Transcript
Vicki Weinberg:

Welcome to the, Bring Your Product Ideas To Life Podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg. Today, I'm delighted to have Cara bendon joining us on the podcast. Cara is a branding specialist with 13 years experience who's created over 60 brands, entrepreneurs, and small businesses, and has helped hundreds more via branding workshops. Cara's worked with both national brands and early stage startups, and she says she firmly believes every small business can use the same techniques as household names to establish themselves. So, as you might've guessed, we're going to be talking branding and all things brand and everything that involves today. Um, it's such a fantastic episode. Um, hopefully Cara and myself, give you a lot of context about what your brand is and, and isn't maybe, um, where your brand is visible. The certainly lots of new information for me in there. So hope is for you too. And then we also talk through some really practical things you can do when it comes to establishing your brand, or maybe thinking about your brand in more detail, if you have one already. So I really hope this is going to be really useful and practical episodes. And I'd love to introduce you to Cara. So hi, Cara. Thank you for being here.

Cara Bendon:

My pleasure thanks for having me.

Vicki Weinberg:

Can you please start by giving an introduction to yourself, your business, and most is that you do please?

Cara Bendon:

Yes. So I'm a branding consultant and since 2013, I have been working with startups and entrepreneurs and small businesses to create brands that are effective for their businesses. And, um, yeah, before that I worked in ad agencies, um, and I was working on big brands like The Times, Supernanny and luxury hotel brands, but I felt that I was much more passionate about using what I'd learnt, that the principles that are used for big brands for helping small businesses. So that's what I turned my hunt to. And I've been doing that for over eight years.

Vicki Weinberg:

Well, thank you for that introduction. And I'm going to start right at the beginning. So this might be a really obvious question, Cara, but, but, um, so what is branding and what does branding includes? Cause, um, I mean I'm thinking logos and colors, but I'm sure there's a lot more to it than that to, can you talk us through that please?

Cara Bendon:

Yeah, no, that's absolutely fine. It's a good place to start. So I often use the analogy of an iceberg and branding all of the aspects that you might see that are visible. So it would be your logo, the brand colors, um, the fonts, anything like any graphics or photography that's used to do with the business, any social media templates or graphic. That would all and packaging that would all fall under branding. It's all of the visible stuff. And then brand is what's beneath the surface. And the job of branding is to reflect that. So what's beneath the surface is your brand values, your tone of voice, your mission, um, you know, who you serve your USP. So effective branding uses these visual things. So it might just seem like a bit of design, but actually if you do it, wow, you're using your branding to express all of these things about what your company's about.

Vicki Weinberg:

That makes sense. Cause I know that I've looked at having logos made before, and I know I've been asked questions, like what personality does your brands have? And, and I guess is that why somebody would be asking, cause they're trying to get a sense of what you want to reflect.

Cara Bendon:

Exactly. So that could be really difficult to answer just off the bat. Somebody asks you that when you're going to get a logo done, but really it's because, um, you know, Uh, a logo is just sort of a drawing, but really if it's a be useful for your business and to help attract the right customers, it should be able to, um, to, to really understand your business and help you stand out within your marketplace. So that's why it's really valuable actually, to understand a lot of these things about your competitors and your ideal customer, where you might fall in, in the midst of both of those things before you go and get any branding done, because then you really understand where you're trying to sit and your graphic designer can translate that into the graphics.

Vicki Weinberg:

That makes sense. So I guess it's about knowing the thing. What your brand makeup is before working on the actual visual stuff. HaveI got that, right.

Cara Bendon:

Yeah, exactly. And I mean, that stuff can be tricky, but I think a lot of really good brand designers, they take you through that process. You know, if they're experienced in working with brands, then they will hold your hand through that so that it doesn't feel like you have to have written an essay before you even consider your branding. It's just that branding is quite subliminal and in terms of, and that's why it can be so powerful in terms of the fact that it can just appeal. Certain brands can just appeal to us if they are designed to cater for our kinds of target audience. And obviously when you're setting up a business, you want your customers to be attracted to your brand.

Vicki Weinberg:

That makes sense. Thank you. And so a brand designer would help you through that. So if someone's listening now and they're thinking, oh, I need to think about my brands aim. They don't necessarily have to have done all of this now. Um, that's something that they will be as to get help with going forward. Is that right?

Cara Bendon:

Yeah, definitely. But I think, you know, I always try and share lots of texts on my social media as well, especially on my Instagram and I, have a lot of like a carousel posted more information or, um, IGTs like short videos that just ask them the questions, because sometimes it's just a matter of putting that question in your mind and letting it mull for a little while, just so that you have given that some thought before you go ahead, it can be really beneficial.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And I'll make sure we link to Instagram in the show notes. People can go over and take a look at that because yeah, I know that you'd do some really helpful posts. It's just good. As you say, to start thinking about some of these things. Um, so before we go into a bit more details about sort of the makeup for brands, um, it'd be good to just know why do you think you need a strong, brand-wise a strong brands important and where is your brand even visible to people.

Cara Bendon:

So it's because people buy, we buy from hundreds and thousands of different brands in the course of a month or a year. And we are constantly seeing different things, but we, you know, in amidst all the noise, it's those brands that we basically know, like, and trust that we will gravitate towards. If you think about it, if you ever bought something from a company and they were quite good and you were trying to tell a friend, what you're hoping is you're trying to remember their name because you want to tell them, or you might remember something like, oh, they had yellow packaging or whatever it was, and that might help trigger you to remember what it was. So that's really what you're trying to do is create some kind of a latch for people to be able to remember you by. Because a lot of the time when you are a small business, you don't have the kind of, uh, the toolkit and resources of these bigger brands that have been around for a long time. But a lot of people do still want to support you. And I think even, you know, if, if anybody's trying a brand, that isn't one of the really, really big famous brands that everyone uses day in, day out, then. Trying to shortcut that process of remembering you so people can tell others and so that they can buy from you again, if you just even think I've done it, loads of times you start typing a URL or a handle on Instagram, because there was something you liked that you saw and you just have that moment where you try to remember it. And so branding can be really helpful because it uses things like color psychology, um, and, and shape which in, in quite clever ways. So, sorry, that sounded a bit over complicated, but basically the human brain, we read color and form much faster than we read any words. So the thing, like having a particular shape logo or a strong brand color that will help your brand be remembered, especially if it is in contrast with your competitors in a particular marketplace. So I think that's why it's important because it's all just about trying to, you know, people have, if they, if they bought from you and they like it, it's just about trying to get it so that you're remembered in a part of their brain. And so they can go back to you or they can tell others. And that's basically what we're all trying to do.

Vicki Weinberg:

So it's about standing out and being memorable, I guess.

Cara Bendon:

Absolutely. Yeah. And I mean, obviously it is about communicating some of those things that are unique about your brand, but at a really basic level, it's trying to remember it. It's like I remember, um, Selfridges did a campaign, um, some years ago where they sold products without the brand name on. And so you'd have like, um, a, you know, a, um, a jar. It was that it was clearly a Marmite jar, you know, the brown jar with the yellow led and the, the red and yellow on its label. Um, but without the brand name, everyone knew what it was. And that just means that it's because it's almost hardwired for us to see that. And I think, you know, if you think about that, when you're in the supermarket, that's why a lot of supermarkets use their own brands. They imitate very closely, um, the, the major brands and it's because then sometimes you can come home with the brands you didn't once, because they basically played in on that subliminal color informed thing, and you've picked up one and realized it wasn't the brands you once said. So, so I think, you know, that just shows the power of using these kind of quite basic building blocks, um, to make you memorable and then terms of. In terms of where it's seen, it's, it's basically any aspects of, of your, of your, of your business. So it could be, you know, if you are. Product business and your, uh, your selling online, then it would be what we would call a marketing touch points. So that's just any point in which the consumer might come into contact with your brand. So that could be a, it could be a social media ads. It could be your Facebook or Instagram page. Um, it could be your Twitter. If you have a customer service on there, it would be obviously your website, or if you were selling through a third party, it would be any banners, um, or graphics that you have on that site. And, and then obviously it would be things like your packaging, um, and you know, any tissue, paper, or stickers, uh, any emails with confirmation that you send through. So they're all just opportunities to continue, like building up that brand presence.

Vicki Weinberg:

That makes sense. Thank you. And I guess it's, it can seem a little bit overwhelming, all the things you have to think about, but then I guess on the other side, if you've already made the decisions about, I use these fonts and these colors and this style of graphics, I guess it probably makes it easier if you're looking to create a social media post or anything, or that, you know, an insert for a product or anything like that. If you've already, you've made those decisions about actually, this is what it looks like. Um, this is the style. Um, detector can see that, I guess a bit much before we move on, actually. Um, when you talk about the supermarket, I still, we came to mind as a fairly old story that I had from a friend that used to work in a major supermarket years ago. He told me that the own brand products in that supermarket, they had two different styles of packaging. They had like one that was. We've literally just black text, pretty much saying what products was. And then they had another style of packaging, which was sort of looked nicer and more like some of the big brands and they were priced differently. But my friends assured me that the actual product was inside the tin for example, was completely the same, but they could charge more for the one looks more premium.

Cara Bendon:

Isn't that interesting. Isn't that interesting. Yeah. I had to always thought that they would probably was a difference between the products when it's something like that, but that just goes to show doesn't it. I mean that, I mean that I've, I know similar as well, but, um, you know, many minutes ago I actually worked in retail and I remember that there was one supplier that used to come and provide all of the accessories for all of the shops. So, um, I think, yes, a lot, a lot is wrapped up in brand. It's why it's way. I mean, this is an extreme example, but Tiffany's they sell what is basically, it's a bookmark, but it's shaped like a paperclip and they sell it for, I can't quite remember now, but it's well over a hundred pounds and they have one version of the silver, one version that's gold, and the gold version is really expensive. And it's, it's really done the rounds as a bit of a viral thing of, you know, if Tiffany's can sell a paperclip for $300, then you're worth more type thing. But what's interesting is obviously they can first, obviously it's a, it's a bookmark, not a paperclip. It's a novelty item, but it's totally true. If a new business created a bookmark in silver at that price point it's unlikely to be as financially successful. And it's the same reason why, you know, uh, Gucci and other brands like that can sell basic plain white t-shirts that just got screen printed versions of their logos on they're not embroidered, they're not using precious materials or anything like that. And they have a price point that is, you know, 10 to 15 times higher than you would generally spend on an item of that description. It's because, you know, brand really matters. And, you know, in those instances, maybe celebrities or, or, you know, the brand history like for Tiffany, you know, Breakfast at Tiffany's is obviously quite iconic. And then Tiffany's is linked with milestones. You might get a locket necklace, or you might get, uh, you might buy a baby, a silver rattle, or you might get an engagement ring there. So, because they're so connected with milestones that were very aspirational brand and the case of, you know, some of these designer labels, a lot of celebrities wear them, um, including rappers and things like that. so it really kind of increased the Street's appeal. So it, it goes to show that your brands can really dictate these things. You know, for a small business, you're not going to be a Gucci or a Tiffany to begin with, but it does, you can be a premium, small business as well. And I think that's really important. I actually was, uh, was helping a jeweler recently. Um, and she was massively underpricing her items because she was a single person business and it was a confidence issue. Um, but what we have to look at was that basically, while her items were good quality, the brand and the website were not at the right level for her to be able to charge those prices. So actually in taking that journey to level up her branding so that it looked premium enough, she could create that impression that it was good quality pieces and step away from it seeming so amateur and therefore increased her prices to what they really ought to be.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, that really makes sense. And I'm kind of hearing and, I don't know if this is entirely the case that if you're looking to sell luxury or premium items and you're, I mean, obviously brand is always important, but it's possibly even more important that your brand reflects the fact that it's so your branding reflects the fact that your brand is premium and luxury

Cara Bendon:

Absolutely

Vicki Weinberg:

I doI can see how small things to me make a difference with my, um, see, I wouldn't say that my own products were premium or luxury, but they are very good quality and therefore slightly higher price. And I remember going back years, I saw a difference when I, um, improved the packaging. My first one, my first products, when I first launched it, packaging looks good, but the actual physical material that it was made off, wasn't great. And for the second production run, I just changed the material from which the packaging was made of. And all of a sudden it looks like so much more. I wouldn't say more expensive, but it looks much what it did actually look, it looks more like it was worth the price tag because the packaging suddenly like elevated it. If that makes any sense. And I really saw an increase in sales then. Cause I think before possibly people maybe thought, well, that looks good, but I wouldn't give it as it was like a gifting item. And I could see people would think what if the packaging isn't gray? Maybe they don't. Well, I mean, I've done that before I bought something for someone or night and looked at the packaging and then. Like, I almost don't want to give it as a gift because it doesn't look

Cara Bendon:

That such an interesting and important insight. If you realize that your products are being bought by people for gifting, then that is a really big part of it. And it doesn't have to be your base cost. If you want to keep costs down, you can always be an add on that you've, uh, you know, that you have a gift packaging, but people do want to be able, especially the convenience. Sometimes we want to be able to order direct from the website to the person. I think that's really important. And, um, yeah, I think that's really interesting in terms of the point you said about whether it's more premium or luxury businesses that need to concentrate more on that brands. I think, I think yes, to some extent I would agree. I mean, there's just no way of getting around it. If you have a luxury item with a high price point and you go for cheap branding, it's going to look cheap. You know, that the, the phrase, you know, you get what you pay for is so true when it comes to this field of branding and design, because there's a lot of people who know how to use some basic design tools, even just, you know, online ones or, or creative cloud suite. But then there's a huge difference between people who can pull a few shapes and fonts together, and somebody who has been on the journey with a few brands and understands the questions to ask and how to make you differentiated from your audience. So, um, But even with, so I, you know, some people ask me who doesn't need the brands. And I would say if you're competing at price always, and you're always going to be the cheapest then, okay. Your brand, you need some kind of brands that people can remember you, but yes. Okay. Then you don't need to spend so much, but I'd say that for any small business, it's not really a great aspiration to want to be at the bottom of the barrel. And so wherever you are, it doesn't branding doesn't mean that you suddenly look expensive. Branding reflects exactly what your brand is. And if your brand is really friendly, warm, and accessible, it will reflect that. But just like in your case, nobody wants to take a risk on something that maybe doesn't look quite as good quality. So it's actually, you know, your products is, is you think that your product is enough to sell your business, but actually people require the whole picture. You know, a strong brand and, you know, as well as a good product. So, um, you know, I know, I know I've seen them reviews things like, oh, I was looking for some headphones. It was like, you know, these headphones seem pretty good. Uh, you know, the packaging didn't come with any new instructions. Uh, didn't come with a case or whatever the audio is quite good, but so it, it creates the sense of doubt. If there's a disconnect, you know, you want the whole thing to seem as professional and cohesive as possible.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, thank you for that. And then in a second, we'll move on sort of small specifics. We've when people to think about, um, but another example is that I've had the same thing with websites before whereby I've heard about a product or a company, or maybe I've seen it on Amazon. And I thought, oh, I'll just go and check out their website and the website I have a, you can tell it hasn't been updated since 2017 or it doesn't work particularly well for whatever reason. And it automatically gives you a much more negative view of the product. And actually the product could be absolutely amazing, but it's not something that I, um, I'll be honest. I am a bit put off by is if the website doesn't look great and I don't know why, and I don't, if that's a bit judgy of me and I don't certainly don't mean to do that, but it's because we want, so we all want to know that our, that the business is still active.

Cara Bendon:

I think that there's a really simple kind of, um, Questioning that goes through the mind when you're buying something. Um, you know, maybe even, especially in light of the pandemic that we've had, we want to know that the businesses are still active and you know, it's not just that we're going to place an order on something like Amazon and it's even maybe outdated, or we're going to get old stock. If what if you bought something and you need to reach customer service? You know, I think that all of these things, we want to know that where it's reliability basically.

Vicki Weinberg:

Okay, thank you. And I should point out that we have previous episodes, all about websites as well. I'm going to link to in the show notes. So hopefully we're not overwhelming everyone Cara cause I think we're giving people a lot to think about..

Cara Bendon:

It is actually very simple principles when you understand it, you know, for me, I work in it. So I just geek out on the detail, you know? Um, but I, I do really think there's some simple things like laying foundation that understanding your audience. And then, um, you know, I think some of these things, they have a huge impact. And just like you said before, it might seem like a lot of decisions, but it's kind of like. Buying oh, creating a capsule wardrobe. And then not really having to think about what you put on each day and knowing that it works, because once you have made all of these decisions, you know, a lot of small businesses, they do every single time they have to create a leaflet or a flyer or a social media posts. They're getting, they're going to somewhere like Canva. And that's like a huge, huge library of temptation and new, interesting things that the animation and all these different effects. And actually that's where you can spend waste of time and also lose your brands by being inconsistent. And actually just having all these rules in place does make life a lot easier.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. Okay. I, even from my own point of view, I can definitely see that. And thank you now, do you think it's good that she's going into all of these details? I just think it gets you sort of thinking, um, especially if you'd sort of come into this thinking about a logo being a brand and some colours maybe so I hope this has been helpful. Um, butlet'ts talk through some more of practical things. Now, if that's okay, we'll come back to Canva later as well. Cause I love Canva, and I'm sure you can give us some good tips on that. Yeah. So at what point, so let's say, um, you're listening to this because you're thinking about creating a product you're in stages of creating a product. Cause usually fairly early on. At what point should you be thinking about your brands and your branding?

Cara Bendon:

That's yeah, that's a great question. So I think. As early as possible, but only once you know, your audience and sort of how your product fits within your competitors. I think that's a great place because if you start thinking about it early, it really is a, um, it's, it's a process that can help you with that launch of that first product. And the moment that your out there, you know, I guess if you're basically doing market research and you're still finding your audience, then it's not as important at that point but at the moment that you want to sell it, people will expect some kind of brand. And it's better to be able to have allowed yourself a few weeks for the process, rather than having to just quickly get something done on, you know, speedily online, because then you're just going to have to redo it in a few months. And so I think, yeah, basically I think when you know who your audience is going to be, and, you know, at least what your first product is going to be roughly what you want to price it at. And I think you're well informed to start thinking about your brands, at least, um, if you want, you know, I do think it's absolutely fine. If you want to start trading, make a bit of money before you invest. If, if it's a bigger cost, you know, but also. I caveat that by saying that I don't know that many businesses who've been able to be financially successful before they've had a good brand in place.

Vicki Weinberg:

That makes sense. Thank you. So actually got two follow up questions. I guess the first thing is, I suppose it makes sense that you sense what you're saying, because I think that knowing who your audience is and knowing who your products for is kind of part of, I think, part of the product creation process as well. So hopefully something people do really early on. And then I think it also ties into things like your marketing's, if you know who you're aiming at and what you know, is it an aspirational brand or is it like a everyday brands or whatever? I think knowing those things up front, if it all sort of ties together, doesn't it. So it completely makes sense to think it through, at those early stages. And then the question I have, I guess, is, um, does Branding need to be expensive because I guess that is one reason people might not do it at the outset is they're a bit worried about sort of what the investment would be.

Cara Bendon:

No, it doesn't need to be expensive, but what it is is I definitely don't think that any of the logocreators online or any of the DIY tools are worthwhile for creating a logo. Unless, unless you happen to basically be a graphic designer with a very strong and clear direction, and even then there's problems with them. And so the reason that you're spending is just because you're spending on somebody skilled and their time, but no, I mean, it's a vast range of different costs out there depending on the designer, but I do think it is something that is worth investing in. And this isn't with any kind of ulterior motive at all. It's purely, it's actually, you know, the business model that I work in is actually not really that profitable because we do something once for a business and then they use it for years and years and years. Some of the businesses I've done branding for have been using it eight years, nine years later, I've only been doing this nine years. So I've yet to see one go over a decade. But when, for example, when we create branding, we're always thinking five years. So it's, it's something that you're investing in for the longterm. If however, and I do completely appreciate, you know, when you're a startup, sometimes it's not always possible to, you know, put more money in. And then the likelihood then though, is if you do something with the budget you have on day one and with the intention of coming back to it after a year, which is really common. And a lot of my clients have been people I've rebranded because they didn't do it professionally to begin, then that's absolutely fine. But I think that you have already spent that year building up that brand image and you spend, you're spending all that time posting on social media or creating packaging. So it's the, is there sort of logistical costs? How many times do you really want to get stickers and tissue and boxes printed? Um, you know, so, so it, it actually does it work out as a saving, if you are in a position that you can, but, you know, I think the best thing as well is to be really upfront with a designer. If you find a graphic designer or somebody that could, you know, uh, a brand designer, um, and you want to work with them, find out that prices. And if that takes you a few months to save up to then that's absolutely fine. But then when you do go to somebody, be transparent about your price rather than trying to haggle, because you're going to get the best work from that person. I know. I've worked for so many years with graphic designers. And I know that in general, they are people that really, really want to help small businesses and they love being brought in on a project as exciting as new business early. It's really, really exciting creatively and so if you can give them, if, if you can be honest about what your budget is and if your budget isn't quite the normal rate, if you could be really flexible about time and give them some creative rein they're likely to go above and beyond for you. So actually there's sort of three variables rather than it just being money. Actually. Time's a really big one because the number of people who come and say, oh, well, we've only got, you know, X amount of money and we need it in two weeks because we're doing this huge trade fair and it needs to be, you know, in vector format. So we can print it X, Y, Z, that really does put a gun against somebody head, because this process takes a bit longer. If you can, if your budget is a bit low, I'd definitely say approach someone earlier and be really flexible about time. And then they can work around that other projects. And, um, yeah, I honestly, I don't think I've met a single graphic designer who hasn't been willing to help a small business out that way.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, that's thank you. I think that's, hopefully that's really helpful for people. Yeah, definitely. And let's say you are starting out, you have got a smaller budget. What's the bare minimum you can do when it comes to your branding. So what are the key decisions you have to make? And the key things you have to have? Cause I'm assuming, um, what I'm um, yeah, I'm assuming, I just don't know if it's garbage, but I'm thinking from the outset, um, there's probably things that you have to have or things that are more nice to have. It's good to have.

Cara Bendon:

Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I mean, you're going to need to have. You know, branding, isn't all about the logo, but logo is fairly central. So you are definitely going to need to have a logo and you may need to have two versions of that logo so that you have a version that fits in small spaces like social media and a version that works on your website. So frequently you might have a version on your website that is more horizontal because there's more space on the website for that. But then if you were to put that on social media, it might crop off at the sides, or it would be too small to read on like a Facebook profile image. That's cropped in a circle. So you sometimes have a short hand version of the logo or a version that works in a square slash circle space. Um, And I think you, you also needs to have some, you need a color palette and actually this is, this is my not so secret secret tip because I always tell everybody. But I think if you, if you do one thing, if you ha you know, it's yeah. I think basically if you do one thing, it's try and pick a color that will help you stand out. So do look a bit at your, at your competitors. So I'm assuming if this is you doing it sort of on a shoestring and doing it a bit yourself, um, then you'd be doing this process yourself. If not, then the, the graphic designer would be doing this, but look at your competitors and try and see if there are any patterns, um, in terms of the colors and styles they use and deliberately go against the grain. Now, obviously it still has to work for your audience. So if your audience, you know, if everything's pastel because you're selling to moms, um, baby were then going against the grain, might be black, but not be suitable for them. So it's obviously got to be within the context of knowing and understanding your audience and thinking of them foremost. But if you can find a way to stand out in some way, that's obviously going to be an advantage. So, um, having a limited color palette could be helpful. So you don't need to have your often, I, you see things on Pinterest and they have sorts of 5, 6, 7 different colors. Yes. It's helpful to have some other, you know, more subdued colors for packaging and website backgrounds and things like that. But those are really much more advanced considerations and, and, you know, It in keeping it simple, you basically just needs one main color and maybe one accent to that color. Um, if you think about, well, I mentioned Selfridges before, you know, with that bright yellow, if you think of Harrods with they're green and obviously then they have the gold for the lettering, but you think of Coca-Cola and that just red and white. So at the same with Virgin media, you think about these brands that we really know, and some of the time they just use one main color as the lead, and that actually helps us remember them. So don't feel that you need to have a really complicated color palette. Um, and finally you probably need to decide on a font, um, just so that you're fairly consistent and that's the main thing really. So again, it is great to work with a graphic designer because graphic designers are able to look at different fonts and say, that looks premium. That looks heritage that looks friendly, and these are. You know, to be able to look at different type faces and to understand the personalities that those might create might not be a natural skillset for every entrepreneur. Um, but it's basically at least making a decision on one. Um, and, and using that would be a bare minimum, I would say.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you for that. And I'm assuming that if anyone who I'm a bit of a budget or even someone who wants to have more of an active role in this, looking at fonts and colors is something you can do yourself. Even if you plan to work with a graphic designer, you could go to them and say, I like this font. I like this color or these colors to give them something to start with.

Cara Bendon:

Yeah. It's a really fun process. I mean, if you are a bit artsy or visual and you enjoy that, it can be really fun to be quite collaborative, but I would just always, um, explain why you like things because there's nothing worse than being told oh, you know, we want it to be purple. We want a heart. And then sort of you question that because you know, At least my job is always to question in order to create the best possible outcome. And so, um, you know, I worked with several Beauty Salons before and they all told me purple, purple and silver or purple and gold. And, um, it was because that was, it was almost just subliminally that's what they were drawn to, if that's what they were personally drawn to, um, as individuals. But if everyone goes to that, then obviously it makes it incredibly difficult to differentiate. Um, so if you say why you like things like, I like this font, maybe you can't even put your finger on it. You say, I like this one. I'm not quite sure why, but it seems simple and contemporary or I like it, it doesn't seem pretentious or I like it because it looks quite fancy. Even if you don't have the full lexicon, it's fine. Just that's really, really helpful to a designer. Um, and that's roughly what you're looking for. If you are picking your own colors and your own fonts, you, so we've worked, you've looked at your competitors and this might as you say have been part of your product development journey, not even your branding journey, but you have thought about who your customer is. You've looked at your competitors and you've worked out how you want your brands to kind of sit within. And you might say, well, I want our brand a brand to be really good quality items, but really down to earth, you know, and look at some of the brands that inspire you might be like, oh, you know, within, so I'm just thinking of your business. Now you might be like, oh, you know, I like Innocent Smoothies because they seem really down to earth, but you know, that they use good quality ingredients and they're eco. So that might be like a reference for you. You can kind of think, yeah, I want this to be, you know, a, down to earth and friendly, and that might affect the color choices. So you might say, okay, I want the, the language to be really down to earth. And I want the fonts to be kind of, uh, unpretentious, but friendly. So you might go quite rounded forms. You might go for quite bright uplifting colors, so you could see how it all marries together.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, definitely. Thank you. And um, something you said got me thinking, then, is it, I mean, do people, or can people fall into the trap of pickings of colors that they like actually they're not their target audience. Do you see that happening where people say, oh, I, as a person like purple or I like yellow, um, is that I can see that that could be quite an easy thing to do. In fact, I think I've probably done that before.

Cara Bendon:

I see that all the time, all the time, when you're a solo entrepreneur or part of a small team, it's very easy because it's your baby. So of course it's personal, but I think, you know, what. Say is I try to pretty much get every client to give me, um, license for a blank slate if it's at all possible, because otherwise you can often get hired and they say, I want to invest in my branding but I expect this.. And then they kind of giving you direction that takes you back to exactly where they are, because it's that comfort zone. And sometimes it happens sometimes it's a very strange phenomenon, but sometimes the branding looks too good and it creates a sense of insecurity that they're not at that level and the need to look more amateur. Um, and it's a very strange phenomenon. I know that sounds mad, but I've had that with people have thought, oh, it looks too slick. And I'm only a one man bands. And it's like, well, no, because we want your business to be successful. And we, you know, it doesn't know, everybody needs to know it was made at your kitchen table. Obviously it's not lying or anything. It's just making it look good. But in terms of the color I had, um, it's not always purple by the way, but there was a client that I worked with. Um, we did a discovery and she was running. So it wasn't product business it was aservice. They were doing a data analysis and all of the audience was middle-age corporate man and quite senior positions. That's mostly who she was dealing with. And because she was an all female team she'd gone out with purple because it was her personal favorite color. And that absolutely made sense, but we, we actually did two things. We looked at the market and actually, because purple is quite close to blue and blue as a color for tech, there were some perfectly blue gradients and lots of blue in the marketplace and all of her audience was male and it was actually holding them back a bit and making them look not quite as professional. And so, and there's nothing to do with it being a feminine color. It was because it wasn't standing out enough or attracting the audience. So, what do you, what I usually do is say you have to think most about your audience and your marketplace, but then I'm happy to concede to choose a color that is one that you don't hate. So obviously it's your business. So you don't want to see something you hate every single day. You know, um, that particular client, she didn't really like yellow. That was the color I pitched as being the best standout opportunity for her. So we went from more of an orange and that's fine because she has to see it every day. And if she prefers orange to yellow, then that's great. That's fine. But it is important in the journey that you're slightly detaching your own personal tastes and thinking about your business and what's going to help it the most.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really helpful. Thank you. Cause I can see that can be really hard and I think I know this podcast obviously about products, but I think particularly if you're selling as what, maybe handmade products, are they personal to you or even if you're selling services. Yeah. Then in your businesses, you are your business. I guess it can be really tempting to just put your personality all overeverything. And I suppose there needs to be some element of that, but also keeping in mind that it has to appeal to whoever you're trying to appeal to. So yeah,

Cara Bendon:

think one of the things that's nice about brand as well as it can actually provide a quite helpful boundary because when you are your business, it can feel really overwhelming and you can actually feel like you lost your identity a bit to being this business that has to always be visible in social media and things like that. And actually having a brand, it, it creates a bit of a framework. You can say, no, that's the business and this is me and that's different, but there's crossover. I personally found that very helpful when I set up my business anyway,

Vicki Weinberg:

That's a really nice way to think of it. Thank you. And I think that leads on really nicely to my next question, which is what's the difference between branding products to branding services. So is there a difference between branding products and services? And is there anything specifically we need to think about when we're thinking about products brand?

Cara Bendon:

So there are lots of similarities and my process anyway is pretty much exactly the same to begin with, but I think when it comes to naming, that's a really big consideration. So, um, I think when you are naming a product business, you should try to brainstorm what your niche is. Um, um, rather than what your product is, because if you name something like, for example, if you make candles and you put candles in the business name, it obviously massively limits what you can produce. So I'd say your products, that your products, but your brand is bigger. So if you, uh, so basically that's just one of my number one rules is trying not to put the product name into the business name, unless they are 100% totally committed and never wants to grow bigger than that type of product. But if you create a brand name that doesn't have the product name and it allows you all those freedoms. So, um, you know, you could create something that was more like homeware or fragrance rather than just candles. And then if you want to create diffusers or whatever it might be, then, you know, trinket pots of whatever that all relate to this. Then you've got a brand that enables that, and you're not going to have to change your URL or your social media handles your, you know, your logo or anything like that. Um, so yeah, I think, I mean, that's what you did. You didn't name your business after the product, you named it something and made the visual clear that it sits within that children's and baby, uh, product category. Didn't you.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yes. Yes, I did. Although, um, we haven't, actually talked about name and I guess that is a good part of your brand. And maybe because my, my, my brand's called Tiny Chipmunk, which people, I guess people might make the leap to thinking it's children's products or they might not. Um, but is there anything in particular we need to think about when naming a product there's this other than what you've mentioned before, sort of not putting the product in the title, which I think is a really good idea. And one I hadn't actually thought about, because like you say, lots of businesses do expand then their niche. Slightly. Is there anything else to think about?

Cara Bendon:

Um, oh, so much. Let me think. No naming, I have a guide on my website actually about naming, but I think the thing when naming is, um, it, you can, you don't have to describe exactly what you do. I'd say that's pretty, um, Pretty important. And there are things that you can have a statement underneath, you know, it could be a tagline or it could just be something you put on your packaging or that you have at the bottom of your emails. It doesn't have to always sit beneath the logo, but you can have something that is makes clearer what it is, if your brand names more abstracts. So I, and I think that's really useful because people do need to know what it is. So, you know, with something like Tiny Chipmunk, you have to make very clear. So I'm sure you say something like, you know, bamboo quality or, you know, um, sustainable babies bowls or children's wear or whatever it might be. Cause I think then having a phrase like that is helpful because it helps people understand what it is, but not having that in your brand name really does free you up. Um, I'm trying to think of any other really quick one tips, but I mean, basically, um, there's a website that's really handy that I use a lot called Namevine.com. So I would say when you are naming, have a look on that, see whether your name is available as a domain on social media handles, because it's ideal. I know it's difficult in this day and age to get exactly the social media handles, but if at all possible then try and avoid things like underscores and adding numbers to it. I'd have a preference for adding a word like official, or we are to the front. So something like We Are Tiny Chipmunk or Tiny Chipmunk Official or Tiny Chipmunk Baby or something like that would be better than adding underscores and ones or things like that. Um, because. Yeah, I think you want to make it look as professional as possible. And some of those things made quite clear that you were pipped to the post on a particular name. So yeah, that would be my other tip.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you for that. And I think the URL thing is obviously really important. I actually, I think I can't even remember what it was. I think it was going to be Little Chipmunk, rather than Tiny Chipmunk. Tiny Chipmunk Wasn't actually my first name, but the domain that I wanted was taken. So I had to sort of rethink it a little bit and that's a really good point. And I guess also looking at there's no one in your niche with a name that's really similar to yours because I guess that could cause confusion. You know, if there was someone called Little Chipmunk and someone recommended them, um, I mean, did you could easily get confused cause it, you recommend products or possibly even.sued can't you if you name is, too close to someone else says,

Cara Bendon:

yeah, I'd say the biggest consideration is what you said if you see that some of the other domains aren't available, but they're just parks, there's no content on them or that very, very clearly instantly very different services or products so that there's no chance of confusion. And I'd say that's Greenlight. You can go because obviously in an ideal world, then nobody would have anything it's all similar, but it's not realistic and, you know, for that to happen. Um, but yeah, do be careful if you have something and you even just searching it on Facebook and seeing all the other pages that come up, if there's, if there are lots that come up and they're all within the same kind of niche or industry, then there's, if you, if you see lots of options, then your customers are going to, so it could be confusing.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you because like I said, it all comes back to what you said at the beginning about being memorable. And I suppose if there's someone who's got almost identical name to you, then you're not memorable.

Cara Bendon:

Youdon't want to have to spend all of your time saying to people, oh, with this one, not that one.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yes. I can speak, but said things like that before and yeah, that must be yeah. Maybe change your name.

Cara Bendon:

They must have to say that every time and it must grate away at them every time.

Vicki Weinberg:

And that must be really hard. Um, so let's think where shall we go to now. Oh, well, what time will be good to talk about Cara is, um, what, as you know, I help lots of people get started on Amazon. That's the main thing I do now is help people launch and sell their products on Amazon. Um, Amazon is obviously slightly different when it comes to. Branding and your brand, because the platform and the marketplace, isn't yours, you're just putting your products on there. Um, are there anydifferent branding decisions or different things to think about if you plan to sell your products on Amazon or perhaps any third party marketplace, because you'll know as a customer that obviously you might, unless a brand is really visible. I can't tell you the name of every company I bought from on Amazon in the last month. Probably I can tell you some, but not all. What do we have to do if we're selling on Amazon to make ourselves more visible?

Cara Bendon:

Yeah, I think honestly it is a challenge. So I think that, um, what you said earlier about having a presence outside of that, that website, that third party website, whether it's Amazon or Etsy or Not On the High Street, whatever it might be is really important. So having your own website, having your own social media so that somebody. Most of the time, especially on Amazon people probably won't do that, take that step and go and look. But if they do that, everything looks really professional and consistent. It's a really good thing to do. And then the second thing I would say is just take every opportunity that is afforded to you within that platform to apply some visual branding, but don't just shove your logo everywhere because when somebody is buying a product, it's very important that the listing is all about that product and its benefits. But I often see. Um, product listings. And rather than just having photographs of the product, some of them are more like graphical images. So they may have measurements or, um, a badge saying 12 year guarantee or don't know why I said 12 that's very random number, but, you know, but anyway, but you sometimes see that if you're looking at something, they might show you the scale of something or the depth of something, or they might show you an image of somebody, where are we going to using that product? Um, those are all also kind of brand touch points. Even if it's not just your logo, it's building up your brand and there are opportunities as well for that to feature your logo in the corner or what, sorry, I'm not sure about Amazon, but that there are, you can have your fonts at least and your color, so it could be fairly consistent. And then there are, I'm not sure what scale you have to be to qualify, but there are those, you know, the shop pages within Amazon, there are some opportunities that for some branding on there and you have to use those.

Vicki Weinberg:

If your brand is a registered trademark or wordmark in the UK or whatever marketplace you want to sell on it, you can apply for something called Amazon brand registry. I recommend this to most of my clients because to apply for the brand registry part on Amazon is free. And to register your trademark or wordmark. And depending on what you have, isn't actually that expensive. I did it years ago, and I can't remember the exact cost, but it's, let's say it's under a hundred pounds. It's not a massive cost. And that's when you can have a store page. And then you can have a bit more information about your brand. There am, I guess, um, My advice, to clients it to try and make that replicate their website as much as possible. So if someone does go over to their website, it looks like the same thing and people go, oh, this must be right, because the colors are the same or the fonts are the same.

Cara Bendon:

Exactly. That's what I think that's a great point. Yeah, definitely. Well worth taking that opportunity. And there are, you know, you don't, I mean, you can trademark on your own, but there are also some companies I know. Um, I worked with a couple of, um, lawyers that helps small businesses with trademarking. Um, so that is just something you can do yourself as well. Um, as you said, but if that process is a bit complicated, there are also some people that can broker that process for you.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, that's good to know. Thank you. And I guess, I don't know why I asked the question, so I probably should be given an answer, but another bit of advice I would give about Amazon, if that's okay. Is that, um, when I'm working with clients on their listings, I always try if I'm writing their listing for them, I always try and add sort of some of their brand personality into that listing. Um, so it reads like it's written, you know, just to make it a bit more unique and not the same as everyone else out there. So if you were looking to do it, do it yourself, I would say, take the time to think about writing in a voice that feels authentic to you while of course it also following all the other requirements for Amazon listing, which I know is a bit of a minefield, but you know, don't just copy what every other competitor. We never copy what anyone else's listing anyway, but don't feel that your listing has to be exactly the same as all the other products in your niche, um, just to make your standout a little bit.

Cara Bendon:

I think brands can really come across in other ways as well. That aren't as visual, just that you were saying with Amazon, because when, um, uh, a brand, uh, takes the time to reply to any of the questions asked on the page, I always think that looks really good. Um, and, but sometimes with the visuals, sometimes you say, um, that they will make a brand promise. So I might not have heard them. Um, but, um, if you're, if you're looking for something, like I was looking for a backpack, right. And then, um, I went to the page and it was a Swiss company, I think. And they, that promise was that they, you know, creating hard-wearing functional, sustainable luggage since, whatever date it was. And then I was like, oh right. These are basically like really serious luggage specialists. So I can trust that all of these are going to be really good quality. You know, it's not just knocked up in a factory in China, you know, it's like, this is their brand promise. So this is a specialism. And so that actually engender trust.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, definitely. And I think this sounds really basic, but if you're looking to sell on Amazon or any other marketplace, or even on your own website, I just think having really well written texts and nice photos goes a long way. Um, you know, if your product listings full of, spelling mistakes and your photos look a bit amateur, or like you, you know, I've seen a few examples where I'm pretty sure they're like stock photos, you know, like manufacturer's catalog or something. I just think that gives not the best impression. It doesn't mean someone wouldn't it depends what you're buying. Depending on what you're looking to buy. It doesn't necessarily mean someone might buy it. So I price particularly if it's your product and, you know, you've thought about creating a great impression, isn't it. And I do think that if you listen to this got great products and so you want to put it in the best light possible. So I think all of those really small things all add up.

Cara Bendon:

Yeah. I think as well. Um, yeah, definitely all of those things are really helpful and there's nothing wrong with using stock imagery if you can't, if you don't have the budget to go and do a photo shoot, but. You know, be mindful of not using what other people use or just, as you said, don't use just what the manufacturer had provided, because I think that comes across as just being an upload rather than a considered bit of information. Um, so yeah, I think photography is definitely, I mean, when we were talking about the iceberg, that's one of the things, if we're talking about everything that's visible about your branding, then photography is definitely one of them as well. So if you can get some good quality product photos, that would be great. And if you are able to do video, if that's, if that's relevant to your product, giving a demonstration or doing a 360 of that, I always find those incredibly useful just as a consumer, when I'm looking to buy something.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah. And that's also a really good point as well. Thank you that sometimes sort of thinking like a consumer can be really helpful as well, because I think we all know what we like and don't like, and trust and don't trust when we are shopping. And so I guess it's also remembering that when you're the one with something to sell as well.

Cara Bendon:

Yeah. Definitely always think like a consumer and, you know, you can always just send it to a few people, but without prompting them whatsoever, you know, um, it's difficult though. If they know you because they know you and love you and they just go say nice things, but you know, you can, if, if you don't prompt them too much, you could, you know, see their feedback or even just watch how somebody is on screen with your product listing or your website in, and then ask them some questions. Like, was it really clear what the product was? Was it clear what the benefits were? Was it clear what you'd be getting for the price? You know, um, just, just to make sure that those basic things are addressed. It's very simple. No.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And, um, I've just got a few more questions. the first one that I'm changing the subject slightly is you mentioned Canva earlier as a tool, and I just thought I'd ask, is there anything that you can do yourself in Canva? Have you got any hints and tips of how people can use it? Um, I'm thinking possibly once you've got your branding in place, rather than when you're looking to create your branding, but is there anything that once you've got your brand that you can do to make things easier when it comes to creating posts or content or whatever you're doing.

Cara Bendon:

Oh, goodness. Yes, absolutely. So I would say the only time I'd ever recommend you using Canva to create a logo would be if you are in the very, very, very early stages that you haven't started trading really yet, and you're still testing the market, then fine, you can o up something, but otherwise, um, I would say it's not really the best platform for creating a logo for a number of reasons and not least the fact that you only end up with a 500 by 500 pixel flat image rather than something vectorize and something that you can copyright ownership of, so from a copyright point of view, it's not as good to create on that, but I think, yeah, what you're saying, and it's more about if you have got a logo created then absolutely. I use Canva all the time and I use it for my clients too, because it's super helpful. You know, often when we're creating a brand, we will create them a couple of social media templates too so that life is much easier for them. So one of my favorite things about Canva is if you have Canva Pro, if you have the free one, you can set up some limited colors as well. If you have Canva Pro you can basically upload all of your logo files, put in your brand fonts and your color palette, and it will bring that in as shortcuts on every single template. So if you then add text, it will add it in your brandfonts. So I think that's a really useful tool, but the second thing would just be, I would think about the kinds of posts you need to make on social media and basically go and create a little suite of those posts. So, yes. Okay. In the first instance, you might need things like Facebook, cover images and things to present your, your business, your brands, it might need to have your URL, some images of your products or whatever it might be, and your branding. So creating those. That's helpful because then that's just something you can use, but creating something that you can continually use, like a social media post template and creating maybe two or three of those saying, okay, I'm going to need one, which is FAQ's about the product and the need one, which is customer reviews of the product. And I'm going to need one with, um, say, um, a discount or a sale or special or an announcement. And then between that, I'm going to be using product photos or customer with product photos. Um, so these three templates will be enough or ID for whatever it might be going again. And thinking about those and creating them together is quite useful if you're able, because then you know that they're going to look similar to each other. You know, earlier you said it could be a bit overwhelming, but actually I think a lot of branding is very simple. and one of the simplest things is just be consistent. So w w like you said that you would encourage your clients to create the Amazon listing as if it was a mini version of their website so that the two tally up that's exactly what the human brain wants. We just want reassurance that something is what we expect it to be. And consistency is one of the best ways to do that. So I would say that, yeah, using it to create a few social media templates, it will say, then it makes life easier and makes you more consistent and try if possible. And I know it's difficult because Canva keep releasing new excited goodies to try if possible, to not get too distracted by all of the new things and templates, the ready-made templates on that. Because those by definition, Don't relate to your brand.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, that makes sense. Thank you. I guess, could you though, if you wanted to play devil's advocate here, use some of those templates that sort of swap out your colors and your fonts and things.

Cara Bendon:

Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it totally is. Just make sure that you almost have a bit of a checklist that if you use a template, you go, okay. I like this one, but I'm going to swap. You know, the font for my fonts, the colors for my colors, the texture for my texture or my logo, whatever it might be. And I think just, um, yeah, I'd say fonts is the biggest one. I see people tend to be fairly consistent with color. Um, but then they, they sort of play around with fonts because they haven't really settled on one. And every new template has, some of them have beautiful script handwriting style and they look more like, you know, a diary entry and more boho, and then others are more bold. And, um, I often see the people, so to switch between lots of them, um, to try to limit how many you do, um, would be the most important thing. I think.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really helpful. Thank you. Um, so I know that I'm sort of keeping an eye on that at time here, Cara. So I know we haven't got long left. Um, so I know thank you so much, but I should say, first of all, for everything you shared with us today, cause it's been just so, so helpful and I know how passionate you are about helping people in the really early stages to their branding. And you mentioned earlier that you've created some tools to help people who are in these stages. Do you want to just tell us a little bit about what you've created and where people can find them.

Cara Bendon:

Yeah, definitely. Thank you. So I'm so pleased about this because it's been a long time coming in my business I've been wanting to do something like this and I didn't quite know how or have the time to create them, but I've now created a website. So a second brand, which is called BrandingMadeSimple.co.uk, and there I'm creating a suite of different templates and many tutorials and workshops on specific parts of the branding journey and it's specifically designed for people who are in the early stage of their business and maybe doing this on a shoestring, um, or a small budget, or maybe even trying to DIY some elements of it. So I've tried to distill as much of our process that I would use with one-to-one clients, into these templates and, um, Yeah. The first one that's launching is actually so important because I thought I should definitely start with audience. So the first one is the ideal audience kit. So it helps you define who your audience is and then to really get to know them. Um, and I, because that's such a foundation for all of your marketing and your brands, so I'm really proud about that one. So, yeah, and they have created a discount actually for anybody who's listening to the podcast. So you'll get a discount on any of the items on the shop if you use the code Vicky 20.

Vicki Weinberg:

Oh, thank you so much. Just so kind of you, and I will make sure that goes in the show notes as well. So if anyone's or walking or exercising or something, now they can go back to it. Thank you so much. It's really kind of you to do that. And I think you're right. These tools will be really helpful for people as well. Um, and I guess it also means like you can help more people because I suppose there's only so much you can do 1to1 as well.

Cara Bendon:

Yeah, that's it, that's, that's always the motivation that sat behind my business for me is how I can help as many small businesses as possible with these tools and with these tricks, because not everybody it's not as intuitive to everybody and everybody's got complimentary skill sets. So if you're creating a business that I really admire that, and I'd love to be able to, you know, help you with my skillset, but trying to make it as simple as possible.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. Um, I think that's brilliant. Thank you so much, Cara I've just got one more question, which is, and I think this is going to be a hard one to answer, but if you had to pick one sort of key brand branding tip that you want people to go away with now, because now we're at the end. Um, one thing you want them to remember, what would it be.

Cara Bendon:

Oh, that's so interesting. Um, I would say that, think about your customers first and foremost, and try to find ways to solve their problems and delight them because then your brand would definitely be a success within those groups. So the thing about I'm trying to answer their problems willhelp you with developing other products. And that's why maybe, having a name that's broader than just a specific product is good because you may branch out to other things. And I think in terms of delighting them, that's something I always love. So it's just about the little touches that show that you care all the way through the journey. So it's little things like having a, um, a thank you note in packaging can be helpful and sometimes even people will handwrite that or sign it themselves. And that's a really nice touch. Um, or if you give, um, you know, um, uh, discounts to, uh, loyal customers, anything like that, just basically championing your customer and trying to be there for them and delight them, I think is really key to an effective brand.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you I think that's great advice is of running your business as well, so, so helpful and yeah. Thank you again for everything that you share, thank you for the discount, which will be linked in the show notes and yeah. Thank you so much for your time

Cara Bendon:

and thank you. I've really enjoyed it. Thanks.

Vicki Weinberg:

Hi, thank you so much for listening as always. I would absolutely love to know what you thought of this episode. Please do remember to rate and review the show and also most importantly subscribe so you don't miss out on any future episodes. And as a reminder, I release a new episode every single Friday. So take care and look forward to speaking to you again, then.