Does my Website need professional branding? profile: Meg from Lemon and Birch Creative
I get asked on almost every client call, if the business doesn’t already have professional designed branding, whether it is worth the investment. The answer is simple: YES. A bold, italic, capitalised yes! Professional branding will up-level your business like nothing else (except maybe, photography).
Here, I’ve created a little intro to my go-to branding girlboss, Meg at Lemon and Birch Creative. Need branding? She’s got your covered. Find out below why she feels thoughtfully designed branding is so important, what her process looks like and some examples of her beautiful work.
Hi, Meg! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do and who you serve?
Hi Kaz, thanks for having me on your blog! I'm a brand stylist and designer, so I design logo's along with all those other bits that make up a brand identity; icons, custom typography, colour palettes, brand patterns, marketing collateral etc. I love working with female run businesses and people who are driven by a deeper purpose than just making money. Of course we are all in business to earn a living, but I find I do my best work with people who are passionate about what they're doing and want to serve others with their products or services.
What’s unique or special about your process?
It's standard in the branding industry to provide 3-5 logo designs for your clients to choose from, but I actually only provide one. The one concept approach to branding has revolutionised my process and made both me and my clients so much happier! Although it might sound like you're getting less for your money, you're actually getting so much more. It allows me the head-space to work on one really strong branding concept, rather than 3-5 mediocre ones. I put a lot of effort into the foundational stages, finding out about your business and your niche, your core values, ideal clients/customers, and how we can set you apart with a look that's different to your competitors. This approach has worked so well over the past 2 years, I offer two refinement rounds on the concept I provide and that is usually more than enough to tweak any elements to perfection.
What does your average work day (or a couple of days) look like?
I try to get up at about 7:30 each weekday to walk our Labrador, Jolene. As soon as my husband leaves the house for work at 7:30 she is waiting at the bottom of the stairs for me, I can always hear her pacing about in the hallway, so it's quite difficult to sleep in past that time! It works really well to get out of the house and into nature first thing, it wakes me up and clears my head ready for work. We both have breakfast and then head up to my studio above our garage by 9. I try to work on tasks that are a bit easier to tick off on my list during the morning, like replying to emails, catching up on accounting or writing a blog post. Things that have a definite beginning and end work best for the mornings and I also like to schedule client calls early on if I can, I find that I worry too much about them (I'm an overthinker!!) if I schedule them later on in the day, I like to get them done and dusted early!
At lunch I'll often walk Jolene again to break the day up and clear my head for the afternoon. It really helps having a reason to get outside because I definitely would feel more chained to my desk otherwise. During the afternoon I do the more creative work and things that need more brain energy, I always feel at my most creative in the afternoons. It took a while to work out what works for me and what tasks to work on when, but I'm finally getting there after 2 years of being in business! I guess I'm not naturally a morning person, so ticking off the more mundane tasks during the mornings and saving the fun stuff for later when I'm more inspired and motivated works for me. Having a few things ticked off before lunch also makes me feel productive and builds momentum into the afternoon. I try to write a quick to-do list for the following day before I finish so I know what my priorities are and can get stuck in the next day. Of course, every day doesn't look like this, but it i the routine I try to stick to that is the most productive for me.
What does a day off look like?
Usually getting some cleaning done in the house (snore!!) and then curling up on the sofa with my husband with a good book or movie. I've recently become better at switching off from work mode during days off, this again is something that is always a work in progress, but it's important to not get burnt out. I have days where I have ideas buzzing round my head or weekends where I feel overwhelmed at the thought of all the work I have to do the following week, but I never feel better if I work through the weekend because I'm not doing my best work. I always feel better when I have time away.
Can you share with us a couple of projects you’re particularly proud of? Why have you picked them?
A project I particularly loved working on was for Aroma Birth Organics. They've not launched yet, but they're an aromatherapy business focussing on custom essential oil blends for women who are pregnant and soon to go through labour. It can be a real anxiety inducing time, so these products help to calm and soothe and provide positive birth experiences. What struck me was how Louise the owner had drawn from her own life experiences and created a business that she feels will be so helpful to many women going through the same experiences she's had. From a design perspective this was such a beautiful project to work on, Louise and I were on the same page about the visual direction from the beginning, and it was so lovely to go beyond the computer screen and design the packaging for her products so that everything looks cohesive when she launches later this year.
Another I'm quite proud of is the work for A Branch of Holly, I loved creating this minimal branding with a super distinctive turquoise and orange colour palette. Your website design brought it to life Kaz, it's amazing seeing everything I designed implemented so well on the website!
Can you share your most recent project? (Or a recent-ish one)
One of my most recent projects is for a massage therapy company based in Kansas called The Prairie Wellness Co. We're still finalising all the marketing pieces, but the branding has been completed and I love how it turned out. It needed to have an everyday luxury feel about it, opulent but still attainable. I chose a beautiful, refined typeface and added some wildflowers to bring in a whimsical nature that makes it feel less rigid but still luxurious. Branding is so often about finding the balance between two seemingly opposite things!!
Why do you feel professional branding is so crucial for female entrepreneurs and small businesses building an online presence?
There are more and more small businesses setting up each week, which in itself is an amazing thing, I hope it doesn't slow down, I think small businesses can change the world because usually there is real passion and thought behind the business and a desire to help. However, it does get more and more difficult to stand out when everyone can start a business from their kitchen table. Many people have a truly amazing service or product, but they just don't know where to start with branding their business up to look professional and interesting to their target market. It's crucial to get that look and feel right so that your target market believes your business is the only choice for them. When a business is branded thoughtfully and strategically, you'll repel those people that aren't right for your, and attract those people that are. This distinction can take your business from 'struggling to find work', to 'attracting your tribe easily', and of course you need to be marketing your business in places where your target market hang out too, but without that tailored look, your tribe is unlikely to notice you unless your shouting in their faces. Good branding allows you to whisper to your tribe with no need to shout 'buy from me, buy from me!'.
How did you get started in your business?
I was a full-time graphic designer at an investment group, there were many businesses within the group and I was part of the team that worked on the branding for all of these businesses. The group changed hands and I didn't get on with the new directors that were put in place, they made it super hard to come to work each day and enjoy my job. I had some time off to get married and was so anxious to go back afterwards that my husband and I decided that life was too short for me to be miserable, and I should start working freelance as there is a lot of demand for good graphic designers who are flexible and don't necessarily need full time work all the time. I'd spoken to a local design agency and got some freelance days there pretty quickly and decided to set up a side-hustle selling illustrations at craft fairs. I was interested in creating logos for small businesses but I didn't know how much demand there was for it, so I created a flyer that I gave out at craft fairs to other businesses owners that were selling there explaining that if they needed help with branding they could get in touch with me. That's how I got my first logo design gig around Dec 2016 and it soon went from strength to strength after I started posting my work on instagram and Pinterest. I finally quit freelancing in February 2018 and have managed with a lot of hard work to keep the work coming in and the momentum going.
What do you love about running your own business? What are you still working on?
I love the freedom of being able to take a morning or day off if a family member needs me or I have an event to go to. I'm still working on making enough money so I have a bit of buffer cash in case something happens like I get ill and can't take on any work for a few weeks. I make enough to pay the bills but I am concentrating in 2019 on increasing my revenue perhaps through an online course or downloadable resources, things that I can create once and sell an infinate amount of times! This takes the emphasis off needing to do more 1 to 1 services, because there are only so many hourse in a week and you can only raise your hourly rate to a point before your audience can no longer afford to work with you.
What do you hope the future holds for your biz?
As mentioned I would love to create an online course about branding, I'm unsure if it will take people through the entirety of my process, but I definitely want it to go through the foundational stages of clarifying your business vision and values, and how to pull all the information together to create a unique look and feel. Teaching the basics of design might be another course, not logo design as such, but giving people the skills to go away and create their own marketing materials that look well designed and right for their business.
Where else can we find you online?
I hang out a lot on instagram, it's my favourite! You can find me at @lemonandbirch
I'm also on Facebook www.facebook.com/lemonandbirch
And on Pinterest www.pinterest.co.uk/lemonandbirch