What is a Brand Mood Board and How Can It Help Your Branding? (With Examples)

One of the first steps in visualizing a new brand or redesigning an existing brand is creating mood boards. Unfortunately it's also a step that feels a bit vague and artsy-fartsy as we cobble together pictures, textures, colors and type samples and find ourselves saying things like "it should evoke melon blossoms in the summer dew." 

Needless to say, it's something we creatives love but it feels a bit ambiguous and cumbersome to those on the business-side of the brand.

That said, there's a lot of advantages to using mood boards to conceptualize your brand before you dive into the design process. I'd like to demystify the purpose of mood boards so even if you don't come out loving it, you understand it's value as part of the creative process.

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What is a Mood Board?

Brand mood boards are a collage of images used to depict the ideal look and feel for the brand. In early stages it might be just trying to tap into a specific emotion or theme, later this can get refined into specifics such a colors, typography, types of model photography, words and textures. 

The first phase where you're just locking into an emotion may feel especially fuzzy but is important. Our brain process images faster than text so the first impression your visuals make will be customer's first understanding of your brand. The emotional tone that your brand evokes will carry throughout all the branded materials and gets to the heart of how customers will engage with your brand.

Personally I like slightly messy mood boards because I've noticed when they're perfect, clients tend to treat them as a final product, not as a method of brainstorming that they are free to markup, add to and dismantle. They should be empowering visual communication, not stifling it. 


Why a Create a Mood Board

Mood boards separate the concept behind the brand from the logistics of each designed piece. The brand mood board creates a united vision for your brand which can be used for any future visuals you need to create. For instance, if you dive straight into web design it's easy to end up getting caught in the details of how a specific button looks or the navigation functions without ever focusing on the overarching tone of the site.

The main reason I love mood boards is they are a quick and easy way to get all our airy talk about the concept of the brand into a real visual thing that people can react to.

As an example, we can spend hours brainstorming and agree the brand should look like old-school Hollywood glamour but when we do the moodboards and start putting actual imagery in place, it quickly becomes clear that we were thinking Greta Garbo, the CMO was thinking Marilyn Monroe and the founder was thinking Grace Kelly. Each would fit the criteria of Hollywood glamor but they're each distinctive and would take the brand a different direction. By creating mood boards, we can quickly align on a vision.

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How to Create a Mood Board

The most fun part about mood boards is you don't have to be a designer or even have fancy software to create mood boards. You can get some paper or foam core and start pasting fabrics, magazine clippings, colors and textures together. Some of my favorite mood boards were created exactly that way. Now with fewer magazines lurking about and Google images at our fingertips, we tend to do more digital moodboards but the concept is the same. I've also had clients send over images from their phone that they want to use — if you have specific ideas in mind but don't want the hassle of putting them together yourself, that can be a great way to communicate.

One note — if you do use Google images, please remember (and tell your team) that these are for internal use only. Do not fall in love with random internet images and start using them on your actual campaigns unless they're stock photography and you can buy the rights to use them.


How to Use Your Mood Boards

So you have your new mood boards, now what? This is a good point to present the mood boards to stakeholders and solicit feedback. It's certainly easier to change visual direction now than when everything has been designed out.

Once everyone has signed off, you can move into the next phase of the design using the moodboards as reference. You can also include your mood boards in your brand book as reference. Designers are visual people and seeing a moodboard is often much more helpful than just reading about what the brand should look like.

It can also be handy to keep the old moodboards in case a stakeholder comes in late to the process and throws in a curveball request (this happens surprisingly often). In that case, it's very handy to have the old moodboards to dig out an explain that direction was explored but it was rejected because x, y, and z.


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Mood boarding is definitely a more intuitive and conceptual part of the branding process. It might feel odd to put time and money into a process that has only internal value and no external deliverable — however it's nonetheless an important part of building a cohesive visual brand.

Need a mood board designed?
Interested in building a new brand or rebranding an existing one?

How to Define A Target Market in 5 Steps

Who is your target market for your business' product or service? If you're trying to sell to everybody, you might want to rethink your marketing strategy. While it might seem like marketing to a wide audience will get you more sales, this is rarely the case. Narrowing down your target audience — and then marketing in a way that's relevant to them — is a much better strategy to growing your business. Here are five questions you can ask yourself to narrow down your target market.


1. What kind of solution am I offering? 

People buy things to solve their problems. The nature of these problems can vary widely. Not all problems are practical - for instance, some people buy expensive cars to solve their perceived problem of not looking cool enough. Every business offers a solution to some kind of problem, practical or not. 


Think about how you make customers' lives easier or provide them what they want. Why do people seek out your product or service? How are their lives better after hiring you or purchasing from you? In short, what kind of value do you provide?


2. Who needs the solutions I offer?

Of course, not everybody has the same problems. While there are a few problems, like keeping in touch with loved ones or getting from place to place, that almost everyone deals with, chances are that your product or service deals with a more niche type of problem. 

Ask yourself who could benefit from the solutions you offer. Get as specific as you can. Are business people most likely to need your services? Teenagers? Busy parents? Once you have a general idea of who makes up your target audience, you can start narrowing your focus even more.


3. What are the demographics of my target audience?

Age, gender, and socioeconomic status are all important things to know about your target audience. The better you can pin down your market's demographic factors, the more effectively you'll be able to advertise to them. Is the average person who needs your services a man or a woman? How old are they? What's their family life like? People from different demographic groups respond differently to advertisements, so it's important to answer this question accurately.


4. What does my target audience need and want?

Don't stop at figuring out your target market's basic demographic information. Visualize your ideal customer and get into their head even more. Go beyond the basics. What do they want most in life? What are they afraid of? What do they want to achieve in the next ten years? If you can tap into your target audience's emotions and thoughts, you'll have all the information you need to build a branding and marketing strategy that gets you results. 


5. What is my unique selling proposition?

To successfully convert leads into customers, it isn't enough just to solve a problem. You've also got to solve it differently or better than your competitors do. Take a look at businesses similar to yours, and figure out what makes you stand out from them. This is your unique selling proposition, or USP. After you've nailed down your USP, you can use it to further narrow down the pool of potential leads and hone your marketing strategy even more. 


 If you want to advertise more efficiently, create products that sell better, and turn leads into conversions, take a few minutes to think about who you're trying to convert. Defining your target market is an essential step as a business owner. Once you put in the effort, you'll find yourself with a better brand and more happy customers.

How to Create Effective Buyer Personas

Can you describe your ideal customer in a nutshell? If not, it’s time to create some buyer personas. Buyer personas, also known as marketing personas, are models that help you tailor your branding and marketing to the people who need your product or service.

If you’ve never made buyer personas before, gathering and compiling the necessary information can seem intimidating. Luckily, the process is actually fairly straightforward. This article will walk you through the process of creating buyer personas, whether you’re doing it for the first time or just need a quick refresher.


What kind of information should a buyer persona include?

A useful buyer persona is multi-dimensional. It should include demographic information as well as more personal details, like what kind of challenges your ideal customer faces and what their goals for the future are. Some good information to include in your buyer personas includes: \

  • Basic demographic information. How old is your ideal customer? Are they male or female? Where do they live? Do they have a spouse or family?
  • Information about education and job status. Does your ideal customer have a high school diploma, or are they currently in college? How much do they earn? Are they happy with their job?
  • Information about what a typical day is like for your ideal customer. Do they work long hours? What are their habits like? What do they enjoy doing in their spare time?
  • Information about your ideal customer’s problems and goals. What do they want to achieve most? What’s holding them back?


The type of information that’s most useful to you will depend on what kind of business you have. For instance, if you’re running a tech startup, you might be particularly interested in your customers’ internet habits. Decide which of the categories above are most relevant to your situation, and focus on gathering that information.

You’ll probably want to create more than one buyer persona, since most businesses serve more than just a single demographic. Three to five personas is usually enough to capture the most important facets of your target market.


How to gather information

Once you know what kind of information you’re after, you can start collecting it from your current customers and leads. There are a number of ways you can approach this task.

1. Use data from your website. Google Analytics can give you a breakdown of your visitors’ age, gender, and location, along with information about which search terms people are using to find you. If you have contact forms on your website, you can get extra information from them by including fields for things like the person’s job title or the main thing they’re looking for.

2. Leverage social media. Use channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to interact with customers. When people like your content or leave comments, make note of who they are, where they’re from, and any other relevant info in their profile.

3. Get your whole team involved. Talk to customer service, sales, and other employees who interact with customers on a regular basis. Ask them for their insights on who your customers are, what they want, and what influences them to buy (or not to buy) your product or service.

4. Conduct surveys. Use online tools like Survey Monkey to ask your visitors and customers questions about themselves. You’ll get information about your customer base straight from the source, and your customers will appreciate feeling heard. Providing some kind of incentive, like a discount, may help you get more replies.

5. Conduct interviews. Reach out to customers and leads and ask them if they’d be willing to be interviewed. Focus on gleaning information from them that would be hard to collect from analytics alone, such as what they need most right now, what stresses them out, and where they hope to be in five years.


Putting it All Together

As you gather data about your customers, you’ll probably start noticing some patterns. Use those patterns to start putting your buyer personas together. Sift through the information you’ve collected and flesh each persona out with realistic personal details.

Go the extra mile to make your personas seem like actual people. Give each of them a name, like “Manager Michael,” and find a stock image that reflects the gender, age, and occupation of the persona. Imagining your personas as people you might really interact with will help you market to the customers they represent most effectively.

How to Build a Brand: The Brand Interview

You may have heard it said that brand is the sum of what your customers say about your business when you're not in the room to hear. And it's true that to some extent, your brand is outside of your control. However when you carefully create your voice, tone and position statements, you control a great deal about how your brand will be perceived. As long as your brand lives up to the set of brand guidelines you create, chances are good that your customers will understand the essence of your brand.

Whether you're just starting out or taking a second look at your brand pillars, a brand interview can be an excellent first step in discovering your brand.


Main Requirement: An Open Mind

Part of the brand interview involves agreeing in rote information: what is your company's ultimate vision? How do you intend to achieve that vision? Who is your main competition?

But the art of building a brand happens when you dig deeper into more ethereal questions--and that requires an open mind.

Come to your brand interview without an expectation of where you think you'll end up. Instead, use a series of associational exercises and explore all the alleyways and avenues your answers take you down.


3 Types of Associational Exercises

There are plenty of associational exercises to choose from. For the sake of brevity, I've selected three popular exercises: the Lightning Round, A vs. B and the Visual Exercise.


The Lightning Round

During the Lightning Round, you will be presented with a series of questions and asked to provide an answer as quickly as you can. The questions can range from the seemingly mundane (If you were a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would you be?) to the more fantastical (Name a super power your brand would have).

The useful information is derived not from the answer you give, but rather from the reason behind the answer. For example, if your first thought was that your brand resembled a peanut butter sandwich, you may discover some insights about your brand by examining the reason for your answer. Perhaps you answered in this way because your brand and your produce is a staple in your industry. Maybe you always associated peanut butter sandwiches with comfort and simplicity and that is the kind of notion you want your customers to feel when they interact with your brand. Whatever the reason, it is important to take the time to deeply examine them once you answer all the Lightning Round questions.

An easy way to get started is to discover your Brand Archetype which will help guide you.


A vs. B

An exercise similar to the Lightning Round is A vs. B. During this exercise, you are presented with two options and are asked to decide which option you believe your brand more closely associates itself with. For example: Apple vs. Google. Simply decide whether your brand is more like Apple or more like Google.

Like the Lightning Round, the actual answer is not as important as the reason behind your answer. People hear the options and relate them to different things. Whatever the answer was, take the time to explore the reasons behind your choice. As you continue through each set of A vs. B, chances are good that you will begin to notice certain similarities behind your answers. As the pattern emerges, so will certain core brand traits and elements. As you discover these, you will be able to use them as foundational pieces for building your brand.

A simple way to get started with this is to make a paper with two columns, the first column is what your brand stands for, the second is what it is not. For example "Feminine but not girly", "Professional but not impersonal," "Upbeat but not obnoxious," etc.


Visual Exercises

Brands are deeply visual, so it's equally important to include a visual component to the brand interview. This is often called moodboards and can be done in a number of ways from a Pinterest board to cut outs magazines to more professional presentations. What's most important is not the style it is created in (your customers will never see these initial visuals) but finding the images that resonate most with your brand.


Putting It All Together

Brand interviews can and should be a lot of fun, but they're hard work and they yield a lot of information in a short amount of time. Once you complete the interview and the associational exercises, let your answers breathe for a bit. Come back to it after a day or two and analyze the results. Look for similarities and explore differences. Bring in a second opinion if necessary. Brands aren't built overnight, so it's critical that you take the time needed to get it right.

Have a Service Business? What You Need to Prepare For Your Website

Creating a website for your service business is a big job, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you plan the pages you want, draft your copy, and gather important information ahead of time, your site will come together more quickly and easily – and you’ll probably enjoy the process of creating it more, too. We've helped a range of service-based businesses — from dentists to video editors and from interior designers to investors — level-up their web presence. This article will show you how to prepare materials for your service business website or portfolio.  


1. Home page

Your home page is always a good place to dive in — it's the most commonly viewed site so make sure to orienting visitors quickly. Use this space to give visitors an overview of what you do and how you can help them. Keep your copy brief and benefits-focused, giving them a high level overview of what's available on the site. You can save the details for other sections of your site, like your services page.

Pay particular attention to your headline. A great headline is focused, specific, and highlights your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) – the quality that makes your business uniquely helpful or important. As the first thing your visitors see, your home page headline is one of the most important elements of your site, so take the time to get it right.


2. About page

It might seem like a page you can ignore, but about pages are typically one of the most commonly clicked pages. Your about page should give visitors more information about who you are. Some good points to touch on include your education and past experience, as well as the history of your business. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through! A friendly, personable tone is usually better than a stiff, formal one.

About pages are notoriously difficult to write. If you’re feeling tongue-tied, try shifting your focus onto the client. Think about what your clients need, and highlight the ways your experience and qualifications help you meet those needs.


3. Services

Your services page is the place to go into detail about what you do and answer questions that visitors might have. Make a list of all the different services you offer, the types of clients you usually work with, and the situations when people most often hire you. Then give some thought to how you want to present this information. Lists with bullet points and headings are a good option, since they’re easy to scan. Charts are another good choice, since they make it easy to compare various services.

You can list your prices or create packages on your services page, but you don’t have to. Do what makes the most sense for your business.


4. Portfolio or case studies

The best way to show potential customers what you can do for them is to show them what you’ve already done for others. If you’re planning to create a portfolio page, start gathering links, images, or PDFs that reflect some of the best work you’ve done in the past. If you’re writing case studies, make sure your potential clients will find them relatable and easy to follow. Get specific about the problems your past clients had, how you approached them, and how your clients’ results improved with your help.

As you take on more projects and gain experience, your portfolio will change. Create an easy-to-duplicate template for your example work now, so that updating your page will be quick and simple in the future.


5. Testimonials and Trust

To win visitors’ trust, don’t sell your own services too hard – let your past clients do it for you. Get into the habit of collecting testimonials from happy clients after you finish a project with them. To keep it simple (and ensure you get useful feedback), you might want to create a form or template for this. In addition, keep track of any other authority-building details you want to use later, such as press mentions or famous clients you worked with.

Before you create your website, decide which testimonials you want to feature. Choose the ones that emphasize the benefits your clients got from working with you – these will be most convincing to potential new clients. Think about whether you want to make a dedicated page for testimonials, or just place them on your home page or services page.


6. Contact Page

The copy on your contact page should encourage an interested visitor to go ahead and get in touch with you. You may want to include something like a list of your qualifications or a summary of the benefits a client can expect when they work with you. If you’re using a contact form, think about which fields you want to include.


7. Additional Contact Options

Make it as easy as possible for people to reach out to you by including a variety of contact options on your website. Providing your phone number and email address will increase visitors’ trust in you, even if most people still opt to use your contact form. In fact, you may want to include your phone and email contact information in your site’s header or footer, so visitors can find it on every page.

Consider which, if any, online communication tools you want to use on your site. If you frequently chat with potential clients via phone or Skype, you can automate the process by embedding an appointment scheduling system like Calendly or Acuity on your contact page. You can also use live chat software, like Intercom or Drift, to talk with visitors and answer their questions in real time.


8. Your Blog

Blogging can be great for your business, but it also requires a long-term investment of time, money, or both. Think carefully about whether blogging is right for you before you create your website. It’s often better to avoid blogging altogether than to start a blog and then abandon it.

If you do decide to blog, make sure your plan is sustainable. Think about whether you want to write your own posts or hire a writer, and map out a publishing schedule that’s reasonable for you. You may even want to line up several posts ahead of time, so you’re not scrambling to fill an empty blog when your site goes live.


9. Social Media

If you’re already marketing your business on social media, it may be a good idea to integrate those platforms into your website. You could make your blog posts shareable with social media buttons, for instance, or include your Twitter feed in a sidebar. Take into account which platforms your target audience prefers, so you’ll be able to connect with them most easily.


10. Mailing List

A mailing list is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have in your arsenal. If you’re planning on creating one, don’t wait – plan your strategy now, so you can start collecting email addresses as soon as your site is up and running.

There are several steps to building a mailing list. First, decide which email marketing provider you want to use. Constant Contact and Mail Chimp are two popular options. Next, think about where you want to place your opt-in forms on your website. You can embed them in a sidebar or the body of a page, or you can use a tool like OptinMonster to capture leads before they leave your site.

Finally, think about what incentive you’ll provide to get people to sign up for your mailing list. Tried-and-true options include a discount, online course, ebook, or white paper. Create your incentive now, so it will be ready to use when your site launches.


11. Maintenance

Creating your website is only half the battle – the other half is maintaining it. Give some thought to how you’ll keep your web presence up-to-date as time goes by. If boosting your search engine visibility is part of your long-term plan, create a schedule for publishing new content marketing materials like blog posts.


Even if you’re planning to use mostly evergreen materials on your site, it’s still important to do regular maintenance checks. Once or twice a year, review your site and make sure it represents your business accurately. Upload new photos, tweak your layout and design to keep it looking fresh, and update your copy to reflect any changes that have occurred in your field.

Mission Statements: Why You Need One and How to Write It

Your mission statement defines your business goals in three key ways: what the company does for its customers, what it does for its employees, and what it does for its owners. A mission statement describes a business's current reason for being. It is sometimes referred to as  company mission, corporate mission, or corporate purpose.

A mission statement describes where you are right now and how you plan to accomplish your current goals whereasthe vision statement focuses on the future and where you want to go in the future. Meanwhile a unique value proposition tends to focus more on positioning your company with competitors. 


Why You Need a Mission Statement

A well-formed mission statement can support your brand in many ways. Use your mission statement to:

  • Accurately pinpoint your business strategy and identity — Your mission statement forces you to narrow in on what you’re trying to accomplish in your business. It helps you to succinctly sum up your strategy and identity, giving a focus to your brand.
  • Quickly communicate business goals and values — Your mission statement can give the basics of your business philosophy to people who are curious about your company.
  • Guide decision making — Your mission statement helps you maintain consistency in marketing and product development. Your brand can be shaped by the decisions made throughout your company, both in the present and in the future, with the guidance of a carefully formed mission statement.
  • Unify the entire company under one banner — Your mission statement is helpful for your entire staff. It can provide a clear concept of the direction which you want your company to take, and it can help to ensure that all your employees are on the same page  as your company grows and develops.

A good mission statement gives prospective customers a reason to do business with you, and gives your own employees something to rally behind.


What Goes in a Mission Statement

Like a brand itself, a mission statement’s contents can be flexible. Sometimes it’s a single sentence, sometimes it’s a paragraph, sometimes it’s an entire page. As a best practice, try to limit yours to a paragraph or two, but don’t feel restricted if you want to add more.

Your mission statement should answer a few key questions about your brand:

  • Customers:
    What problem do you solve for your customers?
    What do you do and why do you do it?
    What market do you serve and what benefits do you offer?
  • Owners:
    Do you want to make a profit, or is it enough to just make a living?
    What are your financial or personal goals for the business?
  • Employees:
    What working situation do you create for your employees?
    What are your values as an employer?

While these are the main points of a mission statement, you may want to expand to discuss special processes, ambitions or the company philosophy. Remember that a mission statement should showcase the unique personality of your brand so avoid over generalizations.


How to Write a Mission Statement

Even though it’s short, writing a mission statement isn’t always easy. If you find it difficult to get started, follow our five-step process below. Before you begin, you may find it helpful to complete the preparation exercises at the end of this article to help get your creative juices flowing.

  1. Define your business goals, strategy, and ethics.
    You can’t write a mission statement if you don’t know what your mission is. Collect your thoughts and write out a brief description of your brand’s business model and ethics. Also describe the personality you’d like your brand to have. Answering the four questions above is a good start.
  2. Create a list of keywords.
    What words best represent your brand? Traditional or Innovative? Affordable or High-end? These are the words you will sprinkle throughout your mission statement: a single powerful word can make more impact than a sentence-long description.
  3. Flex your writing muscles and look for the most potent words. 
    For example, careful does not hold as much weight as meticulous. Break out the thesaurus if you’re struggling.
  4. Frame everything as a story using the keywords. Take time to write a first draft. Try to present your information as a narrative: who you are, what you do, what makes you special. Aim for a paragraph, but don’t be afraid to go longer. You can always cut it down later. If you just keep writing, you may find that usable ideas flow more easily.
  5. Summarize with a powerful leading statement.
    Once you have the bulk of your mission statement written, you’ll want to summarize your brand’s mission into a single sentence (or a series of punchy words). This can be catchy or inspirational.
  6. Refine meticulously.
    Mission statements should be short and sweet. Keep cutting, editing, combining, and rewriting until you have something that’s both engaging and quick to read. 

How to Write Your Unique Value Proposition (with Examples)

What is a unique value proposition?

Unique Value Propositions (UVP), also known as Unique Sales Proposition (USP) is a simple, straight-forward statement that conveys the problem you're solving, the benefits of your company/brand and what differentiates you from the competition. 

It's the existential question of the business world. At some point, most of us have pondered this on a personal level: Who am I? What’s my purpose? What do I excel in? If you're a business owner, you should be asking similar questions of your business as well. What benefits does your service or product provide? What problems does it solve? And why should people choose you over the competitors?

The sum of these answers equals a defining statement about your company, your unique value proposition. A value proposition not only informs customers but also serves as a driving agent for the direction of your company.

“BUT!” you say. “I don't need a unique value proposition. My product is amazing and it sells itself!”

Yes, your product or service probably is amazing. Maybe your current customers already know you’re amazing, but are you satisfied with your current customer base or do you want to grow? On the internet, your written content has about 5 seconds to grab someone's attention and tell them your story. A unique value proposition can help you do just that. Plus, as you scale, it can act as a powerful guiding force to keep your business in alignment.


What is unique value proposition?

In general there are three types of unique value propositions. Here are some examples of UVPs taken from the beauty industry:

  1. Operational Efficiency
    Think of Ulta with their emphasis on breadth, value and convenience

  2. Customer Intimacy
    Think of Laura Geller with their emphasis on personal training and interaction

  3. Product Innovation
    Think of AHAVA with their skincare lab and development and innovation

Most businesses will have a combination of these (you can’t decide you’re an innovation business and neglect operations!). However one will be the central strength.


Crafting a good unique value proposition

A good unique value proposition answers three questions:

  1. What does my company or product do?
    Use simple, straightforward language. It can be easy to get jargony here so be careful. How do you explain your business to family or acquaintances who are outside your niche? If you are B2B, you might be able to get away with a bit more in-speak, but even then you are likely talking to someone who wants to hire you because they want you to be the specialist.

  2. What problem(s) do we solve?
    The answer may seem obvious. If you sell skincare, then obviously you help people maintain healthy skin. Maybe, though, you sell skincare  specializing in anti-aging products for people with sensitive skin. You might lose some of your audience, but are suddenly highly relevant for your target market.

  3. What makes you different?
    Chances are good that you have at least one competitor doing the exact same thing you do. (In fact, not having any competitors is usually a bad sign.) What sets you apart? Focus on how you do it differently or better from everyone else. Do you focus on a specific target demographic? A geographical region? A specific industry?

Some examples of Unique Value Propositions 

Ulta’s UVP:


“We are the largest beauty retailer that provides one-stop shopping for prestige, mass and salon products and salon services in the United States. We focus on providing affordable indulgence to our guests by combining unmatched product breadth, value and convenience with the distinctive environment and experience of a specialty retailer.”


What they do: beauty retailer

What problem do they solve: providing affordable indulgences

How do they do it differently: unmatched product breadth, value and convenience with a distinctive environment


Laura Geller’s UVP:


“Laura Geller Beauty is a leading prestige color cosmetics brand developed by professional makeup artist, Laura Geller. The Company is renowned as the pioneer of the "baked" category of makeup – cult-favorite, multi-tasking powders that deliver remarkably vibrant color – and for its easy-to-use, multi-tasking products intended to simplify and improve women's makeup routines.”


What they do: color cosmetics

What problem do they solve: simplify and improve women's makeup routines

How do they do it differently: pioneer of the "baked" category of makeup




“AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories was founded to study the powerful, rejuvenating minerals found in the Dead Sea. Since then AHAVA has grown to become the definitive Dead Sea mineral beauty expert.

Start your AHAVA journey and learn more about our rich history and and groundbreaking skincare innovations.”


What they do: skincare innovations

What problem do they solve: study the powerful, rejuvenating minerals found in the Dead Sea

How they do it differently: the definitive Dead Sea mineral beauty expert

What a UVP Is Not

A unique value proposition needs to answer all these questions in a sentence or short paragraph. This isn't a longer mission statement or a company biography. It's a snapshot of who you are and why your target audience should choose you.

Do not confuse a unique value proposition with a tag line either. A tag line is usually a one-sentence expression that accompanies your business name or logo. They are usually more philosophical and descriptive, but not informative. For instance, you probably know this tagline: “Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Maybelline.” Catchy? Yes. It doesn't tell us much about what it is and why we should buy it, though.

A unique value proposition is also not a specific product offer or promotion. Those are temporary measures to drive business, while a value proposition focuses on building long-term customer relationships.


Sharing your unique value proposition

Once you have your UVP written, you’ll find plenty of opportunites to share it. Whether on presentations, proposals, decks, social media, or your website, it’s a great way to quickly orient people to your business and jump-start your conversation.

An simple way to format your value proposition is:

  1. Headline. This should answer the question “what does my company do?” Grab the reader's attention. Let them know immediately what it is your company provides.

  2. Short paragraph. 2-3 sentences that describe what problem you solve and how you're set apart from everyone else.

Crafting a good unique value proposition can take time, thought, and creativity. Not sure where to start? Download our workbook pages to help guide your process.



What Are Brand Guidelines and How Can They Improve Your Business?

What are brand guidelines?

A brand book (or guidelines) is a simple way to communicate all the most critical information about your brand quickly. It can range from a very simple couple pages on your logo and colors to book-length with detailed information on creating website graphics or their tone of voice. Ideally they are a living document, as you see that questions are repeatedly coming up on certain topics, you add a page into your brand guidelines to address it.

They can be used for internal departments or for hiring external consultants such as designers, writers, and marketers. It’s one of the first things we request when starting work with an established brand.

Why do I need brand guidelines?

When any business first get started there's usually a founder or small, closely-knit closely knit team who all share an understanding of what the brand stands for. However the business grows and begins to scale, there's an increasing number of people who need to understand and make decisions for the brand. Ideally the brand's essence remains constant throughout different touch-points and departments. For instance, the sales team's presentations, social media posts, in-store promotions and website should feel consistent and in brand.

As the circle of people working on the brand grows, it's important to communicate key information about your brand so they can make good decisions that fit your brand. Creating brand guidelines can ensure better cohesion, save you time, and streamline decision-making throughout your company.

What's included in a brand book?

There's no hard and fast rule on what needs to be included. Generally brand guidelines grow as the brand does. A good start is a short intro to the brand, logo usage information, typography and colors. Since brands are emotive, information on how the brand feels and acts can help guide people’s decisions. You can go big picture with mission statements and outlining your brand’s vision. It can go into details with tone of voice and design specs. The amount of detail usually increases as a brand grows and increasing numbers of people are responsible for the brand.

Our brand guidelines differ by the project but generally include logo, stationery, typography, colors, imagery and a high-level overview of how the brand communicates.

Brand guidelines can include a wide variety of topics including:

  •  Product Imagery
  • Social Media Usage
  • Trademarks/Intellectual Property (IP)
  • Written Brand Personality
  • Useful Brand Statements
  • Authorship
  • Guideposts for decision-making
  • Resources
  • Contact information
  • Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
  • Mission Statement
  • Vision Statement
  • Tagline and Usage
  • History of the Brand
  • Founder Information
  • Explanation of the Brand
  • Logo, Usage and Placement
  • Colors
  • Typography

Ideally guidelines are a living document that grow along with your brand. If you find yourself answering the same questions or correcting the same misunderstandings repeatedly, it's probably time to update your brand guidelines. They require some effort and commitment but ultimately help you build a much stronger, more cohesive brand while freeing your time. 

5 Reasons You Need to Create Buyer Personas for Your Business

If you haven't created buyer personas for your business yet, make doing so the next thing on your to-do list. Buyer personas are fictionalized customers who represent your target audience - the people who are interested in your service or product. Businesses that use buyer personas to guide their marketing decisions do better than businesses that don't. Here are five reasons why.


Buyer personas help you refine your product.

You're not trying to sell your product or service to everyone in the world. It's better to offer a specialized product than a generic one - everybody wants to buy something that fits their situation or preferences perfectly. By defining the particular subset of people who make up your target audience, you'll get a better idea of how you should change or adjust your product to appeal to them.


Buyer personas can guide your ad, content, and website creation.

What kind of design is best for your website? How should you shape your ad campaigns? Making buyer personas can help you answer these questions. By getting into the minds of the people who want to buy your product, you'll gain insights into the most effective way to give them a great experience with your business, from viewing an advertisement all the way to making a purchase.  


Buyer personas help you know where to market.

All the hard work you put into marketing won't help you unless your target audience actually sees your ads. Knowing who that target audience is helps you know where to advertise. For instance, if your ideal customers are tech-savvy young people, advertising on the internet is probably a good idea. If you're trying to sell your product to senior citizens, though, you might do better by advertising in print publications.


Buyer personas keep your marketing team on the same page.

For a team to be effective, everyone has to be working towards the same goal. Your buyer personas help you define exactly what this goal is in a way that's easy for everyone to understand. After you create good buyer personas, your team can use them as a reference point to ensure that your ads and other marketing materials are targeted at the right people.


Buyer personas help you deliver a more personalized experience.

The best way to win repeat business is to make customers feel like you care about them personally. Knowing who your customers are will help you understand what kind of service they need to feel special. You can put yourself head and shoulders above the competition by providing extra value that's meaningful to your customer base.


If you want a successful business, creating buyer personas is mandatory, and the sooner you do it, the better. From designing better marketing campaigns to keeping customers happy, using buyer personas is one thing that can improve almost every aspect of your business.

How to Tell the Story of Your Brand

Traditional advertising has never been more ubiquitous. From the billboards commuters pass on their highway journeys to the bus wraps city dwellers walk by every day, marketing messages are everywhere.

The onslaught continues every time we go online. From banner ads to pop-ups, those enticements to buy are everywhere we turn. The more advertising becomes an integral part of daily life, the more the messages fade into the background.

If you want to break through the clutter and avoid the advertising overload, try telling the story of your brand instead.

Over the years, jaded consumers have come to ignore or be suspicious of traditional advertising messages. Even so, those same consumers still love a good story, and making the story of your brand a compelling one could be your key to success.

So how do you tell the story of your brand? Many business owners have never thought about this before, so it helps to take a step back and start at the beginning. Every great story starts with a great hook, so think about the factors that caused you to start your business in the first place. Maybe you identified an unmet need or recognized an underserved market niche. Maybe the origin of your business stemmed from a personal frustration or a unique experience. Whatever that origin story is, it is the perfect starting point for the story of your brand.

No matter how successful your business is now, chances are you did not do it alone. Be sure to acknowledge the contributions of the mentors, partners, investors and visionaries who helped you turn your dream of a business and a brand into a successful reality.

If your brand features a distinctive logo, your story can include tales of its creation. Many people wonder where those iconic brands came from, from the Nike swoosh to the famous McDonalds golden arches. Your brand and logo may not be as easily recognizable as those two examples, so use your story to tell the tale.

The name of your company plays a big role in the story of your brand, so talk about how the name was chosen, what it means to you and what it has come to symbolize for your customers. It is clear that brand names can have one meaning for the company founders and a different meaning for customers, so play up that conflict when telling the compelling story of your brand.

How many Google users know that the term actually refers to an almost incomprehensibly large number, or that the original Amazons were large, powerful women? The stories behind those iconic names are fascinating in themselves, and they can play a starring role in your own brand identity and the story you tell.

Do not avoid conflict as you tell the story of your brand. Every story needs a touch of drama, and chances are your own rise has not been conflict-free. You do not need to overdramatize what happened or stray from the truth; just talk openly and honestly about the history of your company and the challenges you overcome to be where you are today.

 You may not think that the story of your brand is that interesting, or that consumers will find it compelling. But once you start to tell the tale, you will see just how fascinating, how unusual and how personal the story of your brand really is. It will also engage your customers on a personal level and make your brand stand out in a crowded market.

9 Product Description Techniques to Increase Sales

If you're selling products online, you probably already know there are various techniques you can use to boost sales. Optimizing your website design (our favorite!), distributing ads, and testimonial placements are a good start, but to truly accelerate sales, you will also need persuasive copy.

Quality writing is extremely undervalued — start-ups will inevitably decide they'll “throw something together for the copy” in a misguided attempt to save money. Larger companies will have their marketing associate type the copy up on her phone between meetings. Copy is voice of your company and your product description is your best salesperson, don't brush it off! 

Here are nine powerful techniques for writing persuasive product descriptions to influence readers and increase your sales:


According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, in 2015, the average human attention span was 8.25 seconds. This is why you need to repeat the product benefits throughout your product page. Select the most obvious benefit of a product and include it in your headline, intro, subheadings, bullet points, and conclusion. The more people hear it, the more believable it becomes.

Emotional Language

Anyone searching for a product online has a primary psychological need. You can tap into these feelings by using emotional language that addresses people's concerns and desires.

For example, people looking for make-up want to improve their self-esteem, so you can use words like "beautiful," "happier," and "youthful." People looking for security cameras want to feel safe, so use words like "vulnerable," "secure," and "protected." Consider the benefits of your product and how it will make customers feel.


According to research, rhymes have the power to make statements sound more believable. People react to the sound of the copy as well as its meaning. The smoothness of rhyming sounds also aids memory and makes copy easier to read.

Find rhyming phrases for the product or its benefits, and add them to the beginning or end of your product description. For example: "An invigorating shampoo that smells great too!"


When it comes to product descriptions, the details are what make you sound more trustworthy. What exactly is your product made of? Where is it made? How is it made? What extra features does it include? Answering these questions will add credibility to your copy and minimize buyer anxiety.


If you can include a mini-story about your product, customers will temporarily forget they're being sold to. Stories have the power to connect with people on a more emotional level. Ask yourself the following: 

  • What inspired you to create the product? 
  • Who are the people behind your products? 
  • What obstacles did you have to overcome in product development? 

Customer Language

Forums related to your industry and products can help you discover what customers are saying about your products, the concerns they have, and the language they use. Search Google with the following phrase: "your product (or niche)" and "just bought (or should I buy)," inurl:forum

The results should point you toward real customer comments. Discover why people bought your product, what concerns they have, and what they use the product for. Use the language from these real-world examples in your product descriptions.

Sensory Words

Adjectives that refer to the senses of sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste make your copy more vivid because they activate different areas of the brain. Just look at any restaurant menu and you'll see how sensory words are used to entice customers to buy.

One description from chocolate maker Green & Black's refers to taste, sound, and touch: "... [C]runchy toffee, smooth dark chocolate. Treacly and savory flavors ..." What sensory words can you use to describe your products?

Power Words

There are many power words you can use in product descriptions to make copy more persuasive. Here are four powerful words to use throughout your product page: 

  • "You." Talking directly to your reader builds trust and helps customers focus on how your product will benefit them. 

  • "New." This word instantly makes your product seem more attractive and desirable. 

  • "Because." Research has shown that giving people a reason to do something is more likely to trigger a positive action. 

  • "Imagine." When you encourage readers to imagine themselves using a product and enjoying its benefits, they're more likely to want to own it. 


Simple changes to the layout and format of product description pages can make a big difference to their readability. Ultimately, this means that your messages are more likely to hit home. To make product pages more readable, use compelling headlines, bullet points, plenty of white space, and increase the font size where necessary.

The best product descriptions use a combination of these strategies to increase the persuasiveness of copy and turn potential customers into actual buyers. You don't have to use every technique, but if you start with these suggestions, you'll be well on your way to increasing product sales.



5 Branding Basics That Will Always Be True

Much of human understanding has changed over time. Cocaine, for example, was once viewed as a health product. However, not everything changes. There are some fundamentals in branding that will always be true. Whether you're looking at your personal brand or something for your business, there are a number of fundamental rules you must know and follow.


1.    It's Better to Offer a Few Great Products Than a Lot of Mediocre Ones

If you offer too much to someone, they'll get confused. That doesn't mean they're dumb - it just means they have more on their mind than just you. Offer them ten different things and unless it's medicine or something of equal importance, they'll probably go somewhere else. It also weakens your brand as a whole.

This applies whether you're building your personal brand or one for your company. For example, having more than one blog, no matter how appropriate, can dilute your brand and dissuade people from following you.


2.    Reviews Will Serve as Your Brand Ambassadors

Interpersonal skills are important, but are nowhere near as important as having good ratings and reviews around the Internet. Reviews have always been important, but since the rise of the Internet they've become even more relevant. The average customer will look up how your products or work is rated before even considering your services. Many of them will trust it as much as they would a friend's recommendation.

Have a call to action placed wherever you can to leave a review on Yelp or wherever is appropriate for your business. At the end of your site's pages or on receipts is a good start.


3.    Focus on What It Brings, Not What It Is

Customers are inherently focused on what something can do for them. The mistake many brand agencies and marketers make is thinking that telling customers about the product will tell them what it can do for them. They're two different things - the former talks about you, while the other talks about how it can make the user's life better. Don't tell them that your teeth whitening formula has thousands of hours of research behind it. Show them how wonderful their life will be once they get rid of all those pesky stains.


4.    Get the Right Name

The most successful brands are the ones that have become synonymous with their offering. YouTube is synonymous with online videos, as Colgate is synonymous with toothpaste in many countries. It's not just their success either - the right name matters. There's a reason Google, for example, became synonymous with search engines. Many would say that it's because it makes for a good verb ("Googling"). 

Take the time to consider how people many use your brand's name and what variants can come up before choosing one. Unlike your logo or your company colors, you can't adjust the name of your brand easily later on.


5.    Expansion Should Be Heralded by a New Brand

Creating new offerings is by no means a mistake, especially if you do it properly. The only time problems can come up is if you end up branching too far from your main product. If you're selling food, offering detergent may not exactly jive with your current market and can dilute brand recognition. 

If you want to expand, it's probably time for another brand. That's why many large companies actually control multiple brands - when it was time for them to expand their offerings, they created new brands to cover those new items. 


Remember that it will always come down to how your brand is perceived. It doesn't matter what you're selling, to an extent. It doesn't matter what you want it to stand for if the public doesn't see it the same way. While initial success isn't limited by your brand, it will certainly limit your long term growth. If you're in it for the long haul, make a strong brand.

What’s Your Brand Archetype?

How to Improve Communication and Attract Ideal Customers

According to Jung, archetypes are universal patterns of behaviors that, once discovered, can help people better understand themselves and how they relate to others. In their book, The Hero and the Outlaw Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson had the idea to apply this to brands in order to improve how brands communicate with customers.

During our design process, we talk a lot about brand story and I find this a useful exercise to gain perspective and develop a brand in a consistent way. Plus it’s fun!


The Innocent

also know as The Dreamer, The Romantic

Motto: We create happiness
Brand promise: Simple, pure, trustworthy and safe

At best: Honest, enthusiastic and optimistic
Possible pitfalls: Overly simplistic, boring, puerile

Customers connect with your brand because it promises joy and wholesomeness. Keep the tone optimistic and straight-forward.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear heavy-handed or negative.

Brands include: Coke, Dove, McDonald's



also known as The Warrior, The Rescuer

Motto: We triumph
Brand promise: Victory, superiority, power and advantage

At best: Brave, determined, and efficient
Possible pitfalls: Arrogance, overly-aggressive, and ruthless

Customers connect with your brand because it promises quality and superiority. Keep the tone confident and motivated.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear uncertain or uninspired.

Brands include: Nike, FedEx, Duracell


The Friend

Also known as The Everyman, The Girl/Guy Next Door

Motto: Come as you are
Brand Promise: Dependability, trust and familiarity

At best: Friendly, empathetic and down-to-earth
Possible pitfalls: Boring, undifferentiated, mediocre

Customers connect with your brand because it promises a sense of belonging and acceptance. Keep the tone conversational and familiar.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear elitist or superficial.

Brands include: Levi’s, Budweiser, IKEA


The Nurturer

also known as The Helper, The Parent

Motto: We rise by lifting others
Brand promise: Care, safety and support

At best: Helpful, compassionate, and generous
Possible pitfalls: Patronizing, overly didactic and codependent

Customers connect with your brand because it promises protection and emotional warmth. Keep the tone personal and caring.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear ironic or driven by business goals.

Brands include: Volvo, Pampers, Campbell’s


The Creator

also known as The Maker, The Artist

Motto: The world is a canvas to the imagination
Brand promise: Imagination, self-expression, and creativity

At best: Original, visionary, and game-changing
Possible pitfalls: Self-centered, being unrelatable, and pretentious

Customers connect with your brand because it promises an innovative and transformational experience. Keep the tone inspirational and daring.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear mundane or inauthentic.

Brands include: Apple, Lego, Adobe


The Explorer

also known as The Seeker, The Wanderer

Motto: It’s a big world out there. Go explore!
Brand promise: Independence, self-actualization and discovery

At best: Non-conformist, spiritual, and motivating
Possible pitfalls: Aimless, self-indulgent, and hedonistic

Customers connect with your brand because it promises freedom and a path of personal growth. Keep the tone bold and ambitious.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear overly concerned with the status quo or everyday routine.

Brands include: North Face, Jeep, GoPro


The Rebel

also known as The Outlaw, The Maverick

Motto: Life is a game with rules, learn how to break them.
Brand promise: Revolution, honesty and rejecting convention

At best: Unorthodox, raw, and free-spirited
Possible pitfalls: Destructive, nihilistic, and purely for shock-value

Customers connect with your brand because it promises an alternative to mainstream culture and a subversion of the status quo. Keep the tone audacious and edgy.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear conventional or concerned with other’s opinions.

Brands include: Harley Davidson, MTV, Virgin

Lover_Sensualist_Seducer_Brand Archetypes

The Lover

also known as The Sensualist, The Seducer

Motto: The heart never lies.
Brand promise: Sharing passions, appeal to the senses, being loved

At best: Attractive, sensual, and sexy
Possible pitfalls: Needy, people-pleasing, and inauthentic

Customers connect with your brand because it promises an intimate, spell-binding experience. Keep the tone personal and affectionate.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear aloof or indifferent.

Brands include: Victoria’s Secret, Häagen-Dazs, Calvin Klein


The Magician

also known as The Transformer, The Visionary

Motto: Make your own magic
Brand promise: Understanding the universe, building a better future

At best: Transformational, thoughtful, and independent
Possible pitfalls: Manipulative and disconnected from reality

Customers connect with your brand because it promises transformation based on knowledge, experience and imagination. Keep the tone expansive and inspirational.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear status-quo or to be splitting hairs.

Brands include: Disney, Lululemon, TED


The Leader

also known as The Executive, The Ruler

Motto: Dare to Lead.
Brand promise: Power, authority, and stability

At best: Confident, decisive, and strong
Possible pitfalls: Overbearing, aggressive, inflexible

Customers connect with your brand because it promises strength, luxury and leadership. Keep the tone dignified and aspirational.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear indecisive or unprofessional.

Brands include: American Express, Rolex, Hugo Boss


The Entertainer

also known as The Jester, The Comedian

Motto: Life is to be enjoyed
Brand promise: Joy, humor, enthusiasm

At best: Fun, playful, and self-deprecating
Possible pitfalls: Frivolous, irresponsible, mean-spirited

Customers connect with your brand because it entertains, lightens things up and helps them enjoy the moment. Keep the tone light and teasing.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear to take yourself too seriously or becoming overly contemplative.

Brands include: Priceline, M&Ms, Old Spice


The Sage

also known as The Scholar, The Teacher

Motto: If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.
Brand promise: Wisdom, truth, and reflection

At best: Knowledgable, articulate, and informative
Possible pitfalls: Aloof, pedantic, and detached

Customers connect with your brand because it educates and challenges them. Keep the tone intellectual and open-minded.

It will feel out of character if you suddenly appear to dumb down or become patronizing.

Brands include: National Geographic, Google, New York Times

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