Your Brand is More Than a Pretty Logo – A Crash Course in Branding

Your brand is more than a pretty logo. Let’s get that out of the way, ok? I feel like the world of graphic design as it relates to branding is misunderstood by a lot of people. You cannot have a brand with *only* a logo. Your brand is made up of many things. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to look at visual identity and the experience, which both have different aspects.

Visual Identity

This is where your pretty logo fits in, but don’t be fooled — it’s not the only thing you need. Your visual identity is the first thing that your potential customers will see, whether it’s on a business card, a product, or your website. It is the first thing that people will connect to your business. Your logo serves as the introduction to your business, if you will. It’s that thing that says, “Oh hey, I’m right here! Look at me!” If it’s appealing to your prospective customer, they’ll probably take a second look.

Your logo helps to create trust and familiarity in your business. Your prospective client needs to see your logo multiple times in a short period of time in order for it to become familiar — whether that logo comes in the form of a website, on a business card, a newsletter — it doesn’t matter. The main point is that it needs to be in front of your prospects multiple times. That’s where the visual identity expands — business cards, postcards, web-based materials, stickers, packaging items, signage. Sometimes, the logo is appropriate by itself for those things; other times, you might need an alternate version of your logo, or perhaps colors that people will begin associating with your brand.

Appeal

Let’s talk about logo appeal for a moment. Real talk: this is one of the biggest problem that my clients have. Your logo should appeal to your prospective client — NOT you. That’s a bit of a blanket statement, so let me clarify. Your business and your products/services are created for your clients + customers. You offer them something that they want, and they pay you for it, and in turn, your business thrives. You do those things (most often) for them, because it’s what they want. If you want them to check you out, shouldn’t you have a logo that makes them want to check you out?

Sometimes, this doesn’t mesh with what you have in mind for your logo.

What you want to see, because you like those things, isn’t necessarily what your clients would want to see.  I would love for Autumn Lane Paperie’s logo to be full of gorgeous, beautiful watercolor flowers, because that’s something we’re known for in the premade logo world.  Fact is, though, we’re presenting as a professional graphic design corporation that handles everything from premade logos to full custom brandings and websites.  It would appeal to some of our target audience, but not all of them.  Go for max appeal, with the understanding that you don’t need to have the kitchen sink in your logo simply because you like those items.

Experience

Experience is also a part of your brand…or rather, any good brand.  One of the greatest and most well-known brand experience examples is Chik-Fil-A.  If you click that handy little link there, it’ll tell you WHY this type of brand experience matters and give you some ideas on how to make this happen for your brand.

Chik-Fil-A has created an experience for their diners that is simply unmatched by other fast food chains and many sit-down restaurants.  The second you walk in the door, you’re greeted with a smiling face and good manners.  The workers use specific lingo in their interactions with you, and any time you thank them, they always reply, “My pleasure.”  Is it scripted?  Perhaps, but these guys & gals make it super believable, and you’re always left with a positive experience no matter where in the country you’re located.  (Hopefully, you have a Chik-Fil-A.)

Experience is everything from start to finish with your brand.  It includes how someone finds you, how easily your website is navigated, the ease with which you can complete a transaction, communications with you + your employees, and follow-up.  It also includes everything in between.  In short, you want your clients’ experience with you and your company to be positive.  How you make that happen is up to you.  There are a million things that you can do in order to develop a positive experience with your target audience and turn them into your clients.

Our Approach

For Autumn Lane, we’ve taken a very honest, casual, yet professional approach in our communications with our clients.  We want you to feel like that e-mail you get from us is similar to sitting in our own living room.  We also want it to feel professional, because you’re paying for professional level services and products from us.  So, we’ll always ensure that we answer your questions to the best of our abilities, answer in a timely manner, and do what we can to ensure you’re satisfied.  Feedback from you about your experiences is important, so we’ll often ask you to leave feedback.  (We can’t say enough about having reviews.  It is often what makes or breaks the decision to work with a person or company.)

Our website is easy to navigate without too many distracting bells and whistles.  If you can’t find something, we have tools to help.  We also make ourselves easily accessible with our e-mail address labeled in multiple places, a contact form, and our phone number in the footer.  This contributes to the experience by showing that you’re not hiding and that you’re trustworthy.

We don’t ship physical products with Autumn Lane; it’s all digital.  However, if you work with physical products and you have the ability to create an unpacking experience for your customers, you should do it.  What is more appealing? A thought-out packaging experience that is branded, organized, and includes business cards or referral cards, a free gift, or more?  OR…something that was thrown into a non-descript envelope with no thank you note?  The money you invest into your unpackaging experience will affect your customers positively.  It might even turn them into repeat clients, or they may referrals for your business.

Give It Thought

Give it some thought.  Your brand’s visual identity, appeal, and brand experience are crucial in establishing trust, reliability, and gaining clients that continue to come back for more.  The examples given are merely the tip of the iceberg.  Consider some of the greatest experiences you’ve had with a brand. What made it so that you wanted to continue doing business with them?  Those key reasons will be exactly what you need to put into action in your business…developed for your own brand identity, of course.

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New Product: Momboss Coffee Mug

Momboss Coffee Mug: check out one of my newest additions!

momboss coffee mugI’m really excited about this Momboss Coffee Mug, because it includes a few of my favorite things.  Handlettering, watercolor, and of course, you can never have too many coffee mugs!  Any vessel that holds coffee is ok by me!  Coffee mugs might be one of my favorite things to design, aside from leggings.  I’m offering this coffee mug in two sizes — 11 oz, and 15 oz — if it were me, though, get the big one (pictured).  🙂  It holds more coffee!

In our family, coffee mugs are something that we always have too many of!  In fact, we’ve had to do a bit of re-working of our cabinets to make sure we have enough room.  I’ve already added this one to my own mug collection.  The cool part about it?  I’m the only one that gets to use the Momboss mug!

Grab your coffee mug here.

 

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Say Hello to The Wylde Rose Boutique

Wylde Rose Boutique, Autumn Lane Paperie Web Design

Say Hello to The Wylde Rose Boutique

We recently had the pleasure of helping Dani Cameron launch her online boutique, The Wylde Rose, out of New Braunfels, Texas, & we thought it might be fun for those of you that read our blog to get to know a little about Dani & what makes her tick. We think you’ll find her very relatable!

Dani, tell us a little about yourself & what motivates you.

Hello!
I’m Dani Cameron, proud owner of the Wylde Rose Boutique. My family and I live in lovely New Braunfels, Tx which is known for floating the Comal River, spending summers at Schlitterban Water park, and of course the famous Gruene Hall.
I have been a hairdresser for 10 years now and still love it! However, since having little ones I’ve taken a step back so i can be home with them. Now my focus is more towards doing hair for weddings. It’s something I’ve always been very passionate about and i love getting to be a part of such a special day.
(Those of you near New Braunfels, TX, check out her Facebook & Instagram pages for her hair styling business!)

Can you tell us how you arrived at the point that you are now in your business & where you’d like to be in 5 years with the business?

My family is what motivates me. My husband is very supportive when it comes to me wanting to stay home with my 3 little ones. I want to be the best mom and wife I can be, but i also want to help provide for our family. I think a lot of stay at home moms want something that is just theirs. We share so much and give so much that its a wonderful feeling when you can find something that you love to do and still get the best of both worlds.

How long have you been thinking about taking this step & do you wish you’d done it sooner?

I have always wanted my own boutique. I actually started the process about 4 years ago but God was telling me it wasn’t the right time. Everything is in his time.

Where do you source your handmade items from?

My handmade items come from husband and wife business owners or stay at home moms like myself. Soon enough i will feature some of Wylde Rose’s handmade items as well!

While we were working on your project, you mentioned to us the possibility of opening a physical location in the future – where can your customers expect to find your store?

My dream is to have a physical store for Wylde Rose here in Gruene, Texas.

What do you hope to become known for with your online boutique?

I’m still trying to figure out what my “known for” items will be. That’s something that i struggle with because i originally didn’t want to open a boutique without having something that we could be ” known for”. Sometimes you just have to be patient and i know within time it will just happen…. ” Yup, that’s from Wylde Rose!”

Do you have any words of advice for people thinking about taking the same step as you & launching their online business?

My advice has always been “follow your dream.” I could name so many reasons why its such a scary step, but If you don’t at least try, you will always wonder. God was lining everything up for me to start this journey and now he is showing me the path I am to follow.
Luke 1:37

Dani Cameron

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Meal Planning – A Freebie

When I touched base with some of my followers, one of the things that they mentioned was that they struggled to juggle everything.  I hear y’all.  Running a business is tough all on its own.  When you factor in family, friends, chores, school, and for some, even a full time job, it’s insane!  One of the things that I swear by is meal planning.  So, I made this for you to make it easy, and stylish.  See?

Meal Planning Printable

Hear me out on this, y’all.  I know, I know.  Everyone and their brother on Pinterest is into meal planning.  Momblogs detail, in depth, what they do for meal planning.  Lifestyle blogs detail this stuff, too.  Health blogs swear by it.  Some people have binders, folders, and more for their meal planning.  Sure, I’m jumping on the bandwagon.  I swear by it, even though I don’t always meal plan.

You know what happens when I don’t meal plan, though?  INSANITY.  Ok, not really, but dinner is way more difficult.  I get up in the morning, get to work, and work all day long.  Jeff does, too.  (Random interjection: Man, I love when he cooks!  Isn’t it always better when someone else does it?!)  Whenever meal time rolls around, and neither my hubby or I can figure out what we want to cook, we get stuck.  Sometimes, we make crappy junk for dinner, or sometimes we visit the amazing Mexican restaurant next door.

One thing is for sure, though.  When we don’t know what we’re eating for dinner, we definitely don’t go for our vegetable drawer to make a salad.  It always winds up being something less than healthy, which begins to have a pretty negative effect…  Or positive effect on your waistline, if you know what I mean.

I used to have a meal planning section in my previous Limelife Planner, but since my new planner is a lot larger than my previous, I opted to leave out the meal planning bit.  (Side note: I would totally recommend the meal planning add-on; I just can’t/don’t want to carry my giant 8.5×11 planner with me in the store.)

 

A Sweet Freebie for You!

So, I decided that I’d design my own meal planning print-out.  It’s been such a huge help over the last few months.  I actually open this printable on my iPad, and fill it out using the Procreate app, send it to my printer, and BOOM!  I have a plan for dinner, and a grocery list.

It’s been a huge timesaver for us, and I’ve enjoyed cooking a lot more these days.  The worst part about cooking (which I love, by the way) is deciding *what* to cook with what you have on hand.  This solves the problem for me.  I usually clip off the grocery list portion to take to the store with me, and then post daily menu on our bulletin board.

I usually do the meal planning on my own, asking for a bit of input before I start.  Autumn has helped me on occasion, though.  Sometimes, I even build in a day or two for her to cook dinner for us, too.  One thing that is worth noting is to build in a day for leftovers!  This might not be needed for some families, but if you have a habit of poorly estimating the amount of food you’re cooking (me!), a leftover day is a must!

Do you meal plan?  What are some of your go-to meals during the week?

 

 

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3 Things You Need to Sell Online & Offline

Sell Online & Offline with Autumn Lane Paperie

So you want to sell online & offline?

Setting up an online business is easy-peasy these days, isn’t it?  There are so many ways that you can open up your own business online & reach the masses but sometimes an online business is no match for a physical location.  After all, there is no substitute for human interaction & the shopping experience – it’s exciting for us to get out & experience a new place & get to know the folks involved in its operation! It’s also a bit daunting for the owner to figure out a way to track their inventory simultaneously for their online & offline sales because tying together your brick & mortar store location with your website does have more moving parts to consider, especially if your site & store are popular.  Here are a few things you should consider to consolidate your online & offline presence.

1: A Solid Brand & a Secure Website

Ok, so that’s two for the price of one!  Your website & brand identity definitely go hand-in-hand, as you want your website to be highly reflective of your business & immediately identifiable with your company & there are a few reasons why you need a solid brand and a website.  For most of your customers, your website will be the first exposure they have with your business. They’ll hear about your store & go online to see what they can learn about you – better make it count! Your brand will be how your potential clients remember you, whether it’s via your website or at your physical location & it’s so much more than just a logo. It includes your marketing materials (which is usually how your clients recognize you – your business cards, postcards, & so on), your large street or building signage, your social media banners & ads.  Your logo & your information, products, & the overall look & feel your materials leave with your potential clients make an impression.  A solid brand that appeals to your target market isn’t a frill – it’s a necessity.

To go along with that solid brand, you need a solid, secure website.  Even if we assume that you don’t plan to sell your products online, having a website for informational purposes can save your staff hours of time spent on the phone answering questions. Also, considering the age we’re living in, nothing is more frustrating to a prospective client than to Google you & find bits & pieces of your business, but no actual website.  Sometimes, it might make a potential customer question the legitimacy or credibility of a business to find information via other entities like Yelp, but no info from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.  Consider a website to confirm your location & hours, provide contact information, provide instant access to information about any ongoing sales, or tell a bit about your products or services & your business’ vision & mission statement.  For many businesses, selling products online & taking advantage of being able to reach a much wider audience is something that is a real possibility, opening up their potential clientele to millions of people.  Setting up shop online is easy these days, so share the wealth!

2: Inventory Tracking

If you’re selling online & in-person & you’ve got stock to manage, you’re going to need some form of inventory tracking.  Our online & physical store set up uses technology that keeps tabs on your inventory — your online inventory syncs up with your physical location’s inventory — automatically.  Not only is it pretty dang cool (heck yeah, it’s cool!), but it’s such a time saver.  Using the link-up will save you valuable time & money so that you can focus your energy more wisely on your growing business & servicing your customers.

3: Training & Set-Up

The proper set-up for your equipment is going to be key to ensuring you can do business in a physical location.  We include a week — yes, a week — for set-up & training in our package.  It means that we actually travel to you to set up the terminal & ensure that everything is in working order.  Your physical store set-up is far more than purchasing equipment & hoping for the best, & we want to ensure that we’re providing the best possible personalized experience for you to ensure your business’ success.

You can spend a pretty penny on your brand, website, equipment to set up your point of sale terminal.  But, don’t spend a penny on it unless you’re getting trained up on it, too.  The knowledge that an expert can provide is invaluable.  Ensure that no matter who is setting up your physical location that you are trained properly!

Ok, so this post is a shameless plug of our services, but can you blame us? For the price tag on this package, we know that what you’re getting is a superior value & infinitely affordable for the savvy business owner. Contact us today to discuss your needs & let’s decide if we’re a good fit for one another. We look forward to making you more awesome!

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Badass Boss Babe Inspo

You’ll never be great without taking a chance.  How freaking amazing is this for some badass boss babe inspo?  This comes from a song from the band Shinedown.  They’re amazing live, just in case you were wondering.

This graphic is the first of many to come, because I think that we all need a push every once in a while to pursue what you love, and love what you’re doing.  Sometimes fear is nasty, and it holds us back from doing what we’d like to do.  In fact, I can attest to it personally.  I took a chance launching this business, wondering if it would even be a thing I could stick with or if I would be able to consistently have clients.  There were days that I didn’t think I should do it because if it failed, I’d look like an idiot.  Autumn Lane Paperie wouldn’t be what it is now, though, if I didn’t take a chance.  I’ve already proven to myself I can do it once, so why not again?

And you know what that means?  If I can do it, you can, too!  If you click on the graphic, you can download it and use it on your social media — feel free to post to your Facebook or Instagram, or pin it.  🙂  You can also download it here!

Want font info?

Madina by Sam Parrett is such an incredible, versatile font — one of the most requested fonts when I’m designing!

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Excellent Article on SEO for Business

Autumn Lane Paperie SEO for Business

SEO for Business, in-house or outsource?

One thing that has been a continual struggle for us has been trying to explain the complexity of search engine optimization (SEO) for a website, or SEO for business. We get asked all the time if we offer ongoing SEO services & at this point in time, the short answer is no, we don’t. I know we’re not supposed to highlight the negative in a situation but the unfortunate reality of why SEO is so misunderstood, I believe, is due in large part to unprofessional claims that unethical companies & individuals make to clients, promising them “page 1 on Google,” whatever that means.

If you’re reading this, think about something.

  • Google has the lion’s share of global searches and powers governments and huge companies with its very complex hardware & software.
  • If any individual or company is able to manipulate a tech behemoth like Google to their will, do you really think they’d be scrapping it out with the rest of us who are trying to earn an honest (hopefully) living?

The short answer to this is also no.
The folks at Alexa have published an excellent article on SEO for business & whether companies should handle their SEO campaign in-house or outsource it & they’ve done an outstanding job of explaining throughout their article that SEO really is a marathon & not a sprint. They also explain that good SEO outsourcing will run a company at least $3,000 US per month.

For those of you who have been considering outsourcing your SEO, please read the article here.

As always, we’re happy to talk shop with anyone that wants to know something but please be very careful if you’re looking to outsource your SEO & do your research. Don’t get taken for a ride! And anyway, at the end of the day effective SEO for business really should be written by the subject matter expert, which is usually the business owner or an expert within a company, not someone selling SEO services promising page one rankings on any search engine.

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Changes at ALP & Another Blog Feature

Changes at ALP

Changes at ALP & More

It’s no secret that we run a family business & recently we’ve formalized what we’ve been doing more & more of in past months, which is working with Lily, our eldest daughter. Lily is an artistic amazement, given the fact that she comes from a family line of military, farming, medicine, & entrepreneurship. She has developed her natural ability to the point that she’s able to use it in commercial circles as a senior in high school. We’re thrilled to be able to work on a more consistent basis with Lily & we know that you all will enjoy interacting with her, too, as we continue to make changes at ALP for our growth & constant improvement!

On that note, Lily has her own shops on Etsy & Creative Market, as well & was recently featured on Creative Market’s blog – check her out & show her some love!

We’re so proud of you, Lily, & we love you!

Beck & Jeff

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WordPress Security Primary Focus at Event

WordPress Security

WordPress Security Updates

For those of you who watch the news on anything web-related or have web geeks (like myself) as friends, you’re probably aware that security is a big concern when it comes to your website & a WordPress website is no exception. Since WordPress is open source, anyone can write code that can be used on a WordPress website, which is a two-way street – it means that it’s super easy to get a custom solution in place for anyone with a WordPress site but it also means that there’s a high chance of some bit of code being exploitable that wasn’t caught by the developer. If you are a developer or you know a developer, you can appreciate how they’re always swamped with work & we can’t always test every bit of code that we write, let alone when you have several bits of code put together that interact in mostly predictable ways … but every site is unique & it’s impossible to predict how every snippet of code will interact with every other snippet.

So, that brings us to the point of this post – this summer there was an event called The Summer of Pwnage that focused specifically on revealing & fixing WordPress security issues and they found some doozies.  For plugins such as WooCommerce, the most popular e-commerce platform going, the issues were rectified almost immediately and that’s a good thing.  There are still vulnerabilities that are present in some plugins, as you’ll see when you view the list.  Someone may get put off of WordPress by looking at the number of vulnerabilities that this exercise turned up but we’d like to point out that this exercise was held in complete transparency and several exploits that were discovered have already been resolved.

At the end of the day, this exercise serves to highlight what we’ve always said when it comes to your WordPress security for your site – it’s absolutely essential that you keep your version of WordPress and your plugins up to date.  Remember, there’s a reason for those updates and if your site is hit by a previously addressed vulnerability, there will sadly be no redress for the affected site owner after having been pwned. In addition to keeping your site software up to date, website owners should keep a backup of their site that is not located on their web server that hosts their site – just as The Summer of Pwnage has shown, there are almost always vulnerabilities that haven’t been discovered, yet. Don’t let a vulnerability discovered on your site serve as a harsh reminder that you should have backed your site up.

 

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Advertising on Instagram

Autumn Lane Paperie, Advertising on Instagram

Advertising on Instagram

Good News – Instagram Now Allows Boosted Posts!

Good news for those of us who have been eagerly awaiting changes to capabilities for advertising on Instagram – they recently began allowing business accounts to boost their individual posts directly on Instagram! Previously the only way for small businesses to advertise on Instagram was via boosted posts & ad creation on their Facebook business account & we’ve been expecting this change for a while now, considering the fact that Facebook purchased Instagram some time back & had already made algorithmic changes to Instagram users’ newsfeeds, similar to how Facebook handles its content.

Facebook business pages still retain the ability for advertising on Instagram as before – when a business page creates a Facebook ad, they can still publish it to both Facebook & Instagram. Now, however, they’re able to get more fine-grained metrics on their posts & ads on Instagram with the recently added direct advertising capability.

The recent change to Instagram’s advertising is a long-awaited & welcome addition to user capabilities – read more about it on their page. While this is good news, the content & composition of your Instagram ads is going to be the major determining factor of how well advertising on Instagram works for your business.

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