The Branding Girl - Uniting Design and Business to craft unforgettable brands for creatives

Ay!

I'm Julia, and I design brands

with a pinch of hand lettering.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a most discussed Design process that has revolutionized thinking in general. Classes and meetings have been transformed in the University of Stanford by Bernard Roth (read his book for more). He is an Engineering professor at the University and he applies the “circular line of thinking” in various depths of his work. They were the pioneers.

But what is design thinking anyway?

In his own words:

“Design thinking is an amorphous concept that was given its name by David Kelley, another Stanford professor and cofounder of IDEO, when he was trying to explain that successful designers have a different mindset and approach from most people.” – Bernard Roth

That is an excerpt from the book “The Achievement Habit” by Bernard Roth. I recommend you to read it, especially if you are not in the Design field. It provides insightful resources to do more and smartly.

I use and talk about Design Thinking [DT] a lot. It feels natural to me to solve challenges in a non-linear way. Life and problem solving aren’t black and white, but with tools like DT help us get comfortable with going back to basics when trying to solve a problem. It’s a like a muscle: once it gets used to the revolving problem-solving process, it becomes second nature.

Design is nothing but a tool to solve problems, whether it’s a product, a service or an experience. A “brand designer” is someone who solves problems within the branding and business systems, that are separated things, but very much connected. It involves many aspects that are not physical: how people react to words, perception, smells, sounds, and pretty much anything related to human senses. It’s a convoluted, complex concept to explain in a few words. Design Thinking consists of the following steps: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Each step can be revisited at any time of the process. If you want to know Design Thinking in depth, read this book by Ambrose and Harris.

 

Lettering and the iPad Pro

The Branding Girl - Ipad Pro

The iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil Combo are great Design assets. They are highly portable, highly efficient and the most important: I don’t need as many papers. I use to have piles of papers for just one project. It has made sketching more environment-friendly and even faster when it needs to be. As well as it allows me to mimic any kind of paint, brush and have all millions of colors without having to rebuy all of the traditional tools just to “test” something out.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pen and paper.

 

It has also sped my prototyping and my efficiency in Designing, writing and reading and even video editing. I am able to have thousands of books, highlight important parts and make notes so I can reference it later on my blog, for example.

Here is a list of my favorite apps for the iPad Pro.

Lettering is a big part of my work. It’s a unique approach to a brand’s letter marks. I have a strong background in Arts, therefore lettering is an extension of this passion. It’s not the same as calligraphy, however; letterings is more like drawing words and drawing words for a conceived meaning. You can follow my lettering and my design processes on Instagram more closely.

Live to Explore Animated Lettering by The Branding Girl


Your brand

What should your brand look and feel like? What values are you bringing to the world? How do you stand out?

An idea is not a product nor a service until it’s done. Until the work is done, it’s just an idea. Personalizing the experience to your brand is the key bring brand ambassadors in. How does your brand look, sound and feel like? I am here to help you figure it out.


Passion

The first step is for me to evaluate your struggle. I have a passion to finding out what a person struggle with and then build a solution together. I have found through Design and Branding a way to solve some of the problems I ran into.


Branding is an investment

Branding is not an expenditure. Branding is an asset, a tool that will increase your revenue, your business’ awareness in the market. And I’m your business partner, in a sense. Designing your brand is a huge responsibility (and an honor) to me.

A great brand can literally change how people perceive you. The words, the colors, the images and even. the smells can change how your brand is received in the market. Therefore, going economic-minded on branding is never a good idea. You need clarity on your brand.

An investment is typically something that will give you a return. How would you trust a business with a bad brand? You wouldn’t. Not only it makes you look more professional, it actually builds equity. You are creating history and as a consequence, you sell. And let’s make you sell more.

A brand will increase your sales. People judge products and others within 90s of first contact. Imagine if yours looked bad. If your website worked funky, how many people closing the tab do you think there’d be? If your product packing looks bad, or the product itself is not functional or appealing to the senses. See where I am going?


Everyone is a brand

You might want to say: “But I am an illustrator! I don’t need a brand!” Or “in the music business, branding is different!” It’s not. 

If you are putting your work out there, you are technically generating a brand without thinking about it — which is a recipe for chaos. A 12-year-old kid who is putting photos on Instagram is creating a brand, without necessarily having a business: she is crafting image, and a perception of herself. Even if she is hiding a trait or two because it doesn’t fit her audience.

Maybe you are not making sales because you aren’t treating your animation, illustration, photography, fitness, or music business as a brand, or even as a business.

The foundation to understand your business will be to define your brand as early as possible, and let it evolve and grow. Your only job is to nurture it. Let it grow.


The a-ha moment

The a-ha moment is the fun part. Have you ever walked in the dark, and despite knowing your house, you still sort of missed the door handle? Or you were stroking the wall in an attempt to not hit your face. And then when you find the damn handle, you go “a-ha, there you are!” It takes a special skill to walk in the dark and find the door handle, not everybody has the balance to do it successfully.

If you would apply design thinking in this situation, I’d say that maybe you need a lamp by your door or arm chair so when you have to walk, you turn it on without having to fiddle in the dark for the light switch or the handle itself. Maybe you thought that the problem was the door handle, instead of seeing the problem for what it was: the dark.

The a-ha moment, or the design thinking lifestyle, is the ability of seeing things by another perspective. Macro, not micro. When you detach from a situation and you are able to assess it for what it really is, you eliminate risks and mistakes that could be repetitive. Fix the well, not the tap type of deal. Simplicity is the key.


How I work

Part 1

Branding

Branding is about defining the qualities and personality of a business, which will support the creativity and the story on marketing campaigns. This part of the branding is conceptual and it is based on the following aspects:

Some businesses struggle on defining the items on the second and last points. They can be a bit confusing to define at first but I am here to talk you through it.

Part 2

Visual Identity

The VI consists of the visual definition of the business in order to facilitate an audience. People are more likely to buy from people they know, like and trust. By solidifying a brand through visuals (and through other senses, too) a business can be more easily identified.

What’s included on a  Visual identity?

  • Logo design (in three different formats);
  • Typography (fonts);
  • Color palletes;
  • Layouts (such as business cards, social media templates, banners, etc);

A visual identity becomes powerful alongside a well defined brand.

Creation methods

Design Thinking

The Design Thinking method was created in Stanford University in California. This method is a concept that David Kelley (one of the pioneers behind DT) uses to denominate designers that think and solve problems differently. This mindset allows us to solve problems from the root, therefore, believe it or not, it’s unconventional (specially in a world where being a Graphic Designer is a status). Fix the well, not the tap.

The logo creation and all the other problems that I face as a professional go through my Design Thinking mind. If would simplify (a lot) Design Thinking, it would look like this:

  • identifying the problem;
  • research;
  • ideate;
  • prototype;
  • selection;
  • implementation;
  • learning and iteration.

Design Thinking is not a linear process, therefore at any given time (specially at the light of new information) the Designer might find him or herself going back to earlier steps. For example, during the prototyping phase, noticing something doesn’t quite work, which would require more research, new ideas and new prototypes. The end goal is the result.

Lettering

Lettering is a technique to draw characters. It’s not calligraphy. Since it’s personalized, there is a higher possibility to inject personality in each character, adding more flexibility and uniqueness in the project and in the brand, consequently. However, the client always has the option of using fonts, of course, lettering is my brand’s asset that the client might solicit for a project.

Documentation

All my process is documented, because it has brand equity value for my and the client’s brand.