I use Pinterest as visual research for just about every decision in my life. I search for recipes, furniture, design, clothes, and even travel destinations. Pinterest is a way for me to do a creative brain dump of all my ideas and discover what I really want along the way.
At the beginning of every branding project, we ask clients to do a visual assignment – create a Pinterest board that captures the essence of their business. Because I’ve found so much joy and insight from scrolling through pins and going down the rabbit hole, I know it’s worthwhile for our clients to do the same.
But I’ve actually discovered that few of them have used the platform in the same way (and with the same frequency) that I do, so I figured I would share my own tips for getting the most out of a Pinterest search session.
I want to walk you through the components of creating a brand-focused Pinterest board using Drop Cap as an example.
I don’t know about you, but it was actually difficult for me to put language around the type of client I was hoping to work with. Every time I started defining demographics, pain points, and lifestyle – I found myself just pulling random ideas out of thin air. And when it comes to strategic positioning – random doesn’t work very well.
So, I tried a different approach.
I created a Pinterest board to brainstorm the kind of person I had in my head whenever I created something new. Turns out I could visualize this person easier than I could write about them. And once I had tangible visuals, those questions actually didn’t seem so vague.
Here’s what I looked for:
I started thinking about clients I’ve worked with in the past, and what it might be like to live in her life. I always imagine my client somewhere warm, where the water is a leading source of inspiration. I picture her being equally addicted to coffee and books, calmed by neutral palettes, and appreciative of the quiet moments.
This image in particular resonates so much with me because I remember being that girl, searching for the inspiring restaurant to take a moment and dream about the future. What can I say – I am directly inspired by my environment so beautifully designed restaurants and coffee shops are my happy place 🙂
Second, I started thinking about the things that inspire this girl and put her in an optimistic, inspired mood. I think she’s inspired by personal touches, timeless trends, and the chance to go deeper to understand her own style and the potential of her idea.
Finally, I took a closer look at the visual style that would make me excited (neutrals!!) and also appeal to my girl (personal touches and deeper meaning.) I primarily looked at the following categories:
I knew from the beginning that I would always lean towards a neutral palette. While I enjoy designing with color for clients – color tends to stress me out when I feel married to a particular hue. I’m ok with high-quality vanilla – deceptively simple but never regretted. It may seem like a neutral palette made everything easier, but neutrals can go in SO many different directions. I decided that my girl wants white space and clarity – so I needed to lean into lighter tones. I also knew she was equally inspired by the water, and so I felt drawn to sand and nude tones. To pull in an editorial touch and give a nod to my favorite form of reading – newspapers and magazines – I added in a muted black to mimic the worn quality of newsprint type.
I also looked at type influences. I’m a classic gal, so I tend to gravitate towards serif fonts. However, I do really love the impact of small san-serif type to make everything feel more fresh and modern. I found myself pinning a combination of book index cards, bold statements, and classic layouts. All of this, again, came from realizing just how important editorial details were to my messaging.
And finally, let yourself find inspiration in the details! From illustrations to patterns, paper textures to photography – all visual elements combine to build an experience. One of my favorite magazines I subscribe to is The New Yorker, and I knew I wanted illustrative components in my branding (although I will admit, my style takes a very distinct turn from the classic cartoons!)
I was primarily drawn to illustrated elements because I knew my girl was looking for a personal touch and tailored experience, and my own artistic expression is a great way to connect with her, and a sustainable commitment for me. I LOVE to illustrate – especially at the end of a long week. I’ll pour a glass of wine, put on a movie, and let myself follow my inspiration. And this exact process is what makes me feel drawn to this girl and aligned with my business. Look for those elements that make you feel excited to create, even if it’s just a style of photography, a quote, or the way you dress.
My final advice is that a solid brand is built over time. It needs to be powerful, but also sustainable. Think about what you can add to over time, and the best ways for you to invest your time and energy.
And if you’re looking for additional ideas, be sure to follow our other boards on Pinterest!