…and a brief look at brand personality
If you follow me over on Instagram, you might have seen (or even taken part) in The Brandalong during August. For those who don’t follow me on Instagram, and have no idea what I’m talking about, firstly – pop on over as it’s where I spend most of my time and share my latest creations, secondly – here’s a quick explanation… The Brandalong was an interactive way to give you a glimpse into the joy of branding design. Together, we created a fictional brand, from scratch. With my Instagram followers choosing everything from our brand’s industry to the pattern for packaging.
Our Brand’s Profession
I love working with creative small businesses, and small brands who want to bring more creativity into their business. That’s why I knew our fictional brand would need to be in a creative industry and profession.
The two industries I have most experience of working with, and in, are weddings and lifestyle. So, they are the two options I gave my Instagram audience to choose between.
With lifestyle being the clear choice, I then offered ceramicist or textile designer as the choice for profession. These are two professions I would love to work with one day, so I knew I would enjoy creating a branding design for either.
The decision? Textile designer.
This immediately made ideas start pinging in my head. Thoughts of gorgeous fabrics, details, and textures. However, this wasn’t enough to go on to create a full brand identity. There are many different styles of textile designer out there, with a range of brand personalities. So that’s what we needed to figure out next.
Our Brand’s Personality
I’m not going to go into huge detail about brand personality here, as it deserves an entire post (or perhaps a series) of its own. However, I can’t talk about a branding design project without touching on brand personality because its an integral part of the process.
Creating ‘good’ branding isn’t just about choosing a logo you like, or your favourite colours. In the same way creating a brand isn’t just about branding.
Understanding your brand personality means understanding your brand values, and story, and message. It’s about understanding what you need to represent in your visual brand identity, to connect and attract your ideal clients (we’ll come on to those in a bit).
Through a series of questions, over a couple of weeks, we decided the essence of our fictional brand’s personality. We weren’t able to go into anywhere near as much detail as I do with clients on a real branding project, but we got to the heart of our brand and decided enough information to tell me what direction to take the design.
In short, our fictional brand was to be friendly, creative, full of ideas, uplifting, and honest. It was also important for our brand to have a graceful, elegant, supportive, and calm side.
Our Brand’s Vision
Our brand’s personality, mission, and message, all gave me, as a designer, clues for the style of design I needed to create. However, all three of those ideas are based on the here and now and what a brand needs to represent in the current moment. They don’t give a designer a huge amount of insight into where a brand is heading in the future.
Our brand’s vision told me that information. It let me know where we might want to take the brand down the line, and therefore what changes or progression the visual brand identity might need to allow for.
All brands evolve over time (they would be pretty irrelevant and become outdated fast if they didn’t). That’s why it’s important to think ahead and try to leave room within your branding for growth. It’s also why I recommend first-time start-ups don’t invest in a full branding package, unless they are incredibly confident that they know what the next two to five years look like within their brand. Side note: you might want to take a look at my Branding Basics Service if you’re a first-time start-up interested in branding. It’s possible to create a visual branding design that allows for progression and some tweaks, but it’s rarely possible to create a meaningful brand identity that allows for all possibilities.
Our brand’s vision, in The Brandalong, was to inspire a ‘switched on’ nation to get joy and calm from simplicity.
Our Brand’s Ideal Client Spectrum
If you hang out in online business circles, you’ll have no doubt heard the term ‘ideal client’ or something similar. You might have heard ‘ideal audience’ or ‘target market’, for example.
Many coaches, strategists, and even designers, will recommend you decide and focus on one ideal profile. Understanding them inside and out, getting to know their pain points (the problems they need you to solve), and working out what they need to see from you to know, like, and trust you enough to buy.
I prefer a slightly different school of thought (and I’m not alone, there are just as many respected professionals in this camp too). You still need to understand your ideal clients like the back of your hand, but I think the idea of a spectrum of ideal clients works better. I.e. not just one, but a few profiles. Personally, I think three is a good number.
All the profiles need to have things in common, and an overarching connection with your brand… but each has a slightly different reason for wanting to work with you, or buy from you, and you need to appeal to all of them.
Now, a little word of warning here. If your ideal client spectrum is too broad and each profile has significantly different needs, you’ve missed the point and have either identified ideal clients for separate brands or you need to get clearer on who you’re trying to attract. There must be more similarities between them than differences.
We didn’t have time to create three individual profiles so instead, in The Brandalong, we just focused on deciding the key traits of our ideal clients.
Our brand’s ideal client spectrum was working mums looking for uplifting textiles for their families and more ‘space’ to breathe; as well as busy women looking to fall back in love with their homes, creativity, and a calmer life.
Our Brand’s Name
Now, I’m going to hold my hands up and say this was the only part of The Brandalong I didn’t enjoy. I have offered a naming service for a real client once in the past and, though I came up with something they loved in the end, the process pushed me way too far out of my comfort zone. I decided it wasn’t a service I wanted to offer again. However, our fictional brand needed a name, so I had to come up with something.
Knowing what style of name we needed was easy, because that’s based on everything I know as a branding designer. The brand personality, message, mission, and vision, all played a part in the decision. We needed something friendly, approachable, and simple, but also with enough elegance and professionalism to be taken seriously. Actually deciding on two options, on the other hand, was quite tricky.
In the end, I came up with ‘Thread of May’ which captured a touch more of the fun and creative side of our brand without feeling too childish, and ‘Lana Dewell Textiles’ which had a grown up but still soft feel to it.
The decision? Lana Dewell Textiles.
Our Brand’s Visual Branding Design
I’m conscious I’ve already waffled on for over a thousand words (I could talk about design all day!), so instead of going through each visual design element in great detail, I’ll try to keep things simple.
I created two boards. One brought in more of the calm and thoughtful side of the brand, the other only used it as a hint – leaning more towards the creative and feel-good side. Both could just as easily have suited our brand, but it was about choosing which had the better balance for our liking. The second option was chosen.
Taking inspiration from the moodboard images (which I’d purposefully chosen for both their feel and colour), I picked out two palettes. One had a touch more life and ‘pop’ to it, the other was slightly more reserved but still friendly. The first palette was chosen.
The Main Logo:
Our Main logo needed to be simple, feel-good, and creative. However, it couldn’t be too informal, twee, or young. Option one had a slightly more forward-thinking and cleaner feel, and trumped the second option with a slightly more traditional touch.
I’ve yet to come across a brand that couldn’t benefit from one to three sub-marks. They’re a great way to keep a consistent brand identity across all products, media, and materials, without having to overuse your main logo. I created two different pairs of sub-marks to choose from. The first brought out more of both the feel-good and elegant traits, whilst the second leant more towards the simpler, friendly traits. The first option also included a little flax flower illustration, which connected with the idea of using linen within the brand (linen is made from flax plant fibres), so I was especially pleased option one was chosen.
The Font Collection:
Clean, simple, and approachable, with a touch of grace and calm. Option one was chosen with a slightly more modern heading and body font than option two, and a more creative and uplifting accent font.
The Artwork Elements:
As an artist as well as a designer, I love it when a brand uses artwork elements (such as line-art illustrations, or watercolour accents) within their visual branding identity. That being said, it doesn’t work for every brand personality. Thankfully, I knew early on, our brand personality was shaping up to be the perfect type of brand for artwork elements. I offered three options we could add to our brand assets – additional florals, some little ‘stitches’, and small dots. All three were chosen, which I was a little surprised about, but it ended up working really well.
Using the artwork elements, I designed two different pattern options. One just picked out the stitches and dots, creating a slightly more organised feel; while the other used all the artwork elements, creating a fun but feminine feel. The second option was chosen.
Our Branding Design Reveal
Pulling everything together is perhaps the most enjoyable part of the branding design process. It’s when you see the brand come to life, in a sense, and discover whether all of your work to understand the brand personality has paid off.
I don’t always get a say in how a visual brand identity gets implemented. I give a brand guide (in my full branding/rebranding design service) which gives advice on how to get the best from the branding design going forward, but ultimately it’s up to the business owner to make those decisions. So, it was so much fun to create the final brand reveal – with how I imagined Lana Dewell Textiles would use their branding across their website, product tags, and in-store bags.
If you’d like to see all of the different interactive questions, design options, and answers for The Brandalong, they’re all saved in my Instagram story highlights (under my profile) so feel free to go take a look.