How do you build your personal brand as a Designer?

I am in the process of building my personal brand as a freelance Graphic Designer as I recently realised that it needs a refresh. It’s one of those times when you realise that you keep designing brand identities for others but when you look at yours, it really isn’t good enough. And to be perfectly honest with you, I find it quite difficult…

Where do I start? The logo of course but do what? The same thing I do for my clients? Start with creating mood boards and show them to myself to get feedback? :joy: (only joking but I hope you know what I mean!)

It would be good to get some opinions on this. How do you build your brand identity as Designers? I mean, apart from having a website to showcase your work, my question is deeper than that. I’m talking about the actual brand/tone of voice/values (if any, although I think we should have values) etc…

  • Where would you start from?
  • Do you use your own name or do you use a different name?
  • Do you convey a certain message through your brand?
  • Do you tell a story through your logo?

Please let me know if I’m not being clear here (I’m finding it hard to explain) and I’ll do my best to ask the question in a clearer way.

Thanks!!

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I so totally get what you’re saying, it’s really hard to design for yourself and your own brand.

Where would you start from?
Identify your target audience. For example, mine is small businesses and local print shops. And potential employers.

Do you use your own name or do you use a different name?
I use a combination of my name and my business name, which is DocPixel.

Do you convey a certain message through your brand? DocPixel is intended to convey my strong focus on images, especially raster. And that I’m pretty good at enhancing images in Photoshop. (“Photoshop Goddess” seemed arrogant.) :smiley:

Do you tell a story through your logo?
I’m still working on that. I’ve fiddled with a camera and stethoscope, ink pens, and nothing works so far. I’ve also considered a swiss army knife because I have a wide range of skills, but a knife seems weird. So right now, my logo is just my business name.
My current business card has an ink pen and watercolor background, but I’m not happy with it yet and will be changing it.

image

I hope this helps. I think some of us should plan a half-day conference call to help each other design our own brands!

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I don’t have a brand. I’ve only done work that I’ve gotten from references for the last 15 years.

And to be perfectly honest with you, I find it quite difficult…

It’s pretty common for designers to struggle with their own logo.

Where do I start? The logo of course but do what? The same thing I do for my clients?

Yes. I would start your own branding project much like a client project. Make sure you survey the competition to see what’s in your marketplace.

How do you build your brand identity as Designers? I mean, apart from having a website to showcase your work, my question is deeper than that. I’m talking about the actual brand/tone of voice/values (if any, although I think we should have values) etc…

Two part answer.

I am a self-employed, home-based designer. I am not a freelancer. (Don’t get me started. Different topic for different day.) If someone looks at my company and compares me to a small design studio that might have several employees and an outside-the-house office, I don’t want them to perceive any difference in quality or abilities. So it’s important to me that I dress my business properly. Website, business cards, stationery, and promo materials. For the latter, I make promo books that have my logo blind embossed on a nice Neenah stock. I get a lot of positive feedback on these books.

The design of your identity can impact your branding / tone of voice / values. I want to be doing corporate work, so my logo is a corporate-y looking word mark. No one is going to look at my logo and think “I’ll hire this guy to do my wedding invitations.” And that’s fine. I have zero interest in wedding invitations. But you could design a logo that would speak to that market.

Where would you start from?

Same place you start a client project.

Do you use your own name or do you use a different name?

I have a company name.

Do you convey a certain message through your brand?

I try to, yes.

Do you tell a story through your logo?

I wouldn’t say my logo tells a story, but that doesn’t mean yours can’t. I think the main thing is to come up with something that will set you apart in the marketplace and appeal to your target market.

2 Likes

Thank you so much all of you for taking the time to reply! Your answers are very helpful.

I guess I started asking myself these questions when I started doing a research to see what other designers do for their brand and I came across to logos that to me, don’t really make sense. Like this one:


(I blurred the name for obvious reasons)

And I’m wondering, is there a story behind this? And if so, shouldn’t it be more clear? Or it doesn’t really matter, as long as our logo make US happy? (I so disagree with that…).

There are so many designers out there that have logos that I’d say it’s just a shape, or an icon followed by their name or company name but don’t really “say” much. I mean, I don’t see any meaning behind them and I just want to see if it’s me or they haven’t really put much effort designing them.

Am I missing something here?

A brand is only a brand if there is meaning. This could work 2 ways. It could be a successful communication of the brand if the intended meaning of the brand is understood by a potential customer. It could be an accidental brand if there’s a subjective customer interpretation of meaning that was never intended by the provider due to any experience with the communications or behavior of the provider. In any case, it’s a successful brand if the customer interpretation works in favor of the provider, and an unsuccessful brand if interpretation works against the provider.

Some brands were started without much deliberate intended meaning behind them, and eventually grew into a (reputation) brand that was defined more by the customers than the original provider.

Well, I think so. Your example logo would have meaning for an nature/environmental organization, maybe.

But for graphic design, I feel it misses the target by a mile.

Part of a logo’s basic goal, in my opinion, is to somehow communicate/visually support, to a potential client/buyer, what services are offered.

Sorry for my late reply. Been slammed with work. I really appreciate your help. It’s good to see what other people think on this.

You are both so right! Maybe I’m overthinking it when it’s obvious. Although, I don’t think that it’s necessary for a designer to have for example a pencil or a Pantone book on their logo…

Thank you so much guys. It’s been a great help chatting with you about it. Will post the logos I narrowed down for my brand on another post to get some feedback.

I find that branding yourself just sort of happens. I have some clients that are very analytical. Some that are psycho. Some that are easy. Some that are cultured. Some that are punk…

I have 4 different business cards.

  1. for the company (AD).
  2. creative design
  3. graphic design and illustration
  4. problem solver

They all look different, all serve a purpose, and each is indispensable. So I have 4 different “brands” simultaneously working together. Like flavors of soda. lol

It is hard to do it for yourself, but treat it like a client project. Ask yourself:

What are your top goals for rebranding?
(i.e., appear more professional, show a change in direction, change what people currently think about you, etc.)

Who is your ideal client? What industry are they in? What is their job title? How old are they? What gender are they? Where do they hang out online? What are their interests?

How do you want people to feel when they interact with your brand?

Who are your competitors? What are they doing that you think is working?

Your logo should attract and connect with your target audience—not be about your personal preferences.

Hope that helps!

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