Behind the Scenes

A new website is on the way for The Brand Stylist

March 24, 2017

As you read this I’ll be scurrying around behind the scenes adding the last bits of content to the new website for The Brand Stylist. It’ll have a much fresher, lighter and more modern look. Things like the resources will be easier to locate and the whole thing will be totally on brand as this time, I’ve invested in a fully bespoke design and build. I can’t wait to get it live!

In the meantime, I thought it might be interesting to share a behind-the-scenes tour of how the design came to be. As you know, over the past few years I’ve started to think much bigger about The Brand Stylist and the truth is, I had outgrown my off-the-shelf theme.

Planning the new website

I started by exploring what was working, what wasn’t and what I wanted to achieve with my new website. Simple things: like making sure the resources were all easy to find and ensuring my latest workshops were clear was one. Another was definitely to elevate the design
The design of the blog right now is fine. But it isn’t as beautiful as it could be. And I found that annoying. I also wanted to bring all of my offerings: books, workshops, retreats, consultancy to one place. So as soon as this website is bedded in, it’s very likely I’ll napalm the Fiona Humberstone consulting website, as all my business is now done through my limited company. And who really wants to manage and update two websites. What a pain!

As well as thinking about what I wanted, I thought about the sorts of questions I was commonly asked through the website and whether there was anything we could do in terms of the structure or functionality to streamline things for you and I. And obvious one was making it clear where all regular resources are for each book. Another was adding some FAQ’s and press page (on the to do list) to ensure I wasn’t having to send out the same information again and again.

Once I’d brainstormed my goals, I worked with my friend Caz Harrison to explore creative ideas. This was an amazing session. I did the design work but I haven’t really kept up with web design trends, which move in at a frighteningly fast pace. Caz does this sort of thing day in, day out and so she had a gazillion ideas to share: like the unusually shaped content blocks on the homepage.

Creating the wireframe

The next step is to wireframe and I can’t stress how important this is. Wireframing allows you to put your focus in the functionality and, crucially, your customer. Without any design distractions, you can focus on how you’ll structure the site, how your clients will move around it and what needs to be most prominent.

In my experience, this is something that’s often overlooked but to the massive detriment of the success of a site. Once all the images and the pretty colours are in it’s easy to get distracted into how gorgeous everything looks and miss something essential. It’s much easier to shift things around at the wireframe stage than it is to squeeze something in once the design is almost signed off.

I designed my wireframe in InDesign, simply because that’s where I work the fastest and most often, but you could use any programme, or indeed, just a piece of paper and pen. What really matters is that you think about how you want things to work. Here’s a snippet. If you’re interested, you can download the THE BRAND STYLIST WIREFRAME here.

My tips for redesigning your own website

If you’re redesigning your website right now, I’d really recommend you take some time to think about how you want your customers to use and respond to your website before you commission a designer. In Brand Brilliance you’ll find a whole planning process for this which I know you’re going to love.

Take some time to get some inspiration for what’s trending in website design right now. I love to use Pinterest for this but Dribble and Bechance are also great sources of inspiration. Here’s my Pinterest board with my initial ideas.

Pick your partner carefully. A great web designer will have a solid appreciation of how to make your brand look fabulous, how to ensure your customers ache to work with you and they’ll understand how to design for the web right now (and believe me, it changes. Often). That’s a lot to ask for. That might mean that you need to look further than your wonderful brand stylist – it’s a different (but not mutually exclusive) skill set. Look carefully at the website portfolio and look at the attention to detail on the styling as well as how it feels to move around the website. Both need to be right.

You may want to work with a separate web developer, as I did. This means that you can use the best people for the right jobs. I’ve been working with BWeb who have been amazing in terms of supporting me through this whole build. They’ve worked incredibly hard and have been really lovely to deal with throughout the process.

Oh, and word to the wise: don’t feel you can abdicate all responsibility for this to your web company. Tempting as it might be, the truth is that no one understands your business like you do. No one has as much invested in getting this right as you do, so take the trouble to plan and wireframe at the outset and everyone will be happy.

Anything you’d add to the list?

Self Publishing

Too much knowledge can be a dangerous thing…

March 21, 2017

Last Wednesday I visited The London Book Fair for the first time ever. It was an inspiring, affirming and overwhelming day. I made some great contacts, am several steps closer to having my books more freely available in the United States (I went primarily to find a wholesaler/ distributor) and got a great perspective on the way the ‘industry’ works as a whole.

And whilst it was a great day and a great show, I am so glad I didn’t visit three years ago. I can pretty much say for certain that had I attended before the success of How to Style your Brand, I would probably never have released the book. The publishing industry is a gargantuan beast. It’s traditional. There are big barriers to entry. And there aren’t many opportunities for people to do things a different way.

Sure, the industry is making allowances for self-published authors but the model is very much centred around print-on-demand, which is fine if you are printing a black and white novel or business book. Not so fine if you have a vision for a beautiful, coffee-table style book that’s as useful as it is visually inspirational. I’ve come to realise over the years that printing, storing and distributing my books is only part of the story. Wholesalers have minimum sales levels before they’ll speak to you. You need to be able to manage and anticipate stock levels and demand. Running out isn’t good, nor is over-ordering. There’s a fine balance to be struck.

To truly achieve a book’s potential you need to put a lot of energy into sales. You need to have the right contacts with the right buyers and get your book into the right shops. And you need to be prepared to take risks. Terrifying stories floated around on Wednesday of books being over-sold into large retailers only to have an 80% return rate (when the store realises they aren’t going to sell them) a couple of months later. Worse still, the publisher pays a ‘restocking’ fee for stock that really shouldn’t have been sold in the first place. Added to that you’ve got to put more investment into printing more books to keep up with the demand and all the while, you’re crossing your fingers that they are actually going to sell. It’s too much for a small, one-girl-band publisher to cope with, on top of everything else that comes with running a business and a family.

Self-publishing the ‘traditional’ way

Self-publishing has, I’m afraid, rightly got a lot of bad press within the industry. Amateur covers leak credibility from the get-go. Poor edits, hard-to-follow structures and books riddled with typos abound. It’s hardly surprising that industry stalwarts scathingly describe the companies that help create these books as Vanity Publishers. There are people doing it well, but there are more people doing it less well. And I don’t know about you, but that’s neither reassuring nor inspiring to me.

So you can see how I might have been a little despondent about my ‘exciting new project’ had I visited the London Book Fair a couple of years ago.

One of the first stands I approached was a small distribution company. I said ‘I have two books…’ and the teeth sucking began. ‘Before you dismiss me’ I continued, ‘I’ve sold 15,000 copies of this one (How to Style your Brand) and this one (Brand Brilliance) will be released in May and has already reached number 4 in the bestseller-lists’. ‘Have a seat’ they said.

It helped to have a bag with two beautiful books to show the teeth suckers. It helped to have the sales figures, the perspective and the knowledge to back up why I was worth talking to. Most of all, it helped to have the confidence to talk to these guys as an equal. To not be fobbed off by their initial (unfounded) perceptions of another annoying vanity publisher wasting their time.

Carving your own path requires vision

A little knowledge can be a truly dangerous thing. Later that day I met with my lovely printer, Nicky. ‘The thing I really like about you’ she said ‘Is that you don’t accept the status quo. You see how things can be done better rather than doing them the way they’ve always been done’. I don’t do this because I want to become a ‘challenger brand’ or a ‘disruptor’ but because as an entrepreneur who understands what her readers want and need, to me, I want to take the simplest, most efficient approach.

It’s only now I fully understand why behind the scenes, distributing and wholesaling How to Style your Brand has been such a challenge. My books just don’t fit into either traditional or the print-on-demand self-publishing route. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t all been totally worth it, but it has thrown a lot of perspective on the whole thing.

One of my last meetings of the day was with a truly lovely and generous man from a major US book distributor. I spent a very lovely fifteen minutes basking in compliments from Gonzalo and his colleagues. They couldn’t believe that the books were self-published and we talked lots about opportunities and he opened some more doors for me, which I’m very excited about. Over the next few months, once Brand Brilliance is safely launched I plan to offer a consultancy and book packaging service for other authors who would like to create a gorgeous, useful and beautiful book like I have done with How to Style your Brand. I’m excited about how the next book is going to do and I can’t wait to see what happens with both books once I have the US distribution/ wholesale properly nailed. If I’ve sold as many copies as I have without really tapping into the US/ Canadian market, imagine what could happen when I get this right! It’s thrilling.

Your focus is what makes your idea unique: hold on to that

If you’re at the point of doing something different, in whatever industry, I would suggest that you do two things. One: hold on to your vision, it’s a truly precious thing. People will tell you ‘No. It can’t be done.’ That’s ok. It shows you are doing something different and game-changing. If you know there’s a market and a need for what you’re creating, if you believe in what you’re doing, hold on to that. No one knows your market like you do. No one can execute your vision like you can. Don’t be bedazzled by industry giants, follow your own path. It’s only then that you will reach your true potential.

Secondly, don’t think too hard. Don’t research too much. A little naivety can be a wonderful thing! The more you look into how something ‘should’ be done, the more you’ll lose your focus and water down what made your idea so wonderful in the first place. Be brave, be bold and be strong.

Self Publishing, Thinking Big

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

March 18, 2017

It’s 6pm the night before I’m due to send my new book, Brand Brilliance, to print and I’m having something of a crisis of confidence. I’ve just started to add up the final costs for producing this book and the fear has properly kicked in. I must’ve been over those figures a dozen times. I have several spreadsheets with costs, cashflow and sales projections but I’m still having a proper freak-out.

272 edited, designed and finished pages from the book are printed out and taped to my wall. The book has been proofread by more than seven friends and family members and the whole project has taken around 7-8 solid months spread out over a two year period. I’m pretty invested in this: emotionally and financially but I’m still freaking out.

I decide to can the whole thing. If I don’t send the book to print I’ll save all that money that I’ve set aside for the print (a hefty five figure sum). Sure, I’ll still need to pay for the two editors, the photography, the location hire and the props I’ve invested in. But I will be safe. That money I’ve saved to print the books can remain in my account. Goodness, we could take a family holiday to the Caribbean, maybe two! And I won’t need to take the calculated risk that up until an hour or two ago I was perfectly happy to take.

Just to give you a little perspective: I’m a seasoned entrepreneur. I’ve founded, grown and sold a successful design business and built several more highly successful companies. I know what it takes to make a commercial success of something. I’m financially savvy (my husband might disagree here) and I’m a firm believer in following your vision and making things happen. I really shouldn’t be freaking out. And it really doesn’t make sense to abandon a project I’ve worked so hard to make happen. But at this point in time it seems to be the only thing that makes sense. Nuts, hey?

Geez… I’d forgotten quite how long it takes to just PDF a file for print. Half an hour, friends. Isn’t that crazy?
If you fancy a sneak peek at the book, take a look at my insta story and you’ll see I’ve posted a quick flick through. So excited!!

Finding the courage to take risks

Someone asked me recently on Instagram how you find the courage to take the risks and follow through on your dreams. Here’s my answer.

About an hour after my ridiculous freak out I realised I was being crazy. Of course it didn’t make sense to not publish Brand Brilliance. I thought of all the encouragement I’d had from readers of How to Style your Brand. I thought of all the anticipation surrounding this book, how so many people were really looking forward to this book. How they’ve been on this journey with me. And how this was about more than just me. This was a book that people wanted, more than that, this was a book people needed.

I reminded myself of why I was doing this in the first place. I thought about the inspiration that had kicked off this whole project. The desire to help people with more than styling their brands: a desire to help people think bigger about their businesses, to value their offering and get their customers to do the same. I thought about the impact this book would have on my readers. I imagined the stories I’d hear about the changes the book had inspired and I started to get over myself. In fact, I became more certain than ever that this was a good idea.

I imagine that my clever friend Elizabeth Cairns, editor of Brand Brilliance and amazing business-mentor will have a rational and very perceptive insight into this whole thing. Something to do with resistance challenging you to work out what you really want. I don’t know about any of that. All I know is that we all feel that fear sometimes. We all worry about following through on something we’ve worked so hard to achieve. We all worry about failure. If you’re not worrying about any of those things ever, there’s an argument that you probably aren’t pushing yourself out of your comfort zone enough or fulfilling your true potential.

So whatever it is that’s freaking you out right now, remind yourself of why you started in the first place. Find your inspiration. Be gentle with yourself. You’re totally going to nail this.

 

About The Brand Stylist

The Brand Stylist is hiring!

March 2, 2017

** UPDATE **

Thank you so much for all of your enthusiasm for these posts. I’m thrilled to say that I was overwhelmed with applications and appointed two wonderful ladies, very appropriately, on International Women’s Day. Hurrah! Please don’t send in any more applications as these posts are now filled. Thank you for your understanding.

***

How do you fancy being a part of an exciting, visionary and inspirational business? A creative company led by a big thinker, an experienced entrepreneur and a creative catalyst? You do? Marvellous, then read on, because The Brand Stylist is now hiring. I’m currently recruiting for two, part-time roles based from home: a Marketing Assistant and a Graphic Designer, to help me grow the business.

I’m really looking forward to building a team who can help me take The Brand Stylist forwards and start to realise some of the potential within the brand. I have so many things planned for the next year: the book launch, the retreat, the launch of at least one (hopefully several) online courses as well as more resources, more workshops and more newsletters and the truth is, I just can’t (and don’t want to) do it all myself.

I want to build an inspirational team packed with talent who can execute my ideas and more importantly, generate plenty of their own too. I have a lot of experience of developing talent, inspiring others to think big and I’d hope that you found the experience as rewarding as many of the people I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years.

Caz joined my last business fresh from university back in 2005 and the eagle-eyed amongst you will notice her credited in both of my current books. She grew from a junior Graphic Designer to my absolute rock, my Studio Manager and more. Caz now runs an extremely successful Brand Styling agency in her own right. In fact, she’s now fully booked till September which is no mean feat! Obviously I would not be so bold as to claim credit for her success 😉 but I do hope that the experience of working alongside a process-driven, exacting creative director and visionary entrepreneur had some impact!

This is definitely a role you can grow in to, but the designer in particular will need to have the experience and style to hit the ground running because we have a lot to achieve before May.

Interested? Good, I was hoping you would say that! Read on for more details and how to apply.

Graphic Designer for The Brand Stylist

Where do I start with this? We have so much to work on! New resources, invitations for the book launch and social media graphics. Newsletter designs, Pinterest friendly blog images, workbooks for online classes and future workbooks to name just a few. I’d also love someone to help me bounce ideas around for the gift boxes that are currently in development and I just know that once we lift the lid off that Pandora’s box there is going to be a whole ton more to do as well.

You’ll have a good understanding of preparing files for print and the web (resolution, spot colours, CMYK etc) and a strong working knowledge of InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. You’ll be super organised, lovely to work with and will always, always respect a deadline. I hate being late for a deadline. Too many years working in print I’m afraid. It’s a hard habit to break.

Your style will be clean, elegant and minimalist and I’d like to see some examples of social media graphics, print layouts and maybe some web work so that I can get a good understanding of your strengths. You’ll implement the new brand identity for The Brand Stylist and whilst over time, I would love to refine and develop this, behind the scenes I have already built a really strong style, so this is less about having the best ideas for creative logos and more about being able to create breathtaking layouts and graphics. The blog design is yet to catch up, but to get a better idea of my inspirations and style, take a look at this Pinterest board and my recent posts on the new identity. I’ll be looking for someone who can demonstrate a strong ability to produce inspirational yet stylish work.

In terms of hours. It’s hard to gauge exactly how many hours, but I imagine at least 15-20 hours per month. Possibly more. I’m happy to agree a certain number and build from there as the business grows. I’m a real morning person, so you’ll need to be on a similar timezone to me. I’d hope that we’d have a fair few Skype brainstorming meetings so you will need to be available to plan sessions within my working hours of 10.30-2.45 GMT.

THIS ROLE IS NOW FILLED.

 

Marketing Assistant for The Brand Stylist

As a marketing assistant for The Brand Stylist you’ll help me spread the word. You’ll pull together newsletters, plan social campaigns and content and most importantly, get involved with the book launch! You’ll be commercial, understand how to connect with entrepreneurs and you’ll have an engaging and easy tone of voice. Your grasp of grammar will be exceptional and you’ll help me communicate with passion and flair.

This is definitely a role that can grow. I imagine that it’ll be around 10 hours a month. Perhaps more? It’s hard to say before we get started really as I do all of this stuff myself right now.

You’ll be organised, have a healthy respect for deadlines and will be self-motivated to implement what we’ve agreed. I imagine that we’ll also brainstorm strategically at least monthly, so you’ll need to also be available within my working hours of 10.30-2.45 GMT on at least a monthly basis.

To apply, please send me your CV along with a cover note that explains exactly why you’d be right for the role and the value you feel you can bring. Spelling and grammar are really important to me, but nowhere more so than in this role so please, please double check your copy before you hit send. PLEASE NOTE: THIS ROLE IS NOW FILLED

Good to know

Right now, these will be internal roles. I loved running my agency, but I’m not looking to grow that side of my business.

These are both paid positions. Renumeration will be dependant upon experience. If you’d like to, you can tell me your hourly rate when you apply and I’ll tell you if my pockets are deep enough. But there is no pressure at this stage. This can be discussed at a later date if you’d prefer.

You can be anywhere in the world as long as you are available during my working hours. Please see above.

Please do not even think about contacting me if you are from a recruitment agency. Seriously.

 

Finally… GOOD LUCK! I can’t wait to see your applications 😉

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes: A new identity for The Brand Stylist {Part Two}

February 28, 2017

If you’ve attended a recent workshop or been following me on instagram, you may have noticed that The Brand Stylist has a new identity. Pulling the whole thing together has been an absolute pleasure and I thought you might like a little behind-the-scenes tour as to how we got here. In my last post, I talked about what inspired the new identity and what I hoped to achieve. Here I’m going to share some of the early designs as well as the finished article. I hope you’ll find it inspiring and enlightening!

The brief

As part of my own Thinking Bigger journey I was looking for a stylish and sophisticated identity that would reflect what it feels like to take a Brand Stylist workshop. I wanted my brand to feel empowering, inspiring, inventive and have lots of clarity. Most importantly, I wanted something that would feel expert and visionary as well as fun.

As well as establishing how I’d like my brand to look and feel, Shauna also asked my to identify what it wasn’t which was actually more instructive than what it was. Confident but not brash; engaging but not messy; stylish but not cold, and so on. As we went through the process, I realised that I’d need to let go of the brand identity itself feeling warm, engaging and inspiring if we were to achieve the contemporary, sophisticated and aspirational look we wanted.

So my gorgeously light-filled and life affirming photography communicates the warmth and inspiration that’s so core to my brand and the colour palette and typography are more cool, calm and collected which I think really works. It’s a good reminder that your brand identity doesn’t have to do everything: use your brand voice, your photography, textures or shapes perhaps to communicate the other elements of your brand and most of all, keep in mind what you set out to achieve.

In my case, we wanted my audience to feel empowered, confident, inspired, energised, inventive and clear. And I think Shauna’s achieved this with bells on.

Here’s Shauna’s mood board. A little more calm and collected than mine – which probably isn’t a bad thing!

And here are the initial concepts. It seems crazy looking back, because I adore my new logo, but initially this was just a project to brand the workshops, I hadn’t imagined that we would change the logo for The Brand Stylist. Isn’t that just the case when you’re too close to something? I was very determined not to ‘hold back’ the design of the new workshop identities at all, but I imagined that we would just use these as sub brands.

As it was, much further down the line there were two routes we just couldn’t let go of, and that’s where the plain obvious that was staring me in the face came in to play and we rebranded the whole business. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Initial Concepts

This was exactly what I thought I wanted. Geometric shapes and clean lines. The colours were interesting (designed to demarcate different workshops and I loved that idea) but the whole effect was too busy for me. I adored the geometric icons but the colours had to go. And the font: too art deco for my taste. And this is where collaborating on a design project gets interesting. Because the font above answers my brief for a clean, sophisticated and elegant design. But I had a visceral reaction against it!

This concept just didn’t feel right. The small font was too squat, I didn’t care for the title case words and whilst I loved the idea of doing some blind embossing with those brushstrokes, it just wasn’t for me.

I really like this as a device, but it’s not strong enough as a logo.

This for me, was where things got really interesting. I adored that Brand Brilliance icon from the get go, but the others just felt too messy. I love the way that the BB comes together to create something greater than the sum of it’s parts. It’s gorgeous. And it’s what ended up being the inspiration for The Brand Stylist logo. The others, we played about with, but in the end, option one was strongest.

Another great device, but there are much stronger logos in the mix.

Refining the favourites

Shauna was so responsive and so talented and an absolute pleasure to work with. She took my feedback on board with grace and determination and I think together we’ve created something really incredible. It’s given me confidence in what I do and inspired me to think bigger about what’s possible. Exactly what I’d seen branding doing for my own clients!

So we changed the font I had such an emotive reaction to into something that I just adore: Freight. Such an elegant and simple font that feels just perfectly right. The handwriting font I’m still not certain we have totally nailed, but that’s such a very personal thing, and I’m good with just playing about. This one feels too safe, my personal favourite, Signerica, you’ve all told me you can’t read, so that’s been consigned to the bin. Recently I’ve been experimenting with my handwriting instead!

How gorgeous do they look? So simple and stylish! And I love the copper pattern Shauna’s placed behind the icons which gives them a dimensional quality.

With the other favourite, we replaced the circles with squares which grounded things (a spring shape for a winter one) and added a whole heap more gravitas. It really works here doesn’t it?

And how lovely on the textures?

It was less successful, however, with the other workshops. Those other letter combinations just weren’t working for me and that was frustrating because Shauna and I both loved the double b, and didn’t necessarily want to let go of the concept, but it just wasn’t working for me.

And so it was that in the middle of a mammoth gardening session (am I alone in finding gardening immensely meditative?) I realised that of course! I could use the icon for The Brand Stylist. And my favourite geometric shapes for the workshops.

 

The finished identity

I loved the textures Shauna pulled together – especially that marble, which I use a lot.

And I adore the geometric icons. The Brand Stylist is a winter brand with a spring subordinate. So, I was obsessed with making the lines as thin as possible to bring out the spring simplicity and a little approachability. I love how she’s added the copper sheen to make them feel three-dimensional. And of course, I’m running up a small fortune foiling whatever I can, whenever possible.

I’m a total font geek, so getting the right fonts for the logo and strapline was quite the process. Poor Shauna. For me, fonts really communicate a lot of the personality of the brand so they have to be just so. I love Freight, which is what we’ve ended up with in the logo and (controversially for me at least) I also use without the letterspacing (kerning) in my headers. The handwriting font is still up for grabs. I’m not sure I’ve found anything that communicates quite the right energy whilst retaining legibility. The search is on!

I’ve never worked with an external designer before and I can’t tell you how inspiring (and terrifying) that was. I’ve designed everything for The Brand Stylist to date, and in my previous company, my design team always worked on our brand identity which is a very different proposition. It was so good to finally have someone to share the responsibility of getting this right with. So good to have another opinion and an objective view from someone who wasn’t as caught up in the detail of the day to day as me.

One thing that really surprised me was how nervous I felt when the designs came over. I really hadn’t expected that. But I guess I was subconsciously affirming that I’d made the right decision. And it really mattered to me to get this right. It definitely helped to talk through the changes, and I think (I hope!) Shauna liked the objective and constructive feedback. When things didn’t feel right, I could explain with a fair amount of perspective and precision why they weren’t working.

I’m thrilled with the end result. I can hand-on-heart say that I never would have come up with those designs. We both agreed that the logos were exactly the sort of thing we’d pin if we came across them on Pinterest! I absolutely adore them and I can see the whole look and feel being pretty timeless. It’ll also grow with me as I inevitably, refine my own aspirations for the business. I hope you love it too. Behind the scenes I’m working very hard on getting the new designs for the website together which I hope will be launched soon.

 

Behind the Scenes

Elevating my own brand: a new identity for the brand stylist {Part One}

February 28, 2017

I’ll be honest, this post has been a long time in the making.

When you’re writing a book, everything else is literally eclipsed. And so here we are, five months on from the launch of my lovely new brand identity and finally I have a chink of time to give you a little behind-the-scenes tour of how this beauty came to be. So settle down somewhere comfy, what follows are a couple of posts that’ll give you an insight into how and why I rebranded and the impact it’s having on me and my business.

Thinking bigger

It all started when I made the decision to allow myself to think a lot bigger about The Brand Stylist. For a very long time, I promised myself to keep my business small but perfectly formed. I wanted to keep my workload to just two or three school days a week in term times only and I wanted to keep things simple. So no staff, no overheads, no VAT.

Having founded, grown, sold and taken refuge from a pretty large business, with all the highs and lows that this entailed, I was determined to keep things really, really simple for my next company. Of course, keeping things simple when you’re of an entrepreneurial mindset isn’t always easy. It wasn’t long before my ideas were bigger than the business I’d set out to create. How to Style your Brand was overwhelmingly more successful than I could’ve anticipated and after many, many deliberations, I decided to bite the bullet, separate out my publishing company and take The Brand Stylist VAT registered.

That meant that I could dream so much bigger: the retreat in Majorca, a two-day Brand Brilliance workshop, more consultancy and the opportunity to run online courses. It’s still just me. I haven’t taken on any staff – yet. Although I’m getting to the point where I’ll probably want to. But thinking bigger about my business gave me the opportunity to think bigger about my brand.

When I set up my company back in the summer of 2014, I’d thought I was going to be a blogger, with a little consultancy on the side and monthly workshops. I wanted to publish How to Style your Brand and I imagined I’d probably write more books over time. It’s funny, because aside from the blogging (I definitely don’t define myself as a blogger, although blogging is an integral part of my business), the business is doing pretty much what I set out to achieve. But like many of my clients, as I’ve grown in to my business, I’ve become more confident about what I have to offer, where I sit in the market and the message I want to portray.

My old identity was definitely quite a play-it-safe option. I didn’t want anything too girlish and it needed to have a certain gravitas. But it definitely didn’t feel like ‘me’. I was trying to create a relatively neutral backdrop to what I imagined would be a blog I’d write several times a week showcasing other peoples’ designs. Actually, as it turned out, this blog has gone in a rather different direction. As have my workshops and consulting. So it was time to celebrate that.

The brief

Colours, leaves and gorgeous type. What’s not to love?

Pattern! And more tropical leaves

I wanted an identity that looked ‘wow’ when you saw it. One that felt aspirational, elegant and stylish. And one that communicated my expertise and experience without being obnoxious or overly corporate. I also wanted something I could carry through to my workshops and retreats. It’s been all of that and more. In fact, the whole experience has been so inspiring that when it came to designing my book, the initial spreads flew together because the whole identity just felt so right.

I started working through my own process. Writing a set of goals, working through a brief and creating a mood board. I collaged together a few ideas to get an idea of what I was after and also, to act as a sanity check to be sure that what I wanted would work, I collaged up some images of recent workshops to see if it could all work.

Finding the right designer was a little stressful. I have so many amazing friends and colleagues in the industry that I was worried about offending them by not working with them. I know. Exactly what I tell you guys not to worry about! But as soon as I knew the sort of thing I was after, there was only one designer for it. I’m so pleased we were able to work together.

I worked with the amazing Shauna of Branch who was a delight to work with. I love her elegant, feminine style and I knew that she would be able to balance that with the strength and gravitas I was looking for. She’s done an incredible job. And in the next post I’ll show you exactly how the initial ideas shaped up into the final design.

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, Self Publishing

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, Self Publishing

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?