Branding Case Study: Leslie Vega Design & Goldenberry Paper

From time to time we invite one of our Sage Branding Specialists to share some of their “before and after” design work with us.  By learning from these case studies you’ll be better able to see branding identity go through an evolution, gain strength, and come to life.

LeslieVega1I’m excited to share today’s branding case study with you! I worked with Brittany Warren, owner of Goldenberry Paper, about 2 years ago at the upstart of her business. (We did business planning together and I helped her put the bones of the business in place.) In the last year, Brittany partnered with one of our branding specialists, Leslie Vega, to put a face on her new company with some branding identity. What a beautiful representation of this stationery company! I love when stationers, who design for others each day, reach out to professionals for their own branding. (A surgeon wouldn’t operate on herself would she?!)

Here, Leslie shares her thoughts…

Before the redesign…

Brittany’s stationery work is gorgeous, so when she approached me about her brand re-design, I knew we could definitely polish up her image to match the style of her classic, southern inspired work. We knew we needed to go in a more classic, sophisticated direction with a softer presence and I was excited to make it happen for her.Print

GoldenberryPaper_OldShop

 

The Company’s mission, values…

I believe branding is so much more than pretty fonts and lovely colors. So before starting the design process, we explored Brittany’s ideal client: Who she is, what her core values are and what’s important to her. Brittany’s client is the traditional bride with friendly southern roots who cares more about her guests’ experience than the current trends. She’s casual but carries herself with a sophisticated classic style.

Brittany’s design style is classic with a touch of modern but always has tradition in mind. And with this same value of tradition, she reverts to her southern roots to make sure each client is so pleased with their experience.

With these aesthetics in mind, I wanted to create a brand that reflected that casual simplicity with classic touches of tradition.

GoldenberryPaper_Branding_LeslieVegaDesign2

After the Redesign…

Brittany was such an ideal client. She knew what she was looking for but trusted me as her designer to run with the creative process. I was so pleased with the results of her brand. It embodies Brittany’s pretty, classic and southern style so beautifully.

GoldenberryPaper_Branding_WebDesign_LeslieVegaDesign2Brittany shares her thoughts…

My experience with Leslie was fantastic!  From the beginning, I envisioned a beautiful, crisp and clean brand for my business.  After reviewing Leslie’s work, I knew she was the perfect fit for me.  From my initial introductory email all the way to receiving the completed branding files, she was very responsive, thorough and easy to work with.  Even though we never met in person, Leslie blew me away with how well she executed my vision for this re-brand.  It’s a big decision and investment to consider hiring someone to do your branding, however, from my experience it was very much worth it!

Thanks for sharing with us, ladies!

The Importance of Your Website’s Copy

How much attention do you pay to the words on your website? The actual text in your bio and services information? Those words matter. They can make or break your business. Not only are people attracted to interesting verbiage, but also it is a reflection of your company, your culture, your brand. Does your website copy reflect your best self?

Today’s guest post comes from Astrid Mueller (designer extraordinaire at astridmueller.com) and Jessica Fox (wordsmith wizard at foxywrites.com).

The Key Ingredients to a Successful Brand!

Are you ready?

Here they are:

Unique Brand Concept

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Great Visual Brand

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Branded Copy & Communication

We know, we know. You totally get that a targeted, tailored, branded visual representation of your business is essential.

But what about branded copy? Why do you need that, too?  It’s just writing – unlike graphic design, anyone can do that, right?

We won’t argue with you there.

Just about everyone can write, and we’re willing to bet that many of you are fantastic with a pen when not knee-deep in weddings. But branded copy is another beast entirely. It’s not about lofty prose, killer descriptions, or perfect grammar (although that is a must).  And it’s not something that every writer (even super awesome ones) can execute well.

Copywriting is about communication. A good brand writer has a strong understanding of your brand and gets to know your business’s goals, what sets it apart, and why it’s special.  She thinks about what appeals to your customer and gets them to act. Through word choice and a little psychology, she creates horn-tooting text that speaks to your customer in a compelling, brand-unique voice.

As the first impression we have of a company, branded graphic design is a powerful thing. It gets customers to take notice, emotionally connect, and remember a brand…so you better make it count.

Without branded copy, your visual identity is like Wonder Woman without her lasso…you need it to rope ‘em in. Or, imagine if Wonder Woman spoke like Minnie Mouse. Naturally, each has her own charm, but wouldn’t we be utterly confused by her and what she stands for?  The same holds true for your brand.

We could blather on about why every step in branding needs to be powerful and consistent, but instead we’ll show you, thanks to our recent collaboration with Print Icon, a luxury printing and design boutique in New York.

Whether in-store or online, copy and marketing pieces should always be organized to help ideal customers navigate and understand the business’s offerings:

BEFORE the rebrand:

Drafts from the client for in-store posters to explain the boutique’s services:

astrid

AFTER the rebrand:

posters-3

concise, branded copy on service posters for Print Icon’s retail location

posters-3

concise, branded copy on service posters for Print Icon’s retail location

Special occasions, especially launches, are another instance where personalized text is key for professional, consistent brand presentation.

BEFORE:

This was the text draft from Print Icon for their launch invitation:

Print Icon Gilded… New possibilities in the Art of Paper

You are cordially invited to the Grand Opening of Print Icon Gilded, a unique new store and gallery celebrating new possibilities in art, paper, and the art of paper.

Our debut gallery exhibit – Parviz Shapoor’s “Welcome to my Eyes” – introduces the art of the famed Iranian writer, poet and satirist.

I hope you will join us for wine and hors d’oeuvres at our Grand Opening reception.

February 10th at 5:00 PM.

Please RSVP to: RSVP@printicon.com

AFTER:

The edited copy, in the used VIP invitation card for members of the press:

VIPinvite3-4print-larger

The tagline of a brand is one of the first customer touch points and is another important opportunity to evoke emotion:

business cards

business cards

Last, but not least, when used in company communication, a branded sign-off can enhance a business’s image:

a branded company greeting for email communication

a branded company greeting for email communication

Interested in working with Astrid Mueller, brand designer extraordinaire, or Jessica Fox, copy writing queen? Visit AstridMueller.com and Foxywrites.com, and email Astrid at Astrid(at)AstridMueller.com or Jessica.R.Fox(at)me.com…they look forward to chatting!

Branding Case Study: Doodle Dog Creative & Pretty Little Bash

From time to time we invite one of our Sage Branding Specialists to share some of their “before and after” design work with us.  By learning from these case studies you’ll be better able to see branding identity go through an evolution, gain strength, and come to life.

Nikki NuckolsThis is a super exciting brand redesign for me to share with you! Megan Papoi, owner of Pretty Little Bash, partnered with me for several months on her business strategy. One of the first challenges she came with was that of her business name at the time (A Perfect Plan by Megan). She didn’t feel that it represented where she wanted to be in her business. I agreed that it didn’t have the verve that she brings to her clients. It also wasn’t special enough. (And I’m always leery of anything being called “perfect”.) Megan came up with the brilliant brand name, Pretty Little Bash. Soon after, she partnered with one of our Branding Specialists Nikki Nuckols of Doodle Dog Creative to put her vision into visuals.

Here Nikki shares about the redesign…

Before the Redesign

The old look and site were functional. There were no major design flaws or functionality flaws but it was lacking personality and differentiation from the competition. After talking to Megan, I understood who she was and she was bold, energetic and eager to help plan some really great events, so that was constantly in the back of my mind when working on her new identity!

Old Website - A Perfect Plan by Megan

pretty_little_bash_final_blog

After the Redesign

I always try to make every brand that leaves our office embody the personality of the individual(s) who will be representing it in their market. To me, the Pretty Little Bash brand screams, modern, trendy, fun and memorable.

Megan shares her thoughts on the rebrand… 

“I hands down wanted to work with Nikki at Doodle Dog because she has the creative ability to really nail down what her client wants and her ability to create outside the box designs and not just give me something that is like everyone else.  I like the unpredictability that she helped me create in terms of what people might think a wedding planner’s page should look like and how we made it.  Nikki and her team are rockstars! My favorite part is definitely the colors!  Almost everyone I know uses pastels, which are pretty don’t get me wrong but that just wasn’t me.  I am absolutely loving my bright color combination!!  It gets me giddy just thinking about it.  It really shows my personality and helps people realize the type of experience they will get from me.”

Sage Wedding Pros Strategy Talk… Michelle shares…

“In working with Megan, one of the first things we did was talk about her vision for the company. “What is that you want to be known for?” We uncovered the following values that are important to Megan and Pretty Little Bash:

  • SERVICE… timely, not stressful, fun… anticipate a need before it arises (love this!)
  • FUN! …release and relax so that you can truly enjoy the event
  • CREATIVITY and ARTISTRY…. a love for details and design.

This foundation gave Megan a foundation for her branding. It’s more than just pretty colors and sparkle because it has a soul. This is such an important step in marketing for your business. We love how Nikki has interpreted our strategy work into beautiful visual identity for Megan and Pretty Little Bash!”

Want to see more? Look here for more images, including Megan’s brand reveal images:

Be Sage Conference Speakers: Xochitl Gonzalez and Mayra Castillo, AaB Creates

We are thrilled to partner with a range of amazing speakers for our Be Sage Conference this August. When we sat down to set our curriculum for Be Sage, we asked ourselves: “What are the challenges that experienced business owners have in the wedding industry?” We came up with a list of questions and found the best people to speak on these topics.

QUESTIONS:
HOW DO I DIVERSIFY MY SERVICES?
HOW DO I ADD REVENUE STREAMS?
HOW DO INTRODUCE A SECOND BRAND TARGETED TO A DIFFERENT MARKET?

23866330_headshots02bwIntroducing: Xochitl Gonzalez and Mayra Castillo, Owners of AaB Creates

Xochitl Gonzalez and Mayra Castillo founded AaB Creates (formerly, Always a Bridesmaid) in 2003 after cutting their teeth producing the International Clio Awards. Using niche marketing, media savvy and social media they have grown into one of the country’s most sought after Design and Planning firms for clients seeking creative, out of the box wedding experiences with understated luxury. Their global client roster is a who’s who in the worlds of finance, film, tech and fashion.

In 2010, after watching the wedding landscape shift, the ladies formed a new company called Just About Married that offered one service only- “Day-of” coordination. Together the women launched their award winning blog AlwaysaBlogsmaid.com in 2006. Xochitl is one of the few in the wedding industry to sit on both sides of the editorial table: She is the newly minted Wedding Expert for About.com, and has served as a contributor to RealSimple.com and the Huffington Post. Simultaneously AaB’s “Real Weddings” and Expert Opinions have appeared in over 100 publications, both online and in print including The New York Times, WMagazine.com, Latina Magazine and Fox News. Their TV appearances have included MTV Europe, The Style network and ET’s The Insider.

5 How To’s you’ll gain from Xochitl and Mayra:

1) How you can grow your business by reducing your service offerings.
2) How to get your name Off the Door without damaging your reputation.
3) The benefits/drawbacks of operating two distinct brands in the wedding space.
4) The benefits/drawbacks of 1099 employees.
5) Using a business partnership to tactically play to personal strengths.

We feel pretty strongly about partnering with companies and individuals that mirror and augment our own core values. Here are 6 core values that are fundamental to Xochitl & Mayra and how they do business:

1) Understand our clients’ unique needs.
2) Committing to our clients’ goals for their celebration.
3) Use our expertise in the field to elevate our client’s celebrations.

These values are distinctly unique to AaB:

1) Commit to functional design that is as comfortable as it is stunning.
2) Creating solutions where none currently exist and presenting clients with creative, relevant ideas.
3) Working with Vendors of the same commitment level and integrity as ourselves.

We hope you’ll join us this August!

BE SMART. BE BRIGHT. BE SAGE.

Ticket sales are open for Be Sage Conference.

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Here’s a little refresher if you missed our post last month about our new conference:

We want you to have a deeper business strategy that will take your business to the next level. This isn’t a business theory conference. And, while you will certainly be inspired, we aim to prepare you with actual tools to use in your business (not just a hope and dream.)

We will continue to add conference details at: www.besageconference.com

Greenhouse Loft, Chicago | August 3-5, 2014
Tickets go on sale February 10th at 9am PST

Branding Specialist Showcase: Leslie Vega Design

Our  Sage Branding Specialists are people that we have interviewed, researched, and vetted. (Yes, they do pay for us to share their advertisement with you, but we only endorse people that we trust for your business.) We have a new designer to share with you today: Leslie Vega. Leslie’s design style brings a romantic and pretty quality to business branding. Working with wedding pros is a perfect match for her style because of Leslie’s lovely flair.

Get to know Leslie and her beautiful design work…

LeslieVega1Leslie Vega Design
leslievegadesign.com
Established 2008
Designing since 2003

What is your design specialty? What are you known for?

I specialize in brand designs for photographers and wedding professionals. (I also have a line of wedding stationery, some of which have been featured on blogs such as Oh So Beautiful Paper and Weddings Unveiled.) I really strive to give the client a pleasant experience as I know their branding journey can be a daunting one. So aside from the client experience and trustworthy turnaround, I’d say my timeless designs and soft approach have definitely stirred up the word of mouth.

Describe your design style. How do you get inspiration?

While my abilities are pretty versatile, from soft and pretty to clean and modern, I’d have to say my designs often lean towards the more classic and elegant. Versatility however is such a key strength for any designer, so I’d like to think that I’ve really embraced that trait. Each project I take on really has endless possibilities based on the client’s style and vision for their brand.

My inspiration comes from a lot places. It’s funny, sometimes you’ll see me discretely photographing my surroundings in a store where the decor and presentation are just too inspiring not to capture. (Anthropologie iPhone-ography adventures are at the top of the list!) From interior design to fashion, textiles, and signage, my creative mind is always going no matter where I am and I often have a client’s brand in mind when I have those light bulb ideas in the least expected places.

What is the process like to work with you? What should a client expect when they hire you to do their branding?

First, I have the client fill out a brand questionnaire to give me a little glimpse into who they are and what they are drawn to. Because as a designer I am visual, another really strong piece to help me get a sense of their style is a mood board. For some clients, this step might be a little overwhelming so I offer assistance with this part if requested as I get to know their style through their questionnaire. But many clients have often found this step to be a really fun one allowing them to see more of their personality in a visual sense, often times discovering things about themselves they never knew!
Once these two things are complete, I begin the design process.

My clients have found that I’m a very patient designer. I understand the overwhelming feeling of knowing that you’re getting your brand just right, so I work with the client to make it stress free. And I’m always there to answer any questions or concerns in a timely manner with the voice of reassurance they need.

Give 3 tips on what a small business should do before they hire a designer.

1-Really study the designer before hiring them. Explore their work and aesthetic to know that they are a great match for you and your style.
2-Have an idea of the direction you want to take, but don’t stress about having it down to the ‘T’ right up front. That is what your designer is for! A good designer can help guide you through the process of designing a brand that fits you like a glove.
3-Schedule out some time. For any wedding professional, life and work can be really busy. If you value this process and want it to be worth the investment, schedule out some uninterrupted time to really explore the initial questionnaire and mood board steps in depth–and allow yourself to enjoy it. You’ll find if you devote the time and research, the special attention to it will produce some amazing results.

Here is some of Leslie’s Branding Work… 

AshleyMcCormickPhotographyBrand

Ashley McCormick Photography
Ashley’s goal was to go very classic with her brand. She is completely in love with old vintage keys and wanted to incorporate that into her brand. I worked with her to create her classic logo and watermark to be executed on all of her brand collateral and promotional products.

LauraLeslie_WebDesign

Laura Leslie Photography
Laura wanted something very timeless, yet elegant with great use of white space. This brand in particular was very meaningful to the client as the Blue Willow graphics were inspired by her grandmother’s Blue Willow china plates. Her heritage played a big role in her brand and she wanted to execute it in a soft but professional way. I worked with the Blue Willow patterns to incorporate them tastefully into her web design and stationery. (The brand continues to evolve as the web design is still in the oven!)

JBeautique_WebDesignBCard

JBeautique Makeup + Hair Creations
Joey Cheung of JBeautique wanted help with her full brand design from logo to stationery and web presence. She wanted something elegant and soft to showcase her beauty services. I worked with her to create her elegant logo and helped excute the brand as a whole with her high-end letterpress business card and web site elements.

Love&WaterPhotography

Love & Water Photography
Husband and wife team, Shawn and Adam were excited to merge their love of water photography and wedding photography together to form their joint venture of Love & Water Photography. They wanted something very clean to showcase their ocean inspired work. Using the color palette of the ocean, I created their logo and watermark and stationery concepts.

Thank you, Leslie!