Brands are powerful. They also represent a unique challenge, because many people think a brand is a logo, a set of colors or a typeface. But those are just external expressions of the brand. (A logo is like a wedding ring; the brand is like a marriage.) So developing a new brand (or updating an old one) depends entirely on making sure we start with the essence of the business and then create assets that represent it accurately. It's as much therapy as design in the early stages, but it can be an immensely rewarding process for the designer and the client.
I was excited when an amazing photographer, Natalie Sinisgalli, approached me to help with her brand. She started her business fresh out of college (around four years ago), and has grown it steadily since day one. The original brand served her well and covered the basics, but she knows her business much better now than she did when she started. With a fuller understanding of her audience, her value to them and what differentiates her from other photographers, she needed new assets to communicated those ideas visually.
The original logo did a good job in the early days of the business, mostly because Natalie has a good eye and was smart in realizing the value of consistency. It established her name in the area and hinted at her personality and creativity through color, typography and arrangement. As she repeatedly used it at bridal shows, on her Facebook pages and in sales materials, it developed equity and became synonymous with her art.
Her website was similarly effective, but it also represented some challenges. It was built by Natalie, and she was spending more time than she wanted maintaining it. Updates were cumbersome, especially during the busy seasons when time (and energy) are scarce. She's a good writer, and struggled to find a simple way to incorporate her blog into the site. And most importantly, she felt like the images were too small. To be successful, the new site had to showcase her stunning work.
Natalie was wonderful to work with. She was willing to take risks, collaborate, question anything and involve others in the decisions she made. We met several times to discuss the personality of the business, identify customer experiences we could learn from and put our fingers on specific business goals she wanted to achieve. This led to a documented, agreed-upon brand platform that articulates many of the core ideas that had been assumed or unspoken in the past. With it expressed on paper, it began to inform all of our other decisions. We moved on to the logo, brochure, sales materials and website all developed through an ongoing conversation around our clear understanding of the business.
Natalie (and I) couldn't be happier with how the project turned out. The logo utilizes her signature as a mark of quality and individual artistry. It also functions much better when incorporated into photography. We created the tag line, "Epic images. Remarkably you." to connect with the brand essence of decidedly bold storytelling. With a bridal show approaching, we quickly put together a brochure featuring images that best embody the brand, supported by small amounts of copy to communicate the tone and personality Natalie brings to her craft. The website took the most effort, but was well worth it. Now launched, it presents amazing photographs in a clean, simple, classy environment. It also seamlessly incorporates her blog. Built on the Squarespace platform, it's easy for anyone on Natalie's staff to edit as needed. Now, when she has new photography to share during peak season, she's only a few clicks away from updates (and some much-needed rest).
I want to thank Natalie for the privilege of working with her on this fulfilling project. It required strategic thinking, creative solutions to interesting challenges, a little perseverance and a few hand-delivered treats. I enjoyed the process, and was fortunate to have such wonderful photography (from a wonderful person) to work with. She's already building on the work we've done, keeping the core elements in place and pushing the boundaries of bold, evocative artistry. I can't wait to see where it goes next!