An interview with Janae Rowe, owner of Desert Branding Co
This week I’m featuring my interview with Janae Rowe – owner of Desert Branding Co. Janae offers branding, logo, and website packages to female founders so they can launch their small businesses without being overwhelmed by DIY. Design your brand with Janae and skip the stress.
More Small Business Interviews
Looking to start and grow your own business? Well, there’s a ton of inspiration right here. Read more small business interviews to hear stories of why they started, how they overcome obstacles and unexpected challenges, how they fuel their creativity, and much more.
Starting a business is not easy – it can feel like there are a million little things to do just to get up and running. How do you process payments? What legal documentation will you need?
But, for so many of the new and aspiring small business owners I’ve spoken with over the years, there’s one question that seems to rise to the top of their to-do list:
How do you design your brand?
When done well, the brand tells the larger story of a business – what it is, who it’s for, why it’s here, the values it upholds, and so much more.
And, it makes sense to me that most people want to start there – they’ve been wrestling with it as an idea (something in their head), so it’s only natural that they’d want to get something concrete on paper.
But, if you’ve never built a brand before it can feel a little overwhelming.
Well, it turns out, Janae Rowe noticed the same challenge. In fact, it was this key insight that led Janae to start her business: Desert Branding Co.
Janae and I first crossed paths digitally – on Instagram. When I saw that she was telling similar stories about how overwhelming the startup process can be for new business owners, I knew I had to reach out to learn more.
HOW IT STARTED
Like many of the small business owners I’ve met, Janae’s journey has not been a straight line. Rather, the path she’s on now is the culmination of seemingly unrelated experiences. There came a moment, however, where it all clicked into place.
What inspired you to start Desert Branding Co.?
“In my corporate marketing job, I was connected informally with a mentor. She had decided that, in addition to her corporate leadership job, she wanted to become a life coach. And, while she was going through her certification, we were talking all the time – she was my mentor, but I got to be a sounding board for her dreams and goals too.”
“She needed a website. At the time, I had some experience with that – I’ve started a blog, explored how to do that, kind of out of curiosity. I was like, ‘I could help you, I’m tech savvy, I can figure this out and put this together for you.’ She offered to pay me for it and I said, ‘are you sure?’ I was a little bit blown away.”
This is a lightbulb moment – a brief moment of insight, a sudden realization, a mixture of experiences that come together to facilitate an inescapable “ah-ha.” What comes next? Opportunity.
“I was so lit-up by the experience of helping her, how meaningful that was for me. Getting to do something creative on the side of my day job with complete and total creative freedom really awoke that spark.”
Janae’s degree is in fine arts, which has become a solid foundation for a career in marketing and branding, but her road to marketing and then branding certainly wasn’t a straight path. She’s worked corporate jobs for a decade.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS TO DESIGN YOUR BRAND
You need a specific, strategic focus to succeed in business over the long-term. Otherwise, you’re just a generic alternative. When you design your brand with care, customers will see, hear, and feel a clear story – and hopefully, a compelling one too. So, I asked Janae a few questions to dig deeper on how she does what she does.
What problem are you trying to solve for your clients?
“You shouldn’t have to struggle with technology, logos, or websites to start your business. It doesn’t have to be so hard. So many people start and they decide, I’m going to do this myself to save a buck. And, they wind up wanting to pull their hair out. It’s all more work and a bit more technical than they anticipated.”
“I was talking to someone recently about working together. They were trying to launch their website, ran into technical problems, and it got delayed. They had already printed their business cards with their website on it and they were so stressed out. You see, if you’re not set up with the basics, then your first impression may not communicate your value and professionalism – in fact, it may communicate the opposite. I want to help people see that you are a badass founder who looks and sounds professional and has it all together.”
A well positioned brand can give you confidence as a business owner – it’s not just you anymore, the idea is taking shape, there’s a brand behind you.
Tell me about the creative process. What does it look like to work with you?
“It can be tricky – trying to understand somebody’s visual preferences. So, usually, we start with an onboarding questionnaire. Who is their customer? What problem are they facing? How do you specifically solve it? And, how do you approach that differently than other people in your area? And, I try to position them as a trusted guide for the client.”
“Then, to establish some of their visual preferences, we look at logos in their industry. A lot of the time, we find a lot of bad logos. But, even looking at the bad ones can be helpful because I understand their dislikes. I might hear: ‘Everybody has that leaf, I want to be different, I want to stand out.’ So, I try to pull up examples – good and bad – and that conversation is usually about 45 minutes. After that, I craft a creative brief with some concepts.”
There is so much power in naming what you do not want. And, sometimes, it’s actually easier than trying to describe the vision you have in your head.
“I worked with a couple of massage therapist and she didn’t want anything representative. So, no hands or lotus flowers – that’s what massage logos usually look like. We wanted to do decidedly something different. Through this process we got to something really minimalist and refined. And, I think that in our crazy world, people are attracted to that.”
What I love most about these kinds of creative exchanges is that it gives us a chance to be intentional about where we’re going.
The zig-zag nature of starting a business can feel disorienting, like you’re lost in space. But, a solid brand strategy creates focus and clarity. It can ground you as you navigate the rest of the work.
What about this work keeps you engaged?
“It’s definitely the process of creating something and seeing not only the creative result, but the result of how the other person feels about it. The person I’ve created it for, how they feel about it, and how they get excited about it – that drives me. And I also have clients who have said, out of these three logo options, I don’t like any of them. Just like pretty flat out, like, no. But, it’s that much more satisfying when we come to a result where they are really happy with it. We have collaborated and worked that much harder to get to that successful result in the end.”
It’s probably no surprise that everyone has different needs and different preferences, which means that each brand package is a completely custom job.
It’s a creative back-and-forth, an exchange of ideas that eventually leads to a package that resonates with Janae’s clients.
The end result? They get to build the business they’ve been dreaming of.
DEALING WITH OBSTACLES 😰
I’ve been able to meet so many impressive small business owners over the years – whether as clients or in interviews like these. They’ve told me stories about all kinds of challenges and roadblocks they’ve had to overcome. But, there are three, in particular, that keep coming up in various ways: overwhelm, distraction, and avoidance.
How do these obstacles resonate with you? You’re invited to share your experience in this brief survey.
How have these obstacles shown up in your story, Janae?
“I think at the beginning of my journey, I definitely felt overwhelmed – not feeling sure where to put my energy. I ran into technical issues with my website and because of being blocked and not knowing how to get around that, everything was overwhelming me. Now, I’m running between two and three clients at a time. I think it’s probably more avoidance of what I know needs to get done due to fear or stress – writers block is a common challenge.”
“For example, I know we need to start the writing process, but it’s that kicking off part that’s hard sometimes. But, once you’re past that, it is so much fun because you’re in your flow. And, I love it. If what I’m writing for them is resonating, that’s fantastic, right? You can see it in their face.”
When you’re having trouble shifting gears, it helps to remember the reward on the other side. What’s the payoff for doing the hard part? It’s usually worth it.
For example, I love conducting these interviews, but reaching out to a new small business owner sometimes still fills me with a little bit of dread – so I avoid it. I have to remember the joy I feel once we get started.
What have you tried to get yourself back on course?
“There’s an exercise that I do. You take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. You write: thoughts, feelings, actions down each side. On the left side, you basically describe the situation where you’re not getting the result that you want – the current state of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. You can gain some clarity just from the process of writing and admitting the truth to yourself. Then, on the right, you switch to describing how you want things to be – but you write it in the present tense.”
I’ve done this exercise with clients (and myself) too. It’s incredibly useful to see the gap between the two sides of the page – two different realities.
“There’s a couple of different ways to follow up. You can go through and circle words on both sides and then identify ways you might change thoughts, feelings and actions. Another way is to take the left side, the desired state, and rip it up and just say, ‘I’m not going to be like this anymore.’ Then decide that you’re going to move toward these more productive thoughts, feelings, and actions instead.”
It sometimes helps to think of that last page in reverse: actions, feelings, and thoughts.
- What actions do I ultimately want to take? What do I need to see myself doing?
- Next, how do I want to feel while taking those actions?
- Finally, what do I need to believe in order to make these feelings and actions true?
It’s not about magically manifesting that other reality. It’s about choosing to invest your energy productively instead of unproductively.
“Otherwise, I would suggest just journaling – write about it. You’re probably going to discover the real reason why you’re avoiding something.”
DESIGN YOUR BRAND WITH DESERT BRANDING CO.
Desert Branding Co. is open for business!
“My niche is branding and websites for female founders. Either people who are at the beginning of their business journey or they’re at a point where they’re ready to take it to the next level with a more polished, updated look.”
By the way, if you’re a new or aspiring small business owner in Arizona, I’m accepting clients too. I’ll help you create, cultivate, and capture an entrepreneur’s mindset, so you can start and grow your business with confidence and step boldly into the role of business owner. Book a free discovery call today to learn more.
ONE MORE THING
Starting and growing a business is not a straight line.
It can feel messy – it zigs and zags, it starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok.
It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself.
And, that’s why it’s worth it.