Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Take on Creating a Brand Identity

Even if you have never heard the term "brand identity", you know what it is. You know UPS has brown trucks. You could identify the green Starbucks logo in an instant. You know that particular shade of blue that says "Tiffany's" and would scream loudly if there was a box in that particular shade was placed in your hands. You know the smiley face is for Walmart and the bulls eye is for Target.
You know brand identity.

I wanted one. I was attending Blog Sugar and wanted to have cards made up that had my blogs names and addresses on them to pass out. At first that was my only thought. Simple really.
But as I thought on it more, I decided I wanted it to be more than just a card with a photo and some text. I wanted it to stand out from the crowd and communicate something about me. I wanted it to be something people would look at twice. Something they might even hang onto because it was different. So my first thought was just about the card itself.

Then I moved on. Of course I had to make it more complicated and involve more work for Aaron and myself. I wanted to package the card somehow in a way that made it into something more than just a business card. Sometimes it is called a "leave behind". It is something you leave behind at the end of an interview or a meeting with a client that will cause them to remember you. It must be something that is interesting, unique or great to look at so they won't toss it or shove it in a drawer. I thought about attaching food to the card or a handmade hair clip, but I really didn't have time for that. Besides, attaching food to my business card won't always be applicable, nor will hair clips.

In addition to making a unique business card and packaging it in a way that made it into something more than just a business card, I also needed to begin to create that brand for myself and my blogs. That wasn't easy. My blogs are quite different in nature and subject matter. However, they are both written by me and encompass things I love, so I looked for overlaps and commonalities.
There were some obvious ones, food, kids, vintage and handmade anything. But in the end, I went with books. Books are one of my passions. Vintage books are really a passion. So a combination of the two communicates something about me as well as something about my blogs. At least I hope so!

After all that thought, here is what I came up with.

The inspiration. I decided I wanted to reproduce a vintage library due date card with my blog info. It would also have the card pocket to make the look more authentic.
That would be my business card.
Here is what we came up with. I say "we" because my dear, sweet husband helped me an awful lot. He showed me how to photoshop the original vintage card I used. (that's right, I don't know Photoshop. I don't photoshop any of my photos. They are all published as is. But after this, I think I am ready to learn Photoshop. It is amazing the things you can do!)
First, we scanned in the original card. I wanted it to have that true vintage look I love so much. We "erased" much of the original type and then added in my own information. We used a typewriter font to match the original. In addition to my name and the name of my blog, each card lists the main topics covered in that blog. I am currently re-organizing all my previous posts to fit into those topics.
I told you, this turned out to be a pretty big project.
After creating the cards, I was actually trying to figure out how to cut and glue each card pocket to match the vintage original. That was when I wised up and figured there must be someone selling those pockets. Yes there were! Every teacher supply place I called.
I know the new pocket lacks the vintage charm of the original, but I was on a tight time schedule. Assembling each one by hand seemed a bit overwhelming. Maybe in the future I might have my handy-dandy artist husband create a template for me so that I could easily put some together. But until then, these works nicely.
Now I could have stopped there and it probably would have been fine.
However, it was not enough for me.
So I went forward with the whole "leave behind" thing and created little books for the cards.
I sued these supplies:
And made this:
In a perfect world, I would have had a stamp or label designed just for these books. It would have communicated my brand identity.
But my world is not perfect. And that didn't happen.
Instead I used the stamp, which I do love, and it is handmade and I got it at Felt Club, but still not exactly what I had in mind.
It will do for now.
I chose the brown craft paper because it added to the vintage look I was going for. Remember making book covers out of brown paper bags? Maybe I should have added a bunch of doodles to the front of each book. Some happy faces, hearts and "i love Aarons" all over it.
I chose turquoise yarn because it is a favorite color and looked good with brown.
I chose red for the stamp because it is the favorite color and I love the combination of red and turquoise.

Once assembled, the book opened up to reveal my card.
I used the stamp again to add a little color to the inside. Both cards are in the pocket. I was going to create a separate book for each card, but since I was making seventy, I quickly realized that was insane. And overkill.

My hope is that even if the book gets tossed, the card and/or pocket will remain. Even though there are a few elements I want to change, I was still quite happy with the way it turned out. This was my first foray into branding of any sort, and I think I am headed in the right direction. Now I am working on continuing the brand identity to the blog itself, on my header and sidebar.
Don't look for changes too soon, though. It is sure to be a slow process since there is so much I don;t know how to do myself and this is Aaron's busiest time at work. He doesn't have a lot of extra time on his hands.
Oh yeah, and I also have to raise my kids and run a house and do laundry. Drat reality!

One last thing about the card. I handed them out at Blog Sugar and I was so touched by the response. It made me feel happier than I can even express to hear people telling me how much they liked my wee little blog business card. I sort of stepped out and tried something different. It was very affirming to be supported like that.
So thank you friends, for your kind words. As always, they mean so much.
And if you need a card for yourself or to pass along to friends, please tell me and I'll be happy to get some to you. Thanks for reading.
Love from,


Melissa said...

I don't think I got a chance to talk to you at Blog Sugar but I'll tell you this now...your cards totally stood out. It's still sitting on my dresser and I've looked at it several times. As a book lover, I totally love the library card idea. Genius! I love that it gave you the space to give the recipient a little idea about what you're blogging about. Good job!

Sheila said...

Very cute and very clever. :)