The process of branding has been a journey of learning for me over the years. I was taught, through my communications design classes, that certain logos, elements and motifs were generally used to portray a brand for a company. So, when I emerged as a graphic designer in the work force, I was armed and able to create branded packages for the company where I was working.
Taking the thumbnail approach, one of my first projects was to create a business card/letterhead set for an online hardware company. The owners were able to choose a design they liked and we easily sent the files off to the printer.
The University of Cincinnati was where I discovered the ins and outs of a larger, more strategic branding system. I learned how and when to use the UC logo and “sweep” motif, the official colors of the university and the official fonts. From this, I was able to create everything from branded bulletin boards (above two examples) to powerpoint sets (bottom examples, above) to video backgrounds. The branding model here was a very loose, fluid interpretation but also kept strict focus on the voice of the brand.
It was at UC that I was introduced to the idea of “personal branding”: everything you do and create is part of your own brand. I carried this idea straight into freelancing. The first thing I did was to develop a name and logo while I was on a creative hiatus from the business world. Through the Mint Green Studios branding, I developed an Etsy storefront (now closed), Facebook business page, Instagram account, and blog. This allowed me to post content that was more relevant to what I was doing as an artist rather than opening up my personal accounts to the public.
I was also able to work with the Miami University brand standards. These standards were a lot more strict and defined than my previous experiences. Miami used badge elements in their branding, as well as tiny simulated hand-drawn embellishments. I leaned on the larger University Communications for examples and then adapted the designs to work for our own division.
Through my experiences in branding over the years, I’ve been able to learn how to correctly use a logo and company elements to convey the voice and vision of the place I’m working for. I’ve also learned that consistency in design and voice upholds brand standards while also reinforcing the expectations of customers and audience. I really like working within brand guidelines–as a designer I feel it gives me a framework in which to create my designs.