When you’re working on your brand identity it’s often helpful to find inspiration. This is not to copy from, this is to help you understand what you – or most importantly what your client – likes, so that you can save time, collect ideas, ensure that you are working on something that will work for you. You’ll be able to use all of this graphic design inspiration to help you create a company logo, develop patterns and illustrations, influence your tone of voice and develop a style which is unique to you. You’re just getting a bit of help with knowing what it is that you like and also what it is that your audience is drawn to.
So where do you find brand inspiration?
Ask your clients what they’re interested in. You could do this one by one, picking up the phone to ask, or send out a survey. What magazines do they read? What TV programmes do they watch? Where do they like to shop? Which websites do they spend time on? What books are their favourites? Spend some time looking at their responses and seeing where the similarities lie. If you don’t want to ask them, you might be friends with some of them on Facebook – take a look at their profiles. What clothes are they wearing? What pages do they like? Can you see their check ins, the music, movies, TV shows and books that they like, which events they attend, the reviews they’ve left and the groups they’re in? This will all help you to build up a picture of your clients so that you can create a brand identity for them.
Using your eyes
Inspiration is EVERYWHERE. Really. Go out somewhere, anywhere. It doesn’t have to be somewhere beautiful like the beach or a lovely garden – the supermarket will do, or on the way to school and back – and take your camera.When I have meetings with clients I often take photographs – especially if they have a product or a space – because you never know where the inspiration will come from. Open your eyes and look out for things that make you go “oo!” You might catch the patten on a dress with one eye, or the rainbow colours of oily puddles might inspire you, perhaps you like the layout of the menu when you’re ordering your coffee, or you start to notice which fonts are your favourite. At a client meeting the other day we saw a flower display on our way out of the tearoom which I photographed because my client stopped to say that there was something about the colours and set up of it that she really liked. I also photographed her notebook because it had been the perfect notebook for her to use for her business when she’d seen it – she was drawn to the style of illustration and the colours. Open your eyes. Inspiration really is everywhere. You just need to become aware of it.
When it comes to visual inspiration then you can’t beat Pinterest and Instagram for online finds. Check through your feed, follow a hashtag, pin to a board – find a way to curate your images so you’ve got them there to look at. What do you like the look of, what are you really not drawn to?
Social Media is also great for gaining more information. You can check out your analytics on many platforms to see who your social audience is. For example, I know by checking my Facebook analytics that most of the people who like my page are women aged 35 – 44. Here’s a post from Amanda Dixon on how to do that. You can also go into your Facebook ads, select audience insights and gain loads more information there. You can even use it to look at the pages of the places where your audience already spend time – so if you know your audience love a particular shop, you can add that in to the interests section and find out really detailed information about those people. Things like their relationship status, education level and type of job, the pages they like, where they are, their activity and their behaviours. Here’s a blog by Stephen Waddington with a bit more information.
On Twitter, you can select audiences in the analytics section, and it might tell you that 56% of your audience is women, they like business and news and drama and 85% of them use their computer to access Twitter.
Pinterest analytics might tell you that your audience likes art, design and interiors and most of your audience is overwhelmingly female.
Checking out your analytics can tell you a lot about who likes you already – and what they like.
There is no excuse not to do this. So many magazines are available for free, but the best thing to do is to pick a magazine with lots of pictures, possibly even one that appeals to your audience – and look through it for design inspiration. This isn’t about words (although it might be about fonts) it’s about colours, patterns, layouts, logos, design styles, illustrations, imagery related to your audience and picking out things that inspire you. So look at the articles and the photographs, but also take a look at all the adverts. Get your scissors out, tear the pages and gather a colourful set of inspirational snippets. You could leave them loose or glue them down – it’s up to you.
What do you do with all of this inspiration once you have it?
You should have a range of items – things that YOU love, but also things that your audience is drawn to – and you’ll have given your business a lot of thought. Now is a great time to make a moodboard by sticking things down or creating a board on Pinterest. You could also create a client profile – find or draw an image of your client, give her a name and list, draw and stick the information you’ve gathered around her so that you have a really solid image of who your client is. Then you can start thinking about your own business with this in front of you.
You should have given your business loads of thought before this stage, noted down what you’re all about, your values and personality, your plans and vision, everything you can think of that will help you solidify what it is that you stand for. (Fill in Part One of the Design Success Toolkit if you’ve not done this yet)
You can start sketching logo ideas and patterns, selecting colours and working on how your brand identity is going to look – using the inspiration that you’ve gathered as a starting point to help you develop something amazing.
Where else could you look for inspiration?