The creative concept for the Empowered Entrepreneur Book

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Fancy a closer look at the concept behind The Empowered Entrepreneur book? Last week I shared the finished design, and if I do say so myself, it looks really lovely.

Everything in the design: the layout, typography, colour palette, photography, illustrations, styling, paper stock- the works, have been really intentionally and considerately thought through and I thought it might be interesting to explore that a little more…


The brief

As soon as I heard that Elizabeth was finally writing her much anticipated book I was itching to get my creative hands on it! Elizabeth has such a wealth of knowledge to share and is incredible at what she does. I really wanted to help her get the book out there in a way that really did justice to her amazing content and my mind started racing with ideas pretty quickly.

Elizabeth’s brief was that the book needed to feel magical, transformative, authentic and empowering. In addition to that, I wanted to bring a certain measure and understatedness to the party. I was really conscious that without these essential elements of style, the design could take a really heavy, clunky, perhaps even slightly unpolished turn that would undermine Elizabeth’s experience and professionalism.

Having designed a lot of intense, rustic, autumnal brand identities back in my agency days, I knew and it would have been so easy to go down that route with Elizabeth’s book. There’s no doubt that’s where her brand could have sat, but I wanted to elevate it beyond the predictable and create something that would communicate the gravitas of the message and the wealth of experience Elizabeth brings. Elizabeth is really good at what she does and that needed to come across.

The book tackles some pretty intense subjects in places and the message needed plenty of space to land and breathe. Something that was too overbearing just wouldn't have been appropriate here.

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So whilst the brand is very much rooted in autumn, and you’ll see that in the colour palette below, I wanted to introduce a lot of summer calm, quiet and dare I say it, elegance.

lots of space

We’ve incorporated a lot of space into the design which gives the message room to breathe. The margins are generous, I’ve added as much white space into the top of the page as the content allows and the typography is deliberately lighter and more grown up than Elizabeth’s initial brief requested.

I see this as an essential part of my job as a Creative Director: to elevate a brief beyond what’s being asked for. To ask for more. To deliver more. To make a brand more timeless, powerful, cohesive and enduring.

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The big idea

The overarching concept came about pretty quickly. I’ve known Elizabeth for more than a decade and in that time, nature has always been an integral part of how she lives and works. It made absolute sense that the the British countryside would play a big role in the design, the challenge came about in working out how to thread it all through in a way that made sense.

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Nature is central to the message of Elizabeth’s book and the way in which she works and lives.

The natural world influences and informs so many of the topics within the book. Seasonal flow, staying inspired, taking regular breaks, staying connected to nature and nurturing your wellbeing, to name just a few, all take their cues, inspiration and energy from nature. It’s inherently part of being an Empowered Entrepreneur and we both knew that we wanted to include lots of images of landscapes and close ups of plants to ensure that the book was a delight to read.

Images do a lot more than simply fill the gaps in the pages. They allow for reflection. They give you the opportunity to pause and assimilate what you’ve just read. They prompt thought and ideas. They inspire.

The images in Elizabeth’s book also gave us the opportunity to elevate the experience of reading her book beyond the average business book into something to be savoured.

So far, so simple, but here’s the thing, if we only used landscapes, would that work? I was conscious that as people flicked through the book that it needed to feel like a business book. We needed a sense of entrepreneurship as well as nature or it just wouldn’t make sense.

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The illustrations

Illustrations were something we were both keen to include. They featured heavily on my initial mood board and we knew they’d add an element of style and thought to the book. Elizabeth was really keen to work with Gail Jones, a botanical illustrator based in the South of England who paints the most beautiful watercolours, so we had our illustrator. The question was, how to ensure these glorious drawings made sense in the flow of the book.

My initial concept was to create an a-z of plants for entrepreneurs (stay with me…). As we worked up that idea a little more, what had been a really inspiring jumping off point started to get unwieldy. We had too many H’s… Nothing for Z. We couldn’t work out how to fit another couple of essential plants in and were putting others in for the sake of filling out the letters. The thing that was meant to be a way to pull everything together started to hold us back, so it was back to the drawing board.

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Illustrations inspired by the Bach Flower Remedies

The Bach Flower remedies have always been a part of the way Elizabeth works with her clients and that became a lovely way to pull the illustrations together. We commissioned several of the most important essences for entrepreneurs along with several of Elizabeth’s own choices (the fern is a particular favourite).

The really lovely thing about these illustrations is that not only have we been able to use them to add another dimension to the book, but Elizabeth’s been able to use them throughout her website and promotional materials. Below you’ll see a few shots from the gift box - don’t they all look glorious together?

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The finished illustrations are much lighter and more elegant than my (admittedly rustic) mockups suggest and are all the more beautiful for it. I really love the light and gentle feel of this brand. It has plenty of grit, thanks to the colours, but is the perfect backdrop to Elizabeth’s message and I love it for that.

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(Fiona’s) incredible vision, thorough understanding of my brand, and our shared love of inspiring and empowering entrepreneurs were just a few of the things that made Fiona as my choice of book designer and stylist a total no brainer.
— Elizabeth Cairns

I’ve loved (almost) every minute of this project and to see it out there in the world is a real joy. It was a truly immersive project that spanned most of the first half of this year. You’ll see in my next post just how long - I was styling my images with apple blossom midway through this project, as I write this post, everything is in it’s last hurrah in the garden and I’m struggling to find anything that’s still green.

Creating a book is a huge undertaking and Elizabeth and her entire family should be really proud of everything they’ve achieved. It’s wonderful to see everything finally pulled together and so much more gorgeous than I could have imagined. I’ll be sharing more on the styling and the design process very soon….

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