Today I’m going to share my most sacred and creative ritual with you.
More than design, playing with color swatches, or even toasting champagne on a launch day, the time I look forward to the most is the first day of a new project when I’m gathering inspiration. I’ll clear my desk, pour a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine), open a stack of magazines or my Pinterest page, and start looking for that spark.
It’s the closest I’ll ever come to feeling like Anna Wintour, and it doesn’t take a designer to enjoy being in the Creative Director’s chair. I want to show you my process of finding inspiration so that you can style your own brand without ever having to take an art or design class.
Side-note: As a reminder, this quarter I’m walking you step-by-step through a studio brand refresh so you can get a behind-the-scenes look at what it means to go through the branding process! My hope is that it takes the guess work out of the branding experience and helps you decide whether or not you can do it yourself.
Step One – Location
You may wonder where to even start looking for inspiration.
Don’t panic. Inspiration is everywhere, but there are a few really common places to begin looking for examples of what you might like for your own brand.
Pinterest: this is my favorite spot to go look for ideas when thinking about a new project. I like that I can search for almost anything and that it has an algorithm to give me even more ideas based on the images I click on. It’s like a visual google and a great database of images.
Instagram: start to pay attention to what catches your eye as you’re scrolling on instagram. Maybe there are some brands you really like and you can ‘save’ some of their posts to reference as inspiration. think about the kind of photography or colors you might want on your own feed
Newsstands: do you like reading magazines? are there certain book covers that catch you eye and make you want to read more?
Step Two – Scout
You’re not just looking for every pretty picture that catches your eye, you want to know what you’re looking for, like a talent scout for a casting call.
For a branding project, you’re mainly looking for visual examples of the following things:
Photography: both style and scenes
Typography or fonts
Cool layouts: brochures, posters, website designs, etc.
Illustrations or patterns
Step Three – Organize
As you begin finding visual contenders, you’ll want to gather them into one place so you can edit later. Where is the best place to organize your content?
I tend to like creating one folder, Pinterest board, or saved Instagram collection per project. So for your brand, I’d create one place to gather all of the images and ideas. This is going to be really helpful in sorting through all of the images you’ve gathered so you can start making decisions and finding patterns in what you like.
Step Four – Edit
You may find as you look through your folder or board that things don’t seem look together.
Don’t panic if it feels scattered. That’s what editing is for! As you look at all of your images, start to delete those that don’t feel as relevant, or make notes about the particulars of what you like. This will help you narrow down your ideas and direction so you don’t have decision paralysis when you actually start building your own brand style.
Step Five – Display
I love having a project moodboard to get me excited before I begin. I think it’s a great way to share what you’re doing with your audience, and can also be printed and framed for your desk to refer to as you start creating things for your business.
You can easily create a moodboard for your own brand project using my digital template here (link to creative market product.) It’s compatible with Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Canva with instructions for how to upload your images for each program.
I would love to see your own brand moodboards! If you share your inspiration online, be sure to mention me @dropcapdesign and I’ll leave a comment and say hello!