7-Step Process for Creating a Unique Personal Brand
Designing for yourself as a designer is a really tall order. It’s so hard to decide which direction to go, because your options are endless. When I began to work on the branding package for Casi Long Design, I tried to treat the project like I would any other client.
I forced myself to answer questions I would have my clients answer: Who is your target audience? What are the emotions you want your brand to convey? How would you describe your brand’s style and personality?
A few words I came up with were classic, simple, airy, clean, fresh, authentic.
Using those 6 words and a simple, 7-step process, I was able to develop my own brand into something I can be proud of. Here’s how you can too!
Treat your branding project like you would any other branding client.
Once I had answered my own questions and keeping those 6 words in mind (classic, simple, airy, clean, fresh, authentic) I started pulling inspiration from the web. My first stop for inspiration is always Pinterest. I pulled photos I felt reflected my style and matched the aesthetic I was going for. This was pretty easy since I could pull images I had previously pinned like clothes and home decor.
For other clients, it may be helpful to have them create a Pinterest board and share it with you. I also like to think about color palette options during this phase.
1 | Once you’ve gathered enough images, put together a mood board.
I typically like to include a few colors, a few photos (clothing, interiors, and other), and maybe a pattern or two. This will help to gather your thoughts and make sure you have a good idea for the style and feel you're going for. I like to keep my inspiration board close by during all phases of the design process, to make sure I'm staying on track. Here’s a look at the moldboard I put together for Casi Long Design.
2 | Sketch ideas.
I had this part basically done since I’m a huge doodler. I am constantly doodling my name in different script fonts and I have a pretty distinct style. I knew I wanted my logo to be largely typography based, but a lot of other logo projects require more design/visual elements.
It’s tempting to skip the sketch phase especially if you’re like me—a perfectionist—and never think your sketches are good enough. But this part in the process can really get your wheels turning and help you to think up fresh ideas.
3 | Choose a typeface.
Since my logo was based mostly on typography, this part took me a while. I spent some time digging through font options online and narrowed it down to around 20 options (haha!). I then had my husband, Jordan, weigh in with his opinion. We both agreed on one particular font, so I made the purchase and did the happy dance!
One thing you need to consider when choosing a font: Do you like the way every letter/word combo looks? I made the mistake a long time ago of choosing a font my company name looked great in, but I later realized I didn’t like the way any other words looked in that particular typeface. This presents a problem when you start designing social media graphics, or other graphics for your business and you aren’t happy with the way the type looks.
You want to choose 1-3 fonts you really love so you can use them across all mediums. Using the same 2 or 3 fonts will help you maintain consistency and make your brand recognizable.
4 | Design the logo and other brand marks.
After choosing a font, designing my logo was the easy part. I already had a vision in mind, which was clean & simple, and the design relied heavily on typography. So I played around with a few secondary typefaces until I landed on a combo I loved.
I always start my logo design process in black and white. This allows me to compare apples to apples and not let color play a factor in my decision. I do all my logo work in Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is designed for logos, shapes, and other vector graphics, and is an extremely powerful tool.
Here is the final logo:
Once I have finalized the primary logo, I think about alternative logo layouts. I like to have an alternate option to use for square and circular shapes on social media, similar to the left example below. I also like to have a brand mark that can be used as a complimentary piece or stand alone item.
A favicon (below, right) is something often overlooked, but can add a huge element of professionalism and customization. (A favicon is the little icon you see on the tabs of your webpages. If you look up to tab for Casi Long Design, you'll see the little tiny blue dot.)
From left to right: Secondary Logo, Brand Mark, Favicon
5 | Create a color palette.
I love this part, but it also carries a lot of weight in the process. This is where the inspiration board really plays a big role.
A great color palette can really help your brand stand out and be recognizable.
It can be challenging to determine how many colors to use. You need enough colors to provide variety, but not so many that it seems to lack consistency. I knew for sure I wanted to use a light blue and navy to contrast. I also knew I wanted yellow and a couple other bright colors as secondary, complimentary options.
I used my inspiration board to pull colors from photos I liked. It’s also important to make sure you have a variety of light and dark shades because light colors are often hard to read.
My final color palette:
6 | Create a style guide.
At this point I have finalized the logos, icons, typefaces and colors, so it’s time to put together a style guide. A style guide helps to make sure all the pieces of your brand have one cohesive theme. Sometimes this phase allows me to brainstorm ideas for print collateral or social media branding as well.
Here’s a look at my extended style guide:
7 | Build out your other print and digital collateral.
Every small business owner needs business cards and stationery. I also created an email signature image, digital (& print) letterhead, and all my social branding like Facebook, Instagram, and Etsy graphics.
Here are a few of the print pieces
Take a peek at my social media outlets to see how I utilize my style guide and process in order to maintain brand consistency. Facebook, Instagram, Etsy.
It’s important to choose a design you won’t want to change in a year.
Trust me, as a designer I constantly want to re-design my branding, but it’s important to build consistency with my audience. I don’t want to appear flaky or discontent each time a new style is on trend. So take your time, and really consider all the factors when creating your own branding.
I hope you enjoyed seeing behind-the-scenes into my personal design process. Please leave any thoughts or questions in the comments section below.