• Kim Bailey

Ask an Expert | Meet Chris and Jen from Mint Sauce Media

Chris Bayles and Jen O’Donnell are a couple who founded specialist branding and website design studio, Mint Sauce Media, to help ambitious York business owners create unique visual brand’s that speak to their customers.

Here, we find out more about their work to supercharge brands, and their tips for creating a successful brand identity and an engaging website that is truly representative of a brand's values, personality and goals.

How we got started

We created Mint Sauce Media two years ago. As a couple we had dreamed of working together and the time seemed right to launch our own business.

Chris had worked as a graphic designer and website designer/developer for over 20 years for a variety of companies and high street names, before working as the designer for The Great Yorkshire Show. We felt that working for ourselves gave us the flexibility and control over the work we did. In 2018 we took the plunge and set up our design studio here in York.

Supercharging brands

We chose to specialise in branding and website design, as we love seeing how our clients can really supercharge their brand with branding that is truly representative of their business and speaks to their ideal clients. This can be carried on through their website and any social media or printed products to give a really professional and engaging identity.

Creating a successful brand identity

We always spend time with our clients asking lots of questions to really get to know them, their brand, their customers and the market they want to enter before even starting to create a brand identity. Almost everyone launching a new business is trying to do so in such a competitive market that a ‘bland brand’ doesn’t stand out nowadays!

Trying to find the magical spark that comes from the uniqueness of each business owner and then translating that into an overall look is key to creating a brand that is authentic and different to all the rest.

A few basic questions brand’s need to be really clear on would be:

· What is your client’s most basic problem that you have the solution for?

· How do you solve this problem in a way that is unique to you?

· What adjectives would you use to describe yourself and your business?

· What values do you feel represent your brand?

Once you have decided on your brand identity, ensure you have all your brand colours, fonts and logos together. You can even add notes about your values and your brands personality on a sheet where you can easily refer to it.

Then when creating any imagery, you can ensure your brand’s look remains consistent, and even the tone of voice you use in your social media will still sound 100% like you – this is where you will create a connection with your clients.

Tips for a successful website

Getting clear on your website’s purpose is the first tip! Do you want to get customers to buy from your site, get on a call with you to find out more, or sign up to your email list? Once you know this, the website can direct your readers on the journey you want them to take.

Obviously great design always helps, it shows professionalism and credibility and trust. In fact, 94% of people cited bad design as the reason they mistrusted a website! This is a pretty scary statistic if your web presence is something you DIY’ed five years ago.

Website content that is engaging and concise is so important. People tend to skim read, so short paragraphs, bullet points or info-graphics help get your message across without a visitor having to read long pages of text (because they won’t!)

Your website is your shop window and should allow your potential customers to get to know YOU, and what it would feel like to work with you. Money invested in great photos of you is never wasted. People want to work with people so let’s see what you look like!

When writing for your site, you have a massive opportunity to get across your personality, so make your copy sound like you – it’s all too easy to fall in the trap of thinking you must talk in a “business voice” but it does nothing other than make you sound robotic!

Advice for SME’s wanting to ‘refresh’ or ‘up-scale’ their brand

We would ask WHY NOW? The answer to this will often direct the refresh. It could be that you are offering new services, wanting to attract a different type of customer, maybe you feel your brand is looking outdated in comparison to your competitors, or you are just not making the sales you want to achieve. The answers can be very revealing.

We would then ask you to identify your goals for up-scaling, which could be increasing your pricing, selling more of a product or increasing your brand recognition. This gives more clarity to which direction to take your brand, how your refreshed brand should feel and probably some initial ideas of the look of it.

When you are clear on these two things then you can start gathering inspiration that fits with the direction you see your brand going, the feel you want your brand to give to your customers and your brands personality. This will give you a great basis to start refreshing your brand, or you can drop us a message and we’d be happy to help out.

Plans/ambitions for the year ahead

We feel so lucky to live and work in York and plan to work with many more York businesses to help them create outstanding brands and websites, that work hard for their owners and help them really smash their goals!

York, UK

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