Marbry Walker | Brand Design in Portland, Oregon

I'm Marbry Walker, a Portland-based designer specializing in brand design for solopreneurs. 

Design resources: for those times when you have to DIY

Marketing & business resources

Marketing is not a skill I had when I began my business. I’ve had to learn on the job, and for many years I didn’t market my business at all. It’s been a process (sometimes a very slow-moving one) and I now feel like marketing is not the elusive goal it used to be, but a tangible part of my ongoing business practice. This list is a collection of the resources I’ve found while learning how to market my own business:

Social Media Marketing

LKR Social Media

I have only begun to take advantage of social media, and as I do so, I look to Laura’s advice and services to help me learn how and what to incorporate into my practice. She can take you from zero to pro in whatever social media space you want to learn about. She also hands out actionable advice in her free weekly newsletter.

Business & Marketing

Seth Godin

Godin’s bio reads, “American Way Magazine calls him, "America's Greatest Marketer," and his blog is perhaps the most popular in the world written by a single individual.” I just recommend you read his blog. I do.

Marie Forleo

She has a great weekly blog/video post. It’s free!

Word Of Mouth Marketing

Saul Colt

Check out his blog and videos where he talks about how he uses word of mouth marketing.

Church of the Customer blog

I just recently stumbled upon this blog by Jackie Huba & Ben McConnell. And I’m so glad I did.

 

Is your business card awesome or embarrassing? Check out this brand assessment tool.

How do you feel about handing out your business card? If you hesitate at the thought of sharing your card, we should probably talk. You can ask that same question about any piece of collateral you have.

If you’ve done your homework, you already know that your audience wants what you’re selling. So what’s the problem? If they aren’t buying, then the way you’re talking about your product may not connect with them. It might be your words. It might be your visual style or it might just be how you arrange your content. Are your top-level messages jumping off the page? Everything else should take a back seat. If that top-level message is working, everything else is just supportive, and they will read it. But they won’t read it if you don’t first capture their attention. So get their attention—that is your first priority.

If it doesn’t feel right, then something is not in alignment. Your gut is not wrong. But knowing what the problem is and how to fix it can be more challenging. So I created a brand assessment sheet to get my clients thinking and to help them identify weak points in their brand strategy and look & feel. 

Want help evaluating your collateral? Request the brand assessment sheet and I'll send it your way.

2 helpful brand strategy resources

Here are a couple of resources that I’ve found very useful and that I like to direct my new clients to. I thought you might find these inspiring or helpful.

The Strategic Pyramid

Explains the relationship between Purpose, Mission, Vision & Goals. A great resource to look at when you’re just starting your business or to look back on if you find you’re perhaps missing something in your strategy.

Liquid Brand Exchange: Steal This Idea by Marty Neumeier

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

An excellent video that talks about the importance of understanding your purpose or your “why” and how it can be used in your business. I struggled with nailing this down for myself for quite a while. Then I saw this video. I highly recommend it. I also mentioned this video here.

TED talk

How to create a visually inspiring (slide) presentation. Six rules to follow.

Obviously, if your content is not inspiring, this won’t help you at all. Let’s assume you’ve got something to say and an audience that needs or wants to hear it. Follow these rules when composing your slides:

  1. Each slide should contain one point or idea. Imagery, if any, should support or reinforce the ideas on the slide. 
  2. Be very selective about what you will allow to take up real-estate on your slides. Does your logo really need to be on every slide? Really? Seriously, why?
  3. Use one or two typefaces consistently throughout the deck, and set the point size to 30 or larger.
  4. Use color consistently. Except for when you’re applying number 5 (below). 
  5. Be unexpected. If most of your slides have a white background, every once in a while make one of them a colored background to make a point stand out or to signal a shift into another area of your talk. 
  6. Be engaging. If you follow the rules above, you probably don’t have to try very hard to do this.

There’s certainly more that can be said about creating an effective slide show, but this gives you a quick set of rules to get you started.

Was this helpful? I’d love to hear from you via email.

Are you boring your audience? 3 ways to freshen up your marketing while staying on brand.

This question came from a client of mine. I’ve modified the question to be less specific to their particular dilemma so you can see how these ideas can be applied to your situation.

Q: Our advertisements are boring, and customers are ignoring them. My co-worker wants to use lots of colors and fonts to make our promotional posters stand out more than the one-font, one-color template we’ve been using. I’m worried this will take us off-brand. What do you think?

My first thought is this: your co-worker’s solution to the problem is only one of many possible solutions. And it has the potential to create a disconnected visual experience for your customer (taking you off-brand). Here’s what I’d like you to consider: there are solutions to the “boring” problem within the limits of one color and one typeface. 

In order to stand out from all the other signage and messages in your environment you need to create visual drama. Here are 3 ways to bring some drama into your visual pieces:

  1. High contrast color: you don’t need more colors. Black & white is high contrast. Try using one brand color with black or white for a simple and high-contrast palette.
  2. High contrast typography: Less is more with ads and marketing materials that need to grab attention fast. Make your top-level statement huge. Make all the supporting language subordinate, while being large enough to read. 
  3. White space: No distractions. Get their attention, then get to the point. If you don’t have access to great art to include in your poster or sign, don’t worry about it. You can create a lot of visual interest with type alone. White space provides visual rest - letting your message stand out even more. 

Brainstorm options within your limits and you’ll be surprised at the possibilities.