Behind the Scenes: A new identity for The Brand Stylist {Part Two}

If you've attended a recent workshop or been following me on instagram, you may have noticed that The Brand Stylist has a new identity. Pulling the whole thing together has been an absolute pleasure and I thought you might like a little behind-the-scenes tour as to how we got here. In my last post, I talked about what inspired the new identity and what I hoped to achieve. Here I'm going to share some of the early designs as well as the finished article. I hope you'll find it inspiring and enlightening!

The brief

As part of my own Thinking Bigger journey I was looking for a stylish and sophisticated identity that would reflect what it feels like to take a Brand Stylist workshop. I wanted my brand to feel empowering, inspiring, inventive and have lots of clarity. Most importantly, I wanted something that would feel expert and visionary as well as fun.

As well as establishing how I'd like my brand to look and feel, Shauna also asked my to identify what it wasn't which was actually more instructive than what it was. Confident but not brash; engaging but not messy; stylish but not cold, and so on. As we went through the process, I realised that I'd need to let go of the brand identity itself feeling warm, engaging and inspiring if we were to achieve the contemporary, sophisticated and aspirational look we wanted.

So my gorgeously light-filled and life affirming photography communicates the warmth and inspiration that's so core to my brand and the colour palette and typography are more cool, calm and collected which I think really works. It's a good reminder that your brand identity doesn't have to do everything: use your brand voice, your photography, textures or shapes perhaps to communicate the other elements of your brand and most of all, keep in mind what you set out to achieve.

In my case, we wanted my audience to feel empowered, confident, inspired, energised, inventive and clear. And I think Shauna's achieved this with bells on.

Here's Shauna's mood board. A little more calm and collected than mine - which probably isn't a bad thing!

And here are the initial concepts. It seems crazy looking back, because I adore my new logo, but initially this was just a project to brand the workshops, I hadn't imagined that we would change the logo for The Brand Stylist. Isn't that just the case when you're too close to something? I was very determined not to 'hold back' the design of the new workshop identities at all, but I imagined that we would just use these as sub brands.

As it was, much further down the line there were two routes we just couldn't let go of, and that's where the plain obvious that was staring me in the face came in to play and we rebranded the whole business. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Initial Concepts

This was exactly what I thought I wanted. Geometric shapes and clean lines. The colours were interesting (designed to demarcate different workshops and I loved that idea) but the whole effect was too busy for me. I adored the geometric icons but the colours had to go. And the font: too art deco for my taste. And this is where collaborating on a design project gets interesting. Because the font above answers my brief for a clean, sophisticated and elegant design. But I had a visceral reaction against it!

This concept just didn't feel right. The small font was too squat, I didn't care for the title case words and whilst I loved the idea of doing some blind embossing with those brushstrokes, it just wasn't for me.

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I really like this as a device, but it's not strong enough as a logo.

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This for me, was where things got really interesting. I adored that Brand Brilliance icon from the get go, but the others just felt too messy. I love the way that the BB comes together to create something greater than the sum of it's parts. It's gorgeous. And it's what ended up being the inspiration for The Brand Stylist logo. The others, we played about with, but in the end, option one was strongest.

Another great device, but there are much stronger logos in the mix.

Refining the favourites

Shauna was so responsive and so talented and an absolute pleasure to work with. She took my feedback on board with grace and determination and I think together we've created something really incredible. It's given me confidence in what I do and inspired me to think bigger about what's possible. Exactly what I'd seen branding doing for my own clients!

So we changed the font I had such an emotive reaction to into something that I just adore: Freight. Such an elegant and simple font that feels just perfectly right. The handwriting font I'm still not certain we have totally nailed, but that's such a very personal thing, and I'm good with just playing about. This one feels too safe, my personal favourite, Signerica, you've all told me you can't read, so that's been consigned to the bin. Recently I've been experimenting with my handwriting instead!

How gorgeous do they look? So simple and stylish! And I love the copper pattern Shauna's placed behind the icons which gives them a dimensional quality.

With the other favourite, we replaced the circles with squares which grounded things (a spring shape for a winter one) and added a whole heap more gravitas. It really works here doesn't it?

And how lovely on the textures?

It was less successful, however, with the other workshops. Those other letter combinations just weren't working for me and that was frustrating because Shauna and I both loved the double b, and didn't necessarily want to let go of the concept, but it just wasn't working for me.

And so it was that in the middle of a mammoth gardening session (am I alone in finding gardening immensely meditative?) I realised that of course! I could use the icon for The Brand Stylist. And my favourite geometric shapes for the workshops.

The finished identity

I loved the textures Shauna pulled together - especially that marble, which I use a lot.

And I adore the geometric icons. The Brand Stylist is a winter brand with a spring subordinate. So, I was obsessed with making the lines as thin as possible to bring out the spring simplicity and a little approachability. I love how she's added the copper sheen to make them feel three-dimensional. And of course, I'm running up a small fortune foiling whatever I can, whenever possible.

I'm a total font geek, so getting the right fonts for the logo and strapline was quite the process. Poor Shauna. For me, fonts really communicate a lot of the personality of the brand so they have to be just so. I love Freight, which is what we've ended up with in the logo and (controversially for me at least) I also use without the letterspacing (kerning) in my headers. The handwriting font is still up for grabs. I'm not sure I've found anything that communicates quite the right energy whilst retaining legibility. The search is on!

I've never worked with an external designer before and I can't tell you how inspiring (and terrifying) that was. I've designed everything for The Brand Stylist to date, and in my previous company, my design team always worked on our brand identity which is a very different proposition. It was so good to finally have someone to share the responsibility of getting this right with. So good to have another opinion and an objective view from someone who wasn't as caught up in the detail of the day to day as me.

One thing that really surprised me was how nervous I felt when the designs came over. I really hadn't expected that. But I guess I was subconsciously affirming that I'd made the right decision. And it really mattered to me to get this right. It definitely helped to talk through the changes, and I think (I hope!) Shauna liked the objective and constructive feedback. When things didn't feel right, I could explain with a fair amount of perspective and precision why they weren't working.

I'm thrilled with the end result. I can hand-on-heart say that I never would have come up with those designs. We both agreed that the logos were exactly the sort of thing we'd pin if we came across them on Pinterest! I absolutely adore them and I can see the whole look and feel being pretty timeless. It'll also grow with me as I inevitably, refine my own aspirations for the business. I hope you love it too. Behind the scenes I'm working very hard on getting the new designs for the website together which I hope will be launched soon.