Branding your business is so important – before anyone reads a word of what you’ve written, or bothers to click through to your gallery, they are going to make an instant judgement based purely on what your page looks like. Your brand should be present across all your social media platforms, and the best way to keep track of what your brand is is to make your own fancy-pants style guide. Hopefully this blog post will help you out if, like me, you’re a bit of a beginner at the personal branding side of things!
As an illustrator, I wasn’t going to hand over the visual branding of my re-launch to any other designer – my page visuals have to be 100% me! Not gonna pretend that was easy – I’ll write more about the (many) mistakes I made later. Just figuring out how to sum up ‘me’ within a logo and a colour scheme was harder than I expected. I had a bit of a steep learning curve, but hopefully reading this will help you become less of a dumbass than I was at various points of this process!
Before you start: join Pinterest and make a mood board. Don’t add any logos or overtly branded stuff to your board – just add images that evoke the mood you want your brand to have. Once you’ve got a solid collection, use that to help you pick out design aspects – colour, texture, emotion, materials used, etc… I took waaaay too long to do this, but once I did, it was genuinely helpful!
Here’s a screen-shot of mine:
Pretty, right? You can see at a glance that I want bold bright but feminine colours, organic shapes and a bit of a retro-but-still-edgy aesthetic.
Anyway. That done, you can move onto creating the meat and potatoes of your style sheet!
Here are a few ‘must haves’:
1) A logo – or 4!
In general, artists and illustrators tend to have simple text logos with their name, so that their artwork can be the focus. I pretty much fall in line with that, except my name (Rachel de Ste. Croix) is hard to spell/pronounce, so I go by Precious Little. I created my visual elements first (the succulent you now see on my blog header) and then played around with a bunch of fonts from DaFont.com. Be smart and make a few variants for different purposes and dimensions! Check out mine above.
2) Colour scheme
Since you’ve been smart and started off by making a Pinterest board, you can use that to help pick out 4 – 6 key colours for your brand. Alternatively, use a colour palette generator like Paletton. Keep in mind basic colour psychology – for example, pink is (surprise!) considered very feminine and can be either soft and gentle or punchy and bold depending on the shade; turqouise is typically linked to creativity and bespoke brands; green is associated with freshness and growth…. and so on. In fact what I did was use the colours I had in mind to create the illustrated succulent you can see in my banner, and select the best colours from that with the eye-dropped tool in Photoshop. Once again, my palette is featured above this paragraph.
As before, use your Pinterest mood board to help you think about what kind of fonts you might want. Something classic? Hand-written? Brush script? Modern or vintage? I made my images before selecting any fonts, and chose ones that balanced well with my artwork (Fat Tats on the left and Cookies and Milk on the right, above). Download a bunch from dafont.com and play around with them. Try and select one ‘fancy’ headliner font and one other more low-key option. Do NOT choose two heavyweight, fancy fonts! Or, say, Comic Sans. If you were considering Comic Sans you should probably just give up your Secret Design Club membership card now.
4) Textures / visual elements
Once I’d selected my colours and some ideas for the kind of textures and shapes I’d like to use from my Pinterest mood board, I painted a bunch of simple patterns using acrylics. I scanned them in and tweaked them in Photoshop – cleaning up and smudges or dust, brightening the colours and adjusting the placement of certain elements until I was happy. I already had a good idea of what colours I wanted to use by this point.
5) Put it all together…
Actually, you probably should have been putting everything together as you go along! I added a few ‘inspirations’ from my Pinterest board for good measure. Doesn’t it look pretty? It’s also come in useful as a reference sheet for all kinds of things already! How exciting! :B
I’m pretty happy with it, and it’s the first time I’ve done this – I studied Illustration, not Graphic Design! But it’s been a good learning curve and positive experience. I’m totally open to constructive criticism regarding my work. I hope that you were able to learn a little from my mistakes and found this super-duper simple guide helpful.
Thanks for reading! Xx