• 6 Initiative Team

Marian Claudio is the Director of Innovation Marketing and Business Development for 6 Initiative and is a social media savant. Read more about her story HERE!


Congratulations! You’ve finally launched your business! You’ve taken a step that most people will never dare attempt and we applaud you for that! Your product/service is this cute newborn infant, bright-eyed and ready to take on the world.

There’s one huge similarity that babies and start-ups have in common. That similarity is that there’s a lot of them. *ba dum tss*

Now that we understand that we are not the first people to start a business/have a baby(read up on our last post that explains this more here), our goal as parents to this newborn is to give it a personality and make it stand out. Unfortunately for us, we live in an age where wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men and cringy commercials with catchy tunes aren’t enough. In 2019, a social media presence has become the bare minimum to having a strong and marketable business.

5 years ago, social media accounts for businesses were a privilege to have. Now, it is absolutely essential and non-negotiable. When starting a new social media page for your business, one of the first things you think about is: “How the heck can I stand out from my competitors?” The answer is your branding. In fact, it is one of the biggest factors that separate brands like Apple and Samsung. What’s the first thing you think of when you think of sleek and innovative tech?


Having a memorable brand identity is absolutely crucial for social media and overall business presence. It is not something that business owners can overlook anymore. If you’re reading this, I know you probably understand WHY it’s important to have a good brand. The question that most people tend to ask us is “HOW do I create a brand that stands out?” as well as “WHERE do I even start?”.

From your choice of words and language, to the personality and tone of your images — your visual brand identity is everything that portrays what your business is all about. To start off, here are 5 simple tips on how to stand out from the rest when creating your business page:

1. Define your BRAND PERSONALITY and values

It’s important to understand the key aspects of your brand that you want to communicate to your audience, then translate them into a visual medium. Here are a few questions to get your creative juice flowing:

- In 3–5 words, how would you describe your brand? - What does you brand specialize in? - What are the core values of your brand? - What is the lifestyle your brand gives off? - Who is your niche/target audience? - What is the feeling you give off to your customers?

Answering these questions and writing it out will help you develop a clear branding voice and isolate a set of keywords that are closely associated with your brand.

2. Create a MOODBOARD

The next step is to create a moodboard based on the keywords you’ve chosen to help your brand come to life. To help you with this, I suggest downloading the Pinterest app to get some ideas. You can simply type in the keywords you’ve chosen and Pinterest will curate pictures associated with those words.

When creating your moodboard, include a mix of various colours, textures, patterns, and quotes to help you better visualize what your Instagram feed should look like. This will also help give you ideas of what pictures to take of for original content on your feed. Here’s an example of a wedding planner’s moodboard:

Your mood board should become the visual representation of the Instagram brand keywords your wrote down earlier.


Did you know that 90% of product judgment is based on color alone? That’s a huge decision to make for your brand!

From your mood board, you may see certain colours popping out. Reflect on the emotion you want to portray. Aim for a range of light, medium and dark options: 1 primary, 2 complimentary and 2 neutral options. Here’s an example:

From there, you can also choose a filter for your pictures to help with consistency when posting. Colors communicate your tone. So you need to think about what feelings you want to evoke.

Warm coloured filters convey warmth while cool coloured filters are more calming. I would suggest using a simple app like VSCO because it already has preset filters that are ready to use for your photos. Also remember to take clear photos and videos for your feed! If you dont have a good camera on your phone, do use an HDLR camera. Take a couple hours to have photoshoot for your brand so that you can have a whole collection of pictures to play around with.

4. Decide on your brand’s FONT PAIRINGS

Did you ever think that the font type you choose for your logo could say something about you and your business? Or that it could convey your message in a certain light? Most people don’t realize it, but the fonts you choose can speak just as loudly as the words you write.

Choosing a font may seem pretty simple, but it is worth spending some time analyzing which font best depicts your brand voice. For example, how would you feel about an accountant who uses this font on their website or social media pages?:

This font style makes this person’s brand feel like a total joke- like you’re talking to a kid who doesn’t know what he’s doing. That’s fine if your brand is related to humor, but there’s nothing funny about my money, sooo I definitely would NOT trust this accountant, despite what the text says.

Here’s a better example of correct use of a font. Serif fonts tend to represent tradition, respectability, and discernment. Check out how Harper’s Bazaar is using it in their Instagram profile:

If you’re still not convinced, there’s actually some psychology behind font type choices:

5. Create a story and post with a PLAN

Lastly, make your brand come to life my posting with a plan and creating a content calendar. The easiest way to do this is by downloading an Instagram planning app. Here are a few of my favourites: Planoly, Preview, Plann. Play with each app and choose one that you feel most comfortable with. These will help you craft your branding story and create a cohesive Instagram feed. You can easily drag and drop your photos onto the visual planner, rearrange them to see how they’ll look in your Instagram feed, and then save to schedule them. By doing this, you can take the guesswork out of posting, and spend more time focusing on other important areas of your Instagram marketing strategy.

These are my top 5 tips in creating a brand identity through aesthetics and design when starting off your new social media page. I hope it helped! Remember: visual brand identity is more than just photos. It’s the sum total of everything your audience can see when they look at you. Together, all of those visual elements tell a story. That story can re-affirm your values or take away from them. Bye!

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Stefan, our CEO, giving us his "Blue Steel"

Stefan Cheung is the CEO and Director of Corporate Strategy and Business Development of 6 Initiative and brings a wealth of experience from various areas ranging from clinical research, sales and innovation. Read more about his story HERE!

If you went on Instagram and randomly clicked on 100 people's profiles, almost 40% of those people would have something entrepreneur related in their biographies or posts. Nowadays, everybody wants to start a business and work for themselves. Can you really blame them though? Every year, cost of living goes up, your friends on social media are going on another Caribbean vacation, sipping on mojitos while you're stuck working the same job making 2% more than last year, while not being able to put any money aside for yourself. Sound familiar?

Then one day, as you're commuting home in some god-forsaken sardine can that your city calls "public transit" but is more of a sorry use of your hard earned tax dollars, a light bulb goes off in your head. "The next great idea!", you think to yourself. You pull your phone out of your pocket to write out your idea because that one motivational/entrepreneur/life coach/public speaker told you to after watching their video's for the 8th time on your lunch break.

"This time will be different", you tell yourself. But will it be different? I guess we'll know soon enough!

I say this because this was me, and so many other entrepreneurs that I've had the chance to get to know. However, let’s take a step back before we even think about starting a business. There are a lot of glamorous misconceptions on the so called glorious journey of being an entrepreneur. HOLD ON, what does that even mean?

By definition, being an entrepreneur is about participating in an enterprise at some level. Your product or service needs to offer a specific value proposition to an idea/product/service that is already existing (to remain competitive or innovative) or to develop a whole new product. However, a big step that does not receive enough attention is active due diligence and market research to scan the landscape and to justify the feasibility of the idea being one that can fill a gap, or improve the lives of others.

If you're going to start a business and you want to take one thing from this post, let me make this ABSOLUTELY CLEAR: It makes absolutely no sense for anyone to start any venture without looking into what is feasible, fills a need, or is marketable.

Furthermore, starting a business is a risk. A big one, and it’s not only about risking money, but it’s also risking time. I’m going to skip all of this as it would be best for another article.

When developing an idea, it needs to be refined continuously. What I mean by this is that you need to analyze your competition, and how well your competition is doing and the affected environment surrounding them. Do they have partnerships? Do you see new developments or pivots? Who and what are their customers looking for?

And NOPE, don’t even try to pitch the fact that there is no competition because what you offer is so revolutionary and innovative that no one has developed this idea. There are 7 billion people in the world, and the average person thinks anywhere from 60 thousand to 80 thousand thoughts every day!

6 years ago, I had taken a psychopharmacology mid-term exam. Basically, a night with no sleep. My friend at the time, and I had gathered at the Tim Horton’s at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. I was finishing off my undergraduate thesis at the time in substance abuse – yes I can definitely tell you certain stereotypes of cannabis-use are real, this research provided preliminary validation, at least for me.  I had an idea, being sleep deprived, that it would be great to have an application to be able to run cloud-based research analytics. I only had a laptop at the time, and didn’t buy my first smart phone until later that year. LG sliders for the win!

Anyways, we decided as a joke to pursue it afterwards with my friend who happened to be a programmer. I took on the role of the product/project manager – a role every initial Co-Founder/CEO will take on. However, we weren’t sure if it was worth pursuing further as the team I worked with was following other pursuits such as career advancements, graduate school etc. 6 months from the summer of 2013, my friend sent me a Facebook message about a company who had a similar idea. I forwarded this to my old team, feeling very disappointed that an idea I had could have been worth millions. The fact of the matter is that we got caught up with the idea that this service would take us somewhere, while another group of people were focused on execution. The most substantial difference was that they validated their idea and it ultimately won support from other universities.

Oh and after reading up on them, their team was STACKED…I had to admit, their credentials looked pretty sick.

This taught me 4 important lessons:

1) Research your competitors or startups/companies with the capability to run the same idea. You might just draw additional ideas

2) Validate the idea by networking with people in the same industry – this gives more credibility to your validation –

I. Please don’t have them sign NDA’s before you talk. If you can’t give a high level overview – you need to work on your pitch!

II.  I follow the assumption that people are too busy to bother developing your idea for themselves if they have their own stuff going on

3) You’re not the only one with a multi-million dollar idea – this made me feel very small, but helped me to see that I had to continuously be creative and agile in my ideation process

4) You’re not that good, there will always be someone smarter, faster, and better than you (and if not, don't forget supercomputers are a thing now. Google it). Be ready to outwork anyone, at least the mindset.

I. I will bet you that whoever is ready to outwork everyone else in the room, regardless of their genetic predisposition, will gain the valuable insights to be faster, smarter, and better. Of course there’s limitations, but that’s for another day

II. This was a very humbling moment for us as we felt at the time we had solved a (research) worldwide problem – it wasn’t the case

P.S. Almost a year after I had found out about that competitor company, they had closed down their start up. That’s too bad; I would have looked forward to their analytics application for my own research. I guess we all have more work to do!

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