Branding Interview with Kate Toon

“Dodgy design, like typo-ridden copy, doesn’t make a great first impression on new customers”

In this interview, I asked Kate Toon, award-winning SEO copywriter and SEO consultant all about her branding and what makes it tick!


Introduce yourself! Who are you and what do you do?

I’m an award-winning SEO copywriter and SEO consultant with almost two decades of experience in all things advertising, digital and writing. Originally from the UK but I’m now based just outside Sydney.

I’ve worked with big brands such as eHarmony, Curash and Kmart. And I’ve helped countless small businesses produce great content and improve their copywriting and SEO.

I’m the also the founder of The Clever Copywriting School and The Recipe for SEO Success eCourse, as well as co-host on the Hot Copy Podcast.

I also co-presented the Write for Business show for the Dale Beaumont’s Brin.ai app and recently launched The Copywriting Conference – Australia’s first dedicated Copywriting Conference.

What is your business? What does it specialize in? Who is your target market?

I have three core businesses.
The Recipe for SEO Success: An online learning hub for all things Search Engine Optimisation, aimed at small business owners, bloggers and marketing managers. The Clever Copywriting School: An online learning hub for all things copywriting, aimed at newbie and experienced copywriters looking to hone their skills. Kate Toon Copywriter: My business that provides copywriting services to small business owners, corporates, and ad agencies.

What touchpoints do you have that make up your brand?

The majority of my touch points are online. I have websites for each line of business and a corral of social media sites for each brand. I also have two podcasts to support my businesses.
In terms of print, I have one generic business card that covers all my brands under my umbrella site Kate Toon. I also produce promotional goodies for the Recipe site including pens, tea towels, mouse mats, note pads and postcards.

Why have you chosen these specific touchpoints? What about them makes them unique to your business brand?

As someone living in the digital space it’s very important for me to be seen as excelling at online marketing. My printer material is more fun and quirky. I also have special SEO cookies made to give out at events instead of business cards; they make a good talking point and also spread my brand further as I force people to ‘Tweet before they eat’.

 What mediums do you use to promote yourself?

All my promotion is online, I use Google Adwords and Facebook ads for my course launches, but other than that I rely entirely on content marketing through social media and my podcasts.
We don’t have a car, but we do have a large dutch bike, which features a big sticker promoting The Clever Copywriting School.

What do you find works best for customer engagement?

Without a doubt, Facebook groups. I find these get much higher levels of engagement and interaction that standard Facebook pages, and of course more than ads. It’s a more intimate relationship, like being in a small club. It’s more chatty and familiar and I think that helps build closer relationships with my customers. It’s also invaluable for me in seeing what they want from me, what courses are top of their list, what they do and don’t like about my offerings. My members are super honest and vocal, which is great.

Has your business always carried the same logo and branding or have you undergone a rebrand?

I’ve had the same logo on my Kate Toon website since it launched 8 years ago, but I’ve re-skinned the site several times.
My Recipe and Copy School logos have been the same since launch. I’ve had about 1000 headshots taken and change them willy-nilly.
It took me a long time to get consistent with my branding, I think I’m almost there.

What was the reason behind your re-brand?

At first, I worked hard to differentiate my lines of business, but then realized this was a mistake and tried to make them more cohesive. They each have their own colour palette, but the typography and branding is similar, I have a cartoon version of me that I use across all sites, in different branded outfits.

What has been the reaction from your clients? (new and old)?

I began with a brand that relied very heavily on a 1950s shot of me, which I grew to loathe as it looked nothing like me. My clients loved it but I didn’t.
Most people seem to really like the cartoon brand; it goes with my approach to business. I take business seriously but not too seriously. I like to have fun, be a bit quirky and my goggle-eyed cartoon works well with that. It also helps that my last name is Toon.
I think people find my brand memorable.

Based on your businesses branding journey, what benefits has your business received from having a solid brand?

When I got my brand together and started being consistent across my sites I felt my business evolved a little. I felt more professional and I think people took me more seriously.
I used to do all my own designs but now use a designer, there’s only so far you can go with Canva.
Admittedly I did create my Recipe logo in Canva and still use it to this day, but I understand the benefit of having things properly designed. I feel it brings everything together, makes me appear like a real grown up business human.

What do you think is the number one thing that has contributed to your businesses successful branding?

I think I’ve worked hard to make my visual branding tie in with my verbal branding. The tone of voice in my copy carries through to my design. It’s also very closely aligned to my own personality so there’s no disconnect when people meet me. I really do have goggley eyes like my cartoon.

Why do you think it is important for a business (no matter what size) to have a professional brand?

I think when you’re starting out it’s fine to cut corners and DIY your own design, as money is tight. But if you can afford a designer go for it. Their sense of what does and what doesn’t work will really elevate your business.
People are pretty savvy these days and I think they can tell when you’ve knocked it up yourself and when you’ve paid a professional. Dodgy design, like typo-ridden copy, doesn’t make a great first impression on new customers – and we have so little time to grab them and make them our own!

Do you have anything else which you would like to add? Thoughts or advice to readers?

I would highly recommend investing in Canva for Business. I use it regularly for simple jobs. I would also try to find a great designer to work with from day dot and get them to help you create a colour palette, choose fonts, and photograph styles. Then stick to their advice, be consistent. Consistency is everything.

© Studio: tiffany gouge