A Behind the Scenes Look at the Branding for 'Not for Sissies'
I love sharing a behind-the-scenes look at projects I'm working on. Not only does this give you a more broad perspective of the scope of a project but it can also show the real life back-and-forth that happens within a project. And this one is no exception.
Ciara came to me wanting to brand her blog, Not for Sissies. It was a fun project from start to finish and I'm excited to share the honest communication and understanding that got us to a conclusion that we both loved.
The project always starts with an in-depth questionnaire. In it, I ask my clients to tell me 10 words that would describe their brand. Some of the words Ciara chose were friendly, accepting, inclusive, informative, funny, sassy, non-judgemental, educational, fun, and inspirational.
In addition to these words, she shared her ideal client: a woman of color in her 30's who is a mother and also a successful professional.
From the questionnaire, I start with an Inspiration Board, also what I like to call Visual Direction Planning. The Inspiration Board phase is very important because it decides the direction for the rest of the brand design.
For Ciara, I came up with 2 inspiration board concepts and from there I asked for her feedback on each. I included her feedback beneath each board.
"The circle in the middle... I don’t like it. I feel like it takes away from the simplicity of everything around it.
It also feels kinda cluttered. The font is too thick. Feels messy to me, almost angry. The pattern feels a little messy."
"I’m not thrilled with the colors. The pink is a little too pepto pink. The beige isn’t brown enough.
I’m not a big fan of blue as a main color. I’m not a huge fan of women of color rocking straight hair because I know it’s generally not natural, and I feel it promotes an unnatural expectation for women of color to not love (or even appreciate) the features they’ve been given, which is generally curly, kinky hair.
I must mention that she included a lot of positive comments, but for the sake of showing you how I made revisions, I just shared her constructive criticism.
The revision process
I'm very grateful when my clients are completely honest and willing to talk about the things they don't like about a design. In this case, I was very thankful for Ciara's feedback and I responded with:
"Thank you so much for this incredible feedback! I love how thoughtful you were about each design. Your detailed explanations for each thing is SO helpful to me. This gives me a clear picture of what to focus on and how to best represent your brand with visuals.
Take a look at this revision. I paid close attention to all your feedback and switched out the images that did not represent your brand best. I added in images of confidence and authority but also vulnerability."
This is the final inspiration board I sent, and her response is below.
Final Inspiration Board
"YES! I love it. You impress me."
Moving on to the Logo
My logo process involves 3-5 original concepts and 2 revisions to come to a final logo. For the first revision I like to get on a Google Hangout call where I share my screen and I can get an unfiltered discussion about each thought on each design.
I find that this process is the best for getting my client's verbal thoughts (which can be more numerous than when writing down thoughts).
Here are the concepts I sent over:
Ciara liked number 3 the most and from there I revised it to get this final logo with a variation and a submark.
The reason I add in the variation and submark is so a variety of items can be branded but in different ways for versatility.
When a logo has several formats that can be used in multiple ways, it builds brand depth, versatility and consistency.
A road map in the form of a Brand Style Guide
The final Brand Board, which is also called a Brand Style Guide, gives the client a road map for how to use the brand colors, fonts, and patterns.
This is what we came up with for Ciara - and I love how it turned out!
A piece that some people aren't sure how to use is the patterns. But patterns can be SO helpful when building out your brand with collateral items or even in website design.
Patterns give more versatility to the colors as well as building brand consistency.
Collateral items to extend the brand
At the end of our branding project, Ciara asked me to create several pieces of collateral items that she could use as opt-ins on her website.
She wanted these worksheets to carry the look of the branding as well as be very professional and attractive.
As you can see, I designed each worksheet with the patterns and logo variations, reinforcing her brand with each design.
In closing, Ciara walked away with a brand she was thrilled with and one that could take her blog to the next level. Here's what she said about the process:
"RuthAnn has a gift for understanding your preferences and translating them into a beautiful representation of her client. Plus, she's fun and laid back and has an amazingly receptive energy."
- Ciara Kamara, Not for Sissies
This branding process taught me a lot and reinforced my policy about clear and honest communication throughout the entire process. Just like with any project there were some things we needed to work through but nothing that can't be solved with a receptive ear, attentiveness and an excitable attitude.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this brand or the process!