Houston Strong

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I was asked to create a graphic for internal fundraising to help support Massage Heights Franchise staff who had suffered from Harvey. They had 15+ locations with severe store damage and unknown levels of damage to the homes of their staff. I believed that this was a much more important request than any previous I had received while working for them and set about designing a custom illustration of the skyline of Houston.

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Its purpose is to help them fundraise to support their people and to be a symbol of encouragement for them as well. It breaks away from their traditional brand identity but still remains true with its blue colors.

Defining Branding and other design jargon.

So what is a brand identity? That's just a logo right?

"Branding" is a big buzzword going around right now in both the entrepreneurial and design worlds. And I want to take some time to explain the jargon.

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Brand a.k.a. Branding
The term originally comes from cattle driving where they would 'brand' the cattle with the mark of the ranch that owned them.That's still the correct definition in that context.

But in the business/design world brand/branding means something different.

Brand, Branding refers to a feeling or the relationship between a business and its customers. Example: Walmart. You immediately think *cough*cheapcrap*cough* low prices. REI. Outdoor and camping gear, adventure.

A brand is something that is developed over time. It can't necessarily be controlled and largely relies on the customers. But as a business, you do have some options to help guide that relationship.

Logo
A logo, short for logotype - which is business speak for a trademark, is custom lettered words. There's different types such as symbols/icons, wordmarks, letter marks, combination marks and emblems/badges. Your logo is a representative of your brand. It's one of the ways customers can identify and recognize your business. Think of it as the face or first impression of your business. The look and feel of it should give customers a hint to what you do or spark a feeling.

Connection | The elements that connect a brand to a logo
Some call them artifacts, I call them elements. If the logo is the face of the brand it’s the first sign that points customers in the direction of your business and reflects the relationship. The elements are the bread crumbs in between that help guide the customers in and reminds them of the relationship afterward. These aren’t just visual items. Utilize the five senses; sight, sound, taste, and feel.

Example: Lyft uses the tactile element of the pink furry mustaches to be memorable. Starbucks has that coffee smell helping them out. Think out of the box for how your business can incorporate other elements to be memorable. Because a logo can’t make you stand out on it’s own.

Identity | Consistent engaging elements
Now we’re getting down to what I do. Your brand identity is the whole of multiple elements combined that tell your story and add to the relationship between your customers and your business in a consistent and memorable way.

Example: Apple. You know them for their products and sleek keynotes and epic reveals of new things. Or even think of the ipod. You know the ipod but bright colors and dancing always pop into my head when I think of them too.

Here’s a non-business example for those needing personal branding tips. Sia- she’s known for her music, secrecy and those bob cut wigs. And Maddie Ziegler’s dancing.

And that’s where I’m here to help. I’m a Brand Identity designer. Here to explain the jargon and help you dive deep into your brand story and find those elements that are completely YOU. Feel free to email me or find me on social media with any questions you have about your brand, brand identity and business.

This was the first part of series of emails where I’ll be breaking down and sharing actionable steps you can take ON YOUR OWN to develop your brand story.

Nurturing Your Creativity Amidst The Hustle

As soon as I publish this post I'm going to walk away from my computer for an hour minimum. I really shouldn't right now. My business is still young, and I still need to hustle. Currently I'm juggling four client projects with only one of them being a not-so-dreamy type. The rest simply have very close deadlines because it's wedding season. I can't complain. Each bride is unique and an equally exciting project. 

Nurturing Creativity

But back to that not so dreamy client. 

It's wearing me down. Before it came up I'd planned to spend my two full days off diving into those other projects and getting some major progress done on them. Now those days are almost gone and I'm left with a tightness in my shoulders and chest that makes me realize I haven't been taking full deep breaths most of the day.

I'm not telling you this to complain. I'm sharing this to be transparent about life as a freelance designer. I'm writing it down to remind myself (and you!) why we're working so hard on our little businesses. 

We did it to give ourselves the freedom to be creative.

I have a few potted plants on my porch that are very low maintenance. And I mean I put them in dirt and just need to remember to give them a good solid soak every couple weeks. And yet a couple are drooping because I kept saying "Oh I need to water them" and *surprise* it's now a month later. I know all they need is a bit of water. 10 minutes of love. That's all. And yet, it's still not done.

Creativity is the same way. 

We have to make time to strengthen our creativity.

I used to allow myself to take an open ended amount of time to sit and craft in college. I hadn't really taken any arts classes and everything I knew was simply from logic reasoning and research on basic supplies from blogs. I quite literally would just DIY everything. 

Since then the tides have turned. Being creative has become my job. I've got time limits to make sure I'm staying on track with a client project and very specific requirements to follow. And that's not a bad thing. 

But the creative spirit that put a sparkle in my eye and ran wild with the wind is dormant. Much like building up physical strength it takes putting on your shoes and going to the gym to get those muscles going. And at least for me, my best workout days have been when I gave it my all without any limits. Specifically time limits.

So back to those four clients and to do list. It's in my best interest and their's too that I make time to flex my creative muscles just for fun for a bit.

I'm making the time to nurture my creativity with a break from the screen and the deadlines. I might not be as into DIY everything but I can definitely get down with some watercolor and some dirt under my nails and some time outside. And you should too.

 

 

Instagram is changing your feed

What to do about Instagram's most recent change or rather... what to do instead.

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I'll admit, at first I was a tad upset about the news that Instagram would be changing their algorithm to follow the same path as Twitter and Facebook. It's my main social media outlet as far as sharing stuff related to my business so this could be harmful to my business growth. And that's the same reason why everyone else was freaking out. And I was also annoyed that they were following Facebook....because I hate Facebook.

I began searching for the perfect image to share and comment on the change. ....and then the posts started. You've seen them. The blaring bright "Hey click on the dots and turn on notifications!" ones. They were/are very annoying. And they go against my values.

Don't consume, create.

Turn it off.

Get outside.

I've had most of my app notifications turned off for years now. Unless I open the app, I have no idea if there's new comments. As for them changing the order that I read people's posts. Well I'm a chronic 'scroll/read till I reach the last set I remember' type. The feeds that I really enjoy reading, I make an effort to look up and see if I missed any posts. 

Stop consuming and go create. I value creating great images, content, value for my followers. They're my tribe. My tried and true. I'm always trying to work on myself to stop absorbing and comparing myself to other designers so I can do the work I LOVE. And that's what I want for you. Make that thing you've been dreaming about while at the day job. Go start that exercise program that sounds just crazy enough to be awesome. Start a new hobby. 

Turn it off. You've seen the posts. The ones where they ask you ever so kindly (not) to click the three dots and turn on notifications for their posts. If you've been doing that worried you won't see certain posts I'm asking you, no DARING you, to turn them off. Not just the posts. I mean the app. Turn off the notifications for the app. I'm not worried. If you really want to read my posts just whenever you happen to think of me, check out my feed. Leave a comment and say hello. I'd love to get to know who you are. Or comment here if you have a blog too.

Get outside. Leave the phone at home or at least off and in a bag. Get off the computer and go outside. If you really don't like being outside or the weather is just terrible then go to a museum. Just get off the electronics and go observe things with your own eyes. If you really need to document something. Write it down. Bring some pencils and draw what you see. 

If you're still worried I've heard building your email list is the best way to make sure you don't lose your followers. Then remember, social media is business. Just like your business will change as it grows so do they. I'm starting to use other apps like snapchat and phhhoto if you want to find me there. @etsunami