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Do you remember that project you had in 8th grade that was due in two weeks, then in 1 week, then tomorrow? Maybe you even tried to work on it in advance, but just couldn’t get inspired until the last minute? For me, branding my own projects has always been like this. I can come up with a cool logo or moodboard for a client, but I always get stuck making something for myself.
With that in mind, today I am sharing my system with you. Maybe you are starting your own business or working on a project for a charity you support. Doesn’t matter – by giving yourself a process and a limited amount of time to finish, you will have a useful tool in an hour!
Ready to go? Set your watches and read on!
Step 1 – It Starts With a Name. Name your project/business/whatever. You can change your project name later – you might even figure out a new one while you are working on the branding exercise, but as long as you name what you are trying to brand, you will be able to translate that feeling to images. Write it down on a piece of paper in your normal writing. No bubble letters or artistic cursive, yet. Then, make a list of what you are selling, what your values as a company are, your theme, and your project’s personality. Write down 10-20 words that describe what you think of when you think of your project. Here is an example of a project I worked on for a school.
Beach Blanket Bingo
1990s surf logos
running through sprinklers
Step 2 – Pinterest
Pinterest is so great. Instead of trying to find all of the images that fit your mood yourself, Pinterest does it for you. Create a new board for your project. Take your list of words and type each one into the search bar. Add about 30 images based on your word list. Here is the board I created for this project.
Step 3 – Pick a color
Now you have inspiration! Pick some of your favorite colors from the pictures that you pinned and go to this website https://color.adobe.com/ to figure out your palette for your project. Whether it is a party, your new business logo, or a website, you now know how to make to colors you like look good together. You also have patterns to choose from, which is personally the part I find the most difficult. Leave this web page open, because you’re going to use it in the next step.
Step 4 – Branding Board/Moodboard
You’re really going now – only 15 minutes to go(or so, that’s where I am in the process). Often when branding, you will create both a moodboard and a branding board. Since we are doing this quick, we are going to do a hybrid. If you are working on a big project and have the time, I suggest you do create both. A moodboard is helpful for figuring out website elements and photos down the road and a branding board lists the colors, logos, fonts, and graphic elements that are always used for your brand. Moodboard= 10 photos, branding board = 2-3 non-logo pictures, what we are creating = 5 pictures. Create a document in Word, Pages, or if you are lucky enough to have Illustrator, open that up. Download your favorite 5 images from Pinterest, open them up and copy and paste them onto your board. Take a screenshot of your final color selection from the Adobe Color page and paste that at the bottom of your branding board. Voilå! You should have something that looks like this.
Step 5 – Pick a font
If you have Photoshop or Illustrator, you can play with the fonts and color pickers in those programs. If you don’t, you can use my favorite online photo editor, PicMonkey. I have Illustrator and Photoshop and I still love PicMonkey for quick projects because their fonts are so well curated. Save some of your favorite images from the Pinterest board and upload them into Pic Monkey.* To save time, just pick one or two. Now, make a box or other geometric shape in white, then one in one of the colors from your palette. Try various fonts in colors from your palette on the two boxes. When you’re happy, write the name of your project in the font you chose, then the name of the font, then the abc’s in the text box. Save the file and add it to your board.
*This could be a whole tutorial, but I think it’s pretty user friendly. If you want to see a PicMonkey post in the future, let me know in the comments below.
Step 6 – Finish
Just in time! Phew, that was a close one. Here is what I came up with. Take the time to pretty up your board by lining up elements, cutting off edges of photos with a white box overlay, etc. If it’s pretty, you’ll use it more. You now have a basic tool to help you determine fonts, colors, and graphic elements for all aspects of your project. If you don’t have a logo, knowing what you like will make creating one much easier for your or for a graphic designer. If you’ve accidentally stumbled onto a logo you like during the “font on a shape” step, hooray!
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