A Deep Dive Into the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates' Branding (Color Palettes & Typography)

Since I had already done a deep dive into my thoughts on the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates’ branding in another blog, I thought I’d follow that up with a (slightly nerdier) foray into the color palettes and typography choices of each campaign. This blog includes links to access the fonts and typefaces used on each of the candidates’ websites, as well as links to access the hex codes from their sites.

Although I’m not providing commentary on each of these, there were a few interesting overall notes:

  • It was fascinating to see which teams utilized open source and/or free fonts, compared to those that purchased from big name type foundries. I will note that pricy isn’t always better, and definitely isn’t a hinderance to having a great campaign website.

  • As diverse as this field has seemed in regards to branding color palettes, I was surprised by how many palettes showed up as red, white and blue heavy. Although small steps are being made, very few candidates veered completely away from this classic combination.

A couple quick resource shout outs to the tools I used to create this blog:

  • WhatFont: An awesome Google Chrome extension that allows you to hover over web fonts to find out what they are.

  • Site Palette: Another great Chrome extension that scans websites an exports their color palettes, including to Coolors (below).

  • Coolors: A color palette generator. You can make an account and save color palettes for free, which is what I’ve done to link all of the palettes below. Click on any palette to open it in Coolors.

CORY BOOKER

Dapifer Book, designed by Darden Studio. Available on Adobe Fonts.
Conductor, designed by Frere-Jones Type. Available on Adobe Fonts for $$$.

PETE BUTTIGIEG
(Updated April 2019)

Aktiv Grotesk Ext, designed by Dalton Maag. Available on Adobe Fonts.
Industry, designed by Mattox Shuler. Available on Adobe Fonts.
Domaine Text, designed by Klim Type Foundry. Available on Klim’s website for $$$.

*Note: Check out Buttigieg’s website for an in-depth Design Toolkit, which includes reasonings for type and color choices.

JULIAN CASTRO

Mallory, designed by Frere-Jones Type. Available on Adobe Fonts for $$$.
Fedra Serif, designed by Typotheque. Available on Typotheque for $$$.

JOHN DELANEY

Source Sans Pro, designed by Adobe Type. Open source; also available as a Google Font.
ITC Avant Garde, designed by Monotype. Available on Adobe Fonts for free.

TULSI GABBARD

Harmonia Sans, designed by Monotype. Available on MyFonts for $$$.
Neue Swift, designed by Linotype. Available on MyFonts for $$$.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND

Navigo, designed by CSTM. Available on Adobe Fonts for free.

Mike Gravel

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Gilroy, designed by Radomir Tinkov. Available on MyFonts for $$$.
Open Sans, designed by Google. Open source; also available on Google Fonts and Adobe Fonts.

KAMALA HARRIS

Bureau Grot, designed by Font Bureau. Available on Adobe Fonts for free.
Ivy Journal, designed by Ivy Foundry. Available on Adobe Fonts for free.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER

Proxima Nova, designed by Mark Simonson. Available on Adobe Fonts for free.
Bold Uniform, designed by Miller Type Foundry. Available on Fonts.com for $$$.

JAY INSLEE

Montserrat, designed by Julieta Ulanovsky. Available on FontSquirrel for free; also a Google Font.

AMY KLOBUCHAR

Avenir Next, designed by Linotype. Available on FontShop for $$$.

Note: I really like Klobuchar’s serif used for headers, but it’s embedded as an image and seems to be custom.

Wayne Messam

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Montserrat, designed by Julieta Ulanovsky. Available on FontSquirrel for free; also a Google Font.

Tim Ryan

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Open Sans, designed by Google. Open source; also available on Google Fonts and Adobe Fonts.
Poppins, designed by Indian Type Foundry. Available on Adobe Fonts and FontSquirrel for free; also a Google Font.

BERNIE SANDERS

Gibson, designed by Canada Type. Available on Adobe Fonts for free.
Jubilat, designed by Darden Studio. Available on Adobe Fonts for free.

Eric Swalwell

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Effra, designed by Jonas Schudel. Available on Adobe Fonts for free.

ELIZABETH WARREN



Ringside, designed by Hoefler & Co. Available on Typograhy.com for $$$.

Marianne Williamson

Cormorant Garamond, designed by Christian Thalmann. Available on Adobe Fonts and FontSquirrel for free; also a Google Font.
Poppins, designed by Indian Type Foundry. Available on Adobe Fonts and FontSquirrel for free; also a Google Font.

ANDREW YANG

Awesome Font, designed by Dave Gandy. Available on FontSquirrel for free.


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What the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates' Branding Says About Their Campaigns

Now that the U.S. is in the thick of Democrats announcing their intention to run for president in 2020, I thought it would be a fun practice to critique the brand identities of the candidates.

As any visual designer knows, the purpose of a strong brand identity is to hook your core audience with striking imagery that will make them want to read more. I wanted to review each of the candidates’ identities by taking a look at their overall branding, as displayed on their website. The opinions and rankings are not meant to judge the UX/UI design of websites; but instead judge the website for the message and audience they are looking for. A bit of a reverse creative brief - defining what the visuals say to me.

Don’t miss the follow up to this blog: A Deep Dive Into the Presidential Candidates’ Branding (Color Palettes & Typography)

Skip to:

Note: Logos and websites were originally added January 22, 2019, with new content added periodically as additional candidates entered the race. All opinions are my own, and logos/branding/websites are for inspiration and reference only.


Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg’s New (April 2019 & Beyond) Branding and Website:

Pete Buttigieg has embraced a millennial message more than any other candidate - and that includes his design chops. Hands down, looking over his website and branding, it’s incredibly obvious how much care and meaning is present in the design. And that’s not just because his team provides an in-depth Design Toolkit to explain the real-life inspiration behind the brand logos, colors, and typefaces. It’s clear that the time and energy put into these brand elements were efficient and thoughtful. It’s my favorite design style - noting that just enough is best, and favoring simplicity over anything else.

Values I gather from this branding: Warm. Rooted. Unfettered.

Overall ranking: 10/10. Nothing is unnecessary here. Simply excellent design work that resonates with the brand at hand.

Buttigieg’s Original (Pre-April 2019) Branding and Website:

Buttigieg’s website is currently a splash page, but I really like the direction it’s heading in. He is a mayor from a conservative Midwestern state (Indiana), and does a nice job of having a wholesome, safe look without looking boring.

Both the website and logo are simple but well-executed, focused on red, white and blue and smartly chosen design elements (the color blocking of the website is well-done). I often say that the most simple design takes the longest amount of time to create, and I can tell that effort and care went into the creation of this brand identity.

This effort will connect across social classes and across the country; Buttigeig’s brand looks like someone who can both aid and connect. That being said, connecting across class lines does give up some specificity, and this brand identity may end up blending in with others as we get further into the race.

Values I gather from this branding: Moderate. Wholesome. Clean.

Overall ranking: 9/10. I’ll revisit this after a full website buildout, but I really do like this identity so far. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the grey in his logo, which feels unnecessary.

 
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Julian Castro

Honestly, I think this was the type of look that Andrew Yang’s team was going for in their website and branding, but didn’t quite hit. The color blocking and gradients are used to the right effect throughout Castro’s website.

The website and logo is entirely in shades of blue and white, and it works really well. It’s simple without being too safe or boring, and bold without being isolating. It’s rare that I don’t miss some sort of accent color, but the right shades of blue were chosen here, and are different enough that they don’t blend together.

Castro’s logo is simple, but puts an emphasis on his heritage through the accent in his name, which smartly makes it look clean without being forgettable.

Values I gather from this branding: Loyal. Bold.

Overall ranking: 9/10. Similarly to Warren’s branding, parts of this feel a bit generic.

 
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John Delaney

Hands down, this is my least favorite. Although I felt like there was a disconnect between Richard Ojeda’s logo and website, it is nothing compared to John Delaney’s.

Just like Ojeda’s logo, Delaney’s reminds me a lot of Obama’s 2008 logo. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery; but a presidential campaign is absolutely a new time to pave a new road. Unlike Ojeda’s logo (which is too busy), Delaney’s logo feels fairly boring and unexciting, both because of the colors and typography.

There’s also a lot of different colors going on here, in the form of solid blocks of colors (such as the top buttons, quote block and footer on the website), website gradients and overlays, and the colors used in Delaney’s logo. There are at least six (!) unique colors used in his branding and website, which feels wholly unnecessary. And because his full logo is not used on the website (just a sublogo, which is rendered in white only), there’s a major disconnect in the website and the full-color logo itself.

Delaney is the only candidate who uses a serif as a header font on their website, and I don’t think it’s done effectively. The headers throughout the website are too close in size to the body copy, which does not entice the reader to keep reading.

Values I gather from this branding: Hard-working. Connection.

Overall ranking: 3/10. There’s a few solid starts here, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

 
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Tulsi Gabbard

This splash page is very simple, but communicates a lot. Tulsi Gabbard sets herself apart by using her unique first name in his brand identity. Her logo itself is powerful - I’m generally not a fan of gradients because they often aren’t used well, but the gradient is effectively utilized here. The colors are reminiscent of the rising sun as well as her home state of Hawaii; Gabbard also does an awesome job of using those colors in her brand photography on the splash page - something that is often overlooked. I also love the curved edges of the T and I, which draw the eye toward the focal point of the logo. In a one-color logo, I still think this logo will work well.

Gabbard smartly sticks to two colors on this splash page, which keeps the website from looking too busy, which can easily happen with using a photo background. I’m excited to see the full version of this website when it comes to be.

Values I gather from this branding: Rising. Powerful. Inclusive.

Overall ranking: 10/10. This may have to be revisited once Gabbard has a full website build out, but this identity has helped a gradient-hater really dig gradients. I can’t find a flaw so far.

 
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Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand’s New (April 2019 & Beyond) Branding and Website:

Gillibrand’s team updated her website and logo after launching her campaign for president, which now features a more rounded, sans serif typeface and an overall more type-centric interface. I think it’s definitely an improvement, and feels a bit more approachable and inclusive. Her bold usage of phrases such as “Brave Wins,” makes it clear that she’s looking to appeal to women voters.

Overall ranking: 8/10. Although a lot of Gillibrand’s branding still feels safe to me, I applaud her team for taking a more bold step with this brand refresh.

Gillibrand’s Original (Pre-April 2019) Branding and Website:

Overall, Gillibrand’s brand feels personable and caring, yet proper and conservative - almost motherly. Not only because they’re both blonde New Yorkers, but I’d like to think this is what a younger Hillary Clinton presidential campaign would have looked like. It’s overtly feminine while still being no-nonsense.

As a whole, her branding choices aren’t the most bold or exciting choice, but I think it works very well for the type of politician I think Gillibrand is; I’m not sure how it would have worked for anyone else. There’s also great uses of typography throughout her website (which is a one-page site) that give overt calls to action. It’s a great example of a one-page site done well, and shows the power of minimal color.

This is a small gripe, but I wish the website design had stuck with only black and white photos and the hot pink spot color. The orange Instagram tile and a few color photos are driving me nuts!

Values I gather from this branding: Feminine. Polished. Personable.

Overall ranking: 7/10. Everything about Gillibrand’s branding is very OK. It’s not overly exciting, with only her color palette pulling her out of being too safe for me.

 
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Mike Gravel

It’s a theme of many of these campaign websites to heavily use color blocking, and Gravel’s website continues on that trend. I enjoy his campaign’s use of monochrome color on images, which is unique and evokes a more old-school, newspaper-y feel. The website is also very simple, pointing users to the most important topics.

On the other hand, this logo is pretty rough. The idea of a more curved font works well, but the star/flag graphic in the “a” of Gravel just doesn’t work. It’s not visible when the logo is shrunk, and doesn’t match the clean lines of the website at all.

Values I gather from this branding: Classic. Simple. Throwback.

Overall ranking: 7/10. Love the website and it’s simplicity - but the same cannot be said for the logo.

 
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Kamala Harris

Harris’ campaign is direct and up front about who they’re working for - the people. She is the only candidate that directly works a tagline into her main logo. My only gripe is that the main logo does not work well in one color; but this is a small complaint for what I think is overall great branding.

The colors are very different and make her stand apart. Even though some of the other candidates err toward unconventional color palettes, Harris is the only one that doesn’t utilize blue. Purple has already proven to be a recent smart choice for progressive candidates’ branding, and Harris makes it work well.

The very bold sans-serif used for her headers balance well with the serif used for body copy. Compared to the modernity of the header font and colors, and body font is quite classic. It really helps anchor the branding from getting too out-there or kooky, and helps in making this a very memorable brand for all the right reasons.

Values I gather from this branding: Risk-taking. Striking. Colorful.

Overall ranking: 9.5/10. The tiniest issue, but I love for a logo to work in one-color and full-color equally; I don’t like that transparency needs to be applied for this one for it to make sense (as you can see in the website example).

 

John Hickenlooper

Hickenlooper is playing on a lot of current branding trends - keeping all graphics clean, consumable, and simple. Using purple as such a key component is unexpected and smart - it’s a rich color (literally, historically seen as the color of royalty) that represents the combining of red and blue.

The graphics of the logo itself are also smart - the simplified mountains are a way to show Hickenlooper’s home state of Colorado without being too literal. The star helps the logo look balanced while still staying asymmetrical.

The only negative things to say about this identity is that it may be too simple. Although I’m sure plenty of time went into the creation of the logo, the type feels a little uninteresting. I could do with a bit more contrast of colors and type. I will say that the display of logo variations toward the bottom of Hickenlooper’s homepage is very nice, and shows the full variety of logos - though it also kind of looks like a mockup from a graphic designer’s portfolio?

Values I gather from this branding: Clean. Compromising. Friendly.

Overall ranking: 8/10. Overall, I really like this identity. However, I’m not sure if it’s going to stand out against the crowd long-term. I’d love to see a little more variation of colors and other graphic elements.

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Jay Inslee

I’m not totally sure where to start with this one. The website isn’t bad, but the logo… eesh. It commits my two cardinal sins of logo creation: 1) the logo is not easily transferrable to all-black or all-white (the globe would make little sense), and 2) it’s using more than two colors in the logo (actually, I think there’s five?!).

I applaud Inslee for taking his key campaign component (climate change) to heart and reflecting the colors throughout his website. The website itself is laid out just fine; but the design elements are all rough on the eyes. The green and blue gradient ends up making an unappealing brown color, and the red in the website banner and logo isn’t woven throughout the brand at all.

This is the smallest element, but I am in love with the hamburger button in the upper lefthand corner, which is a simplified flag. It doesn’t fit in with the rest of this brand at all, but I love the touch of it.

Values I gather from this branding: Green. Passionate.

Overall ranking: 3/10. No A’s for effort here, but you do get some points for trying.

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Amy Klobuchar

I appreciate that Amy Klobuchar’s branding provides something very different than any other candidate. The use of gradients on her website (in the primary hero image above the fold, and the opaque image in the background of her Campaign section) are used in a smart way, and look fresh and new as opposed to dated (which gradients often are).

Klobuchar takes the risk of making branding choices that are different than her fellow candidates. Her choice for a serif font in her logo sets her apart from nearly every other Democratic candidate. She hops on the Kamala Harris train of using a campaign name as opposed to her last name in her logo, as well. She’s also the only candidate to use green - a color that has popped up often in local and state elections with a focus on environmental factors, but hadn’t quite made it to the national stage yet.

For the most part, those different choices pay off. I really like the bold serif used as a header throughout her website, and the website as a whole is visually appealing. Unfortunately, I don’t think that same serif works as well as I would have hoped in her logo. The “Amy” letterforms simply don’t pack a punch, and the left-aligned logo looks a little unbalanced to me. The logo also uses three typefaces and three colors (!), which ends up feeling too busy. And as much as I like the unexpected choice of green, I think using green and a darker blue only for “for America” could have simplified this logo and kept it from looking unfinished.

Values I gather from this branding: Clean. Striking. Green.

Overall ranking: 8/10. This may be one of my favorite websites, but I just don’t think the logo stands out very well on its own.

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Wayne Messam

This branding and website is very okay to me. There’s really not anything wrong with it, but there’s nothing exciting, either. I like the full-bleed photo on the home page, but beyond the photo, there isn’t much of substance.

Similar to Amy Klobuchar, this logo isn’t saying much on it’s own. It’s also very similar to Klobuchar’s logo, but uses a bold sans serif in place of a serif. There’s also a gradient, which feels unnecessary, and doesn’t add anything.

Values I gather from this branding: Bold. Traditional.

Overall ranking: 6/10. Both this website and logo are pandering to anyone and everyone, which means it probably won’t strike much of a chord.

 
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Richard Ojeda

Note: Suspended campaign in January 2019.

Although I do like Ojeda’s website design, the logo is not my favorite. The logo communicates Ojeda’s military background through the colors, eagle and American flag, wings, and rough textures; but there’s a lot of elements going on, and they’re not all necessary.

The winged version of the logo on his website feels like overkill; I’d like the wordmark without the wings much better on its own. I do like the concept of the eagle and American flag wings within the “O,” but it reminds me far too much of Obama’s 2008 logo. I think it could have been executed in a cleaner way.

The logo also doesn’t mesh very well with the rest of his branding, which is bold yet clean. The website does not feature any texture or major graphic elements outside of typography and color. The website overall is a good way to show how a tough and masculine message can be communicated without going overboard with graphic elements.

Values I gather from this branding: Bold. Masculine. Rough and tumble.

Overall ranking: 6/10. I like the use of branding on the website, which I think gets his message across. I just wish that was better displayed in the logo.

 

Beto O'Rourke

This is truly the brand I didn’t know I needed in this presidential race. Beto’s branding is very minimalist without feeling too simple or boring. It’s striking with a vintage feel. Although it’s not the exact same typeface, I’ve used a similar one in a political branding project in the past, and I love how bold it looks without looking like everything else.

Values I gather from this branding: Basic. Bold. Different.

Overall ranking: 9/10. I’m moderately obsessed. The only thing throwing me off here is the triple lines in Beto’s logo. It feels unnecessary and too delicate for the rest of the logo and brand - they could have filled the white space in a different way.

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Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan’s website and branding are well done, if not a little on the safe side. The logo is very similar to Cory Booker’s, and I don’t think either show off much about the candidate. Ryan’s website is also very text-heavy, with the graphics not telling a ton about the unique nature of the candidate.

Values I gather from this branding: Wholesome. Classic.

Overall ranking: 6/10. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing super exciting.

 

Bernie Sanders

I don’t have a ton to say about Bernie’s branding, because he’s choosing to keep the same overall branding that he used in the 2016 election. Overall, I think that’s a smart decision since he’s going after the same voter base - but we are also living in a very different day and age than 2016. I think it could have done some good to make some tweaks and updates to his logo and colors as to show progression over the last four years.

That being said, there’s definitely nothing wrong with Bernie’s logo. However, in a sea of branding that is beginning to stand apart from old-school political logos, Bernie is staunchly in the old-school camp. There’s nothing wrong, but there’s nothing very exciting, either.

Values I gather from this branding: Traditional. Inclusive.

Overall ranking: 6/10. “It’s fine” is really the best way to describe this. Maybe I’ll find more eloquent phrasing down the line :)

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Eric Swalwell

Although the concept of Eric Swalwell’s logo isn’t wholly original, I really enjoy the execution - it’s America-centric and bold without feeling trite or overdone. His website is similarly bold, though there could be better use of color blocking (as opposed to gradients) to match up with the logo.

Values I gather from this branding: Bold. Loyal. Patriotic.

Overall ranking: 7/10. I love the logo, but there’s many parts of this website that could be improved.

 

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren’s website is playing on all the right trends of the moment, and feels quite different from all typical campaign sites. The website is clean and unfettered, with minimal graphics that work quite well.

There’s not a lot that this website is doing wrong, and I think using light green as a key color is a very smart move. Relying on green and dark blue as main colors make it more striking when red is used as an accent color; this design looks expensive and smart, and makes the calls to action feel important and urgent. The color palette also brings a bit of whimsy to the design, which could easily skew too serious with the imagery and copy.

Values I gather from this branding: Modern. Clean. Serious.

Overall ranking: 9/10. I like this branding a lot - the only thing holding me back from a perfect score is that it feels a little too turnkey for me. If you replaced Warren’s identifying information with another candidate, it would probably work for them, too.

 
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Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson is a major fringe candidate in this election, but man, her brand is smart. It eschews the typical political color in favor of a more feminine nature (but less bold than Kristen Gillibrand’s branding). Her logo is also smart - it is simple but thought provoking, and the stacked, cutout-style of “2020” makes it obvious it’s a political logo (for a less political candidate).

The website design is really nice, too - Williamson’s watercolor portrait in the header balances the seriousness of her typography and logo with a softer, art-focused element. Overall, I’m not sure it’s the best political website, but it looks very nice and gets the point across that she’s not your typical presidential candidate.

Values I gather from this branding: Feminine. Delicate.

Overall ranking: 8/10. This is a really nice identity, and I’m only docking points because I don’t think it’s the best fit for a presidential run.


Andrew Yang

The colors of Yang’s website are very bright, tech-y, and has tons of calls to action. There’s a lot going on (not in a negative way), which makes me feel like millennials are one of the main audiences they’re looking for. Unfortunately, I’m definitely not feeling that in the logo (more on that below).

Yang is one of the more little-known candidates, and the design of this homepage pushes toward getting to know him and his policies, as well as information (“The Latest”) on news and appearances, which gives more of an air of credibility.

I like the brightness of the purple-blue and red - they are bright and remind me of the tech industry. The lighter blue does not jive quite as much more me, and would have preferred a different accent color.

On that note, the majority of these graphics feel quite modern and minimalist. However, the wave graphic below Yang’s above the fold picture feels like a more dated element and out of place. The logos are the same story - the “Y” with a flag is a clever idea, but could have been executed in a different way. The 3D effect of this also feels very backwards to the modern, 2D look that is displayed everywhere else.

Values I gather from this branding: Future-focused. Bright.

Overall ranking: 5/10. I like most of the website, even if the logo falls very flat for me. As with Richard Ojeda’s branding, I feel a major disconnect between the website and logo.

 
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Cory Booker

Cory Booker’s branding certainly is bold, but I’m not sure it’s the type of bold he was looking for. Booker’s campaign and political persona is consistently based around being down-to-earth and connecting with constituents, and I don’t think that comes across in this branding.

Color blocking is definitely on-trend in this presidential election, but Booker’s color choices are fairly predictable and aren’t setting him apart from other candidates. The content of his website homepage is focused on Booker’s humble beginnings and grassroots campaigning, but the visual identity feels like it’s clashing with that message. The sans serif used in his logo and website headers is blocky and heavy, and the serif used for body copy feels equally dated. Looking into the sans serif header font, it was inspired by vintage Bulgarian lottery tickets, which feels like an … odd choice. That font paired with the color palette of red, white, black and blue reminds me of constructivist design, prominent in Russia in the early 1900s.

Values I gather from this branding: Bold. Taking a stand. No-nonsense.

Overall ranking: 5/10. Similar to the branding of several other candidates, there’s nothing wrong with Booker’s visual identity. But, I think it was a missed opportunity to do something outside the box, and communicate his morals and policies that are for the people.

 
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What I've Learned in My First Full Year of Business

Although Anchored Creative Studio was founded in 2016 (almost three years ago!) mid January 2018 to January 2019 encompassed our first year of full-time business for me. As the creator of Anchored Creative Studio, I’d always wanted to run this studio as a full-time gig. Lots of things prevented me from doing that, but the biggest one was fear of the unknown.

A little over a year ago, my part-time design job was eliminated. Although I started to apply to other part-time jobs, I realized that I was in the position I’d always wanted - to run my studio on a full-time basis. I was a year of high highs and low lows; of learning so much about myself and the types of people and companies I like to work with; and the boundaries I want to set in order to keep Anchored going for a long time.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

  • Lead your clients - don’t let them lead you. This is the big one. Any not-so-ideal client experience I’ve ever had was because I let them lead the process, the contract, and/or talked down my price. Everyone likes structure, and the more structured your process is, the better the chance that it will run smoothly and be successful. I learned a ton this year about standing up for myself and taking charge.

  • Find people who make you feel like you’re not alone. Being a solo business owner is lonely. You spend a ton of your day alone in a coffee shop or home, with your main interactions being with your clients. You don’t have coworkers to bounce ideas off of, or to ask an opinion about a sticky client situation. This year, I found some amazing business besties - both in-person and virtually - and have found it to make a giant difference in finding camaraderie and making the struggle feel a little less crazy.

  • Admit your mistakes and learn from them. If you want a job that’s without confrontation and conflict, being a business owner is probably not for you. In this year alone, I’ve dealt with a ton of issues that require having tough conversations with clients - including out of scope requests, lack of payment, and ending professional relationships. From all of these situations, I’ve learned to do a postmortem check and see what I could have done better, and what processes can be put into place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

  • Find clients that fully trust you. This piece of advice may sound obvious, but took me awhile to really understand the nuance of it. Of course anyone who hires you will place some amount of trust in you, but there are still clients who attempt to drive the entire creative process through endless tweaks and lack of commitment to a specific direction. They should be able to trust your expertise, and create a true collaboration.

  • Learn to say “no.” Perhaps the toughest lesson. I struggled with saying “no” to clients that I thought wouldn’t be a good fit all year, which resulted in rough client relationships and forced me to further examine my need to take every client that inquires with me. I also struggled to say no to existing clients, going over the set number of revisions, or adding in additional deliverable that weren’t included in the original scope. I’m now less afraid of setting up boundaries, and more confident in my own voice and skills.

  • Trust your gut. Whether it’s for a creative direction, choosing a logo, or accepting a client - It’s usually always right.

  • Create passion projects. I’d often put off passion projects, citing that I was too busy, and they weren’t directly connected to an income stream. But spending more time on passion projects has not only reinvigorated my creativity and allowed me to take risks, but also helps create portfolio pieces to attract my ideal client. It’s something that I’ve found is necessary to make time for.

  • Know that time and experience brings answers. As one of my favorite songs says, “take your time, don’t live too fast / troubles will come, and they will pass.” Letting time pass and gaining experience brings clarity. Don’t respond to that email immediately, and table a project if you feel stuck. All will come.

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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 this moodboard somewhere nearby where you do your wedding planning (like the background of your computer, or printing it out and pinning it next to your desk) can also help.

  • 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.

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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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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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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Logo a Day Project in Review: What I Learned in 30 Days

This April, I started a 30 day logo project on Instagram. Inspired partially by my need to actually complete a monthlong challenge, and also to give me a break from the stress I often find in content planning, I learned a lot. Thinking about doing a 30 day design project, or even a 100 day one (which is far too much commitment for me)? Here are a few of my pros, cons and general thoughts. Keep scrolling to check out the full collection of logos:

  • It was both exciting and stressful to design without a client in mind.
    So. Many. Options. Clients usually reign me in, giving some creative direction while keeping my style at the forefront. Having so much freedom was great, but it was tough to find a place to start.
     
  • It took up a lot of time. 
    Although it was a mental break from blogging so much and planning out Instagram captions, it took up a good chunk of my time - 2 or 3 hours a week. I still think it was a worthy idea to devote my time to, but I couldn't do it every month.
     
  • It made me realize I'd much rather work on brand strategy than logos.
    About halfway through the logo design process, I almost quit. All I could think was "why am I doing this?! I always say that branding isn't just a logo - and that's exactly what I'm doing!" I ended up sticking with it, bringing in other elements like sublogos and patterns. But it made me realize that it's actually creating "just a logo" that's the hardest thing for me - when there's little to no strategy behind the logo and possibilities are endless, it's hard to find a place to begin.
     
  • I found out a lot about my style.
    I was excited to do this project to figure out what types of branding and design I naturally flow toward. My designs have shifted a lot recently, and I felt like I couldn't properly define my style. This project served as a way for me to redefine what I really love to do. Although all of my designs are considerably unique, I always focus on all designs having purpose, and communicating the mission of the organization.
     
  • I realized how few fonts and typefaces I really use. 
    Toward the end of this project, it was a challenge to think of new typefaces to use. I always knew I had a few favorite fonts, but now I've truly realized that I rarely steer outside of the same 3-5 Serifs and Sans Serifs. And you know what? That's fine by me. They work well for a reason, and are wonderfully versatile. 
     
  • It made me think a lot about color. 
    The three main parts of a logo are typeface, color, and illustration. All logos should be able to be viewed in black and white and still be recognizable, but color makes a huge impact on the personality of a brand. I pre-chose all of the colors I used in this challenge, purposefully picking colors that I don't often use (as you can tell by the excess of pink). As I brainstormed possible business names and ideas for the identities I was creating, I realized just how much color is associated with an identity. 
     
  • I realized what I'm capable of.
    Looking at all of these logos, I have a "woah" moment when I realize I created all of them in a month, on top of my existing client work. These types of projects are a big undertaking, put you outside of your comfort zone, are are something you should be proud of.
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