Branding My Own Creative Business: Inspiration, Process & Vulnerability

August 13, 2021

When you celebrate with a locally famous $80 margarita called the “High Roller,” you know your rebrand was a success! Just kiiiidding, but yes, that really did happen. Our official launch for the new ByAriel brand coincided with my 30th birthday, and I couldn’t resist!

When you see what went into the ByAriel rebrand, I think you’ll understand the motivation. It didn’t just require time, creative energy, and an investment. It also meant taking a pretty scary risk…

Real Talk: Being a creative leader takes major vulnerability.

Whenever we design a brand for our clients, it’s usually inspired by two things:

  1. What we know the business’s audience will love and connect with
  2. The values, mission and personality of the person or people running the business

In our case, #1 and #2 were the same! Our clients want one thing above all else: CREATIVITY. They want to stand out and be different. That’s what I wanted, too.

My only real goal for the ByAriel brand was for it to feel creative and new. New ideas. New directions. I wanted to show potential clients the limitless possibility of what we could create for them. However…

…the downside of doing something new is that there is no formula for success. Trends get the most attention, because, well… they’re trendy! There’s no way to gauge the reaction to something new — it hasn’t been done before!

Pushing myself to be creative and original meant that everything I did felt risky. In a good way, but also in a really vulnerable way.

How would people respond? How will we know if they’ll like it? If I create something that is an extension of my inner self, and our audience rejects it, are they rejecting me? (Whoa — somebody call Brené, because this just got DEEP!)

I had to accept that the only way to create something truly special and next-level, was to look vulnerability in the face and go for it anyway. Six months later, I am SO glad We did!

But… I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up for a second and take it from the top:

  • Why did I decide to rebrand?
  • What is ByAriel doing differently from before?
  • What was it like to brand my own business? Who did I hire?
  • Were there any unexpected lessons or results?

Make some popcorn and buckle up, because this is a behind-the-scenes, totally unfiltered peek…

Branding your own creative business, how to brand your own creative business, The Blog Stop rebrand, ByAriel rebrand

Why did I decide to rebrand?

Just in case you’re new here, ByAriel used to be called The Blog Stop. I launched The Blog Stop almost 5 years ago (whaaaat??) as a design resource for bloggers. We offered custom brand design, product photography, and beautiful website templates inspired by the places my husband and I visited during our trip around the world in 2019.

As the years passed, my team and I discovered new ways to support brands with their creative development. We were evolving, but our potential felt limited under The Blog Stop brand. There was just too much we wanted to offer — on the custom side and the DIY side, too.

In order for both legs of the brand to grow, they each needed their own space to breathe.

I decided that we would rebrand The Blog Stop as the go-to for truly creative and breathtaking website templates. (No cookie-cutter designs here!) Then, we would launch ByAriel as a one-of-a-kind creative agency.

As a Creative Agency, ByAriel now offers:

  • Brand strategy + development
  • Brand identity design
  • Custom website design
  • Creative direction
  • Content creation
  • Videography services
  • Lifestyle and product photography
  • Campaign creative direction
Branding your own creative business, how to brand your own creative business, The Blog Stop rebrand, ByAriel rebrand

GAH!! We are passionate about each and every one of these, and we already have some incredible projects underway that I can’t wait to share with you. I know, the suspense is real. Hang in there. / services link

What was the experience like branding my own business?

In short… long! The decision happened more than 6 months prior to us launching these brands. Yes, SIX MONTHS. But I wanted to create something exceptional. To do so, I knew that we needed to give it the time, space, energy, money, and expertise it deserved.

Clockwise L to R:  White dress – @issu, Laying in bed – @designlovefest, Florals @jasminedowling, Lemon sleeves – @sfgirlbybay, Pink laying @emmatempest

Step 1: Getting inspired

I spent a long time gathering inspiration, not just on Pinterest, but out in the real world. What captured my attention? That elusive transition between sunset and dusk? The way a bold pattern on a dress shifts with the breeze?

To me, getting inspired means waking up to the world around me and paying attention to how it makes me feel. No surprise — this isn’t a step that can be forced. It requires scheduled down time, a stress-free mind, and room for ideas to evolve on their own.

For ByAriel Clients: Although we do ask our clients to share their inspiration with us during our Custom Branding process, we also spend quite a bit of behind-the-scenes time getting inspired on their behalf, too!

Step 2: Hiring a power-team

One of my favorite parts of this process was the creative collaboration that went into the brand development. Not only was it SO amazing to bring on other creatives to make each piece of the brand the best it could be, our combined brain power elevated the result beyond each of us. (Think 1+1=3.) And I think it shows.

Where did we start?

Well, I’m very inspired by photography, so we started with the brand photoshoot. My photographer, videographer, florist and I spent about 3 months conceptualizing and coming up with the creative direction for the shoot.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted video to be a big part of the brand. I love animation and moving elements — any way you can take something digital and give it life! So we spent a lot of time shooting video.

We also made SO many elements ourselves — I handpainted a giant backdrop, I designed and created props, my sister made me a custom dress, my florist handmade fresh flower earrings, etc. I really wanted every element to feel crafted and thought up by us.

For ByAriel Clients: Our team members can bring this level of breadth and depth to your creative project, or we can work in tandem with any pieces you might already have in the works with your local team, such as a brand photoshoot or video shoot.

Branding your own creative business, how to brand your own creative business, The Blog Stop rebrand, ByAriel rebrand

Step 3: Capturing the brand’s essence

On the weekend of our shoot, we did two full days of shooting, one outside and one in a studio. Altogether, we styled 5 different scenes. FIVE.

The best part was that having so many people helping meant that everyone could focus on the thing they were great at. It truly was the culmination of many creative minds coming together.

Inside Peek: On the morning of our outdoor shoot, we woke up to rain clouds and high winds as a storm blew into the area. I was pretty disappointed when I realized we wouldn’t be getting “the golden hour,” but I was even more worried that a storm would ruin 3 months’ worth of planning.

Luckily, we stayed (mostly) dry, and had a successful shoot. The best part? When I saw the final photos, I realized that the dark, moody sky made my handmade peach-colored dress pop! Turns out, nature wanted a say in the ByAriel brand, too, and sometimes you have to roll with it. Lol.

For ByAriel Clients: Yes, we do the same for you! Whether it’s helping you bring together your own team of creative minds or it’s sourcing and curating each element of your shoot (or both!), we’re here to help you make the magic happen.

Step 4: Messaging & visuals

From there, I started developing the messaging and the visual elements of the brand. I wanted it to be different, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I honestly felt so stuck with this. It’s difficult to be original when everything you’ve been exposed to has built up a picture in your mind of what it “should” be.

I ditched the computer and gathered a bunch of tangible art supplies instead. I started creating — cutting up paper, painting, physically piecing together the website layout and pages.

I made as many creative elements as I could and digitized everything. Then, I added the brand photos into the equation and continued to map everything out.

One of the hardest parts of being an artist, or any type of creative, is knowing when to stop. It took time. I kept tweaking it until the moment when I looked down at what I had created, and I intuitively knew it was just right.

For ByAriel Clients: When creating custom content or a custom website, we want you to have this same feeling. We’ll share an initial design concept, collect your feedback, and fine-tune it until it feels right for you. Then, we’ll bring it to life.

Branding your own creative business, how to brand your own creative business, The Blog Stop rebrand, ByAriel rebrand

Step 5: Launch Strategy

The actual launch strategy was another piece of the equation. (I talk more about how to launch a new custom brand here.) We wanted to build as much hype for the launch as possible while also providing as much clarity as possible.

We developed a 1-month tease/launch social strategy and all the necessary creative elements needed to execute! We created launch videos, sneak peaks, and behind-the-scenes moments to build interest and excitement. You can take a peek at our IG account to see how we did it.

For ByAriel Clients: Talk to us about your launch strategy or read more about how to launch a new custom brand here.

The big day… LAUNCH!

Umm… can you say butterflies?!?! My team and I were so nervous-excited for our launch. I could hardly sleep. Then, the big day arrived and it. was. incredible.

So many people shared, reached out, commented, posted. It was so rewarding to finally put everything into the world and receive the response that we did. It made the months of late nights, working weekends, and investing so much time and money all worth it.

Each member of the ByAriel team and the creatives we had hired to work with felt — and still feels — so proud of what we have created. It was everything we imagined and more and well worth celebrating!

Branding your own creative business, how to brand your own creative business, The Blog Stop rebrand, ByAriel rebrand

Unexpected lessons + rewards

1. Investing in creative endeavors is worth it.

I normally create everything myself, but paying so many people to bring their magic to the table was everything. We could not have launched or created at that level without every single person who worked hard to make it happen.

(Not sure if your business is ready for a custom brand? Read more here.)

2. A brand impacts the business internally and externally.

I thought my team and I were passionate before, but we are all so proud of the brand that I can feel this almost palpable increase in excitement for our work — both internally and for clients. My team is proud to work for a business that is pushing creative boundaries and doing exciting things. Our clients feel the same way.

When you create something special, you attract those who appreciate it and want to channel it into their own endeavors. That’s creative leadership. It’s vulnerable and scary, but in my opinion, it is the only way to truly stand out.

Branding your own creative business, how to brand your own creative business, The Blog Stop rebrand, ByAriel rebrand

Whew — that was a long story, I know, so if you made it all the way to here, you have my endless appreciation! I’ll wrap this up, but if you have any questions about branding, creative direction, or content creation, let’s chat, my friend.

‘Til next time…