How to Create a Visual Brand for Your Wedding

As a graphic designer, the first thing I did after getting engaged to my now-husband was dive into the process of creating a visual brand for our wedding. While my husband was busy crunching number and making spreadsheets, I was looking at fabric swatches and building Pinterest boards (one of the many reasons I love him is the ways in which we complement each other so well). I was really thrilled with how the visual brand we chose to create was so well-woven throughout our wedding, and came up with a few pieces of advice for others:

  • Ask questions to figure out how to brand your wedding. Treating your wedding like a business may sound unromantic, but it’s necessary if you want to create something cohesive and striking. Ask yourself questions like: what do I want my guests to feel when they attend my wedding a reception? Is my wedding meant to be whimsical; romantic; classic; modern?

  • Create a moodboard. If you’re struggling with creating a visual brand for your wedding, creating a moodboard can be really helpful to figure out what you want to communicate on your wedding day. Putting

  • Narrow down your colors early. There’s a lot of different ways to figure out your colors for your wedding day - my favorite (as you can guess) is to gather your colors from moodboard and question exercises. Many others choose their wedding colors based on their favorite hues or the season of their big day; there’s no incorrect way to go about it, but it’s important to make sure the colors you pick are cohesive with the overall mood and tone you’re looking to set with your wedding.

  • Follow through in all areas of the celebration. Wedding colors and themes are generally most evident in paper goods like invitations and the colors of decorations; but there’s plenty of small touchpoints to make, like ceremony programs, centerpieces, signage, and your wedding website.

Here’s a peek into how we did this with our wedding:

Our Moodboard

It’s incredibly easy to be overwhelmed at the outset of a wedding, with the multitude of decisions that need to be made. As a design professional, it was really tough to narrow down decisions about our wedding since the world was our oyster. Making a cohesive moodboard was incredible helpful, and we printed and hung it up in our living room, which was a great tactic.

Our wedding was in autumn, but we ended up going with a more modern, simple approach to our palette as opposed to autumn tones. Here’s how I would describe the brand of our wedding:

  • Minimalist and simple

  • Neutral with pops of greens, greys, blues, and blush

  • Rustic and geometric elements (wood and gold)

Save the Dates

Our save the dates were the first touchpoint guests got to learn about our wedding. I loved how these turned out, and they were fairly in line with the brand we landed on, although you can see the more refined version in the invitations. We ended up using the state of Ohio (where we were married) and the “Anna + Jacob” logotype more prominently later on.

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Invitations

I loved how these invites turned out. I was inspired by the multicolored neutral invitation suite featured on our moodboard, and wanted to create something similar. I’d never seen an invitation suite use multiple colored papers, and I really loved how these turned out

I printed these through LCI Paper (RSVP return envelopes and vellum overlay) and Printswell Fulfillment (everything else) and designed them myself.

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 Captured by our fantastic wedding photographers,  Photo 243

Captured by our fantastic wedding photographers, Photo 243

 

Day Of Materials/Mood and Feel

Below are a few more items created for the day of our wedding, as well as a few captures of us + our guests, which we feel really shows how we wove our minimalist, rustic/rust-y, neutral color story throughout the whole day. From my dress to his suit to our table decor, we really just couldn’t be happier about how it came together.

All items and decor created by me unless noted otherwise.

My 3 Favorite Tools to Ensure a Great Client Process

For a long time in my business (maybe too long?), I wanted each and every client process to be unique. I chose to spend a lot of time writing out personalized responses to every potential client, and would often already be exhausted by the time I’d landed the client. Earlier this year I realized exactly how many hours I spend each week simply on emailing, and knew I needed to invest a little time and money in my client process.

Once I dove into how I could streamline and automate this process, I found a few things - a) it’s wayyy cheaper than I thought, and b) my clients LOVE working with these programs, mostly because they make things incredibly easy. There’s little to no learning curve, and my clients don’t need to sign up for their own accounts in these programs. I was worried that using multiple new programs in the client experience would complicate things, but it’s done quite the opposite.

To Get the Client: 17Hats

 An example of 17Hats’ client portal

An example of 17Hats’ client portal

17Hats is a CMS (customer management system) created just for small/entrepreneurial businesses. There’s a lot of similar CMS systems (Dubsado and Honeybook being two of the most popular), but 17Hats ended up being the best fit for me. All of these CMS systems have a myriad of uses, but this is what I use 17Hats for the most:

  • Automating workflows. For example, I have a full workflow that seamlessly takes potential clients through the inquiry phase - after filling out a form on my website, 17Hats triggers a follow up email with a few more questions to ensure they’re a great fit. If it seems like they are, all I need to do is review and hit a quick “approve” before 17Hats sends another email to set up a phone meeting. Something that used to take me at least an hour to do now takes 5-10 minutes.

  • Invoicing, contracts and proposals all in one place. Instead of creating PDF invoices for clients who wanted to write me a check and sending others a PayPal or Stripe link, I can keep track of everything all in one place. Those check writing clients can easily print invoices and others can pay online - no excuse for lost invoices! You can also set up 17Hats to automatically send reminder emails when invoices are nearing their due date. Also, a client can quickly approve a proposal, sign a contract, and pay their invoice in one fell swoop - no more going back and forth with clunky PDFs each time you are landing a new client.

  • Client portals. 17Hats automatically creates a client-facing portal, where all of their invoices, questionnaires, etc. can live; it’s also a place where you can upload files (such as final deliverables). It’s amazing to give clients a single URL where they can always head to if they can’t find a file, or need to print out an invoice for any reason.

Want to check out 17Hats? You can take 10% off an annual plan by using this link!
Full disclosure: this is an affiliate link, and I get a little something if you sign up.

For Client Onboarding/Project Management: Asana

I’d heard people raving about Asana for years, and I’m kicking myself for exactly how long it took me to try it out. Asana is a free tool (there is also a paid version for larger teams) that is truly amazing for organizing both client experiences and your own business to-dos.

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Above is a screenshot of my current Asana board. On the left, I’ve organized personal, business and client boards, all of which are displayed on this calendar view by due date. It’s a great way to eliminate a to-do list, and get a visual idea of what’s coming up next. You can also view each individual board on their own and as more of a checklist. For me, I love this as a central place where I can keep track of blog ideas or social media posts.

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And the client experience is just as awesome. As soon as a client has signed off on a project, the first thing I do is built out and send over their Asana board. It can be viewed as a checklist (pictured above), or as a calendar, showing what is due when. This way, there’s never any confusion about what comes next - you also have the ability to assign each task, clearly setting boundaries about who is responsible for what task.

For Client Offboarding: Loom

Loom is one of those products I didn’t know I need until I found it. Loom is a video recorder that operates as a Google Chrome extension, and is amazing for recording and sending videos to clients. I personally use it when I’m sending over drafts of work to clients, and want to include a rationale of some of my design decisions (I personally prefer to do this via video instead of phone call, so they can check it out on their own time); as well as for offboarding. Especially with website clients, I’ve found videos to be the best way to communicate any final steps and walkthroughs of how to edit their site.

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I also love Loom because it operates via Google Chrome extension - which means you just need to click one button in your browser to start recording. You can also upload it right to your general channel or a folder where you can store all your client’s videos. It’s incredibly easy, and eliminates the need to find a place to store those giant video files. And best of it - it’s totally free!

What do you guys things? Any favorite client tools you can’t live without?

Branding: St. Demetrios Preparatory School

Formerly St. Demetrios High School, this historically Greek high school located in Astoria, Queens, was re-examining its visual identity after losing its traditionally Greek audience to more suburban schools. In an effort to attract more families from the neighborhood and of non-Greek lineage, we engaged them for a full brand strategy and rebrand.

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Nonprofit Design: John F. Kennedy Library & Museum's New Frontier Network

We love working with organizations that make a difference, and the John F. Kennedy Library & Museum's New Frontier Network (NFN) is definitely one of those. The NFN approached Anchored to create new donor materials (both corporate giving and individual membership pieces) for the organization, which focuses on young professional membership of the library and museum, as well as new stationery pieces with the NFN’s existing brand.

Working with brands to reconnect them with their audience is one of our biggest passions, and it was a pleasure to work with an organization that is doing so much good. Scroll below to check out a few items we collaborated on, including letterhead, business cards, thank you cards, and an individual membership pamphlet.

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Branding: Carbon Elevation

Carbon Elevation is a Colorado-based health and wellness company that focuses on women’s nutrition and fitness. It was a pleasure to work on this brand (fun fact: my first client to come through finding Anchored on Pinterest!), creating an identity that is simple and bold at first glance, but integrates tons of fun details (such as the stamp with the elevation of the founder’s town, and a topography-inspired element of meaningful mountains to her family).

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Branding: Latinos for a Fair Judiciary

In advance of the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice in summer 2018, Latinos for a Fair Judiciary (formerly Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary) took the initiative to refresh their brand identity and refocus their audience to young, politically active Latinos. Wanting to stay away from stale tones of red, white, and blue, and build on the popularity of bold progressive political campaign branding, we drew inspiration from bold Latin colors and strong typography in order to make this fun and vibrant brand identity.

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Introducing: the new Anchored Creative Studio

I usually don’t work with brand-new businesses, mostly owing to my belief that you need to work through a few struggles of business to really define your audience and realize what’s important to the business you’re building. And I’ve realized lately that this is no less true for my own design studio.

I’ll likely look back on the summer of 2018 as one of burnout and growth. After starting Anchored Creative Studio in May 2016, I went through varying degrees of full-time employment with other organizations and working on Anchored on the side; working part-time freelance on other projects outside of Anchored; and working part-time in-house at a nonprofit while working on Anchored. In January 2018, I made the decision to make the jump to full-time with Anchored, and quickly began to take on most projects that came my way, as a way to stay financially afloat and grow my business.

After about six months full time, I began to drown a bit in work. Client work began to bleed into my free time, and I found that there was a clear divide in my projects - work that I was passionate about, and work that was simply a means to keep my business running. Being pulled in both directions, I found that the projects I wasn’t devoting enough critical thinking into the turnkey projects, and wasn’t devoting enough time to the projects I was passionate about.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve put a pause on new projects, as a way to finish up all existing ones and take the time to examine both the clients I take on, and my process behind all client work. This has resulted in a new visual brand for Anchored Creative Studio (which I think speaks more to myself, what I offer, and my audience), as well as updated offerings. Here’s a list of what you can expect:

Updated brand packages. Based on past experiences with client needs, I’ve reformatted my branding packages, and have also made pricing more transparent. I’ve also introduced the Two Week Brand - an immersive experience to get your brand and website off the ground in just two weeks (!).

More of a focus on nonprofit development work. I’ve always passionately worked with nonprofits, and have continually enjoyed creating designs for them - and not just marketing materials. Earlier this summer, I learned that a nonprofit I designed a foundation grant proposal for was awarded the top prize of a $2 million grant (!!), an idea popped into my head that I’d somehow never thought of before. What if I focused on proposals, individual and corporate giving donor packets, and other reports for nonprofits? It’s a niche I haven’t found many others with experience in, and I’m ready to help nonprofits communicate with their audience on a direct level.

Resources for small and growing businesses. It’s a goal of mine to equip those organizations who may not be ready for an investment in a full-fledged brand with resources to start out with a DIY.

More focus on the importance of audience and process. I’m all about transparency, and I was to fold more of me and my experience into the narrative. I want to share more about what works and doesn’t work in my business, and hopefully teach others along that along the way.

If you have any feedback, questions, or want to get in touch, don’t hesitate to contact me! I’d love to hear from you :)

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How to Use a Moodboard to Inspire a Logo | Ballast Notes

I've written about moodboards before on this blog, and why I think they're such an asset in the client process. For any sort of design project, moodboards are a great way to ensure cohesive visual inspiration and to nail down a strong visual direction before the design process actually begins.

All of that being said, how does the moodboard actually influence the logo and overall branding of the project you're working on? Below are some tips on creating a moodboard for yourself or for a client that will ensure smooth sailing in the design process. 

All visual inspiration below was gathered for Amelia Damplo Videography & Amelia Damplo Yoga.

Gather visual inspiration focused on type, shape, texture, and color

When gathering inspiration, don't only focus on finding logos of other companies that you're in love with. Those are great starting points, but pay attention to what elements you're truly drawn to - is it the bold typography, or font, that they're using? Is it their earthy color palette? Perhaps even the shapes in a brand pattern, or the feeling that their overall branding evokes? Find images like that to be a part of your moodboard.

The above images were a few initial pieces of inspiration for Amelia Damplo's moodboard - the left as geometric typography inspiration; the middle as shape/texture inspiration; and the right as color inspiration.

 

Include variety, and establish a color palette

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Using a variety of images/graphics will help ensure a cohesive moodboard, and will give you plenty of inspiration as the design process begins. A few different types of images and graphics I often look for are:

  • Logos and other branding (business cards, patterns, websites, etc.)
  • Interior design
  • Lifestyle and nature images
  • Fine art and illustrations
  • Typography examples
  • Color palettes

I keep Pinterest boards as a way to filter inspiration; it's a great place to come back to as I'm working on new brands.

Moodboards are especially great places to establish the color palette of a brand; look for images that evoke the feeling you'd like for your brand to have, and the color palette usually falls in the line from there. For this brand, we stuck with an earthy, light color palette that worked really well.

 

See it all come together

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Spending some extra time at the beginning of the branding process on a moodboard can take a little bit of time, but it pretty much always pays off. Using this formula to gather visual inspiration will help both the client and the designer find a way to understand the exact direction of the brand they're building, and sets you up for success from the very beginning. 

 

All images used in moodboards were found via Pinterest, and are meant for visual inspiration only. 

Branding: True North Alignment

It was such a pleasure working with Kari Johnson on her new brand, True North Alignment. Kari is a life coach for women and yoga teacher based in Colorado, and is planning to expand her business. Previously operating under a business based on her own name, Kari was ready for a total branding overhaul, and engaged Anchored to develop the organization's name through a brand strategy and development session, and create a new visual identity. 

It was such a joy to work with Kari and discuss her vision to help women at a precipice in their life - to deepen their relationship with themselves in order to launch their future forward. 

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4 Steps to Take Before Hiring a Graphic Designer for Your Brand

Psst - before we get started, if you're ready to leap into your visual branding with a designer, don't hesitate to get in touch

1. Define what isn't working for your current brand, and begin developing your brand style.

If you already have an existing organization or product, what isn't working for your brand? Are you not reaching the audience you want to, or not selling at the price point you desire? Once you're able to identify the specifics behind why you aren't happy with your existing brand, narrow down how you think your visual brand can change.

At this point, whether your product or organization is brand new or existing, you can start defining your brand style. Who is your audience, and what are some of the visuals that might attract them? What is your brand's mission, and what are some of the images and graphic styles that could represent that? Through narrowing down these ideas and experimenting with what overlaps, you can start to see a brand style emerge. 

2. Find imagery that matches your brand style.

I used to think mood boards were a little hokey. But once I started using them, I saw a dramatic change in the brand discovery process. Sometimes the feeling of your brand is hard to put into words, and instead putting your brand into visuals is the best way to elicit the emotional response that you want and need. Sourcing imagery that matches up with your brand style - whether that's photos, logos, colors, typography, or other graphics - is the best way to show exactly what direction you want to head in. 

3. Have an idea of what you want to spend, and what you want to get.

Before diving into the search for a specific designer, think about the amount of money you have to invest in the branding of your business. Not only does this help you come up with a vague number, but will also help you establish what exactly you want to get out of the process. If you have a very specific idea of what you want and simply need a designer to execute it, you'll likely spend a bit less. If you're hoping for more strategy and/or need more deliverables at the end of the project, you're looking at a higher price tag. 

4. Get in touch with graphic designers that will play to the strengths of your brand.

Now is the time to begin looking for the designer that will make your brand come to life! The secret to finding the perfect designer to you relies mostly 1) in their work process, and 2) in their prior work. By viewing their prior work, you'll get an idea of the types of brand design they excel at, and how you could possibly work together. As you get in touch with these designers, be sure to ask about their process, timelines, and how you can best work together to create something awesome.

And as a pro tip - if you're not ready to invest in your business, you can still start shopping around to have a few designers in mind when you're ready to sink that cash into your organization. 

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