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Meet Mary Gutierrez | Business Owner, Brand Strategist & Designer

We’re so pumped about our conversation with Mary Gutierrez. Mary is a Business Owner, Brand Strategist, Designer and is also a content partner. Content partners help Voyage in so many ways from spreading the word about the work that we do, sponsoring our mission and collaborating with us on content like this. Check out our conversation with Mary below.

Hi Mary, thank you so much for sitting down with us again. For folks who might have missed our initial interview, can you start by briefly introducing yourself?
Hi! My name is Mary Gutierrez, I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia and at 25 I moved overseas to be with my husband. Since then, we’ve lived in countries like Italy and Japan and traveled to many places, and had priceless experiences. We moved back to San Diego in 2014 and decided to place roots here. I worked a federal job for some time until I decided to start my own business. Entrepreneurship has always been a part of the plan for me, and I’m very happy that it came to fruition.

Now I own and run a brand strategy and design studio in Chula Vista called Intrinsic Maven Graphics, I am the brand strategist and one of the designers. At Intrinsic Maven, we help small business owners in the Health and Wellness space develop the heart and soul of their brand. We take a deep dive into brand strategy and work with brands to develop a unique and clear message by helping brands tell their story through visually appealing graphics. We love everything about branding and being a brand mentor to our clients.

I also have a community initiative that I created called Support South Bay. This initiative is part of who I am, as it’s important to me to give back to the community. Support South Bay was created as a platform to spotlight small businesses within the South Bay area and have a place where the community can share, follow, and support each other.

What’s the most common question you get from business owners about branding?
The most common question I get about branding is: “Is my logo my brand?” My quick response to this question is: “I wish it were that simple!” A logo is not your brand, but it is a part of your brand identity. To understand brands you should break them down into 3 parts:

Brand Identity

Your BRAND is the perception of your customer. It is intangible, it’s a feeling. While your BRAND IDENTITY is the visual language you use to share your message (your logo, color palette, copy). You can see, hear, and touch it. Where BRANDING is the process of shaping your brand through developing your positioning, messaging, and understanding your ideal customer.

You don’t design a brand, you build it. What you do design is your brand identity through the process of branding.

How is Intrinsic Maven helping San Diego business owners?
At Intrinsic Maven it is our mission is to help San Diego business owners discover the heart and soul of their brand. To gain insight and regain focus and clarity on building a unique brand identity system (all the visuals of your brand: logo, imagery, fonts, color, stationery, website, etc) that grows as their business grows. We could just say yes to creating a pretty-looking logo, and promotional materials, but how does that truly help in the long-term success of your brand?

We focus on building a strong foundation by working on the brand from the inside out. We want to help San Diego businesses build and share their story in a way that connects with their audience through engaging messaging and amazing graphics.

We focus on Brand Development, whether it is a new brand or a rebrand. Our Brand Development and Identity package help small business owners discover their brand’s why through our brand strategy workshops. Through these workshops, we create a roadmap which we use to design a unique brand identity system (logos, messaging, and brand collaterals) that helps to communicate their brand’s story.

For those small business owners looking to completely blow their audience away, we also specialize in custom illustrated booklets. These fully illustrated marketing booklets serve as a story book to your brand story. Storytelling is an important piece in branding which we use to help business owners create emotional connections with their customers.

We also heard you are the founder of the Support South Bay initiative. Can you tell us more about it?
Support South Bay is an initiative I started to be able to give back to the community. With the pandemic hitting small businesses hard, it broke my heart to hear the closing of one business after another. I wanted to be able to do something to help in a capacity I knew how. This is why I created Support South Bay.

It gives small businesses within the San Diego South Bay a platform to be seen and heard. I love quotes that inspire and motivate and so I share quotes on the page to continue to encourage and inspire our community. My main focus for the page is on highlighting different small businesses within the community each week. The hope is that others will follow their business pages, visit their store or order a product or service.

The positive responses I have gotten from this initiative continues to fill my heart. I love the ‘community over competition’ camaraderie South Bay has shown each other. This is ultimately what it’s all about!

What’s one key takeaway entrepreneurs need to understand about branding?
I think it’s important for entrepreneurs to understand that branding isn’t just visuals and businesses really need to begin with developing a brand strategy first and foremost.

If you’re a business that didn’t start with strategy and decided to dive into logo design with no long-term plan, you will begin to realize that while the logo may look amazing, it just doesn’t seem to hit the spot. Why is this? Because it doesn’t align with your messaging and your positioning which in turn doesn’t connect with your ideal clients.

Putting in the work, and allowing yourself to put in the right time and investment into branding will give your brand a strong foundation. Rather than feeling like Frankenstein, where you piece things together as they come to you and in the end there’s little to no cohesion or consistency.

Do yourself a favor and look to hire a branding team that knows how important strategy and design thinking is before even putting pen to paper and begin designing, in the long-run you’ll be happy you did!

Any other advice you can share with our readers before we go?
I think the final piece of advice I have for business owners when you’re working on branding, always work from the inside out. What do I mean by that? Start with your why, your purpose, the reason you get up in the morning to do what you do. Because at the end of the day you create connections and build lasting relationships when your customers understand why you’re in business. I love to quote Simon Sinek “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Make that your priority when developing your brand before you even begin to think of what your logo or website should look like.

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