Whether you take on the title of “designer” or not, as a wedding planner you are constantly designing. You are thinking about the form of the event (what does it look like?) and considering its function (what effect will this have?) to craft a meaningful experience for your clients and their guests. But, what about when it comes to your brand? If you’re looking to update or redesign your business, it can sometimes be tough to figure out where to start and how to know when you’re finished. Lucky for you, as an entrepreneur in a creative industry you’ve already got a headstart on a few design-thinking approaches for building a better brand. By combining your understanding of style and aesthetic with your strategic business sense, your company can deliver a powerful, consistent, and delightful brand experience for your current and potential clients.
The big picture is larger than your screen
A common mistake in (re)branding is focusing all of your attention on the design of your website. While it’s most likely the case that your website will be where your clients will most frequently interact with your brand, it is not the only place and it may not even be the first place. Your social media presence, print collateral, or an in-person interaction may also be points of introductions to your business, so you want to make sure you’re sending a cohesive message. In the same way that it would be tough to plan a meaningful wedding ceremony without knowing the couple and their personal story, it is difficult to create an online presence with impact without a solid understanding of your business identity. So begin any branding project by first thinking through your goals and key values and use these as a framework for making design decisions.
Build flexibility into your brand
If you plan on interacting with your customers in more than one place, on more than one platform, and in more than one way, you need to make sure that your brand can adapt to the environment in which you want to communicate — a beautiful napkin may work well with a placesetting, but it doesn’t automatically make an adequate tablecloth. In practical terms, you want to make sure you have a range of elements in your identity that work for different presentations. For example: an intricate logo with multiple colors and textures works great on the front page of your website, but it will be completely illegible as the profile image for your Instagram account. To address this challenge, add polish and dimension to your brand by having different logo lockups available. Besides your primary full-color lockup, it’s good to have an icon version on hand that’s simple and easily identifiable at small sizes, a flat (no texture or depth) one-color version for letterpress, screenprinting, and embroidery (especially if you are looking to cut some production costs), and a wordmark-only version that is helpful for sharing your business name when space is tight.
Phone a friend
Usability testing is an important part of design and development because it gives a company an opportunity to see their product through the perspective of their customer and measure its true effectiveness. Sometimes we can get so close to our project that we lose sight of the assumptions we’re making and move farther and farther away from our original goals. When working through a rebrand, consider including small-scale user testing in your process — call a friend and ask them to look through your site and talk through what they’re thinking as they’re looking through your pages. Assign tasks, such as booking an appointment, or commenting on a blog post, and pay attention to how much time it takes for your users to accomplish their goal. You might be surprised as to what isn’t as clear as you thought or how some of your writing may be interpreted. If you want to be really thorough, have a friend call another friend (someone who doesn’t know you) and ask them to look through your social media feeds and ask them how they would describe you. How close is their description is your intended brand story?
Establish and maintain high standards
As with weddings, in brand development, all the little things count and your crazy attention to detail gives you a strong advantage. Is your website, Instagram feed, business card, and promotional video as sharp and elegant as your events? Taking just a bit more time to iron out a few meticulous details in your brand can have a major impact on your clients’ impression of your business. Upload images at the proper resolution so viewers aren’t distracted by blurry pixels. Research the exact dimensions of Facebook’s background image to prevent any odd cropping. Choose fonts and colors that are easy to read to make sure your typography is helping (and not hindering) people getting to the information they want. Make thoughtful choices and don’t settle for the default settings of anything.
Know where you are
In the same way you wouldn’t choose ice sculptures for a beach wedding, you have to consider the environment when you’re making choices about your brand. Hand-drawn calligraphy looks great on paper goods at a wedding but legibility doesn’t often transfer when people are reading everything on a small mobile device. Fur texture and gold foil add glamour to any event but lose a lot of elegance when printed on a flat piece of paper. As Oprah once said: “You can have it all, just not all at once.” Use discretion and really understand the medium you’re working with to make sure you can leverage it properly to strengthen your message and your relationship with your customers.
Looking for a graphic design primer? Skillshare is a great place to start! Start digging into their design and photography courses for great tutorials that insights on brand building and creative marketing.