As part of developing and advancing your career in design, it’s important to be clear about your personal strengths and what you can offer a potential employer or to the industry.
Making a bold and distinct statement will get you noticed and help you take advantage of opportunities. A great way to achieve this is through a strong and consistent personal brand.
The following article is a preview from our online masterclass Build Your Own Brand.
What is ‘Branding’?
When we ‘brand’ something, we are creating an identity for our company, or product. This allows our audience to differentiate us from our competitors.
A strong brand identity should reflect the company’s ethos, style and personality.
Branding, or your visual identity, is the tangible manifestation of your brand identity: how your product or service will be visually presented to your audience. This can be visual, but can also involve other senses; such as sound, touch, taste etc. depending on what the product is and how it’s being delivered to your audience.
The challenge here is to distill or concentrate these qualities (ethos, style, personality) and represent them through the design language and visual elements that make up ‘brand design’.
Your Personal Brand
So what does this mean? When we talk about personal brand building, we’re really asking what makes you unique as a designer: what creative ideas and technical skills are behind your approach to design.
By extension, when you ‘brand’ yourself, you should be thinking about how the audience will see your projected image. You should be thinking about what you hope to achieve, and how best to convey this message through design.
As a designer, getting your personal brand right is vital, as it’s your first opportunity to show employers or clients what you’re capable of. If the branding you’ve designed for yourself is off-message, or looks bad, who’s going to hire you to design something for them?
What Makes a Good Brand?
- Clarity: How simple and easy to read and understand is your messaging (and medium)?
- Creativity: Is your solution innovative? Is your design aesthetically pleasing or interesting?
- Consistency: How unified is your approach to expressing different elements of your identity?
The first challenge is to consider these elements from a business perspective, to create a brand identity. Who are you and what are you providing that is unique and valuable?
The second, and possibly trickier challenge, is to portray this visually through the design of our branding, or visual identity.
A good place to begin here is to think about what it is you wish to communicate. Create a diagram of the qualities you want your brand identity to communicate. Getting your thoughts down on paper is a great way to make it really clear in your own head.
Ask yourself this question: what is my Unique Selling Point (USP)? As challenging as it is to answer, you need to be both honest and objective in order to effectively communicate what it is that makes you distinctive as a designer.
Once you have everything written out in front of you, try and simplify these down to three main points. A good tip here is to come up with a single sentence or tagline that describes yourself and your services. If you can incorporate your three main points into one sentence – great!
Brand Identity vs Visual Identity: Keep it Simple
The key here is to keep it simple, once you have filtered your brand identity down to three main selling points, you’re ready to start simplifying and building your brand using clear, creative and consistent visuals.
It is vital that your branding is a direct visualisation of your brand identity. Your branding, or visual identity is how people will recognise you, sometimes even just at a glance.
'Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean and make it simple.'
- Steve JobsClick To Tweet
Visual Identity: Your Logo
Contrary to what a lot of people think, branding isn’t just a logo.
Branding, or your visual identity, encompasses everything from colour, typography, the type of imagery associated with the brand, how you sound when you answer the phone, the way you write your emails and the way you present yourself.
So there’s more to branding than just a logo. Nevertheless, it’s a brilliant place to start.
Our in-house expert, Joe Lynch, recommends starting with your name. The following video is a clip from one of our online design masterclasses, Build Your Own Brand:
Visual Identity: Applying Your Branding
What are the deliverables? In other words, what tangible objects are we branding? These can include:
- Stationary items
- Business cards
- Invoices (printed/digital)
- Portfolio (printed/digital)
- Work photography
- Mission statement
Your online identity is just as important as real-life printed objects, and it is imperative that there is consistency across offline and online platforms. This includes:
- Social media profiles
- Email signatures
- Portfolio sites
We hope you’ve enjoyed the above article, touching on the following sections from our Build Your Own Brand Masterclass:
- Your Identity
- Your Elements
For further advice and materials, access the full webinar, or download our Freelancer’s Ultimate Guide:
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