Everything You Need to Know About Virtual Summit Branding with Kory Woodard

In this episode, we're wrapping up our branding series by chatting with Kory Woodard from Coded Creative to talk all about branding an online summit.

I’m so excited to share this episode with you because going in, I expected that by talking with a designer about branding we were going to get a complex process to follow. But I’m SO excited that Kory is the designer I chose to be on because that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth and you’re going to love what she has to say.

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Krista:
Welcome to the Summit Host Hangout podcast where you'll learn how to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit, no influencer status necessary. I'm your host Krista from Summit In A Box.

Today in episode eight, we are in a series about branding your online summit. We're actually wrapping up this series by chatting with Kory Woodard from Coded Creative to talk all about branding an online summit.

Kory has an absolutely amazing theme shop with WordPress themes, graphic templates, and workbooks. You name it, she's got it. It's absolutely gorgeous. She has a very impressive design background, so I'm so excited to have her on today.

I'm also just excited to share this episode with you in general because going in, I expected that by talking with the designer about branding, we were going to get kind of a complex process to follow to successfully brand a summit, but I'm actually so excited that Kory is the designer I chose for this because that assumption I made couldn't be further from the truth, and you are going to love what she has to say.

In this episode, we are going to cover

  • whether a summit should be branded separately from your business,
  • the process for branding your summit, which is way easier than you expect,
  • whether or not you should hire a designer to help, and
  • some amazing tips on creating your summit's graphics.

Without further ado, let's chat with Kory from Coded Creative.

Welcome Kory. I'm so excited to have you on today to talk about all things branding a summit!

Kory Woodard:
Yes, I'm really excited. I feel like you and I do everything. We always are like talking about stuff everywhere. We've had businesses together, so I feel like it's only natural that you have me on your new podcast.

Krista:
Yeah, this should be an interesting one. We'll try to keep it normal.

Kory Woodard:
No, that's not going to work.

Krista:
No. Yeah. It probably won't.

Before we start talking about the actual branding portion, branding as summit, tell everybody a little bit about you, what you do, and about the summit you're actually planning right now and how that's going for you.

Kory Woodard:
Oh goodness. Those are lots of questions. Okay, so I'm Kory. I started my business originally working with business owners and lifestyle bloggers to do design. I am now creating WordPress themes and all kinds of fun design templates and that sort of thing so that people can get really good design in their lives without having to break the bank.

I want you to look like the pro that you are with my design templates and themes and whatever else you want to call them. That's what I do, and you can find me at Coded Creative, but I know Krista is going to have questions about that later.

Anyway, the summit that I'm working on right now, I'm really excited. I got the idea earlier this year, and you and I talked about it. It's for service based business owners to actually show up and be found by people online and really stand out among their competition because there's so many business owners now. Aside from that, actually get booked, get clients every now and then.

Krista:
That's helpful.

Kory Woodard:
Yeah, that's important. As of recording this, we are dangerously close to me actually telling people that I'm doing this, which is a really weird stage to be in because you're like, "I've been working on this for so long and no one knows." So yeah, we're nine days away I think from actually announcing, and things are going pretty well thanks to all your fun resources.

Krista:
Wow. I'm glad I'm here to send you all my things. But yeah, I thought this was such perfect timing to get you on because you're in the middle of all of this yourself. You're not that far off from branding a summit, and I thought that was so much more helpful to bring on someone who just went through it rather than someone who could talk about branding but not like as it pertains to a summit specifically. I'm really excited to have you on with that specific viewpoint.

One question I want to start with before we kind of dive into deeper questions is something that I wondered at first, and I've actually had a lot of questions, and that is should a summit be branded separately from your main business?

Kory Woodard:
I think it depends. Personally, I feel like it's something that you are putting on, right? Krista of Krista Rae or Kory from Coded Creative is putting on this event. To me, it's natural that it's similar. It maybe doesn't have to be exactly the same kind of remake of your existing logo or the exact same colors or things like that. But I definitely think it should relate. Like look at it as a baby. Your brand had a baby. Obviously, it's going to look the same even if it's not perfectly identical.

Krista:
I love that so much. That does make so much sense. I haven't thought of it that way before, but you should be at least trying to attract the same audience. It makes a lot of sense that they would have a fairly similar look and feel, and how similar you want that to be just kind of depends.

Kory Woodard:
Yeah. Because I mean even going back to, you were answering a question in the Summit Host Hangout Facebook group that you have earlier this morning, and I read it and it was something about, how often should you show your face? And that sort of thing. I think the branding kind of ties into it too.

If people don't connect that your summit is hosted by your brand, then what's the point there? Having that added brand recognition is really not only going to make people want to sign up, but they're going to immediately know, "Okay this looks like exactly it's from this person." Not only that, but when you think about it, think about big events, actually in person events - what goes on in your city or music festivals or whatever, the people who are putting that on, they're using their branding for that. I feel like it only makes sense that we use our branding for our summits.

Krista:
Yeah, I agree. That makes the process easier, too. So I hope everyone likes that answer.

Kory Woodard:
Oh yeah.

Krista:
Okay. Let's say regardless of what someone decides to do with the actual branding and relating it to their business's brand, what are some important things to think about when you go to start putting your summit's brand into place?

Kory Woodard:
I think it's just like when you're thinking about your own branding for your business. You have to think about what colors are you going to use, what fonts? How are you going to make this baby brand kind of relate back to your original thing?

I don't think necessarily, and I don't know if this is the answer you were hoping I was going to give, but I don't necessarily think you have to put so much thought into it and get so caught up in it because I mean it's just like anything else you do. But you do have to think of those specific elements. What do you want the logo to look like? What do you want the colors to be? What fonts do you want to use? That sort of thing.

Because I know with your summit, Simply Profitable Designer, the fonts are a little bit different or at least you have a different script font that you use for that branding overall than what's in your main brand. Different kinds of things to think about like that.

But like I said, don't get so caught up in it that you spend forever because design is one of those things where you can easily get stuck in Photoshop or Canva or whatever you use and then you're putting off and you're never hosting the event because all you can think about is what you want the design to look like.

Krista:
One of the things you brought up was a logo. Do you think it's important to have a logo for a summit?

Kory Woodard:
I think it makes it a little bit easier to do some of the graphics just because I'm thinking about the templates that are in the Vault that I'm part of obviously. I remember looking at those and thinking, I sort of have a logo but it's not as detailed as what your summit's logo was.

I was like, how do I want to use this? You know what I mean?

I think it can be helpful in certain ways. It also can be really helpful if your speakers want to show off that they were part of your summit because otherwise they just have text to put like just a simple text logo, which there's nothing wrong with that. That's ultimately what I went with.

Krista:
Yeah. For my summit, I have like a text logo, something fancier than I could have done myself. But then there's also kind of like a more graphic version of it. I'm not really explaining that well.

Personally I love having those two options. I agree with you. I don't think you need to, but I really like that I can change it up on different types of graphics, different areas of my website. Having the one that's more of a graphic than just text sometimes makes more sense, and yet people love having those options when they want to have it on their featured section on their homepage or whatever.

Kory Woodard:
Well, and going along with that, and obviously this is specifically with branding, if you know enough about design and you can kind of build out the brand, so beyond just a logo. Maybe you have fun icons and that sort of thing. Because when you were talking about that, I specifically started thinking even about the Summit In A Box branding and how it has the different icons and those different. It's like confetti elements or something in the logo.

You could think about building out certain portions like that from the graphic logo, similar to what you had, and give it a little more life, the brand overall. Having those extra elements that you can use, like you said, on the website, on the graphics, those sort of things. It will get the overall brand of the summit a lot more life.

Krista:
Yeah, you're so right. Now it's having me think about icons on a sales page or social media graphics with a fun little pattern around the edges. Something like that is going to make it stand out compared to all the other graphics that are showing up on social media or all the other really pretty gross summit websites that we're seeing, all that stuff. It's not necessary, but I do think it's worth putting in a little extra work.

Do you think that this kind of stuff are things that people could do themselves, or do you think they're better off hiring out?

Kory Woodard:
There are so many amazing design resources online right now that are affordable. Immediately when I think about that, I think about Creative Market. Like there are different icons, hand drawn elements, logo things where you can just put your text in and make this really awesome logo. I definitely don't think that that's something someone has to spend a ton of money on.

Knowing how I felt before when I was really trying to decide is this something that I want to do for my brand? Not knowing the response you're going to get, how much money you'll make from it, that sort of thing. Investing in working with a designer for a custom brand and custom website. I totally don't think you need a custom website design for a summit. That's a lot of money to invest in just an event that you don't know how it's going to work out.

Now if you run your first summit and it's a blockbuster event, kind of like how it turned out for you, and you make a ton of money, and you see it being something you can consistently do maybe every year, every so often for your business, then by all means maybe the next time you upgrade a little bit and get something more custom. Or at least have a designer help you build out some of those extra elements that we've talked about, like custom icons or graphics or something like that.

But from the get-go, no, I don't necessarily think you have to. Because not even just with Creative Market, there's Canva and you can do so much with Canva in there, too. So yeah, I mean that's how I feel about it.

Krista:
I think people will like that answer though. I'm glad you said it that way.

Kory Woodard:
Yeah, because they're like, "Okay, I don't have to go drop $2,000 or $3,000 just to get a logo from a designer". Or not just a logo. Every designer who's listening to that is like facepalming because I said just a logo. It's not just a logo. It is so much more to branding, but still, that's a lot. That's a lot of money for someone to spend on an event.

Krista:
Yeah, I agree. Actually last week as of recording this, I had someone reach out to me on Instagram, and she's asking me all these questions about hosting a summit and one of the questions that came up is, do I know any designers who specialize in summit websites? I was going, "Holy crap, girl. That's an investment." So I'm trying to figure out how can I like package my website up and like give it to her so she doesn't have to pay for it. She would be paying me, but she wouldn't be paying for a custom website and all that stuff.

I mean that's why I'm making the resources I'm making in this Summit Host Vault and everything because I know people. They don't always know how to do these things for themselves, whether it is the brand or the website or whatever. The resources available like on Creative Market or things that each of us are doing with templates just makes it a whole lot more reasonable because it can get out of hand pretty quickly.

Kory Woodard:
Yeah. Not only that, but like I said, going back to not knowing what the response is going to be. If you've run it once and you know, "Okay I can pretty much count on this same return." But the very first time ever, I think unless you're just rolling in the dough, and then, by all means, can you please pass some out to the rest of us? But yeah.

Krista:
Oh my goodness, I love that. Yeah. My first time I was planning on making like $2,000, so there was going to be no custom anything happening for that. I definitely agree. Kind of take it easy your first time and see what happens.

But I want you to talk us through the process of branding your own summit. What did that look like, what steps did you take? I might interrupt you here and there to ask questions, but I would love to get an idea of what that flow looks like for you.

Kory Woodard:
I remember opening up my branding, which is funny because I literally just rebranded Coded Creative.

Krista:
Your branding for your main business, for Coded Creative?

Kory Woodard:
Yes, yes. I opened up the branding for my main business because, and like I said I had just worked on it, so I was like still knee-deep in everything and pretty familiar with it. But I definitely think I opened all that stuff up and then I started kind of just playing around.

You also have that fun step in there where you have to figure out what you want the name to be and don't ask me about naming because I'm terrible at it. But once I finally had come up with a name, I mean it's just like design with anything. I just sort of started playing around with one of my main brand fonts and the colors and just kind of seeing, "Okay, do I want the name to be stacked? Do I want to have summit as part of the actual word as part of the logo?" I started thinking about the favicon, that little icon that shows up in the tab in case anyone doesn't know what that is. Just really simple things like that.

Since my branding for my summit is so simple, I feel like I'm not giving you a good enough answer because I didn't spend hours and hours and hours on it. I will say that I still did open up Pinterest, even though I was looking at my existing colors from my main business and thinking how do I want to use this? Do I want to change it? I still was kind of looking around and seeing, maybe is there another color I can pull in here and play off a little bit more?

I thought about doing that, and ultimately I was like, "I really like that color. But I don't think I like it with my existing brand colors. So that's going to be a no." But I pulled out a secondary color, I should say, for my main business, and started using that a little bit more as one of the main brand colors. Does that really answer your question?

Like I said, I feel like since I didn't do like a ton of fancy stuff, maybe it's like a cop-out answer.

Krista:
No, honestly I love this answer because I think a lot of people, myself included, will come to this episode expecting to have like this big complicated process to follow. But here we have a designer who makes templates, sells templates, has been designing for seven years, you've been running your business, right?

Kory Woodard:
Mm-hmm.

Krista:
Telling us to keep it simple, stupid. Basically, you said your steps were you came up with your name first. I think that is a great piece of advice, and then just kind of start playing around with fonts, especially if you can relate them to your existing brands. Colors, again related to your existing brand. Let it be simple. It does not have to be this big long complicated process that takes months to figure out. This can be done in a matter of a couple of days even. I love that answer personally.

Kory Woodard:
Yeah, and I should say now that I think about it a little bit more, I did pull in more graphic elements when it came to the graphics for social media, promo graphics and stuff like that. I was thinking, "Okay, well this is a good graphic, but it's also kind of boring." Because I didn't have any icons or anything like that that I had worked into the branding for the summit. So I was like, "How can I make this stand out a little bit more? What can I do to make this a little more fun?" Trying to also go back to my main business core values and fun and creativity are things that I value a lot. Not only myself but in my main business. I just found some really fun graphic elements on Creative Market. Again, I'm talking about that. Then just kind of put them into the promo graphics that speakers and affiliates would use.

Kory Woodard:
Then I also kind of tied those into the like cover image for videos because I thought that would be another way. So people aren't just like, "Hey, I saw this and the rest of the branding seems pretty different." I was like, "How can I combine those a little bit?" It can be that simple. I think a lot of people look at branding in general as this super complicated thing, and if you're doing it for your main business, yes, there's a ton of stuff that goes into it. But if your audience for your summit is similar to the audience for your main business, then you don't have to think about a lot of those extra things that designers are going to ask you or you're going to have to think about when you're doing a bigger branding project like that. But yeah, keep it simple silly.

Krista:
There you go.

Kory Woodard:
I'm not going to call your audience stupid.

Krista:
I was just saying in general.

Kory Woodard:
I know. That's the saying.

Krista:
Something you brought up, I wasn't planning on asking about it, but now I'm going to, were social media graphics. Something you said was, of course, carry your brand over to it, but find different ways for them to pop and stuff like that. Do you have any tips or pitfalls or anything like that specifically for the graphics that go along with the summit?

Kory Woodard:
I think graphics, in general, are something that people get caught up in using the Canva templates that are available. Or they think about not really what is going to pop off someone's screen. Whether they're looking at stuff on their phone, or whether they're looking at Facebook on their computer or something like that. What is going to stand out among the rest of the content that is showing up on stories? On their feed? For me personally, something that I have always tried to think about, and this kind of goes back to when you and I were doing Coded Creative together from the very beginning, is at the beginning, these bright neon colors that Krista and I picked out are going to stand the F out among everybody else because ain't nobody else using colors this bright. Maybe you're not using neon colors in your branding. That's totally okay. But how can you use a bright bold color overlay on a stock photo and put some text on top of that and have that bright color stand out instantly on someone's stories?

Kory Woodard:
Because I think about the way I use Instagram stories, especially. I'm just clicking through half the time, I'm not paying attention to what anybody is saying. Nothing. Then if someone posted a highlighter yellow anything, I'd be like, "Wait a second, what is that?" Or black is another thing, and I think black gets a bad rap because most people are like, "My brand is white and light and airy." And that's perfect. That means black stands out really well on the internet, on your feed, on social media, on that sort of thing. Make sure you're thinking about the way your colors can stand out.

Kory Woodard:
Something else that I think is really important specifically when you're thinking about social media graphics is the size of your text. I see people make this mistake literally every single day. Their text is either too small or it's way too big or they used a script font and they put it in all caps, which makes me, I'm sorry if you've done that, but it makes me want to go vomit in a trashcan. I say that with the most love that I could possibly bring out of my heart. You really want to think about some of these things because I know for myself even I get caught up in, okay I'm zoomed into the perfect size on my computer and the text looks great this way.

Kory Woodard:
But something I always try to do regardless of what I'm designing for is if I am going to be looking at it on my phone, so if it's a graphic for my Instagram feed or for Instagram stories, I will export that file, save it, send it to my phone and go and pretend I'm going to post it. Load it up to your Instagram stories. Hold the phone away from your face. People who are listening to this can't see me doing it, but I have my arm all the way stretched out. Can you read that text? Because not everybody is lying in bed with their phones straight in front of their face and it's going to be huge. Also, not everybody has really good eyesight, so super thin, sleek fonts on a really small size are going to be hard to read. Just the same if you use as an extra bold font and you make it 60 pixels or whatever, it's going to be way too in your face and annoying and over the top.

Kory Woodard:
Especially people, if they're DIYing, maybe they don't have a creative assistant or a design assistant, whatever, helping them with these things. If you're starting from scratch and you're doing it yourself, or even if you're using your templates, Krista, or some other templates they found on the internet, make sure you have that extra time to load it up. Look at your phone, see how it looks. Post something private on Facebook or whatever where only you can see it and scroll and see how it looks, and think about that. I think social media graphics are something that we all are relying on for our businesses in one way, shape, or form, but it's not something that always gets the most attention when people are creating them.

Krista:
Yeah. Kind of just thrown together and be like, "Oh, that's good enough." When really if you put some thought into it, you can get a lot bigger payoff from that effort.

Kory Woodard:
Yeah, and that goes to Pinterest as well. I think Pinterest would be a great place for people to create graphics. That's another place where you really, really, really have to look at what is going to stand out in the feed so your summit graphic would stand out, catch someone's attention. Think about it. You're not only trying to catch someone's attention, but you're trying to actually get them to click, get them to go to your profile and hit that link in the bio, click the link on Facebook or Pinterest or whatever. There really is a lot that kind of goes into it that, that you have to keep in mind. I'm sure that's probably making people who are listening to this like mega overwhelmed on doing this, but don't freak out too much. Like I said earlier, don't let it paralyze you and keep you from doing this.

Krista:
I mean I don't think it has to be that bad either. If you are feeling that way, just think of literally the tips she gave that used bright colors, basically be reasonable with your fonts and look at them, and just make sure it's going to stand out overall. I think that's something we can do, especially if you have a regular brand that's put together well and you base your summit brand on that. I think it's not going to be a huge problem.

Kory Woodard:
Well, and if I can throw one other thing in here, I know I'm getting rambly, but ask your friends. Send a graphic. That's something I've always been so appreciative of since we have had our group that we created is that I always have people I can send graphics to, and they can be excited with me if I think they look awesome. You guys can give me feedback if they need a little help. Maybe the text does need to be bigger, maybe the headline needs to be bigger or smaller or whatever. It's so nice to have that extra person to kind of take a look at it. That's another idea too. If you feel like you've been looking at it way too long, just send it to someone else, even post it in the Summit Host Vault Facebook group. I'm sure everyone in there would be happy to say, "Oh my gosh. This looks so good. I can't wait to sign up for it."

Krista:
Right. Seriously, you guys, you're more than welcome to hop in the Summit Host Hangout Facebook group and do that. Kory's in there too.

Kory Woodard:
Yes.

Krista:
So if she sees something that really stands out, you know she can't help but comment.

Kory Woodard:
Oh gosh, you know. Krista knows I can't hold my tongue very long.

Krista:
This has just been so much good stuff here like to telling us to just kind of chill with the summit's brand and then giving these amazing tips with the graphics. But through all of it, is there like the top takeaway you want someone to get from all this?

Kory Woodard:
Probably the same thing. What I was just saying is don't let it paralyze you because I know design is something that people, as I said earlier, people get really caught up in it. They get worried about whether it looks good, or maybe they honestly are the opposite end of the spectrum. Maybe people aren't putting enough thought into their design, whatever it is. I feel like a summit, something like this for your main business, can be a life-changing, and I feel like that's a really dramatic word, but I have seen for not only you but for a handful of other people who I know who've done summits where it's really helped their business in multiple ways.

Kory Woodard:
So I want to say get in there, start playing around, ask for help. Seriously, don't be afraid to reach out to someone and ask for help, and don't let it hold you back from doing this. Like we were saying before, keep it simple. Don't feel like it has to be this big huge brand with multiple colors and multiple typefaces and icons and patterns and custom stock photos and all that stuff. It can be really simple because at the end of the day your audience is coming to your summit to watch the presentations and learn things from the speakers and from you. Not necessarily to ogle at how beautiful or how terrible your design is.

Krista:
That's a really good point. I think this has all been just so great, and I'm so thankful you've been able to come on and share this viewpoint with us. I'm especially thankful for it. For people who want to learn more about you, keep up with you online and see all the design resources you offer, where should they head to?

Kory Woodard:
You can go to codedcreative.co to find my website where I sell all sorts of themes and graphic templates and that sort of thing. Some of the graphic templates will be really great to help you promote your summit on Pinterest and Instagram. Wink, wink. Also, if you want to just keep up with the random day to day stuff that goes on in my life and stuff that I'm working on in Coded Creative, you can find me on Instagram @codedcreative.

Krista:
Thank you so much for tuning in today. Kory has actually been kind enough to give us a special coupon code to use in her shop. So if you do want to go grab some of her gorgeous Pinterest or Instagram templates or even a new WordPress theme, head to codedcreative.co and use the code 'summitinabox' at checkout for 20% off.

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If you do want to jump into a community where you can get feedback on your graphics and your branding and the entire process of launching a summit, head to the Summit Host Hangout Facebook group. In this group, we celebrate wins, share advice, offer support, and we would love to have you as a part of it. To join that free Facebook group, head to summithosthangout.com/community. I can't wait to see you inside.

About Kory

 I’m Kory, the color and design loving gal behind the computer. I’m passionate about helping women (just like you) confidently share their voice + expertise online and look like a pro while doing it. I sell WordPress themes and design templates crafted specifically for creative business owners and lifestyle bloggers. I want to help you show off your incredible content in a way that will help you hit your goals - both online and offline.

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