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Posts Tagged ‘branding’

The 3 things your brand needs now

The 3 things your brand needs now

There is an infinity of guides and blogs on the internet for you to learn about Branding. They will ALL talk about the same things. However, there are aspects that have been overlooked which could really help some to define their brand.

It all starts with an idea and seeking the ideal consumer. But when it comes to communicating with the consumer, some businesses fail. There are many reasons to that, but mostly is about not really defining the business well in first place.

There are actionable steps to help to start defining your brand.

What word do you want your brand to own in the consumer's mind?

Is that word and the proposal unique?

Are you prepared to be consistent throughout your business' lifespan, allowing the vision, mission, values, personality, and the word to be breathed within and without your company?


The word

Pick one main word that you will be focusing on with the marketing efforts. What is the main characteristic of your business that you want to be known for? How are you providing that characteristic through your products or services?

Be aware of your competitors, because you are aiming to be the best, and not second best. You want to stand alone when it comes to your consumer's minds.

On the other hand... Some businesses own the whole category. Is your brand so you unique it can be used as a synonym? Achieving that might be slightly harder, it cabe scary to niche down, or not always you haven't been as unique as you thought you'd be as a business. Have you ever taken a Xerox? Or used a Scotch tape? Usually, synonyms come with an invention that disrupts habits and how things are done. This might not be your case if you are planning to launch a brand to take wedding photography of animals (random, right?).

Your brand can only become the one in it's category by being the first one. That's the idea of niching down.

Narrow your focus

If you can't be first, you can be focused. By niching down, you create a sub category that you alone can lead. Becoming the synonym in a category requires your brand to be the one and only. Uniqueness.


The consistency

Being consistent requires discipline. In a business it's no different. Being consistent with quality, service to others, support, and so on is vital to a good reputation.

Provide value consistently. People notice consistency, and high value without consistency is a waste.

As Sean McCabe always says, people notice consistency and not announcements. Announcements during your favorite TV show is not fun. Ads on your timeline are probably not fun either, it's disruptive. People don't want to pay attention to it.

But what about marketing? How can you be consistent? Whatever form of content you put out, be consistent and always tie the marketing efforts to your one word. That generates the associations between the given context and your brand.


Providing Context

A brand is highly visual, but nothing happens without context. Associations must be made, and therefore, it's up to you to provide that context that people will need to understand where you come from, who you are and what you are on about.

By choosing the right words, brand name and associations with those is what will give meaning and a place in the consumer's mind.

Do it right, then you don't need to do it again. You just build upon it.


 

logo design with design thinking

Designing a logo with Design Thinking

A notable part of a brand is their logo. The symbol that represents the brand will be printed and displayed digitally diverse sizes, and alongside colors, shapes, images and typography, will help customers identify that particular business.

The logo is part of a system called visual identity, which is part of a larger system, the business' branding system.

The logo design process is different for each designer. I, for one, do the typography displayed alongside the symbol by hand, and that is called handlettering.

For the whole process, both handlettering and the creation of the symbol, I use a process called Design Thinking.

Design thinking was invented at Stanford University, and it's a problem solving process. It consists of seven stages: defining, researching, ideating, prototyping, selecting, implementing and learning.

The best thing about the Design thinking process is that it's not a rule, but a reiterative


Defining the project with a brief

When it comes to a Design project, Designers need to start off from somewhere. Usually, we get a mail, a call or a meeting, but that's not quite enough. It's important to acquire thoroughly information about the project, the company. That way, the design problem can be best defined and a better solution created.

I also will want to make sure that the person I am talking to is a decision maker in the company. It's easy to not get the full picture when dealing with a representative or a speaker of the decision making force of the company.

Some of the topics I will try to find out are:

  • who works in the company;
  • what are the company's branding specifics (mission, vision, values, personality);
  • finding out about the service, product, how they function, how they are sold;
  • finding out about the audience and the target market;
  • finding out about the mediums used within and without the company, how people interact with each other within the company is as important as how the company interacts with people without;
  • pricing of the product or service: this information reveals a lot of how the product is perceived in the market;

It's important to communicate to the client that all information is important. Nothing should be left outside of the conversation. There is always that project that ends with the client casually saying something at the delivery that could have been used to do a better job.

A brief should contain all details of a project. That way, the project will stay on its track. Defining the deliverables should be easy with the information you acquire.

It's important to remember that, with the Design thinking process, you are free to go back and forth on the stages outlined in this article at any given moment of the project or when the need surges.


Inspiration

Researching the brand, the audience, and the competitors will give an idea of the scope of the brand and the impact of the service and product on the market.

When it comes to designing a logo, it's important to take into consideration what the client has provided but not forget to expand the creative mindset by looking further than what's obvious.

There are different ways to collect information for inspiration. I personally like to start off by writing down words that cross my mind related to the project, either on a mindmap or on just plain list style.

I find useful to browse the web whilst throwing random words on Google to see how a certain word connects with its meaning both visually and perceptually. This exercise helps me to get out of the conventions I have of my own experience and my own perceptions of a subject.

Visually speaking, I create a Pinterest board per project to have an idea how the final brand should look like. Consuming other people's work extensively helps to bias my mind to the style that best fits the project, and also helps me to be attentive t details that I know I want to try out.


Ideation

The ideation process is that stage where you brain dump ideas. Some people like to be restrained to 10, but I personally prefer to restrain to time per sketch in the beginning, and then pick ten.

The point of quick sketching is to allow a variety of ideas to surge. That way, you don't need to worry about finding the perfect shape just yet. Seeking quantity over quality will allow a variety of styles, forms, and shapes that you wouldn't have if you were stuck with one grid or look. I like to do this without the use of an eraser and preferably with a pen.

The best sketches can be selected and developed further, with a little bit more detail and time allowed to work on each.

The tools and the methods are not really important for idea generation. It depends on what works best for you, I am simply outlining what works for me, my process and way of looking for a solution.


Refinement

Refining a bunch of logos, or prototyping them, will provide a better insight and allow a comparison basis to what could work best and what would not, as well as what can be done better.

Prototyping and refining the logos will allow the designer and the client to best visually a potential outcome to the project, and thus choose a direct in which to continue working on.

A prototype is a working model, which when it comes to logos makes less sense to define as if it was a product prototype. However, some particular aspects may be found in the presentation of these prototypes, such as dummy colors and applications (for example, on mockups).


Finalization

Typically, at this stage, I will have 2-3 picks that will be selected and developed to the final stage. It's not always so black and white, but I will always present the logo I think should be presented in the middle, after a "but" sentence. I know that the client will always have a personal favorite, but the logo that should be picked should always be the one that best represents a solution for the design problem.

Never present a logo to the client you don't want to be picked. If you don't want a particular sketch to be picked, don't show it. It's never the client's fault to pick a bad idea, but the designer's for showing it.

Finalizing a logo consists of making sure all the elements are outlined in a vector format, the color palette is defined, the typography is chosen and all the sub-imagery, such as icons and patterns, are ready to be applied and tested.

The finalization process is the one that will bounce you back and forth the most. Because we designers have this... Perfectionism thing.


Visibility

Make sure the logo you design is recognizable in small and big sizes, to ensure adaptability across platforms, such as on a website or app icon and posters.


Colors

It's important to remember the usage of colors when it comes to the industry and how colors affect our brain. You can read more about that here.

Also notable, colors appear differently in different medias. Print colors are even harder to be consistent with, since it differs from printer to printer, and even in between printing rolls. The material that it gets printed on might also alter tones.

The easiest way to ensure that the brand and the logo colors will be consistent across media is to define all the color codes.

Usually, I will include:

  • HEX
  • RGB
  • CMYK
  • LAB
  • PANTONE Uncoated, Coated and sometimes metallic

Designing on sRGB will to ensure a wider color space and better compatibility between different devices. However, each display will have a certain way to read colors, called color calibration, and it's nearly impossible to certify that the color will show exactly the same for everyone.


Spacing

One of the aspects that I am obsessed with when it comes to logo designing is spacing.

It's important to understand that spacing is an optical illusion. Round objects, like a circle and an "O" will appear smaller to the eyes when set aside a square and an "H" respectively. So, just because the spacing between an "O" and a "H" and a "I" is the same, doesn't mean that they are optically spaced and sized the same.

In the pictures bellow, the optical spacing and the metric kerning (space between characters) are shown to exemplify how your eye will perceive each.

Ohi Spacing Optical Spacing Grid
Ohi Spacing Optical Spacing
Ohi Spacing Pixel Spacing Grid
Ohi Spacing Pixel Spacing

The optical spacing fits better to the eye, and show better a balance between the characters. Notice how the "O" is slightly overriding the baseline when compared to the other letters so that it looks right when it comes to the size. The "I" looks smaller than most letters, therefore it gets pushed a bit further away to the right so that it looks its size.

When it comes to the spacing between the logo and the type, I like to pick an element in the logotype to create balance in the piece, like it's shown bellow.

Logo spacing

This practice creates usage boundaries to ensures consistency and right placement of the logo across medias.


Useful tools

Pinterest

Pinterest is my favorite moodboard website. Word.

Visit website –>


Google Docs

I use Google Docs in an interesting way. In the start of a project, I use it to uncover information from the client. I add him/her to the document, which allows us to edit it at the same time and have a conversation. That way, I make sure we are both on the same page (literally) and helps me build the brief and the brand book at the end of the project.

Visit website –>


Docracy

Docracy is a great website to get a template for a contract.

Visit website –>


Affinity Designer

I love Affinity Designer, but I use it mostly for Illustration. It is a great alternative to Illustrator.

Visit website –>


rgb.to

My to go tool to convert my colors between RGB, CMYK and PANTONE. I like to add LAB colors as well, so I use Illustrator to get the LAB colors and to compare the CMYK from RBG.to.

Visit website –>


Coolors

Personally, choosing colors can be really painful depending on the project. Coolors has a cool "random" button that will do the start for me. I always have a mood in mind, and as soon as I find a good color, I might adjust it, then I lock it and find other 2 colors.

Visit website –>


Logobook

Logobook is a collection of the old logos of the world, and it can really break our conventional approach to logo design because it doesn't follow trends.

Visit website –>


Logo Design Love

Another great Logo inspiration website.

Visit website –>


Trademark Vision

Trademark Vision searches for visually similar trademarks.

Visit website –>


Google Image - search by Image

A great alternative to trademark vision is to Google Image search by Image, which will come up with visually similar results.

Visit website –>

 


 

Should you change your brand’s voice?

Imagine two people who were really good friends once. One gets a job promotion is moves to the other side of the country, where they have a totally different accent. That friend who moved, let's call him Barnes, didn't have that much time to visit his old home town that much — but he did adapt quickly.

The friend who stayed, let's call him Nobles (original, I know) lived his life normally, occasionally being in touch with Barnes through less in-person means of communication, such as emails and text messages and very few occasional voice or regular calls.

When Barnes and Nobles reunited, however, the shock that the latter had on the speech changes of the first were huge. They could barely understand each other — even though they were still friends.

What was missing from their experience? Better communication and understanding of each other.

When you change your brand's voice, don't do like Barnes did. Occasionally tipping your audience that you are changing a your brand's voice will do more harm than good.

Imagine if Apple suddenly inject too much humor on their Commercials. How would their audience respond?


Questions to ask yourself

Answer these first before continuing.

  1. Do I really need to change my brand's voice?
  2. Who my audience is?
  3. How much communication do I need and where is my target audience at?

Don't cheat, answer these first. Grab pen and paper and quickly sketch answers to these questions. Use any format you like (lists, paragraphs, etc). I want you to adjust your answers as you read through. But do write your answers.


The answers

1 - Do you really need to change your brand's voice?

What are you doing this for? Are you rebranding or are you trying to look more like your competitors? If the answer is the later — and it probably is — then don't change unless you must and don't try to sound like them. Just like a logo, an identity color, a brand's voice is the ultimate recognition of a brand. In certain cases, humor is welcome, but in others, it's not. (Imagine a bank which brand's voice is overly humorous. Trustworthy?)

Place your brand's values and that of your audience's back to back and think: how would they hear me if they saw a creative post on Facebook with our brand sounding like that? Would it be genuine? Would they relate? Would they welcome the change?

Most of the times those answers are best answered not by you, but by your audience and target market themselves. You cannot anticipate how the market will receive your changes — until they do, or not.

However, they might be the ones turning you down over a competitor's better product or service. In this case, it's not just the voice that needs to change, it's the whole business concept — not the brand, mind you, but the corporative characteristics of your business. That is, maybe your strategies, values and mission, and USP are not strong enough.


2 - Who my audience is?

This probably should have been the first question, but if you stopped at the last paragraph and realized that was it... Then this is the next issue. If you redefine your business concept, that means you will be targeting a different audience altogether.

The law of contraction

Is your audience a tribe or is it a generalization of a characteristic?

The law of contraction (Al Ries, The 22 Immutable laws of branding) or what I call niching down, says that the more specific you are about who you are marketing and trying to create a communication channel with, the more you are perceived as a professional.

When you only do one thing, you get pretty good at doing that one thing.

What is smarter? Being everything to everyone, adding more things to sell, or selling one thing and being the best at it?

Certainly, the second option. You know what's great? Most marketers will do the opposite, and that's why you have just a handful of big dominating brands. Coke or Pepsi?

What happens when you cut a share of the market just for your brand?

Others will follow and copy you. You create a trend, a market and competition. That means you are the leader —and please, do it smart so you remain the leader of the niche you come up with. That means you will get respect.

What about the brands that do similar things?

Don't worry about them. Simple.

Learn from them if there is something to learn, but don't cripple your brand's values and mission for something that doesn't resonate with your brand's proposal.


3 - How much communication do I need and where is my target audience at?

If you came all the way down here — assuming then your business concept is on point and you are creating a new share of the market — you now need to assess your audience directly and deeply.

Who are they? Where are they? Are they young fellas that spend a lot of time on the computer, which also means most likely in the social media channels? What are their habits? What websites they visit? Ask yourself questions about habits of your audience.

Once you know where they are spending their time — and mind you, that could also be physically — you need to start communicating the changes. There are innumerous ways to do that, and you need to do that for a while for it to sink in people's mind.

One of my favorites humans, Sean McCabe, used to do lettering client works under his company SeanWes. That's the Sean I first "met". He shifted to a learning platform, where he other great people teach creatives to build and grow sustainable businesses. Some people still know him for the letter guy. Some people welcomed the change, some didn't. When you change, some people will love you nevertheless and support your cause, some people will hate you. That's ok. I still love Sean 😉

When you change the message, you cannot expect to everyone to understand, assimilate and agree with it. The same stands for your brand's voice. However, like every great rule, there are exceptions.

These exceptions are when the brand is too ingrained in people's minds. Changing a brand's voice is just not a complete shift (or a pivot, as we'd call it), like Sean's, but a nuanced one. It's the Apple example. Would you appreciate if Apple suddenly looked and sounded too messy and less minimalist? Too "old" or too "young"? Would the audience welcome it? Would it make sense in the brand's values and mission to make that change?


Go back to your brand's basics and do some thinking. Check back your values, mission, USP. Evaluate with your audience. Then come back here and check this article again and see if your answers to these questions remained the same or if they changed.

 

 

 

The best way to eliminate competition

The best way to eliminate competition

"Look for ways to be inclusive rather than competitive—for ways to help the whole team win rather than just one individual. As much as possible, it behooves you to erase the idea of competition in the workplace from your mind."

Excerpt From: "The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life" by Bernard Roth.


The idea of community within an industry is counterintuitive because it's new, but highly necessary in today's world.

I love being around and interacting with other branding designers, logo makers and letterers. I learn from them. Just because someone follows you, doesn't mean that they can't follow someone else as well. You don't like just one type of food, do you? There's no win or loose. Whether your lead a community or you are part of one, you will only benefit from it.

Your Tribe

In a tribe, you share the same space with people from different industries or of the same as you. There, you are able to share interests, knowledge, fears and whatever else, with likeminded people.

For instance, an animator within a community who shares techniques with other animators do not necessarily share the same geographical characteristics or even a niche with them. But instead of seeing them as so-called competitors, she sees them as partners. While she is animating lettering, one of the others is animating icons and the is animating characters. It's not because you share the same "title", you are direct "competitors". And even if you were. The internet is a big enough place — the world is a big enough place — to hold all of you.

Actually, do yourself a favor and eliminate the concept of competition from your mind. A well defined brand has a well defined target audience and market. Your problem is not what someone else is doing, but what you ought to be doing. Erase the externals and reinvent the internals. I am not asking you to alienate your brand, but to secure it. Be ahead instead of following.

Selling and Being sold

Brands are not sold anymore, they are bought. That means that if a certain individual doesn't resonate with Apple, they are not bought into it, therefore they don't buy from it. It's not just Apple that doesn't sell to them.

To eliminate the concept of competition: regardless of what happens externally, you need to be able to recognize what motivates you. This means that, if you love tech and you are always on top the game, knowing what's going on and applying what you know, who then can do it better than you?

Be obsessed with finding out what you don't know. Community is a great way to do that, because there will be people with different knowledge levels and backgrounds who will help you with finding resources and genuinely caring about what you do. Seek diversity.

However, it has to be two ways, otherwise you are an opportunist and a selfish leech in a group of genuine people. Teach what you know, so that more people can grow. If you are constantly learning, you will be ahead of the game. Being inclusive means taking care of the newbies as well as the intermediate people.

You can teach and find community in various forms. But mind you, for it to be worthwhile it has to be reciprocal. You need to share and you need to listen. Whether you pay a membership to someone who owns a community, whether you watch YouTube, listen to podcasts and read books. When you are simply consuming content, you have an extra step to take, because then it's not an environment of community but rather straight forward gaining knowledge. The key is to find ways to interact with other people and share value.


Quick wins:

  • Being inclusive rather than competitive brings the most rewards;
  • Being part of a community means getting touch with a multitude of knowledge only possible through diversity;
  • The internet and the world are big enough places: just because you share an industry with someone doesn't mean that you can't share knowledge;
  • External factors should not dictate your actions, rather, you should find what motivates you;
  • Brands are not sold, they are bought;
  • Be obsessed about knowledge;
  • Be genuine and use reciprocity in life and community;
  • Teach what you know, there is always someone who knows less than you do.

Start Growing


How Procreate App and the iPad Pro changed my workflow

How Procreate App and the iPad Pro changed my workflow

One day I woke up and Photoshop and Illustrator weren't cooperating. Or maybe it was my computer having its days. It was that day that I said "enough" to depending on just one device. If I really have to depend on technology, I might as well have a backup device, right? You've gotta be prepared.

Having multiple devices saves time. And time is precious. If one doesn't work, you jump to the next and think about how to fix the other later. Or you know, ask someone to figure it out.

I am an Apple maniac (no, this is not sponsored). I watch all the keynotes. I read all the blogs. I am hooked about the brand and the way they do marketing. The choice, then, was between an iPad Pro and a MacBook Pro.


Why the iPad

Little did I know. After a little research I found the Procreate App. I was blown away. I found a device and an app that would change my workflow and help me depend less on buggy apps (sorry Adobe, it's true).

Moreover, I can go around with just the iPad. No more thousands of sketchbooks. Traveling light? YES! I am not saying, however, that you shouldn't use regular media to work with. In my point of view, it does save a lot of paper, pen and pencil. I am still fascinated by paper, even if I use it less in my workflow.

In truth, the tool you use doesn't matter much. It all depends how it fits in your workflow and how much time it saves you. If you are like me, and you do a bunch of sketches and you need a backlit table, than maybe having a tablet like the iPad is a good idea and it will save you some money and time on the long run.


Designing

I love to sketch on the iPad using Procreate. I even developed my own brushes to sketch my lettering works, ones that makes it feel more natural. 

Talking about natural, let's talk about the Apple Pencil. The weight, the material and the overall design make it really intuitive and seamless to handle it. It just feels right. As a Visual Identity Designer, I depend heavily on my pencils and I was a bit skeptical with it substituting the regular pencil, or if I'd adapt. It's more precise than all pressure sensitive styluses I have tried and seen. It's a no-brainer for creative Apple Pro users.

There are many great other apps, but Procreate is my to-go, specially because the price and value don't match. That's right. I would have paid way more for that app. So good, almost as good as chocolate.

Anyway, it allows you to create your own brushes (much like Photoshop). You add a brush tip and a grain and all the dynamics. It also allows you to create and store sets of brushes and color palettes.

In the latest update, it has also added the possibility to stream and record the screen (it has always made a cool timelapse of your works automatically).

 

Procreate has sped up and cleaned my process, as well as made it easier to document it. I can now make cool videos for my clients if I wish to. It has many other great features.

All in all, the iPad Pro + Procreate combo has made my life as a roaming Designer lighter and faster.

Writing

That's right. Writing with the iPad Pro is awesome. The Smart Keyboard has an awesome key travel. The flow is there, you don't need to apply too much force to click. Right now, I use iA Writer both on iOS and on the Mac to write most my content, and Day One for journaling. There are many other great apps, like Ulysses, that work seamlessly between devices.

And then there are apps like Penultimate and Journal that have made my meetings with clients seem "cooler". In reality, it became more interactive. We get to draw and write our ideas as we go. Yes, much like with real paper and pencils but without wasting tons of material or losing important papers while commuting (I had that issue!).

Photography

I sometimes go around photo-shooting bands. It's just a side hustle, but, on the road, you've gotta edit. I have found it is extra handy editing on the iPad. I have a 760D from Canon, that connects with the iPad allowing me to edit with Adobe Lightroom and Pixelmator.

Even tho I could have gone for the Mac Book, I'd still would have to carry a bunch of papers and the Bamboo Fun for editing.

In fact, I have shown iPad (not necessarily the Pro in this case) + Camera + Adobe Lightroom combo for a photographer friend/client of mine and she was amazed.

Now I am down to one amazing device + one single pencil and a bunch of awesome, powerful apps, like Procreate.

Reading

Reading is a passion of mine, and I must say I was excited to have thousands of books on the iPad as I was with Procreate.

I mostly use Scribd and iBooks, but for example, my mom uses Amazon's Kindle and there is also Bluefire Reader.

I read a lot, a medium of 50 books a year. Some of them more than once. I sometimes cannot figure out what I have read where. The iPad has made it easier to hightlight, annotate and find passages and quotes in books. It's a very complete and seamless experience, even if you a night reader like me. I only read before bed, so reading with a backlit device is not a good idea... However, you can fix the light within the reading app's configuration and within the iPad's configuration as well use Nightmode.


Quick wins:

  • having multiple devices is a back up;
  • the iPad Pro + Apple Pencil + Procreate app is a great sketching /painting combo;
  • The tool you use doesn't matter much, as long as it saves you time;
  • The iPad Pro + Apple Pencil can be an amazing asset to graphic designers, illustrator, painters and even photographers;
  • Writing on the iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard is just as on a computer, or even better considering the quality of the keyboard's build;
  • Reading on the iPad is quite productive as well, since you can highlight, annotate and search quotes within books;

Bonus: List of my most used apps + a free brush

Graphics

Writing

Reading

Free Procreate brush - gone marker

Free brush for Procreate - Gone marker

Naming your brand

Naming your brand

Even before we are actually born, our parents get worried with naming us. Quarrels between the parents, family members, list of girl names, boy names.

Doesn’t it feel the same when naming your business?

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter in the beginning what you will call your brand.

Maybe you already know. Maybe you don’t. Either way, there is nothing to worry about.

In case you do know: research

I say research a lot. It’s a humble action that can surprise you when you least expect. Researching the name of your brand will tell you whether a similar one exists. It sounds basic, but oh boy, how many times I have seen clients get stuck here.

What does your brand’s name mean? And also, what does it mean in other languages? Specially if your intention is to go international, you need to know what it means.

There is a funny case in Rio. I live in Finland, and there, the name “Panna” means something quite… Improper. Guess what? There is a jewelry shop called just that in here the Brazilian city. To me it’s funny because of my geographical locations, but to most Brazilians it’s just another name. If they ever intended to move to Finland, they will have a hard time!

Your research should also include internet handles and website addresses. Because there is nothing worse than finding out you can’t keep consistency within your brand. After all, people will need to find you easily.


In case you don’t: don’t stress about it

What it means, most likely, is that you don’t have enough clarity of what you are doing just yet, so stressing about a name of a thing that’s is not a thing yet is pointless and a big waste of time.

Focus on getting clarity. Search from inspiration from every source, and be curious.

 

There are many stories of why and how Steve Jobs found the name "Apple" to his company. But the one I like the most is that he simply was in a specific type of diet that had delicious apples in it. Sometimes a name has nothing to do with the thing itself.

Just because you don’t have a name yet, doesn’t mean you can’t brand it

You need to start somewhere, and that somewhere needs to be with your brand ideals, your strategy. You need to focus on making contacts. Your name will come along. Then, you can deploy marketing.


Be practical about it: stop getting stuck with details

Nothing will happen if you don’t start doing. If you get stuck with naming your brand, you will never actually build it.

Sounds simple, but you need to have the peace of mind to assess what you will achieve, the next steps you need to take to make it happen.


A real example

One my great friends and client, Anderson "Divino" Dexheimer (@andersonrosadivino), decided to step up his personal training service. Things started happening and we discussed his business and brand.

He was stuck with how to call "himself", because everyone knows him by the  nickname "Divino" by now.

I told him to think and kept on listening to him.

Suddenly we started talking about Life and Style, and how both make sense in his brand since he will start modeling again for brands like Underarmour.

And then we started searching for web addresses and found a divino.style and a divino.life. And so it basically named itself.

Sometimes your brand will name itself, or life will for you. Let it happen.


Quick wins

  • Stressing out about a name when you don’t have enough clarity is fruitless and a waste of time;
  • If you do know, research it to make sure your name is available across all the platforms you have strategized for;

  • When researching the name of your brand, validate it in all languages to make sure when you expand you won’t find casualties with that;

  • Don’t get attached to details: be practical;

  • Sometimes, your brand will name itself or life will for you.

How to look professional as a creative person

How to look professional as a creative person

You are creative, but not a loonie.

Or maybe a little bit.

However, it’s important to also have the feet on the ground.

For instance, business situations, specially if you are speaking to your clients directly, you need to be assured you are doing the right thing, building your business and growing your brand’s awareness.

Even if you are a photographer, a designer, a musician or an illustrator, you have to learn to speak business.

Learn to speak the language of biz and get the most out of a project

I understand that business lingo maybe even scary to some. On the other hand, informations in the internet is so vast, there is absolutely no reason to deny it.

Here’s the black and white: you have to sell, selling is business. Learn it.

Your project, whatever it is, is not about you. It’s about who you are selling it to. You are trying to sell a better version of the people you are aiming. Thus, you need to speak their language, and not them yours.

A spooky alien in their planet will be fought or ignored, instead of welcomed. An alien is typically a strange body in a strange world. Once you make that not a reality, things start to flow.

That also means that maybe you will have to learn how to speak gastronomy lingo if that’s what your client’s project is about. Adapting to your prospects’ environment gives them confidence in you and a better depth and wider perspective for your project. It shows how engaged, interested and curious you are. That is also a business — or people — skill.

At some point, I hope you will be able to outsource this.


Asking about them and their business, not their budget

Money talks are always weird, right? Right. Been there, done that. But, I quickly (and painfully) learned that money is an exchange currency to your job. No value, little or no money and big waste of your time. And if it’s a job well done, it’s worth more, and there is not a reason for you to think that you aren’t worth it.

Best way to push the anxious “pricing” questions forward is to get to know them and their business/project as well as possible.

Right away, by asking key questions.

I have many times declined prospective clients that spoke about the “budget” all the time. They wanted to rush in. That’s because if the money is that “budgetty” to them, they are concerned to invest in your product or service (this is different from negotiating).

Clients that push you through their budget are not interested in the value of your work, but basically who has the lowest rate in the market. That’s the truth. Accepting to work with people that don’t value what you do is not professionalism, but a shot on your feet. And it’s your fault, not them being “bad” clients.

I’m not going too deep into pricing and negotiation techniques (although I could recommend you to read “Never split the difference” by Cris Voss and “Influence” and “Pre-suasion”, both by Robert Cialdini to give you a head start).

Say no when you have to

Tied with the previous point is knowing when to say no.

No to a client or a project that is not going to end in a sale. That’s a 100% gut decision, by the way.

No to a night out with friends when you should be staying in putting on work.

No to a person that is trying to get the best off of you or trying to take without giving.

No to things that aren’t valuable to you.

Have people understand that by saying “no”, you are not telling them you don’t love them. This might include your mom.

Having a contract

It might even sound dumb that I mention contracting in a post about professionalism. In many creative industries however, I have seen “professionals” working without this protection. A contract is supposed to tell exactly what is expected of the parts involved in a project. It’s also a legal warranty.

In most contracts, you also include a detailed briefing. This means that you specify each characteristic of your project, the deliverables and so on.

 


Hard Skills vs Soft Skills

When we attend a school or an University, we learn and develop our hard skills. We learn how to do math in school, and how to create an art work or a building in University.

Very little is taught about soft skills. And that’s why most people don’t “make” it or why they say “artists starve”.

You don’t have to be one of these people, as long as you take ownership of learning your soft skills.

Humility

You don’t know everything. Learn to find gold everywhere. And when I mean everywhere, I mean like: “oh my, what a horrible situation! What can I learn from this?”

Self awareness and confidence

Know who you are. Be confident within yourself. But never stop seeking growth.

Mindfulness

“Why do I speak like this?” “Why do I bite my nails?” Pay attention to yourself, ask yourself questions and find your answers within yourself.

Organization and discipline

Because everything costs you time and money, and you want to be effective. And you want to achieve things.

Talk

Learn to talk. Learn to be clear. Communicate. Ironically, shut and listen before you speak.

Clarity

Part of being organized and mindful, it’s to be clear. Where are you going? Why are you doing this? Write it all.

No excuses

Stop whining. The time you spend whining you could be doing that hard thing.

Combine it all, and synthesize it within your brand’s values. I recommend reading Stoic books (my favorite stoic is Marcus Aurelius, but there is also Seneca and others) and 7Jenny Blake’s “Life after College”.


Being professional does not mean that you wear black suit and white collar. Being a professional means setting down your values, goals and systems in order to have your workflow helping you instead of creating problems. Having standards, values and discipline make you a professional.

Visual Identity Basic Elements - Typography

Visual Identity Basic Elements – Typography

Creating a visual identity is creating a system. In this system, you have colors, images (illustrations, logo, icons etc) and type that combined create a consistency. This system however, is simply one of the gears in the clock.

To create a brand is to understand that there is more than just the visual identity, and thus it's of your own interest to think of each gear separately.

However, on of the gears within the visual identity is the typography. Typography is the collection — or better, system — of fonts that communicate the personality that is intended within the brand.


Fonts have personality

The classic Helvetica is a Swiss type created in 1957 by Max Miedinger, that has become Designers' sweetheart. Its clean cuts and subtle curves made it a favorite for wordmarks. It's now a symbol of minimalism.

To further talk about personality, we need to understand the anatomy of a typeface.

Typography anatomy

I strongly recommend you to read this page for a wider range of information.

A sans-serif font (without the serif) that has a lot of space between the letters, a medium thick body and a very small x-height will look very serious, whilst a font which has contrast on the stems, like Didot, and a serif, will look serious, but feminine and fashionable.

The font that composes a word mark needs to fit the determined brand personality in order to part of a cohesive visual system.


Paid font or free font?

It matters only if the font is coherent... And whether it's a paid font or a free font, this what you have to watch out for:

Spacing between the letters (kerning)

The space between each letter is called kern. A font that needs each character "kerned" is a font that is badly designed, therefore a pain to use.

The space between the letters is not always the same, because a font is an optical illusion. A "o" will look much smaller next to an "n" if the same is exactly the same. Therefore, "o"s tend to be bigger in numbers, but optically it will look the same.

A font that is badly kerned will look dysfunctional. An uneven optical spacing means that the letters do not belong to the same word, and it's not legible and much less pleasant to the eyes.

Typography - bad kerning

Imagine reading a book or an article with bad kern. Sheesh.

However, a font that is well kerned will look pleasant to the eyes and the letters will clearly belong to the same word, with even optical spaces.

Typography - good kerning

A font with many faces

Do you know when you are editing a text and you want something to pop out and you bold it? This happens because the designer of the typeface gave that specific font many styles. This gives you freedom to build a more complete visual system. A font with many styles will allow you to use contrast and hierarchy and make the text easier to read, even if it's just a few lines. Sometimes, all you need is to make a point.

A great font will at least have: - thin - thin italic - normal - italic - bold - extra bold - extra bold italic

Some fonts come with more weight options, and if you can, go for those.

Same font, different styles

A great visual identity will have at least two fonts but tops three options. Each font will have a designation within a system -- whether it's part of the logo and headings, or just for longer texts.

Sometimes, you can find fonts that have a serif and a sans-serif cuts. Typefaces with different cuts make pairing fonts easier.

They need to go together

Building a visual system that is sensible also requires the fonts (and the logotype) to be visually cohesive.

Compare the characteristics of the fonts to see if they are visually cohesive.

Take two fonts that you like, type "a" and "r" and then compare their x-heights, their counters and shoulders for example. Do this exercise over and over, with different pairs, by typing those two characters and a small phrase and check if they look like they could work together. Learn to see and feel the system you are creating.

A paid font tends to be less used, so you buy design uniqueness. It also tends to have more cuts and better spacing, so you can build coherent visual hierarchies. Better even, get one designed for you, if you can.


Quick wins:

  • Find at least two typefaces that go well along with your brand's proposal and well along with each other.
  • Typefaces also convey personalities. Learn to feel the fonts and look for characteristics that tell you what needs to be seen.
  • Paid fonts tend to have more cuts and better spacing. You invest in Design Uniqueness.

Visual Identity Basic Elements - Color Theory part 3

Visual Identity Basic Elements – Color Theory part 3

The ultimate Guide to Color

Color theory part 3

Part 1Part 2

From part 2:

"Colors affect how your brand is perceived Colors affect our consciousness and subcousciousness. Therefore, some colors will make you feel happier, sadder and even hungry when in exposure to them, but it might have a different association with another individual. The catch is to understand that every color has an association, a positive and a negative side to it and pick what fits your brand the best. In the end, it's all about giving context."

The meaning of the Secondary Colors

Purples are associated with royalty, highness and spirituality. The positive sides of purples are luxury, sophistication, wealth, inspiration and mysticism and the negative sides are madness, cruelty, exaggeration and excess.

Purple is associated with death in South America and similarly in Thailand, it's worn by widows who are mourning their husband's death. On the other hand, in Japan it signifies ceremony, enlightenment and arrogance.

In addition, Purple is a rare color in nature, specially foods, which is often considered artificial. Research says that 75% of kids tend to like bright purple. On the other hand, light purple is a very feminine, romantic color.


Greens are associated with nature, grass, money, lime, health, free and the environment. The positive sides of the greens are natural, healing, freshness, youth, harmony, success, honesty and fertility and the negative sides are greed, envy, nausea, poison, corrosion and inexperience.

**Green is associated** with paradise in Islam, and as with Ireland, is associated with the country. In celtic cultures, green is associate with fertility (The Green Man) and in Native American Cultures, the green is associated with the will and a man's volition.

In addition, Green has a strong emotional relation with the feeling of safety, because it is a very relaxing and calming tone. Green means order, authorization and "go", and it's also said to aid stomachaches and to aid digestion.

Orange is associated with autumn, citric fruits, the tropics and joy. The positive sides of the enthusiasm, happiness, creativity, fascination, success, encouragement, attraction, uniqueness, sociability, energy and determination and the negative sides are crassness, loudness, trendiness

Orange is associated with the Protestant movement in Ireland, whilst in Netherlands it is used as the national color because of the Dutch Monarchs of Orange-Nassau. In Native American cultures it's linked with kinship and learning.

In India, Orange signifies hinduism.

In addition, Orange is said to stimulate the oxygen flow to the brain, therefore stimulates people to think. Other than that, orange also speaks of friendliness and fun. Orange is also used for visibility, since it's not as alarming as red.

The reasoning behind The Branding Girl's Colors

Bright orange is my brand's main color, accompanied by green and blue.

I wanted the positive, creative and warmth of the oranges in my brand. The green and the blue are to balance it out. Normally, oranges would be used as a detail color because of it's vibrancy, but I decided to go all in because of the "side effects": visibility, friendliness and to stimulate the thinking and creativity in my audience (and myself), since we are all creators.

As we've seen on part II, the blues represent loyalty, calmness and trust, which are values for me, and I wanted to be part of my visual identity. In the beginning it was the main color, but blue is a cold color and orange was more appropriate in this case.

Greens are the third tones of my brand, and they represent the growth and success I want my audience and my clients to obtain from me.

The Branding Girl's Brand colors

"It's important to attach values to your colors to increase credibility. People need to feel your brand."

Visual Identity Basic Elements - Color Theory part 2

Visual Identity Basic Elements – Color Theory part 2

The ultimate Guide to Color

Color theory part 2

Part 1

When the sky is blue, everybody's moods are increased. What a beautiful day! The sun is shining and the sky's color is a promise of a happy day. Now, when you are hungry, your favorite coffee house is just around the corner, and the browns and oranges feel comely and suddenly you are feeling hungrier.

Whether we notice it or not, colors are everywhere and they affect your mood — thus your decisions. The greens, yellows, reds, oranges and their variants, are present in our foods, thus our brain associates those tones to hunger, food. To be fair, the smell of a fresh baked bread or grounded coffee (remember the smell at Starbucks?) they play a part in buying you into their buying.

Humans see about 10 million colors. I could start by bugging your mind and say that the color red that you see might not be the same that I see. As we saw in part 1, we see both additive and subtractive colors — the light that is reflected to objects and the objects that emit light (like the sun), then the reflected light rays caught by our eyes and processed by our brains accordingly, allowing us to perceive color.

However, that thought is not practical when you are trying to build a visual identity. We work with the principle that everybody sees colors the same way as us. Still, you should be aware that are people that will not, scientifically proved, distinguish greens and reds — the daltonics. In the part 1, we used a tool called Paletton to understand how colors relate to each other through Harmonies. In that tool, you can simulate how your chosen colors will be perceived by the various types of daltonism.

The way colors are perceived differs from person to person, nation to nation. That's because of culture, ethnics, age, gender and so on. In India, red is not danger, but creativity.


How colors affect one's buying decisions

Designers and artists sometimes "lay low" when choosing colors for their works, because sometimes a shade of green is hated by many while makes total sense for project at hand. Some people might prefer a colorful brand, others a monotone. People have their own taste for colors. Others don't really care that much.

Resonating with your audience through colors in a consistent visual identity will affect an individual's buying decision. Whether because they like a particular shade (or not) or because they have never seen that particular product in that color that was picked. That could be (read: must be) part of your target audience research and marketing efforts. 

Women tend to have more specific favorite colors and go for softer tones, while men don't always pick favorite colors and they go for brighter tones.

  • A study has shown that green tones invoke a healthier impact in people's minds, and some products labeled with green saw a rise on sales, for example.

There are also the concepts that are tied to color, such as money being green, sky being blue, the sun being yellow, gold being shiny-yellow and so on. Think of how you, as a kid, drew certain concepts, or if you have kids, watch how they associate the colors to objects and concepts.


How are colors important for marketing

Colors should be handled carefully and thoughtfully, however, context and content are everything.

We make decisions whether we like a person or a product within 90 seconds of entering in contact with it. Therefore, choosing the right colors is the key to atract someone's attention and build brand awareness.

Brands, whether online or "in the real world" will use imagery to catch your attention. Most likely, the first contact you will have with a brand will be visually. Videos, photos, illustrations, shop signage and so on are created to captivate you into buying from them.


Colors affect how your brand is perceived

Colors affect our consciousness and subcousciousness. Therefore, some colors will make you feel happier, sadder and even hungry when in exposure to them, but it might have a different association with another individual. The catch is to understand that every color has an association, a positive and a negative side to it and pick what fits your brand the best. In the end, it's all about giving your audience context.

Primary Colors

Reds are associated with fire, blood and sex. The positive sides of reds are love, passion, heat, energy, power, excitement and the negative sides are anger, hate, danger, battle, pain, aggression.

Red is associated with death in Africa and in the Ivory Coast on a darker, maroon tone. In France, on the other hand, it's associated with masculinity, while in most of Asia it's associated with marriage, prosperity and happiness. In India, red is a soldier's color and in South Africa red is used to signify death.

In addition, red is a dominant color visually. It stimulates the heart rate, breathing and the appetite. Reds also suggest speed and action.


Yellows are associated with sunshine, gold, citrus, lemons and sunflowers. The positive sides of the yellows are joy, idealism, optimism, brightness and wealth and the negative sides are hazard, deceit, jealousy and caution.

Yellow is associated with mourning in Burma and Egypt, but with merchants and farmers in India. In buddhist cultures, it's associated with priests and in hindu cultures it's associated with the spring. In Japan, yellow is associated with courage.

In addition, yellow is the happiest color in the color spectrum. It also speeds the metabolism and it's the first color that our eyes notice, which causes fatigue. Yellow is the brightest color, therefore it doesn't have a dark shade. A more pale yellow enhances concentration.


Blues are associated with water, the sky, ice, cold and blueberries. The positive sides of the blues are trust, peace, manliness, intelligence, loyalty, knowledge and justice and the negative sides are detachment, apathy, depression and coldness.

Blue is associated with males in most of the world, but in China, it's a little girl's color. In Iran, it's the color of mourning. Worldwide, it's also a corporate and trustworthy color, commonly associated with banks and big enterprises.

In addition, blue is very unappetizing, it suppresses hunger, because blue food is very rare in nature. Also, blue forces our body to produce calming chemicals. People are said to be more productive in blue rooms.


Takeaways and quick wins:

  • Colors are everywhere. Together with imagery, it affects our decisions.
  • Colors are the first thing we notice and use to judge something upon; therefore choosing color wisely is beneficial.
  • Color preference research should be done together with market and target audience research.
  • Colors have concepts tied to them: negative and positive associations as well as cultural. You must provide context and content in order to be understood correctly.
  • Because colors and imageries catch attention, they help you build brand awareness.

Part 3: The meaning of the secondary colors

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