IGTV, branding, and perseverance, with Andy Johnston

13 Nov, 2019 | Podcast, Season 1

Meet Andy Johnston, a graphic and brand designer with his own company, Eido Studio. In this episode of the podcast, we talked about so many things! We covered how to do branding, how to use Instagram stories, what we’re planning for IGTV, you name it! Andy’s thoughts on perseverance and the ‘get rich quick’ mentality were fascinating and I’m looking forward to sharing that with you. If you want to connect with Andy, you’ll find him @helloeido on Instagram and on LinkedIn.

Before starting his design studio, Andy went to art college and did painting but didn’t finish his course. Instead decided to go quite a different direction. After getting a degree in theology he worked for a long time in a homeless shelter, and it was a while before he realised how important creative really was for him. That realisation opened up a world of options, but in 2015, Andy was awarded some career change funding, and he decided to wing it, retraining in design, at home. The funding acted as a first client, which allowed him to start networking, build a website, and put up a portfolio.

Choosing what to outsource in your business

As many of you know, running a business requires many hats, and lots of the tasks we have to do as business owners are not our favourite. Andy found for his first few years, he felt very motivated and on top of all of that, but things change over time. Even now he still doesn’t out source too much and so there’s a lot a problem-solving and challenging tasks he needs to still do on a regular basis.

Andy’s not opposed to outsourcing however! Instead he finds it more valuable to bring people in on projects, for their creative expertise. He regularly works with a number of copywriters (I was one in the past, although it’s not my main focus any more!) He finds the input of others to be really valuable for clients, and although he is capable of doing the copywriting, and often does do it for his projects, bringing in someone who really specialises in that area frees his time and energy up for the other elements which he really enjoys.

Social media strategy for graphic designers

A lot of Andy’s marketing efforts go into network and meeting potential clients face to face. Business cards are a really important part of that process, and the way they connect back to the website is crucial for creating the right impression. Building relationships takes time, and is difficult to outsource!

Although he started off with ALL THE CHANNELS (doesn’t everyone!) Andy has narrowed down his social media more recently to focus primarily on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Because the visual layout of Andy’s feed is so important, he uses Later App as a scheduler, as it gives a preview of how a post, or set of posts, will look in the grid before you upload it. One of his main challenges is quite different to what I usually see. Andy has a lot of potential content he could share, but finds that a little overwhelming, and so struggles to get things posted very often. I can tell you from working with him that Andy’s ability to think deeply and carefully about messaging and imagery is absolutely his super power, but I can see how, when it comes to the fast-paced world of social media, this same tendency can bit a bit of a block.

To me this looks more like a mindset issue rather than one you can fix with a different system. It’s hard for me to give advice though because my own approach is so different. In general though, remember that people won’t know about all your awesome ideas or learn anything about your business if you overthink it and don’t put anything out at all. Better to have 10 posts up which all give part of the picture, rather than trying to post one thing that encapsulates every single message you want to put across.

“If you have a great insight, and you DON’T share it, then you do everyone a disservice by keeping it to yourself.”

Andy’s approach to LinkedIn is a little different to how he shares on Instagram. The best kind of posts that he’s used so far include content about his branding work. Videos have worked well, which he made in Adobe Photoshop! Other options iMovie, and Adobe Premier Pro, and Adobe After Effects. Adobe Illustrator is Andy’s go-to for design work, so it makes sense that other Adobe products would work best for him. If you’re new to creating video then it’s always a good idea to start with some free options and work up to more costly tools when you have the specific need for them.

How to create your first brand

When you begin to work on the branding for your business, it’s crucial that you understand WHAT you’re doing in your business, and WHY you’re doing it. Make that as simple, and well defined as possible. Bad branding happens when the message is mixed or unclear. It’s not always easy to define at the outset, so make sure to stay aware of it as you do business, so you can spot of it’s changing over time.

Andy’s part of the branding process can be quite minimal. He shared the example of a restaurant he’s working with at the moment. The most important thing for their branding is making the restaurant a nice space that people want to come into. Getting the interior right is almost MORE important than the logo and the branding, so in this case, a light touch on the graphic design part will be perfect, as long as the restaurant itself is ‘on brand. There’s way more to it than the logo you stamp on it at the end.

If you’re considering applying for funding or spending your own money on branding and design, you need to be really clear on your brand story and so on before you speak to your designer. One way to figure out your brand story is to run your business for a while with “temporary” branding, which is how I did it. I freelanced under my own name before setting up The Whin, which happened when I knew what direction I wanted to take it in. If you aren’t able to do it that way, Andy recommends giving yourself time and space. Long afternoons spent in cafes thinking about how to tell your brand story is a legitimate way to spend some of your working hours. Try out different words and approaches.

For tools to help you frame that thinking, try Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why*, or his TED talk. Sinek’s approach works well if you’re combining your business with your life purpose. The Business Gateway have some useful brand guides, so try those out as well, if you are in the early stages and not yet ready to work with a designer.

What’s most important, Instagram Feed, Stories, or IGTV?

Trends in social media are often a cause for concern among people who use it for business – how do you know when things are changing, how can you keep on top of it? This was Andy’s question. I find that if you use a social media platform as a consumer, you’ll find it much easier to keep on top of trends and changes, than if you’re looking at it from the ‘outside’. I learn about how other people use Instagram by watching them do it. And I spend a lot of time doing that because I really enjoy using Instagram! But the flip side is that I see less of what people are doing on Facebook and LinkedIn, because I don’t use them so consistently. And I know even less about Twitter and Pinterest because again, I’m not using them all the time. But that’s ok! And that’s why I’ve chosen to focus my marketing efforts on Instagram, because that’s where I know I can be most effective.

Within Instagram itself, I use Stories and Feed posts very frequently. My approach is that stories are for getting to know people, a bit more personable, and less filtered. Feed is for ‘showing off’, so everything on there is on brand, and professional, and it’s all planned and considered in advance. Stories are more about having a bit of a chat, based on what I’ve been thinking about in my work life. This is what works with my audience, and it fits with what I’ve seen a lot of other people doing, but it’s not the only way of doing things, and I do see a lot of people doing it differently, so experiment to find what works for you.

IGTV is on my list of New Things for next year – I haven’t done any yet! Because I spent so much of 2019 working on the All-in-Whin Marketing Method training course, I’ve kind of drained my bucket on planned out video content. Stories are very spontaneous, and that works well, but IGTV needs to be better organised, edited and planned, because the videos are longer. Next year I’m planning on using it to teach people things, and to give them a taster of what I can offer in terms of in-person events, training, online programmes, and working together on projects. Some of them will be a similar style of content to the podcast, although in much shorter episodes, so if you’re enjoying Whin Big, then do check out @thewhinco on Instagram. Andy and I both agree Mike McGrail is doing a great job of video content on Instagram (which you’d expect given that makes videos for a living!) so look up @getgostudio to see what he’s up to as well.

How to survive starting a business

Andy’s advice to new business owners is just to persevere. You might be surprised by the obstacles and hurdles, even at the point of success. From his own experience, he’s found that challenges can come even when things seem from the outside like they’re going great.

“Don’t focus on motivation, it’s fleeting. Don’t focus on discipline, which can always fail. But get your environment right.”

Having found the above advice while researching motivation, Andy spend some time cleaning up his environment, and found it really helpful for his productivity. I would absolutely agree. When Andy and I recorded today’s episode back in September I was very excited to take on a similar project myself – and you can see the results in my Instagram post from yesterday!

Andy’s second tip is to beware of the get rich quick mentality. One of the joys of running a business is the freedom to create as much value as you can. But that can lead us to over-expect, financially, in certain situations. In fact, it’s more important to think about the overall value that you can give and get in the relationship with a client, not just about the price of the work. There’s always a balance – you do need to get paid. You need to be paid to get the freedom to create that value! But sometimes there are projects that are worth making the exception for, where the relationship is really valuable.

Get connected

If you would like to get in touch with Andy to have him work on your branding and design, you can contact him through the Eido Studio website. He’s brilliant – I would highly recommend Andy’s services if you’re looking for someone who will be thoughtful and precise. You can also connect with him @helloeido on Instagram and on LinkedIn.

* Links marked with a star are affliate links to Bookshop.org. When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to supporting your local bookshop, and a small portion comes to The Whin. The books won’t cost you any extra!

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