentional, then it should directly make this next part clear and intentional as well.

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!


- 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!


Amazing class! I've been looking for something like this on Creative Live for a long time. It taught me all I needed to know about creating my brand's visual identity and I finally got that needed push to formulate a brand strategy and assemble the visual elements for my brand. Very simple and straight to the point. Thank you, Danielle!

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!