It’s probably obvious if you’ve been following this blog that I’m not a graphic designer by trade. However I have spent a lot of time chatting with them online, and I think I’ve picked up a few things; enough, perhaps, to come up with a brand of my own, but not to charge others for rebranding their own businesses.
A common trend in the British media is to look at a company’s new logo and comment along the lines of “£20 million for a new LOGO‽”. Whenever a major corporation announces a rebrand, the logo is the most visible part of the brand, but it is only a part. What the tabloid outrage misses is that there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. The new logo is often accompanied by things like a new corporate font, often designed on a letter-by-letter basis in a painstaking process that looks at all possible two-letter combinations and a whole range of special characters. And on top of this is the brand guidelines, a document that can run to pages and pages, that sets out how the logo should be used, how it should not be used, what colours the logo and accompanying text and images should feature, etc. I’ve never written one of these documents, but I’ve read one, and they go into painstaking detail. All to ensure that the company presents a consistent and, more importantly, instantly recognisable image to its customers, both real and potential.
Anyway, what all this is leading to is that (as many of you may have noticed) I have my own brand now, and working on it has been an interesting experience. The new logo is a simple combination of the letters N and M (my initials) making an abstract shape, reminiscent of a rune, or as some people might have it, a coat hanger or stiletto heel:
On its own it is meaningless however, so the full logo has the text ‘Nick Miners Photography’ set in a nice free font called Raleway (which you see in use on this very site and on my main portfolio site):
Little things had to be considered, such as the gap between the symbol and the edge of the orange box being the same width as the gap between the box and the text. Initially I used Helvetica Neue Ultralight as the text but, as it was pointed out to me, this created an imbalance between the very light text and the much bolder symbol, so I looked for something different. I discovered the Raleway font almost by accident but as it comes for free, with several different weights, it was versatile enough to be used across the brand, and also quite distinctive, meaning just reading text on my site or in documents can create the connection with the brand that I’m looking for. A custom font would have been nice, but at this moment in time that’s a little beyond my budget.
Next on the list was my business card design. Until now it had consisted of one of a selection of full colour photographs from my portfolio on one side, with my details (again in Helvetica Neue at varying weights) on the other. So far, so unimaginative. I still wanted to show my photography with the new brand, but wanted the photographs to be recognisably mine, so I placed the logo in the centre of a selection of my favourite photographs and gave the photos a colour wash to match the bold orange.
There’s enough of the photograph visible to see my style, yet the logo at the very focal point means the eye is drawn straight to it, so that if the business card is left on someone’s desk with the writing side down, it’s still instantly recognisable to anyone who is familiar with the brand. In a way I’m lucky that what I do means I already have a library of images I can use with the colour wash effect on business cards; it’s not uncommon for a rebrand to involve a whole new set of commissioned photography and even videography.
Of course there is still much more to consider – I have had to redesign my invoice, contract and licence templates too, and even my emails are set in Raleway. But this has been a tiny project compared to, say, what DesignStudio have achieved at Airbnb.
The next step will be to watch to see whether the brand helps people remember me more readily; the plan is that every time they see an image with the watermark in the bottom corner will be a trigger, and an association will be formed between the high quality images I strive to produce and the bold, memorable brand I’m trying to build.