The day you decide to launch your new virtual assistant business is an exciting day.
You have visions of creating a new income stream, ditching your 9-5 and/or being your own boss. We don’t blame you. It’s pretty awesome (most of the time).
And although there’s plenty of work out there for hard-working and reliable VAs, it’s still important to create an above average first impression. And more often than not, your first (or second) point of contact with a potential client is via your website. For that reason alone, it’s vital that you start things off on the right foot — that means a great looking logo and consistent branding.
As appealing as side-hustle income and calling your own shots might be, logo design and business branding probably aren’t something you’re stoked about. And let’s be honest, spending days, weeks (or months) trying to draft your new logo or select your ideal brand colors and font combination isn’t necessarily the smartest way to spend your time.
(Hint: 90% of your time should be spent prospecting for clients, not perfecting your logo or website. But having a website is sort of important too…)
So this is a topic we’re are going to take a closer look at today. Basically, we’re going to teach you how to pull together some basic branding elements (including a simple logo), so that your VA website creates an awesome first impression — without taking up a ton of your (prospecting) time.
We’re going to keep the content of this post as simple as possible so that ideally you can accomplish these objectives in a few hours or less. And don’t worry, you don’t have to knock it out of the park the first time you come up to bat (Gina certainly didn’t!)—instead focus on hitting your first single.
And as we get into some of the specifics, remember, you don’t need to be an expert in logo design, branding or typography to improve the appearance of your website (I’m sure not!). But every little improvement helps and even a semi-structured approach means you’ll be well ahead of the game.
Focus on making many small improvements over the course of the next six months and you’ll be able to put your competition to shame. So, let’s get started!
For example, understanding the basics of what branding really is, will help you to get started on the right foot.
What Is Branding?
In its most basic sense, branding helps to answer one simple question:
What does your target market think about you and your business? Or put it another way, what do you want them to think about you and your business?
You probably already know the well-quoted statistic that says website owners have fewer than 10 seconds to convince a visitor to stick around a website—to determine if they’re in the right place or not.
10 seconds. It’s not much time, huh?
Branding is represented by your website’s overall presentation. It includes things like:
- Your business name — you can read our post about selecting a business name
- Your general website layout
- The colors used throughout your site
- Selected font families
- Your logo design
- Your tagline
- Writing style
- Business cards
- Invoices (think header design)
- Your social media images
That’s a lot of different things to think about, I know. But like I mentioned previously, start by selecting one or two areas to focus on at a time—slow and steady wins this race.
Designing Your Logo
Let’s start with your logo, because that seems to be an area that most of us focus on when we decide to become a virtual assistant. It can also be a fairly expensive thing to farm out!
(Gina: I’ve spent probably $1,000 over the last three years on logos alone!)
As you’re thinking of creating your own logo, here are a few things to consider:
1. Do you have sweet graphic design skills?
If you’re not a graphic artist, then consider hiring one to help you with your logo. If you’re on a tight budget initially, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg—there are plenty of inexpensive places where you can have a simple logo created such as Fiverr. For our other website over at Kids vs Bikini, we had a logo created at 99 Designs. It cost a few hundred dollars but the time and effort saved are well worth it. As your business grows, you can upscale your logo and other design elements.
Below is a great example of how the logo at Horkey HandBook has progressed over the years:
(Gina: I’m not bitter about spending that $1k btw – I believe people should get paid their worth and charge accordingly. So if you can afford to drop a couple hundred bucks on a logo and want to keep it domestic, by all means go for it!)
2. Simple is better.
A complicated logo is a recipe for disaster and is rarely memorable. A quick look at some of the most recognizable logos (think Apple, Coke and WordPress) will quickly demonstrate the value of keeping things simple. And while your primary logo can be super simple, you can also consider adding a lettermark.
Two things to watch out for:
- Avoid complex graphical logos that are tough to see on a mobile screen.
- Also, avoid using more than a small handful of colors (1-2 is preferable).
3. Remember your messaging and audience.
Your logo should jive with your writing style, layout and supplementary graphics. Does the design and font match the mood of your target audience? For example, our logo here at Horkey HandBook is simple, colorful, fun (maybe?) and causal. If fits in well with our audience (both male and female). However, if we were targeting legal firms, it would probably need to be more formal—perhaps with a serif font.
Take a look at the two color palettes below. One is called tropical, the other legal. It’s easy to tell which is which right? Does your color scheme appeal to your target audience?
4. Do you have a tagline?
A tagline is something that summarizes how you help your clients (it can also be referred to as a positioning statement). Again, short and sweet is best. For example, at Horkey HandBook we’re currently using “Find or Become a Kickass Virtual Assistant.”
What do you think?
Beyond Your Logo: The Basics of Branding Your Website
Here is where you can really begin to set yourself apart from the competition.
I promise you that the vast majority of VAs (and many small business owners for that matter) spend very little time on branding. Honestly, most throw together a logo and call it good to go!
Worse still are the ones who have horribly inconsistent branding or select Comic Sans as their preferred font. Believe me, you don’t want to be one of those, especially if you’re trying to attract new clients who are running an online business. It’s like hiring a mechanic whose car is broken down. Meh, right?
(Gina: Good thing I have Daryn and Mickey helping me, huh? That paragraph spelled this site a few months back…)
When it comes to branding, one of the most important elements is consistency. You want to create a consistent impression with every.single.interaction.
You’ll notice that here on Horkey Handbook we’ve been slowly working away at standardizing how we do things—in addition to a new simpler logo, we’re creating a more consistent image that encompasses messaging, layouts, fonts, colors, graphics and more.
With so many factors to consider, attempting to brand your website can seem like an overwhelming proposition. In order to make the process as easy and smooth as possible, we suggest putting together a simple document that compiles the most important details and areas of your website.
That way, you’ll have a consistent template to follow for each page and piece of content that you create. And you’ll know where to look when you forget those hex codes. 😉
Learn As Much As Possible About Your Target Audience
Are you following me so far? You’re probably thinking creating a branding document makes sense, but maybe you’re wondering what it should include?
The first two things you need to think about are you—the message, and appearance you want to present—and your potential clients—what are they looking for in a virtual assistant?
Here are a few of our suggestions:
- Your customer avatar. I.e. Define your ideal client’s persona.
- What do they do for a living?
- Where do they hang out online?
- Are they primarily male or female?
- Do they have children?
- What’s their average income level?
- What are their frustrations and pain points?
- Your voice or tone. Think:
- Client conversations you’ve had in the past
- Website content (copy and blog posts)
- What type of content seems to resonate with your audience?
- How do they present themselves to their customers or clients?
Once answered, these kinds of questions can begin to develop a brand or image that is both true to your personality and appealing to your potential clients.
We’re not trying to sugarcoat it—this can be a challenging process. For example, if you’re going after clients in the legal profession and you have a naturally colorful and bubbly personality, you might need to tone things down a little or present a slightly more conservative image. Or maybe you think there is a market for someone who does things a little differently?
Things like fonts can also play a significant role in your branding. Do your headlines use a serif font that comes across as a little more formal or are you going with a rounded sans-serif that’s more casual?
Create Your Basic Branding Document
With your personas dialed in (as much as possible) it’s time to create a basic branding document. What you’re working towards here is basically your own personal style guide, but a little more in-depth.
Your ultimate guide is to create a document that could be handed off to someone in order to manage your website. While there is no definitive example, here are just a few of the things you should consider including:
- The overall tone of the content on your website
- Font colors (including body, links, hover colors)
- Font families (two fonts is an ideal number plus one more for your logo)
- Font sizes (for H1, H2, H3, H4 and body text)
- When bolding or italicizing should be used
- Standardized image sizes (featured images and social media images)
- Standardized image overlays
Don’t get bogged down if you don’t know all of these answers right away. Just start your document, add what you do have and fill in the rest as you go!
Another thing to consider is creating a branding document on your website. That way, if people are sharing your logo or business information, they’ll be able help you keep things consistent. Most big companies have a page that provides authorized logos and marketing materials.
Branding Equals Big Picture Thinking
Branding is much more than just creating a logo and selecting a font for your website. It’s about presenting an image that appeals to your prospective clients, while remaining true to yourself.
As a virtual assistant, it’s fair to say that you are the brand. Your clients will be interacting with you on a regular basis, so there’s no sense in trying to present an image that you can’t maintain.
It’s also important to remember that this process doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming. The most important thing is getting started—you can refine your image over time.
Resources That You Might Find Helpful:
- Adobe Color CC – Your ultimate source for color inspiration
- Google Fonts – Hundreds of Popular Google fonts to match almost any persona
- Canva Design School – An awesome resource with tons of great examples
- 99designs – How to create a brand style guide