We’ve seen a massive shift in the past two years as the marketplace has become flooded with new, talented creators. How are we to be heard? What a digital brand needs to stand out in 2022 is discernment. In this post, you’ll find the guidance you need to elevate your brand’s presence, with simplicity.
After years of procrastination, Michelle Hickey Design is finally getting a brand refresh and site update! I’m so excited about the company’s new direction, and I look forward to sharing all of the visuals with you soon.
The process has made me realize how much has changed when it comes to brand identity. I can still remember some of my earliest jobs in which I designed logos for new businesses. If you’re a graphic designer, perhaps you can relate. For whatever reason, your mom’s friend’s cousin always seems to need a logo.
A strong foundation is a timeless necessity
One thing has not changed. Whether we’re talking about a brick and mortar business from 2002, or a digital business from 2022, strong visuals are imperative. Without them, customers and clients are unable to connect or recognize your offers.
But in 2022, we have many more assets to juggle: websites, blogs, online shops, ads, and a growing number of social media platforms, each with its own set of dimensions and required file types.
????What a stressful sentence.
Prioritization: the antidote to overwhelm
As Marie Kondo taught us, the best solution isn’t to keep buying pretty storage solutions (in our case: digital asset managers, social media schedulers, and courses that promise to teach us how to manage it all). The only practical way to maintain a strong brand presence in 2022, is to make the strategic decision to NOT do it all.
Not only will this action save you some sanity, but will force you to hone in on your brand’s ideals, promises, and customers. You know your business better than anyone else, and it’s up to you to determine what actually needs to stay on that to-do list. But I’d love to help you simplify your workload by sharing where I’m focusing my energy as I rebrand my digital business.
Where to spend less time on your branding
What used to be the foundation of all branding materials is now, to me, of less importance for a digital brand. Think of five brands that you most closely follow online. Can you immediately picture their logos? All five of them?
In my early days of logo design, those marks appeared everywhere: on storefronts, stationery, pens, tee shirts, mugs, and business cards. They needed to be everywhere because there was no other way to visually spread the company’s message. What was once articulated on a postcard mailer, might now be communicated through a 15-second Instagram Reel, or even (I type this begrudgingly), a Tik Tok dance.
As more businesses have moved online, the number of places in which our logos appear has been reduced. You may have even noticed that most digital brands don’t include their logo on Pinterest pins or social media graphics. Yet, many people put so much pressure on themselves to come up with the perfect logo—that really only gets seen at the top of your website.
If you are a digital brand, save yourself time, angst, and money, and create a simple logo.
It has kind of become a joke in the online world that whenever someone starts a venture, the first item on their list is to get business cards. This is even funnier to me because I recently rewatched the film Napolean Dynamite and there’s a scene in which Uncle Rico becomes very fixated on getting something made up (such as laminated name tags or matching bracelets), to make his shady Tupperware business seem legit.
The best way to show you’re the real deal isn’t with a 3.5″ x 2″ card (any other designers have those dimensions burned into their brain?), but by having the work to back your brand’s promise.
How to land a job without a business card
I was shopping with my friend Muriel a few weeks ago, and the store clerk overheard us talking about styling and photography. She mentioned that they were looking for photographers, and asked for Muriel’s business card.
But she didn’t have a business with her. “Oh no!” You may be thinking. “Missed opportunity!”
Instead, Muriel scribbled her website, Instagram name, email address, and phone number on the back of a piece of scrap paper. A few days later store’s owner emailed her and hired her for a job.
What a digital brand needs to stand out in 2022 is to let the work speak for itself. A business card will not make you any more legitimate than Uncle Rico’s laminated name tags made him.
Social Media assets for every platform
As the number of online platforms multiplies, it has become clear that you do not need to be everywhere for your business to be profitable and successful.
If you have a strong understanding of your audience, it should be fairly easy for you to determine the places in which they spend time online. Choose the social network(s) that best fits your niche, and don’t worry about the others.
Simplifying will give you headspace, and also save you from adapting and resizing your visual assets to fit the demands of each platform.
Where to spend time to help your brand stand out in 2022
Visuals may be eye-catching but without a strong promise, they will land flat, and your audience will move on. So many businesses fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone, and in 2022, it absolutely doesn’t work.
Before you start making graphics, strengthen your sense of self, and get comfortable delivering your message with confidence. Answer these foundational questions:
What do you do?
What problem do you solve?
Who do you serve?
What makes your brand unique?
If you need guidance in establishing your brand’s foundation, use this Brand Blueprint to get on track.
Between our phone cameras, access to high-quality stock photography, photo filters, and an abundance of editing apps, in 2022, we are fully equipped to create showstopping content.
The bar has been raised. Since anyone and everyone has the resources to produce professional-grade photos, videos, and graphics, we have to step it up if we want to create impactful work.
Elevating your image game isn’t just about spending money on stock image subscriptions or investing in custom photos (though both options are smart investments). Other methods of improving your visual presence include:
– Establishing an aesthetic and showcasing it with consistency
– Having a strong sense of your ideal customer/client/audience and who they aspire to be
– Leaning into your personal strengths, whether that be iPhone photography skills, leaning more on graphics over still images, or skipping traditional photography altogether and going all in on authentically expressing yourself on video.
When it comes to time, we’re all stretched, which is not a 2022 revelation. It has always been the reality, but we’re only now understanding its limitations and learning to discern where to best spend our energy.
As creators, time scarcity means that we need to be smart about establishing processes so that we can keep up with the production demands of the digital space—without burning out.
We simply can’t afford to start every new project from scratch. Luckily, like image accessibility, we’ve become more equipped to use—or create templates for just about anything we need. Give yourself the gift of a head start. I recommend using templates for:
– Social Media posts (including still images and video)
– Blog Graphics and Pins
– Opt-ins, Guides, PDFs
– Client Deliverables
If you’re not currently using templates for your visual content, it’s time to make the investment to purchase or take a few days to make some.
What do you think a digital brand needs to stand out in 2022?
How do you feel about being a digital brand today? Are there other practices that you think are antiquated? Are there different branding techniques that you prioritize in your business?
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