Happy Wednesday, friends! It’s been a little over a week since the new site launched, and I want to send a huge heartfelt thank you for your outpouring of support last week! It meant so much to me. I am beyond thrilled with my new site, but to have you all just as happy with it, well, that’s the best part.

For those of you who struggled to find the blog at first, my sincere apologies. We tried to get channelingcontessa.com to link directly to the blog section of the site, but unfortunately it wasn’t feasible. So if you’re on the homepage (clarapersis.com) you can access the blog in two ways (soon to be three): from the navigation bar at the top, from the underlined word “blog” in the text below the photo carousel, and soon I will have a photo in the carousel that links directly to the blog. Will keep you posted on that!

You can also subscribe to the blog via RSS, by email from the sidebar, and with BlogLovin (also with an icon in the sidebar). If you were a previous subscriber, you should have been transferred over to the new site last week. If the emails aren’t coming through for you and you’re facing any issues, please let me know! I want to create the best experience possible.

Now, the actual title of this post: branding. Getting back into the career/business focused content of this blog, I wanted to shed some light on my visual branding process, since I learned a whole lot from completely changing the look and feel of Clara Persis. I’ve transformed my steps into tips to help you determine whether or not you’re ready to invest in having a professional visually brand your business, how to go about choosing a designer, and clarifying the work you’ll need to do alongside your designer and developer to make the whole thing come together.

 1) Determine If It’s a Viable Business: When I first launched Clara Persis, I never really went through a visual branding process. I say visual because I did have a brand that consisted of my unique skills and services, but I didn’t hire a professional to define the look ad feel of that brand. I had the blog and an old business site which I slapped together using a free service. I didn’t have a logo designed, used Minted to order business cards, and did my best to work off of what I already had to first see if my business was feasible. That was all intentional. I felt very strongly that my brand couldn’t be legitimized by a fancy business card, it had to stand on its own first. I most certainly believe in the value of a cohesive brand and a formal branding process, but only when the business already has some legs beneath it. As an entrepreneur or business owner, if you’re more concerned with creating pretty stationary than securing your first clients, I’d reconsider your goals.

2) Choose Your Designer: Though I received quotes from various designers, I knew in my gut I wanted to work with Erika. I had followed her blog and career for years and was completely enamored with her style. I knew she’d take my guidance and create the exact brand I wanted. Even with those feelings, I also emailed a friend who had used her services to garner her feedback. The dynamic between you and your designer is key; this is not a decision that should be made on a whim. Keep in mind that the best people are usually booked weeks, if not months, in advance (technically a good sign!). I would urge against sacrificing your first or second choice simply to rush a project. Work with the person that’s worth the investment.

 3) Understand What You Want: The worst thing you can tell a designer when they’re developing your logo, business cards, website, and so on is “‘I’ll know it when I see it.” Meaning, you’ll know the design you want once you’ve seen some design examples. Consider that the easiest way to make yourself a terrible client! I, candidly, thought I knew exactly what I wanted when I first started working with Erika, but it ended up being something entirely different. Nonetheless, my initial direction and decisive feedback through each round of edits guided her in the right direction. In the end it was a combination of my direction and her specific eye and style as a graphic designer that got us to the right place. Hence step two being so important!

4) Be Ready to Work:  Designing a brand and a website is hardly just the work of the designer and developer. You need to be ready to think critically and long term about your business. This was actually an incredibly helpful process for me. It forced me to really define my niche (something I’d been tiptoeing around for a while) and be clear about what Clara Persis was- as a business, as a blog, and as a brand. There’s certainly room within this site for the business to evolve and shift over time, but creating that frame work alone takes some serious thinking and decision making, all along a set timeline.

 5) Exercise Patience, But Don’t Hold Back: Rest assured, even the simplest brands and sites take time. I began working with Erika back in July! Finalizing a logo, gathering all the photos, copy, and content, it all takes time. At the same time though, be wary of the fear to launch. My site was slightly imperfect when it launched, and it likely still is! I’ve rewritten my about section, worked to clean up the blog categories, realized a new section I needed to add under Services…. all done after launch. Did this hurt the site’s success? Likely not. Would it have been worth waiting another week? Likely not, especially since I may not have realized I needed to make all those changes until after the site launched. And they’ll undoubtedly be many more to come. Nothing is ever perfect. It’s key to stick to your deadline and not continually delay, because in reality, a rebrand is just the first step within larger growth goals for your business.

Woo! I hope that outline is helpful. Are any of you facing visual branding struggles? Feel free to leave a note in the comments and we can discuss!

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  1. I am loving the new website! great job and I love the post. It’s true, it does take time and patience but you have only one chance to make a good impression :-)

  2. Anastasia

    Really helpful, Clara. Thank you! You’re my “go-to-gal”!

    • Clara

      Aaw I am so touched!

  3. Hi Clara, just discovered your blog via pinterest (your pomegranate smash, yum!). I really love the layout of your site and can’t wait to read more of your posts!

    • Clara

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad to have you following along!!

  4. Love this, Clara! From my developer perspective, numbers 4 and 5 really highlight how important it is that you have a site built for you that you actually CAN edit and update when you want to without needing a ton of help or navigating HTML.

  5. Clara,

    I’ve been a reader for a short period of time, and have thoroughly enjoyed your food posts, and your drive to embark on building your own business!

    Just a small note — the title of your post is a bit misleading, as the instructions you’ve included focus on building visual expressions of a brand, AFTER the brand has actually been developed — it’s not the actual process of building a brand from scratch. Building a brand focuses on identifying brand and market position, USP (or point of difference), developing the brand narrative/story through provocation exercises (i.e. what is this brand/what isn’t this brand), tenants and pillars, vision, mission, positioning, goals, etc. The process is both qual/quant in the sense that you should use data (quant) + point of view/storytelling/unique idea or white space (qual) in doing so. Your brand defines the business and keeps your brand in check (brand pillars), not vice versa, even with start-ups. Start-ups tend to forgo formal branding and it ends up to their peril because they don’t establish their long term market position and point of difference because they’re too focused on funding. As a consumer marketer for 17+ years, I’ve seen this quite a bit.

    I hope you found this feedback helpful. I think in this day + age brand marketing and brand expressions (logos, typography, websites, marketing materials, etc) are often interchanged, and that can be a tricky proposition for a business’ long-term strategy.

    Cheers, Felicia

    • Clara

      Felicia- thank you SO much for you candid and incredibly helpful feedback. It’s interesting you bring up this point, because in all honesty I was feeling a little unsure about this post. I specifically did not feel right about the title. But I let being busy and feeling forced to get a post up take priority, and hit publish despite my feelings. It was in the back of my mind to revisit and edit this post over the holiday, and now I most definitely will thanks to your insight. Thanks so much for reading but most of all for commenting :) Cheers!

      • Happy to help, Clara. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give me a shout. I’m more of a consumer marketer, by trade, but my business partner is a seasoned brand marketer.

        Merry Christmas!

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