You may have noticed over the last few months I’ve been re-branded. A new logo, strong new colours and a clean, modern look on my website. I love it, and I hope you do too. It’s taken me some time to get here though. About 8 years and 3 image changes, in fact. In the end I needed to understand my own business, accept I can’t do everything myself – and most importantly, I needed to find the right person for the job. In the end, all it took was pure chance.
Working out just what self-employment meant
My first logo was very much limited by both budget and of being very new to self-employment. I knew what I wanted to offer in a general sense, but I’d just left the very corporate financial world. I thought I needed to stick to formal, corporate looks (I wasn’t really aware of brand at this point) in order to appeal to the right customers. I probably hadn’t really worked out who they were yet either. So – I played it safe. One plain colour, one simple logo, nothing that stood out. Not shocking, not exciting, not eye-catching. I think we can say bland. By the second incarnation I had a little more confidence – and was bored of bland – so went for lots of colour. Splashes of blue and green, pink and purple, but still the same safe signature style corporate logo underneath.
Focusing my business on the digital market
Over the last 8 years I’ve worked with a number of different businesses in various industries and I have a far better idea of what I actually want to offer. While I will happily discuss any project, I prefer digital content. I love writing blogs that tell a story in bitesize pieces. And I enjoy the challenge of a websites – capturing the essence of your brand in attention-capturing limited space. One of the most fun projects I’ve worked on was the Aston University Careers site. Working with my colleague and fabulous fellow copywriter, Ruth Sneddon, we took in hand the existing site, trimming it from a sprawling 500+ pages to a streamlined 50. We designed the sitemap, controlling the customer journey so that at no point did any student have more than 4 clicks to find the information they needed. We made it snappy, cut out all the fluff to find the necessary detail, and appealing to students used to fast-paced information. Digital, problem solving and fast paced information. Sounds more like me.
Identifying what I can do for myself – and what I can’t
So, after 8 years of being self-employed I’ve defined what my business offers, and who I work with. But I still wasn’t really happy with my brand. The problem was I just didn’t know what I wanted. There’s a big difference in creative types. I can think of plenty of content ideas for another business, and find ways to put the most complex thoughts into words. But I am the first to admit I have no sense of colour. I can’t picture a room before I decorate, take scraps of cloth and visualise a finished dress, or judge the light and take a perfect photograph. These are creative skills for other experts (I know someone who can do these things, if you want their names). I knew what I didn’t want for my logo – the problem was that I didn’t know what I did want.
The value of networking
This is where networking can add a fabulous level of possibility to your business life. I happened to be attending Nature Network – a group for working parents – to deliver 10 minutes of blogging tips. There was a freelance photographer there documenting the event, Tina from Capture 24, who very kindly sent me some photos to use afterwards. We got talking over a coffee, and I mentioned the issues I had with my logo.
- I wanted something that said copywriter but wasn’t a pen because, firstly, ugh, so overdone, and secondly, I’m a digital writer.
- I want colour, but not greens and pinks.
That was it really – as far as I know. Just a general comment. But this is where luck took a chance. Because I didn’t know that Tina had years of experience as a graphic designer before taking up photography, or that she had actually listened to me. After all, we had been there to talk about her business. Tina went home where, clearly inspired to solve my logo frustration, she put together a couple of sample ideas and just emailed them over to me. They were perfect. In one hour of meeting me for coffee she had worked out my personality and style and designed a logo and potential website page that did exactly what I wanted – that I hadn’t even known I wanted. And, the rest is history. We had a longer meeting, I answered some very detailed questions about my business and brand, picked some colours from a style guide, and had a photography session with her. Tina put together a full website design, chose my branding and sorted some social media headers.
Why the right person makes all the difference
As I always say to my own clients, it’s important to work with the right copywriter. You need me to not only understand your target audience and your aims, but also to care about your brand and your business. Your success matters to me. How your readers react to your content matters to me. Getting it right matters. The problem is that it’s easy to say it to another business. Accepting your own advice is – well, we are all crap at that. I can’t do my own design. I didn’t think I could afford to let someone else do it. Now I know that the investment was well worth it for the results. The right person for your job will listen to what you like and don’t like, and be inspired to give you a creative solution that fits your style but pushes you on a step or two. Not the same safe options as before, something fresh, but still in keeping with your brand. The right person doesn’t just take your money and give you the bones, they add something extra. Tina was definitely the right photographer and designer for me. If you want a copywriter who listens to you and cares about your business, then let’s have coffee. I might just be the right writer for you.