FITYMI: creating your visual identity
If you can't tell from my struggle of creating my own branding, creating a visual brand for yourself or anyone else is HARD but I have a couple of tips from my struggle that can help you when its time to create a visual identity for yourself or a client. Before I start, there are many things to think about when you're creating a brand. I'm actually jumping the gun a little bit in regards of tackling visuals first but guess what? This is my blog and I do what I want lol! But just to know (and this is something that I'll cover in another post) there are a few things to consider before jumping into visuals such as: figuring out your audience and purpose. But like I said... that's a whole different blog post and visuals are fun so lets eat our dessert first.
STEP #1 A HEAVY CUP OF PINTEREST
Since I'm a visual person the first thing I did when tackling my visual identity was create a secret Pinterest board. Honesty hour: I've created THREE boards for my branding and the last and most recent is called "forreal forreal" because I was determined that would be the last one, fortunately it was! I suggest making a secret board because more than likely your aesthetic will change over time and plus you don't want the world knowing all of your grand design ideas right? Right.
After you create the Pinterest board pin any and everything that expresses what you want your brand to look like. This includes anything from logos, posters, architecture, to websites. The more things you pin the better. When working with clients I suggest pinning no less than 100 images, that gives both yourself and the designer (if you're aren't one) more than enough inspiration to move forward. After you pin at least 100 images try to narrow your selection down to 50. I know you're like "well why did I post 100 only to go to 50". Forcing yourself to narrow down the choices boils your selects down to the absolute main images you think will identity with your brand. Once you have your top 50 we're on to the next step which is analyzing what we have in order to figure out what we want. That line is a rip off from a classic movie called "Player's Club" in the words of Ronnie "you gotta use what you got to get what you want".
STEP #3 SPRINKLE LOGIC
Once you've identified what you like its time to figure out how to interpret it in your personality. This step can honestly be done before or after the Pinterest board. Realistically you'll already have this step completed if you don't eat your dessert first. Don't feel bad, I did and it was good.
There's two different ways to approach this, when working with a client I start all projects with a client questionnaire and set of branding exercises (that itself is a blog post). When creating my own identity I created a sub version of my client questionnaire and curated a list of words that describe me as well as different things that I like, which is what I recommend for you. Think about the things that reflect who you are. I love music which is something that was on my list. So on my side panel for my portfolio image I have "work work work work work" which is a reference from Rihanna's song "Work". I'm also a huge sneaker lover so I've created icons that represent my favorite shoes. Think about EVERYTHING! What colors do you like? whats something that people know you for? Is your favorite food oranges? then make an orange pattern. why not?
Also think about how you want to appear to the world. Do you want your brand to appear as playful and current? If so keep those words in mind when figuring out your branding. I highly recommend looking at brands/people who brands you admire and figure out what is it about them that makes their product and branding stick. Lets use the beauty brand Glossier, I LOVE their branding. It comes across as playful, modern, and in touch with the type of women using their products (mostly young millennials) which is also my audience.
STEP #2 FIGURE YOU OUT
Now we have 50 pretty pins of everyone else's work but how do we make it our own? The light bulb moment that helped me create my branding is figuring out how to identify what I like and replicate it in my own way. Easier said than done but here we go.
From looking at the snapshots on my Pinterest board (above and below) I started to identity similar themes between the pins just from analyzing what I have. Let's start with color. From looking at your pins what are the common colors? For me I immediately noticed a similar theme of pastels; usually pinks, teals, yellows, and a tan ish color. Once I noticed the similarities I selected about 10 photos and start pulling out colors (using the eye dropper via illustrator). This helped me figure out immediately the color palette I'm drawn to.
Use this method to analyze additional similarities. For instance, is there a common shape? or maybe even a layout? Try really hard to figure out what it is about the image that you like. Here's a few more examples of how that worked out for me. I noticed that I love icons that have a ton of personality and also align with the story of the brand. Knowing this forced me to think about icons that represent my life which resulted in my magic ball = black girl magic and yasss = a popular phase I use. Same goes for layouts, most of the layouts on my Pinterest board have a photo in the middle of a colorful page with text/graphics aligned around it. Once I realized what I liked the rest was easy!
STEP #4 TIE IT TOGETHER
At this point we've researched the desired aesthetic, pulled inspiration photos, and have figured out how to make what we desire our own by including personality. The final step is putting it all together and designing it! If you aren't a designer and want to create your branding yourself I highly recommend Skillshare. Its a monthly subscription service similar to Lynda (but wayyyy cheaper) where you can learn A MILLION things including the Adobe Suite. If you don't have time for that and need a designer then just call me. duh.
Hopefully this information helps! The main point is no matter what you do make sure its authentic! For me it has to be something thats really So Laci Like.