Brand Brilliance Book

Introducing my new book: Brand Brilliance

January 23, 2017

How do you fancy a sneak peek at my new book, Brand Brilliance?

It’s been seven very intense months of writing, designing and editing, and two years in the making but I am thrilled to have finally sent the files off to print. Hurrah!

Thank you for all of your support, encouragement and enthusiasm throughout this process, it means so much! Honestly, you have no idea. Producing this book has mostly been a lot of fun. But there have been days when it’s been harder to find my inspiration, my confidence and my voice. Having a wonderful community of entrepreneurs cheering me along, who are just as excited about the book as we are means the world. We’ve worked so hard to create something that not only looks beautiful, but that’s also going to make a big difference to your business. I really hope that you love it.

A sneak peek…

Here’s the title page. I just love those green fig leaves – can’t you just smell them?

And part of the introduction. I think this will give you a flavour for what the book is about and, hopefully, how it so perfectly complements How to Style your Brand.

These are the chapter openers. I love that blush/ buff colour and (in my usual renegade style) the quirky layout of the text.

 

The feedback from the people who have read the book already has been incredible and I’m so excited to get this into your hands! Here are just a couple of things they had to say:

‘A smart, down-to-earth guide to rock your brand’
– Charlotte Gueniau, Rice.dk

‘A brilliant brand journey to help build your story and give your business backbone.’
– Ashley Jankowski, Braizen

There are a couple of sections, like the customer profile where you’ll find a little crossover with How to Style your Brand. And that’s because I wanted the two books to stand on their own, and because you cannot do anything with your brand unless you truly understand your customer. But in Brand Brilliance you’ll find that the emphasis goes well beyond the brand elements we focused on before, and instead gets you to focus on creating a powerful message. Once you have that nailed, we’ll explore how you can communicate that coherently across all your channels of communication.

‘Utterly inspirational’
– Caz Harrison, Making Waves

For a little more on the book, take a look at this post which will give you an insight into what’s in the book and this post which shows you a little more behind the scenes.

Preorders are now open

The book is now listed on Amazon.co.uk and I will be adding it to Amazon.com over the next week or so. If you’d like to pre-order, via those sites is one option. And a massive thank you to those of you that have, already. I couldn’t quite believe it but on Friday afternoon I went online to check I’d formatted the description properly and I saw that the book was at #4 in the bestseller lists which is incredible. Seriously, three months to go! Thank you.

I’m just going to keep saying it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Now, I’ve been thinking about the preorders. I’d quite like to do something a little special for those of you who would like to preorder directly through me. I’ve set up some packages below. Some are limited collections, some will simply come with a little more je ne sais quoi than you’d get with a standard brown package via the online book retailers 😉

Preorder Brand Brilliance £25

The brand new book! The #brandstylistbook2. Gift wrapped and mailed to you direct from me and my team of helpers.


Brand Brilliance £25 + Shipping


The prices on the dropdown are for a combination of the book and the shipping costs. 

How to Style your Brand and Brand Brilliance £45

Two fabulous books to empower you to create an incredible brand and brand identity that really gets you to where you want to be, fast.

Please note: these will be shipped together once Brand Brilliance is available.


Brand Brilliance + How to Style your Brand £45 + Shipping



The prices on the dropdown are for a combination of the books and the shipping costs.

The Brand Brilliance Gift Set £50

Includes: A copy of Brand Brilliance, a lovely Brand Stylist Sketchbook and a printed Brand Clarity Workbook. Also includes a copy The Absolute Essentials of Colour Psychology. A 36pp full colour pocket-sized guide to colour psychology, perfect to keep by your desk as a handy reference. Presented in a gorgeous gift box. Perfect for those of you wishing to treat a friend, colleague or just yourselves!

The sketchbook is a 36pp foil-blocked landscape sketchbook, perfect for hatching big dreams and grand plans. Ideal for working through the process in the book. The Brand Clarity Workbook is a full colour printed version of the downloadable workbook and enables you to get started right away.


Brand Brilliance Gift Set £50 + Shipping



The prices on the dropdown are for a combination of the gift set and the shipping costs.

The Luxe Brand Stylist Gift Set £70

Includes all of the above along with How to Style Your Brand. A copy of Brand Brilliance, How to Style Your Brand, a Brand Stylist Sketchbook, The Absolute Essentials of Colour Psychology and a printed Brand Clarity Workbook. All beautifully gift boxed and shipped to you with love.


Brand Stylist Luxe Gift Set £70 + Shipping



The prices on the dropdown are for a combination of the gift set and the shipping costs. Due to the weight, it just wasn’t cost effective to send this via Royal Mail which is why there are no options for Europe/ Rest of World for this.

Things to bear in mind before you place your order

The UK release date for the book is 10th May. It will take 2-3 weeks longer for those of you further afield. I’ll start packing and shipping as soon as the books arrive with me (sometime around or before this date).

I’ll be sending UK orders via MyHermes and International orders via Royal Mail tracked services. International deliveries generally take 5-7 days and Royal Mail 2-3 days. I know some of the postage options look a little steep – I haven’t marked these up, nor have I added anything for packaging and handling.

Please be sure to select the right shipping cost for your country.

We all know that Amazon discount their books. I can’t predict what they will launch Brand Brilliance at, but I do want to be fair and transparent and say that I won’t be price matching them. I’ll totally understand if you want to order via them but please bear this in mind before you order. I won’t be cancelling orders or offering refunds because you’ve found it cheaper online. It’s a logistical nightmare!

I should make it very clear that I’m only going to offer these packages before the book goes on sale. This is down to logistics. I don’t have the resources to be packing and shipping books once it’s out there in the world, so if you would like to preorder, you must do so before 24 April. I

You often ask me if I will sell the Absolute Essentials of Colour Psychology and generally my answer is that it’s just reserved for workshop students. I’m making it available in the two gift sets but it won’t be available again unless you join a workshop, so if you’d like one, now is a great time to snaffle one up!

 

Brand Brilliance Book

Cover designs, changes and curve balls

January 13, 2017

Hello again you lovely guys! Honestly, you wait months for a blog post from me and then three come along at once. Just like London busses… It seems that now the seal has been broken on the blog I just can’t stop writing. There’s so much I want to share with you and today, I’d like to talk about cover designs.

I’ve written before about the importance of a cover. It’s got to be impactful, stand out from the other alternatives and give a flavour of what’s inside the book. It needs to set the tone, create anticipation and desire and, of course, be something I am super proud of.

Matt and I found shooting the last cover immensely stressful and I have to admit, this time wasn’t much different!

I wanted something that felt aspirational, stylish and super inspirational. I was thinking a palette of greens, blacks, nudes and beautiful back light. The biggest stumbling block we always have is making the cover look like a branding book rather than an interiors book. Easier said than done.

So many images nearly made the cut.

Lovely. One of my favourite images. But not enough going on and that light is distracting halfway down the side.

I have a real soft spot for this one. It’s exactly what I envisaged. But it doesn’t say ‘branding book’. We shot another with all the gumpf that you see below and it just looked a mess. It was horrid. I can’t even bring myself to show you.

I really hate this one. It’s messy. I hate the collage and the whole thing just feels contrived and lacking in life.

Too busy, too distracting. No room for text. The light competes with the title, as do the flowers.

The cover design

But this one just felt right. It isn’t bold. It isn’t impactful, but when combined with the beautiful copper foiling it’s going to look incredible. More to the point, it’s going to totally stand out from the other books in its category. A quick search for ‘branding small businesses’ on Amazon turns up an assortment of bold-covered, shall we say, strong, designs, which totally flies in the face of what I’m setting out to achieve with this book.

Brand Brilliance is all about being irresistible. It’s about creating desire, adding value and creating a business that really works for you. I firmly believe that less is more, that you don’t need to bludgeon people into buying from you and that you don’t need to shout. At all. So not only does the cover stand out for looking quieter than the rest on the page, it also sets the tone nicely for the book.

It also feels like it’s come from the same company as How to Style Your Brand, but just as the content and tone of my book has subtly shifted a gear, so too has the cover. This one feels really, really me. I love How to Style Your Brand. I’m immensely proud of it and I still get a real buzz from knowing how useful you find it. But honestly, writing this book has totally shifted my perspective. I really think this is going to change the way you do business. And I’m really, really excited to see what you think.

I sent the cover over to Jo Copestick- publishing stalwart, editorial consultant and all round brilliant person and she loved it. Phew! So far, so good.

The curve ball

Don’t curve balls come when you least expect them? It was Nicky, at the printers, who ever so gently and kindly said: does it look different enough from your first book? Good Question!!! I’d made sure it looked different from the competition. I’d made sure to create impact. I’d made sure it was on brand. I hadn’t even considered whether it needed to look different to How to Style Your Brand!

Most days I’m asked: How is this book different from your first? It’s so different! How to Style Your Brand covers one, very specific area – styling your brand, really comprehensively. Brand Brilliance is designed to help you define your values, refine your message and take your business up a gear. Once you’ve done that, it’ll help you communicate that through everything you do: your website, your marketing literature, your sales tools, your brand voice. It’s a more comprehensive guide to branding in general.

So it’s not really a case of one or other book. It’s both.

In my mind, I’m happy with the cover. But to satisfy my own curiosity, provide a little entertainment for you on a snowy day and just because I can, I’ve mocked up a dark cover too. I do love a dark cover, don’t you? That, combined with the beautiful copper foil could look absolutely stunning. It certainly has impact. But is it right?

Here it is against the other books – it doesn’t stand out as much I don’t think? But I do love it. And it looks classy.

 

That light is kind of annoying isn’t it? So for the purposes of a fair test I’ve done a dreadful job of cloning it out. Matt will freak. But if it works, he could totally do it properly. I do love that dark cover…

And here it is against How to Style Your Brand.

I showed my friend Ashley the two alternative cover images fresh from my shoot with Matt, a month or so ago and she very perceptibly said, ‘the lighter one is more on brand’. And she’s right. So my heart is probably with the pale one. But I don’t have that same gut-wrenching reaction that I had to the contents page. I’m a little less fixed in my opinions here. So I’vc created another poll. Which do you prefer? Which should I go with?

As always, looking forward to your votes and comments! Oh, and on that note… Thank you for your comments on the Contents page. I am totally going with my gut on that one. I hadn’t quite realised how strongly I felt about it til I started writing the blog post. It’s a no brainer really. I’m sorry for those left-brains amongst you, I am going to take my usual renegade approach!

Over to you. Which cover should I go with?

Have a lovely weekend, whatever you’re up to.

Which cover should I go with?
Brand Brilliance Book, The Brand Stylist Book

Self publishing, walking your own path and following your instinct

January 11, 2017

It’s been one of those weeks of utter inspiration. It feels so good to have got the book ‘out there’ so to speak and started to share it with you. Months, years of hard work are coming together and really starting to pay off and I’m immensely excited! All that inspiration is gathering momentum which feels like it’s snowballing into an unstoppable force – let’s just hope it doesn’t hit a tree along the way!

Anyway, enough of the waffle.

Today I wanted to share an insight with you into the process behind the book and ask for your opinion. I’m kind of hoping you’ll prove my gut instinct right, but I’d love to hear if you think I’m seeing this wrong too.

The Contents page is a really important part of any book. More than a reference, it gives you a flavour into the contents of the book and what you can expect. Here’s where my unique hybrid approach of coffee-table/business book starts to go off piste (another ski reference – we are promised snow tomorrow so bear with me…).

Most business books take the more is more approach to contents pages. In fact, I’ve seen contents stretch over four, sometimes five pages just to show how much ‘value’ is in the book. They take comprehensive to a whole new level. That doesn’t sit so well with me. It feels inelegant and downmarket. Coffee table style books take the other approach, simply listing out the chapter heads and sometimes, the top level heads.

Coffee table style contents pages are usually a page and look gorgeous. But then, so they should. You’re buying coffee-table books because they are beautiful and inspiring. Their value is generally in how they look: the photography, styling, ideas etc rather than in the process in the words.

But my book does both. There’s a really, really robust process behind this book that’ll transform the way you do business; but it’s delivered in an inspirational and beautiful way. I mean, you can see my problem, can’t you?

The page you see below (Option One) is what my instinct tells me is right for the book. You’re intelligent, creative and visionary entrepreneurs. You’re buying this book because you’re excited about what it can do for you, how we get there is off less importance, right? This is my chance to draw you in, excite you and give you a flavour of what the book is about- do you love it as much as I do?

This page (Option Two), on the other hand, is a more traditional approach. It’s the safe option. Having never played it safe in my life, I’m not enamoured by this one (can you tell?!!). It feels too predictable, too boring, too ordinary. But it does give you more of an insight into what’s inside. Well, by that I mean, it tells you how we’re going to get to brand brilliance, it doesn’t necessarily give you the benefits.

I do realise that I am completely leading you down one path, but this is because I want to explain my thought process and give you the opportunity to tell me that whilst you get where I’m coming from, you prefer the alternative. Every bone in my body is telling me that option one is the best, but I would genuinely love to know what you think.

So, have your say, which Contents page should I go with? Which will sell more books?

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
Start date 11-01-2017 17:01:53
End date 14-01-2017 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Which Contents page do you believe will sell more books?

 

The Brand Stylist Book

An update on #thebrandstylistbook2

January 9, 2017

Goodness, I hardly know where to start! It seems to be a gazillion years since I blogged and even longer since I told you about the book. So much has happened and moved on since then that it feels like we have so much to catch up on.

So let’s start with me finally spilling the beans on what the book will be about… These are some of the behind the scenes photos from my shoots with the wonderful Matt Pereira, who has totally pulled it out of the bag again, and produced some incredible images.

Brand Brilliance: Elevate your brand, enchant your audience

Drum roll please… The Brand Stylist Book Two is going to be called Brand Brilliance: Elevate your brand, enchant your audience and is essentially about helping you to define exactly what it is that makes your business brilliant and letting that shine through everything you do. This time I want to go beyond the visuals and explore your brand in depth. I want to help you become more intentional across everything you communicate.

When I first started writing the book, I’d set out to write the follow up to How to Style Your Brand. I wanted to cover how to create a website that wins you work; how to create your own design work that doesn’t look, shall we say, different, to what your designer does for you; and how to create communications that make it easy for your clients to pick you.

But the more I wrote, and the more I listened, I realised that actually before we get to that stuff, many of you guys need help working out exactly what your message should be and what you want to be known for. I meet so many students in my workshop who want to find clarity around what their brand should stand for. Others struggle to decide on what’s important and what’s not. And much of the consultancy work I do is centred around finding my clients a unique and powerful spot in the market and then translating that across all of the brand communications.

Finding clarity

However successful our businesses, finding clarity around precisely what makes our brand brilliant and what our message should be is really challenging. And this is where this book will help you. You’ll find a comprehensive process walks you through establishing exactly what you want to be known for and then the second part will show you how to communicate that.

I’ve focused on the things you can do to really elevate your brand. So we cover creating a website that works (ostensibly what I thought the book was going to be about) and also how to create communications that win you work. We cover proposals, presenting your work in style and delivering with a smile.

Your go-to resource  

I’m really excited about the Absolute Essentials for Modern Marketers chapter which is in the middle of the book and I’m hoping that you’ll use it as your go-to resource, whatever you’re working on. In it I cover: Planning for Success, Writing Powerful Copy, Photography and Styling that’ll communicate your brand message and also Design for Go-Getters.

I haven’t counted them all up yet, but there are scores of super inspirational case studies and examples and some really beautiful work. The new design style reflects my new brand identity (still to be implemented on this blog ;)) and I am really, really incredibly excited about how it’s all coming together.

It all seems so clear now but by goodness did this take time to pull together! Working out a process that I know will work for the myriad of businesses that will read this book has been intense, to say the least. Thank goodness for my amazing friend Elizabeth Cairns who has worked really closely with me on structuring and editing the book. I’m so immensely proud of what we’ve achieved.

I’m now in the final stages and am hoping to have this off to print by next Friday. Preorders will open very soon – I’m planning on offering some directly through the website just for the pre-launch and you should be able to order via Amazon.co.uk at the very least. I can’t think about Amazon.com just yet but it will be at the top of my agenda just as soon as I’ve got this baby off to print.

I’ll check in very soon with some more updates, but for now, I’m utterly consumed with making sure that this is the very best it can be. Excited to get it out there and share it with you! I really think you’re going to love it. At least, I do hope so!

How to Style Your Brand

The Brand Stylist Retreat: Refresh, Recharge, Refine

November 2, 2016

You know that feeling you get when you first arrive on holiday? Inspired by a change of scene, the promise of sunshine and incredible food, day to day business worries seem to melt away and in their place emerge the most powerful ideas. There’s something about those first few days – a time of wonder, slowing down and letting go, that seem to bring clarity, energy and drive. Don’t you find that your best ideas are often generated while you’re away?

Now imagine you’re in the most beautiful setting, with a bunch of super inspirational entrepreneurs. And you’re being led through workshops by an experienced teacher passionate about each and every one of you building a business that plays to your strengths, gives you the freedom you want and you can be proud to call your own. That’s exactly what I’m planning for the very first Brand Stylist retreat in Majorca next May.

The Brand Stylist Retreat: The Business of Brand Styling

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If you’re a graphic or web designer, a Brand Stylist or are aspiring to launch a business in the field then you are soooo going to want to join us. Four days of inspirational workshops, game changing exercises and a community of creative entrepreneurs to share ideas with and cheer each other on. What’s not to love?

Add in to that the most gorgeously laid-back-luxe hotel I think I have ever visited; delicious food and the Majorcan sun and I think we have a winning combination! Booking is now open for this all-inclusive retreat and I would love for you to join us.

Amazing! I learned so much. Three days later and my head is still spinning with the possibilities!

Linda Leunissen, Dutches

This is your opportunity to switch off, get away from the demands of running your business (and life in general) and take some time out to just focus on you and your business. I’ll be working you hard, that’s for sure but this is your chance to sharpen those dreams, refine your goals and make a plan to make 2017 your Best. Year. Ever.

This is about investing in you and your business. It’s about putting yourself first, reflecting on what’s working and making serious plans to elevate your business for the year ahead.

Four days of game-changing workshops, relaxation and reflection

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You’ll find more on the agenda, the topics we’ll cover and the plan on this page. Essentially, it’s about the business of brand styling. Many of you will already be accomplished designers. You’ll have a beautiful portfolio, a steady stream of clients aching to work with you and a lovely long list of projects you’re proud of. But you’re ready to take things up a notch.

I came home brimming with newfound knowledge, clarity and determination… totally reinvigorated and full of creative drive. And I really needed that!

Silkie Lloyd, The Forge

You’re ready to refine your process, work on building your offering and explore how you can grow your business. Do you take on staff? Do you work with associates? Or should you just take a deep breath and charge what you secretly know you’re worth? Perhaps it’s a combination of all three? I’ve founded, built and sold a successful brand styling company and I know, warts and all, the opportunities and challenges you’ll be facing right now. This retreat will give you the confidence to take the steps that are right for your unique business.

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Perhaps you run a design company or specialise in website design but are keen to build your brand offering. You’d like to refine your process, gain more confidence in how you work with clients and the finished delivery. You win some great projects but you can’t help thinking that you could be doing more. Colour psychology will give you the tools to create a more robust approach and your clients confidence – we’ll build on the absolute essentials to enable you to work more efficiently with your clients, identify their seasons and tighten up your understanding of the process. We’ll explore how you can write better proposals and present your work more powerfully to build confidence at every level and win more profitable work.

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Some of you will be just starting out. You’ll be finding your way, finding your style and working out your process. Perhaps you’re working harder than you’d like, for less than you’d like. That’s understandable. You’ll be struggling to see the wood for the trees and you’ll benefit a lot from just taking a deep breath, working on defining your style and identifying what sort of business you want to create.

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This deliberately isn’t about the design work itself: you all bring something wonderful and different to the party so the emphasis is very much on elevating your brand, enchanting your audience and building confidence in what you do. It’s about marketing smarter, charging what you’re worth and finding your tribe. In short, it’s about helping you create a business that works for you: whatever level you’re at.

You have this energy that gets people to believe that anything is possible.

Stacey MacIntyre

Inspiration, focus and expert advice

Having run my own agency (with a team of 7 staff, chunky overheads and a very healthy six-figure turnover) I know what it takes to found, build and sell a sizeable, successful business. I’ve experienced the various highs and lows that come with following your dreams, building a team and finding your way. I’ve worked out how to make what I do work for me, and I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way! I want to share that experience with you and help you achieve your dreams.

This is your opportunity to plan for the year ahead and take things up a gear or three. The price reflects the value I know that this workshop will add to your business as well as the very lovely surroundings we’ll find ourselves in. I’m going to be bringing in some very exciting co-teachers as well as a few surprises along the way. It’s definitely going to be an event you’ll want to be a part of. And goodness, I’d hope that by the time we’re finished, the clarity, focus and confidence you’ll gain will enable you to see a return on your investment pretty quickly.

This video, from the Brand Brilliance workshop I think beautifully sums up the power of just taking a few days out of the office to focus on what’s important. So excited to be putting on this amazing four day event and can’t wait to meet you!

You can book your place here – and when you’re quick about things, you’ll be able to pay in instalments to spread the load a little! Hope to see you there!

The Brand Stylist Book, Thinking Big

A better way of doing business

October 31, 2016

Over the past few months I’ve been working really, really hard on my next book. It’s meant that posts on this blog have been fewer and farther between than I’d like, but creating a book is such a massive undertaking that I’ve had to just focus my energy on doing one thing really well rather than spreading myself too thinly.

Those of you that have been following along via Instagram will have seen that we’ve closed the call for submissions and undertaken two photoshoots. I’ve flat planned, I’ve started the design work (so pleased with how it’s looking) and I’m thrilled to say it’s all finally coming into focus.

It’s a strange thing, writing a book, because one thing I’ve learned in my very short authoring career (this will be my third book) is that however much of an idea you have when you start out writing, the book will become what it wants to become. I always start writing with total focus: with a clear reader in mind, and with a clear set of objectives, but I never really and truly know what the book is about until it’s finished.

I still can’t tell you exactly what the #brandstylistbook2 will be about, but it is a follow up (and more) to How to Style Your Brand. And the more I write, refine and edit, the more I see one very clear theme coming through. That getting your branding right is about more than having a nice set of business cards or a wow-y homepage. It’s about opening doors to a better way of doing business.

hustle

It sometimes feels like wherever you look, there’s a tidal wave of entrepreneurs hustling away like it’s some sort of badge of honour. As though fighting for work, competing on price and persuading people to take you seriously is part of running a business.

There is no rule that says running a business needs to be a slog. There’s no reason that working more hours than your body can take is the only way of building a successful company. You don’t need to be all things to all people, take on every piece of work that comes your way or be crippled by competition.

The hustle is not real. At least, it doesn’t need to be.

When I posted this to my Instagram a few weeks back the response was overwhelming. In fact, I’ve never had a post more commented on, so I decided it was time to share it with you guys here.

Create a business that works for you. Create a brand that opens doors, feeds your creativity and helps you achieve your ambition. Focus on what you do best and put yourself in a category of one. No one can do what you do quite like you, so celebrate it. Stop competing with everyone else. Stop hustling.

Find that thing that you do better than anyone else. Nurture it, celebrate it and let it shine through everything you do. Hold your head up high and own your space. You’ve totally got this.

About The Brand Stylist, Workshops

“An amazing event” Notes from the Brand Brilliance Workshop, 5&6 October, Surrey

October 21, 2016

The workshop was so brilliant, I can’t thank you enough, from feeling like I couldn’t see the woods to the trees, I now feel like you’ve made me a little path in the woods that I can trot along now.

Catherine Colebrook

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How do you fancy a behind the scenes look at the latest workshop? Katie Spicer has once again worked her magic on the photos and I’m so excited to share some of the details, insights and special moments from the Brand Brilliance workshop I held in Surrey a few weeks back.

Early October saw the launch of a very different sort of workshop from The Brand Stylist: an intimate, two day branding workshop hosted at the Blid and Hatton food studio at the gorgeous Medicine Garden in Surrey.

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You know me well for the big, party-style workshops I run over one day in London and New York. And it was inspired by the students in New York that I decided to be brave and try something different. I wanted to put on a workshop that better reflected what you know me for (branding) and that gave me the chance to work on a more intimate level with the students. I was a little apprehensive about the change in format. Would the students like the venue? Would I be able to maintain a high level of energy and fun with such a small group? Would the workshop be worth the investment? Would anybody want to book?!!

So many worries launching something new, and I really needn’t have worried. We sold out within several weeks of launching the workshop and 70% of the students had attended previous workshops so there were lots of oohs and aaaahs as everyone reconnected again! It was such a lovely group of students and we had an absolute ball. Most importantly, everyone had a great couple of days, worked really, really hard and really moved their brands forwards.

“an inspiring and brilliant couple of days.”

Diane Pinchbeck

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One of the things I loved the most, was how everyone worked together. I’d designed a range of group, small group and individual exercises to make sure that everyone not only got time to work on their own stuff, but also benefit from an outside perspective. Isn’t it always the way that everyone else can see something blindingly obvious that you just can’t when you’re so close to what you’re doing? And so there was lots of laughter and gentle encouragement as well as notes being scribbled furiously and lightbulb moments experienced.

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The aim of the workshop was to enable each student to get a better handle on the essence of what makes their brand brilliant. As business owners we operate in such a ‘noisy’ world that it’s hard to clarify exactly what you want to be known for, what you should focus on and who your ideal clients are. On day one we worked immensely hard to define the essence of everyone’s brands. It’s fair to say we were all pretty exhausted by the end of day one as literally a month’s worth of work was crammed into a few short hours!

The focus for day two was to take that clarity and translate it across their communications. So if you know you want your brand to be cool, fun and lighthearted, say, then you can make sure that the imagery you choose, the language you write with, the paper stocks and packaging you use all communicate that. Staying focused once you’re back in the ‘real world’ can be tricky, so each student created a Brand Blueprint to keep them on track and act as a handy reference. There’s always time for a Blue Peter moment in my world, however high flying you might be.

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We talked at length. About what was possible, about what motivated us and where we hoped to be. Because if your brand is everything your clients expect, experience and remember about your business it makes sense, surely, that your business is something that gives you the freedom, flexibility and fun that you want? We talked about big dreams and big ideas as well as the practicalities of what we could do to get our brands where we wanted them to be.

Huge, huge, HUGE thank you for a great workshop. I knew it would push my creative / business boundaries and I wasn’t disappointed. Yet again, my brain is whirring..

Nicola Wilkes, House Envy

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We researched, discussed and mood boarded.

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And we made sure that the notes the students had made in the workbooks ahead of our time together gave them the focus and perspective to really move forwards.

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One of the things I’m really passionate about is having the confidence to have a clear and strong essence to your business. Whether that’s a creative style, an approach or an attitude, none of us can be all things to all people and it’s essential you understand what you’re offering (and what you’re not) so that you can communicate effectively.

To illustrate my point, the lovely Gray’s Dairy, a client of mine who has just launched a range of artisan gelato donated some samples for a very essential tasting. When we were working on the packaging, I had the immensely difficult job of tasting the flavours – all of which are natural, generous and utterly delicious. The flavours that didn’t make the final cull didn’t fit within that remit and it was great for the students to be able to do a really hands on (and tasty) practical to discuss that. I must write a separate blog post on this – I’ll add to my list as there are so many useful takeaways from the project, and it’s something I’m really proud of so I’d love to share another time.

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It was so lovely having Maddie cooking away in the background – something the students loved too – along with her incredible food. We kicked off both days with a delicious brunch: avocado on toast, pastries, crumble cake and a fruit platter along with fresh coffee, tea and apple juice (a gorgeous shade of pink from apples from my garden). Lunch was salads on day one and soup and cheese on day two. And to finish the day I’d bought some lovely local sparkling wines to enjoy with nibbles.

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We covered so much ground on Day One: customer profiles, they created ‘muses’ (my slightly nicer word for Customer Archetypes) and defined their message. We talked about brand values, competition and space in the market. It’s no surprise we finished the day much in need of a drink and a rest!

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On Day Two, refreshed after a much needed night’s sleep we started to to think about how to translate that message across the various channels of communication. Starting with how we wanted our brands to look and feel and then moving on to photography and styling. The style of photography you use, the props you pick, the tones of colour, the texture, even the way you choose to edit your images can all send out a message. We wanted to be sure it was an intentional one.

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We researched, we brainstormed and we generated plenty of ideas…

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And then it was time for a practical styling session. I LOVED how Tamsin brought her family business: a theatrical set design company with a wonderful legacy but with a firm eye on the future to life.

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Such lovely props people brought with them!

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Finally it was time to think about the Brand Voice and the sort of language that would work before putting together a Brand Blueprint.

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The lovely GF Smith sent some beautiful card to make the outsides with and I’d printed up some inners that could be personalised for each student.

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And so with a little more focus, a flurry of laughter and a quick scribbling down of tasks to be completed over the coming weeks it was time to bid farewell to a super, super lovely bunch of inspirational and intelligent women. I can honestly say I loved every moment. I can’t wait to do it all over again!

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Your formula is so spot on and the venue, Maddie’s food, the decor all addded to a special, unique experience:- Thank you!

Nicola Wilkes, House Envy

I will definitely, definitely run another Brand Brilliance workshop, but I’ve promised myself I won’t book in a date until I’ve sent my next book off to print. Creating a book is such a gargantuan effort and I’ve learned the hard way not to take on too much. So keep your eyes peeled and make sure you’re on the mailing list to hear about the next event.

If you’re a Brand Stylist, designer or even a marketer you might be interested in The Brand Stylist retreat which is taking place at a gorgeous holistic retreat (it’s super luxe – no hair shirts or mattressless beds here…) in Majorca in May. Places are limited so do book your place sooner rather than later as I’m certain we will sell out…

 

Resources & How To's

CLARIFY

September 20, 2016

September is a great month to just take stock and clarify where you want to be headed before the craziness of the Autumn term takes a hold. And even if you’re already suffering from To Do List Overwhelm, it’s really worth taking some time to step back, reflect on where you want your business to be and how you’re going to get there.

I’ll be honest, two workshops and two events last week, coupled with a brand new workshop in October and two photoshoots to plan for the book means that the pressure has already set in. I have so little time to work that I have to be ruthlessly efficient about what I take on. I’m constantly asking myself, how does this help me get to where I want to be next? How is this going to move my business forwards?

None of us can take on everything that comes our way. None of us ever have enough time – even if we have all the time in the world, it won’t be enough.

You can do anything you want. Literally, anything you put your mind to. But you can’t do everything. None of us can.

So let’s take some time to rediscover that focus that we had so clearly after our summer break and make some clear plans for the year ahead. You may find this comes so easily to you. Or you may need a little more guidance. If so, may I suggest you start with my New Year Brand Shakedown? This will give you a structured walk through of where you’re at now and where you want to be headed.

You might like to work back through the How to Style Your Brand Planning Workbook – even if you’re happy with your brand identity the sorts of questions in that guide are designed to help you think clearly. Or how about the blog posts on defining your brand values or building the business you really want.

About The Brand Stylist

A New Look Newsletter

September 19, 2016

The idea came to me, as the best ideas always seem to, on holiday.

There’s something quite magical that happens once you totally switch off and just relax, isn’t there? Free of constant notifications, the pressure to post a better Instagram than last time or to simply stay on top of your diary, amazing things start to happen. Your mind is clear and your creativity starts to wander. Best of all, I think the best ideas happen when you’re not even looking for them.

Another gorgeous day with a beautiful view and lots of lovely rose. I could get used to this!

And so it was. Day two of the holiday, I’d settled down onto my sun lounger and picked up my magazine to read with my iced coffee. And bam! It hit me. This idea could so work for The Brand Stylist.

I’d been thinking for a while that I wanted to get my newsletters into better shape. I didn’t love how they looked, but more to the point, I was conscious that they weren’t adding as much value as I’d like. We’re all busy and I really, really appreciate those of you that let me into your inbox every month. And whilst we both want you to be up to date with the latest workshops or submissions for the book, I’d always intended to send out a little more. More in terms of value rather than quantity!

I’d wrestled with what to do for months. The truth is, I have no time. So committing to a regular ‘editorial schedule’ just seemed too much. And also too much for you guys. I find that the best emails to receive are the ones that don’t ask too much of me. So I didn’t want to send out a ginormous twenty minute read. I wanted to do something that was very accessible, but how?

Have you read The Simple Things magazine? I had a gift subscription a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it so picked up the latest copy to take on holiday with me. And there it was, a truly simple idea that blew my mind. As I read the Editor’s letter I saw in there something that just fitted so well with what I want to do. Every issue is focused around a single theme. So simple but so effective!

I started to see how this sort of thing could work for my newsletters. There are certain rhythms to business; things slow down over the summer and pick up in Autumn. January is all about fresh starts and in Spring we get creative and inspired. It ebbs and flows with the seasons and means that we can share a certain focus without things getting overwhelming.

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Every month I’ll send you out a newsletter with a very particular focus. It’ll be very brief and I hope, very inspiring. If you have the time or the inclination, there’ll be links to some more in depth workbooks and resources. This month is a chance to clarify things. Taking that calm and ability to focus that you hopefully gained over the summer slowdown, we have an opportunity to take a step back and set our intentions for our business before we get overwhelmed by deadlines and our to do lists.

It’s a new way of doing things, and like everything new, it’s scary. It’s going to push me out of my comfort zone, big time. I’m already a little terrified by the boundaries of email design. I hate not being able to totally design how the text looks or exactly how things behave on different devices. But completion over perfection is something I am a big believer in for the web. You just can’t make everything look perfect all the time – you just have to do your best.

The first new look newsletter will be out next week, and I’ve already sent out a couple of emails in the new style so some of you will have already had a preview. I do hope you like – please do let me know what you think! Oh, and if you’re not already on the list and you’d like to subscribe, you can sign up here. Enjoy!

Here’s the mockup I created initially to just play about with what was possible, and hopefully those of you that have received it have found it not a million miles from my initial design. I can’t wait to share the story behind the lovely new identity for The Brand Stylist too – although looking at my diary, it could well be some weeks yet!

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Do let me know what you think!