By Stephanie Design

july 2016

How to Create Your Signature Brand Style

BusinessStephanie Hamilton4 Comments

You've started a business! You're ready to share your product or service or offering with the world but how do you go about attracting the clients or customers you're trying to appeal? 

The first step involves developing your brands signature style or personality so you can reach and connect with your audience and potential customers and make you proud to share your goods with them! 

Creating a signature style for your brand can be little daunting at the offset though - from color to type to pattern it's especially easy to be pulled in a myriad of directions when you have so many tools at your fingertips and neary a process for honing in your unique mission, style, and personality. It often means going little deeper than visuals though and defining the unique characteristics of your business that make you stand out from competitors and attract your people. 

how to create your signature brand style - by stephanie design

 

But where do you begin? In this post I'll uncover some of the questions to ask yourself in uncovering your signature brand style.


What is Your Brand's Mission or Core Values

Essentially the heart and soul of why your business exists, defining your brand's mission will reveal who you want to help, what industry do you want to target, and why are you passionate about what you have to offer. For example, if you're a new bakery serving gluten-free items, this value connects with those that want this characteristic in their bakery. 


Who Are The People I Want As Client's or Customers

Defining your target market is essential as it's impossible to attract and satisfy everyone. The more specific you can get, the better. For instance, if you offer info products to parents that homeschool their 5-7 year olds, that is more helpful than trying to appeal to ALL THE MOMS, some of which don't even homeschool and may not be interested in what you're selling or have to say. 


Find Your Brand Style Words

Your brand style words or keywords are like a unique recipe that summarizes your work. Having a few descriptive words picked out, such as classic, modern, and feminine, clearly conveys your focus and intentions with your business. Every brand should have a few style words picked out as a reminder that every piece of work you create reflects on them or how they wish to be perceived. 

Knowing how you want your brand to be perceived will help in all steps of your business, including visuals like your logo, website, and collateral design, as well as copywriting and tone of your correspondence which I delve into below.


Determine Your Style

Your signature style isn't only reflected in your work but carries over into your brand as well.  When designing a brand or website for a client, here are some questions I might ask: 

  • What is the graphic style of your brand? Simple, edgy, artistic?
  • If you brand was a car, what model would be be? 
  • If your brand had a celebrity spokesperson, who would it be?
  • If your brand was a cocktail, what would it be? 
  • What 3 words would you like people to use when they are describing your style?
  • If your brand was an outfit, what would it be?

 

Once you have this information gathered, it's time to gather visuals for inspiration - which is where inspiration boards are really handy! 


Create a Secret Pinterest Board

Pinterest is a hot spot for inspiration - it's really easy to get carried away, too! You can pin anything that says 'I'd love to make something like that!' But it's an excellent way to reflect on the color, style, theme, and feeling of the brand you want to create. Putting these images together in one place really gives you an accurate image and clarity your own style. 

Here's a sample of some recent pins on a brand board: 

how to create your signature brand style - by stephanie design

Noticed any commonalities among the designs I pinned? Most of them are classic, feminine, and traditional. Since I tend to gravitate towards this style, this tells me my ideal customer is also a female business owner that wants their designs in this style and I should book more of them. 


There's no right or wrong answer when defining your brand signature style. Having a strong sense of it's traits will help you in every decision-making process of your business, and guide you in creating something really memorable for your customers. 


Come See What I'm Up To On Instagram

instagram Block
This is an example. To display your Instagram posts, double-click here to add an account or select an existing connected account. Learn more

22 Projects for Your In-House Graphic Designer

BusinessStephanie HamiltonComment

As an entrepreneur your time is limited. You're often wearing many hats and juggling many roles, each of which requires special time out of your day. And, chances are, you don't have many hours to spare. 

Brand Design Packages and my Design Shop are at the core of my business, I find many clients may need additional help after their initial projects are finished. And while many need the ongoing help of a graphic designer, many understand it may be risky and overkill to hire a creative department for their needs. 

Enter my new In-House Design Subscription Services. Starting at $300/month (with an option for unlimited services), I provide the same support, service, and professionalism as having a designer on your team, without the expenses and commitment of hiring. 

22 projects for your in-house graphic designer - by stephanie design

It's my way of sharing my love of design and helping all creative business owners in the process. If you'd like to see how using an in-house designer might benefit your business, I've put together a list of 22 projects a designer can tackle.

 

projects for your in-house designer - by stephanie design

1 | Blog Post Templates + Graphics

I recently covered the importance of blog post templates in this post, and many bloggers know that having beautiful, streamlined pinnable graphics to accompany your posts set it apart and make it appear professional. Give me a list of your upcoming blog posts and I'll put together all your templates in advance. Not keen on planning ahead? Make use of a pre-designed template set ideal for lifestyle publishers available in my shop! 

2 | Welcome Packages & Guides

Make a new client feel special and leave a great first impression by providing a beautifully designed collection of helpful information and tools, along with your own unique greeting or personal gift. 

 

3 | Email Marketing Setup 

Reach your audience personally by having a designer setup your email marketing. From the initial opt-in through every follow-up, your designer can create custom templates for you to use in Mailchimp, AWeber, and other email service. 

4 | Lead Magnets

While on the subject of email marketing, you can have a designer create an enticing email opt-in or lead magnet. It usually comes in the form of an ebook, workbook, PDF list, template or anything else you can think of. Have a designer put it together and present your offer in a professional light. 

5 | Event Stationery

Need the perfect tone set for your special day or upcoming event? Your in-house designer can create an on-point stationery suite for you - or your client's - special event. We can also accommodate your day of event stationery needs, such as beautiful menus, escort or place cards, programs, signage and many more.  

6 | Social Media Posts & Templates

On-brand social media templates can also be created to share your blog posts, announcements, inspirational quotes, and your recent work. A couple templates are ideal for versatility and allow you to create posts on demand. See my recent addition to the design shop for reference. 

7 | Infographics

Infographics are an engaging way to share important information and data on your site. They are also highly shareable, meaning their often shared on Pinterest, mentioned on Twitter, and linked to on Facebook. A designer can put together one that will appeal to your ideal customers and complement your brand. 

8 | Online Advertising

Whether it's for Facebook Ads, Banner Ads, or Promoted Pins, your in-house designer can create a compelling advertising campaign that adheres to your brand and the advertising platform's exact specifications, allowing you to get the most for your money in the process. 

9 | Social Media Branding

Show off your social channels to their fullest potential with crafted Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus headers and profile pictures to promote a current special or enhance your brand and maintain consistency across all platforms. 

10 | Media Kit

Accept advertisers on your website or partner with brands? It's beneficial to have a media kit on hand that displays your site stats, social media following, and overview of your average reader, etc. Work with an in-house designer that will put together a professional document that will highlight the benefits of working with you. 

11 | Mood Boards

Whether you're an interior designer, event planner, or simply a blogger who is looking for a starting point in the visual direction of your brand, or another business owner in the event design process, a clean and inspirational mood board will greatly benefit your sales pitch. 

 

22 projects for your in-house graphic designer - by stephanie design

12 | Email Signature

A consistent, professional brand is carried all the way from the big things to the small things. Something as small as an email signature can be forwarded to potential new clients, customers, and more. You can make a great first impression by sharing your valuable contacting information with a professionally designed email signature. 

 

business card template - by stephanie design

13 | Business Stationery

Is your business stationery currently fulfilling the needs of your brand? When was the last time you updated your business card or letterhead? Work with a designer that will update all touchpoints to your current brand and adapt current designs for new team members and needs as they arise. 

14 | Event Collateral

Have an upcoming event on the horizon? Work with an in-house designer to create or update flyers or other marketing collateral for upcoming live events - including speaking engagements, trade shows, and event expos. Brochures, pricing guides, line sheets, and wholesale catalogs are also great for highlighting the ins and outs of your event and gaining support and attention. 

15 | Album Design

Photographers can work with a designer to save time and improve their workflow by outsourcing the client's wedding album design. We can curate your galleries and design a stunning, professional keepsake with a quick turn-around time. This frees you up to spend time on parts of your business you love. 

16 | EBooks

If selling ebooks, kindle books, or other digital products is in the cards, a designer can turn your content into a professional product that will allow you to command a premium price. 

17 | Document Templates

Present a professional, streamlined image by working with a graphic designer to craft your contracts, intake forms, invoices, questionnaires and other business documents. 

18 | Lookbooks + Catalogs

Show off your best work or current product lines in a handy catalog or lookbook. Lookbooks are excellent additions to high-end photographers, wedding planners, and other event professionals marketing collateral. They can be shared at wedding shows or client consultations to make a great impact, in addition to a captivating coffee table piece. 

19 | Printables + Worksheets

Many times in speaking engagements, online courses, workshops, and consultations, it's helpful to have a handout or a worksheet to help participants follow along and take notes. Your in-house designer can create or update flyers and other marketing collateral for you to distribute. 

 

20 | Pricing Guide

If you don't feature your prices on your website, it's often helpful to create a PDF pricing guide to send to prospective clients in an email. You can also link to it on your site to avoid wasting time with price-shoppers. I'll use your brand and images of past work to give your clients the context they need to understand your services. 

21 | Basic Photo Editing

While not used in place of the editing services of a professional photographer, your in-house designer can help with basic photo editing, from touching up a non-professional image to removing a background and adding text. 

22 | Submarks For Your Brand

Your in-house designer can create submarks and alternate logos for your spin-off brands and products. If you have a special product or signature service we can develop a custom logo to help promote and differentiate. 


You can always request projects outside the realm of this list - I'm always happy to tackle new challenges as long as their within the scope of my skills and expertise. 

If you're interested in hiring me as an in-house designer,  please contact me for rates and more information.

Are there any design tasks I may have overlooked that could be delegated? I would love to hear about them. 

 

Make Sure To Follow Along On Instagram

How to Design Eye-Catching Blog Post Templates

Business, TutorialsStephanie HamiltonComment

If you've been blogging for some time now or are just getting started you're probably aware of the importance of the blog post graphic. Placed right above the fold, they're the visitors first glimpse of what your blog post is about.  Blog post graphics give your site visual interest and are a great addition to your social media promotion. They can be used as an alternative to or as a compliment to photography.

When potential customers land on your site or come into contact with your visuals throughout social media they're making judgements about your business, and these visuals play a large role in conveying meaning and enrichment to your users and leaving a positive first impression. Whether they chose to share them on sites like Pinterest are largely determined in those first few seconds that impression is made. 

So let's discuss how to create these eye-catching blog post graphics! I'll show you simple ways to use them to differentiate yourself and stick in user's minds time and time again! 

 

how to design eye-catching blog post templates - by stephanie design


A Few Design Considerations


1. Variety + Consistency

For the majority of people, 1-2 blog post templates is ideal. If you do chose to have a variety, certain elements should remain consistent throughout. 

Set color, type, photo, and layout guidelines for your blog graphics. If you're working with a designer they will set color and type guidelines for clear patterns and a consistent hierarchy throughout your site. 

If you're not working with a designer, consider what color type you will use on a photographic background and what color is used on solid color backgrounds. Which lines and patterns will be incorporated into which templates. Will you use your own photos or make use of stock photos? 

Lastly, keep your templates the same size. By sticking to the same ratio the blog maintains a flow and becomes more visually appealing. More on layout below!

So by figuring out the above questions beforehand you'll save some time when creating a new graphic to compliment your new blog post. You're audience will gain familiarity with your business or brand as it starts to pop up in their Pinterest or Bloglovin' feeds! 


2. Be Cognizant of Size 

Also key to garnering attention from user's is the size of your images. Since each platform has it's unique constraints for sizing you may chose to develop a few templates to accommodate each optimal size for your social media outlets (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest). 

Pinterest is known for displaying vertical formats in larger in newsfeeds because the columns constrain the width of the graphic. In comparison, horizontal formats will shrink down. 


3. A Unique, Branded Image

A well-developed, branded image allows you to stick in potential customers minds and aides in the professionalism of your brand.

If also allows user's to capture your brand personality and style and distinguishes you from other creatives in your field. 

When creating graphics don't look to what's already out there; take time to stretch your boundaries and break the mold. 

When creating my own blog post graphics I ran through a few options before determining the ideal template, which resulted in a few variations I really like which all contain a similar cohesive thread throughout all of them. 

 


The Tools for Creating Blog Post Templates


Adobe Photoshop

I use Adobe Photoshop to create my blog post graphics which suits my needs for this type of design project. 

 

how to create eye-catching blog post graphics - by stephanie design

The Adobe Creative Suite provides the most versatility of any image creation program. If you're interested in trying it out you can make use to Adobe's 30-day free trial

 


The By Stephanie Design Shop

Shameless plug! My design store is one resource for pre-designed templates at an affordable price. 

I just released the first of a few sets of blog post graphic templates in the By Stephanie Design shop. These templates are a beautiful way to establish your brand and create a cohesive online presence. All they require is you find the photos you're looking for and customize the text to your blog post! 

Each package includes 8 different Photoshop templates - featured, quote, products, mood board, long pin (ideal for recipes or fashion collages), instagram and facebook! Each template within the package works to form a cohesive branded image in the set. 

All files are optimized for retina display, but you can size them down how you see fit! 

 

The Design Shop is full of resources for bloggers and creative entrepreneurs, with a speciality in photoshop templates for photographers.

 

Blog post graphics are one way to create a positive first impression and inspire visitors to share your content which will lead to more traffic and allow you to reach your business goals alittle sooner. 

How do you currently create your blog graphics? How do you maintain consistency and differentiate yourself from all the other blog graphics out there?

Make Sure to Follow Along on Instagram

Free Printable Grocery List Templates (+ NEW shop addition!)

BusinessStephanie HamiltonComment

Imagine a familiar scenario of typing you grocery list into your iPhone only to forget about it once you arrive at the store.

Grocery shopping can sometimes be a mundane task if you're not prepared, and I know many of use arrive home dismayed because "I forgot something!" 

Aside from wasting your time and money, it can be little irritating! 

Hence, this is where the grocery list comes in. For some reason having a list in your hand makes it easier to remember and the task of shopping becomes less mundane when you have a beautiful, organized list to keep track of your goods. 

So I rounded up a few free printable grocery shopping list templates, and have a special goodie at the end of the post (and my new addition to my shop!) that will make kitchen organization as a whole much more enjoyable! 

Check out the free printable grocery list templates you can easily print below: 

 

1. Black And White Grocery List By Vertex

2. Cute Grocery List Template

super cute printable grocery list template - by stephanie design

3. Cute Grocery List Template

4. Ellie's Printable Grocery List Template

 

free printable grocery list template - by stephanie design

5. Black And White Weekly Printable Planner

free weekly menu plan template - by stephanie design

6. Healthy Grocery Shopping List Template

 

7. The Ultimate Vegetarian Grocery List

free vegetarian grocery list template

NEW IN THE SHOP!

Meal & Menu Planning Kit

This printable, letter-sized set of 7 page kit will make meal planning a lot less mundane. The bright, punchy colors I chose for that expressed reason, and the planning aspect prevents you from making spontaneous food purchases that often go uneaten or expired. 

The set includes a weekly meal plan (2 layout options), a monthly meal plan, grocery list, freezer inventory, pantry inventory, and favorite meals. 

Plan and organize your weekly and monthly meals, grocery shopping, and household organization with this streamlined, bright pdf kit. Download it right away and print as many copies as you need to make kitchen organization a much more streamlined experience! 

13+ of the Best, Most Beautiful Sites for Free Styled Stock Photography

BusinessStephanie Hamilton1 Comment

Let's face it, a picture is worth a thousand words.

And in today's online space, image is everything!

But not everyone has time to play professional photographer, right? 

That's why there's convenient shortcuts - and one of them is styled stock photography 

You don't have to scrounge around the deep ethers of the internet to find these beauties! I've rounded them up in one tidy post you can refer back to time and time again. If you are a creative entrepreneur, mompreneur, blogger or freelancer, here are 13+ sites that have FREE, styled-stock photos to use on your blog, along with a stellar paid option to give you the most options and versatility for your brand. 

free feminine styled stock photography - by stephanie design

Image credit: SCSTOCKSHOP

 

Use these styled stock photos for your blog, social media and marketing collaterals to grab user's attention fast!

I should also mention that many of these options include paid subscription libraries so if you like the free photos you can always take advantage and subscribe to them for even more goodies. 

 

1. Haute Chocolate

If chic, elegant, and stylish is what you're after, Haute Chocolate is your ticket! They offer a perfect array of photos, including two free one's upon signing up to their list, for mompreneurs, freelancers, creatives and more. 

free feminine styled stock photos - by stephanie design

2. Creative Convex

Creative Convex is by talented designer PinkPot and is a great resource for bloggers and entrepreneurs. If you're a fan of minimalism these perfectly styled, pop of color photos are a nice fit! 

 

free styled stock photography - minimalism - by stephanie design

3. Shay Cochrane

Fresh & FREE styled stock photos delivered to you monthly? Yes please! These chic images will surely enhance your recognizeability. 

free feminine style stock photos - by stephanie design

4. Unsplash 

Unsplash photos are beautiful enough to fit a lifestyle blog or a design agencies website without the staid, stock photo look and feel. 

free stock photo sites - by stephanie design

5. Fun & Creative Styled Photos

Looking for the right stock photo for your blog or instagram feed just got easier with these cute, stylish options. The selection of 11 free stock photos will be sure to leave you impressed!

fun stylish stock photos - by stephanie design

6. Pink & Gold

If Pink and Gold is your flavor, this bright, beautiful photo is available for personal and commercial use for your promotion.

free feminine styled stock photography

7. 8 Feminine Styled Flat Lays

Both logo free and un-watermarked, these styled photos can be used for a myriad of media, including social media headers, banners, and blog post images, and more. Photos are 1200px wide. 

free feminine styled stock photos - by stephanie design

8. Black, White, and Gold Styled Desktop

Black, white, and gold comprise this styled stock photo suitable for shop announcements or any other promo. 

free styled stock photography - by stephanie design

9. Gold, White, and Pink Style Stock Photos

This set of ten is sprinkled with shades of Gold, White, and Pink for a classic, sophisticated look. 

Gold, White, and Pink Styled Stock Photos - By Stephanie Design

10. 54 Free Feminine Stock Photos

These beautiful flat lays include space to overlay your text to promote your latest blog on social media. 

free feminine stock photos - by stephanie design

11. Pretty Free Desktop Photos

Emily is a photographer and has a free photo stock pack you can use for your own blog or instagram. 

pretty free styled desktop stock photos - by stephanie design

12. Girly Styled Stock Photos

This collection features 15 free-styled stock photos, featuring a office supplies and feminine colors sure to make a punch! 

girly styled stock photos - by stephanie design

13. Feminine Styled Stock Photography

All you lovely ladies can take advantage of these feminine styled stock photos for your blog or instagram! The set includes 10 free, premium photos. 

feminine styled stock photography - by stephanie design

RESOURCES: PAID STYLED STOCK PHOTOS

14. Creative Market

My go-to for any design assets I may need, Creative Market is where it's at for original, creative styled stock photography from designers and artists alike. Here is a recent favorite! 

Natural, Styled Stock Photography

I LOVE this neutral set of 24, high-res stock photos you can use for both your blog and instagram for weeks for a complete branded look, and for less than the cost of a date night! 

natural styled stock photography - by stephanie design

Streaming your business or brands photos to attract your audience and create a recognizable brand show potential clients or customers your making intentional decisions, which are great qualities of a strong brand.

The above are some excellent examples of high-quality branded images from some talented entrepreneurs. If you decide to download, remember to give them proper attribution if required.

Now that I've covered the basics of branding using images and shared some excellent examples, you might be wondering how to create and streamline your blog or business with a focus on the user experience of your web design. I have something in the works that may help you with that very thing! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know about my upcoming offering! P.S. You'll also be sent a special discount code to use for my online shop geared towards photographers and other entrepreneurs. 


Sign up for the By Stephanie Design Newsletter!

Name *
Name

The Do's and Don'ts of Logo Design

BusinessStephanie HamiltonComment

Many designers will attest there's a lot that goes into creating an effective logo than what may meet the eye. Many acknowledge there are many factors to consider in developing a clever yet timeless logo that will suit your business year after year. If you're interested in learning the 411 of logo design and how you can implement design principles into creating a memorable logo design of your own, this post is right up your alley! 

the do's and don'ts of logo design - by stephanie design

 

Dont's 

Add Too Many Details
Remember, this is a simple, professional reminder of who you are and what you have to offer. Leave out extraneous details that can distract from the essence of your brand or business in exchange for highlighting a key feature.

Rely on Trends
People don't trust a business that is constantly changing their logo. Fads come and go but a good logo is like a classic pair of denim jeans. No matter what your style, you can't argue with this classic never goes away.

Imitate

While inspiration is encouraged, be weary of copying a design you love too closely because it will not only risk copyright violation, but your brand will lack that necessary recognition needed to stand out! 

Lack Relevancy

A memorable logo is sometimes one that's not expected. McDonald's doesn't have french fries and a hamburger in their logo, but the Golden Arches are relevant to their name. In the same vein, you don't need to include an image simply because you love it if it doesn't capture the essence of your name. 


Do's

 

logo design do's and don'ts - By Stephanie Design

Southern Weddings Magazine does a great job catering to Southern brides with it's soft, feminine colors, and girly, hand-lettered logo. Every touchpoint of their streamlined brand reflects their understanding of their ideal audience. 

Research Your Ideal Audience

Everything starts with focus. So take time to identify what makes your business unique and what do clients value most about what you do. Think about other successful businesses that your target market shops at and look at their logos for inspiration. Do you ideal audience's tastes and interests mirror those you found in your research as well as your own?  

Finally, condense your brief down into three keywords. What are the most important words that describe how you'd like your new brand identity to come across. 

Use Color Psychology

If we want to dive really deep, we can use color to communicate in a compelling and persuasive way. Perhaps you work with children as a photographer, in that case you might want to use light, soft, warm colors. If you sell luxury products you might choose cool, bright, and clear colors for a strong impact with bold fonts for an aspirational look. If you want to communicate fun or creativity you might chose a lovely orange or coral. 

Colors evoke different feelings and emotions in people so use it wisely to communicate brand values while paying special attention to how you pull all design elements together. 

 

longed gardens logo - logo do's and don'ts - by stephanie design

A cursive L rotates around the center axis to form a flower in this logo for a horticultural center -- a simple design that's effective because of the choice of a graceful font. 

Pay Careful Attention to Fonts

Each font has a unique feel and characteristics. Some of have a certain je ne said quoi that make them pitch perfect for logo design work. But the font you chose will play a large role in how your audience perceives you, so first impressions are critical. 

 

logo design do's and don'ts - by stephanie design

A timeliness, classic look hits the mark for print designer Gooseberry Moon, which includes submarks for versatility. 

 

Be Functional

Perhaps one of the most important components of a logo design is it's functionality. Your logo should hold up as well on a sign on an event as it's does on a business card. It should be easily recognized in both black and white and color. If your logo isn't current legible in a number of different sizes you might want to consider another solution. You can learn why I use Adobe Illustrator for logo designs in this recent post

Similarly, you may need to create a variation or two of your logo for versatility. Consider what your logo looks on top of a photo or colored backgrounds and account for that by creating color variations. Many designers start in black in white, too, as it allows us to focus on color and shape rather than the subjective nature of color. 

Get A Second Opinion

I don't know about you but I often get more clarity in my work when I have a trusted friend or family member provide some feedback. Oftentimes it's easy to get lost in your work (a familiar feeling of seeing the wood from the trees?) and having a second set of eyes can re-affirm a design or help point out little discrepancies as you slave away behind the screen. It's not a bad idea to get little constructive criticism when it aides in both the aesthetic and compositional direction of your logo. 

 

Creating a logo can sometimes be an overwhelming task for those without a firm grasp of the principles of design. Knowing who you are and creating a substantial point of view is helpful in creating an authentic and purposeful logo design for your business that gets you excited to promote it. Take into account the above do's and don'ts to help in creating one that is mirrors your unique brand vision.


What are your keys to creating an effective logo design? Anything techniques you'd add in the above?

 

Make Sure to Follow Along On Instagram