Better Brand Building (For Your Podcast)
Rosanna Guillot of Create You Branding discusses the importance of creating a cohesive brand strategy (for your podcast), complete with creative logo, impactful website, and clear messaging. We also delve into the differences between Squarespace and WordPress.
This episode was recorded with both Charles and Rosie in our studio.
Podcast Transcript: Better Brand Building (For Your Podcast)
Charles: Hello and welcome to Open to Influence. I'm your host, Charles Lipper, founder and CEO of Volubility Podcasting in downtown Washington, DC. Today we are joined by Rosanna Guillot, brand designer and strategist and owner of Create You Branding. She has a bachelor's degree in graphic design and worked in the corporate world with print and web design for over 13 years. Her experience working with different types of companies has been an advocate in her having a huge range of design styles, her passion for figuring out each client's individual design style, plus using content strategy results in a unique brand that attracts leads to take action. Rosanna, welcome to the show.
Rosie: Thank you, Charles. Thank you for having me.
Charles: Of course. It's wonderful to have you. So yeah, you built the Volubility Podcasting website and designed our logo.
Rosie: Yes. Yes I did.
Charles: And this is the first time we've ever met in person!
Rosie: Yes, so exciting.
Charles: How cool is that? How many of your clients have you never met?
Rosie: So, a lot of my clients are from all over. I have some in different countries. I have a few that are locally and I love when they're local because it's just, it's so different, you know, getting to meet people in person. I think there's something of value to be able to meet people in person and to just have that connection. I think it's a little bit more, but yeah, so it's great. It's great to meet you in person.
Charles: Absolutely. I guess let's go through your process. When I originally called you, I had a need for a logo, a website, and then you helped me with my email template, my business card. I got a full package from you. And I found you through a Facebook group of freelancers basically and small business people. Is that generally how you get your leads?
Rosie: So for me, yes. So, I'm pretty active in Facebook groups and for me I've noticed that I get a lot of my clients through them, and it's just another form of networking. So, instead of networking, you know, in person locally, it's introducing yourself and making a connection online and it just depends what your business is. But for me, Facebook groups works.
Charles: Oh yeah. And you weren't even a member of that group...
Charles: ...when I found you, but then I added you later and you had a beautiful introduction to yourself. Clearly you know how to work this whole social media thing.
Rosie: Yes. I love it. I love it, because it does open a lot of doors and I think that there is certain generations where I think they don't realize how much of value that can be. And that's why I get clients from all over. I have a client in South Africa and Australia. So, I think using social media, and I get clients from Instagram too. I think that has opened a lot of doors.
Charles: Wow, great.
Rosie: And it goes so fast too, like word of mouth is even faster online.
Charles: So we said Facebook, Instagram. Any others you particularly dive into?
Rosie: I use Pinterist, but not as much for networking. Most of my clients come from Facebook groups and I have a few from Instagram.
Charles: We use Pinterest in our process.
Charles: And you said, you know, go find some images that your brand might relate to or that you find interesting or are drawn to. And so we created a whole Pinterest page and I basically just sent you links. So like, yes, this is the vibe that I'm going for, here is the geometry that I like, or whatever I put in there, I don't remember.
Rosie: Yeah, so going back to how my process starts, a lot of people call me like you, Charles, and are like, "Hey! I have this great business idea. I need a logo". That's usually the first thing that comes to people's minds. And what I like to do is go take it back a little bit, and figure out what your business goals are, and try to figure out what your design style is. So everybody has a different design style based on their target market. It could be like the DC area where it's something more conservative, it could be something that's, if you're thinking of like Anthropology, where it's like Bohemian, you know, totally different vibe. So, the beginning of my process starts with a questionnaire, just so I get to understand what your business is about, what your goals are. And then from there I need to figure out what your design style is, and that's where Pinterest comes in. So I have everyone create a Pinterest board. And then they start pinning things that they feel embodies their business as a whole, and the business design style. And I'm almost putting like pieces together with your brand questionnaire and your Pinterest assignment. And I put together a mood board and then a logo. A logo comes from that. And sometimes you know, art in general is subjective. So sometimes it works the first round, sometimes we have to do, you know, a couple of rounds. Sometimes it takes, I think it took a couple of times for us. Yeah.
Charles: Yeah. But I also changed the company name a couple times. I was a bit of an adventure.
Rosie: I think it's important when you're looking for a designer to understand what the requirements are. Make sure you ask the right questions when you're looking for a designer, because some are very strict and they're like, okay, you get three rounds of edits and that is it. You are done. And I feel like this is such a process, that while I have guidelines in my... if you look at my website, my services, I have guidelines as far as reviews and things like that. I really believe that it's not done until the client's happy. Because the whole point is creating something that represents your business, that you love, that you feel confident in putting out there. So that takes time.
Charles: Yeah, and I mean you were very patient with me. I know I sweated the font, I sweated the graphic, the colors, everything, and so... the stock imagery on the website. I think I still torture you with that.
Rosie: It's so important. Those things are really, really important. And there's other people that just don't care, and I'm like, no, no, we're gonna take our time and go through this process. We're going to do the Pinterest assignment. We're going to do the questionnaire, because all those little pieces matter into creating something that's unique and that looks good.
Charles: Right, and it's all built into your package. I went with you because I saw a comprehensive branding person, which is what I needed. Like, I found people that are like, yeah, I can do a logo or yeah, I can do a website, but not really that's, "let's mold your company into what it should look like online".
Rosie: Right, right.
Charles: And so that's what I found in you, and it was absolutely worth it. I mean, I knew that at the beginning. I knew that at the end that... I mean you went above and beyond and revisioning schmisions. And you got it done.
Rosie: And I'm so glad that you did. And I think it does create, once you have the foundation of your brand, which means your colors, fonts, the type of photography you're going to have, if you're going to have illustrations, things like that. Once you have that foundation, it's easier for you to move forward, either on your own or if later on you decide to do a one-off with another designer or somebody else in the whole marketing team, that you have a foundation to start with, that you have, you're like, hey! Here's my brand. Here are my colors. Here's my fonts and everything so that they have something to go by, and then you have a brand that's consistent moving forward, rather than you just picking random fonts, and you're just all over the place.
Charles: It was super helpful even when we decided to add a video to our website, and I hired a video editor. I said, "look, here's Rosie's brand guide. Just make it from this." And it had some stock images in there. It had all of your colors, your fonts and everything. I threw in a couple of still photos of the studio. He said, "Great! I don't need to talk to you again. I'm just going to give you a video." And it was done!
Charles: He was like, "if this is all I need to do, I can do it for x price". I said, "yes". He said, "great, I'll have it to tomorrow", and that was it.
Rosie: Yeah. Yeah. I mean it's so much easier for everyone overall. You know and then you just maintain that consistent look, and it looks professional.
Charles: So your company is Create You.
Charles: Not Create Brand. I mean it's Created You Branding, but it sounds like you're focusing on freelancers who are ready to be small business owners. Is that your core clientele?
Rosie: Yeah, so the people that usually come to me, they've either just started their business and they are ready to go full in. They understand the value of branding, marketing strategy, content, photography, they understand that and they are ready to invest. Or I have clients that have been in the business for a year or more. They've done the DIY and they're like, okay, now I'm ready to look legit and professional. And so it's interesting, because I think it just depends at the beginning what your budget is and what your business is. You can go either route. Either route is totally okay. And sometimes when people have started the DIY, or they've gone somewhere else and they're like, okay. Like, I get a lot of people that are like, "I have a logo. I like it, but I don't love it."
Rosie: It's interesting because some people want to, they're kind of scared. They're scared to do a revamp, especially as they've been in business for a year and they like, "oh, I've already had these clientele and I have my business", but I think it's important to remember that revamps are actually, they're actually a good thing.
Charles: Oh yeah.
Rosie: Because it shows that you've expanded, that you're ready to go in a different direction. So, I always tell people, "be okay". And sometimes it's a matter of the designer showing the possibilities, because I think a lot of people aren't necessarily visual. So when somebody tells me, "I like my logo but I don't love it". I'm like, okay, let me just show you some comps and see the possibilities. And usually they'll come back and they'll be like, I had no idea this looks so much better. And that's the same thing with websites and everything. There's a lot that goes into building a website. It's great if you DIY. You know, there's a lot of platforms out there where you can DIY. But there's also certain elements in your website that you need that follow a formula. You know, you like your homepage has certain call-to-actions, has your mission statement. There's things that go at the top banner, like above the fold, and all those things, they matter. You know, it's like guiding you through your website, guiding users to take action.
Rosie: So yeah, revamps can be a really, really, really good thing.
Charles: Yeah, and I mean even large national/international brands...
Rosie: Oh yeah.
Charles: ...redo their stuff. I mean, I think I saw something that Dunkin Donuts was coming out with a new brand image lately, and it looked almost exactly the same. Like maybe it was slightly different or something. But it was the first time they'd done it in 20 years and...
Rosie: Yeah, it's a big deal. Like sometimes it'll be like a slight revamp, like you said, and sometimes it's like totally different.
Charles: Oh yeah, and I mean for smaller businesses as well, just, you know, it gives you one more reason to reach out to your base and say "hey, here's the newsletter and look at our cool new look, stop by the website and check out all the new things we did." It's just one more thing to grab the eye to bring new people in or old people back.
Rosie: Yeah. And You bring a good point, newsletter. You know, all those little pieces. Go back to your brand.
Charles: So let's see. When I came to you, you were working specifically in Squarespace. How ironic. We're on a podcast talking about Squarespace. As if there aren't enough Squarespace ads on podcasts. But so we built our entire website in Squarespace. You had previously worked in WordPress, right? In the corporate world, and then decided to switch into Squarespace. I know I liked Squarespace, because I can update the site myself. Of course, I hire you for heavy lifting stuff, but in general if I want to post this podcast, I can do that, and I can do some minimal design work on my end. Nothing close to what you would do. But within Squarespace, I can make it look legit. But tell us why you chose Squarespace over WordPress.
Rosie: So, for a while I had been working in WordPress and not only myself, but for my clients, it wasn't intuitive to update. Um, it wasn't, I couldn't be as creative. So first and foremost, I'm a designer and then a web developer. So it was very hard for me to get that creative side out.
Charles: That's interesting. You had trouble being creative in WordPress?
Rosie: Yes, in WordPress.
Charles: I thought the thing with WordPress was you could do anything, like you can make it look however you want.
Rosie: Well, you have more options as far as plugins and widgets and things like that because it's an open source. But as far as creativity, it's hard to get those design elements into WordPress. So, I find that because Squarespace, the technicality part of it is already taken care of in the back end, that if you are familiar with Squarespace, and the more familiar you get with it, the more creative you can be with it, because then you start to understand how the template, how they work. That was great for me, but more importantly for my clients, it was so much easier for them to update. Because I was running into... I don't mind going in there and doing updates for my clients, but I really believe that they should have ownership of their website. If they need to change a sentence, they should be able to go in there and change a sentence.
Charles: Yeah, it's really not that... Unless you're really changing the design of the thing.
Rosie: Yeah, even if you need to swap out a photo, you should be able to do that. My clients were not doing that and...
Charles: They weren't in WordPress or they weren't in Squarespace?
Rosie: They weren't in WordPress doing that. And so I want to be creating the big picture, the guts. Like I don't want to sit here all day and be making small little updates in the backend
Charles: Yeah, and writing code.
Rosie: Yeah. Once squarespace came out, you know, I checked it out and I was like, okay. I started using it for my clients, and they loved it. You know, it's really easy for them to update and they have such a good customer service. They have step-by-step tutorials, video tutorials, so it makes it really easy for them. They have the resources there. When something goes wrong, you're just contacting one source. You're contacting Squarespace. That is it.
Charles: Oh yeah. My hosting is through them. My URL registration is through them. It's all done and it's a reasonably priced situation too. It's like 20 bucks per URL and includes SSL and whatever other bells and whistles that a lot of other hosting sites we're charging, you know, an extra 10, 20, 30 bucks a year to do, but they made it a very comfortable price and it just renews annually and everybody's happy.
Rosie: The plugins, everything is created in house. So it's of good quality. There's a few companies that are third parties that do offer Squarespace widgets. But because...
Charles: What are you're favorites? Oh, I'll get back to that, go ahead.
Rosie: But because there's not so many, the ones that are there, they're good quality. As opposed to WordPress. They come from so many different third parties. If something breaks down, you have to be able to find that source and say, "hey, why is my widget acting this way and how am I going to fix it?" You know?
Charles: And how do they interact when every time you update... I'm scare to update my WordPress site.
Charles: Which I should just say, like, my other website, my charleslipper.com website is still WordPress.
Rosie: Yeah. You have to make sure that you have a backup, because you never know.
Charles: And I mean, even when you do, if you hit update on things and things break. Like even the backup within WordPress can go awry.
Charles: I've had my fair share of headaches with WordPress. It seems like designers are always one or the other. They're either hardcore WordPress or they're hardcore Squarespace. And our, the SEO guy that we worked with on Volubility's website. He was very much a WordPress guy but was happy to work with us because we were already in Squarespace. But I mean he was...
Rosie: Well, I think it's also too, because Squarespace is still kind of new. And so, you know, there are... SEO is great already within Squarespace as is, but there's so much more. SEO is like a whole other subject.
Charles: Oh yeah. And I mean he really dug in and started...
Rosie: Yeah. And I think that's regardless, because people come to me and they're like, "okay, you know, I've heard WordPress is better for SEO than Squarespace". And I'm like, "look, it doesn't really matter what platform you're in because it's such a big task". You know, SEO, it's not just a plugin. It's not just a platform. But it's creating content and it's creating a certain kinds of content using keywords. It's creating traffic to your website. It's so many different things. It doesn't matter if you use WordPress or Squarespace. If you don't have those components, it doesn't matter what platform you use.
Charles: Yeah. And I mean, I'm sure I'll end up doing a separate episode with Raj from District Interactive, but he just went in, and he knew what Google wanted to see, and it was about, yeah, the words. But then also what heading google want to see. Like, I think he made a point that Heading 1 was important for listing within Google. And you know, our numbers shot up from like 45th to number 2 overnight.
Rosie: That's crazy. But here's the big one. We just started offering WordPress sites.
Charles: That's right. I got your newsletter. You see, the newsletter works. Some of us don't look at Facebook all the time. So yes, I got your email newsletter that said you were doing WordPress now.
Rosie: I thought that I would never say those words.
Charles: What happened? What changed?
Rosie: Okay, well I had a client. It starts with a client.
Charles: It's always our fault, yeah.
Rosie: So I had a client, and he already had his site in WordPress and he was familiar with Divi, which Divi is basically a plugin within WordPress that is a builder. But this is what I tell people, even though this makes it easier to design and create your webpages, you still have that maintenance in the background. You are still updating plugins. You still are updating your entire website.
Charles: And WordPress itself.
Rosie: So, you still have that possibility of it breaking. So I tell people, if you do go with this option, understand that you're probably going to have to either have me or have somebody else or you continuously maintaining, like checking your website. So we offer monthly plans, you know, if that's what you want to do, because you need somebody to continuously backing up your stuff and updating everything. But I tell people, you know what SquareSpace is like, it's like a ready-move apartment. You know, everything is done. If things go wrong, somebody is there to fix it for you. WordPress is like a home. You know, you can do a ton more things. You can customize, you can do anything you want, but if something goes wrong, be prepared to pay.
Charles: Oh yeah. You're going to have to call your web host. You're going to have to call your designer. Who knows if they're going to have to call the individual plugin manufacturers you mentioned. Sorry, plugin designer, as you mentioned. But you yourself are a coder, right? Like, you know, CSS and HTML...
Rosie: Right. So, I'm pretty old school. I started coding HTML by hand.
Charles: By hand!
Rosie: By hand!
Charles: I don't think a pad of paper can debug.
Rosie: No, you know.
Charles: By hand you met like typing it out.
Rosie: No, like Notepad. Opening Notepad and doing HTML. I moved from that to Dreamweaver, which made it a little bit easier.
Charles: Alright, so now we're going back to 2002-ish. That's when Macromedia was a company, right?
Rosie: Yep. So Dreamweaver and then you know, everything started coming out with templates, and that's what Squarespace and a lot of these other... I mean there's so many now, there's Wix, there's a bunch of them that use templates. It makes it easier for people to DIY, but not as easy as you think. Some people come to me and they're like, "oh, why is it so much for a website? I can create in Squarespace." I'm like, "go ahead! Be my guest!"
Charles: And that's what most podcast advertisements for Squarespace say is you can build a beautiful website all by yourself. Sure I could, but I don't want to. I want you to do it, Rosie.
Rosie: And it's great. It's great out of the box. You know, it's clean and modern. Like I said, if you're at the beginning and a budget, great. It's great to start out with, but there's so much more. You know, and there's so much more to your brand than a website. But yeah. So, after Dreamweaver we got to that and the nice thing about the templates is they're responsive. Most of them are responsive, which is such a big thing.
Charles: My first charleslipper.com website was not responsive. And I mean it was like, you know, webtemplate.com or something like that. And my designer said, "pick out the template, we'll build you a little website. It'll be fine." And that's what I had for the first few years I was in business, which was, you know, I don't know, 2009 to 2011 or something like that. And then I had to make it responsive, which is when I had to hire somebody else to take it all into WordPress. Basically. I want it to look exactly the same, but make it responsive. And they said, "okay, the best way to do that is in WordPress. And now this Volubility Podcasting website is my first venture into Squarespace. And you still did some coding in there, right? You get to flex your muscles a little bit.
Rosie: Yeah, there's actually quite a bit of coding. And it's because there's certain things that you want to customize. There's certain things that you want to do outside of the template, and you have to know a little bit of coding in order to do that. When I look at my very first Squarespace website. I'm like, it's good, but nothing compared to now.
Charles: Right. And is that because of updates that they've done on their end or just that now that you are into it...
Rosie: That's one good thing about them. They are constantly updating that platform. They recently just added newsletters. You can actually send a newsletter directly from Squarespace. Yeah!
Charles: Oh. I haven't even gotten into that.
Rosie: Well, you might want to look into it.
Charles: Well so now, when we worked together, you build me an email template in Mailchimp. Are you now switching away from Mailchimp?
Rosie: Well it just got out of beta.
Charles: Ok, so tiptoeing.
Rosie: So I haven't had time to play around with it. But ideally of course if you can have everything on one platform, like why wouldn't you?
Charles: Right. And I mean especially if you're an online store, and your customers are already in the system. Then it just makes it easier to send them an email as opposed to bouncing between websites and things like that.
Rosie: Yeah, but still, I still have to play around with it. And that's the other thing too. A lot of my clients, they'll email me and they'll say, "hey Rosie, how do I add a new item in my inventory?" You know, something like that. And what I like to do is, because I'm a visual person, and a lot of people are, and they don't want to read a long email on how to. So I have Screen-o-matic. I just hit record, show them how to do it. They have it on file. You know, so that's another nice thing. Another nice service.
Charles: It was also another nice service from you. Whereas when you handed off my whole project to me, we did a whole one-hour conversation of you tutorializing Squarespace for me, especially with regards to my website and some of the customizations there. But we recorded the whole thing and I still have it on my computer so anytime I have to go back and be like, okay, how do I do this? I've got it. I don't have to bother you.
Rosie: So we do one-hour training. We go through your website, through your brand. I like to leave my clients feeling confident and understanding their brand and ready to move forward on their own, whatever direction they go to.
Rosie: So I think that's really important. We talk about all these little pieces. I think it's important to add value and everything, whether that's through your blog, adding a podcast, FAQ page, a resource page, freebies. We have freebies on our website. We have a 'define-your-brand' resource toolkit and a website content outline that helps you outline what kind of content you should have on each page of your website. So that's at createyou.us/freebies.
Charles: Okay, cool. So to get the free stuff, and even if they don't end up working with you, it's all totally usable questionnaires and things like that that help you flesh out your idea.
Rosie: Yeah, and there's stuff on the blog too that's really helpful.
Charles: Well, thanks for joining us today, Rosie.
Rosie: Yeah, thank you for having me.
Charles: Absolutely. To learn more about Rosanna or Rosie Guillot and Create You Branding, please visit createyou.us. If you liked what you heard today, please let us know at Facebook.com/VolubilityPodcasting, on Twitter @VolubilityPod, or you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoy Open to Influence and would like us to create a similar podcast for your organization, you can email us at email@example.com. Thanks for listening.
Links from this podcast: