Episode 34: Branding Is More than a Logo with Susie Liberatore

How to Build a Personal Brand: It’s More Than the Logo!

When most entrepreneurs want to know how to build a personal brand, the first thing they want to do is design the logo. And yes, when we look at big brands like Apple of Coca Cola, they have highly recognizable logos that we all know and love. But so much more went into these famous brands than just a logo design.

Today’s guest, Susie Liberatore designs branding that represents her clients’ brand identities…and helps them convert many more clients because of it. In this episode, she’s sharing the other essential factor that go into building a personal brand, and ultimately making you as well known as the top companies out there.

The Missing Pieces of How to Build a Personal Brand

  • To start our conversation, Susie shares her journey into entrepreneurship and how experimentation and digging deep helped her learn what she truly loves to do. That’s one of the most wonderful things about being a business owner – we get to choose to do only the things that light us up!
  • When it comes to branding, the logo is not the end of your journey. There are so many more things to be done! For example, your website and lead pages have to match your brand.
  • Your brand should tell a story, but not just “A” story. YOUR story. We share examples from big-time brands and how they discreetly add their story into their logos.
  • Are you just starting out in your business? Susie gives us her best tips on what to do when creating your brand!
  • What should you be looking for if you are looking for someone to create your brand? Susie shares her client onboarding process and says it should be more than one phone call with your designer. This is your brand, so the designer should be invested in getting to know your personality and what you represent.

Listen to today’s episode to find out how to build your personal brand in a way that shares YOUR unique story, and attracts clients because of the unlike-any-other message you have to share.

About The Guest:

Susie Liberatore is the owner, and art director, of Visions2images Creative Services. She helps established businesses grow their brand awareness by using digital marketing and professional branding techniques. With over ten years of agency and corporate experience, she brings businesses’ visions to life, while watching their return on investment increase.

Susie helps businesses grow their personal brand presence and connect with their target audience. She brings with her a decade of experience as a former art director in the corporate world to the businesses she helps.

She specializes in branding development and social media marketing. She is the face and voice of Visions2images. Susie is a true entrepreneur, she owns several businesses and wears many hats for all of them. What truly lights her up is helping businesses thrive and grow by providing a clear and cohesive brand and marketing platform.

Where to Find Susie Online:

 

Hey there, and welcome back to the podcast. Today, I have Susie Libertour. She's the owner and art director of Visions to Images creative services. She helps established businesses grow their brand awareness by using digital marketing and professional branding techniques. With over 10 years of agency and corporate experience, She brings businesses, visions to life while watching their return on investment increase. Welcome to the show.

 

Thank you. Welcome. I'm glad to be here.

 

Is there anything else that you'd love to add to tell us just a little bit more about you and your business?

 

Yeah. Just Starting off in the agency world and then going into corporate and then just going off on my own and kind of fine tuning a lot of stuff is always fun. I feel like that That's been just a great journey. So

 

Awesome. And who do you work with now? Who's your target audience?

 

So right now, it's more geared towards female entrepreneurs and a lot of, there's a lot of, like, service based, and then there are some ecommerce. Some are just strictly online and then some are locally. So there's in between, but definitely, female entrepreneurs seem to be, The main audience for sure.

 

Okay. Nice. Well, that's who's tuning in today, so that's a good fit. Alright. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to become an entrepreneur, Or what that looked like and how you made that decision?

 

Yeah. It's it was quite a decision. Obviously, I've always been, Like, entrepreneur business kind of savvy person where I've always wanted to open my own business and beat my own boss and have that control and creativity and all that feeling. I moved here to Ohio about 3 years ago when I took a corporate job, and I hated it. I worked at an agency before that for many, many, many, many years. And so I had all the experience, And I saw things kind of fail and then succeed. So I saw, like, the ins and the outs that I could, like, implement in my head and hold on to it for when I needed to kind of grow. And so when I left corporate, it was like a total mutual agreement.

 

Like, it just was not for me, and they did not want me. So it was totally, like, mutual. And, my son my son was going through some stuff. He was getting diagnosed with autism and asthma, and I just felt like my world was, like, spinning out of control.

 

Mhmm.

 

I've always done freelance work, but I didn't consider that, like, a business because freelance work. I mean, I still had to pay my own taxes and all that, but I didn't have to market because I worked with contractors in a sense, so they would just send me the work. And so when My son started to have all these issues. It's kind of when I was like, okay. I just need to do my business now. Like, this is a perfect opportunity. And, I ended up having, like, mono and all this stuff as well. So it was, like, the hardest time of my life ever for because because of everything that was just going on.

 

And so once I got up to feeling better and got through everything, I was just like, alright. We're going into this business. And I started to kind of take, Like, clients for stuff that I didn't even wanna do. And it was just you know, it was just kind of that thing where you gotta feel yourself out and let yourself fail and let yourself understand what she wanted to do and all of that. So there was just so much so much that I was like, this is not me. This is not what I wanna do. But I was able to gain that and build relationships at the same time. Like, I never burned the bridges.

 

It was it was just a whole lot of experimenting. And so finally gosh. Like, a year ago is when I really, really dove in full time to my business, and I hired a sales coach in October of 2018. And it was one of those things where I was like and it is a part of a mastermind. She's a sales coach. So so there's a lot to it. And I was able to really, like, focus more because I felt like my mind was everywhere, and I was focusing on stuff that wasn't Money or I didn't know, like, my sales structure. Right? Like, I didn't even know what I was selling.

 

I was just selling it to make money. I was like, no. I'm not making enough Funny. So I started to really strategize and find what I wanted to sell, who I wanted to sell it to, and really fine tune everything and get more 12. Mhmm. And I feel like that's it's ever since, like, getting that stuff on track, like, I've always sold graphic design and stuff. Mhmm. But being able to really fine tune branding packages and fine tune what graphics are and why people need it, and how how it's just not a one time thing.

 

Right? Like, you don't get a logo and you're done. You have to keep implementing the branding, and everything that you do. And people don't understand that, so that's when I started like, alright. We need we need to keep going with this. I mean, I would sell SEO, and I had no clue what I was doing. I was like, that's not me. So we're not even doing that anymore. So I strictly, as of, like, December was, like, focusing on the branding, the websites, the social media, the ongoing graphics, and and stuff that's needed.

 

Mhmm. The fun creativity stuff so that I can have I can get excited for my clients when I'm like, okay. Let's do this. Right. I don't have to worry about all the other stuff because there's people that I can referred to now. So Yeah. Building building the relationships has helped as well because you can just refer them.

 

Yeah. Absolutely. So a couple of things that were listing out about what you just said. First of all, it's interesting how sometimes some of the hardest times of our life is the is the catalyst, is that moment for deciding to go all in and and start the business, right, or or Pivot or make some change that really sets us on the path that we're on. And so that's a common thing that I hear. And then you're just, You're just chatting about the services and offering SEO, and that's part of the the wonderful thing about Being a business owner, you get to do only the things that you love. And if you experiment, which we all do, and you try some things, you're like, oh, no. That's not me.

 

That doesn't light me up, then you get to focus on what does. And so you you you listed a few things that you are doing now, but I'd love for you to tell us a little bit more about what lights you up. I love to talk about how You're building a business that lights you up. So what's your favorite thing about your business now? What do you love doing?

 

I just love having creative control and and watching Things come to full picture. Like, everything from their branding to their website to their social media. Just seeing how everything is clean and cohesive, and it fits for their audience. Because if they don't know who their audience is and they're just posting graphics or or having a logo that's not even Representative people aren't gonna take them seriously, especially in the online world. And it it's just so fun to kind of Listen to what they have to say about their logo because, at first, when they talk about their logo, like, it's so out in left field. And I have to, like, put them back on the road and be like, Okay. Well, we have to think about this, this, and this. And then they're like, oh, I didn't think about that.

 

And then from there, it's like coming up with the ideas, and then they're like, oh, well, that's a cool idea because I was just working on a logo, and it's it's a blogger, but she's not. She doesn't like to call herself her mom blogger, but she talks about, like, family and stuff. So she has 7 kids, and she talks about 7 topics. So we really fine tune, like, the thing around 7 and kind of did some great stuff because we wanted it to be creative, and have meaning behind it instead of just having a graphic and a logo and calling it a day. Like, that didn't work. And so we were really happy with how we strategize the 7 or on the 7. There's 7 topics. There's 7 kids and just fine tuning in.

 

It's been so fun and exciting, and being able to identify the colors as well because colors are an important thing in branding. They represent different things for different feelings and emotions, and they're all subliminal. And a lot of times, people wanna do what they wanna do. Like, they People come to me, and they're like, well, I think this. And I'm like, that's great that you think that, but do you hear does your audience think that? And they're like, no. I'm like, that's why. Like Yeah. You have to focus on the audience and not you.

 

And I feel like that's, like, a hurdle we have to jump with every business owner regardless.

 

Yeah. That's such such a good point. Everything in your business should revolve around your target audience from your offers to your branding to your messaging to But literally on and on and on, I could keep going. It all it all has to stem from your your audience. So Some people, like, just skip that step, though. They're like, oh, I'll just mark it to everyone, and I'll you know? And maybe later, I'll figure that out or I'll dive in. I'm like, No. No.

 

No. No. No. You gotta know that first. It's one of the very first things.

 

You do. And I feel like so many people, including myself, had to jump that hurdle. Just I mean, you can't sell to everyone and everything, and it doesn't matter what price and stuff. If you sell the value and the solution, they will buy it best. So you have to and that's that's The big thing. Right? Like, you have to be able to sell it and to let them know that they're gonna get the solution solved.

 

Gotcha. Yes. So you you made a statement earlier. You said, so the logo isn't the end. And so You're talking about how that's not it. There's more. You gotta keep going. So what does that look like? Talk to everyone in case they were thinking, oh, I just need a logo, and my branding is done.

 

What else is there?

 

So once they get the logo, I mean, they have to make sure that they have I mean, it's it's it's it's so crazy. I mean, it depends on The business, of course, but just making sure that their website matches their brand. And I you gotta make sure you update graphics and stuff on your website just like monthly or whatever Just to kind of change it up, change offers. I mean, if you have lead pages, if you have email campaigns, if you have social media, if you have print design, if you have collateral, Like, that's all ongoing and not goes back to your logo and your branding because you wanna make sure all of that flows and matches. And then social media is just so huge, obviously, with these everybody's just on social media. So you wanna make sure that you have the different sizes and the different templates, and you're not Hosting to the same stuff. Like, there's just a whole field of what what to do for that. So everything is just really It's not just a one and done.

 

It's just like you gotta keep going with it. I mean, gosh, I can't even Just sales pages are huge too. I mean, I don't know if you guys do, like, opt ins or what, but, I mean Mhmm. We all go through different things. I mean, I have, like, a whole campaign listed for my year, so we have to make sure that we're up to date and we're keeping it flowing. And I call that, like, the brand management stuff. So, like, people come to you and they need the graphics and this and that for their monthly stuff that they need, but they just don't have the time to do it. They don't wanna do it.

 

They don't even know what their logo is. They don't even wanna deal with the Files. Nobody understands the files and what's different color. They're just, like, just doing it. But then when you at the end of the day, like, If you just do it to do it, it's not gonna go back to your brand, and it's not gonna give the visual aspect and the professionalism that it needs.

 

Yeah. I like to talk about branding as an experience. And, of course, we're talking about how, you know, your brand isn't just your logo. There's so much more to it even from the visual aspect because we're describing a lot of the visual components. But even beyond that, Oh, for sure. There's so much to consider with your brand, and it you're right that, like, I love how you said brand management because it is something that you should continue to monitor, manage, make sure that you're conveying that same tone, experience across everything that you do, and that includes that visual element as well. When you mentioned earlier the logo that you were just working on, it reminded me about this idea of every logo should tell a story, and how you can really use a logo as for yourself, if you're looking at your logo and you walk up to a person. There can be reminders, like you mentioned, within the logo, and they those could serve as jumping off points to remind you all of the key messages, values, important things.

 

Essentially, reminding you of whatever could come up in an elevator pitch. What do you think about that? And and do you have any other examples of logos that you've done and how they've told stories?

 

Yeah. I think that's very True. I mean, obviously, that's what branding in a sense is is storytelling, and there's so much more like you said. There's content and all that. That's a whole other thing. But, Trying to think it's I don't even know. I've done so many that I don't even

 

Yeah. Well okay. So as you maybe if any come to mind, let me know. But I know, like, just thinking about, looking at some of the famous brands FedEx comes to find, and, like, there's the hidden arrow in it. And, Like, sometimes there are these little subtle things that have so much meaning for the brand. And maybe it's an drag that their audience eventually sees or figures out. Or maybe they never do, but it still has some additional meaning there. And I love reading about seeing, discovering, those types of things.

 

Yeah. I feel like there's I mean, there's a lot of typography ones where, like, I've done, like, their initials, like, VC or whatever, and you have to, like it's very abstract in a sense. Like, I love abstracts. I've always when I went School and college. Like, I was an abstract person, and they were like, you're too abstract. And I'm like, who said that? But, so I feel like Being able to abstracts, like, just icons for their logo. I mean, you can just have the FedEx, like you said, or whatever. I mean, you don't even need the full logo, obviously.

 

Yeah. They're just just having the fun hidden messages and typography based or whatever. So people are like, oh, that's really cool. So Definitely.

 

Yeah. Yeah. I think that one thing I would want everyone to know is that logos are very intentional, and every element She's there for a reason. You're not just picking the colors that you like or that just look good. Right? Like, their meaning there's a meaning behind every color, every font. I love to ask questions. And, I mean, I don't handle the branding side myself for clients, but we chat about it, coach about it, and, of course, they work with designers. And it's interesting, though, to ask, like, what message do you wanna convey? What emotions do you want to Evoque, and and even starting to look at brand personality.

 

Are you more of a no borders kind of person, or do you like to be buttoned up and rules? And it's funny because the the no borders could translate. One possible option that comes to mind is, you know, a paint stroke, right, versus if you like things nice and neat and tidy, you might have it all encapsulated in a circle. Right? It's so interesting how all those elements can mean different things. Yeah. Yeah. So if someone is is listening right now, and they're thinking, oh, maybe I need to do some work. Maybe my logo doesn't actually have that kind of meaning. What are what's some advice that you would give them to to just get started?

 

To just get started, just really think about your audience and your business and what you're trying to portray. Like you said, just being able to really Feel about how you want people to feel. Like, think of your favorite brands and how you feel about those brands. I always talk about, like, Coach or Apple or whatever just because of how they make me feel. I mean, I don't obviously shop her, like, everyday. But, you know, it's just like Yeah. Panera or Starbucks. Like, how you think you feel and What you're getting when you go there, you're getting the same you know what I mean? Just the same Mhmm.

 

Emotions and the same everything. So just Think about what you wanna convey to your audience and how you wanna convey it, and because it it really comes down to the audience like we talked about. So kind of making sure that you know who the audience is and, going from there just to be able to, like, Do the colors and the fonts and just think about that. I mean, it's always good to obviously look at your competitors as well to kind of see what they're doing. You don't have to copy them, obviously. I was just in anyway. But, just going to look at your competitors and how they're, portraying themselves. I mean, you're gonna find things that you like and you don't like.

 

And I would say I always say, like, 3 to 5 competitors to pick and choose, like, What you like, what you don't like, what are what are you feeling when you go through their websites or their branding or whatever? How are they showing their personality through their branding? I mean, that's that's Something they can do right now without having, you know, somebody to work with them.

 

Yeah. And, obviously, I I do recommend. I'm an advocate for hiring someone to help. So I think that that's a good follow-up to this. You can do some of this brand discovery work yourself, figuring out kinda what you're looking for, what you want, and that might even indicate which designer is best based on their portfolio, and looking at you know, if they have that kind of a a sense of style. I think, you know, when looking at the competitors, I also love to recommend checking them out so that you make sure that whatever you come up with stands out. So you can pull what you like and don't like, but then at At the end of the day, if a lot of your competitors are using, you know, I don't know, orange, then you might not wanna use orange because if you're in the same space, you want to stand out. And That's just one example.

 

There's so much more beyond colors.

 

But Yes. Absolutely. And then, like, when they start to do a branding with somebody, usually, there's, like, a branding design form, like, intake kind of thing where there's a whole and it makes them really think about that too. So, I mean, there's just so many Things to before that you can get started with the logo or brand.

 

Gotcha. So if someone does this discovery work and they're thinking about hiring a designer. What do you recommend that they look for?

 

Look for how they're how they're portrayed, on their website and everything. Just making sure that they're They're what you want. They're clean. They're cohesive. They're professionalism. You like their work. You like how they are portraying themselves, and you're getting feelings and emotions, like, oh, wow. She does really good work and whatever whatever you're feeling, just making sure that, you know, you feel like you can work with them.

 

And if if they're If they're not willing to do a consultation or respond to your emails or whatever, just like, well, maybe they're not for me. Because I can't believe, but sometimes people just, You know, wanna jump right in. No. Talk it out sometimes. I mean, I always I always hop on phone calls. Sometimes 2 or 3 phone calls before they They pay any invoices or anything just because, we do a series of, like, kind of questions in a sense, but not like a full blown questionnaire. And there, it's just like getting to know one another and making sure that we're right for one another.

 

Mhmm. Okay. And what does your process look if someone hires you? So you start out with a series of calls and questions, and then how does it how does it go from there? What's a typical project look like for a brand new, logo?

 

Yeah. So they we do a couple of calls depending on how man how much, like, we know and like each other. And then once they They say, yes. I wanna work with you. Send a deposit and then send the contracts and the questionnaire. And then once they fill out the questionnaire, we hop on a phone We go over the questionnaires, and we kind of look at everything to make sure that we're on the same page with one another. And then, from there, it's Kind of really diving into, about 3 to 5, like, logo proofs. And then once that's, like, done, I I don't ever send the proofs in an Now I say, okay, I'm ready for you.

 

Let's hop on a call. And we do, like, a share screen, and we talk about each one and what we like and what we don't like. And then once that's And in the works, we do another phone call in, like, a week or two, fine tuning more stuff. And there's about Three logos at that point. And then couple weeks later, it's about 1. We fine tune that 1. It's a lot of back and forth, and it's a lot of share screening at first and stuff. But once we get the logo done, you get the branding guide where it shows everything that you need for your brand to be successful, Well, the mood board and then the different color options for your logo, all the file sizes and structures.

 

And then From there, it's like social media templates or letterhead or whatever your business is gonna need because this goes back to the questionnaire. It's what does your business need? Because everything's catered to each to each business. Like Mhmm. 1 person might need something and 1 person might not. So we find too what they need and then Deliver those, and then it's pretty much done. Gotcha.

 

And so what does your creative process look like? So when you know, we talked about the client experience, but then on your side. So you've got everything you need, and you sit down to work on the logo for the 1st time.

 

Yeah. So it's a lot of A lot of research inspiration. Like, I find things that I like first, and I say, oh, I like how that stands out. How can I implement that into this? And, doing a lot of research, like, on their competitors that they didn't see and finding images that I think I like, and then doing some sketches, doing like, when I'm when I'm on the computer, though, like, my my my screen is like a mess because I have so much So much stuff, like, on the side of the boards and illustrator. There's just it's like gibberish. Like, it's crazy, and it's just the way I work. Like, everybody always told me I worked very Dirty, messy kind of. Like, I was not organized, but that's how, like, my creativity is.

 

So Yeah. I have to have a messy board on the screen. And then A lot of times, I will do, like, some sketches, especially in the 1st initial times, just going back and forth with them and looking at some So they're competitors, all those. We just kind of sketch some stuff out. It's just a whole it it's just

 

a whole series. K. Do you start with black and white or color? Or, because I've heard both. Some people just jump right into designing with color, and some Always start with black and white and then look at color options later. It depends. Okay.

 

I try to always do black first just because you're gonna see it raw like that, and you wanna make sure that it can be portrayed on black and white Mhmm. Or promotional items and stuff. But sometimes my mind goes crazy, and I need to see the colors. So I wanna at least kind of at least have colors identify, And I don't always implement them into the logo, so I have them in the back of my mind. So I'm like, okay. Is this gonna work with that? So it just really depends. But a lot of times, people wanna see the color first, so it's kind of One of those things where it's like, it just depends, I feel like. Yeah.

 

Yeah.

 

I guess I mean, it's a creative process, so I get that it can vary. It doesn't have to be.

 

Like, I don't like I don't like setting structures and boundaries and be like, I have to do it this way because I don't I've never been that type of person. Never. Yeah. Never. No. Like, I just do what I wanna do that I feel for that's gonna work for them.

 

Yeah. And so knowing that, it would be interesting now to go take a look at your branding and see how that aligns. Right? It's just interesting when you learn about a person to see how that matches up with branding. I love that aspect of of the whole process as well. Alright. So if anyone wanted to learn more about you, where could they go? What resources do you have? Where should they check you out?

 

So they can go to Visions to Images. It's Visions, and then there's it's number 2 images .com. And I'm on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. So I can find there as well, and the links are on that website. They can sign up for a free 15 minute call on my website, and then there's also, a way to sign up for the freebies that I have. I have some, like, color freebies to kind of help you with your discovery and whatnot. So you can just go right on the on the website, and it's it's where it says if you are unhappy with your brand and stuff, you say get started here, and it'll take you to those links.

 

Okay. Great. So we'll drop a link to your website in the show notes so everyone can find all of those things. And, thanks for joining me today.

 

Yeah. Thank you.

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