How I Design Unique Branding for Creative Businesses in Saturated Industries

Many of the custom brand identities I design are for creatives of all kinds, from photographers to florists to coaches and beyond. The thing a lot of my clients have in common? Well, besides being creative rockstars, they’re also frequently in saturated industries.

How I Design Unique Branding for Creative Businesses in Saturated Industries, by Gillian Tracey Design

Being in a saturated industry doesn’t have to be a bummer! It just means you need to get laser-focused on what makes your business special and sought after.

The reason I love working with people in these competitive markets is that I can easily take an objective look at their business in comparison to the ones around them. And you know what? There’s ALWAYS something special they bring to the table. They just might need some help bringing it to the surface and crafting unique visuals that tell the story only they can tell.

Crafting a unique and lasting brand doesn’t happen by magic or by crossing your fingers or by throwing something to the wall and hoping it sticks. Designing standout branding starts by carefully considering a few key questions, digging really deep to find the answers, and committing to whatever you find.

It’s likely going to feel hard. It’s likely going to make you feel uncomfortable to going more deep than wide. It’s likely also going to pay off BIG time.

So, creatives, does the struggle of standing out and conveying your value sound familiar? Keep reading to see the key part of my process that allows me to create something totally unique and totally “you.”

Understanding the Brand Story

Design is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating unique branding that breaks away from the competition. The other big piece is taking time to understand the story the design needs to tell.

Design without strategy doesn’t work well and it simply won’t stand the test of time.

So, for goodness sake, please don’t design something just because you think it looks pretty or it fits in with what others are doing. That will guarantee a rebrand in your near future and more feelings of frustration because you’re not building a business that’s true to you. And I don’t want you to have to go through that!

With any branding client I take on, I send over a Brand Discovery Questionnaire. It’s full of questions that help get everything out in the open; they range from questions about nitty gritty business details to ones about design considerations.

The questions below are the ones I’ve found to be fundamental to the process of creating a thoughtful brand identity tailor-made for each client. If you’re in a saturated market and are feeling tired of treading water, start getting some clarity by digging deep with these questions:

1 | List 5-10 brand tone/key words that describe the feeling or personality of your business.

Why this is important? 

Tone/key words will help you stay focused as you build out your branding. It will affect everything from the color palette you use to the tone of voice you use in your copywriting.

Here’s an example:

Key words are bold, vibrant, fun, friendly, girl-next-door, and generous.

Based off these key words, you can guess that the color palette will be made up of bright, highly saturated colors. Pastels or an all neutral palette wouldn’t convey the appropriate feeling. 

Also based off these key words, you can guess the tone of voice the copy is written in will be very conversational, relaxed, and helpful–like talking to your friend. Copywriting that’s too formal or technical would create a disconnect and this business would be missing out on reaching their ideal client.

2 | What are goals you have for your business? How do you see it growing in the future?

Why this is important? 

This question helps identify how you may plan to shift, niche down, or expand in the future. Are you going to shift from weddings to brand photography? Are you going to niche down from planning big weddings to intimate elopements? Are you going to add passive income products or workshops to your brand? Are you going to host a podcast one day that branches off from your business?

3 | Who is your ideal client?

Why this is important?

Who you serve is one of the most important questions you can answer when building your brand. Your ideal client affects everything from the way you write the copy on your website to how you package your services to how you market your business.

Getting clear on this is vital and will require some deep digging and reflection on past clients, as well as thinking honestly about who you want to work with and why. Just remember, you only want to appeal to your dream clients! This will require repelling people who don’t fit the dreamboat status, and not only is that okay, that’s a GOOD thing.

Read more about my three tips to getting your ideal client figured out (and finally feel confident about it).

4 | What do your clients love about collaborating with you?

Why this is important?

The answer to this gets you on track to thinking about what makes you and your business special. This can be anything about the customer service you provide, the education and experience you bring to the table, the extra special surprise gift you give your clients, the way you make them feel at ease, the education you provide, etc. There are so many things that go into making clients seek you out and refer you to their friends!

If you need some inspiration to get you started, here’s a couple places to look:

  • Read through initial inquiries you got from clients—some of these will likely have some info about why they got in touch. (They loved your work, they were referred to you by their friend who can’t stop raving about you, they know you can solve their problem, they fell in love with your personality after watching your Instagram stories, etc.)

  • Read through your testimonials and pull out the nuggets that highlight your strengths and unique offerings.

5 | Who are your main competitors?

Why this is important?

I only ask people this question for one reason: to make sure they don’t blend in with the competition. Oftentimes we see people who are our competitors and there’s a temptation (conscious or not) to do what they’re doing. If you see someone who’s succeeding in your industry it’s because they found their special sauce and are owning it.

Is it important to be aware of who’s in the same space as you? Of course. You want to be mindful of your surroundings so you can make smart decisions, stay nimble, and do what’s best for your business and the people you serve. 

However, don’t be so tuned in to what others are doing that you forget what makes your business unique. Don’t waste your time and energy following one step behind someone else’s business. Your time and energy is much better spent getting laser focused on what makes clients seek you out.

These are only five questions, which may make them seem deceivingly simple. However, the impact their answers have can make all the difference when it comes to building your business and strengthening your brand.

Don’t just answer these the way everyone else would or speed through them carelessly. 

Pay attention to who you’ve loved working with in the past (and who was a nightmare). Dig deep to find the little details, the not-so-obvious commonalities. Look at past testimonials to see what people wrote about their experience working with you. How did you make them feel? Why did they feel comfortable hiring you? What’s something special about the client experience that only YOU provide?

When you take the time to do the deep level work (aka the HARD work) and understand the heartbeat and soul of your brand, that’s when you’ll finally be able to feel real traction in your business. You’ll be able to build more confidently and quickly because your foundation is rock solid.

And if you need help uncovering what makes your business special and working through the above questions, I’d love to talk to you more during a Brand Discovery Session. We’ll do the deep level work together!

Gillian TraceyComment