Helicon Photo + Paper Co. Brand Development

Hello! I am taking these branding classes on Skillshare to develop logos and a brand identity for the new business my fiancé, Joe, and I just started together.

A quick background on us: professionally, I'm a fashion designer with a strong background in design and illustration, and I'm looking to make a career switch. I've always loved creating greeting cards and beautiful hand-made illustrations for my friends and family since I was a little girl, and I have decided to turn those skills into a business which may hopefully be my new career path. Joe is a professional photographer, but has only recently became a full-time professional after years in the film industry and over the past few years, he's been building a name for himself as a wedding photographer here in Brooklyn, NY.

Earlier this year, we decided to team up and use our backgrounds in art, design and photography to create a business that can be a one-stop shop for engaged couples to hire the photographer and stationer together, if they choose. As an engaged couple ourselves, we see the stress and time constraints involved in planning a wedding, and the frustration in having to find seperate professionals to make the wedding come to life. Deep in research with so many options to choose from in our area, we found ourselves thinking of how much easier it would be to get mulitple services from just one company that has the same aesthetic and vision as we see for ourselves. And so many products in the wedding planning process involve photos and graphic design together: save the dates, thank you cards, photo books, etc. Alternatively, we could work independently under the same name, with his services being offered without my designs, and I can set up an Etsy shop offering my stationary designs for couples outside of the NY Tristate area.

The business has officially been formed, but now we are stuck in developing the correct branding that would best represent our brand and our target customer. This is holding us back from getting our website up and running, starting to bring in clients, building the Etsy shop, etc.

I took the first of Faye's courses, so some of my images and work is from that class also. 

What is our brand and target customer:

Recapping the first class, we determined that our ideal clients are stylish, young adults who are inspired by life and are looking for wedding photography and/or stationary products that are unique, personal and authentic. We determined that we'd like our business to offer personalized and customized products, working in artistic photography, some hand-drawn graphics, typography and calligraphy. In a digital age, it's nice to see a human element to everyday things, like greeting cards and invitations. We'd also like our business to be eco-friendly and eventually to give back to the community.  In the future, we see ourselves opening a studio and shop, offering classes in both photography and stationary design. It's important to us that our branding conveys these things. See the photo of my filled out logo design brief for more details.

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After brainstorming, I began building my customer Pinterest board, logo inspiration board and brand inspiration board. A few screenshots to illustrate:

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After pulling all these ideas together, I started sketching out some ideas in my sketchbook, playing around with font designs and organic elements. Joe was a part of the design process to give opinions. Once he narrowed in on some icons he liked, I recreated those fonts and logos roughly in calligraphy.

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Then, I imported the final designs into Illustrator, created vector objects and played with a color palette. Over the course of a few weeks, I came up with this mood board and brand guide, in the guide format of Salted Ink - which I found have a really clear template for showing a company's branding organized on a page. (I only copied her template for organizing my branding, not her logos, and I don't plan on publishing it anywhere except here for feedback on my logos - it's just for me).

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Joe sent these files out to some friends whom we felt would give us constructive criticism. Some of the feeback we received was the banners were too cartoony - should be wispier and less symmetrical, the watermark shouldn't have any flowers - it should be clean, the logos overall felt beachy or hipsterish. But they liked what we had so far. Based on that feedback, I made a few tweaks this morning to the watermarks here and tried them out on some of Joe's photos:

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At this point, I feel stuck. I'm liking what I've come up with but I don't feel like I'm there yet. One minute I'm happy with them and the next I'm ready to trash it all and start over. I'm getting frustrated because I feel like I can't move forward and build my business website until the logos and branding are perfect, but I'm also a perfectionist and know my work will never be 100% perfect to me (as I change my mind on how I visualize my work from day to day). At some point, I have to accept it and walk away but I haven't yet reached acceptance.

I feel that I need some opinons and constructive criticism before I can happily move forward and finalize my branding. I was nervous to post my work online for all of you to see and comment on, as this is my first time showing the world my work standing alone, rather than as part of a design team. But that is going to be my new reality in this career path - putting myself out there for all to see in hopes to be paid for my work - so I know it's time to take those steps. Looking forward to hearing everyones thoughts and ideas and thanks for reading this far!! ;)

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