Branding

Brand your social media images like a pro

We are living in the Golden Age of social media. Today, you can post a picture of your artisan avocado toast on Instagram, pin your imaginary dream wedding, or simply tweet about whatever random thing your cat just did. Although these things can seem silly, social media is incredibly powerful if used the right way. Utilizing social media is especially fantastic for brands -- you can reach audiences around the world or just expand your reach locally.
 

1.     Who are you?

Before you start posting, it is crucial to have a clear sense of your brand. Is your look sleek, modern, and polished? Are you bold, artistic, and experimental? Taking the time to research and understand who you are as a brand allows you create a look that is entirely your own.

If you’re feeling a little stumped a mood board is a great way to start your research. Use Pinterest, Photoshop, or even a paper collage to gather whatever images speak to your brand. Anytime you feel lost for inspiration, go back to your mood board as a reminder of what your brand represents.
 

2.     Color & Fonts

In addition to color, your brands choice of fonts and lettering are also important. Anthropologie often uses fonts that look handwritten to capture the whimsy of their merchandise. Alternatively, Target uses clean minimalistic lettering that pairs well with the brand’s simple and crisp aesthetic.
 

3.     Filters & Photo Editing

Along with ready to use filters, adjusting your brightness and saturation can make your images more eye catching. Bright clean images with bold pops of color are perfect for brands with a youthful and playful aesthetic.

Muted colors with strong saturated hues work well for brands with a modern sophisticated style.

Although filters are fun to use, you don’t want your social media accounts to look like a confused medley of styles. Pick a look and stick to it.

One last tip,

It’s easy to obsess about achieving perfection, but it’s ok to mess up. You might discover a filter you like better or find some unexpected inspiration. Growing, learning, and evolving is much more valuable than staying predictable and stagnant. Have fun and don’t be afraid! 

Client Spotlight: Rise & Shine, 20 years of making a difference

We know, we know -- we’ve highlighted Rise & Shine before… but when your clients just keep doing great work, it never gets old showing it off.

Throughout 2016, Rise & Shine has been hosting a series of events to celebrate and raise awareness for their organization. An afterschool program with a mission of promoting racial justice and equality, we loved being able to collaborate on collateral that's helping drive their mission forward.

All of our work for Rise & Shine features bright colors, eye-catching layouts, and vibrant photography of the program participants. We work to keep the focus on the facts and figures that demonstrate the program's efficacy, as well as highlight the organization's values. 

Take a look at the colorful collateral below!


Below, starting clockwise at top left: One-page infographic (front + back), homepage web slider, event program,  Facebook graphics, and bookmark.


Below, left: Booth signage
Below, right: Event poster for the "In Living Color" Dance Party


Below: Local Movie Theater Ad


Working with non-profits is a passion of ours, and we're always eager to dive into a new partnership. If your organization's marketing needs a boost, don't hesitate to reach out to us!

Friday Links: Surprises + Simple Strategies

This week we couldn’t decide on just one topic, so we have a little bit of everything -- from taking pictures to social media facts and standing out -- we’ve got something for everyone this week.

One | Taking pictures with your smartphone can be a pain (trust us, we know!), but these 17 tips and tricks will help you take better iPhone pictures. It’s amazing the results you can get with just a few simple tricks!

Two | Did you know that your biggest advocate on Twitter is most likely someone with a low number of followers? This is just one of the 10 most surprising social media facts

Three | “Look around you right now, I guarantee you can see at least one brand mark somewhere.” Ever wonder how big brands leave a lasting impression? Creating a brand that is consistent and thoughtfully executed will leave a lifetime mark. Here are 12 simple strategies all memorable brands use.

Four | Over the course of the day, almost 5 million pins are shared on Pinterest! So... now you’re probably wondering “How can I stand out and make sure people are seeing my pins?” Implement these 4 simple tweaks to help stand out.

Five | If you checked out our post earlier this week, you know we talked about GSO inspiration. And, we couldn’t resist adding one more local business to our list! Vivid Interiors (located Downtown) has been sharing some of their favorite Hygge and West wallpapers on their blog. Not only would they look great in your home or office, but these snapshots also make cute iPhone wallpapers!

If you’re in Greensboro this weekend, check out the 100 for 100 art sale or National Trails Day. See you on the blog Tuesday!

Hue & Tone Tips: Small changes that'll make a big difference in your visual branding

Hue & Tone Tips: Small changes that'll make a big difference in your visual branding -- Hue & Tone Creative

I've said this a time or two on the blog -- your organization's visual brand is really, really important. In most cases, it's your first chance to make an impression on a potential customer or client, some of whom aren't going to take a risk on your business or organization if you don't have professional, cohesive branding.

If you're interested in a more in-depth look at the importance of branding, including how-tos on establishing your brand, you can check out my branding series. Today, though, I want to offer a few quick action steps that will improve your branding in a big way, without requiring a huge time investment. 

Invest in good-quality photography. 

Using clear, bright, well-composed photos -- rather than the "just okay" photography most organizations wind up with-- instantly elevates the quality of any branding collateral. This might mean investing in professional photography services or equipment, but it could be as simple as getting outside with your smart phone and a white-posterboard background and taking advantage of some good, natural light.

If you've seen that font before, stay away from it!

When you're choosing a logo font, go the extra mile and look for a font that's not commonly used by other organizations in your niche. This is often as simple as avoiding the default fonts on your computer (for a few places to download free or inexpensive fonts, check out Tuesday's blog post). 

Add texture to your graphics.

Particularly in graphics involving text, it's easy to think type and color are the only elements you need to pull in. But those flat graphics don't draw the eye. Even the simplest graphics need some form of texture to create visual interest -- take a look at the Hue & Tone post graphics for an example. 

Establish a consistent look on social media.

If you post graphics on social media, have an idea of which fonts, colors, and textures you're going to use in that space. These should be consistent with your overall brand identity. If there's a certain type of content you post often -- quotes, for example, or opening and closing dates for your business -- you can develop a consistent graphic template for that content and rotate in colors and textures. 

What's worked for you as you work to brand & define your business? Let me know in the comments. If you have questions about your branding, or want to discuss ideas, drop me a line here.

 

Branding Refresh: Hue & Tone's brighter, cleaner new look

As my small business grows, I have a better understanding of who we are and who we’re trying to reach. When I founded Hue & Tone, I went with muted, simple colors – but quickly found that this very basic palette was limiting.

Hue & Tone’s refreshed branding is cleaner, brighter, and better represents who we are and what we do – without being such an overhaul that we’ve become unrecognizable. A wider range of colors and textures, along with an expanded font palette, offer visual flexibility and do a better job of telling our story.

Check out the before and after here: 

Branding Refresh: Hue & Tone's brighter, cleaner new look -- Hue & Tone Creative

Branding Refresh: Hue & Tone's brighter, cleaner new look -- Hue & Tone Creative

How do you feel about your business's branding? Does it tell your story well, or is it time for a refresh?

A Beginner's Guide to Finding a Job (Part 1): Brand Yourself

Hi everyone! Kelly Roberts here -- aka Intern Kelly -- I am a recent graduate of The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and am currently looking for my first "real" job. Through my internship at Hue & Tone I am learning tips and tricks for becoming a more competitive job applicant. Over the next few weeks I'll be updating you on my progress through the blog, so feel free to follow along! 

Intern Kelly -- Hue & Tone Creative
Finding a Job, Part One: Brand Yourself -- Hue & Tone Creative

1.   Reflect on who you are and what you have to offer.
This calls for self-reflection time. This can be very challenging, because there can be many different things that make you, you. It is important to establish the things that you enjoy, and are good at. Not just professionally, but personally as well. What are your best skills? Honesty is key, stay true to yourself – and when in doubt, ask those around you what stands out to them.  

2.   Build a personal website.
Build a site filled with blog entries, a record of your professional endeavors, and work samples. I cannot express the importance of this enough! Especially in the creative industry, it is important to have a portfolio of your work – and an Internet portfolio is the way to go. This gives potential employers the opportunity to get a feel for who you are before bringing you in for a face-to-face interview. It is one thing to tell potential employers about your successful work, but it is another to actually show them.

3.    Clean up your social media accounts.
Make sure you’re projecting a professional persona online. By changing your privacy settings on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook you can control who can view your posts, pictures, and thoughts. You want to make sure that the way you are presenting yourself on social media is a good reflection of you as a professional. Most importantly, don’t forget to keep your experience up to date on your LinkedIn.

4.   Understand the expectations of your industry.
Each professional industry has its own rules, which your personal brand should follow. Do plenty of research to find out who the major players in your industry are, how much color you should use on your resume, and what kind of salary you should expect. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a favorite professor as you explore your field – they’re there to help. As you build your brand, broadcast a physical appearance that balances your personal style and the expectations associated with the industry or career you plan to pursue.

5.   Use social media to market your new online brand.
Once you have established your brand, you own the right to flaunt it! Use social media to your advantage – post Facebook statuses and tweets letting your followers know that you are in the job market. Brag about your specialties and abilities, and pay the extra money to update your LinkedIn profile! 

6.   Network in-person.
Technology is awesome for making and keeping connections; however, it does not replace face-to-face time. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language are just a few of the things that make a huge difference in a conversation. Relationships typically grow stronger when you interact with someone in-person, it’s often easier to relate to them and it shows you're invested in getting to know them as well.

Stay tuned for next week's blog post on how to make your resume stand out from the crowd. Have a question in the meantime? Email me at kerober2@gmail.com

Branding (Part 3): Creating a consistent brand on social media

Note: Today’s installment of the branding series is a guest post from Meghan Frick

You probably don’t need to be told that social media’s a powerful tool for your business – whatever your business is. And social media is important for your business for the same reasons it’s such a force in your personal life – it’s a way to build real friendships and networks, based around pretty much anything.

At its core and at its best, social media is about relationships. You are in the best position to strengthen your business when you are building genuine relationships with potential clients, customers, and partners.

That’s easier to do when your social media accounts are tied together with a consistent visual and editorial brand. When you post and when you interact with other users, people should know – seamlessly, easily – who they’re interacting with. Here are a few easy ways to strengthen your social branding.

1. Brand your images

Watermarking the photos you post to social media is a simple way to include a visual reminder of your business and what it stands for in nearly every post. Here’s how we do this at my day job. There are a ton of different options for branding your photos, but we accomplished this effect by converting our logo into a Photoshop brush preset.

Tip: Unless you’re a photography business – meaning your images are the product you sell – don’t make your watermark so obtrusive that it would deter other users from sharing your images. In most industries, you want people sharing your images on social! The brand is more of a visual cue than a banner proclaiming “this is mine!” 

2. Take advantage of valuable real estate

Any social media account you create comes with some built-in real estate that allows you to communicate your visual brand. Think cover photos, profile images, “about” sections, etc. Don’t let these go to waste. For your cover images, create collages or sharp, appealing graphics. Use sections like your Twitter bio to point to other content, like your most recent blog post or your business’s other social-media accounts. Never leave a profile picture or a bio blank – be strategic in your use of these “built-in” sections.

3. Pay careful attention to consistency of quality

Put another way: if you’re going to put it out there, make it good. Shoot and select sharp photos. Carefully proof your writing – and, if you’re prone to mistakes, let someone else comb through it too. Develop a consistent editorial style (for example, refer to yourself and your business in the same way; no fluctuating between I and we). Develop a reasonable consistency of written tone – many accounts do well with a decidedly untraditional tone, but you don’t want to switch between that and super-seriousness.

I’ll end with a warning, though.

I approach social media – even for business purposes – with an attitude of “inspiration, not rules.” If I’m tweeting live and don’t have time to brand a photo, I post the photo anyway. If a slightly blurry image reflects an exceptional moment, I sharpen it up as much as I can in Photoshop…and then I post it anyway. You don’t want to seem canned, and you don’t want your branding efforts to detract from real communication and opportunities to share what you and your organization are all about.

How do you brand your social media accounts? How has social media been valuable to you as a professional? Let us know in the comments!

Meghan Frick is a communications and social media specialist for the Georgia Department of Education by day, and a blogger and freelancer by night. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, or her blog.

Are You Ready to Work for Yourself? 5 Questions to Ask

hue&tone_workforyourself

Working for yourself full-time can be a great thing. There’s nothing like striking out on your own to develop your skills, and the freedom you’ll gain over your time, income, and opportunities is incomparable.  

Still, working for yourself is hard – in ways you don’t always imagine when you’re starting out. So how do you know if you’re ready? Start by asking yourself these five questions.

Why am I doing this?

What’s going on in your life that makes you want to take the leap? And if all those situations suddenly changed – if you had a brand-new boss, a raise, and a corner office – would you still want to work for yourself? Pay attention to your answer. You should be ready to make a commitment that lasts through changing circumstances.

How long could I realistically live on the savings I’ve built up?

Figure out how much you think you’ll need…then double it. Particularly in creative industries – where you’re offering a service, rather than a product – the line from successful client acquisition to actually seeing a check in your bank account can be a long one.

Am I ready for EVERY aspect of owning a business?

Making a living from the creative work you love doing is great. But remember that you’ll also have a whole new list of responsibilities aside from the creative stuff. Make sure you’re ready to handle more complicated taxes, find a space (or work from home), and – of course – get out there and find some clients.

What’s unique about me? How can I brand that?

You know you’re a great copywriter/graphic designer/web developer. Remember, though – there are a lot of talented creatives out there. What sets you apart? How can you cohesively and visually represent – aka brand – the things you alone can offer?

Who’s in my corner?

Although you may now be a business of one, success doesn’t happen alone. Think about the network you’ve built over the years…who do you know whose skills are the perfect complement to yours? Now’s the time to brainstorm the partnerships you can build based on those relationships.

Need help figuring out how to brand your services? I’m all ears! Drop me a line: hannah@hueandtonecreative.com.