How Fear Shows Up in Your Visual Branding

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, I dare say you're no stranger to fear. Sometimes those fears weigh you down for a time, sometimes they propel you forward, and sometimes they just are — like an uninvited guest that you're aware of but try not to pay too much attention to.

But sometimes that fear wiggles its way right into your branding. What should be fun and creative and colorful causes a mild sense of panic.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading and I’ll show you how it shows up and what you can do about it!


How do you know when you’ve let fear have the front seat in your branding?

  • You’re looking sideways more than looking confidently ahead, too concerned about what other brands look like.
  • You’re more interested in the cool stuff on Pinterest than what your own brand communicates.
  • You’re too busy tracking the trends instead of diving into the heart and values of your own business.
  • You make design changes — a lot. You keep trying the latest font from Creative Market or colors you saw on someone else's website.

None of this may seem like fear on the surface; you probably think it’s just indecision or distraction. Heck, sometimes it’s even fun. But I would argue that all that activity often comes from a hesitation to really...

Be unique.

You're afraid of not looking as "with it" as so-and-so, or of deviating too far from the accepted norm (whatever that is). And so you play it safe. But you do so at your own peril.

So how do you conquer the fear?

You make a brave choice to dive in and get intentional about your business and your clients. Then you use all that you uncover (either by yourself or with the help of a designer) to create something authentic and UNIQUE.

UNIQUE branding doesn’t look like anyone else’s (including your competition), and it’s not dictated by trends. And it’s not something that can be cranked out for $20 on Fiverr. Just sayin’.

Why is this so important?

  • Because it is your uniqueness that makes you stand out and be memorable, and being memorable to your clients is a great thing.
  • Because trendy logos become quickly outdated, wasting the valuable money and time you invested, and giving you a desperate itch to redesign, whether your budget will allow for it or not.
  • And, most importantly, because a logo that represents your UNIQUE business and draws in your UNIQUE clients should be one-of-a-kind. You and they deserve it.

The irony is that to avoid the trends, you actually need some awareness of what they are, which is quite simple. There is always an overlap between trends in fashion, home, and graphic design. Notice what’s around you when you’re out and about. Pick up a fashion or home decor magazine. Google. Yes, Google “current design trends.” And if you can set a timer, cruise around on Pinterest, but don’t let it suck up your entire afternoon!

I’ll give you a recent example.

A huge trend in 2016 for many businesswomen was to have logos in soft pink, metallic gold, and feminine, script fonts. They’re pretty, but they say very little about these businesses, other than the obvious fact that they are owned by and/or directed to women. Not very unique if you ask me. Certainly doesn’t set them apart from the noisy crowd. It makes me want to cry and tell these sweet ladies, “Please don’t be like everyone else. Please embrace who you are, what you do, and who you serve. Please stand out!" I don’t say this to judge. I get it – the logos are simple, pretty, perhaps safe, easy to DIY, but in the long run they do themselves a great disservice.

The interesting thing about all these pink logos? It was predicted. Yup. You may have heard of a company called Pantone. They are the developers of the Pantone Matching System or PMS for short. (Yes, seriously that’s the name. Even at my age, I roll my eyes that no one had the foresight to pick a better abbreviation. But I digress…) PMS is a numerical color matching system used in just about every creative industry – graphic design, fashion, home decor, weddings, even floral design. So when I say "PMS 485," other designers know exactly which shade of red I’m referring to. Every year since 2000, Pantone names a "Color of the Year," chosen by committee more than a year in advance. In 2016 they actually named two colors for the first time ever, and, you guessed it, one of them is a soft, dusty pink named Rose Quartz. See how that works? The predictions are useful and beneficial unless it results in overuse and lack of originality. (If you’d like to know the “in” colors for this Autumn, check them out here.)

So know what is current and hip; there is beautiful inspiration there. Know what your competition looks like. But above that, know the heart of your own business and what attracts your clients. (Remember, intention!) There are a bazillion colors, fonts, shapes and creative ideas out there. There is no scarcity in the artistic world, so there is absolutely no excuse for your visuals to look like anyone else’s. Keep your “eyes in your own lane” when it comes to developing the logo and brand for YOU.

And speaking of you, smart lady, you are ONE in a billion.

You are wonderfully UNIQUE with passions, talents, and strengths that are true gifts to those around you. That is what draws people to you, people who pour into you and you into them, the ones who have your back when things get rough and cheer the loudest at your greatest victories.

Take a moment to name and celebrate two UNIQUE qualities about yourself. At first glance, you may think these qualities are just quirky or unimportant or, worse yet, weaknesses. But look a bit deeper and see them for the strengths they are. They are not something to be afraid of or embarrassed about. They are what make you UNIQUE.

And if I could pick up the phone this week and whisper something in your ear, it would be this. “Please don’t be like everyone else. Please embrace who you are. Please stand out!" Believe me, there is enough Rose Quartz in our world already.