Is Your Visual Brand Complete? 5 Core Brand Elements to Lock Down

Is Your Visual Brand Complete? 5 Core Brand Elements to Lock Down

Having a strong and cohesive visual brand can help your business gain a bigger audience and more clients.


On the flip side, a business with no consistent branding can give off an unprofessional feel and make it difficult to build recognition and trust with people.


So you want to create a distinctive and profitable brand for your business – but if you don’t have any formal experience in the branding industry, it can be hard to know exactly what you need to have in place in order to create a cohesive brand.






With each of my brand design clients, we work through a detailed process to make sure we develop all of the essential visual brand elements. In this blog post, I’ll list each of those elements and explain why it’s essential to your brand’s success.


As you read through the post, jot down notes about which elements you have squared away, and which elements you still need to develop (or improve on) for your brand.


#1 – Logo suite



The logo is the most obvious and well-known element of a visual brand. It’s one of your biggest tools when it comes to building brand recognition because it’s a succinct, easy-to-remember icon that people can learn to recognize quickly.


In addition to your primary logo, you may also have an alternate and abbreviated logo (or sub logo). Having these alternate logo versions allows you to adapt to the application your logo is being used with. For example, if your primary logo is tall, you may need a horizontal version to fit nicely in the header of a website.



#2 – Brand Color Palette


Color is a powerful way to communicate emotions and ideas. It can be used to trigger specific associations and actions in your audience and is a very important element of your overall brand identity.


Choosing the right colors can help you reinforce your brand’s key attributes and help set the overall tone.


When designing a color palette, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some color psychology so you understand how colors generally affect emotion and action.




#3 – Brand Typeface / Fonts


Consistency is key to a strong and recognizable brand – and even the small details like the fonts you use on your website and marketing materials can play a big role.


Choose the fonts you will use in your branding and make sure to stick to them anywhere you use type. Choose a web-friendly font to make it easy to stay consistent on your website.


Also, note that sticking to just a couple typefaces is best. For my branding clients, I generally select a typeface for headlines and a typeface for body text (sometimes I stick to just one typeface and use different font weights within that typeface to add variety).



#4 – Brand Photography



Not every brand relies heavily on photography, but images do play a major role for most businesses. If you aren’t using photography in your branding, then you’re likely using another type of imagery (like illustrations or digital drawings).


Being consistent in the photography/images you use is just as important as staying consistent with your colors, fonts, and logo.


Even if you don’t have the budget to have custom brand photography taken for your business, you should set guidelines that you will use when sourcing free or affordable stock photography (or taking photos yourself).


Will you always have bright, natural lighting in your photos, or will they be darker and moodier? Are your photos natural and candid looking, or curated and styled?



#5 – Brand Style Guidelines



This is the part of creating a fully developed brand identity that often gets overlooked. Once you have the major elements in place – like your logo, colors, typefaces, and photography – it’s easy to put your new brand elements in place and neglect this last, important step.


A brand style guide will include instructions on how to put your new brand out in the world and include “rules” that help your new brand elements appear consistent and polished.


These guidelines vary from brand to brand, but here are a few examples:


  • Are there specific visual accents you use throughout your branding? For example, will you place a solid bar of color across the bottom of printed documents, webinar slides, website pages, and social media images? Will you always leave a certain amount of white space around your logo?


  • Will your logo appear in different colors depending on the background? How about when it appears over a photo?


  • What style guidelines will you use for icons and graphics? Do they look hand drawn or precise? Are they rounded or squared? Do illustrations use thin lines or thick lines?


Taking the time to define these guidelines will give your brand an extremely polished, professional feel. Without these rules in place, a brand can easily drift and become inconsistent. Take the time to create your own Brand Style Guide and refer to it anytime you create something new for your business.



How did your brand do? Do you have each of these 5 elements set up for your business? If you’d like more free advice on how to polish your brand and make it even more irresistible, grab a free copy of the guide 7 Secrets to a Profitable Brand and Website here.



call - 616.821.7244  |  email -  |  follow along - @sonjajobson 
Grand Rapids, MI


The One Concept Design Process

The One Concept Design Process

There’s a common practice in the brand design industry that goes something like this:


  1. The designer brainstorms dozens of logo concepts, then submits a handful of them to the client.


  1. The client gets saddled with the task of choosing the best one for their business and the project moves forward with that logo concept.


When I first started designing brand identities, I approached projects like this, too. I would show my clients three or four different logos at the beginning of each brand design project and ask them to choose which one they wanted to use.


But after a while, I began to recognize patterns in the project workflow that didn’t sit right with me. Presenting several logo concepts to clients during branding projects was causing more harm than good.






First of all, my clients were feeling overwhelmed.


And why wouldn’t they be? Choosing such a central piece of your brand identity is a huge task with lots of things to consider. Which concept will appeal the strongest to the intended target audience? Which one incorporates the strongest design principles? Which one conveys the right ideas and emotions?


It’s fun to see your business come to life through design, and my clients were always excited to receive their logo concepts to review. But after the initial fun of looking over the new designs, I noticed that my clients often felt overwhelmed by the task of picking the perfect logo from the batch.


There was always one best concept


Without fail, every time I delivered a batch of logo concepts to a client, I knew which one was the strongest.


The other concepts were well-designed contenders, but I knew which brand identity would best serve the client’s goals and target audience. By layering in additional options for the sake of variety, I was hiding that expertise and making the decision process harder for my client.


And finally, my client’s were slipping into subjective mode


Choosing a logo and creating a visual brand identity is all about strategy, not personal preference. You want your logo and brand to appeal to your target audience first and foremost, which isn’t always the same thing that will appeal to you personally.


My clients had hired me to do the work of designing something that would help them make more money and attract the right people. So they naturally (and rightly) assumed that the strategy work had been taken care of and when presented with multiple logo concepts to choose from, simply chose whichever one they liked best personally.


Enter: the one concept brand design process


It was around this time that I began hearing about a one-concept design approach.


Instead of creating multiple possible brand identities and handing it off to your client to choose, the one concept approach meant you present one solution that best fits your client’s business and the problems they’re trying to solve.


At first, I was worried clients would feel restricted by this approach – after all, doesn’t everyone want choices?


But after implementing this in my own business, I (and my clients) found the opposite to be true. Instead of restricting options, I was able to refine the design process to deliver the most effective solutions, cutting out the confusion and analysis paralysis that my clients shouldn’t have to wade through.



Here’s exactly how I put the one concept brand design process to work in my business


Step One – strategy


The one concept design process (or any brand design process for that matter) would fall short if it wasn’t built on strategy.


Creating a visual brand identity isn’t just about looking good – it’s about communicating the right ideas to the right audience.

The strategy work I go through with my clients allows us to define our goals and direction for the project so that the resulting brand identity will be effective.


The strategy phase includes a detailed client questionnaire, a visual inspiration exercise, and live collaboration.


Step 2 – brainstorming & sketching


After my client and I complete our strategy work and have a clear direction and goal for our project, I start brainstorming the brand identity and logo concepts.


I always spend time sketching dozens of logo concepts and exploring different approaches before I begin any digital design work.


Once I’ve narrowed in on the strongest design concepts, I’ll move those into the next phase of the process.


Step 3 – designing the digital concepts


Next, I take the strongest concepts from the brainstorming & sketching phase and begin to design them digitally.


I continue to refine the designs, identifying the strongest components of each and bringing those together until I have one complete brand identity concept that is in line with our strategy and creative direction.


Step 4 – presenting the brand identity system


I love to show my clients their new brand identity in context so that they can imagine how it will look and function in real-life situations.


Before presenting the brand identity concept to my client, I create a mock up displaying their new logo and supporting elements on business cards, stationery, packaging, signage, web graphics, or other applications that make sense for their specific business.


I also include the entire brand identity system when presenting it to the client for the first time (as opposed to only showing the primary logo first, and developing the other elements later).


I display the primary logo, alternate logo, and brand mark. I also include color and type combinations, brand patterns and illustrations/icons.


This way, my client can see how all the elements will work together as a cohesive brand, and how their potential clients will experience it as well.


Step 5 – refinement


The one concept design process and detailed strategy work I go through with my clients means that the visual brand identity I design for them will be in close alignment with their goals. In most cases, no changes need to be made to the brand identity system I present my clients.


However, I’m committed to working with my clients until they are completely satisfied, so a refinement stage is available at this point in the process. If something isn’t just right, we’ll discuss what isn’t working, and what changes they would like to make.


To make sure our project stays in line with my client’s goals, I always compare the requested changes to the creative brief and discuss how the changes align with my client’s audience.


The results of a one-concept design process


In the end, the one concept design process serves my clients well by putting the focus of our work back on creating a solution that will help their business grow, and not just picking out nice colors and fonts.


The process is streamlined and clear, so my clients know I’m working to create the very best designs for their business, and they aren’t burdened with the task of sorting through multiple potential brand directions.


This process allows for more effective communication, less busy-work, and stronger results.
If you’d like to see some brand identities designed through this process, you can browse through the Jobson Studios portfolio.



call - 616.821.7244  |  email -  |  follow along - @sonjajobson 
Grand Rapids, MI


5 Ways Content Creation will Make Your Business More Successful

5 Ways Content Creation will Make Your Business More Successful

When looking for strategies to build a successful business and attract more customers, content creation is one of those answers that most of us wish didn’t pop up.

Creating high-quality content consistently is hard work. It takes time (and as a business owner, you don’t have a lot of spare hours floating around).

There are heaps of excuses that you could use to dismiss content creation as a smart marketing method for your business:


You’re not a writer. You’re not creative enough. You’ll never find the time to create content. Does anyone even have time to read blog posts anymore?

If statements like these have kept you from giving blogging or content marketing a fair shot, I hope this blog post will change your mind.




Even though I’m still in the early stages of implementing it consistently, creating content has been one of the most valuable things I’ve done to grow my business.

To help make my case, I reached out to these successful business owners slash content experts for their take on how content marketing can transform your business:
Content marketing has been extremely valuable for bringing in a steady stream of clients. I utilized content marketing for Elle & Company by sharing detailed posts about design, blogging and creative entrepreneurship on the blog – all of which appealed to small business owners in need of a brand and website. The larger my blog audience became, the more potential clients were exposed to my work and the more quickly and consistently I booked clients.

Content marketing can take many shapes and forms – blog posts, podcasts, webinars, newsletters – but by providing free, helpful content that benefits your ideal clients, you’ll increase your audience size, increase your credibility, and build trust among potential clients.

-Lauren Hooker, Elle & Company Design
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Content, content, content! There’s a reason why this strategy has been hailed as King – it works. But, it also has to be done right. There’s a lot of noise out there these days and to stand out you need to be vulnerable, take risks, and tell a strong story. Honesty and human touch are the key ingredients to attract ideal clientele to your business. You’ll weed out the people who aren’t a great fit for your brand while drawing in perfect clients like a moth to a flame. It takes practice to publish consistently high quality writing, but done right (and strategically) and you will see that steady flow.

-Kimberly Crossland, The Savvy Copywriter
Website | Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook



Whether your business is built exclusively online or you have a locally-focused business that you want to expand and grow, content marketing is one of the best ways I’ve found to build an audience and book business.



5 Reasons Content Creation will Make Your Business More Successful


Let’s get to some specifics. What, exactly, can content marketing really do for your business? How will it help you grow? How will it help you book more clients and earn more money?

While I believe there are literally dozens of reasons creating content is great for business, here are my top 5.



1 – Content marketing helps you build credibility


Publishing content on your area of expertise gives you the opportunity to prove that you know what you’re doing. It’s a natural, easy way to demonstrate your knowledge while also being incredibly helpful to your audience.

It’s also the perfect platform to demonstrate your unique approach to your industry and create differentiation between your brand and the others in your niche (which, in turn, helps you build a loyal and engaged audience).



2 – Content marketing builds relationships


I strongly believe that good business comes down to good relationships. And building relationships takes time and repetition.

If you meet someone at a networking event and exchange business cards, that’s an introduction. If you run into that same person at multiple events, get to know them, and be of service by introducing them to someone or mentioning a resource – now you’re building a relationship.

In a similar way, when someone lands on your website and clicks around for a minute, they’ve been introduced to you and your business. But if they come back to your website multiple times and read helpful blog posts, they’re starting to form a relationship with your brand.

Content marketing – and blogging in particular – gives people a really good reason to come back and visit your website over and over again. It gives them a chance to interact with and benefit from your business in small ways over time.



3 – Content marketing is good for SEO


Disclaimer: I’m not an expert on SEO. But I do know that the more high-quality content you add to your website, the more likely you are to show up in relevant searches.
Here’s some advice from Zach Bulygo and Sean Work from the KissMetrics blog:

“…Google wants to reward high-quality sites that contain original content. So not only does great content make a better website, it also improves your site’s rankings, which can have a very positive impact on your business.”
There’s a lot of great information out there on how to use keywords, meta tags, and a dozen other technical details to boost your SEO. But if you don’t have the time (or desire) to dig into that right now, simply publishing quality content that your prospects and customers will want to read will give your website extra exposure on search engines.
My own personal (and very simple) SEO strategy for my blog looks like this:


  • My first priority when writing anything is how strongly it will appeal to my ideal audience. I don’t stuff blog posts with a specific keyword. I know that by writing content consistently that is in line with my business and my prospects, I’m gradually building up a library of content that includes relevant keywords (like website design, branding, and online business). My top priority is always to write content that is easy and fun to read for actual humans.


  • I spend a large chunk of time creating headlines that are effective and intriguing


  •  I use an SEO plugin called Yoast SEO for my WordPress blog



4 – Content marketing means clients come to you

Content marketing allows you to tap into something called inbound marketing.

The inbound part means that you’ll be creating a path for clients to come to you, instead of you going out and tracking them down yourself.

Having qualified prospects approach you is an amazing thing, but the aspect I love most about inbound/content marketing is the opportunity to sell without being “salesy”.

When you create content, you are promoting your business, your knowledge, and your area of speciality. But instead of a pushy sales message, you’re framing the information in a way that is genuinely helpful for your audience.

People will seek your content out because it has value to them. And in return, those that love what you have to say and are in the market for what you offer will approach you voluntarily, already knowing you are someone they likely want to work with.



5 – Content marketing gives you an efficient way to serve your prospects before asking them to trust you with their money


Trust is a huge part of the equation when it comes to purchasing something (especially something expensive or something service-based).

There are plenty of sales techniques that use pressure and intimidation to close the deal, but I’ve always believed that building relationships with people and being helpful (even if you’re not being paid yet) is the best way to build a profitable business.

Blogging presents an amazing and efficient way to begin building those trust-based relationships with people before they become customers. If you’re focused on creating content that is truly useful and valuable, you’ll be serving your prospects well before asking them to invest in you with their money.

There are plenty of ways to begin building relationships and to be of service to prospective clients, but blogging is by far the most scalable way I’ve found.

While I love to network in person and often meet with people for free consultations, I could never find enough hours in my day to connect with as many people as I can with a single blog post.

Your blog will give you the opportunity to offer that free, trust-building value to an exponential audience. And since you’re consistently building trust through your content, more and more people will begin approaching you ready to do business with you.


Are you convinced that content marketing is a smart move for your business? Here are a few other resources to help you get started:


3 Easy Blogging Time Savers

6 Entrepreneur Blogging Success Stories

20 Ways to Become a Better Writer for Your Business


call - 616.821.7244  |  email -  |  follow along - @sonjajobson 
Grand Rapids, MI

Why Flywheel Hosting is a Staple of My Website Design Process

Why Flywheel Hosting is a Staple of My Website Design Process

As a small business owner, I understand the urge to cut expenses wherever possible. It’s always appealing to keep more of the hard-earned cash in our bank accounts instead of shelling it out for yet another business service or product.

But going with the cheapest option doesn’t always save you the money you think it will. In fact, it can often end up costing you a lot more.

Such is the case for website hosting.





I know, website hosting is a pretty boring topic, but it’s incredibly relevant (and important) for any business owner who has a website.

Website hosting is a topic that comes up early in my brand design process with my clients, and I’m often asked to recommend some “affordable” options.

I love sharing resources with my clients, and I’m eager to help them find a solution that fits their business and budget. But I always hesitate to send them links to some of the popular “cheap” hosting companies.

Because, to be cliche, you really do get what you pay for.

I know from experience that, even on a super tight business budget, quality website hosting is worth paying for.

Which is why I’ve made Flywheel Hosting a staple in my website design process. Of course, my clients are free to host their website wherever they wish, and I’m happy to help them navigate the technical tasks of setting up hosting with whichever company they choose. But I’m eager to educate business owners on why spending a little bit more on website hosting is a smart (and profitable) move.

What is Flywheel Hosting?

I’ve been using flywheel hosting for over 2 years now, and it’s been a positive experience the entire time.

It’s not the only hosting company of its caliber, of course, and I’ve used other great hosts like WordPress Engine in the past as well. But Flywheel offers a few unique advantages that make the designer/client experience streamlined and simple that I haven’t found elsewhere (more on that in a minute).

WordPress Specialists

Flywheel is a WordPress dedicated host which means they specialize in, you guessed it, WordPress websites. This results in really fast-loading websites and a support team that really knows how to handle your issues.

Automatic Backups

Websites can “break” fairly easily, and if you don’t have your website backed up, you might have to start from square zero. Whether it’s a rogue plugin, an unfortunate hack, or accidentally deleting an important line of code, if your website goes blank it’s a pretty bad day.

In the past, I’ve used a whole bunch of different methods of backing up websites, all of which were somewhat time consuming.

Flywheel automatically backs up hosted websites every night, and I can access all of my website backups in my user-friendly dashboard. If something happens to my site I can log into my dashboard and restore a previous version of my site in minutes.



The first host I ever used was a $5-a-month-type host, and during the 6ish months I used them, my site was hacked twice. Each time, I spent hours and hours fixing the problem – talking with the support team, trying their generalized suggestions, and in one case, eventually just rebuilding my site from scratch.

This was a huge headache for me, and I build websites all the time. I’m sure it would be even more stressful for most of my clients who have very little desire to spend time on website “stuff”.

Which is why I love Flywheel’s great security. They monitor each site for hackers and malware, and if something ever were to happen, they will fix it for free (no spending two hours on an online chat function trying to explain your issue).

Great customer service

Out of any host I’ve ever used (for my own websites and my client’s), Flywheel has the best customer service. They’re prompt, knowledgeable, and always willing to help with whatever issues you’re having.

How Flywheel Improves My Client Workflow

Flywheel has all the essentials covered – like great speed, automatic backups, security, and customer service – but the final reason I love hosting with them is for the client workflow perks.

Design live before launching

With Flywheel, I can create a fully functional “test site” for my clients on a password-protected, temporary domain name before ever touching their actual website. My clients can view their new website design and test it out while their current site (if they have one) is still up and running for customers and prospects to use.

Free website migration

If a client is using another host for their existing WordPress website, Flywheel will migrate the site for free (and they’re super quick about it, too). Then, we can use Flywheel’s staging site feature to redesign the site before launching it.

Easy account setup

The entire design process takes place before my clients start paying for hosting. Once we’re ready to launch their new website, setting up their account is quick and easy. My client’s don’t have to navigate the process of setting up hosting on their own – I take care of all the technical details for them.

When we are ready to launch, I initiated billing from my Flywheel dashboard, and my client receives an email asking them to set up their account.

They choose the hosting plan they would like to use (or I can choose it for them if they prefer):


They decide how they would like to pay (monthly or yearly):


And add their payment details:

Add payment.jpg

That’s it! They’re hosting account is set up in their name, and their website is ready for launch.

Ready to upgrade your website hosting?

I know that, being a website designer, I think about things like hosting more frequently than most. But even if it’s not top-of-mind for you on a daily basis, having solid website hosting in place can give you peace of mind and improve the efficiency of your business.


call - 616.821.7244  |  email -  |  follow along - @sonjajobson 
Grand Rapids, MI

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