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A few years ago, I picked up a camera and completely transformed my business. I love all things tropical, a damn good podcast, and keeping my plants alive. My mission? To help others live visually.

I'm Tracy Dungo.

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How To Craft Your Brand’s Perfect Story

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You may not realize it, but you’ve been mastering storytelling techniques your whole life. We all remember being little kids explaining to our parents the elaborate stories behind the squiggly lines we drew on a piece of construction paper. Or sitting in our middle school English classes learning about the trusty storytelling arc: origin, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. And then growing older and perfecting this technique to keep our college friends on the edge of their seats with stories from the night before.

Fast forward to today and think about your business for a second. Maybe you have an awesome product or service but you aren’t getting much attention for it. Or you haven’t quite figured out yet what will make your audience want to fit your offering into their lives. Well, what if I told you that there are specific visual storytelling techniques that you can start using today as powerful tools for your brand?

With all the media platforms available to us, it’s easier than ever to get your story out there. And the best part is you are already well on your way. We just established that you’ve had a pretty long time to perfect your storytelling talents – now use that natural ability of yours to tell a compelling story for your brand. Read on for how visual storytelling techniques can take your brand to the next level.

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Why Using Visual Storytelling Techniques is Important for Your Brand

It Builds a Community & Brand Loyalty

Storytelling by nature connects people. Social networks are social and are made up of people searching for others with likeminded interests, tastes, style or humor, including brands. Tap into that. Find where your audience is hanging out and realize that your product or service can serve as a way to unite people of common interests. Creating a close knit community means loyalty to your brand, your products and your ideas.

So how does one do this? Well, the best way to build a community is to tell your story and be consistent about what exactly you’re telling. And while it’s important for your brand values and stories to evolve, don’t pull a 180 on your customers. Always stay loyal to what your overarching message is.

It Creates a Cohesive Image Across Platforms

There are many visual storytelling techniques that can seriously amp up the overall image of your brand. How amazing would it be if someone saw one of your Instagram posts, tweets or pins and immediately knew that it was yours without even having to read your account name? That comes from a commitment to consistent and deliberate storytelling so take time to nail down those colors, aesthetic, and style that really showcase your brand’s personality.

It Generates Conversation

It just takes one blog post, photograph or video to spark a dialogue. Your content gives you the chance to evoke emotions in your audience, and these emotions are what motivate your customers to visit your site or buy your product or service. Generating conversation can also help build your community by connecting people in comment threads and allowing you to engage with your customers directly.

 

Visual Storytelling Techniques for your brand- unodostrae.com -visual marketing - visual branding - visual storytelling

How Your Brand Can Utilize Visual Storytelling Techniques

What does your brand revolve around? A lifestyle? A product? Your customers? Fit that into the story that your brand has to tell. Don’t be afraid if you’re a one-woman/man show, people love to see small businesses and the ways that they’re hustling. Be transparent and authentic and use creative ways to tell that story through photography and video. The attention span of the average person is short so take the time to create content that will get you noticed.

Photo Editing & Design Apps

Use apps such as VSCO, Canva or Adobe Spark to create images for every type of platform you’re on and be mindful of using the same filters, graphics and colors. This helps create an on-brand curated feed for visual platforms like Instagram. Your audience will feel much more comfortable navigating your social media sites when they see familiar colors, graphics and types of images.

Font Choice

Typography may seem like a small detail, but it does have influence on the overall image of your brand. If your brand tone is whimsical or funny, you wouldn’t use a bold, gothic font to portray that. Spend some time on free font websites like Dafont.com to create graphics and images or Google Fonts for your website (just make sure that whatever font you choose, it renders properly across all systems).

Be Authentic

Every great character starts with an origin story and your brand is no different! Share your beginnings through Instagram posts, blog posts or email campaigns and especially on the “About” section on your website. Be honest, be transparent and share what you think makes your brand special. It sounds like a silly tip or common sense but people respond to real, honest stories. At the end of the day, any brand or business activity is human activity and customers want to know that there’s a trustworthy face behind the product or service they’re buying or the words they’re reading.

You don’t have to tell this story everyday but recognize that your customers want to be reminded of who you are and not just what your products are. Take Burt’s Bees for example. They’re continuing to tell their story on social media even though their company has been around for more than 30 years. Here, Burt’s Bees remembers its roots and features a call to action at the end of their caption to involve their followers.

 

 

 

 

Feature User Generated Content

Let your customers tell you and the rest of your followers how your product or service fits into their lives. Repost content that your customers or followers tag you in (don’t forget to ask permission or properly credit any content that isn’t yours). Or consider using a branded hashtag to encourage photo submissions on Instagram. These kinds of efforts can increase awareness of your brand. It also involves your audience and helps your social media exude authenticity and a sense of community. Make your brand a tight-knit community that people want in on.

Herschel Supply Co. constantly features their customers’ best travel photos showcasing their products on their Instagram feed. You can see how it emphasizes Herschels’ identity as a company that creates products to travel the world with. It also encourages its customers to post pictures with their products which is always a good thing.

Views. The #LittleAmerica in Sharjah City. #WellTravelled Photo: @ohitsjean

A post shared by Herschel Supply Co (@herschelsupply) on

 

 

 

 

Next Steps

Regardless of the size of your brand or what products or services you provide, visual storytelling techniques are essential. Telling stories is at the foundation of human interaction. And it drives the kind of social media that we all love to scroll through countless hours everyday. Stand out in everyone’s Instagram or Pinterest feed with eye-catching visual content. Then pair that with a captivating story and you have a perfect post.

Finally, when it doubt, go back to the basics: our trusty storytelling arc that you learned about years ago. Share your origin story. Portray what the conflict is. For example, what service or product you want to provide to solve some issue you encountered. Or what inspired you to create your product or service. Create beautiful images showcasing your service or product. Show your resolution through user generated content showcasing satisfied customers and members of your brand’s community. To top it all off, do this with cohesive colors, graphics and fonts that show off your brand’s personality.

Ready to get started? We’ve created a trusty resource sheet and checklist to help you hit the ground running. Download for free here.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any other questions or tips to share.

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Branding

Top 7 Concerns When Hiring A Brand Strategist (And Why You Should Do It Anyway)

Whether you’re a newly minted entrepreneur or you’ve been grinding away for years, hiring a brand strategist or specialist is something we will all consider doing at some point in our journey. Because the truth is, even with all of the internet’s goodies to help run our businesses – from blogs and resources to tips and tricks – reverse engineering can only take us so far. When you hire a specialist, you’re not just hiring them for their Photoshop skills. You also hire them for their ridiculously good taste, creative knowledge, and ability to solve your problem.

When I started my first business, I fully embraced the entrepreneurial mindset and took a DIY approach whenever possible. I didn’t have a big budget and there were a lot of services I was quick to label as low-priority in the beginning. But as soon as I became more serious about my business, I also became smarter about knowing when something was worth doing myself, or when I should cut my losses and hire someone who could do it far better than I could. Some of the signs that let me know it was time to outsource:

  • Topic overwhelm – if something seemed easy enough at first but then turned into a black hole of strategy and nuances
  • Learning a new skill or project that took more time and energy than I could afford – if I could be spending the time it was taking me to learn how to do something on things that had higher priority for my business
  • My own results were just okay – if I had any kind of inkling that I would want to re-do something later down the road (aka backtrack and spend more money). This took longer for me to learn because I had to be honest with myself. In the beginning, I definitely felt way more proud of implementing a new skill I had learned…despite getting no results!

While the journey of running your own brand or business comes with making a fair share of trial-and-error mistakes, there are certain things you want to consider getting right from the very beginning – like establishing a strong brand. So I made a list of the most common concerns I hear people have when they consider hiring a brand strategist or not. If you’re not convinced you need one for your brand, read on.

top 7 concerns when hiring brand strategist for entrepreneurs - unodostrae.com

Why should I budget for this?

As an entrepreneur, you probably have only so many dollars to spend on marketing, and you have to get choosy. You may be thinking, I can always develop my branding after I launch first and start selling, right? Not necessarily. Without a well thought out brand, you could be creating more work for yourself by attracting a less-than-ideal audience — people who may look like your ideal customers and clients but in actuality will never buy from you.

But with authentic branding in place, you will attract better quality leads who will decide right away if you’re the right fit for them. Your product will sell itself and your branding will have done its job attracting those ideal customers. So the investment you make in creating a brand strategy will make every other aspect of your business easier and more efficient, from marketing and product development to management and hiring. And the best part is when done right, you’ll only need to do it once! Invest in a strong brand presence now and you’ll master your marketplace.

What if I already have a style guide? That means I have a brand right?

That’s great that you have a style guide! Believe it or not, not all businesses do. But having a logo or color scheme does not equal a “brand” per se. Your brand is the experience you’re selling, what you stand for, and who you are as a company.  A style guide makes sure that experience is consistent in all of the content and work you produce. It can save you time, money, and tons of frustration later on by making your marketing materials easier to maintain and create. And it can also ensure that the work already done for your brand isn’t ruined by some new, less-skilled designer who doesn’t understand how your aesthetic is supposed to work. So while it’s not your actual brand, it’s important because it helps you to present your brand clearly and to establish trust with your audience.

Any blog, company, or website that wants a consistent and professional feel across the board should have a style guide. But even with one in place, many small business owners still struggle with how to be actionable beyond it. Especially when it comes to creating original imagery that aligns with their brand “look,” oftentimes due to lack of time or resources. If you want your audience to connect with your brand experience, your lifestyle imagery and photography should also tell your story in the same consistent style as the rest of your branding. Whether you use stock imagery or work with a professional photographer every time you need photos, be mindful that your branded photography works in unison with your guide and enhances your brand.

Why can’t I just use stock images?

Stock photos are great! They’re an affordable way to get nice quality photos in your marketing. But there’s definitely a time and place for them and I wouldn’t recommend using them for your most valuable pieces of content. Don’t forget that for every good photo you find, hundreds of other people will be sourcing that exact image to use for their businesses as well (especially if you’re on a free stock site). Kind of dilutes that special unique experience you’re trying to convey for your customers, right?

Branding is all about building real relationships between businesses and people. Producing original visual content for your brand will enable you to showcase the details that makes your company unique and different. This just isn’t possible with stock photography alone.

What if I already know how to create content? I can use my phone and my editing apps after all.

The best camera is certainly the one you have on you. And mobile photography has become an incredible niche on its own, with tons of resources and tools to make creating on the go a cinch. But unfortunately for your brand, it’s also made ad-hoc posting a really easy routine to fall into. Without a workflow or content plan in place, creating and editing photos on the fly can sometimes do more harm to your aesthetic than you think, serving inconsistencies to your customers that may be unbeknownst to you. But as long as you’re able to really marry the stylistic elements of your brand with lifestyle imagery that tells your story, then keep at it! You should always aim for each and every image to work harder for you so you can achieve greater results in your business.

Can’t I just do this myself?

Sure! There’s a lot of information on the internet. Like, a ton. But not all of it will be a good fit for your business (assuming it’s even correct). I’ve been there before – spending countless hours learning and researching but not nearly as much time implementing and taking action. If you’re serious about your business, you know what you want and you want it done right. That’s one of the best reasons to turn to a specialist. They have one goal and it’s the same as yours: to elevate your brand image to the next level.

Also, sometimes brand owners are so well-versed in their business that they become blind to seeing it in a new creative and strategic light. Working with a specialist can provide that much-needed outsider’s perspective to point out what makes your brand unique and special. A lot of magic can be made with the power of collaboration!

 

It’s always helpful to remember that branding is what your customers and audience think of when they hear your company’s name or see your logo. And you deserve to stand out with what sets you apart. I love helping my brands craft a strategy that communicates their vision and message clearly and effectively. The final result? A brand roadmap and beautiful imagery that empowers my client and has customers gravitating to them and their culture. The right branding means a loyal following that skips the hard sell.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below or shoot me an email me at hello@unodostrae.com. Don’t feel completely ready to dive into a one-on-one? Check out more branding tips here.

Branding

Creating Visual Content On Vacation? 3 Travel Photography Tips Before You Go

When I first started my lifestyle brand, taking photos when I was on vacation was always one of my favorite parts. It was really exciting to share a “behind-the-scenes” look from some idyllic setting (or post pictures from any destination that wasn’t NYC where we were based). But those first attempts at travel photography for my brand were abysmal. I’d stick my product anywhere in the shot (a la @drinksintheair) no matter how random the content seemed. And then up it would go on my social feeds or my website (by the way, I’m cringing as I type this all out).

Travel photography is an excellent way to produce refreshing imagery and create stories around your product or brand lifestyle to share with your customers. But without a little effort and proper thought put into it, it can quickly turn into one of those “shiny” things about entrepreneurial life; your photos, while exciting and well-intentioned, won’t help sell your product or elevate your brand if they are random and just okay in quality. While palm trees and sunsets usually are instant crowd pleasers, here are some quick and easy things you can do before setting out to explore. Read on to see what I mean.

Travel photography tips for your brand - from uno dos trae

Research

You can’t always count on getting a relevant shot every time you set out to explore. Get a quick lay of the land before you venture out by doing a quick search of recommendations (there are a ton on Instagram or Pinterest). Figure out which cafe, eatery, or hike is really unique to where you are. And see if the decor, vibes, or color scheme makes sense to your brand. Once you find a place, you can loosely fit this into your itinerary beforehand and guarantee that you carve out time to get a good shot that you know is on-brand and that your customers will love.

Plan Ahead

So you’ve done the research, have a good idea of what you’re going for, and plan to stop by on your last day in town. But then you get there and you find out that they’re closed…all week.

This has happened to me more times than I’m willing to admit. It’s easy to forget to do something so obvious like check operating hours when you’re on vacation! So before you go, make sure everything is open and accessible and see if there is an optimal time to visit. Does it make sense to get there first thing in the morning or later in the day to avoid the lines? Do you need to make a reservation or buy tickets ahead of time? Is there a certain table you should snag for the scenic views? If you figure this all out ahead of time, you won’t need to resort to Plan B or go back to the drawing board.

Brand It

Chances are you’re not the first person to take a photo in some of these places. So how do you make it your own? Not only should it align with your brand aesthetically, but you need to give your customers and followers a reason to care. A few ideas:

  • Product Placement: position your product in the shot (do this only if it makes sense!)
  • Showcase You: if you’re the face of your brand, get in the photo! If you’re not or you don’t feel comfortable doing so, take a photo with your hand adjusting something in the shot (i.e. holding a coffee mug, etc.)
  • “Work” Remotely: if you have your notebook or laptop on you, share what your mobile office looks like for the day
  • Daily Ritual: set the stage for a quiet or private moment (i.e. reading a book, drinking coffee, etc.)

Pro-tip: random photos can still have a place in your content strategy (there’s a time and place for everything, right?). If it makes sense with your overall aesthetic, use them as stock photography for your brand. You could also overlay some text and create eye-catching title images for your blog posts or newsletters.

So where to next? Let me know in the comments and I’ll personally research and get back to you on a few ideas for where you can find the most Instagrammable shots in your destination.

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Photography

Pinterest Search Tip: How To Be a Gem Of a Find

Attract more clicks in a Pinterest search - unodostrae.com

Pinterest has become my favorite platform to promote my website on. It’s not wonder why – it’s the second largest search engine behind Google and is vital for brands focused on mobile and local SEO. In fact, Pinterest marketing has become the platform that many brands swear by when it comes to spreading their content. The reach of a pinned article or recommendation is 100x more than a tweet. Not too mention, the half-life of a pin is 1,6000x longer than a Facebook post.

But here’s the thing about marketing on Pinterest: there’s so much on there. With proper strategies aside, how do you get your amazing article to rise above the noise and get someone to click on your pin over the others?

Answer: a knockout title image.

Title images are a blogger’s secret weapon. When done well – eye-catching, informative, consistent – they are the first thing to draw people into your posts. And more than any other graphics in your article, a title image can tell someone what your article is about in a pinnable (and therefore shareable) way.

Using almost any design program, you can create a simple but compelling title image for each of your articles. Per usual with creating branded graphics, Photoshop and Illustrator are great but not necessary; there are a lot of free resources out there that will get the job done just fine. In addition to the solopreneur’s favorite, CanvaGimp, Pixlr Editor, and Paint.net are other free programs you can use to create on your computer. You can also use apps on your phone to create quick title image graphics as well (my favorite apps is Over but I’ve heard good things about Typorama as well) – just be sure to export the graphic in the highest resolution available for use on your site.

Read on for the recipe I normally follow.

 

Step One: Select a Background

You can choose to use a blank canvas, graphic design, pattern, stock photo, or even your own branded content. Don’t overthink this part – think about what makes sense for your brand and go with it. If you choose to use a photo, choose one that makes sense and is relevant to your topic, like this title image by The Wonder Forest.

 

Step Two: Add Your Copy

At the very minimum, add your blog title and website to the image. If you have more information you want to share (especially if it’s a content upgrade or promotion), you can add your post category, sub-header, or tagline as well. Just a Girl and Her Blog stylized the copy on this title image using different colors and fonts to emphasize parts of the title.

 

Step Three: Optimize For SEO

Like any of your images, make sure you add your alt text and description to your title image before you insert it into your post. Pinterest displays the description copy as a default when a reader goes to pin your article keep this mind.

Step Four: Add to Article

Image placement is completely up to you. Some people like having their title image as the featured image on their blog. Others prefer to feature another relevant photo and then have the title image appear either after the introduction or at the end of their article. Play around with placement and remember this is totally your preference.

Pro-Tips:

Pick a format and stick to it: Just like other parts of your branding, your readers and customers want to see consistency. Set the expectation early on and make your life easier by creating a template you can easily update every time. Canva is set-up nicely for this; just choose a layout that inspires you and has elements (colors, illustrations, etc.) that you can use on a consistent basis.

Make sure the copy pops: If you use a light-colored graphic or photo for your background, make sure the text is dark (and vice versa). Everything should look clean and easy to read.

I’ve created a checklist to help you create stellar Pinterest Title Images and add them to your posts. Get it here.

Your Homework

  • With your design program of choice, create title images for your next 3 blog posts. Experiment with layout, text components, fonts, and article placement.
  • Leave a comment below if you have other tips and tricks to share.

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Branding

Entrepreneur Essentials: 4 Photography Tips For Better Brand Photos

4 Photography Tips Every Entrepreneur Must Know | unodostrae.com

I recently came across this really cool brand that’s on a mission to disrupt the world of vitamins called Care/of. The company delivers tailored daily supplements in convenient little packets based on each person’s unique needs. I completely love the concept. And I love the branding even more. The imagery is gorgeous and memorable and they really made something that is so not sexy and beyond inconvenient into something that I actually want to take regularly.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m a sucker for good marketing. I’m a willing consumer ready to give my business and my hard-earned dollars to support brands that get it. Brands that truly understand my needs and wants and interests and genuinely appeal to them. Care/of has a unique model and they could have charged ahead with more traditional vitamin branding like others on the market (if it’s not broken, don’t fix it right?). But instead they chose to build a memorable online presence with gorgeous imagery that matches their vision. Bravo to them!

Okay, so why do we care? Well, as humans, we process pictures very quickly – in fact, faster than text, video, or audio. Visuals allow us to make a really quick decision about whether we are going to engage with something. Which is why, as brand owners, we have to care about building an online presence for ourselves that looks both professional and beautiful. Too often, I see entrepreneurs whose gifts go unseen because visually, they come across as amateur. And coming across as amateur is a surefire way for customers to dismiss you, no matter how great your product is, even if what you offer could help them immensely.

So today I want to share four quick photography tips that you can start implementing today (plus a free bonus that you’re going to want to download!). For the purposes of this post, I won’t be talking about actual photo content (i.e. what’s being captured), I’m only going to speak to the quality of a photo (i.e. how it looks in the end). Let’s get started.

#1: Establish Your Brand Style

I know, I know. This is something I say…a lot. But I promise you- if you know your style, you will create smarter visual content. For instance, I can recognize immediately when certain colors or elements don’t match (or complement) my brand. So I just don’t consider posting those images. Why? Because I want my online presence to be cohesive and inconsistencies like that can throw everything off. Remember:

You can post a pretty photo, but it doesn't mean it will help you sell. #pictureabetterbrand Click To Tweet

(by the way, if you haven’t yet downloaded our Style Guide template, I highly recommend starting there! You can also find it in this post.)

#2: Shoot As Close To The Finish Product As Possible

Imagine that you’re sitting at a cafe, finishing up a great breakfast meeting for a partnership that you’ve finally booked. You haven’t finished your coffee yet when you look around — this cafe is insanely adorable. You decide to Instagram this and tease your followers with good news from the meeting. So you take out your phone and snap a few pictures- mostly of your coffee and the other half of your avocado toast. These photos are not your best; the angle is weird, there are crumbs on the table, and you can see your reflection in the utensils. But instead of deleting them, you hastily apply whatever VSCO filter looks best and post away. Behind-the-scenes pics don’t have to be amazing quality because that’s what makes it real, right?

Wrong! If this sounds familiar, it’s okay- I see a lot of entrepreneurs make this mistake. They are so quick to post something that they snap a pic without actually seeing what’s in the frame first. And it makes a difference; you can easily adjust for things like changing your angles or getting rid of unsightly details right away. Fixing these same things in post-processing isn’t always a guarantee. So the more you can get right at the time you take the picture, the more productive you’ll be in your content creation.

 

#3: Prep Your Photo

You may have noticed not all photo opportunities are created equal. Some have incredible lighting baked into them, others have more saturated tones than what you would normally post. And most of the time, images come out of the camera looking pretty flat. That’s why when I work on enhancing my photos, I actually edit in two different phases. Phase 1 is all about prepping the image.

Like we just talked about, managing consistency should start when you take the photo. But then there are certain edits that I initially apply to my photos before doing anything else to them to double-ensure that everything is connected visually. This is so I can clean up an image before I infuse my brand and style into it. I want the picture to look like it was taken in the most perfect conditions (at least by my standards). Some photos need more prepping than others but thankfully, this method to my madness has saved me a crazy amount of time with my edits.

 

#4: Style Your Photo

Phase 2 is where you get your content to really shine by cooking your recognizable style into your image. Do you keep getting hung up on which filters or presets to use every time you post? If the answer is yes, you are missing a really important piece of your workflow! Stylized editing should actually take you even less time than prepping does because if you know your brand style, you’ll know what additional adjustments to make immediately.

The editing process is what I see a lot of brand owners attributing their “inconsistent aesthetic” to when it comes to showcasing their photos, especially on social media. While it’s not always the only reason why they’re not happy with how their feeds look, a big part of it is because they don’t have the right kind of workflow in place. But approaching your edits in two phases will help to produce the kinds of photos that make you (and your business) feel legit.

 

You will want to keep these photography tips in mind, not only to take better pictures for your brand but to ensure that you feel confident in the visuals you are marketing with and add value every time you post. Can you imagine the kind impact you could have if almost all photos you used in your marketing connected specifically with your ideal customers nearly every time? It’s totally possible.

I’m including our Smarter Edits Tracker for you guys that you can use to streamline your editing process starting now (remember, Phases 1 and 2!). If there are certain adjustments you find yourself making every time, track it. It will make you more efficient over time and eventually faster the more you practice. Get your free template here!

Your Homework

  • Using these photography tips, take 3 photos with your brand in mind and start implementing now
  • Download the free template and keep track of your editing workflow
  • Leave a comment below and tell me how you did

The right visuals are one of the most essential components to building a beautiful and professional online presence. Can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

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Featured

Color Scheme Inspo: The Coast of Portugal

Color Scheme Inspiration: Portugal | unodostrae.com

It’s quite easy finding color schemes nowadays. A color scheme is a combination of chosen colors used to create style and appeal for a design. Doing a quick search on Pinterest will return palettes for almost any kind of theme (like this Tumblr, a must-see for any Wes Anderson fan), and that can be super helpful when accomplishing a cohesive look for projects like redecorating a room in your house, planning a wedding or an event, or establishing your brand’s visual story.

Color Scheme Inspiration: The Coast Of Portugal

Even still, my favorite way to create color schemes is to pull from real life experiences. There’s an extra element of memory and storytelling that’s involved, things that can effect which colors jump out at you the most and the combinations you ultimately put together. Especially when you travel; it’s crazy to think that destinations associate themselves with palettes unintentionally thrown together in another era, or celebrate colors that resonate with the culture and people as a whole.

Color Scheme: Portuguese Coast

For this project, I worked on creating a new look for an upcoming event planned for this summer. The client wanted a refreshing vibe that aligned with their core brand palette but still had its own unique elements. And with a summer timeframe, the new look also had to have a laid-back vibe.

Color Scheme Inspiration from the coast of Portugal | unodostrae.com

While brainstorming for this project, I kept going back to this one photo I had taken on a recent trip to Portugal (don’t you love how zen this scene looks? I immediately feel calmer looking at it!).

It was gorgeous that day and we drove about 20 minutes from downtown Lisbon to the coast. When I saw these boats chilling in the bay, I pulled over immediately. The range of blues in this scene between the sea and sky were enthralling, and I love how the sand closer to shore takes on more of a gray/taupe color.  Also, the green from the mountains grounds everything nicely. But it’s the yellow rowboat and tangerine buoys that are the real showstoppers for me.

Uno Dos Trae mood board based on Portugal color scheme

When it came time to test this color scheme and see it in action, I gathered inspiration and put together a mood board to see how the colors would work together from a lifestyle standpoint. I used gray and blue as my “canvas” colors and incorporated that gorgeous green using plants. Finally, I made sure the yellow and tangerine red were doing justice to my board as accent colors. If you get tripped up on how much of each color to represent, try to (loosely) follow the 60-30-10 rule. Divide the colors into components of 60 percent dominant colors, 30 percent secondary colors, and 10 percent accent colors. You’ll get a proper balance every time!

Creating color schemes can seem a bit intimidating. However, when it comes to your brand, you really have to make sure to always maintain a cohesive aesthetic across all of your campaigns, projects, and launches. It’s okay to give them their own sub-identities, but it’s not okay to confuse your customers. And if you still find this intimidating, we can chat more and work together to create a custom palette specific to your brand.

In the meantime, find color schemes that you like and put those colors to work! I’ve included a free mood board template to get you started. Download your free mood board here. Don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know how you do!

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Branding

How To Create A Cohesive and Curated Instagram Feed

There is more to a curated Instagram feed than good photos. Put yourself in your followers’ shoes for a second. Imagine telling a friend that they should follow your account. How would one go about describing your feed? Would they say things like, “You’d love this brand. They post photos of their jewelry but also cool cafes and spots around NYC that I always end up wanting to try myself.” Or, “I’m obsessed with this account. This interior designer posts cool market finds that she picks up on her travels and her feed is so pretty – all white and neutral colors.”

When it comes to curating your social feeds, the key is to establish what you want to be known for. In the words, what is your red sole? Many entrepreneurs think about how to position themselves from a written and vocal standpoint, but then usually stop there. How you visually convey that is just as important.

The key to a curated Instagram feed is establishing a cohesive style | unodostrae.com

A Well Curated Instagram Feed

Creating a well curated Instagram feed and cohesive aesthetic can take some soul-searching for both you and your brand. And it all starts with figuring out what your style is.

When I first started my e-commerce business, I thought I could skip this step. I knew how to use Instagram, take relatively good photos, and I had a strong sense of personal style. So how hard could it be creating a social presence for my brand? It turns out, it wasn’t as obvious as I thought it was going to be. Even after posting all the “right” things as a brand owner — product shots, press mentions, behind-the-scenes photos, travel, etc. — my feed still looked…just okay.

I became increasingly frustrated because I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was amiss. Instagram was FREE marketing for my business and a way to consistently get in front of my customers, especially in those pre-algorithm days. I wanted to get it right and also feel proud of what I was creating. But I wasn’t finding the answer in any of the articles I had read or webinars I had watched – everything was saying to “clean up my feed” or edit my photos a certain way using this and that filters. So I did. And yet I was still never at the point where the aesthetic on my feed reflected the quality of brand I was building.

And then my epiphany came. I was in San Sebastian, Spain, on a hike, taking a photo of the delicious spread we had packed for the trek and were about to devour. The pic came out great but it hit me: why did I want to share this on my brand Instagram account? It had nothing to do with my product or the lifestyle I was trying to build my community around.

I realized I had been approaching this all wrong. Everything I was posting was based on my own personal taste. That was a problem because I liked so many different things. I loved looking at bright, clean imagery but also followed a ton of brands known for their moodier, matte tones. I obsessed over unexpected pops of neon color and yet was really drawn to design that celebrated neutrals. And ultimately, all of those different things were influencing everything I was associating with my brand. Visually, my aesthetic seemed less than cohesive because my tastes and interests were all over the place!

If your goals are to build a trusted, beautiful brand, prospective customers may have trouble knowing what you’re about or what it is that you stand for without a cohesive, recognizable style. People often decide whether or not to follow a new account within seconds of landing on it. But once you are able to establish your style, you can then work out how that fits with your visual stories. These are the emotional touch points that your brand and product exude and also resonates with your customers.

And don’t get me wrong- I still like a million different things. That’s how people stay inspired. It’s a wonderful thing and I recognize this; in fact, it’s one of the first things I tackle when working with my branding clients.  But there is an efficient way to navigate this when it comes to building a strong, trusted brand. It can get tricky if you plow ahead without being mindful of this. And speaking from experience, there’s nothing more exhausting to put your time and energy into creating things only to feel like you have to backtrack later down the road.

I also have a little bonus for you guys- I’ve included our free style guide template in this post to get you started. To update, you can use any design program (i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) and overlay your style elements in the appropriate sections. Some (free) design programs to check out are Gimp, Pixlr Editor, Paint.net. If you find this overwhelming (which it can be!), let’s chat more about a deeper dive and strategic approach to finding your style.

Your Homework

  • Download our free Style Guide Template here. Even if you already have one for your brand, revisit it – could you use a refresh or update?
  • Start creating. Share and post content that ties back to these stories in your style.
  • Let me know how you did in the comments below.

Oh, and two more pro tips- I always tell my clients that it’s a good idea to revisit your style guide every 6 months or so to make sure it still reflects and accurately conveys what your brand is about as it is evolves. Also, I usually create a mini-style guide for every campaign I launch or project I’m working on. It’s an easy way to ensure that all of your collateral aligns with one another and ultimately jives with your overall branding.

Let me know how you did in the comments below. Or if you have any questions. I love hearing all of it!

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