For graphic designer and branding expert Kate Male, redundancy was not a setback. It was an opportunity. “I used my redundancy package to start my own business,” she says.
Since November 2019, when she was made redundant, she has built websites, designed logos and developed the branding for start-ups and small businesses in the health and wellness sector. Kate, 35, is based in Romford.
“If you’ve got an idea of how you think things should be done and a buffer in the bank, take the leap,” she says. “Stay focused, set goals and go for it.” Kate is a Starling business customer.
Connecting with clients
Many of Kate’s clients come through word of mouth recommendations. She has also been approached by clients through Instagram and Pinterest. “I love Pinterest as I have a lot more control over linking back to my website. I use the platform to showcase my work as inspiration for others and to promote my blog posts,” she says.
“The blog posts that convert the most leads are the niche ones, for example ‘Logo Trends for Nutritionists’. Going niche is one the biggest things that has directed the right clients to my door.”
“I also think it’s important to show people what it’s like to work with you and what to expect. There are a lot of designers out there but not many that specialise in understanding what it takes to stand out in the luxury wellness sector.” Kate’s clients include nutritional therapists, personal trainers and yoga teachers.
To decide which blog posts to write, she looks through the questions asked by clients or followers on social media. She then tries to answer these questions in her posts. She also uses Google’s ‘People also ask’ feature. For example, if you type in ‘What should a yoga website include?’ Google suggests ‘How do I market myself as a yoga teacher?’ as something people also search for.
Kate’s website includes a free resource library, where people can download a range of guidebooks on topics including choosing a colour palette, or evaluating a website’s strengths. She finds that this free content helps to establish her expertise and attract clients.
She works with clients on a long-term basis, rather than doing one-off logos, meaning that she develops a much deeper and richer understanding of her clients’ brand and how she can help.
Branding tips from an expert
When it comes to branding, Kate’s mantra is simple: define, refine, align. “Define your mission, vision and tone of voice. Work out how you can turn your business into something personable that people can relate to,” she says.
“Then take that initial brand work and refine it into a niche. You can’t be everything to everyone. Refine your message so that you attract the right people. And then keep aligning yourself with your audience - know who they are and what matters to them.”
For Kate, this process should also involve working out what matters to you as a brand. “Strong brands are really good at communicating their values. People want to feel that they’re part of a tribe so when it comes to branding, you need that connection.”
Business banking with Starling
Kate has used Starling since setting up her company and uses the app to manage both her business and personal finances.
“One of the reasons I chose Starling was because it’s paperless. I want to run an eco-friendly business and being paperless is really important to me,” she says.
“I love having a visual representation of my finances with Spending Insights. It helps me so much. I can actually see where my money is going.”
Kate uses FreeAgent (available through the Starling Business Marketplace) to create and send invoices. “I’ve got everything I need.”