Brand is identity. I've hosted and spoken on panels, tweeted, Facebooked, and generally expounded on this topic a lot recently, and with the redesign of the site, had the perfect outlet. After a series of unexpected major life changes, it was high time to create some order, sweep out the old designs and tell the story of GoKateShoot in the best way possible. I no longer felt that a blog was the best platform for my work, and wanted to make sure that my site, brand, and visual identity had the best narrative possible. For the first time in my life, I had the time, resources, and photos to do exactly what I wanted with my brand. Bliss!
1. Tackle the portfolio. First, I had to narrow down my photos into a portfolio that was easy to digest. Easier said than done - I took a whopping 20,000 images in 2012 alone, so picking a portfolio from all of my work ever was like lining up my children and deciding who to shoot. It. Was. Awful. Over the course of two weeks, I revisited any picture I've ever taken, and decided which ones were essential to telling the story of GoKateShoot. There was sighing, tears, and more than a few long nights (helllllo coffee!). I survived, as did the best photos. Once I had my master list, I grouped them by portfolios, and brought in the A-Team, a group of my most critical and creative friends in Washington and set them loose to critique. They were free to take pictures out, suggest that they get moved to different portfolios, or generally tell me that I was being outlandish. They did, and the work got stronger. We tightened things up, and the work started to have a single voice - my brand started to emerge! In putting together a portfolio, remember that more is not always more - I'd rather see 6 strong pictures than a dozen mediocre ones - so removing photos is key.
2. Design a logo. That was easier said than done, turns out. For all my excitement around change I struggled to outline exactly what I wanted for my logo. I knew the rules - clean, graphic, easily identifiable, and at the end of the day simple is best. Easy peasy, right? Nope. I was stuck - after hours and hours of research, pinning logos I liked, talking to other creatives, and doing some serious shower brainstorming (un-scientifically proven to be the best place to think about things), I didn't have a firm answer. So I did whatever any floundering woman does when in need of support and a solution - I called my bestie.
My bestie is Eliot Payne, menswear designer and Renaissance man extraordinaire. He also happens to be an excellent graphic designer, so I headed over to his place to straighten everything out! We talked about all of the things I liked, hated, and wasn't sure about, and then he dove in - he started putting my new logo together on the spot, with me peeping anxiously over his shoulder. He convinced me to piously retire my old logo with the graphic pose, swapping out my plan to redesign it for a cleaner, text-based option. I put up a bit of a fight, but in the end realized that he was right - a clean break was best. By putting one of the studio photos we took behind the text, we added the pizazz it was missing and I got on board.
3. Next was color. With the visuals in place, next we tackled color. Ack! Ask a girl with both marketing and fashion backgrounds to pick one single, solitary color to represent her brand and identity and you get nothing short of dramatic near-hyperventilation for 15 seconds. But when we landed on what Crayola would call Red-Orange and what I would call Riot Red, since it nearly matches the red in the photos I took during the riot in Paris, we knew we had it. Aggressive and exciting with a touch of fun, like my photos! Next, we used Color Hexa, a site that develops design-friendly color pairings, and put together a little family of colors for me to use.
4. The Goodies. Once we had our logo, color palette and picked photos to include, we designed the goodies - social media assets like a new Facebook banner and Twitter background, business cards, and everything in between. I got everything I'd need to run a business with amazing graphics - when you get an invoice from me, it looks on point with my website, the estimate I sent you, and the card I handed you when we met. Swoon, mais oui?!
So that's the story of the rebranding of GoKateShoot! Regardless of the kind of business you run, having a strong brand identity is key. Whether you do it yourself, ask your bestie graphic designer friend, or hire a firm, use your visual brand as the first way you tell the story of your business.