Learning to build brands is an essential skill for designers and learning to brand yourself is perhaps more important.
You know that feeling when you’re heading for a job interview, first date or really anything you want to look your best for and all of a sudden deciding what to wear gets that bit more difficult.
Your more aware that your clothes are a visual representation of who you are. So you want them to communicate the right message. Your suddenly not to sure what looks right and spend time faffing with details...that’s how it feels to brand yourself as a creative professional.
It’s a tricky task because you need to visualise what is uniquely you. This can seem like a daunting task but don’t worry, like any project it can be broken down into smaller tasks to work through. So you can literally watch yourself grow.
Let’s start by briefly defining what a personal brand is and why it is SO important.
If your a dab hand and just want some pointers feel free to jump down and get stuck in!
Brand yourself: Why it’s SO important
Your brand, meaning the visual identity you place on your CV, portfolio, business cards, website (and anything you use to promote yourself) is your first impression. It needs to communicate the right message to potential clients, employers and collaborators.
It should reflect the type of projects you want to work on so you attract the right kind of opportunities. Take for example if you love editorial, print and type based projects, don’t go animating a brightly coloured illustrative marque. I’m sure you can guess why that would be a bad call…
It’s likely to attract illustration and animation projects. Which, if your into exploring the depths of type will leave you feeling a little bamboozled.
At the very core of your brand identity will be: a primary logo/marque (this could also have an abbreviated version for social media but it's up to you), a colour palette (always ensure you know the hex, RGB and CMYK references so you know they are always exactly the same) and a secondary typeface which will be used on documents for subtext i.e your name, email etc on a business card.
These can easily be built on if you like. Some creatives make alternatives to their primary logo, introduce new colour etc. So never be afraid to develop your visual identity but...only if it benefits your brand as a whole. Think of your brand elements as a little tool kit, somtimes you will need the whole kit. Sometimes just a few tools.
So you know why you need a killer brand, lets go ahead and get it!
No matter if you are new to the industry or a seasoned professional learning about new ways to approach projects will help you produce great things. This brand yourself guide will provide you with a working method to help you develop the key elements of your personal brand (logo, colour palette, secondary typeface) and then give you a kick-start on the best way to use your beautiful new design identity!
1. Do Some Snooping
As with any creative project you need to gather some research, find examples you love (and some you don’t.) Look at a variety of styles, marque based logos, type based logo. Pay attention to the colours people have used, how many design elements they produced and how they have applied the brand in a wider context. Here's some inspiration to get you started. Click on the image to see the entire project.
2. Don’t jump straight in
Your feeling inspired and you want to jump straight in. But just stop for a second to make sure you know what it is you want your visual design to achieve. Ask yourself:
- Am I trying to attract freelance work/ full time jobs?
- What is my perfect job or who is my perfect client?
- What area do I want to specialise in?
- Where will I be displaying my identify the most - on the web, in print?
These don’t need to be carved into stone, just have a vague idea before you start to produce visuals. It will seriously save you some time (and panic) later.
So you know what you like and you don’t, you have an idea of what you want to achieve with your branding. It’s finally time to go ahead and start designing. Here are a few quick tips:
3. Experimentation - The fun bit!
Digital Marketing Manager
Have confidence in your decisions and don’t be afraid to get some feedback. People always come up with ideas you least expect!
Refinement & Application
So you have a few designs you really like and you’ve experimented with colour palettes, fonts etc. Now you just need to make the hard decision, which elements do you finalise to become your brand. Go with your instinct, one will probably stand out and if you feel like it needs some further refinement go for it!
At this point you should have: A marque, (type or image based) a colour palette you will stick to across your brand and a secondary typeface to be used on business cards CV’s, web etc
Finalise the design/design elements. Make sure everything is tidy, you have used the right software to build it in (this again will save you time recreating it later), it’s not sat on a funny angle and uses the exact HEX codes. I know this bit can feel boring but it’s SO important to get right when you brand yourself.
Then were straight back to the fun bit!
It’s time to take the design you have created and start to build your brand. Again look around check out how other people have been playful with their logo/colour pallet/design elements.
Once you feel inspired start applying your logo to business card designs, your CV, any professional social media profiles you may have etc. Make sure you stick to the colour pallette you have chosen and create a consistent look for the brand elements so if they were placed next to each other they create a professional and interesting looking set.
(If you are really committed to visual structure of your brand elements you could create a set of brand guidelines but that’s a topic for another time!)