One of the most difficult projects a graphic designer will undertake is to brand themselves. Creating a logo and identity suite is difficult enough to do for someone else, but when it comes to creating for yourself and your business you're taking on a whole different animal. Today we're talking about what happens when branding gets personal.
Now, my personal branding story starts back in college. My junior year, one of our class assignments was to create our own logo and personal identity suite. I was so concerned with communicating absolutely everything I saw as important as myself that I ended up with a logo that said next to nothing. Here's what I mean:
As you can see, it was not my best work. I was trying to combine all four of my initials (thanks for that one Mom and Dad) in a way that was feminine, elegant, and classic. Unfortunately, I ended up with a lumpy scribble of a W. But hey, we all live and learn, right?
A few years later, after graduation, I realized that I was in desperate need of rebranding. I had moved to a new city, established myself as a designer, and created a whole new life for myself – my old logo no longer fit who I was. And so, it was time to start sketching.
You can see that I wasn't getting very far.
Once again, I was trying to cram too much into a single wordmark. I wanted something with meaning, but I was very much forcing the issue. Trying to force a concept never works, so I took a step back.
I took a break from sketching and started listing out everything I wanted my logo to represent. I realized that what I was really desiring was for potential clients to know exactly who I was by simply looking at my logo. Now I realize that this is a whole lot to ask from any image. You cannot possibly communicate everything there is to know about a human being both personally and professionally in a single logomark. Yet, that's exactly what I wanted my logo to do. Thankfully, this grandiose sense of what a logo to do was what initially keyed the thought process that led to a concept that worked.
If you can't show them everything, at least show them what is missing.
Show them what is missing. Use negative space. Good design includes only what is necessary. What happens if I remove the serifs? What happens if I remove the strokes? These are the thoughts that guided my next round of sketching, resulting in something that I could work with.
Above you can see my first rendition of my current logo. It was nothing fancy, and surely it unrefined – but it was something that FINALLY spoke to me.
You know that feeling you get when you see something that grabs a hold of your soul? It's that feeling when you just HAVE to have something. When you know that whatever it is – it's meant to be yours. Well, that's the feeling I got when I stepped back and looked at this sketch.
I had it. Now it was time to make it work.
Refining the logo into something usable was a relatively quick process, especially considering that by this point I'd spent over three months sketching. I sifted through my font book and finally made the selection – Bodoni Std Poster Compressed.
I took the simple S and W letterforms into illustrator and began edits. I removed serifs, sharpened corners, and rotated strokes until I had a mark that satisfied me – one that I could leave wherever my work went, one that could stand as my signature.
As you can see, the result was my current logo. Needless to say, I'm still obsessed.
Having the logo in hand, I set out to create the other aspects of my identity suite. Letterhead, resume, invoice templates, business cards, website, blog, etc. All of it began with my logo. The sum of it all is my personal brand.
Now there's only one question left. What do you think of it? Leave a comment and let me know!