branding

Current favorite Google font pairings

google font combinations

 

One of the most important (and sometimes daunting) decisions about your website is selecting the most appropriate typography. You want it to feel unique, be part of your brand personality, and easy on your reader’s eyes. It is a key component of your visual brand, after all.

Google Fonts are wonderful because they are well-designed and since it is open source, free to use on your website. My top tips when making your selections:

  • Don’t choose more than 2-3 for your site. Consistency rules all, and any more than that will start to make your readers’ eyes cross.
  • Make sure everything is legible. Messy, scripty, or funky fonts (like this or this) might be fun for a single word in a graphic here or there, but it will make your site hard to read and your reader clicking away quickly. And, definitely don’t use any script fonts for body copy.
  • Strive for contrast. Try pairing one heavier font with a lighter one, and a serif with a sans serif. You can filter these options on the sidebar of Google fonts as you search to make it easier.
  • Make sure the font you choose has the styles you need. Some fonts don’t come in italic or don’t have many weights. If it’s for a headline, you may not need italic, but if it’s for your body copy, you’ll probably want to have that option.

 

Without further ado, here are some of my current favorite combinations from the Google Font options:

 

google font combinations

 

Playfair Display with Lato  •  Oswald with Maven Pro

Bitter Bold with Source Sans Pro  •  Karla Bold with Roboto Slab

Quattrocento Sans with Libre Baskerville  •  Libre Baskerville Italic with Lato

Montserrat with PT Sans Narrow  •  Old Standard TT with Libre Franklin

 

What are you favorite fonts to pair online? 

 

 

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Where to begin when designing your brand

 

When you’re starting a business or your business is still in its initial growth phase, it can be overwhelming and hard to know where to start when it comes to your visual brand.

You’ve surely heard that your brand is more than just a logo; it’s the full experience that a person has while interacting with your business. Building that brand is something you’ll do every single day, but for now, we’re going to focus on your visual brand.

Where do we begin?

My best recommendation is that you first articulate your “why.” Why did you start your business? Did you want to share your skills with paying customers? Did you want to have control over your own daily schedule? Do you have a product that will make people’s lives better? Keeping this motivation top of mind will not only help you discover the path to take with your branding, but it will help inspire you keep going on tough days. We can all use a bit of that!

I used to work in the nonprofit field, and what I loved about those organizations is that they each had a mission statement, which is a simple one to two sentence declaration of what the organization does and stands for, like providing musical experiences to inner city children to help them grow and learn, or delivering food to those in need in the community. All decisions go back to whether or not they are serving the mission. Consider writing a statement like this for your business!

From there, identify what values or principles you abide by in your business. If you offer services, it may be as simple as providing an excellent, efficient, and collaborative experience. Or, maybe you believe in selling only local, handmade products. Your values are what make your company special and make people want to choose working with or purchasing from you over someone else. Keeping these top of mind as you design your visual identity will make a world of difference.

Another important item is to understand your target market. You can create a beautiful brand, but if it isn’t a good fit for your audience, there will be a disconnect. Your brand will evoke certain feelings and reactions in your customers: do you want them to feel inspired? Comforted? Delighted? Invigorated? Whatever it is, you’ll want these feelings to begin to emerge in your visual brand.

If you want them to feel soothed, a bright red might be a poor color choice. If you want to feel playful and fun, a stark, serif font could send the wrong message. Think about what your audience is seeking, and help them understand how they can get it from your business.

Take a look at your competitors or peers. If everyone in your industry is using watercolor floral accents on their websites, you’ll know that you want to steer clear of that concept in order to stand out. It can be easy to get caught up in trends and feel like you should hop in bandwagons (like using Madina Script — it’s beautiful, but seemingly everywhere right now ; ) you’ll make more of an impression with strong, unique design choices.

Keep it simple. If you are new business and can’t afford to invest a designer yet, my best advice is to try not to go overboard with your brand visuals when you dive in. Nothing says amateur like trying to incorporate five Photoshop techniques that you just learned on YouTube into one tiny logo. Choose a classic typeface and create a type-based logo. Select a small color palette of two to three colors and a neutral or two (like white, cream, pale gray, etc.). Purchase a few solid stock photos to use on your website.

As your brand grows and you understand your values and audience more deeply, you will have the room to expand your visual identity. Simple always looks more professional than busy and cluttered.

 

What is your biggest question when trying to design your brand on your own? 

 

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building a brand foundation

Building and defining your brand is an essential part of building your business. You brand is more than just what your logo looks like; it’s how your audience experiences and feels about their interactions with you.

Whenever I get an inquiry about designing a logo, a website, packaging, or any other large branding item, my first step is always to see how well they understand their business and how well defined their goals and values are. Your visual brand (the logo, brand style guide, colors, fonts, and so on) is only one part of the brand equation, and therefore defining a foundation sets the stage for success in the other parts of your brand.

How can you begin to create a logo or a website if you don’t know what it is you want to share with your target audience?

The unique characteristics of your business are what make you different from any competitors, and you want to convey the things that will attract your people. Whether you’re starting a new business or looking to take your operating one to the next level, there are a few ways to get to the core of what sets you apart.

 

brand-foundation

 

What is your brand’s mission and core values?

What is the heart and soul of why your business exists? Who do you want to help? What industry do you want to shake up? Why are you passionate about what you offer? What values are central to how you do business?This is something larger than simply setting a measurable goal. These are vision-level ideas that share why you do what you do and how that will serve your customers.

For me, my business exists so that I can create strong, creative visual brands for businesses to help share their story and make them professional. I work best with businesses truly understand the value that great design brings to their business and are willing to invest in it. Often, they are moving away from trying to DIY their brands and want a pro to take the reins. I value frequent and clear communication, providing high-quality work without shortcuts, and taking time for rest and creative recharge.

 

Who are the people you want to connect with and attract?

Defining your target audience helps make a lot of subsequent decisions easier. It’s impossible to build something that will attract and satisfy absolutely everyone, and there is no point in trying unless you enjoy feeling utterly frustrated all the time. The more specific you can get, the more it will help you. For example, defining your target audience as males under 40 who are single and work in a professional field is much more helpful than trying to reach simply “young adults.” You’ll know that anything juvenile or feminine won’t help attract that audience, which will influence the visuals and language you select.

Another example is in my business, I know I want clients who provide enough background on their project but then value my expertise and let me make creative decisions. Someone who wants a quick, cheap turnaround and doesn’t want to provide any direction would not be a good fit for me. That just means there is someone else out there better suited to their current needs, and that’s why it’s wonderful how many different designers there are.

 

 

What words do you want customers to use to describe your brand?

These words can be adjectives that reflect your style (like bold, soft, quirky, sleek, sophisticated, whimsical) as well as ones that describe your attributes (like organized, professional, great communicator, creative, knowledgeable, innovative). While you as a person are surely multi-faceted, it’s important as a business to define the experience you want to create for your customers. This goes back to your values above and can help in stages like your design process when you know that you want to convey trustworthiness, or when writing an email and knowing that your value straightforward communication.

 

Why should someone choose to work with you?

There are countless people out there and a finite number of job types. While a customer may have many coaches, designers, photographers, or shop owners to choose from, why should they choose to work with or purchase from you? It’s usually because of the experience and viewpoint of you that draws them in. Find what sets you apart and showcase it. Perhaps you have a special step in your process that really draws out great results. Maybe you have excellent packaging that makes receiving your product a special event. It doesn’t have to be some magical, huge thing. It’s usually the little things that make all the difference, right?

 

When you define all of this from the start, it makes translating your brand into a visual identity infinitely smoother. You’ll feel great remembering the core of your business, and you’ll be satisfied with how well it is shown in your visuals.

 

 

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how to translate a brand into a logo design.

By now, you’ve surely heard that your brand is more than simply a nice logo. It’s about the full experience a person has with your business, the values you carry, and the full visual picture of all your materials from email signature to business card to blog graphic.

Let’s say you’ve done your branding homework. You understand your target audience, your brand values, where your logo and brand will be used, and have even narrowed in on a color palette. So…how do you then translate that all into a logo design?

The simple answer, of course, is to hire a designer to bring her expertise to the project. But, for those starting out with small or no budgets, you may wish to tackle it on your own. For that, I’m excited to share some of my logo process with you today!

logo design process on Dotted Design

 

Step One: Background Information

Before you can even begin to think about a design, you have to be prepared. It’s so important to understand what makes your business unique, the top message you want to convey to your customers, your target audience, and so on, so that you can take those messages and share them with your visual brand.

Some of my most important questions include:

  1. What is your elevator speech about what you do?
  2. Who are your ideal clients or customers?
  3. What words do you want associated with your business?
  4. What are the most rewarding moments in your business life?
  5. Where do you see your business going in one year? Five years?
  6. Where will your logo and brand identity be used? (website? billboards? packaging?)

P.S. See and download my full questionnaire here!

 

Step Two: Moodboard

The next phase is to develop an overarching game plan. I do this by compiling a moodboard. This step usually starts with my clients creating a Pinterest board of images, typography, and colors that inspire them (here’s an example board!). Then, I evaluate their collection and look for patterns or themes within the board. I take the strongest ones and compare how they relate to their brand values and targets from step one.

Once the patterns are established and aligned with their goals, I make a collection that includes typography styles, color selections, and photos with the right style vibe. This serves as an inspiration and reference for all future steps. Here’s an example:

Neutrals moodboard | Dotted Design

 

The colors are neutral, there are soft elements like the ampersand, and the typography combines sans serif fonts with some script. The photos feel light and airy, and the overall vibe is calming and reassuring.

 

Step Three: Sketching and Initial Concepts

Now the real (and fun!) work begins! I like to begin with a major brain dump session: I take some of the key words from the exploratory phases and come up with as many word associations as I can. I write them all down on a big sketchpad, and then I see how those words could translate into imagery, shapes, or graphics. For example, a clever or smart brand might be represented in a fox, or a wholesome foods brand might associate with a circle. There are no wrong ideas at this point! I start sketching these images and shapes and seeing how they fit with the business name. It’s a fun challenge to see how words or letters can integrate into images or at least pair well together.

Once I have a general game plan, I move to the computer and start building the ideas into a logo design. I tend to have anywhere from 5-10 logo concepts, but I push myself to edit and try to send no more than three to the client. I don’t want them to feel overwhelmed or send anything concepts that are too similar to one another. Then, it’s time for feedback and refining!

foxAngela_logocity

 

When asking for feedback, the best plan is to ask for thoughts on how the logomark relates back to the brand values and goals from earlier steps. If you don’t like a certain color, is it because it won’t connect with your target market? Is type feeling too feminine when the brand should feel more neutral? These types of thoughts are the best way to make solid decisions and not let the design get too personal and not business-oriented.

 

Step Four: Refine and Build Out

After a few rounds of revisions to truly make the brand solid, it’s time to create a brand board with the final logo, secondary or alternate logo, color palette, and typography choices. This serves as a reference for all your future visual brand decisions. (See my post on brand boards here for reference!)

 

AS_brand-board

 

The process can be difficult, but as long as you keep your business front of mind, the brand will find a way to come out. When in doubt, keep it simple!

 

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defining the “you” vs. “your brand”

When you are running a business solo, it can be hard to separate what is the personal side of you from the business side of you. I often see people wondering about having one Instagram account vs. separate personal and business accounts. Or, they ask for feedback on a logo that doesn’t “feel like me” yet.

It can be hard to draw the line between what is “you” and what is “your brand,” especially when you are the sole business owner and your work is your passion. This is often most evident when trying to design a brand identity for your business. It’s tough because you want your own personality and values to shine through, but your brand may not be as multi-faceted as your own self may be.

 

You vs Your Brand

 

So, how do you make that distinction? The top thing to remember is that your business is only a part of who you are. You may be a mom, a yoga lover, a baker, a human rights advocate, and a business owner — but your business is not all those things. You may love bright whites and neutrals, but that may not be what attracts your ideal business audience. Wanting to have a brand identity that feels like “you” is reasonable, but not to the extent of it representing your whole self.

 

A few things to consider:

 

Define and understand your target market. This will really help you hone in on who your brand needs to speak to. For example, if you are starting a new subscription box service for men’s products, having a logo and brand that is your favorite shade of pink and watercolor florals is simply not going to translate to your audience, even if it really feels like “you.” If you like a modern and sleek aesthetic, that is an element that is more broad that you can bring to your brand.

It can also help when considering what to post on social media, for example. You may feel strongly about cat videos, but will your audience care about them? Keep that check front of mind when making brand decisions, or think of how you can tie it to something your people do care about.

Develop a strong brand identity. This will help you in those moments when you feel wishy-washy about what direction to take in your design, your packaging, or whatever you are working on in your business. Taking your strong mark, your color palette, your fonts and consistently incorporating them into what you do makes decisions simple.

You might feel tempted to use a new favorite color combination that you love in your latest blog post, but your brand guidelines will reel you in. It will also help you avoid trends or doing something simply because you see it and like it. It’s great to try lots of things in your personal endeavors and explore what your style is, but your business should stay solid and consistent.

Know your business’s values. Part of what makes us want to connect our personal side with our business side is that we want it to feel real and authentic (overused word, I know). When you know what your business stands for and what you want to deliver to your customers, it will help you feel connected on a personal level. For example, if your business is about community, quality service, and problem solving, let those shine through in all the brand visuals you create.

While your business is part of who you are, it needs to be its own entity. You are what makes your business unlike any other, but let it develop its own personality. Making decisions about your brand visuals will become much clearer and easier!

 

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what to do if your brand doesn’t feel like you.

What to do if your brand doesn't feel like you • Dotted Design

 

We’ve all had days where we question what we’re doing and whether we’re headed in the right direction in our businesses. You may look at your website one day and realize you’ve been so busy running your actual business that it hasn’t been updated in months. Or, you may see the shiny new branding that your peer has and feel like your own is suddenly not very good.

If you’re feeling like your visual brand isn’t what you want it to be, it could be that you simply need to take the time to define it. Or, you’re playing the comparison game, which is not a good one to play. Whatever your motivation, there are ways to love your brand again.

First, determine the cause of your doubt:

Is it because there is a new trend in your industry? Perhaps you’ve started to see that a lot of businesses in your industry are using watercolor strokes in their logos, for example, and you feel like you might be missing out on the trend. But think about it: do you really want a logo that looks just like everyone else’s? Be careful that you are motivated by strong decisions and not FOMO on the latest trends! Don’t let the fleeting trends make you doubt what you’ve already built. Go for timeless and well planned.

Is it because your brand isn’t fully developed? You may have thrown together a logo yourself, and frantically make graphics as needed without well thought out plan. When you don’t have clear visual brand guidelines, it makes every new thing you have to put together feel like a huge task that eats up your valuable business time. This can easily make you doubt what you are doing and feel like your visual brand is not up to par.

Is it because your business has changed? Maybe you started out in a specific niche, and as your business has grown, you know either have expanded what you offer or refined your area of expertise. For example, you could have been a coach for women business owners, but now you’ve expanded to working with start-ups to advise them on marketing and SEO. If your brand has shifted, it can mean it’s time for a visual shift as well.

 

Once you know why you are doubting your brand, you can take the necessary steps to either make the change or quell the doubt. Choose from the steps below to build something right for you:

Define your brands values and goals. Before you can build a visual brand that truly represents you, you have to know what it is you’re representing. Who are you serving? What problems are you solving for them? What sets you apart from similar businesses? When you know the answers to these types of questions, you can begin to build a visual brand that translates this message to your audience — or realize that your current brand is a great fit after all. Make sure you are answering these from your business’s perspective and not your personal one — you may love glitter and horses at home, but if you are selling a clothing service for men, it won’t be a good fit.

Build out your brand into a system. If you simply have a logo and struggle to know how to put together the other graphics you need, take the time to develop your brand guidelines. Decide on a color palette that you will always stick to (2-3 main colors, and a few accents/neutrals), select 1-2 main fonts that will be your standard, and consider items like patterns, photography style, and overall key brand words, like sophisticated, bohemian, or minimalist that will influence your style.(See my post on building a brand board here!) When you have this to refer to, you will feel more organized and bring that vital cohesion to your brand. It may feel redundant to you, but it will help your visuals connect with your audience and instantly know when they see a post or email that it is from your brand.

Invest in a designer to bring it all together. You may be able to come up with some great ideas when it comes to the design elements of your business, but a professional can take all that passion you have and turn it into a well designed system. Once it is in your budget, find one that has the style you are looking for, and watch your new brand come together before your eyes!

With so much information available on blogs and websites, it is so easy to constantly check out what other people are doing and play the comparison game all too often. If you know the core of your business and what it means to the people you serve, the customers will come — whether or not you have that watercolor logo everyone else does or not. Remember: your business is bigger than you as an individual, and your visual brand will show it.

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Want more resources and worksheets on answering questions about your visual brand and building your business? Get access to the FREE Learning Library!

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using a brand style board

Using a Brand Style Board • Dotted Design

 

If you’ve spent much time on Pinterest, you’ve likely seen all kinds of brand boards floating around. Or, if you have worked with a designer, you might have received one but not known exactly what to do with it! Brand style boards are a great tool to have in your arsenal, and they can be a big help when you are creating graphics and visuals for your business.

A brand style board offers a quick, visual summary of the style and components of your visual brand identity. Let’s use this one below for reference:

Hadley Boutique identity | Dotted Design

You’ll see it displays how your main logo appears along with any variations. It outlines which fonts to use, which colors are part of your palette (often with their hex codes so you can match it), and brand patterns if you have them. Sometimes they will include photo examples to demonstrate the style and feel your photography should have.

The brand style board is a great way to stay focused if you are someone who has a hard time sticking to brand elements or is always wanting to try new things. Following the selections will help you maintain the oh-so important consistency in your brand as you create blog post graphics, PDF downloads, social media posts, and more.

If you don’t have one for your brand yet, follow these steps to create your own!

  1. Establish your logo. If you haven’t gotten one designed, consider using a simple type-only version instead of making something too complicated. You may also want a few versions – one for vertical use, one for horizontal use, and one for small applications. You may also want one that works well as a watermark for your photos!
  2. Choose your brand fonts. One of the horrors of a brand that is not well thought out is the use of endless font combinations! Pick one to be your main headline font, and something legible for your subheaders and body copy. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can choose a more decorative font, like a script or patterned one to use sparingly. Your fonts have a big influence on the personality of your brand, so choose ones that fit the style you want to achieve. (For tips on pairing fonts, see here!)
  3. Create your color palette. Here is another place where keeping it simple is key. Your color choices can mean the difference between overwhelming rainbow and sophisticated business! I recommend choosing 3 main colors, and a handful of secondary colors, including your neutrals. For example, your main colors might be teal, pink, and navy, along with yellow as an accent and white as your neutral. If you aren’t sure where to begin, start a Pinterest board and collect images you are drawn to. Look for patterns in the colors and pull out your favorites. Once you settle on the colors, use the same hex codes every time! (For more color tips, see here!)
  4. Consider some patterns and textures. You can use patterns in backgrounds of your graphics, on business cards, as an overlay on photos, or as an accent on your other documents. You can find reasonable ones to purchase at places like Creative Market or Design Cuts.
  5. Take a look at the complete board. Does the overall feel of it jive with the style and personality you want your brand to have? If something feels off, adjust it!

 

One of the items in next month’s additions to the Learning Library is a brand board template – sign up below if you want in!

 

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new work: Out of Office Notes

OON-logo

I’m excited to share another recent project today, and this one is for the ladies. New mom Allie came to me looking for a brand identity for her new site, Out of Office Notes. Allie is an HR professional, and after searching for advice on her own career path once she learned she was becoming a mom, she never found something that made her feel like she could be both mama and boss lady. Her blog is intended to be a space for all career-minded mothers looking for that right balance between motherhood and career, who don’t want to lose themselves in either one, and who are interested in keeping up with industry trends and keeping their professional side polished. Sounds like something all women could benefit from!

This project was fun to start because I already knew that our styles are definitely in sync. She wants to build a space that is meaningful and inspiring, as well as soft, modern, and sophisticated. We started with this mood board as a way to summarize the visual direction of her branding:

 

OON Moodboard

 

 

From there, we went through some logo options, and eventually landed at this beautiful set:

 

OON brand board | Dotted Design

 

 

If you are a woman looking for any sort of career balance, whether it’s with your children or even something else important in your life, you should check out this lovely lady and Out of Office Notes!

 

mockup

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15 questions to answer before designing your brand identity.

15-design-Qs

I love the beginning of new projects: the possibilities are wide open, everyone is excited to get started, and the energy is high. When working on a logo & brand identity project, one of my favorite parts is reading through the client’s answers to my questionnaire. It tells me all about why they started their business, what visions they have for it, who they hope to reach, and what aesthetic styles they love.

My questionnaire has evolved a lot as I identify what truly helps me get to the heart of a business. It is fun to see clients think about their business from new angles! I also always ask for a Pinterest board with some inspiration images so that I can compare their words with their imagery – it’s funny to see how they do or do not line up! In fact, I think asking your clients these questions could benefit you as a photographer, copywriter, business coach, or other similar business.

If you are starting your own business (or rebranding a current one), it is so helpful to answer lots of questions to help identify what direction you should go with your visual brand. You can do this when working with a designer or if you’re DIY-ing it to get started! Here are some of the most helpful questions:

  1. Why did you start your business and what are some of its core values? This provides some background and helps articulate the type of feelings they want to convey.
  2. What is your elevator speech about what you do? It always helps to see a summary of a business, rather than the long, drawn-out version, to see what is top priority to the owner.
  3. Who is your target market? It’s imperative that your brand appeals to the people you are trying to reach!
  4. Who (or what) is your competition? What sets you apart from it? This helps me see who in their industry I should be checking out to assure we don’t create anything too similar to a competing business. It also helps researching what is standard in a given industry.
  5. When people think of your business, what words do you want them to use to describe it? This one is obvious, but it makes is easier to discover what type of look we should be going for to achieve that description.
  6. What are the most rewarding parts of your work? This one is always fun to read! Again, it helps identify the core of why they do what they do.
  7. What was the best feedback you ever got from a customer or client? This also helps show what kinds of things are important to a business so that we can make those qualities apparent in the visual brand.
  8. What do you see happening in your business in the next year? How will it grow in 5 years? This is great from a planning perspective. For example, a business may be online only right now, but knowing they hope to launch products in the future means that their logo will need to be adaptable to a small label – good to know when designing now!
  9. What about your current brand caused you to make changes? What isn’t currently working? Of course, only applicable to a rebrand, but identifying the problems are the first step in finding a design solution.
  10. If your brand were an item in your closet, which one would it be? This one is always fun! The answers reveal quite a lot. For example, saying “black blazer” would mean your business is professional and no-nonsense. Choosing the leopard shoe would mean your business puts some spice and fun in their customers’ lives. Or, the oversized sweater means the business provides calm, comfort, and ease to their customers.
  11. Which other brands do you love visually? What about them draws you in? It is imperative to get some visual examples of what the client loves. They may say, “I love modern design,” but then their visual examples say otherwise! Words can often mean very different things to different people, so backing them up with visuals is important.
  12. Which colors are you most drawn to? Which ones turn you off? I wouldn’t want to base a brand identity around red if that color repulses the owner!
  13. What kinds of typography click with you? Another one where visuals help (since of course a regular person may not know the correct terminology) but here I want to see if they like serif, sans serif, handwritten, block, all-caps/lowercase, playful, or serious, for example.
  14. Where will your logo be used? Like #7, it is important to know what scale a logo will be seen at in order to maximize its effectiveness. Seeing it on a billboard will be a different experience than seeing it in a Twitter profile!
  15. Which adjectives do you want to describe your visual brand? I provide a list of options in this question, words like: modern, classic, sleek, sophisticated, bohemian, retro, bold, playful, soft, bright, feminine, masculine, child-like, energetic, etc. Seeing the gut reaction to those words says a lot!

 

If you want to work on the questions for your own brand identity, simply download this free worksheet to answer all the questions for your business!

 

PS If you’re a designer looking to start your own business, you should check out my ebook which has a whole section on this topic and working with your clients!

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3

color study

DYOB color study

 

Color has always been the element of design I find most challenging. It’s amazing how a subtle adjustment in a certain hue can change a look – talk about pressure!

While there is definitely some standard theory when it comes to color, it remains a very subjective area. I’ll be covering both the science and the subtlety when it comes to choosing your own palette for the first in my new series, Design Your Own Brand.

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The Basics

You probably remember learning about the color wheel in elementary school art class. Colors are warm or cool, and they fall under primary, secondary, or tertiary colors:

color-wheel_dotted-design

 

Colors also evoke certain feelings and emotions, which can have a big impact on your visuals! Some of the most common:

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color-emotions_dotted-design

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Finding Your Palette

While considering the psychology of colors, you still aren’t going to want to choose colors you dislike when selecting for your brand. The place I always recommend starting to identify what colors you connect with is good old Pinterest. Start a board and pin any images that you are really drawn to without thinking too deeply about any you select. When you’re done, I bet you’ll be surprised by the patterns you see! From here, you can select a main color or two to build upon.

A good rule of thumb for a basic brand palette is to select three main colors. This will help you stay focused and not overwhelmed by color choice. The general combinations you can make are monochromatic (several tones or shades of the same color), analogous (colors next to each other on the color wheel), complimentary (colors opposite each other on the color wheel), or triadic (all three equal distance on the color wheel). Here are some examples:

 

color-palettes_dotted-design

If you’re looking for a place to try out combinations or get inspiration, Colour Lovers, Adobe Color, or Coolers are great places to start. You should also think about what neutrals work for you brand: for example, would cream be softer and more appropriate than white? Would a dark greige be more effective than a bold black? You’ll want these on hand for things like text or backgrounds!

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Other Things to Consider

Once you’ve identified what colors you connect with and have a general palette, you’ll want to think about a few other items.

Target Audience: who are the people you want to connect with? What are they drawn to? Knowing this will help you hone in on great colors. You may be a woman who loves a soft pink blush color, but if you are hoping to target young men, this might not be a great choice. Referencing color psychology for your target audience is a great tool here.

Competitors: You surely want to stand out from your competitors and make your brand instantly recognizable. A simply way to avoid this is by making sure your colors don’t match someone else’s in your industry! If I were starting a home supplies store, I certainly wouldn’t want to pick red since Target has that all wrapped up. Choose hues that will make your brand unique.

Trends: Like many things, colors tend to have rises in popularity. It’s important to make sure that you are selecting a color for solid reasons rather than the fact that you are currently seeing it everywhere. Picking a trendy color will only make your brand look dated in a short amount of time. When you pick colors based on your own brand alone, they will stand the test of time.

Once you have a color palette, you can easily use it as a base to build all of your brand images, such as blog post graphics, social media images, digital downloads, and so on. Have you selected a color palette for your brand? Are you struggling to create one? I’d love to hear your experiences!

 

 

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