The Challenge of Branding Yourself
When your'e a Graphic Designer - branding is important. Logo design and branding becomes a valuable skill in your repertoire, refined over many years experience. Presenting your clients with awesome, solid concepts that capture and reflect their business and personality. Do it well, and your services will be sought after.
I love the process of logo design. The challenge. From initial conceptualising and sketching, to digitising, developing and finalising. Happy clients. Now picture this. This time, that client is YOU. You become your own worst nightmare. Your harshest critic. You would refuse to work with a client like you!
Branding Yourself AS a Designer when you ARE the Designer
I decided it was time to update my branding. You might be thinking You're a designer, it should be easy - you do it all the time! Unfortunately the opposite is true! Branding yourself AS a designer when you ARE the designer is tricky business...here's a few reasons why;
- Design is your world. You are constantly looking at it, working within it, being influenced and inspired. It's constantly changing, trending and evolving making it difficult to settle on anything for yourself.
- Constant access to editable files. If you don't hold yourself back, you have the ability, software and knowledge to tamper with your branding files - every time you turn on your computer!
- Lack of perspective. It's quite easy to look at a client and see what they have to offer, what sets them apart. Looking at yourself is a bit more challenging - do you know how you are perceived? Or even how you want to be perceived? It's time to look deep inside. Terrifying.
- You like everything and then nothing. All colours are tempting. Then NO colours. They all suck. ALL fonts, then NO fonts...like I said - your own worst, severely critical nightmare unable to stop obsessing over the smallest details. It probably makes things worse that I'm also a Virgo...
How to Handle it
There is hope. Having run into these frustrating issues myself, I discovered a few helpful tips I'd like to share with you;
- Treat yourself exactly how you treat your clients. Follow the same creative process from start to finish. As a starting point I request that my clients fill out my Logo Design Application Form to gain insight into their business, values and preferences. So I did the same for myself. Sit down and assess what's important to you. I followed this by my usual design process of sketching, digitising and developing. On finalisation I saved off all my logo files for print and web use, and created a Style Guide to outline my new brand.
- Spend the time. It's never a good idea to rush a logo design, or any branding aspect for that matter. I've had clients request a logo design urgently - even by the end of the day! Bad move. A logo is a distinguishing mark that works to help make your brand recognisable - don't rush it! Don't skimp on time just because it's for you, not a paying client.
- Don't give up. Don't decide it's all to hard and purchase a stock logo, or copy somebody else's. The aim is to stand out remember! Why should someone hire you to design their custom logo, when you haven't been able to design your own?
- Take a break. You've made progress, but something is not quite right. Walk away for a day or two and look again with fresh eyes. A short break makes all the difference and the required changes will become much clearer.
- Go with your instincts. If your being drawn in a particular direction or style, or if a certain colour keeps on popping up - take note. There may be aspects that resonate with you on a deeper level or you have a strong emotional attachment to. Listen to your instincts and capture them with your branding.
- Have fun with it! Don't look at the design process as a chore, but a great opportunity. You are truly free to design and create whatever YOU like. You are your own client. I Had a ball naming the colours in my Style Guide. Rather than simply Red, Black, Grey and White, I decided to go with Redrum, The Darkness, Grey Matter and White as a Ghost (which put a daft grin on my horror-geek face).
- Ask for input if you need it. But not tooooo much input. A few valued opinions can be very helpful, but too many can create a whole new nightmare. Never try to please everybody or you'll end up with nothing but a red hot mess.
- Consider what's practical. As with any logo design, consider practical application. Is it for web use only or does it need to work as a single colour print? A watermark? Do you envision gorgeous stationery produced with special finishing that reflects the feel and personality of your brand?
My New Branding
Here's a little peek behind the scenes of my new branding - and I love it! Now I just have to resist tampering with it...I have developed myself a series of logotypes, icons, seamless patterns and more to put to good use on my art, graphic design and photography projects. You might even pick up on a touch of Silence of the Lambs inspiration with my Death's-head hawkmoth - though he's a smiley little guy! Quite loveable really.
I decided the go with a raised metal silver finish on the front of my business card, to highlight the moths - I'm so glad I did! They really are beautiful cards.
If you would like me to design your dream logo or business cards, feel free to contact me for a quote and availability.
It even has a Watermark
While struggling along this creative, slightly confusing journey - I sent a selection of business card designs through to some good friends and asked which of the three they liked best. They were all very similar, with only very subtle differences. Hanna declared that her head was going to explode and Rachel responded;
How very Patrick Bateman of you...
Being a fan of American Psycho (and horror in general) I naturally loved this reference! Who could forget that famous scene of comparing stocks and fonts on nearly identical business cards...