I sent out a survey asking fellow go-getter female entrepreneurs where they were struggling most, and got an overwhelming response that these ladies were stuck on their websites.
Some had websites, but were not sure how to update them.
Others didn't know where to start.
Well, let me tell you my friend, websites are my most favorite pieces of marketing collateral to put together. I just ADORE websites. And I spend a lot of time tactically planning them out, designing them, and comparing website software.
Did you know I started my own web development company back in the early 2000s? I also used to teach an adult ed course called "Web Design is Easy," where I taught adults how to code.
Only I discovered they didn't really want to learn code, which is how you had to build websites back in the early 2000s. So I used to dream about the day when drag-and-drop web design software would become available so I could help these ladies and they would feel EMPOWERED and CONFIDENT in their website skills. And feel ready to dive into their websites and make them the best that they could be. All on their own!
And that day is finally here! There are now lots of options for building yourself a website without needing to know a lick of code!
What I am referring to are called "CMS" in the biz. This stands for Content Management Systems. Because all a website really is is pieces of content, right? That a computer serves up to you when you navigate to the URL.
Which means, that now there is software that makes pulling together websites SUPER EASY. I always start with a pre-designed template, so I know the structure will look great and work on mobile, and then update the style with my brand colors, fonts, shapes, and patterns.
And putting together all your pages is just a matter of drag and drop as well! It's really incredible. This software obliterates the need to feel nervous or needing to be a coding geek and puts the power to create something fabulous and professional right into your hands.
Website Platforms: Weebly vs. WordPress vs. Kajabi
The big question is, which CMS should you use? There are lots of them out there, and all are not created equal. And I suggest different ones to different people, depending on their business and level of comfort with tech.
So, which one should you choose?
The three I absolutely recommend that are the most user-friendly and create beautiful websites that look ultra-professional:
If you have never built a website before, I challenge you to sign up for a free account with Weebly, and create a fun test site. You could create a site that is an ode to your dog, a wedding website for your best friend who is getting married, or a website for an upcoming family reunion.
Weebly is FUN. It's an absolute joy to put together a site. I was once filling in as a graphic design teacher at a private high school where I was the marketing director. For the course final I had the students develop Weebly websites to promote something they cared about.
Many of the students created portfolio sites or sites about their hometowns. The best part was when one of the students who had been struggling turned around during the final "exam," and exclaimed at what a great time he was having. When was the last time you were taking a final and thoroughly enjoying it?
If you are not tech savvy, I would encourage you to stick with Weebly or Kajabi. They are both technophobe-friendly.
Keep WordPress in mind for when your business starts to really grow. I am not a huge fan of the blogging capabilities of Weebly, and word on the internet is that you can't back up your blog posts because they live on the secure Weebly server. I am not quite sure how that is different from the other pages on your website, but it's a bit frustrating if you ever want to move your website and take your blog with you. If it doesn't back up, you are going to have to copy and paste and move each post individually.
The wonderful thing about WordPress, even though it's not as user-friendly as Weebly, is that it was originally set up as a blogging platform. So it is excellent for managing blogs. The way it displays them, the way the categories work, and how the posts do get backed up with the rest of the website. The other reason most people stick to WordPress is that there are little things called plugins that allow you to made the site do whatever you need it to do.
Think about a fresh install of WordPress as cheese pizza. Plugins are the toppings that make your site phenomenal. Some are free, and others cost either a one-time fee or have on-going charges.
If you are going to use WordPress on your own, you absolutely must first install the plugin Elementor.
Did you Google that? Elementor.
I would NEVER have suggested you try to DIY your website if you've never done it before using WordPress until now. Elementor takes the user interface and makes it almost as user-friendly as Weebly. You still have to toggle to the regular WordPress back end dashboard, which can add to the learning curve, but the Elementor interface is incredible.
There is a similar plugin called Divi, but if you see that, I would encourage you to run in the other direction. Talk about frustration and hair-pulling.
So, if your business is growing, consider building your site with WordPress and Elementor. You can use Elementor for free, and the pro version that gives you added bells and whistles costs $49 a year.
Lastly, Kajabi and why it's the best CMS for online businesses.
I tested Andy Jenkin's Kartra and that was a waste of the $400 I ended up spending before I had the courage to shut down my account because I was not making any headway with it. The free email templates they give you were sub-par, and putting together email marketing sequences was a bit complicated. Plus the interface was clunky.
I have been using Thinkific for a long time, as I love brand stylist Fiona Humberstone's online courses that are done in Thinkific. And I love the price tag, free for up to three courses. You can't offer multiple prices or discount coupons, but free is an incredible deal for being able to publish online courses or membership sites. It's relatively easy to use, so if you are just starting out with this type of business, I would suggest you give this a try if it fits best with your budget.
So why then is Kajabi the platform that made my top three? The user interface is simple to learn, and if you go through their 28-day challenge, you'll be up and running in no time. And the email capabilities outweigh the current Thinkific options. It just feels easier to use and navigate, and offers so much more than any other single platform. Online marketing guru Amy Porterfield has been using Kajabi for years, and she knows what she is talking about!
Now comes the big question -
What do I put on my website?
Before you even start building your site, you will want to do some surfing.
Not ocean surfing, but web surfing. First look at your competitor's websites, or sites of others in your industry. What is on their sites? What are their main calls to action? What pages do they include?
Bookmark sites that have elements that you like, and jot down the aspects you like either in a notebook or in a virtual document.
Then do the same for some of your favorite websites not in your industry. What is it about them that you like so much?
By this time you should have a pretty good idea of what you like and don't like on websites. From here you can outline what you would like your site to include.
Remember that your homepage is your most valuable piece of online real estate, as most people will end up there first. But keep in mind others will come in side doors, so each page needs to show who you are and what you do and have calls to action.
Your header and footer are also extremely valuable. Make sure to make it very clear in at least one of them how to contact you.
I have an entire website training on the exact elements to include in your website navigation, homepage, headers, and footers to build the know-like-trust factor with your audience and convert them into your biggest fans. It is currently only available as a bonus in my "Pretty & Powerful, Styling a Magnetic Brand Identity" course, which you can read more about at https://brandglamping.thinkific.com/courses/brand-identity.
For those of you already enrolled, be sure to log in and check out the newly added bonuses, they include this one and two more!
I'm excited to see what you come up with for your sites. I'd love for you to post your site on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mybrandmybusiness, which will both allow me to give you any feedback and give you some helpful visibility. Happy creating!
Do you know one of the #1 things that holds fellow female entrepreneurs back from getting their brands out into the marketplace?
I'll give you a few seconds to think about.
Yep, one thing is definitely fear of being judged. That inner critic will get us every time.
But what I'm talking about is lack of professional images!
And who has time to Google best stock image sites, which I invite you to run off into the rabbit hole of internet oblivion and do now. Go ahead. I dare you.
Oh no, if you would rather just get right to the point, I'll let you in on my most-frequently-used stock image sites that give me the biggest return on my investment (of time). This is a highly-curated list ladies.
One of my absolute favorites, which I can count on most often, is called Pixabay,
It's my first go-to when I need an image. Which is ALL THE TIME in the online world. Be it for my blog, my website, my Facebook/Instagram ads, you name it, I need images! And lots of them! And high quality!
So if you are unfamiliar with Pixabay, head on over and check them out stat. Then bookmark them. Preferably in a bookmarks folder called Imagery, or something similar. Because I know how organized you like to be. You are a lady who gets things done, and doesn't have time to waste.
Next up, after you have added that oh-so-valuable bookmark, is Unsplash. That's right. Not re-splash, or splashmore, it's Unsplash.
You might notice that it shares some shots with Pixabay. When there is a fantastic free photo, it seems many sites want to scoop it up and call it their own. You can see now how photographers can still make a living. Once everyone starts using the same photos, suddenly we realize the value of hiring a professional to take branded shots.
But please don't worry about this yet. If you are just starting out, start with the free stock images. Once you have gone through them multiple times and pulled out the images that work with your brand, (I have a whole module on which types of photography go with which of the four major brand styles in my Pretty & Powerful online branding course), then you might start to get an idea of what you would like that is missing. And at that point you can start putting out feelers for a professional. But right now, spend some quality time seeing what is available that fits your brand.
Don't get lost for too long in Unsplash! Maybe set a timer. The photos are pretty addicting.
My last highly-coveted stock image site is one I just discovered recently. I was chatting with the support tech at Interact, taking her up on her offer of a free half hour consultation to go over my new "What Style is Your Brand" quiz to make sure it was as polished and must-have as possible. She noticed that one of the many images I was using in my quiz was, quote, "overused," and I should pick something else. She suggested this third free stock image site that I have been obsessed with ever since.
This one is not quite as well known, so you might have better luck finding photos for your brand that are not as "overused" as the rest.
Are you ready for it?
Are you sure?
Got your Imagery Bookmarks folder ready and waiting?
Here it is! It's called Pexels.
Yep, Pexels. Not Pixels. Pexels. Obviously.
You are now in possession of my three absolute use-on-a-daily-basis stock image sites. And are you wondering at this point how to find images that will work for your brand at warp speed?
Because each of these sites have A LOT of imagery. And it helps to know exactly what type of photo you are looking for. One that will not only enhance your brand, but look like it fits right in.
The easiest way to do this is to identify which particular "season" you are using to style your brand, and then choose photos that match that season's style. For example, if you are a high-class female coach who inspires your tribe to reach for their aspirational goals, you most likely want to use Spring photography. This style uses lots of light and feels uplifting.
If you are in the fashion industry and need to look modern and cutting edge, you will want to look for Winter-styled photographs, These use very dramatic lighting and often contain images with sharp angles and geometric shapes.
If you run yoga retreats you might want to use Summer-styled images. These can be hazy and have a dream-like quality to them.
If you have a small family farm, Autumn-styled photography is best. Well saturated and clear with lots of detail. (I'll be honest, most brands that sell things you can touch do best using Autumn-styled photography. We are drawn to images where we can see every little detail of something we are considering purchasing, be it in a store or in a photograph.)
Would you like some examples? I have put together a free download showing the different styles of photography based on season. For even more examples, there is a whole module on photographic styles in my Pretty & Powerful brand styling course, not to miss!
Request access to download the cheat sheet:
Good luck with your photo hunting!
Oh, and PS. I included one more bonus site that goes above and beyond just stock photography. But I only sent it to those on my email list! If you want to join this elite group, here's a sign up form to let me know you want in! See you in your inbox!
I was recently on the phone with my sister, who is an HR director. She is working on an amazing new venture with women in her city to help aspiring female entrepreneurs navigate up-leveling their businesses, similar to Shark Tank.
“You know,” she said, “this is such a great opportunity for them to get their businesses out there. They will really up their brand awareness.”
“Yes,” I replied. “That’s the first step.”
“First step?” she asked, “There are others?”
She had no idea that marketing and promotion went beyond getting your brand seen in public.
Yes, there is a process to this thing we call marketing and promotion. Some call it a customer journey. Others a marketing funnel.
But what it really boils down to is a series of events that you plan out in advance to introduce yourself to your prospective future customers so that eventually you will have achieved the magical trifecta, where they will,
You won’t have a solid lasting relationship without all three.
When my husband and I were in the getting-to-know you stage of our relationship, even though we had gone to the same high school and were in the same tiny class of 200, I remember Facebook-message chatting with him and asking if he was an ax murderer? Because obviously he was going to be 100% honest with me, I knew him from high school. And I liked him. A lot. I had always thought he was the most handsome guy at our school. (And I still believe that to this day.) But I didn’t yet trust him. That bridge had to be built over time.
What are the steps needed to build that bridge? There are three on my list that your audience needs to take to know, like and trust you, which should inspire them to continue along the journey through steps four and five, cementing you as the go-to brand for your niche. Let's look at the steps.
1. Know you exist.
The first step is the one my sister already knew about. The one she assumed was the only piece you needed to be successful as a business. You can achieve this through multiple avenues, namely
As a collection, we call these “top of funnel,” if you think about this in terms of a marketing funnel, or the start of the customer journey.
2. Get on your email list.
In the marketing world, the email list is the holy grail.
Why is that? Because you don’t own your social media channels. If Mark Zuckerberg got tired of having to show up in court and get asked embarrassing questions like where he stayed the night before and decided to throw in the towel on his whole empire, there go all your Facebook fans and Instagram followers. Poof!
But if you had convinced them to visit your website or some similar webpage where you asked them to opt in to join your email list before the platforms disappeared, you could still contact them and continue on with your relationship, without batting an eye.
3. Follow you on social.
Your website is pretty static, you most likely only update it with new blog posts or offers. While I just waxed on about how finicky relationships can be with social platforms, I’m now going to do an about-face and encourage you to be on social.
Social is where you get to be social, and what do you love about social? It’s fun! It’s enjoyable! It’s like hanging out with your favorite people, getting invited to all the parties you want to be invited to, and getting a level playing field to interact and talk with anyone alive today who you have always wanted to rub shoulders with! And discover new people/places/brands/excitement!
Social media is a like an all-you-can-drink rockin’, energy-infused sports tonic, doling out dopamine hits with every notification app Ping! Because of its addictive nature, it’s where most peeps hang out. And talk. And share. And talk some more. And share some more.
Through all this finding and talking and sharing we are attracting people to us and pushing others away. For those we are attracting to us, we’re building solid relationships. You come to expect certain things from certain people and brands, and return to interacting with them based on the valuable content they are sharing. This way someone new comes to know who you are, like you, and trust you.
4. Purchase from you.
WHEW! You have achieved the know, like, and trust factor, and it’s time to take this relationship to the next level. Beyond giving you their attention, you now want them to show how committed they are to you through their wallets. (Because she who has the biggest ring wins, right? Or the biggest box of chocolates? Or the most gorgeous deeply-sweet smelling bouquet of exotic flowers?)
Yes! Big signs of affection are great, but even just a small purchase flags an audience member as someone who is dedicated to you. The ring that came from the 25-cent gumball machine is just as sweet a sign of appreciation.
Generally, you want to offer someone a low-risk offer under $10 to see if you are meant for each other. Writing a book and giving it away for free-plus-shipping is one of the better marketing tactics. Books are a great way to introduce your world to your future fans, and you can market your business throughout the book. Build a case as to why your new fan absolutely needs what you offer in her life!
Once you’ve gotten someone to raise their hand and say, “yes, I’m interested in what you’ve got” by purchasing a small something-or-other from you, you then want to have a plan in place to lead them up what is called the value ladder.
On the value ladder, you have entry-level products that range from free to exclusive. At the bottom you might have a free podcast, free class, or free consultation, and then after that the low-cost book or white paper. Then you might have a mini-course or day-long event. After which you offer a full-blown course or industry event. At the top of the ladder, you might offer exclusive one-on-one coaching or maybe a Mustang with all the bells and whistles.
(I always wanted a green Mustang. Every time we got that big envelope from Publisher’s Clearing House I always gently tore out the green Mustang sticker and pasted it in the box as the prize I was going to win.)
You might think that the buyers journey/marketing funnel ends here. But that is not the case!
The final step is when you get a fan to fall so much in love with your brand that they become your unofficial spokespeople.
5. Tell their friends and family about you.
Yes, this is the final step. Every time someone gushes about you on social or in email, make sure to get screenshots to share as future testimonials.
I am way more likely to eat at your food truck if my best friend posts on social that she just had the most amazing taco of her life at the park near the duck pond. This is how your brand will spread, remember that word of mouth thing I mentioned in Step 1?
You’ve made it this far, so hop on over to my Facebook page and tell me one new thing you learned about this whole promotional journey that you had never thought about before. What are your next steps for implementing in your business?
Red is a very powerful color. Just looking at it raises your blood pressure and whets the appetite. Red is physical, it is the color of life itself. Red blood, red lips, full red tulips and roses. Apples beckoning you to eat them, bright red berries enticing you with promised sweetness. Red screams come closer and consume me.
It is associated with masculinity, and exudes strength and power. (Let's just be clear here – women have just as much strength and power, this color just happens to communicate the strength and power of the male variety.) Super heroes done red capes, and countries often choose it for their flags.
Red is one of the colors that jumps out at you and makes you think it is closer than it really is. Which makes it an excellent choice for stop signs and red lights. It also makes it an excellent choice if you have a brand that you want to be noticed.
The most prominent brand of all time uses red as its main brand color:
In fact, before Coca Cola, Santa Claus wore white. Which makes sense, it's the color of snow and winter. But then in came Coke and published the iconic image of Santa in Coca-Cola red robes downing a bottle of the sugary liquid. And ever since, at least in the U.S., Santa has donned only red ensembles.
Side note - it is in thanks to Finnish artist Haddon Sundblom (1899-1976), commissioned by the US Coca Cola company, who painted the first Santa in red drinking coke in the 1930s.
In languages that only have two words for colors, those are black and white. But in languages that have three words for color, those are black, white, and red.
If you want to build your brand around one of the following, red would be a good choice to use as your main brand color,
For example, here are some brands who want to make us hungry for food;
And some who want to make us hungry for adventure and excitement;
Once you have decided that red should be in your palette, next you will need to choose the shade of red. Here is where our secret weapon of applied color psychology comes in. If this is the first time you have heard of color psychology, go ahead and jump over to my explanation here. You can also download the Brand Personality Traits by season handout to see if you can get a better idea of which of the four groups your brand should be based in, based on the traits you want your brand to be known for.
Here are guidelines for which shade of red to choose, depending on which group your brand is based in--
Group 1: Spring reds will be light and cheerful. They will have more yellow in them vs. blue. Think scarlet.
Group 2: Summer reds have touches of gray, and no yellow. Mauve and maroon fall into this category.
Group 3: Autumn reds are vibrant and rich. They have more yellow in them. Think of the old masters paintings with that rich, vermillion red, or of leaves in the fall that have transformed from green to red before alighting to the ground.
Group 4: Winter reds are crystal clear and powerful. They are primary red, crimson and ruby, imagine deep red berries in winter against the white of new fallen snow.
What to watch out for when choosing a red
If you have chosen the right shade of red to match the color harmony of your brand palette, it will communicate the energy, passion, and excitement you mean to communicate.
However, if your brand color palette contains more than one color, or multiple shades of the same color, please take caution to choose all of these hues from the same harmonious color group.
If you mix in a disharmonious color, the negative aspects that the red will communicate include:
The best example of the misuse of red was when it was mixed with pure black in the Nazi swastika logo. The only colors that should be paired alongside black in branding are those in Group 4: Winter. If your brand is based in a different group and you would like a dark black-like color to use in your copy or on your website, opt for a darker shade of gray from that group.
Using applied color psychology to confidently chose your brand's color palette
Choosing colors for your brand palette doesn't have to be as hard as rocket science, and in fact can be much more quickly chosen with confidence when using the science of applied color psychology. The steps to choosing brand colors that attract and communicate are as follows,
I'm hoping that you are now a bit more acquainted with the color red and what it means, especially related to branding and communication. I challenge you to start noticing the brands that use red. What do they sell? How would you describe their brand personalities? What are they trying to convey with the use of red? Which of them is conveying a personality similar to your brand?
Do they pull you in more quickly than other brands? Do you feel your pulse increasing?
Good luck with your color choices!
Witty, fitting, memorable names for brands don't generally fall out of the sky right when you need them. Coming up with a name for your brand takes time, insight, patience, and alertness. This comprehensive guide covers the three phases of naming your brand:
Phase 1: Creating a List of Name Contenders
Adjective + Noun Formula
One simple exercise to start with when naming your brand is something that I learned in grad school. The nice, big, conference-style room that my Brand Development course met in every week happened to be in use on the day we did this, so our group roamed the halls of the art school until we found an empty closet/break room. We filed in and filled up the couches, then our instructor handed out sheets of paper and has us write columns of nouns and adjectives. Then we cut out our words and in small groups spread the words out on the little coffee tables and the magic began.
Names such as "The Red Door," "Salty Cucumber," and "Victory Socks" emerged. Some combinations were pitiful, but you would hit on a duo every so often that when read out loud, set off notes of angels singing "halleluiah."
I encourage anyone in the beginning stages of creating their brand to try this strategy. You could take it to the next level by coming up with words that fit your brand's personality, such as "elegant," "cool," and "classic" for a brand anchored in Group 2/summer.
I also teach how to put together a brand thesaurus when starting out so you have a list of branded go-to words when writing copy. The thesaurus could be a good place to start to pull words from for the brand naming exercise.
Short Names = Memorability
Why do we only pick two words when doing this exercise? The most memorable brands have short names. Think about when you introduce yourself. Even if you have a middle name, most of us only ever use our first and last names publicly. It makes remembering the names of new people a whole lot easier. And what is a key pillar of a successful brand? Memorability.
Some brands have only one name, (personality brands included), such as Amazon, Yelp, or Madonna. Others are made up names, such as Häagen-Dazs, Waze, and Google. Made up names can be handy for purchasing your website's domain name as there is a good chance no one has claimed it yet. However, they take a lot more creativity to develop as they need to be relatively short and related to what your business is about. Häagen-Dazs was created to sound Danish, as Denmark was known for dairy. Waze, the maps app, sounds like all the "ways" you can get somewhere. And Google was a play on the word “googol,” the mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros.
A fun exercise to come up with this type of name would be to write out a brainstorm of as many words you can think of related to your business and see if changing a letter or two creates a new word that makes sense.
Or, if the essence of your brand is strongly tied to a certain culture, is there a word or phrase that you can use and change the spelling or pronunciation to look or sound like it came from that culture's mother tongue? For example, in Maine, the natives end many words with the "ah" sound. If you were going to run with the Salty Cucumber, you could tweak it to Salty Cucumbah and now its meaning has sharply turned in a new direction. Instead of a fine food brand, I'm envisioning a coastal pub.
Asses the Names of Your Competitors
I am not a fan of calling people working in your same space competitors, because if you position yourself correctly you are in a category of one, but for this scenario, I'm calling them competitors. Who or what are the top brands in your space? Is there a trend in their names? For example, in the online marketing community, the general rule of thumb is to use your first and last name as your brand. In new online businesses, it seems these brands mostly fall into the made-up word category. Go check out brands in your space and see if there is a pattern to follow.
IBM did it. UPS did it. Most associations and nonprofits do it. Using an acronym of a longer descriptive name can be a simple solution to naming your brand, however, this type of brand name requires more education on your part to communicate who you are and what you do. If you are starting a personal brand, steer clear.
When You're Completely at a Loss
First, sleep on what you have come up with so far. Wait at least a week to see if anything new crosses over from your unconscious mind to your conscious mind, it could be just the nugget you were looking for.
If not, head on over to Shopify's list of 10 Business Name Generators to Help You Create Your Brand. If you have put in the work this far, you should be able to come up with some more final contenders here.
Phase 2: What to Watch Out For
Phase 3: Trademark & Domain Name Check
Check the US Trademark Database
Once you have come up with something that seems to hit the mark, head on over to the US Trademark database, where you can look up to see if it is already in use.
Click on "Search Trademark Database" and then "Basic Word Mark Search (New User)".
I did a test for salty cucumber and at this moment in time it is up for grabs!
Domain Name Check
After the trademark test, next head on over to Better Who Is, which will allow you to look up the domain name,
This website searches ALL domain registrars to see if what you are searching for is already taken, and who owns it if it is taken, and when their registration expires. Unfortunately, www.saltycucumber.com is reserved at least through December at this time. I see that it has been registered through GoDaddy, so I did a quick search at GoDaddy to see if the company had purchased it so they could re-sell it, or if it had in fact been registered by someone. It had been taken, however, a quick change of the ending, and saltycucumbah.com was available! Hello coastal pub!
Did you generate some great brand names? If you generated some fantastic ones that don't necessarily work for you, leave them in the comments to share the wealth!
The homepage of the signature Ivanka Trump brand features a model in a bright floral and flamingo pink dress, the headline reading, “The Summer Fun Issue.” Flamingo pink is a bright, fun color, but looking at the rest of the site reveals that the site is suffering from color disharmony, which could be considered one of the contributing factors to the end of the brand.
We look to the natural world to create harmonious color schemes. In fact, if you look at the online design tool Canva.com, they feature “100 Brilliant Color Combinations,” which are pulled directly from the natural world. They even feature a Color Palette Generator where you can upload your own images and the tool automatically pulls harmonious shades and creates a custom color palette for you. Trump’s brand would have fared better had they used this tool in the beginning design stages.
Just where exactly did she go wrong? It’s all in the pink. The natural world offers us four distinct harmonious color groupings. When brands pull all their colors from one of the groups, they communicate a strong, positive message. If a brand accidentally pulls even just one shade from a second group to include in their palette, that tips the balance of their entire color scheme, causing the negative aspects of the colors included to be communicated instead of the positive. Trump’s brand made its first mistake by mixing pinks from multiple groups in the palette.
The four harmonious color groups can be referred to as Groups 1 through 4, but are also often referred to in terms of season – Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Group 1, Spring, colors are light, bright, and warm. They are full of hope and aspiration, think of spring grasses and buds. Group 2, Summer, colors are cool, delicate, and muted. Think of bleached stones on the ocean shore. Group 3, Autumn, colors, are warm, rich, firey, and vibrant. Think of autumn leaves at peak leaf season in New England. Group 4, Winter, colors, are cool, dramatic, and clear. Think fields of white snow with bright red berries.
Ivanka Trump’s brand palette features a dominant grayed muted pink, putting it in Group 2, Summer. Links on her website are a shade of bright coral pink, based in Group 1, Spring. The illustrations feature a mixture of warm and cool pinks. Then many of the image still lifes feature objects in bright Group 4 Winter pinks, such as the hand weights in "The Round Up: Healthy Habits" article below.
And it is not only the mixing across color groups in one brand palette that can turn a scheme sour. The other faux pas in brand styling is choosing the wrong group to base your brand palette in to begin with, hence Trump’s mistake number two.
While basing the Ivanka Trump brand palette on a Group 2 pink seems like it would be a good idea, Summer palettes are not ideal for retail business. Most Group 2 colors contain shades of gray. Humans innately respond to large amounts of gray by turning inward. Think about what happens when the earth changes to gray in the fall. We naturally want to go into hibernation mode. It's not the time we will freely get out our wallets.
When used correctly, the positive aspects of the Group 2 Summer colors communicate calmness, responsibility, orderliness, and caring, and are great for non-profits such as historic estates who are in the business of preservation. Health care businesses also do well to use Group 2 as they not only communicate caring, but are also are such relaxing, calming colors. I use Group 2 colors to decorate my home, as I like to feel relaxed at the end of the day.
However, they just don’t work for retail.
What group should Ivanka Trump have pulled from? Group 4, Winter. Any brand that wants to cater to the high-end sector should be based in Group 4. Group 4 colors project the qualities of being dramatic, forward-thinking, and modern. They are extreme. They are either very saturated or very light, and always cool. Pure black and pure white fall into Group 4. Primary colors also fall into Group 4.
Beyond color, each harmonious group has particular design elements and characteristics associated with it. The typographic styles that fall into Group 4 are fonts that are minimalist and classy, so you will often see high-end brands with either fine serifed or sans-serifed wordmarks, such as Christian Dior, Tiffany & Co., Kate Spade, and Gucci. Ivanka Trump followed suit with her name, however, she chose a clunky logomark to go along with it. Design elements with substance, such as her logomark, fall into Group 3.
Unlike mixing colors, it is fine to use a supporting group to communicate a supporting element of your brand. If Trump had used a Group 4 icy pink to communicate the high-end, high-fashion elements of her brand, then it would have been fine to bring in design elements from Group 3. The characteristics of Group 3 that would have suited her brand would be intelligence, substance, and practicality. The Ivanka Trump brand was designed to attract professional women with careers and family, and using Group 3 elements in a supporting role would have worked, as her target market was for women who wanted to be known for their intellect and ability to manage career and family.
It is unfortunate then that the brand’s color palette landed all over the color map. The positive attributes of the color pink, which I am sure were pieces that the brand aspired to communicate, would have been femininity, nurturing, and warmth. However, using pinks from multiple groups triggered the negative aspects – frivolity, emasculation, and physical weakness. Beyond the political climate, you could fathom that these two mistakes – using colors across multiple groups and basing the primary brand color in relaxed Group 2, not at all suited for retail, were the beginnings of the downfall of the brand.
When your brand palette is composed of the right colors, you communicate a strong message, which will attract a strong following. If this had been the case, the brand might have held on to its fan base, no matter the storms facing its owner.