Designing a new logo and branding can be a really exciting and fun process. The main down side is that it's a hell of a lot of work. Whether you plan to hire a professional designer, or to bust out your own mad-design-skills, you'll need to decide the overall mood and values of your brand before your project can take flight.
When I began my own branding journey, I watched branding courses, studied books and blogs, and spent weeks worrying and revising. Now that it's all over, I'm proud of the branding I created for my own business, and I hope you'll be able to benefit from some of the tricks I picked up along the way.
Step 1: Make an Inspiration Board / Develop a Pinterest Addiction
When I began developing the branding and logo for Emily London Portraits, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. I created a new pin board called "Branding Inspiration" and started filling it with logos and brand boards that I loved. (You can find lots in Pinterest, by searching for "Logo" "Branding" "Brand Board" "Packaging" etc.) When pinning to your own branding pin board, make sure to caption each pin with a note about what specifically you like in the photo, for example: "Colors" or "Font" - it doesn't have to be complex. This will really come in handy if you are working with a designer or business partner and need to communicate your vision.
Step 2: Decide Who Your Brand Is (or Will Be)
After amassing a huge Branding Pin Board, I looked at the overall direction of what I loved. Some designs really conflicted (I love the bright colors in this one, but the monochromatic color scheme of this other one), so I had to start culling my beautiful new collection.
To really hone the direction I wanted to take with my brand, I needed to decide what message I wanted to convey about Emily London Portraits. I brainstormed all the qualities that my photography style had (or that I wanted it to have): glamorous, beautiful, feminine, sumptuous, sensual, dreamy, ethereal, confident, etc. (Keep in mind these were very personal to me - you might relate more to words like whimsical, retro, bold, strong, masculine - or something completely different.) If you find this step challenging, check out the pins in your brand board and think of how you would describe each image you chose.
Once I had my long list of attributes that describe my photography style, or what I knew I eventually wanted my photography style to be, I thought long and hard about my ideal client. Of the qualities my photography had, which ones would attract her the most? With her in mind, I chose the top three words to describe my brand.
Luxurious - Timeless - Elegant
Step 3: Refine Your Pin Board
I then returned to Pinterest and eliminated all the pins that didn't belong. For example, I loved a lot of retro designs, which is a very trendy style right now. Since being Timeless is so key to my brand, I removed any designs that said "trendy" to me. I also removed anything that didn't portray the luxury and elegance I wanted for my brand. After culling out quite a few images, I searched for new inspiration to pin, this time focusing on adding pins that fit my new criteria.
Step 4: Choose Your Color Palette
This might be my favorite part. Either search for "color palette" in Pinterest, or visit a color palette website like Design Seeds for some excellent inspiration. Keep in mind that you'll be using your colors on your website, marketing materials, and packaging, so you'll want lots of versatility. I suggest to include a dark color (for text), a light color, and several mid-tone options that are complimentary but not monochromatic. I started with Black, White and Gold for my foundation colors, and added a couple colors that I knew would show up in my work often, and that would be versatile on my website.
Once you have your color palette worked out, return to Pinterest and remove the pins you added solely for their colors, but don't fit your final color scheme.
Step 5: Design Your Logo
A great logo is essential, especially when you're a photographer. Your logo is probably going to be the watermark you use on every single image you put out into the world, and could enhance each image, or destroy it. A crappy logo kills your credibility, ("Wow, that logo is so bad, the photographer must have terrible taste.") or, at best, is forgettable - getting lost in the sea of pictures that is the internet. Since your logo stays with you for years, shouldn't it be a high priority to make it amaze-sauce?
Before I became a photographer, I worked as a designer for the vinyl decal company I own with my husband. If you aren't a designer, I strongly (intensely, passionately, vehemently) suggest you hire one to design your logo.
There's a range of pro logo design options available. From customizing a stock logo on Etsy, to hosting a design competition on 99 Designs, to hiring a design master like Angela Scheffer at Saffron Avenue. Each option comes with it's own pros and cons, and the cost ranges significantly, from $10 to $1000 for a logo only, and up to $5000 for a branding package which includes your logo, branding, website and blog design.
Whichever option you choose, your new Pinterest board will be a flippin' amazing way to concisely illustrate the direction you'd like your brand to take. Share your three main brand qualities and color palette with your designer, and s/he'll be able to create a very personalized design for you.
If you do opt for the DIY route, please avoid the fonts Papyrus, Vivaldi, Scriptina, and Comic Sans. Trust me on this one. I can't explain why not without sounding like a super snob. So I won't. But just... trust me. If you already have a logo using one of these fonts, stop reading now, begin working on Step 1, and do not pass go. You're welcome.
Step 6: Assemble the Whole Package
Finally, you'll need to compile your final design elements into one place. I created the brand board above, and have it saved as a .psd file. Whenever I need one of the components, I can open the file to drag and drop the desired element into my current project. I also have individual files saved for my logo, watermark and symbol, in .psd, .jpg and .png formats. They are also saved as brushes in my Photoshop Brush Library, and as Lightroom Watermark Presets.
After deciding on and compiling all the design elements for my brand, the website design process was fairly straightforward. The site was created with a template by Squarespace, which was easy to customize to fit my new branding.
I also have designed marketing materials, product offerings, and packaging which are all complementary to each other and to the brand board above. Since the information for those is pretty extensive, I'll be dividing the information into separate blog posts. In the mean-time, get started on your own Pinterest Brand Board.