Personal Branding 101: You Are Your Own Secret Sauce | Alison Koehler | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Personal Branding 101: You Are Your Own Secret Sauce

teacher avatar Alison Koehler, Creative | Graphic Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Class Project


    • 3.

      Understanding Your Values


    • 4.

      From Personality to Persona


    • 5.

      Crafting a Brand Statement


    • 6.

      Who's Your Ideal Client?


    • 7.

      Finding Inspiration


    • 8.

      Creating a Mood Board


    • 9.

      Check In: You Are Here


    • 10.

      What is a Branding System?


    • 11.

      Where Your Brand Will Live


    • 12.

      Crafting a Visual Language


    • 13.

      Testing Your Visual Language


    • 14.

      Expanding Your Language


    • 15.

      Bite Size Messaging


    • 16.

      Wrap Up


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

In this class, you’ll learn how to create an effective personal brand from your best asset: yourself.

This means that you already have all of the tools to create an effective and comprehensive brand inside of you. To be a professional, you DO NOT have to ditch your personality. There is room in the world for everyone. This class will teach you how to create a brand that is true to yourself.

Be ready for an adventure as you learn:

  • To identify your core values and your unique voice
  • The difference between your personality and persona
  • How to craft an ideal client persona
  • To make your ideas visual!
  • How to create a vector logo and wordmark
  • How to design a brand system
  • How to develop your messaging, aka how you talk to your audience

This class is perfect for beginners who may feel overwhelmed by the process or those who may be revisiting their brand! The class is designed so that you can follow along with me as I break down the essential steps.

By the end of the class, you’ll not only have a personal brand system that will work across any platform but a deeper understanding of the elements of your brand so you can expand it infinitely! 

So let’s get started - see you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Alison Koehler

Creative | Graphic Designer


I’m currently working as a freelance graphic designer. I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a graphic designer since I was 12 years old and now I’m living out that dream. I studied design at the University of Arizona and graduated in 2019. I've been working with the Adobe programs for over 10 years, worked professionally for 6 years, and have been working for myself for the past 2 years.

I love working with all different kinds of clients but my favorite projects to work on are large-scale branding projects with lots of opportunities to help the clients decide the direction and applications for their business. But whatever project I'm working on, they all have one thing in common: people first. The secret sauce of a... See full profile

Level: All Levels

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: This class teaches you to see yourself as your own secret sauce, meaning that everything that you need to create a comprehensive and effective personal brand is already inside of you. Hi, I'm Allison and I'm a freelance graphic designer. I like projects where I can think about the big picture. I create strategies for my clients to help them stand out in their fields. When I first started doing design, I was always really eager to just start creating. I ended up skipping over one key part, which is the discovery phase. The discovery phase was shrouded and mystery for me. There wasn't really any clear defined steps and it just got chalked up to, well, you do research. But what does that even mean? What does it mean when you're doing your own personal brand? How do you recognize which parts of yourself are what make you unique? That's the focus of this class. For your class project, you will be creating a personal brand from your best asset, yourself. I'll be using the fictional brand Waggin' Pet Portraits to guide you through the process. This class is divided into two sections. A brainstorming section and a building section. For the brainstorming section, I prepared a guidebook for you. It's full of radical, creative exercises to help you pull inspiration from inside yourself rather than outside resources. We'll go through the process of identifying your core values with your skills, passions, and goals. Narrowing down how you want to be perceived, writing a succinct brand statement, and creating an ideal client persona that helps you target the client that you want to work with. Then for the building section, we will take all of the things that we learned about ourselves from the first part and we will interpret that into a visual language in which we can speak. That visual language will not only consist of the design elements, so how does it look, but also your messaging. How do you talk to your audience and how does it sound? This class is perfect for beginners or those who may be revisiting their branding. It's designed so that you can follow alongside me and I'll let you know when you can pause to work on your class project with the following graphic. I'm so excited that you're ready to take on the adventure creating your own personal brand. Let's dive right in. 2. Your Class Project: The class project that you will be completing as you go throughout the lessons is creating your personal brand. Specifically you will be answering questions and completing activities in your creative brand guidebook. In the second part of this class, you will use those answers to build your personal brand, and we will be completing an asset library that you can use as a resource moving forward. To complete the lessons you will need your creative brand guidebook and something to write with. But you may also choose to use a sketchbook or two, or three, or four, and a writing utensil of your choice. You may also choose to use a computer or an iPad to build your asset library in the second portion of the class. Don't move forward until you've downloaded the creative brand guidebook, it is going to be essential to the lessons. Alright, I will see you in the first lesson. 3. Understanding Your Values: Hi everyone. Welcome to the first lesson. In this lesson, we will be covering values, which is the center of our target. These first few lessons are going to be all about gathering the tools that we need to build our brand. Our values are our tools, and they are broken down into three parts. Your skills, your passions, and your goals. Skills we are going to be exploring, literally just what are you good at? Passions. You're going to be talking about, what's important to you and what motivates you. Then, goals that you are going to be focusing on what you want to achieve. The first lesson in the book is a mind map that explores these three ideas. You will go ahead and answer all of the questions for each section. Then you will categorize them underneath via the questions and just prioritize which of all of the things that make you you, which are the things that are important to your creative business. I'm going to be going through a very simple example with you, just so that you can get an idea of how the branding process works so that you have a framework for how to answer the questions. I'm going to be answering these questions as if my creative business is doing dog illustrations, which honestly sound super awesome and I might need to make a slight career change. I have a scrap piece of paper here just to save some trees. I have my guide for what the mind map is here. I think that you probably need to grab a bigger piece of paper just to allow yourself the freedom to explore, or you can use Post-its or whatever process works for your brain. I want you to go ahead and take about five minutes for this exercise. I want you to keep in mind as you're doing it, to really look inside yourself and just trust you got instincts. I think that most people look to others for guidance and I really want you to be focusing on yourself and what makes you unique. This is the first page, understanding your values. The point of these first few lessons are to gather our tools. The values are at the core of our tools and really help us decide the direction to go in. Just a few things to look out for. I have divided values into three different categories. Skills, passions, and goals. Let's start with skills. The first question is, what are your technical skills? What are the concrete things that you are very good at that might set you apart from somebody else. These could be things like lighting, drawing, or software such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. What are your soft skills? This is your people skills essentially. Are you really good at communication or empathy or listening? Then list that there. What are your hidden talents? Aka what are you good at that people may not expect about you or may not be related to your work. For passions, this is really getting at the gut of what motivates you and what drives you forward in your creative career. What do you care about? Literally just list the things that you are interested in. What do you make time for? What are those things that you put aside time for maybe at the end of your day job or maybe on the weekends. Finally, what makes you want to get up in the morning? What is that core thing that makes you very happy and makes you want to continue in what you're doing. It's good to focus on passions because a lot of the time I feel as though we lose sight of these things when we're creating our personal brand and you really want your brand to reflect what you are passionate about. Because if you're making work that you're passionate about or comes from this part of you, then you will instinctively BY putting more effort in and you will make better work. Finally, your goals. How do you define success? For everyone, this may be different. It doesn't have to necessarily be financially based. It can be that you've reached a certain position or you're working with certain clients or anything along those lines. What do you hope to accomplish? What I mean by this is, what are you trying to get out with your work? What's the ultimate angle of doing this work that you're interested in. Finally, what are the projects that you are most excited to work on? This is a very concrete question that will help you narrow down what you want to do. When I was a beginner, I had a lot of difficulty figuring out exactly what I wanted to do. Then when I wrote down the kinds of projects that I was most excited to work on, it started to become very clear what I was interested in doing. For example, if you're a graphic designer and you find yourself being drawn to large branding projects, maybe you should do branding. Or if you love doing UX research, maybe that's what you should be doing. Really thinking about the different projects that you've worked on that really motivated you. Really just diving in and figuring out which projects you were most excited about. Go ahead and once you are done answering the questions, I want you to prioritize the things that make you the most unique. For your skills, it could be too technical skills and one soft skill. It could be a technical skill, a soft skill and a hidden talent. Whatever it happens to be, go ahead and list it. Then for passions and goals, I want you to choose just one for each. Welcome back. I hope that you took a little bit of time to go through those questions. I know that some of them are abstract and hard to answer. That's okay. For listing out, your priorities down on the bottom, I think that you can interpret these however you want because that's what makes you unique. But for my skills, I chose illustration, color theory, and communication. I think that oftentimes we disregard our soft skills and that is what makes us, desirable as a designer or an employee or whenever happens to be. Don't disregard those. I will go ahead and include some if you feel that they are some of your top strengths. For my driving passion, I chose that I want to bring joy to others through illustration. I love seeing when people are very excited by something that I've created. My goal is to capture the connection between owners and their pets. This can be a goal that is just for your business, it can be a far-off career goal or it can be a short-term goal. Just whatever you feel is going to be your destination. Oftentimes, these can change throughout your career too and that's totally. The next lesson we are going to be going from personality to persona. Before you jump into the next lesson, just make sure that you have a solid understanding of your values, and then we will jump straight into talking about personas. 4. From Personality to Persona: In this lesson, we are going to be focusing on your persona. What I mean by persona is like if you were a musician, what would your stage presence be. It's not different from your personality. It's just like a curated version of your personality. One of the mistakes I used to make when I was first starting design and putting myself out there was thinking that to be professional, I had to ditch my personality entirely. Your personality is part of what makes you unique, part of your voice, and part of the reason why people want to follow you and hire you and work with you. This isn't to say that you should create an alter ego. It's just being intentional with how you want to be perceived. The activity for this section is just going to be answering a couple of questions and reacting to a list of words. The first question is, how do I want people to feel when they think about my brand? A lot of people define branding as the gut instinct of how you feel about a brand. You really want to be keeping this in mind when you are creating your own personal brand and really consider those things before you start. Do you want people to feel trusting of your brand? Do you want people to feel happy when they see your brand? Just write down the adjectives that you want people to feel when they see your brand? Then the next question is, are there any traits or words that you definitely are not? I think these are as important, if not more important to define upfront because a lot of the time, if you aren't sure how you want to be perceived, you definitely know how you don't want to be perceived. If you're having trouble with the first question, go ahead and answer the second question. It will probably give you a good idea of where to start. The last thing I want you to do on this page is to pick three words that resonate with you. These words are just a starting point. If you think of any words that might be more relevant to you, feel free to add them. But I just want you to be operating on your gut instincts and trusting your intuition with this one. Optimistic, joyous, and empathetic are going to be the traits I want my dog illustration company to feel like and be perceived as. There's room in the world for everyone, so if you feel that you are not super loud and zany, that's totally fine. Just go with who you are and how you know that you want your work to be perceived. The next lesson is going to be crafting our brand statement, and with the brand statement, we are going to be taking these last two sections that we did and creating a succinct one to two sentence statement that sums it all up. So I will see you in the next lesson. 5. Crafting a Brand Statement: In this lesson, we are going to be focusing on your brand statement. Your brand statement should reflect the things that you pulled for yourself from the last two lessons. It should be made up of your values and your personality. Here I have passions, goals, skills, and your persona equals your brand statement. The way that I want you to think about this is if you were at an airport and you saw your professional hero and they were on one of those moving sidewalks and you only had until the end of it to explain how cool you are, that's not a lot of time, so you want to be able to succinctly describe who you are and what you care about. For Waggin' Pet Portraits, my passions were walking dogs, being outside, and talking to like-minded people. My goals were wanting to run my own studio, and my skills were illustrating people and their pets. My persona, I decided, was empathetic, optimistic, and joyous. All of those components are pieces of your brand statement, but it's totally okay to rearrange them into a coherent sentence. My sentence was Waggin' Pet Portraits is an optimistic and empathetic pet portraiture service centered around the relationship between people and their pets. That shows who I want to work with, what my goals were, and how I want to be perceived. All of the pieces are there, but you just need to make it flow a little bit. I want you to go back to your values page and your persona page, and I want you to write down all of the things that you wrote in those sections. Once you reach the brand statement portion, I want you to work it into a more coherent sentence. I would take about 5-10 minutes for this section to really make sure that you are communicating what you want. If something doesn't feel quite right, you can go back and check out your persona and your values again and maybe rearrange or pull something else if you're not satisfied with your brand statement. The next section is going to be all focused on creating a user persona of your ideal client. We are going to be focusing on this so that we know who we're talking to when we're putting work out there into the world. I think of this as like a campfire and you're wanting to attract the right kinds of people to your campfire. I will see you in the next lesson. 6. Who's Your Ideal Client?: This lesson is entirely focused on creating an ideal client. This is a concept that's used in branding and web design. An ideal client persona is a character that you're making that represents your audience or who you're wanting to work with. So it's important to focus on an ideal client for two reasons. One, you want to make sure that you are speaking to the audience and hopefully attracting more of them to your business. Then two, you also want to be making sure that you know what their goal is and how to streamline the process for them and make sure that you're making working with you as easy as possible. In your guidebook, I have an ideal client persona page. You just want to fill it out and go through and be as specific as possible. That way it's easier to imagine talking to this person or literally recognizing them when you speak to them. So here on our persona, we have name, age, gender, astrological sign, archetype. An archetype is just a handy shortcut. If you're feeling stuck, you can go ahead and look up some archetypes. Some examples are like the helper or the leader. You can also use Myers-Briggs personality types just to give you a list of treats to pull from if you're not quite sure. This isn't to say that you are saying no to anyone that isn't a certain personality type or of a certain age or salary or whatever. It's just allowing you to be intentional with how you're speaking to your audience. So let's say that your user personas name is Susan. When you're going through this, you want to think about, okay, where does Susan shop? It's important to really go through that one in particular because you want to be aligning yourself with other brands that Susan maybe familiar with. So then you can start to look at these things when you go into trying to find inspiration for your own brand. Then we also want to focus on what are their goals. What problem are you solving or what service are you providing? Then the last thing that you want to focus on is the kind of relationship that you have with them. This is important because you want to think about, okay, how would I be interacting with this person? That could be what platforms that you're talking to them on, where you meet them, and how you talk to them. That might differ from person to person. You might have more than one persona and that's totally fine. So for writing pep portraits, I'm going to go ahead and fill this out for Susan because I'm thinking that my user persona is going to probably be a woman, doesn't necessarily have to be. But a woman who may be a little bit older, maybe makes a little bit more money, who can afford to spend money on a pet illustration. She probably is very fun and outgoing and probably goes on lots of walks with her dog and enjoys hiking. I'm already starting to get an idea of who Susan is for me. My last little tip for you is, I really want you to find a picture of who this person is so that you can visualize them in your mind. So I would just take about five to 10 minutes on this exercise, fill it out, be intentional with it, and try and be very specific. For the next lesson, we are going to be focused on finding inspiration. We're specifically going to be focused on finding inspiration within ourselves and using the tools that we came up with in our previous lessons. So I hope that you will join me for the next lesson. 7. Finding Inspiration: In this lesson, we will be identifying some potential imagery to use as a basis for our brand via some exercises that will allow us to look inwards rather than using outside resources. When I first started doing design, I was making one mistake pretty consistently and that was going to outside resources for inspiration. These are websites like Pinterest, Behance, Dribbble, YouTube, all those database websites. There's two reasons why you shouldn't do this. The first is that this is a shared library that anyone can access. You're not going to be creating anything new by looking at this stuff. The second thing is that you're not really developing your own creative thinking. You're just following what somebody else has already done. I've come up with an exercise that will help you get inspiration from inside yourself, from the resources that we've already been making. I am going to be using my iPad for this exercise, but you can use a piece of paper or whatever you have around. On the left side, I want you to write down all of the adjectives that you came up with for your brand. This can come from your persona page, your values, or your ideal client. Then on the right, I want you to draw the first thing that comes to mind when you think of these words. Then from here you can draw any words that are associated with that first word. For wagon pet portraits, my words were empathetic, joyous, and optimistic. I drew a happy face because that's the first thing that I think of when I think of these words. Then splintering off of there, I have a sun for the outdoors, I have a speech bubble for talking with friends, I have a party hat for party, I have a pencil for drawing, a dog for dogs, especially since my brand has to do with illustrating pets. I have a picture of two friends next to each other. Go ahead and spend about 5-10 minutes on this exercise, just drawing everything that comes to mind. Then what you can do after you finish this is you can start to see connections between objects that can potentially come in together to build a brand that's unique to you. Not everyone is going to be connecting words together in the same way that you are because of your memories and life experiences. This is going to help you make something that's very unique to yourself. After you are satisfied with what you've come up with, go ahead and move on to the next lesson where we will be curating our mood board based on what we created in this exercise. 8. Creating a Mood Board: In this lesson, we will be curating our mood board. A mood board is just a fancy word for a document full of visual references. Your mood board for this class should include a couple of different things. Your adjectives that you use to describe your personal brand, color that you like, any type references. I'm going to be using Adobe fonts for this purpose. We are also going to be pulling inspiration from the elements of design. The elements of design are one of those fundamental concepts that you learn when you first learn about design. They include color, line, shape, value, space, size, and texture. When you search for images, try to look for things that are not within the design realm. I'm going to be using Unsplash to search for images for Wagon Pet Portraits. The things that I'm going to use to start searching are these words and concepts that I came up with from my mind-map from the previous lesson. When I am on Unsplash, the things that I am searching for are my adjectives and the words and sketches that I associated with those adjectives. For me, that was outside, party, talking, drawing, dog, and friends. Essentially, the adjectives are what I'm going to be putting in the search bar. The elements of design are what I'm going to be looking for in the images. As you start to pull images for your brand, you can begin to think about the qualities that these images possess and how you could potentially start applying them to your brand. I have a bunch of images now, so I'm going to start putting them into a mood board, and I will make that and show you the final result. Okay, so here is my final mood board. I have lots of bright colors on here. I'm starting to notice that there's a pattern emerging, which is these circular shapes. I really like the scattering of the confetti as a quality for my brand. I might include that in some of the visual elements. I'm starting to think that I like circular shapes and I'm thinking that I want to include a dog in the logo. I begin to start thinking about how I can combine those two elements into one cohesive brand. Hopefully, you have curated your mood board at this point. I want you to look at your mood board and start to see if you can see any patterns in what you've pulled. These patterns that you're seeing in your mood board now are going to be good to reference when you start sketching your logo. In the next lesson, I will be explaining what a branding system is and why you should definitely be using one to put together your own personal brand. 9. Check In: You Are Here: All right, congratulations, you've made it about halfway through the class. By now, you should have a guidebook that is full of answers about yourself. By now, you should have identified what your values are, figured out, how you want to be perceived, written a succinct brand statement, identified who your ideal client is, found inspiration from inside yourself, and created a mood board. Now we are ready to start building our brand. As you move forward, I want you to keep your creative brand guidebook right next to you so that you can refer to it. It's going to be an invaluable resource to you as you start to build your brand. So with that, let's get started. 10. What is a Branding System?: In this lesson, I will be discussing exactly what a branding system is and how you can apply it to your own logo design process. I want you guys to be thinking of your branding as more of a language in which you can speak. Your logo is one aspect of that, but that's not necessarily the most important part of your brand. The tangible aspects of your branding are things like your logo and your business card and your website. Then there are the more abstract parts of your brand that you may not necessarily think about. These are things like messaging. How do you talk to your audience? What words to you use? Is it more casual or is it like sleek and professional? What do you sound like when you talk to your audience? Then there is your photography style, so that's going to be what does your profile picture look like? What does it look like when you take pictures of your work, etc.? What are the branding elements? I have started to create a brand that is based on this idea of confetti. I like the sprinkling look of that. I like the half circles. I'm starting to think, can I make a brand that's made out of half circles and then can that be turned into a language? Can that be turned into secondary assets? As we move into the next lessons, I really want you to start thinking about how you can build out your brand as a system rather than just the logo or just a business card or the individual pieces that make up your brand. In the next lesson, we will be discussing exactly where your brand needs to live and which assets that you need to create. 11. Where Your Brand Will Live: In this lesson, we will be discussing; where does your brand live? What I mean by this is; what kind of visual assets do you need to make for your brand? The benefit of identifying these ahead of time is that you are designing with them in mind. It is much easier to design a logo with a branding system in mind rather than trying to apply a branding system to a logo that you've created. The last page of your guidebook is dedicated to figuring out where your brand lives. I have some different categories of assets that you may need to create, and these assets are just a starting point. I'm sure that you could probably think of quite a few more for each of these categories, so if you think of something that's not listed here then go ahead and add it. The categories that I have here are documents, social media, e-commerce, print, web, video, and miscellaneous. Not everyone is going to need all of these things, but there will probably be some overlap for all of you. For documents, this is most of your admin, but it's still important to consider these documents, you want them to be easy to read and understand. This will include design elements; so how does it look? Tone; so how do you communicate with your clients? Social media is pretty straightforward, but there are many things on here that people don't consider making until they get to that point. It's good to consider them all at once so that you have a coherent look across all platforms. You can also save yourself some time by creating some templates up front so that you can focus on the other things that may matter more to you, such as dealing with clients or creating personal work. E-commerce is for people who may be selling products online, such as at sea or on a personal store. You need to think about what your packaging looks like, this could be things like your boxes, your tape, your wrapping paper. Are you going to be using biodegradable wrapping paper? Where do you source those things? Also, some thank you cards as well, because you want to make the experience of opening up your package as much in tune with your branding as anything else. Many of you may not need all of these things for print since most of us run our businesses online at this point, but business cards are still a staple and you will need to consider how you want that to look. For web, you can consider your icons on your website, your footer or an e-mail me graphic; are they illustrative? Are they in black and white, etc? Video is an interesting one, I hadn't considered video work in my own brand until I needed to do it for various projects. But what does your introductory graphics look like? Your lower thirds, transitions, and music. This is weird because you need to consider; well, what kind of music does my brand listen to? Is it lo-fi hip hop or is it 1960s surf rock? For transitions you're asking yourself; how does my brand move? Is it fast? Is it slow? Is it fancy? Does it have lots of motion graphics or is it more simple? Messaging is interesting, it's all about how you talk to your audience in the different places that you interact with them, so I will be going into that in a separate lesson. Your design elements are those consistent design choices that you make. Your photography style is interesting as well, it not only goes into how you take pictures of your work and yourself, so literally; what are the objects in your photos? But also; what colors do you use? Are they warm tinted, cool tinted, black and white? Some people will actually create light presets for themselves already, that they can just drag and drop onto their photos so that they all look consistent, so you could make that ahead of time and that can be one of your assets. Case studies is kind of its own thing, but it just goes into; how do you show your thinking and what do your case study files look like? To remind you, Waggin' Pet Portraits is all about doing illustrations of people's pets and capturing the love between owners and their pets. On the surface, it may just seem like I need some social media assets which I definitely do, but I'm also thinking I'm probably going to need some documentation to help me streamline my process with my clients. I will probably need to create a proposal document as well as a revisions document, I will definitely need an invoice and a contract. At this moment, I probably don't need any of the e-commerce section, but I might end up selling physical copies of my portraits online, so that may be something that I have to consider in the future. For print, I will definitely need a business card, but I could also go back and make a thank you card and an envelope. By sending an illustrated thank you card with maybe a handwritten note in a nice envelope in the mail, I am adding to my customer experience, which will in turn add to the value of my business. I will definitely need a website for my work, so I will need to create some icons, a footer icon, and an e-mail me graphic. I don't anticipate any video needs for my brand at the moment, but with social media including a lot more video possibilities, I could share some process videos on social media and I will need some music to accompany that, so it's good to think about that ahead of time as well. Lastly, I will need to include some messaging, design elements, and my photography style. Spend about 5-10 minutes on this exercise, brainstorming ideas of where you might need to create a visual asset. Up until this point you have identified your values, figured out how you want to be perceived, written your succinct brand statement. Identified who you want to work with, found inspiration from inside yourself, crafted a mood board, and identified what visual assets you will need to create for your branding system. Now, you are ready to start sketching and creating your logo. 12. Crafting a Visual Language: For this lesson, you will be crafting your visual language, and you will be using everything that you've learned about yourself up until this point to create your logo. In the most important lesson, I decided that I wanted wagon pet portraits to have a logo that was a dog. I decided that I liked the circular form of the confetti. The first thing that I am going to do is start to sketch some thumbnail sketches. The first thing I'm going to do when I am drawing out the sketches for my logo is decide the things that I want the logo to communicate. The two most important things are that it's for a pet portraiture service, and that includes a dog. Then I write down the objectives that I came up with in the persona lesson. I decided that I really liked the circle in the confetti, so that's the first thing that I drew to start experimenting with. I really like simple geometric logo, so I start with the circle. I liked the way that that was going, but I feel like the ear wasn't really my favorite, so I tried a different ear. It's important when you're drawing the nail sketches to just keep going and draw as many ideas as you possibly can, not to worry too much about the quality of the sketch as long as you can understand it and it gets the point across. After that, I decided, well, maybe I can work with a half-circle instead. I liked the way that that ear looked a little bit better, so then I tried it with the camera framing idea. I tried to draw another dog separating the body a little bit and giving him a neck. Then I started to add in some details. I want to keep the details pretty light because this is a logo, so you don't want to be adding way too much because you want it to be readable at several different sizes. I ended up being pretty happy with how that turned out, so I wanted to see if I could communicate the same kind of feeling with the wordmark. It's not necessary for every creative business to have a wordmark, but I think it makes you more unique if you have some custom type to go with it. I wanted to communicate a wagging tail with the W, so I have it curving over the rest of the letters. Then I draw over it with some pen so that I can see the final shape and see if I like it. The last thing that I do is double-check to make sure that my logo is communicating all of the things that I wrote down. If it does, then I can move on to vectoring it. In Illustrator here, I have my sketch of my dog and I have my sketch of my wordmark. I've already gone ahead and picked out a font for this that I thought would work well. It is called Barilla, and I'm using ultra and regular. This is an Adobe font. I use it for most of my projects and it has a lot of really great options. I thought that this one would work really well for the form that I want to do with a wagging tail. It's very thick and bold. It exudes that friendly quality that I wanted to go for. I'm going to do a little bit of editing to it to make it a more custom typeface. I will show you a little bit of that process as well as how I am going to build this dog out of half circles. There you have it. That's how I vectored this logo. I'm going to go ahead and clean it up a little bit more and refine those small details. But that is generally how I vector most of my logos. Moving on, I'm going to be doing the wordmark and how you can create a custom wordmark very easily. There are some little issues with kerning going on in here. The general rule for kerning is to look at the most awkward shape or relationship between the letters that you have, imagine that it's filled with water, and then try to make the space between each other letter match that. For me, the one that has the most space that I cannot fix is between the A and the G, so that is why I will try to fix and copy it moving forward for the rest of the letters. The other trick that you can do is just a zoom way out and make sure that there are no clusters or things that get smashed together when you zoom out super far. As long as everything looks even when you zoom out really far, then you're probably pretty good. Then I create outlines for my text and then I start customizing. The basic idea for this one is that I wanted it to look like a wagging tail, so I just created a little rectangle above it, and then I'm going to go into Effect, Distort and Transform, and then Zigzag. As you can see here, there's something a little funky going on at the end, but it's okay because you can just go into Expand Appearance and then we are going to be merging it with the W so we can fix that pretty easily. That's how I went about vectoring the wordmark. Again, I'm probably going to go back and refine some things about it and tweak it. But that is the basic way that you can customize some type and make it your own and make it a little bit more unique. Starting from the base of an Adobe font. Go ahead and spend about 20 minutes on your thumbnail sketches and then bring it onto the computer. I brought mine into Adobe Illustrator because I like to work in vector format so that I can resize it any which way that I like. But you can use any software that you have to refine your logo. In the next lesson, I will be going over how to test your logo for comprehension, so how well can it be understood across multiple contexts and skill abilities? How well can it be understood at different sizes? 13. Testing Your Visual Language: In this lesson, you will be testing out your brand, making sure that it can be understood across multiple contexts and at different sizes. At this point, I have talked about the different kinds of assets that you may need to make based on what kind of business you have. But now I will be covering the different assets that every brand it needs to have. Every brand needs to have E horizontal logo, a vertical logo, a round logo, and an icon. Horizontal logos are usually better for headers, such as on your website or print documents. Vertical logos are usually good for business cards or merchandise, such as t-shirts. At this point, every brand needs to have a logo that can work in a round contexts because we are all on social media and you need something that can fit into that little Profile icon. But you could also use these rounds logos for things like stickers and buttons. And at this point, every brand needs to have an icon that can work very small. A favicon, which is the icon that's next to your URL in a web browser is only 50 pixels. When I'm doing a planning project, especially for myself, I make these four things right away to test the strength of my brand. And they usually make these four different logos in three colors, full color, black and white. That way, I've already considered what my logo might look like on a dark background versus a light background. And I'm also considered what it might look like on the side of the building. Versus again, that favicon that sits next to your URL. In the class resources. I have provided an asset library template for you. It is in Adobe Illustrator, but I will show you what it looks like so that you can apply this to whatever software that you use. So this is what the document looks like when you first open it. If you do not have Adobe Illustrator, I will go over it very quickly so that you know what you should be creating in whatever software that you choose to use. It's all labeled here. It has the logo, horizontal, vertical, circular, and the icon, and has those in the three different color waves, as well as your typography, which I included a header, sub header and body copy, your color palette with how the colors should be interacting with each other. And here I just have these on mine since I have an additional word mark. So if you have one as well, you can customize this document however you need. And this logo template that I have here is on this first layer which is called example. You can delete this or you can just hide it. And that is under your Layers panel. So I am going to bring it in my logo, which I have copied here. So this is my final logo with my final colors. And each of these pages is 1920 by 1080, just as a starting point. But for example, for your icon, you do not need this to be that big, so you can resize it. However you need. Different websites will have different requirements for your icon or social images. So just keep in mind that you may need to resize these art boards. So let me show you how I took this logo and created the different assets. And there's really no rhyme or reason for how far the logo should be spaced from your word mark. It will differ for each logo, but I particularly like the way that the W is kind of following the shape of his back. So I move them a little bit closer than I may for a different logo. And for these social icon, I'm noticing that the word is a little bit too long for the circle. So why I am going to do is just delete part of the word and just focus on wag. And by focusing on the word Mark, especially that w and the kind of wagging tail that I have in the Word, I'm noticing that there can be some brand recognition and strength just in that alone. So as I move forward into the favicon, I'm just going to be focusing on the w. In fourth a favicon. I go ahead and test it at 50 pixels, even if that's not the science that I'm going to be saving it at. But just to test to see that it works at such a small size. So going forward, I'm pretty happy with how that looks. So I'm gonna go ahead and fill out the rest of the categories with the things that I need. And then I will show you the final result. Here is my final results. I have all of my logos here. Just for a stylistic choice, I went ahead and added that cream and Brown backgrounds from my brand colors. But I am not going to end up saving them this way. I will save them as transparent PNGs so that they can be used across multiple platforms. And down here, small at the bottom, I have my words here just to remind myself as I go forward. And the most important part about testing and logo for scalability and comprehension is that you're retaining the essence of your brand. You want it to have not only the same qualities and characteristics, but you want it to have the same feeling, the same essence. You want people to be able to recognize it. Go ahead and take about 20 minutes for this exercise. In reality, it will probably take you much longer to fully test out your brand. And that's completely okay. But maybe we just come back and revisit that a little bit later. In the next lesson, we will be focused on expanding your visual language. 14. Expanding Your Language: In this lesson, I'm going to be going over how to apply your brand to an expanded asset. For my example, I'm going to show you how to do it for a business card because that's still an essential thing that we all need. I'm going to show you how I put into practice some of the concepts that I came up with for Waggin Pet portraits, and how we apply that to one of my assets. Business cards are still a standard thing that everybody needs to have, so that's what I'm going to show you how to make today. I have some fake information over here for my brand, and I have some illustrations that I did based on the original logo. These are my dog personalities or dog personas. These are just like conceptual dog illustrations that I could have made for this business. I thought it might be cool to include them on the back of the business cards. I want to focus on the illustrative quality of the brand, as well as the word mark. Those are the two things that I want to include on the business card. Another thing that you might not think about being part of your brand is your e-mail address. A lot of websites will actually allow you to have your own custom e-mail address, and it's important to consider what you want to be communicating through your e-mail address. A lot of the time you will have clients and that will be their first point of contact with you. So having a cool e-mail address can really set you apart. Some e-mail address templates that I've seen that are fun are, hello, hi, boop, etc. There are many different ways that you can communicate that your brand is unique and full of your voice. However, if you are one of those very serious polished designers, then maybe those aren't appropriate for you, maybe greetings or info@blah blah blah, might be more appropriate for you. For Waggin Pet portraits, I went with bark because it's friendly and fun and it gets the idea across pretty quick. This is the standard business card format that you see with the logo on the back and then we'll have our information on the front here. But I want to take my brand a step beyond and use these different little illustrations of the dogs. I am designing with the idea in mind that I would be buying multiple different designs for the back of the business card. Some printers don't allow you to do this, so go ahead and check with whoever you're planning on getting your business cards printed through, to make sure that they actually can indeed do this. That is my basic business card. I personally like to leave a lot of whitespace on my business cards, because I usually end up writing little notes about something that I talked about with someone in-person, but I'm going to go ahead and apply the same branding idea to a couple of other things I decided that I needed to make. I hope that you have your creative brand guidebook handy because I want you to go back to the Where Does Your Brand Live page, and take a look at the list that you made. I want you to pick one of those assets to practice applying your brand too. I might suggest starting with the business card because that has a lot of design elements that you can play with, but you can start with any one that you would like. I want you to consider what each of these assets needs in terms of design. One, there is obviously the way that it looks, aka your design elements. The second thing is your tone and messaging, aka the kinds of words that you're using, the way that you're saying it, and even the content that's included within. For video, again, I want you to think about how does your brand sound and how does it move. For your photos style, I want you to consider maybe the types of objects that are included in your photos, your backdrop, the way that you photograph your photos, your color grading, and all of the other things that are included in your photographic style. For Waggin Pet portraits, the photographic style I would want to be very warm, friendly, and outgoing with lots of colors. I just found this image of a dog on Unsplash, and I want you to notice the expression of the dog, the way that it's photographed, and the color grading. It fits a lot more than this other photo of a dog, which is much cooler in the color grading, and the expression of the dog isn't as happy, and that's just something to think about as you're creating these supporting assets for your brand. Up until this point, we've been focusing primarily on the design elements of your brand, so how does it look? But now we are going to be practicing your messaging. 15. Bite Size Messaging: In the final lesson, I'm going to be going into messaging a little bit more in-depth and what it is and how you can craft it for yourself. As a reminder, messaging is the way that you talk to your audience. This can include the tone, where you talk to your audience, and even sometimes the content of what you say. Your messaging is going to be a little different depending on where you're talking to your audience. It might differ from, let's say a little thank you note on your invoice, to your website, to your social media. There's three tiers which I want you to write messaging for your brand. The lowest here is your social media. This could be your Instagram bio or any other social media bio. You have to be very short and to the point because social media usually has a character limit. For Instagram, it's 150 characters, but you can write a bio for any social media platform that you want as long as you're aware of the character count. The second tier is your website. So you still want to hook the reader in but it's just a little bit more elevated than your social media. In the top tier is the most formal. This could be dealing with your clients, writing emails, sending invoices, things like that. Or as in our example, it could be that you've received an award and they need a little blurb to tell the audience about you. I'm going to go through the example of Waggin' Pet Portraits to show you how I would approach each of these tiers. The most important thing is that even though you are changing your tone, you still want it to sound consistent and sound like your voice. The idea for the first tier for Waggin' Pet Portraits came from the fact that I had to shorten Waggin' to Wag in my social media icon. I really liked that I could only use Wag, so I tried to think of a way to tie it into my brand with my messaging. I tried to think of other words that were associated with dogs that might fit with wag. I landed on sit, stay, wag. I thought that that might make a good hook for my Instagram bio. Then I follow this hook up with Waggin' Pet Portraits is an illustration studio based in Sunny Arizona that captures the heart, our pets. This answers a couple of questions. It explains who I am, where I'm from, and what I do. Then for my website, I settled on Waggin' Pet Portraits is a pet illustration studio that specializes in capturing the relationship between you and your furry friend. It's still casual. I'm using furry friend instead of pets, but it also uses words like specializes, so it's starting to become a little bit more elevated than my social media. Then if I were to receive an award at a black-tie ball and I needed something that was really formal, I would say, "Waggin' Pet Portraits is an award-winning illustration studio who crafts stylized portraits of our closest companions, our pets." It's still using some of the same language as the first two tiers, but it sounds much more formal. Just an example of how I've deferred my tone, in this class, I say, "CYA in the next lesson," at the end of every lesson." I wouldn't necessarily say that on my website. On my website, I might say, "Get in touch" or "Drop a line," which is still pretty casual but it's a little bit more elevated than CYA. Then if I was writing an email to a client, I might say, "Looking forward to hearing from you," or something like that. In each case, I have elevated my language just a little bit, but I'm still keeping in mind that I want it to sound like me. I want you to keep this example in mind as you're crafting your own messaging. Spend about 20 minutes practicing these different levels of messaging in your own brand. In actuality, it's probably going to take you a little bit longer to refine it, but this will give you a good start. That is it for my lessons. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I will see you in the wrap up where we will go over the key takeaways for this class. 16. Wrap Up: Congrats on making it through the class. Wow. That was quite a bit of stuff that I asked you to do and I'm very proud of you for making it through. We covered everything in this class from identifying your values, your skills, passions, and goals. But we also narrowed down how you want to be perceived and how to turn that into a succinct brand statement. We identified who you want to work with and how to target more of those people. We also covered how to find inspiration from inside yourself and turning that into a mood board. Then we used all those tools to create a visual language in which you can speak with your audience. This visual language consisted of some visual assets. So how does your brand look? Also some messaging. So how do you talk to your audience? If you don't remember anything else from this class, I want it to be that you are your own secret sauce. The things that make you unique and special and will make your work stand out are already inside yourself. So please do not forget that. Finally, please upload your projects to the project gallery. I would absolutely love to see what you guys came up with. If you enjoyed this class, go check out my profile page. I have some more information there if you'd like to get connected. But thank you so much again for taking this class and I will see you next time.