An Inside Look at My Branding Process
When I rebranded AllieMarie Design, I brought myself through the exact creative process I use with my branding clients. I knew it would help me stay on track throughout the project, but it also turned out to be a great way to evaluate my client process, ensuring I'm giving them the best possible experience.
I've been anxious to share what I learned with all of you and I've also been eager to share more about my creative process as a whole. So today, I'm giving you a behind-the-scenes look through the lens of the AllieMarie Design rebrand!
Before anything, I asked myself...do I really need a rebrand?
The short answer was A BIG YES. My business has grown in big ways since I started AllieMarie Design four years ago. I transitioned from a part-time freelancer to a full-time business owner and honed my offered services. I've come into my own as a designer with an aesthetic I'm proud of and I wanted to start attracting clients that would jive well with my style and design values. My current visual identity just didn't fit me anymore.
After I made the decision to rebrand, there was no turning back. Here was my step-by-step process...
STEP 1: Business Soul Searching & Gathering Inspiration
I started by digging deep into why I do what I do, what I value and what kind of experience I strive to give my clients. My objective was not to reinvent myself, but to think about how my business has grown and where I want to go from here. Along with other great brand discovery resources (including this one!), I filled out my Branding Workbook - the same as I give my clients - which helped me focus my ideas and bring more clarity.
The result? It was clear that the new AllieMarie Design brand should be fun, colorful, positive, happy and inspired. I want to be known for being personable and thoughtful, yet professional with a clean, modern aesthetic.
As I ask my branding clients to do, I made a Pinterest board of collected images that fit this vision and my aesthetic. Because I took the time (and I'm talking A LOT of time) to go through the discovery process, my focus was clear and this part seemed to come naturally. From my gathered inspiration, I curated a mood board:
I can't lie... I absolutely love my mood board! The patterns, the colors, the font styling, the feeling that it gives you. It's spot on and my visual direction was apparent - I was ready to move on to the design phase.
STEP 2: Design Phase
Using my mood board as a guide, I started playing with typography, narrowing my font choices to a slab serif and a handwritten/script font that I found and fell in love with (seriously, it was love at first sight). The two typefaces complimented each other well. The slab serif had structure and confidence with a thin stroke that kept it light and airy. While the handwritten typeface offered a personal touch with a slightly feminine flair.
Here's a peek at some mock-up logo concepts that I played with and considered:
Although I loved the handwritten font, I decided that it would be best utilized as an accent in my brand styling. I liked the idea of using it for more conversational callouts or calls to action in my marketing, as opposed to being at the forefront in my logo. I wanted it to be portrayed as "a perfect touch" and not become overused!
This narrowed down my choices and I finally settled on the top left concept for my primary logo with the circular concept as a submark/watermark option. The submark would be a nice recurring element throughout my branding, especially because it highlights my new tagline nicely, Happy. Thoughtful. Inspired.
From there, I perfected these key elements and created an AllieMarie Design Style Guide, bringing in a couple patterns and a tagline mark. This guide would keep me consistent as I moved forward with my website, collateral and beyond.
STEP 3: Implementation
The last step in my creative process is implementing the new visual brand and making it come to life. First up was my online presence.
This new website was a huge project that took countless hours and a ton of energy to make happen. The thoroughness of Steps 1 and 2 gave me a great launching point, but I needed to take it a step further.
A brand is more than just a visual identity. It's also your voice, word choice, the feeling people get when they come in contact with you whether it's in person, with a business card or online. So, although the design itself was a big portion of the web design process, I also spent a lot of quality time writing my website content, thinking through all I discovered in Step 1 and working to clearly communicate my brand message. My website is the hub for AllieMarie Design and it's important that I really "speak" to my potential clients in a way that will resonate with them. Plus, I'll continue to use these words in all aspects of my marketing! As time consuming as it was, the writing portion of the project definitely deserved my careful thought and attention.
The web design process also involved choosing gorgeous stock photography (thanks Haute Chocolate!) and having new headshots taken - all of which fit my brand styling and personality. These images, along with my logo and new branding elements, were also integrated into my social media marketing, client communications and my newsletter. Brand consistency is SO important, and anything I use to communicate or market my business should align with my look and feel. (Enter Style Guide!)
All that being said, this third step will be an ongoing process. My list still includes redesigning more client communication materials, designing and ordering new business cards, getting photos taken of my collateral work for my portfolio, and more. Implementing a new brand is a big undertaking but I know it will all come with time.
I'm so thrilled with how everything turned out! I'm proud to send people to this new website to learn about me and my work because I know it truly represents my business and what I'm all about. Now, if a potential client comes in contact with my brand - regardless of whether it's in person, on social media or on my website - it will be a consistent and authentic experience.
MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM MY REBRAND?
Don't underestimate Step 1. It is the most important step in the process. Hands down.
Taking time for brand discovery and inspiration gathering helped me focus my ideas as a business owner and choose a direction that was right for AllieMarie Design. This ensured that my new visual identity would align with my business goals and who I am deep down as a brand. I can say with confidence that my new visual identity would not be successful without this first step.
I feel this so strongly that I revamped my Branding Workbook (part of my brand discovery process) to make it more in-depth and comprehensive. My hope is the workbook will stimulate more thoughtful responses and discussions, which is beneficial for both me as the designer and my clients as the business owners as they dig deeper into their brand.