Branding

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 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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Branding: Sarah Kuszelewicz Photography

True life: most times I sit down to write to write a recap of a new brand or project I worked on, I want to claim it's my favorite work I've created. One of the blessings of being in a creative field is consistently being able to visually see your work growing and improving. I connected with Sarah Kuszelewicz, a fashion and wedding photographer looking to brand herself after recently striking out on her own full-time. 

Sarah wanted her main brand colors to be a deep red and light pink, and also favored sans serifs and flower imagery. What resulted was a feminine, classic brand identity, and it was awesome to flex my branding muscles in a new way with this project. You can check out Sarah's work on her website, and scroll below to check out the final moodboard and brand identity. 

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