biz ladies 2009: branding with meg mateo ilasco

today we’ve got two fantastic biz ladies posts coming your way. first up is meg mateo ilasco and her wonderful advice on branding and re-branding. i hope you’ll enjoy her tips!

also, keep an eye our for a new book from meg and joy in 2010! these two talented ladies are co-authoring “Creative, Inc”– a book about becoming a freelance creative talent that will be published by chronicle books and released in spring 2010.

CLICK HERE for the full post after the jump!


It’s funny how things come full circle. When I was in college, I majored in psychology and minored in business. So naturally, that combination led to working in marketing. My first impression of marketing: it was Bo-ring but it paid the bills. So while I was in school, I worked for a branding professor and when I graduated I got a job at a marketing research firm. I was knee-deep in marketing for four years and loathed practically every minute of it. I kept thinking I’d rather do something else…something creative!

The funny and ironic thing is: I am here today proselytizing about branding. Now, I actually find marketing pretty intriguing and definitely an area where you can be creative. I even read marketing books in my down-time now. I know…what? Crazy. Apparently, wisdom comes with age, experience, and hard-won hindsight.

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with watching companies rebrand themselves (Michaels, Jack in the Box, Bath and Body Works, etc.). I take note of it everywhere, down to the difference in tags on my Rebecca Beeson shirts.

And lately, I’ve been thinking it’s time for me to rebrand my company, Mateo Ilasco. Before writing Craft Inc., I actually didn’t give much thought to branding. I didn’t put a lot of forethought into it when I started my company. I figured good logo = good branding. And that was all there was to it. I made up the rules as I went along. I quickly put together business cards, packaging, and line sheets right before trade shows. It was hasty. So really, rebranding my company now is more about branding the company properly in a well-thought out, well-executed way. The way it should have been done in the beginning.

Branding is basically how we package ourselves and our business. It allows you to create a positive impression of yourself to your market. It’s about how you present yourself or your company visually and verbally, what reputation you want to mold for yourself, and what marketing tactics you plan to implement. Basically, it’s how you want to be perceived by the world and how you want to differentiate yourself from others. And you should be in control of it. If you don’t take active control of your brand, other people can step in and mold your image for you.

So as I’ve been thinking about rebranding/branding. Here are some guidelines I’m trying to follow and you should follow, too:

1. Your brand should celebrate your uniqueness. Copying is the fastest way to make your company not unique. Respect your competitors and analyze them without copying. When you figure out how to make yourself different–capitalize on it. Don’t cast a wide net to try to be everything to everyone.

2. Brands don’t have to be completely consistent. Not everything needs to be matchy-matchy. Remember that different looks can still elicit the same message or feeling.

3. Brands should have an element of mystery. You need to get a reaction from the marketplace–and that will not happen if you are too predictable. There should always be room for surprise.

4. Think small, even as you get bigger. Who wants something that feels corporate?

With enough talent coursing throughout the design/art world, oftentimes it comes down to branding and marketing that makes certain people and companies memorable and successful. Talent can only take you so far because no one will know about you or your business unless you make it known. (And you should do this of course without being overly salesy or obnoxious.) Lastly, remember that getting attention is easy compared to keeping the attention on you after that first fascinating moment. Relish in the spotlight while it is on you–but with people consuming more media than ever, attention spans run short, and that light can quickly fade. Only with consistent marketing can you stay at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Good luck!

  1. Maura says:

    AMEN!!! Thanks for the great advice – I work for a small non-profit contemporary art center and am always challenged by our overly-conservative, coporate-blooded management to break these rules. This article is a refreshing dose of encouragement.

  2. leni says:

    Such great advice! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks so much! I am currently putting everything together…a bigger job than I thought! Great advice!

  4. Thanks so much for the article- this is something that constantly weighs on my mind as a new indie business. Love Craft, Inc. and am looking forward to Creative, Inc.

  5. Great advice! I am looking hard at rebranding right now and these are sensible and very achievable guidelines to follow… Thanks.

  6. Jenna says:

    Wow! This is so helpful. I just bought a vintage clothing shop (at 1747 Polk Street in San Francisco) and I am rebranding it as a more eclectic gift boutique featuring local designers. I am working hard to make sure that the transition is smooth. Thank you for reminding me that I am not the only one out there trying to change the way my business is perceived, and that it can be successful!

  7. love this advice! thanks for sharing. and i just bought the book – can’t wait for the next one!

  8. Marlene says:

    Very good guidelines! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Laura. says:

    yay, thanks for the advice! i recently had a branding idea light bulb go on over my head, and i am finally generating ideas for a coherent brand, so your words are encouraging and challenging!

  10. Kimberly says:

    Great article! I majored in interior design and minored in pyschology. I am working on branding my interior design business and building my website right now!

  11. wren says:

    i am working on banners for my new etsy shops… it is hard stuff. we will see how they turn out!

  12. Amazing advice…Grace I love this series…

  13. vadjutka says:

    Thanks so much for this post!

  14. These are good tips- thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  15. Jules Davis says:

    Glad to hear you say that branding is more than a logo. As a designer who’s niche is branding, I say that your brand is every point of contact you have with any potential customer. From your website to what you wear–every interaction reflects your brand. So put on those fabulous shoes, hang that dandy new sign and do some business!

  16. Jennifer says:

    Now I am REALLY looking forward to your new book!

  17. Dominik says:

    I am so sick and tired of this yellow “We Can Do It” picture that you use in every other post. Please refrain from ever using it again.

    1. grace says:


      we use it for every biz ladies post, so you’ll probably want to refrain from reading these posts ever again.


  18. Meg- thanks for the scoop! WE’ve all been there….up til the wee hours creating our identity before an event or a show and if we knew then what we know now??!! I always say remember the age old first impression thing- it will stick with people so MAKE IT GOOD.
    Great advice…look forward to your next book/collaboration with Joy!

  19. anne says:

    great post! thanks for the good info.

  20. Sarah says:

    Dominik – that picture is not for boys.

  21. camille says:

    This is a great post! Thank you.

  22. Rebecca says:

    Great post! Thanks for giving branding the attention it deserves.
    So…. who’s doing your rebranding, Meg? ;)

  23. Ashley says:

    Thank you Meg! What perfect timing. I am just in the process of naming/branding my letterpress co. and it is so tempting to rush through the process but this article emphasizes the importance of laying the groundwork and ensuring your brand has a specific voice.

  24. DesertNana says:

    Hi Meg
    Your article comes at the perfect time for me. I would love to consult with a marketing specialist. I feel so under qualified to effectively tackle. this aspect of my business . Your writing and information are both enjoyable and helpful. I thank you kindly for sharing with us.

  25. manette says:

    Very well put, to the point and advise we can all use.

  26. milatropolis says:

    This is a fabulous site! Ive spent the last hour reading through the posts- such helpful info, bit of a reality check too :)
    Branding- I say the quirkier the better! Great post. I have much work to do!


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