Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

Brand your Subscription Box with Carmen Vermillion

June 15, 2020 Julie Ball Episode 30
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Brand your Subscription Box with Carmen Vermillion
Chapters
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Brand your Subscription Box with Carmen Vermillion
Jun 15, 2020 Episode 30
Julie Ball

#030 - Julie chats with her business bestie and good friend Carmen Vermillion to talk about branding. Branding is such an important topic because good branding can help your subscription box, not only stand out from the rest, but also attract your ideal target audience.

After having her first child in 2012 Carmen started teaching herself the basics of both Adobe Photoshop® and Illustrator® fulfilling a desire for a creative outlet outside her corporate job & motherhood. After 4 years of building up her knowledge, portfolio & client base she was able to walk away from her job in Advertising and take her Web & Graphic Design Agency full time. Carmen has worked with some of the largest brand names in the business including Gerber Baby & Fox Networks Group & prides herself on being self-taught. Carmen believes design is an ever changing field and learning new skills and design trends is vital to her role. Carmen is a designer for female owned small businesses, wife & proud mother to 3 adorable kiddos, living in Greenville, SC.

Links:

Sparkle Hustle Grow
Vermillion Creative Agency
Subscription Box Brand Questionnaire

Show Notes Transcript

#030 - Julie chats with her business bestie and good friend Carmen Vermillion to talk about branding. Branding is such an important topic because good branding can help your subscription box, not only stand out from the rest, but also attract your ideal target audience.

After having her first child in 2012 Carmen started teaching herself the basics of both Adobe Photoshop® and Illustrator® fulfilling a desire for a creative outlet outside her corporate job & motherhood. After 4 years of building up her knowledge, portfolio & client base she was able to walk away from her job in Advertising and take her Web & Graphic Design Agency full time. Carmen has worked with some of the largest brand names in the business including Gerber Baby & Fox Networks Group & prides herself on being self-taught. Carmen believes design is an ever changing field and learning new skills and design trends is vital to her role. Carmen is a designer for female owned small businesses, wife & proud mother to 3 adorable kiddos, living in Greenville, SC.

Links:

Sparkle Hustle Grow
Vermillion Creative Agency
Subscription Box Brand Questionnaire

Julie:

So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach and your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper and let's have some fun! Hey everyone and welcome back to subscription box basics. I'm your host Julie Ball and today we are talking about branding. It's such an important topic because good branding can help your subscription box, not only stand out from the rest, but also attract your ideal target audience. So I'm not necessarily the expert on branding, but my guest sure is, I'd like to introduce my graphic designer, my business bestie, and good friend Carmen Vermillion of Vermillion Creative Agency. Welcome Carmen!

Carmen:

Thank you. I'm so excited to be doing this. This is the first podcast I've been on, so yay!

Julie:

Awesome well, I'm glad that you're here and I wanted to just tell people first like the story of how we met because we go way back. We like many of my very important relationships. We met online and I think it was what back in 2012 I was working. I was doing freelance work for um, a brand and I needed some graphic design work. So I put the design project on 99designs and Carmen won the design contest and that's how I first met her. Eventually, you know, I hired her for that client and then I hired her for myself as I started my own web agency. Um, and then of course, you know, with the good work that she's done along the way, she was my GoTo. She's made like a hundred logos for me. I had to hire her to help me create the Sparkle Hustle Grow brand. So I think it's really fun to think back of like all these projects we've done, but a lot of my listeners are going to be, I'm hearing you from the first time, especially since this is your very first podcast. So can you tell everyone just a little bit about yourself, maybe your background and how you got into graphic design?

Carmen:

Yeah. So I actually , um , was a teacher and then , um, moved into advertising um , back before I had kids. And when I had my first baby, I was up at night nursing and was needing to do something with my time and , um, besides sleep. And so I actually started teaching myself Photoshop. We had it on our computer. I'd never taken a design course or anything in my life, never been artistic. And , um, there are so many amazing tutorials online to teach yourself things. And I really taught myself everything that I knew for the most part. Um, and like Julie said, I entered some 99design contest just to kind of get my feet wet. And boy , boy , uh , I did over a hundred contests before I actually won one. And yes, but you know what? I took every, so every single contest I would enter, I would look at it and figure out why didn't I win and try to learn from it. Um, and so yeah, it may that I finally got my first client and they are still a kind of mine today, which is pretty fun and neat. And it's where our businesses have grown and taken us. But , um, yeah, so through that I , uh , started dabbling in design and um, went from logo designs to websites to now where I really have a niche , um, where I do branding and website design for female owned businesses and subscription boxes. So yeah. So that's how I'm here today.

Julie:

I love it. We've grown so much together in our businesses and I feel so lucky to have you in my life because I really believe that when I tell you that I need a project done or some sort of design, I feel like half the time you can read my mind and every time you send me a new design, it's like Christmas morning when I get delighted every time I see your work. So I just wanted to say thank you. You do such great work for us.

Carmen:

Oh, thank you. It's a really fun , um, concept. Uh, the Sparkle Hustle Grow. I loved when Julie was first telling me about it when she was like, I need a new logo. And , uh, I was like, okay, so what's it for this time? And , um , but I remember her telling me her idea and , um, subscription boxes, it wasn't like there were a totally new thing, but , um, in her, the field of , um, focusing on women entrepreneurs, it was really a , a new thing. And so, you know, I, I designed the logo. Um, we should, we are hopping back , uh , tossing names around first. And that was really fun just to see it go from idea to conception to success. Like it's amazing to see where it's at today. So it's really fun. I love all the support that the women give each other. Um, I know since I , I'm a stay at home mom, I have three kids that I homeschool. And , um, without a community online you feel very alone. And so the community that you create is just such a huge part of the box. I don't think. Um, I don't think people when they subscribe for it, know what they're getting into when they, and then once they get into the community part, they're like, ah , this is what I've been meeting .

Julie:

The community really is an extension of the brand. And so often when, when we pull our subscribers of like what are the motivations for subscribing? Like why did they buy the box? And typically overwhelmingly they're saying they bought it for the stuff, but they stayed for the community.

Carmen:

For sure .

Julie:

So you and I have worked together to build the Sparkle Hustle Grow brand and now you work with other subscription box business owners and that's our audience. They're new and aspiring subscription box business owners. So can you walk us through the process that you take a client, when you're building their brand, their subscription box brand?

Carmen:

Yeah, so , um, I have now done, oh, probably over 50 subscription box brand now because of Subscription Box Bootcamp. And um, what I love is walking them through this process , um , for their branding. It actually oftentimes helps them really get a clear vision as to, you know, what is their box, the purpose of their box and who is their audience. Because a lot of times you have this fun idea and you're just ready to go, you're just ready. But then there's all this other stuff that you need to kind of know too. Um, so yeah , so the process I take them through is I start with a questionnaire. And from that questionnaire , um, I really help them define their, who their audience is. If they have a mission statement, um,I like them to describe the mood, the tone, you know, that they want their brand to set , um , and then also zero in on a niche. So I, when I first started in design, I was like, Oh, I'll do design for everybody and everything that , um , hindered me because I was never really good at one thing. And then , um, it was really hard for me to pick who am I talking to. Like, yeah , so my website, I wanted it to be pretty, but then I didn't want to scare away the men cause I wanted to take all the business, but that did not help me. And when I niche down is when my business exploded. And I feel like it's the same for subscription boxes. Your box does not serve everybody and it shouldn't serve everybody. Um, so during the questionnaire process, I really tried to get that information out of them. Um, and then I also , um, send them some Pinterest boards to start pulling together a direction board. And , um, and that's really fun. And I'd send specific boards because otherwise you can get lost on Pinterest for hours and so yet . So I send them specific boards to pin from. And through that I really want to know, you know, what is um , the identity you want, the visual reference you want for your brand. Um, so through that I'd get colors, pattern ideas. Um, I even have you tell me, you know, through there , what are some other local concepts you really like and why? Um , and so once we , uh, finish out your brand or I'm sorry , your , um, your direction board, then I start designing your logo concepts and , and that's really fun part to see where your , cause if you look at Pinterest, you'll kind of feel like, "Oh, it's all over the place sometimes". Or , or you might see, "Oh, I have a really clear vision". But what's really fun is turning that vision into an actual logo. That's your company. And now, believe it or not, this actually is the longest process. This takes about as long as a website, two to three weeks, because you feel connected to your logo and it's like your identity. So you , that is, it takes a time. It doesn't take a long time. It , it is the longest part of the branding process just because , um, it , you feel like it's your baby, you know?

Julie:

Yeah. We're all a mama bears protecting our brand too. And you have to, and um, a lot of people get really stuck when they're trying to think about what they want to do or like what niche they want to serve. And then, you know, I see so often and I get it. It's okay. Sometimes they don't have the money to hire a graphic designer, but every time I see a DIY logo, it just doesn't scream professionalism. It doesn't scream like that niche. It doesn't reflect all those things that you're talking about. So I really think, you know, if , if you, if you're listening to this and you have a limited budget, this is one of those things that you should definitely invest in because it's going to be with you for, you know, the , the length of however long your your business runs. And yeah, you can change it along the way if your focus changes. But this three and a half years in, I'm still using the same Sparkle Hustle Grow logo that you created for me.

Carmen:

Yeah. Yeah. And I've seen you use in a different way. So like we started with one, you know, one look , um , with the same logo and now we've taken it to a more fun approach with the same logo. So it's really neat to see how, yeah, if you have a brand that really speaks to your audience and that you feel good about, you are able to continue using it even as you grow. And you can usually add, you know , in whatever the new thing is. If you really feel like you need to , um , attract a younger audience and you need something that's fresh, you're usually able to add that into your brand as long as your brand is a strong, you have a strong logo to be added with. So, yeah, so I , um , designed some logo concepts. Uh, there's uh , you know, some back and forth on revisions and stuff like that. And then once the final , uh, logo is complete, I actually finish out your brand. So with that, and that's really like a huge part of this. So you have a logo, but then you have a color palette, you have font recommendations, you have , um, you know, a vision for what you want your brand to look like going forward. So what that's for is when you're creating your graphics in Canva , um , you know what colors to use. You know what fonts to use. So you're not just going with what is the cute thing of the day. The problem with the cute thing of the day, and you'll notice this in your newsfeed . If Canva comes out with a new template, everybody's using it. So, and you'll notice that you'll notice that everyone's using the same one. And what happens is you end up , um, getting overlooked as people are scrolling through their feed because they've seen that graphic before is what they think. Right? Um , but when it's, when it's your colors, your brand, it's staying on brand and you're staying consistent, then people will recognize that and they'll feel more comfortable with you. And once they feel like they feel like they can trust you, that's when they're going to be interested in buying.

Julie:

Yeah. And when you put together that entire cohesive brand, you use that to direct all your future marketing to , um, to share with other people that might be involved. You know what I mean? So we ha I've got team members and I can share the brand boards and the font choices and they don't have to get, and I feel like you guys, people like you as designers have an eye for like these two fonts compliment each other. But I've seen so many amateurs put together fonts that are just like, my eyes can't read that properly because it's such a contrast. And so having that, those font recommendations and um, you even do like a submark, right? Do you want to explain what a submark is?

Carmen:

Yeah. So often your logo might have an icon of sorts and it might not, but often it does. And when it does, or even if it doesn't, I create this little mark that you can use to pull off , um, to use maybe a stickers or as watermarks or maybe even as your logo on Instagram because you know, Instagram is so small, you can't really read a whole logo usually.

Julie:

Right.

Carmen:

Um , so I create that submark so that you can use that , um, on future projects or whatever , um, and in different ways. So it just , uh, it allows your brand to be , uh , it stretches your brand a little bit. Instead of just being a logo, you actually have this whole package that you get , um, uh , yeah, for your brand.

Julie:

So it's really comprehensive. So then you've built this brand, you've built the brand board, all your recommendations , um, you hand that over. And then the next step would be to design a, if someone's doing a custom box, taking that brand and translating it into the physical box where you're going to send things in. So what does that look like?

Carmen:

Yeah, so , um , often when I'm doing a brand, I , I always create a pattern that's custom to your brand because I know in the subscription box world , um, you're going to be using a pattern for something, whether it's the back of your , um , you know, "Yay! It's here!" card or , um, your box. So what I do is , um, for your box design, I try to pull elements from your branding, of course. So whether that's your pattern or you know, your colors, of course , um , I use that on your box design. And, but what I do when I do your branding is I make it simple in the files I deliver for you. Um , make it so you can actually go out and design your own backs if you need to. So if you don't have the budget to do all the things, I do try to create ways for you to go out and use these elements and make your own. But when I do a box design, I sent two concepts and I do one that's, you know, really, really out there usually. Um, and then one that's more in line with what you're asking for. So I try to ask you, what are you interested in? What do you like? And then as far as boxes go, but then I send you one an option that's a little bit stretching the limits. But the thing is is you have to think when this person gets the box, how are they going to feel? Right? So it's, it's easy to go and skimp in the beginning and just go with a colored box with a sticker. It really is like , um, it feels like, "Oh, well I just want to get a box in someone's hands". But you have to think about when someone's getting that in the mail, how does that feel? Does it feel as exciting as it would have that custom look? Custom box, you know? But yet , like your bright pink box, people have taken more pictures of that bright pink box and they'll mailbox than anything, you know, that I've seen in my newsfeed. And that's because it's something fun and different. Um, but if it was just a white box with a sticker on it, it's just not as exciting, you know?

Julie:

Right. And I think, you know, if you don't have the budget to do a custom box, that's fine, but just know that's something you can work towards. Like when you're, when the revenue is coming in and you're ready to level up with your branding, that's a great place to do it. And to be able to have your box stand out, stand out from all of the brown Amazon Prime boxes next to it on your doorstep , um, definitely makes it more shareable like you said. So , um , thank you for sharing that process of , of creating the logo and the boxes. So , um, what is one piece of branding advice that you'd like to share with new and aspiring subscription box business owners? I'm sure. Like something that they can take and use right now.

Carmen:

Yeah. Well, I would say no matter if you hire a professional to design your logo or not, the biggest thing you need to do is set brand standards and stay consistent with them. So , um, figure out what your colors are. Figure out what your fonts are right from the beginning and stay consistent so that it just allows you to have a more professional look and feel going forward. No matter what. You can have a homemade logo, you can have a DIY logo, but if you have a consistent brand and you set those brand standards in the very beginning, it will look professional and it will look like someone you hired a professional to do it. So to me, that's, that's the biggest piece of advice. Um, and with that you will allow yourself to stick out from the crowd. So the last, you know, we're so used to, we get, I think over 30,000 impressions a day is what is thrown at us. Right? And you can understand, like you're constantly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook. So you want to make sure that your brand sticks out from everything else. Doesn't mean you have to use lime green and pink. Right? But it does mean you don't want to do what everybody else is doing and, and you want to just stay consistent with it, just make it yours and stay with, stick with it. Um , doesn't mean in a year from now that you can't change that up because like I said, with Julie's brand Sparkle Hustle Grow, we've been able to change it up. You know, we still have the pink, but we've been able to throw in some other elements in different things throughout the years and you can always change it up when it comes to that. But try to stick with a brand guide and stay consistent.

Julie:

That is great advice. Thank you for sharing that. Okay. So last question. What's one of your favorite things about working in the subscription box industry? Cause you know, it's my favorite industry.

Carmen:

Um, okay. So for me it's all the fun idea . So my mother-in-law actually has a subscription box too , um , which is really fun. Uh, but it's really fun to share with her the different ideas that I hear . Right. So when I hold my calls with prospective customers or clients , um, I always ask them what their idea is . You know, what, what are they doing? And I've heard all sorts of them and they're really fun. And what's really neat is some of these ideas I never really realized I need it until I hear it from them. Right? So you might feel like you don't know if there's a market for it or you might feel like the market's oversaturated in a certain area, but when I talk with these subscription box owners, they always have something that makes them unique from , from all the other boxes out there. Right?

Julie:

So important.

Carmen:

Yeah. So even your business, this , you know, it's your box. It's focused that female entrepreneurs , um, but you have a certain voice and you have a certain way of approaching your customers. I've had other boxes who have the exact same niche actually, but they just have a different voice and that's good. And that's okay. And it doesn't mean that they're trying to take your customers. There's a whole huge market. There's, there's way too many customers, potential customers out there for us to ever feel like our box idea is not gonna fit.

Julie:

100%.

Carmen:

There's always a market for it.

Julie:

Yeah. I wouldn't a hundred percent agree. I come from an abundance mindset. There's more than enough to go around. As long as you're not doing the copy paste, you're not stealing someone's exact idea and the text off their website, but you're making it your own. You're, like you said, you're giving it your own voice. And I think that's important. And yeah, there's , there's more than enough to go around. So I love that until, tell us what's your mother-in-law's boxes?

Carmen:

Yeah, it's Grandma's Joy box and it's a box specifically for grandmas , uh , to connect with their grandkids. Um, and it gives them, you know, something to talk about , um , a craft or an activity, things like that because grandma's right now are really raising a lot of our children , um, us moms. Even if we're entrepreneurs , um, you know, if we're working out of the home, a lot of times the grandmas have them . If we're staying at home, there's oftentimes grandmas still have the kids, you know, helping us with a few hours a day or something like that. So , um, so yeah, that was her idea and she's done really great with it. Um , one thing I always tell my subscription box clients is , um, you know, the benefits of using the platforms that Julie suggests like Cratejoy for instance. Um, and this is not just a plug for Cratejoy, but I will tell you my mother-in-law started her box a year ago and on month one she only sold five. That's okay. It's not, it doesn't mean defeat or failure. Month two, she got, she happened to get on a list, a marketing list of great business ideas for, I'm sorry, great box gift ideas for mothers, for grandmas. And since second the second month, she has been able to , um, be debt free on her box. Her box pays for itself completely. So the platforms that Julie , um , promotes are really there to help you. So I , everything that you're doing in your bootcamp is just to help the customers and propel them for , or help your, you know, subscription box clients and help them forward. Um, and it always , it has worked. I mean, I haven't seen one yet that's been like, I tried it and I failed.

Julie:

And there's a lot of moving parts and so it's, it's more than a hobby for most people. So I'm glad to hear the success she's having. Um, and I loved when that concept came across the table when you were telling me about it. I was like, that feels like a niche that's underserved. And I think that's so cool. And that's one of the things I try to really recommend people is, you know, to niche down, to find an underserved market and to bring them something that's really unique and solves their pain point. And I think she's doing that with it. So I applaud her and I'm happy to hear about that.

Carmen:

Yeah. And you know, her box is also one of those , um , where it's really , um , important for you to zero in on who your, who are your audience is. Because when she first started, she thought her audience was grandmas . It's not, it's actually the moms, the moms of children, young children. Yep . So that's who her audience is. And so it's really important to figure that out in the beginning so that you are branding and , and talking to them through your brand, right? So if your brand is targeted to look like a grandma's box and your audience isn't a grandma, then that's going to be a problem.

Julie:

So they're , they're buying it for the grandma as like a gift . It's like , Oh, that's so sweet.

Carmen:

Yeah. So, but that's, that's part of the brand new process and that's really important. And unfortunately it didn't take her through the branding process like I should have. And this shows though, it really did, it showed how we skipped the questionnaire step and boy oh boys. We needed that stuff in there, you know, so it's really important. But yeah, it's a , it's a, I love the subs subscription box industry. I love the ideas. Um, I don't think there's, I don't think it's going to go away anytime soon. I think it's just building up momentum right now.

Julie:

And isn't it really fun? I'm sure you receive a lot of the boxes that you've helped build. Isn't it fun to see, like you started with that first conversation of concept and then it's grown into a physical product that you actually have in your hands that's gotta be really fulfilling.

Carmen:

Oh, I love it. And even if even if they can't send me a box when they send me a picture, Oh , I just feel like, Oh, it's beautiful. I love it. I loved seeing the completed piece of art, you know, and it's such a fun experience and , um, when other people love it too. I have a lot of customers will send me like love notes from their customers of I loved this box, it was beautiful or whatever, you know. And it's just really neat to see it come full circle. And um, once it's complete and out the door.

Julie:

Yeah. Well, you are so good at what you do. So I love it that you're part of our team and I just wanted to thank you again for joining me today. Um , I'm so grateful for the brand that you've helped me build. So guys, I hope you found a lot of value in today's episode as you think about your own brand. Um , if you loved this episode, please rate and review it so we can reach more people that need to hear these messages. Thanks again, as always for listening today, and I'll see you in the next episode.