Branding other creatives is always such a fun process, and this was no exception. WowFactor Mosaics is the new business venture of Carol Donald, an artist and creative entrepreneur. She creates custom mosaic tile installations; each is unique and absolutely exquisite (see above!). Before she launched her business, everyone's first response when they saw her artwork was "Wow!" She quickly realized that she already had the name for her new venture! I had the pleasure of coming alongside Carol to develop branding that would continue that client experience. Here is a peek "behind the scenes" at my design process.
1 | Brand Discovery & Springboard
My #1 priority in developing branding for any new client is to make sure that her brand is truly INTENTIONAL by representing the heart of her business and attracting her ideal clients. It's not enough in today's competitive marketplace to just "look pretty." Your brand must speak meaningfully ABOUT you and TO them. To do this, we always begin the discovery process with a consultation and in-depth questionnaire. The questionnaire digs into areas like her unique qualities, purpose, vision, strengths, and weaknesses; looks at her competition; and analyzes her ideal client.
I also provide a Descriptive Word Bank and ask her to list three keywords that describe her brand. Carol's words are original, organic, inspired. She is drawn to earthy, natural colors which are right in-line with not only her ideal clients but also the natural, often recycled, elements she uses to create her designs. She also coordinates with interior designers and higher-income clients, so we wanted to have an earthy yet clean style, two aesthetics that can be tricky to combine.
Armed with this insight, I then craft a "Brand Springboard." Most designers refer to this as an inspiration board or mood board. I prefer the term "springboard" because it truly is a critical jumping-off point that sets the tone for all the parts of the developing brand. Every piece finds its roots in this beginning platform. This board goes through a couple of revisions to ensure we are both on the same page and pleased with the direction we're going. In the case of this project, my first springboard had more purples and greens but after some discussion and revisions, Carol preferred more rusty browns and watery blues.
2 | Logo
Once the Springboard is approved, we are "all systems go" to develop the first and usually most visible piece of the brand – the logo. There's lots of sketching and pencil-to-paper that happens behind the scenes, always keeping the Discovery words and visuals front and center. It's so important to get ideas on paper before jumping on the computer!
Several pages of sketches and ideas then get refined digitally for the client to see. The first round is presented in black and white so that the focus is on the integrity of the design, not the individual colors. It's so easy to get bogged down in color selection while neglecting the basic structure and message of the logo itself.
I always give my clients a few logos to consider in the first round, usually three to five, and I aim to provide variety among the options, not just three variations of the same design. Here you can see that some are rougher and rustic, some are clean and smooth; some are heavier and some are thinner. Some are quite literal, using stones and leaves, and some are more abstract, with rough, parallel lines like those made by a trowel in mortar. Even with all the discovery work, it can be difficult to pin down what a client has in mind. Once they see a few strong options, the solution becomes much clearer.
Carol preferred the logo that was the most modern and literal of the four. I played around with different color combinations, as well as the size and shape of the three stones that form the abstract "W." There is also lots of tweaking behind the scenes — letter spacing (called "kerning"), proportion of the elements, sometimes even trying a different font. This is the time to polish up all the details that make it shine!
3 | Brand Board
Once the final logo is approved, I create the rest of the brand elements — alternate logos, specific Pantone colors, and font recommendations. All those pieces are pulled together in a cohesive Brand Board, shown at the top of this article. My goal is to make using their new branding as easy as possible, so having everything in one place is important.
4 | Collateral pieces
The only collateral piece Carol needed at the time was new business cards. Once she had all the final digital files, she was able to build her own website and have custom canvas tote bags made for the open house at her studio.
We are both thrilled with the final result, and I'm so proud of Carol's consistent use of her new branding throughout the other applications of her business! You can find her and her beautiful artwork at www.wowfactormosaics.com.
"Michelle took the time to learn about my business, what direction I wanted to go in, and my personal style. She blended the elements together and came up with simple but very effective logos for me. Now I have the tools I need to do whatever marketing I choose!"
— Carol Donald, WowFactor Mosaics