We had the good fortune of connecting with Lizette Cobbs and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lizette, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
The thing that people outside of my industry are probably unaware of is that branding is an intentional, continuous process that digs way deeper than just designing a nice logo and beautiful website. And there is no one size fits all approach to it. As a graphic designer, I naturally gravitated toward the branding and marketing industries, more so branding. This was because I began to see an influx of business owners who were ready to move forward with bringing their business to fruition but didn’t know how to. They would come to me ready to create a logo and/or website, ready to check that off their to do list. But one thing I realized as I grew was that although my clients were ready for the success they thought came from having a logo and a website, they weren’t aware of nor were they ready for the process that came after. In their minds, they come to a designer and may have some idea of how they want the logo to look, but mostly depend heavily on the designer to create something for them with little to no input, on the premise that they “trust” their designer. However, there’s a whole strategy that comes first and helps make the logo relevant. There’s a process to deciding what role your site plays in your overall business model. Otherwise, you’re paying for a “pretty little house that sits there and NEVER gets lived in”, a liability with no ROI. Just because you saw another company do the same thing and it worked for them, or someone told you this is how it works and you never stopped to think about what steps you need to take to grow your brand the way YOU saw it in your vision. Great and expensive logos and sites are not guarantees to success. They are visual proof of a greater strategy at work. The thing is, there is no secret formula to success! Branding is a collaborative and intentional process through which each business must go to understand how to bring them closer to their potential customers. It’s different for each business. One business could attempt to use the same blueprint of a wildly successful brand and fail to see the same results. Branding is an ongoing opportunity, not an item on a checklist that you HAVE to do. It’s a carefully curated collection of opportunities you get to seize in order to cultivate a one of a kind experience that will bridge the gap in between you and your customers! Branding is a strategy that is way bigger than just a logo or a website. And it’s one the business owner must actively participate in in order for their vision to come to life. Otherwise, some designer is just creating some beautifully random graphics that don’t necessarily connect to your audience because they come off as inauthentic. You get to see what works and what doesn’t through trial and error, after doing your due diligence of course. This is how the most unique brands are created and refined over time. So find a designer or brand strategist that is invested in helping you build brand equity and not just interested in giving you a pretty logo in your favorite color. It definitely matters!

What should our readers know about your business?
I own a visual branding studio by the name of Level Creative. This is where I use my background in graphic design to educate business owners about the branding process while I assist them in developing their own unique strategy, out of which come beautiful visuals that turn heads in the marketplace! What sets me apart is…me! I have my own unique branding thumbprint and well thought out branding framework that I use to bring each brand to life. I strive NOT to be just another graphic designer giving out designs without the instruction manual. My clients are creative visionaries, but they come to me because they need assistance executing and birthing the business baby that they’ve carried around for sometimes well over 9 months. I’m the one they rely on to help them make visual what’s been living in their head for so long. A creative mid-wife of sorts. But unlike human babies, the newborns I help birth come with instructions. In other words, I help my clients develop a branding strategy that will help guide and empower the decision making process throughout the life of the brand to help achieve maximum impact. There’s levels to this branding thing! This is what excites me. The fact that I’ll never be bored of branding because each experience is as unique as the brand itself, its leader and audience! As I established myself as an adult and into my career, I truly began to understand the opening line of Langston Hughes’ Mother to Son. “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair”. Truer words have NEVER been spoken. I started as a designer about 14 years ago at The REAL GSU – Georgia State University, where my biggest issue was learning Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I had no idea learning one little skillset would open up a world of opportunities for me. I mean I did, because that’s the point of college, but the path was a tad more jagged and strenuous than I had imagined. Landing and losing my first job taught me that as well, and gave me a nice set of skills and contacts that I still use to this very day! I arrived where I am because of lots and lots of happy mistakes and willingness to be open to the process. Oh, and YouTube University. I didn’t know I’d be working with branding and when I did decide to take that path, I didn’t know anything about it. But I’ve always had a ton of people around me to check and balance every design, branding philosophy and make sure I wasn’t just smelling myself because I was a decent graphic designer. You learn in branding that everything has a rhyme and reason. That’s the lesson. Everything you do in branding (and life) has impact. The point to branding is to control or influence that impact as much as possible. As complicated as it can seem at times, that’s literally it. How you show up determines how people react to you. As much as we overuse the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, it’s the whole point of the cover. The cover encases and protects the book, but it communicates the story to come. It’s job is to entice you enough to want to pick it up off the shelf over the plethora of other books and dive in. Or at least purchase it. I want people to know that I am a creative in the most real sense of the way. I don’t just rely on the paths, processes and devices others have made before me, I blaze my own trail and am open enough to innovate and create my own experience, something so important in branding!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
OMG, to wrap Atlanta up in one week? TUH! So hopefully my bff was visiting around fall because the temperature is mild enough to do everything. I’m not a big party person, but I love festivals, wineries, food and museums. Each day we visit a different area of the city. First we head to do the touristy thing and hit downtown to sight-see. The Mercedes Benz Stadium, State Farm Arena, CNN, Skyview, etc. We then head down Peachtree Street to do a bit more sightseeing from the car. We go to Piedmont Park and the High before dropping by Lenox Mall, hitting all the small boutiques from Brookhaven to Buckhead to Midtown. Next its on to Atlantic Station for lunch at The Pig & The Pearl and walk it off looking around the stores. Then for a twist we’d go to R. Thomas for a late “dinner”. Over the next few days we’d spend tons of time on the Eastside, specifically Old Fourth Ward. In my opinion some of the best dining and people watching experiences exist here. From the Virginia Highlands to Inman Park, we’d ride through some of the most charming neighborhoods, one of my favorite things to do. Then we’ll hop onto Marta for a little entertainment. lol Marta is always fun, when its not broke down or running late! We’d visit some of the beautiful parks, walk over Freedom Parkway to take in the breathtaking view and maybe even hop over to the the MLK memorial site. We’d do brunch at Le Petit Marche and snatch a burger from Gutbusters or Ann’s Snack Bar! Then back over to Ponce City Market to check out some of their peculiar shops and end with a nice toast and live music at City Winery. We would’ve scheduled her visit during one of the many music festivals – ONE Music, Music Midtown, Jazz, etc. So of course that’s on our to do list as well! On that Saturday, we’ll stop by Old Fourth Ward Distillery for a tour and then hop over to L5P to eat lunch at Vortex or Savage Pizza, followed by a bit of bargain hunting at Rag O’Rama! That Saturday night we make dinner reservations at BQE for some of their chicken & red velvet waffles. The rest of the night we’ll pub crawl down Edgewood drinking, dancing and vibing at some of my favorite spots! On our way back to the airport, we’d hit the edge of downtown and move towards the South / Southwest side a bit. Starting in Castleberry Hill we would eat a late brunch at OLG and head to No Mas for a little treat. Then on to the SWATS to check out the historic AUC campuses. We’d then drive to Tyler Perry Studios for a few photo opps and continue on to historic downtown East Point, hitting Kupkakerie for a few more treats. Then to the Camp Creek Marketplace for a little last minute shopping before hitting the airport. Atlanta can’t be done in a week, but we gave it a shot right? The history is so rich here, that there’s just not enough time to take it all in. There are countless other great places, but we’d save those for when she came back to town.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shoutout to all of my friends, family, business associates and clients who continuously invest in me and challenge me to be my best self. They see my potential as much as I do, if not more than. And it’s their efforts to strive for their best that sharpens my own intention and efforts! I couldn’t even name everyone! But I’d specifically like to be cliché and thank God and my mom, Pamela Brown, a beast with creating compassionate words that heal (in all forms). Thanks for your love, encouragement and guidance!

Website: golevelcreative.com
Instagram: @golevelcreative
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lizettecobbs/
Twitter: twitter.com/golevelcreative
Facebook: facebook.com/golevelcreative

Image Credits
Photo of Lizette Gabrielle, courtesy of Studio Texture

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