This is a summary of our IG Live chat with Cat from Gatto Web. Scroll down to watch the full Live chat!
Cat is a branding expert, who founded Gatto Web in 2014 (how lovely does her website look? Click here to see it). She works as a website designer, to help small businesses stand out and craft a personal appearance for their business.
We’ll be talking about websites, branding, and making a business visible despite the entire world turning online during the pandemic! In a sea of other small businesses, getting your branding right will help you stand out and speak to your audience.
Let’s start with the basics. What is branding and why is it important?
Branding is everything that makes up the feel or appearance of your business. The tone of voice you use on social media and your website, the type of products you create and even your type of audience fall under ‘branding’, but I focus on the design aspect, such as the colours you use, logo, font, layout and so on.
It’s important to give a good first impression to your potential customers, and showcase what you do and your brand values from the outset.
It’s so important to stick to set colours, a logo and fonts – if you think of any major brand, you can recognise them instantly from these things.
We usually develop an idea of a brand, so it’s important to be recognisable and for this you must be consistent. We are all visual beings and we instantly know from visuals what we’ll connect and engage with as a customer – Instagram is a prime example of this. Recognition also builds trust, which makes people more likely to buy your products. It’s not just about making something look pretty or nice, it’s about what will engage with your audience.
What are the branding basics? Are there colours and fonts to avoid?
There is no right or wrong! Every brand is different. However, it’s important to make sure your branding is consistent, that you always use the same colours / font / style so that it becomes recognisable to your audience, and that everything you do or post on social media ties with this in some way.
When it comes to colour, it depends on what your customer will associate with certain things. For example, if you’re selling candles and aromatherapy, you’d want your business to have a calm and relaxed vibes, so you want your brand colours to be muted or natural. It’s down to psychology.
You also want to be unique – play around with more unusual fonts or a more unusual colour combination, so that you stand out but also keep in with the style of products you’re making.
How do you suggest we stick to our branding?
It can be difficult to always stick to branding, especially if you need to use somebody’s else’s graphics (such as if you want to show a market poster on your grid, but they have a completely different style to yours). If you need to re-share someone else’s graphic that doesn’t quite fit with your brand, use a platform such as Canva to add your own font in or some brand colours to make it fit with your grid.
Where/how should our brands be visible?
Of course you don’t want to bombard people with your logo, it’s about making sure that your social media follows through and that you remember that recognition.
You could use your logo as your profile picture, give your Instagram Highlights reels covers your logo or brand colours, use props in your photographs in your brand colours. Share customer feedback in a graphic styled in your brand font and colours. There are so many ways to introduce your brand scheme into your Instagram grid and other social media channels.
Where do you start when creating a brand?
I always begin with a mood board. It helps me get to know each client, to take samples of things that fit with their brand ethos. I do loads and loads of research into brand values, their target audience and their goals as a business, and a mood board helps to create a visual for that and connect a style to it, and the colours and fonts spiral off that. Pinterest is brilliant for this.
I actually run a ‘Create Your Own Mood Board Email Course’, to help you do this and visualise your brand. It’s COMPLETELY FREE to join too! It’s an introduction to my newsletter, but it’s a great step onto the branding ladder. Click here to find out more.
As a creative business, when should you get a website? When is the right time?
There’s no need to rush into getting a website, but once you have money coming in from your business it should be one of the first things you invest in. You don’t need to save thousands for a website developer, you can start small with Squarespace or similar for a small monthly fee and just get it up and running.
When it comes to DIY design, I think done is better than perfect – it’s better to get something up and running than have nothing at all. If you do it in a panic and under time pressure, it’ll be much harder so take your time! It’s a great skill to have as a business owner, so as soon as you have the ability to invest in a website, it’s definitely worth it.
Keep it simple and easy for your customers to use – this is your priority, even more than design when you start out. Make sure your menus are visible and always keep it simple.
Which website platforms are best?
Squarespace is around £10-12 a month, and is an easy platform to use with a lot of basic functions and you can set up a shop on there quite easily. Wix is good starter platform but is difficult to scale up and can get expensive once you begin to scale. Shopify is good for product businesses but has a higher price point (although it’s ideal if you’re just selling products).