Meet Emma! She’s a Brissy based Graphic Designer, who’s the creative force behind Soul Stirring Branding A boutique design and branding consultancy, working with small business owners to create intentional and soul-orientated branding (love it!!).
If you follow Emma on social media you’ll know just how generous she is with her knowledge! Regularly sharing quality content on how to create a brand that aligns with your beliefs, purpose and value.
Today on the blog, we chat all things biz and branding!
Hey Emma, let’s get to know you a little better! How would you best describe yourself?
I’m New Zealand born, Brisbane based and you could say soon to be Indian by marriage(!), making a pretty fun mix. In my professional life I’m a Branding specialist and graphic designer who runs Soul Stirring Branding. I am super passionate about helping female entrepreneurs with big dreams and booming hearts confidently embrace who they authentically are through joyful, radiant, one-of-a-kind branding! In my personal life I love coffee AND green smoothies (hoping one counteracts the other), edible gardening (I am the cherry tomato growing queen), listening to podcasts in bed before I go to sleep and other random pursuits!
What does a day in the life of Soul Stirring Branding look like?
Each day is a bit different, which definitely keeps things interesting! But it all begins early in the morning and if I am being honest, with coffee and checking emails (I know, universally acknowledged to be a terrible start to the day, but what can I say? It’s my guilty pleasure!). Through out the day I’m likely to be working through my amazing client at the time’s brand development project — so we might be in the strategy stage (or as I like to call it, the heart and soul stage) or the design stage. The first part of the project is very left-brain, and the second part very right-brain and I personally love that duality. I’ve often got a client Skype consultation thrown in there, proposals, admin, trying to stay consistent with social media, and all of the other daily tasks of running a small business thrown into the mix!
Have you always been your own boss? If not, how & why did you make the transition to work for yourself?
Coming from a graphic design background and training, it’s so easy for us to do freelance work on the side and dip our toes into running a business and see how it feels. It took me a while to realize that I was destined to make a career out of being my own boss though and really ‘lean’ into it. I think there is a big mindset shift from being a “freelancer” and taking things a lot more casually or subcontracting to others, to actually saying yes, this is my path and I’m going to build a proper business and attract my own clients. That’s the process I went through over the last year or so. But I think I always knew that working for myself just sat right for me intuitively. It probably comes a lot down to my introverted nature. I’m not great in a busy office with a lot of noise and egos. I’ve always loved pottering around the house, entertaining myself and doing things my own way, even as a kid. I don’t get bored easily! I’m always dreaming up something.
Who’s your ideal client? What projects really light you up?
I always say that what truly links all of my clients together, is that they are purpose-led and heart-centred. To put it plainly — they’re so not just in it for the money. Yes, they need to make an income and support their families, but what drives them to start their businesses is a deeper purpose and passion to help others and make a genuine impact on the world. Almost all of my clients I’ve taken on this year are focused on empowering women and making their lives better — though their individual method for doing this is each very unique and diverse!
Working with these clients lights me up because I personally believe that when you have a purpose and values behind what you do, that creates the foundation for the strongest, most unique and memorable branding, and I feel fulfilled when I can do my best, most creative work. I can’t think of anything worse than having to develop a brand for a business that just wants something slick, shiny and impressive, but actually has no heart and soul and backbone! On a personally level, I like to think that through the work that I do, partnering with truly inspiring change-making women, I can not only make their businesses better and give them freedom, abundance and more time to spend with the ones they love while earning a decent living, but I also help them widen their reach, so they can impact more people and change more lives for the better. So in effect, through my work I can change thousands of lives with my clients, and we’re all part of a larger ecosystem of people working together to make a better future.
When it comes to branding, are there common mistakes you often see? Any tips on how to avoid these?
Of course! Most businesses make the same common mistakes as everybody else, and honestly the list is pretty long! I think the issue is that the concept of branding isn’t 100% tangible. People understand the tangible bits like what a logo is, but they don’t really get the idea of a brand being an experience and the way you make your audience feel. As a concept, that’s a bit confusing right?
Probably the most common mistake I see is that people aren’t showing up authentically in their branding, so they can differentiating themselves in a memorable way, and feel proud and confident with how they’re showing up in the world. As a result, they aren’t connecting with clients, and aren’t making as much of an impact as they could be. I think most business owners probably know intuitively if their brand feels “off”. Especially with personal brands, or solo-preneurs, your business really is an extension of you, and MUST feel authentic both for the sake or you and your client! I believe your branding has the power to be its own magically little world that makes you say “I want to live in that world! I want to dive in, lap around in the beautiful water, soaking it all in! It makes my heart sing and swirl around in my chest with excitement.” When you feel that good about your branding, that it is a true representation of who you are and how you want your audience to feel, it is one of the best feelings in the world. But many business owners don’t understand the power of authentic branding and just settle for the cheap and easy route. They get a logo done and call it a day without really fleshing out their brand’s ecosystem. They see a trend on Pinterest they think their audience would be attracted to and go out and replicate it. But it doesn’t speak to their authentic message, and it ends up being style without substance. The amazing power of branding authentically, is that you start to attract the kind of people into your business world that you genuinely connect with and love working with. But If your brand is too vanilla, tries to appeal to too many groups of people, and doesn’t speak to your personality or values, you’ll never really get those special people realizing you’re right for them. You want to get those gushing, fan girls for your business. The ones that say “this is who I’ve been searching for…she gets me…this just feels right!”. Anyway, so to cut a long story short — authentic branding gives both you and your audience confidence and inspiration. It feels good in your soul and tells your audience you are the right lady for the job!
So one part of the process is creating a visual identity, which is authentic, and the other important part is putting it out there into the world consistently. If you don’t have consistency, you can’t build trust. Think of a person you might know who acts really inconsistent — whose actions are unpredictable and you might call a bit of a loose cannon. You probably don’t trust that person. Showing up consistently with your branding — both visually, like using the same logo, same colours, same fonts, same style for your graphics and photography, in the tone of voice in the way you write, and your consistency putting out content or delivering on your promises, all tells people that you can be trusted. Often businesses create a logo, and then their consistency stops there! They go to town with different colours, fonts and styles in their design work they put out there into the world. Think about what kind of message that sends! Not only is not not trustworthy, but it’s just not professional either.
I actually did a blog post about this topic which you can read here: http://soulstirringbranding.com.au/2016/04/25/branding-needs-love/
We recently worked together on a photography shoot (which I LOVED, frolicking on the beach is the best!). What drew you to collaborate with Eyes of Love Photography?
When I look to collaborate with other businesses, it’s all about finding people who are in alignment with my message, my values, my personality and style. It’s the process anyone should go through when finding the right person for their business, no matter whether it’s a photographer, designer, web developer, business coach etc. The power of good branding is it tells the person looking for someone in your industry, that you are the right for them — without having to sell them, or manipulate them, they’re just like “hey girl, sign me up!”. So when I came across your website, I intuitively felt like you were in alignment with what I stood for and the kind of tone and style I was after for my photos. For starters, your business name and soft organic look of your logo drew me in, as it felt in alignment with my message. Then of course your beautiful photos really felt in alignment with the style I was looking for: 100% natural — natural light, natural feel (not really posed), natural setting (not like a studio setting). I saw the people you’d photographed before and they felt like people I would like and get on with — they seemed like interesting, authentic ladies with a similar sense of style to me! I saw your own photo on your about page and thought you looked approachable and friendly. You talked about how you genuinely understood that it can be intimidating and feel vulnerable to get in front of the camera (something that really resonated with me, as I am so not a ‘model’). So what you created was an overall experience where I felt that you would understand me, you were trustworthy, and we would get on well and I’d feel comfortable on the shoot and I’d be really happy with the outcome. I’m pleased to report that my intuition about you was correct : )
Did you have any concerns/expectations/magic ‘a-ha!’ moments during the shooting process?
I was definitely apprehensive about the whole experience! I’d hired a photographer in the past to shoot my design portfolio, but I was never in front of the lens! I certainly didn’t see my self as the modeling type and didn’t feel super confident with how the photos would turn out. Then I had such a stressful day on the shoot because I had a branding project deadline that day, which I was expecting to be more organized for! I ended leaving late, getting stuck in traffic, and arriving a least an hour late to the shoot, feeling frazzled. Amazingly, Michelle was so understanding and totally calmed me down in a matter of minutes! The a-ha moment was probably realizing that just because you’re getting your photo taken in a public place, people don’t really care or stare, they just went on with their business and didn’t bat an eyelid. Another a-ha was seeing how the photos turned out and thinking ‘wow, I scrub up pretty good’. Michelle’s photos definitely gave me a lot of confidence and the ability to see myself in a new, beautiful light. So it was such an invaluable experience.
Favourite food: Sushi
On my bookshelf: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
In my spare time you’ll find me: Relaxing at home or going to the movies
Dream holiday destination: South America
My guilty pleasure: Cheese and Tomato on Biscuits and Netflix!